If you think that having a personal trainer is the best option for you, you might be surprised by the answer. When most people make the decision to improve their health, get in shape or reach a seemingly distant fitness goal, they immediately think that they need to hire a fitness professional.
While there is nothing wrong with this, you need to understand that personal training is a large investment for some and shouldn’t be taken lightly. There are plenty of other fitness programs that may address your specific needs. Of course there are numerous advantages of having a personal trainer in your corner, but before you rush off to hire one, ask yourself the following:
1. Can I afford it?
If you are on a very tight budget, you may want to look for other options because cheap personal training isn’t going to bring you the results you want. Like any service, you tend to get what you pay for. There are personal trainers whose rates tend to reflect the size of their ego, rather than the quality of their service. While you should expect to pay more for personal training than for other fitness programs, watch out for rates that greatly exceed the norm and if you don’t see value, don’t give them your business.
2. Can I commit to a long term program?
No one can promise you a complete physical transformation in only a few weeks. This takes time, and the length of time varies greatly from person to person. If you’re looking for a quick fix to your health problems, there are plenty of miracle diets and rapid fat loss schemes out there that you can look into, but personal training probably won’t work for you. The benefits of personal training are more long term.
If you’re someone who travels a lot or whose schedule is always changing from week to week, personal training might not be for you. It is very difficult for your trainer to design an effective, progressive program if he/she never knows when you’re going to be there to train. If your job requires you to often cancel your sessions, your program is not going to work and your investment will be wasted. Most trainers have a cancellation policy that may not allow you to make up missed sessions, so be clear with your intentions if this is an issue for you.
3. Have I identified the type of personal trainer I want to work with?
Do you require a trainer with a particular specialty? There are specialists in rehabilitation, sports performance, weight loss, bodybuilding and so on . . . There are also trainers who work with certain demographics, such as men, women, seniors, youths and disabled persons. Although they are all fitness professionals, you should identify what your needs are and seek out an expert.
Style, personality and philosophy also vary among personal trainers. Be prepared to find one that suits you and will give you the best chance at achieving your fitness goals.
4. Am I unfamiliar with, or new to, exercise?
If you are new to exercise, personal training can benefit you the most. You’ll learn how the exercise the right way the first time around. You haven’t developed bad habits, such as poor technique or inappropriate exercises from trying to do things on your own. Since you have the most to learn and develop, you will have to most to gain. This not to say that personal training is just for beginners, in fact many intermediate and advanced trainees can benefit greatly from working with an *experienced personal trainer“. But if you’re just looking for a workout change or to learn some new exercises, save your money and buy a book.
*Experienced personal trainer: Someone who has achieved or surpassed the physical standard that you have set for yourself and has accomplished similar results with other clients. One who has at least 10,000 hours of experience training others.
5. Do I have a clear goal in mind?
If you don’t have a goal to accomplish, why do you need a personal trainer? Are you simply looking for a high paid workout buddy or friend? This is not what personal training is about, although I see examples of this just about every day – but that’s a topic for another article. Your goal must be specific, measurable and attainable. Saying “I want to tone my arms a little” is none of these things. It provides no information for the trainer to work with and is completely subjective. An example of a precise goal is: “I want to lose 20 lbs of fat in 1o weeks and keep it off“. This is a goal that your trainer can work with. It can be tracked and measured, and he/she can give you constant, objective feedback on your progress. Most of the benefits of a personal trainer are lost without a clear direction from the start.
6. Am I willing to work hard inside and outside of the gym?
I’m sure you know that you’re going to have to work hard in the gym, but are you prepared to make all the necessary lifestyle changes required to reach your goals and get the most out of your investment? A good trainer will make you accountable for what you do outside of his/her supervision, but obviously cannot force you to follow their recommendations. If you refuse to make adjustments to your lifestyle and believe that the workout alone will take care of everything, you should just join a bootcamp or a fitness class. Personal training is for focused people who are serious about getting results!
Now that you’ve answered the questions above, do you still think that personal training is right for you? If the answer is “YES!”, then you are now ready to reap the benefits of having your own private, personal fitness professional and coach. Check out a post I wrote that details these benefits.
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