The Many Benefits of Hiring a Personal Trainer (even if you're a veteran gym-goer)
Gyms are back! If you haven't heard, gyms in Ontario can re-open at 50% capacity starting Jan. 31. Usually January is when most people are back at the gym, working out and working hard, but I guess this year it's going to be February. With that in mind, I want to give you something to think about before you start hitting the weight rack or the elliptical.
Most new gym members sign up with the intention of working out on their own, rather than hiring a personal trainer. It's quite rare for someone to sign up at a gym and right away say, "I want a trainer." And people have a number of reasons for not hiring a trainer: cost is a big one, because hiring a qualified trainer is not cheap. It can also be a time commitment, and it can be intimidating to be at the gym with someone who looks like they spend 8 hours a day working out.
Those are all legit reasons for being hesitant about taking that next step. From 11 years of experience as a trainer, and 20+ years as a gym-goer though, I can tell you that the people who work with a trainer consistently - even if it's for a short period of time - are far more likely to reach their health/fitness goals. Not only that, but they get there faster, and the results tend to stick more so than for those who go it alone.
1) Qualified personal trainers have a knowledge of exercise science.
Yes, there's a science to working out. There's a science to proper breathing for weightlifting, there is a science to stretching, a science to cardio conditioning, strength training, and rehabilitation exercises. There is a science to weight loss and muscle gain, and proper nutrition, and more.
The average gym-goer doesn't have this knowledge because it's not their area of expertise - it's not what they've trained to do. So when these folks go to the gym, they typically do a cookie cutter workout they found online, or a workout their friend or partner is doing, or they join a fitness class where they’re given exercises that they may not be ready to do.
At best, taking this road means it takes you a lot longer to achieve your goals. Worst case scenario, you can end up with some really limiting chronic or acute injuries.
A good trainer has at least a fundamental understanding of exercise science, and will apply it to each client’s program so that they’re doing exercises that are appropriate for them, and that will help them hit their goals.
2) Trainers have the tools to assess your needs and goals.
Your trainer determines the best course of action for you by assessing your goals, your strengths, and your areas of opportunity.
Think of it like any kind of diagnosis: let's say you need to get your car tuned up. Unless you have mechanic skills, you’re going to take it into the shop to see what’s running properly and what needs work, right?
A personal trainer does essentially the same thing for your body - they will put you through a standardized set of tests and assessments to see where you’re all good, where you have opportunities to improve, and where you are vs. where you want to be (your goals)
When I say “assessments” I want to be clear that I’m not talking about counting how many push ups you can do, or how long you can hold a plank - I’m talking about postural assessments (do you have excessive spinal curve?), movement assessments (do you favour one side when you squat?), range of motion assessments (is one hip tighter than the other?)
This is where the “personal” aspect comes into play, because everybody is different, each person has different goals, and these can only really be assessed in a 1-on-1 setting by someone who has the training to be able to perform the assessments, and to understand what the results mean (there are some fitness classes that offer 1-on-1 assessments, and they’ll modify exercises so they’re appropriate for each member - this is a decent option for ppl who cannot fit personal training into their budgets).
3) Who else is equipped to write you a personalized training program with proper periodization?
Unless you’re training for an athletic event, or getting ready for warmer weather, chances are your goals are long-term, rather than short-term. That means you need a long-term program that is personalized to your needs and goals, and that is properly periodized to help you progress (try saying that five times, fast).
Trainers are trained in how to write workout programs or how to periodize them - the average gym-goer is not. You might not even know what “periodization” is, and that’s perfectly normal, because it’s a term that’s pretty specific to the industry. Periodization is essentially a specific way of planning your training to achieve your short-term and long-term goals. Think of it as your GPS directions to get where you're going.
A qualified trainer will know how to write exercise programs that are appropriate for you, and they’ll be able to periodize your training based on your goals and needs. This is where bootcamps and WODs (workout of the day) fall short - yes, you can get a good sweat on, and if you do them consistently you’re likely to get stronger/fitter, but a lot of people (especially those with previous injuries) benefit tremendously from a more tailored approach to achieve their *specific* goals.
4) Trainers are better equipped than anyone to teach you proper exercise technique
This is the reason EVERYONE who is just starting working out needs a trainer for AT LEAST 10 hours of training. I'm not saying this to try to sell you on training - it's a FACT.
I've seen people who've worked out on their own for decades not have the slightest clue how to do a proper squat or push up, because they were never taught properly. I've seen folks get trained by their friends or partners, and the friend might be very good at exercising, but they're not able to teach someone else how to do it. A trainer can teach you.
Working out, lifting weights, stretching, etc. - these are not natural activities that our bodies “just know” how to do - there’s actually quite a lot to it. There are optimal ways to do each exercise, that will help you reach your goals, and there are many ways to do any given exercise that can cause injury and pain, or best case scenario, just not get you anywhere near your goals
The way your partner does deadlifts might work great for them, but if your partner is one gender and you’re another, the two of you have very different bodies, and the way they do deadlifts might be inappropriate for you.
A good trainer will teach you proper exercise technique that is appropriate for your goals and your unique physiology.
5) Here are a few more reasons working with a trainer is better than going it alone:
Have you ever had a workout planned, and you skipped it because you were exhausted or just felt like absolute garbage? I have had this happen with clients at least twice a week since I started doing this: the client texts “I’m really not up for a hard workout today - can we reschedule?” My response: “How about we just keep it really light and do more of a ‘work-in’ instead?”
A “work-in” usually focuses on breathing, stretching, and gentle bodyweight exercises, and I’ve never not had a client feel much better after a work-in.
Here’s another scenario: you’re scheduled to do a heavy leg day today, but you played a pick up game of shinny yesterday, and your legs are toast - do you skip your workout, or can you modify your workout on the fly?
My point is that having a trainer solves these problems for you. If you’re not able to do a particular exercise, or you can’t do your entire workout, your trainer can change things up so you’re not missing it altogether.
If you have an appointment scheduled, you tend to keep it, right? Unless something unavoidable happens and you just can’t make it, you're gonna go.
And I hate to say it, but there’s nothing like paying a decent chunk of change for a service to make sure you actually use it.
A trained set of eyes
Learning proper exercise technique is one thing, but doing it consistently can be a challenge. The best workouts I've ever had, I had a trainer present to make sure I'm doing just that. Having a trainer is added insurance that you’re doing your exercises as well as you can.
Your trainer is also your cheerleader - every trainer wants their clients to succeed and reach their goals, and they’ll give you just the right amount of push to do it - a push that you might not otherwise give yourself, depending on the type of person you are in the gym
They’ll also be there to high five you (or give you a socially distanced high five) when you hit your goals!
If you made it to the end, congrats and thank you for taking the time! As you might imagine, I've spent more time in the gym than I have in creative writing classes, so my blogging skills have some room for improvement.
I hope though that I've got you thinking now about hiring a professional to help you reach your health and wellness goals. Whether you're just starting out, or you've been working out for years, it's never a bad time (even and especially in lockdown) to get yourself a trainer.
If you're ready to take that next step, click here to book a complimentary discovery call with me.