Archive for the ‘Fitness’ Category

Expensive Exercise: Should I Hire a Personal Trainer?

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

Creative Commons License photo credit: istolethetv

So you’ve decided you need to lose a few pounds. You’re getting a little bit soft around the edges and your heart starts racing when you climb the stairs to bed each night. But you’ve tried the gym before, you’ve tried going for jogs in the morning and none of it worked. Light bulb! I’ll get a personal trainer. That will solve my problems. But will it? Are personal trainers really necessary in order to achieve your weight loss and fitness goals? In this post I am going to look at that very question.

Not all personal trainers are created equal

Before we delve too much into the personal trainer debate I want to make something quite clear. Not all personal trainers are created equal. There are good ones and bad ones. In fact, there are some very bad ones. It is important to make the distinction between the two, however, because you don’t want to go around thinking all personal trainers are experts or phonies. Some of them are very good, some of them are not.

So how do you know whether a personal trainer is good or not? Well there are no hard and fast rules but here are some suggestions that you might want to take on board:

  • How long have they been a personal trainer?
    If your personal trainer is very new it might mean that they don’t have the experience to guide you, especially if you consider yourself to be quite experienced. Of course, this is not always true.
  • Are they qualified?
    In my opinion you shouldn’t have anything to do with a personal trainer unless they are qualified. There are many stories going around about people who trusted a trainer through a health issue and the trainer’s advice just made it worse for them.
  • Is the qualification a good one?
    Not all qualifications are great. In fact, some of them are pretty shocking. Just do a two week course and you are able to tell people how to do dangerous exercises like the dead lift and make dietary programs for them even when they are diabetic. Not good enough. Make sure their qualifications are respected.
  • How fit are they?
    This is a big point of contention between my brother and myself. He reckons that it doesn’t matter what a trainer looks like as long as they know their stuff. I reckon that is bullshit. If a personal trainer doesn’t have the body you want to get, the fitness levels you want to achieve, etc. then walk right on by. You would never go to a financial planner who drove a 1982 rickety VW Beetle. Trainers should live and breathe their trade.
  • Are you making progress?
    If you have been with your trainer for more than three months and have not seen drastic progress then it is time to move on. Why? Because a personal trainer should be always thinking about you. Their goal is to give you the power and knowledge to look after yourself and go out on your own, not keep you down and unfit so you will keep paying them. The best trainers at my gym have big turn over rates. Not because their clients hate them but because they all get so fit so fast. And this is the best marketing exercise they can do for themselves as well.

Make sure you address these questions before you sign on to any trainer. If you are already using a personal trainer then sit down and take a look at these issues now before your next session. You should not take any chances when it comes to someone who is involved with your health.

The positive: why you SHOULD hire a personal trainer

Creative Commons License photo credit: mark_donoher

I thought we would lead off on the positive. Let’s take a look at why I think you should hire a personal trainer. These points might not appeal to everyone but hopefully it will give you something to think about while you are making your decision.

1. Certainty
The first reason that you want to get a personal trainer is because they provide you with certainty. You get to stop worrying about whether you are doing the right or the wrong thing. They can point you in the right direction and help you through any questions. This is actually quite a big deal because I know a lot of women who really worry about whether they are using their small amount of exercise time efficiently.

2. Injury prevention
If you go to the gym by yourself it is fair to say that at some point you will get an injury. Sometimes you just get unlucky but more than likely the cause is improper technique or lack of warming up. A personal trainer can help you dodge these issues as they will usually make sure your technique is perfect before letting you do the exercise at full weight. This is a very big advantage. In fact, this is the best reason to hire someone.

3. Faster weight loss
Let’s be honest here. Unless you know what you are doing you are going to make a lot quicker progress having an expert help you out. The most important thing when losing weight is knowledge and hard work – a personal trainer can help you with both of those things.

The negative: why you SHOULDN’T hire a personal trainer

y2.d131 | there is a war going on for your mind. resistance is victory. defeat is impossible.
Creative Commons License photo credit: B Rosen

Now we can take a look at some of the reasons why you should not bother with a personal trainer. If there are any PTs reading this article I am sorry if this section causes you offense. Leave and comment and let me know if you disagree and I’m sure we can get to the bottom of the matter.

1. Its expensive
Just like the title of the post suggests, personal trainers are expensive. Some of them are reasonably expensive and some of them are just plain out of control. If you live in up state New York or Hollywood chances are your personal trainer is going to charge more than I pay to rent a house. And that is fine if you like throwing money down the toilet but, to be honest, it is completely unnecessary. Most Hollywood celebrities use personal trainers that other celebrities use, not personal trainers that are good for them. The best personal trainers are not always the most expensive ones.

You also have to look at whether you are getting value for money. Are you making progress? Would the money be better spent on buying fruit and vegetables? Could you put the money to better use by buying equipment? All of these questions are important to ask yourself.

2. Its lazy
A lot of the time people hire personal trainers because they can’t motivate themselves. Now I’m not saying that everyone does this but a lot of people do. If you are hiring a PT because you need education and advice then you are on the right path. But if you are hiring one because you want someone else to motivate you every time or because you can’t workout unless someone is pushing you then a PT is a bad idea. That issue is something you need to work on yourself. That is a mental block and not something that a PT will necessarily solve.

The verdict

My view is quite simple. Everyone should hire a personal trainer but only for a short period of time. Once you have learned the exercises properly, got a workout plan and made some progress it is important that you move out on your own. Personal trainers only have a limited use as far as I’m concerned. If you need one for longer than six months then perhaps you aren’t making the progress you think you are.

What do you think? Do you think personal trainers are a waste of time or something that everyone should be using? Leave a comment.

Household Items for Cheap Fitness Part 1: The Water Bucket

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

The Pail
Creative Commons License photo credit: Carly & Art

In case you haven’t noticed there is a global financial crisis going on. And when money gets tight one of the first things to go is the gym membership. Because we at Free Women’s Fitness understand that not all of us can afford to go to some fancy yoga or pilates class we have decided to start a series on using household items to get a cheap workout at home. This is part one in that series.

Working out at home

Working out at home has many advantages. Firstly, you save a lot of money by not going to the gym. And I am not just talking about gym membership fees. When you go to the gym you usually end up buying a water or a protein shake and you spend money on parking and petrol. Over time these things add up, especially if you go everyday.

Another great thing about working out at home is the level of comfort. You don’t have to worry about other people watching you and you definitely don’t need to worry about being fashionable. At home you can just be yourself and get on with the important stuff.

Household item for cheap fitness: the water bucket

Creative Commons License photo credit: jekert gwapo

Water buckets are extremely useful dumbbell replacements. All you need to do is fill them with some water and use them as you would a pair of dumbbells. As you get stronger you can add more water. Some exercises you can do with a pail include:

  • Dumbbell curls
  • Shoulder presses
  • Lateral side raises
  • Weighted squats
  • Front shoulder raises
  • Deadlifts

Another great exercise to do with the water pail is farmers walks. This is basically where you take two buckets or cans, fill them up with water, and carry them for as long as you can. It really works your shoulders, biceps and forearms. You will also find that your heart rate gets elevated extremely quickly and as such it will give you a great cardio workout.

Stay tuned…

Make sure you subscribe to our feed or email subscription service. We will be adding a new household item every day. By the end of the series you will have a full gym of cheap home items! It might seem silly but the next time you can’t get to the gym these items will save your workout.

Should I Do Weights or Cardio First?

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

Two young girls jog along Morro Strand State Beach
Creative Commons License photo credit: mikebaird

When you start your weight loss or fitness journey there is one question that you will inevitably be confused about – should I do weights or cardio first? It is a good question and one that you should absolutely try and find the answer to. In this post I am going to give you some general information and then hopefully you will be able to make up your own mind.

The argument for doing weights first

First of all let’s have a talk about the idea of doing weights as the first part of your routine.

1. You are fresher
The main advantage of this strategy is they fact that you are fresh and awake at the start of your routine. This means you will be able to lift more weight and as such make more progress.

2. Less injuries
Many personal trainers also attest to the fact that less injuries occur when you do weights first as you have a good amount of energy to put into your technique. When you are tired and fatigued this focus often vanishes.

3. Better for weight loss
Some bodybuilders and personal trainers also tell us that weights should be done first if we are trying to lose weight. This is because the weight training helps to deplete the sugar levels in your blood. That way, when you move on to cardio, you will be burning more fat than sugar. And this is what we want.

The argument for doing cardio first

Now let’s take a look at the opposite end of the spectrum – cardio first, weights after.

1. A proper warm up
The main advantage of this strategy is the fact that you get a really good warm up before you hit the weights room. Many women these days jump right into the weights without much of a warm up and end up pulling a muscle or doing a slight strain that can set your weight loss progress back weeks or even months. When you do cardio first you are more likely to warm up properly.

2. You can go further/harder
As you know, here at Free Women’s Fitness we like to advocate harder cardio than normal. We like to encourage all the girls out there to hit the treadmill or exercise bike with vigor and passion and to step up and do a more intense workout. This becomes difficult after a weights session, however, as you are too fatigued and low on energy. If fitness is your main goal then it might be better to do your cardio session at the start.


There are positive and negative aspects to both scenarios depending on your goals. If you are aiming for weight loss then perhaps it might be better to do weights first. If you are trying to get fit then jump on the cardio machines first and really bang it out with some intensity.

If you have any other suggestions then please drop by the women’s only forum and let us know. I would love to hear what you have to say.