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
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.
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
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.
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.