Hire a personal trainer–part deux

Doesn’t “deux” just sound so much sexier than “two”?

Yesterday I tried to do a little mind ninja on your argument that spending money on a personal trainer just isn’t worth it.

Photo: ninjastars.org

Did it work?

I hope so, but if not, that’s ok too. Someday you may change your mind, and this post will be right here, waiting for you.

For the rest of you, here’s the nitty gritty.

The right trainer for you

You already know how to choose a trainer. Remember, it’s your money so don’t settle on someone you don’t feel comfortable with, and don’t be afraid to ask questions about credentials, experience and style. You wouldn’t go back to a stylist who butchered your hair, right? If you try a session with one trainer and it doesn’t suit your needs, speak up. First, see if the trainer can address your concerns. Trainers are fitness experts, but not mind readers, and there might be some simple miscommunication about your goals. If that doesn’t work, try someone new. Sometimes personalities just don’t mesh, and most gyms will allow you to transfer any remaining sessions to a different trainer.

Pricing and Packages

Every gym will try to sell you a training package. They have monthly sales goals and selling packages racks up more sales. Plus, trainers want a consistent schedule and clients they can count on. Understandable. But that doesn’t mean you have to buy 10 sessions if you only want one.

That being said, the bigger the package, the better the deal (there are so many places I could go with that sentence, but I’ll restrain myself), and you often have a good chunk of time to use your sessions. If you buy a 10- or 20-session package, check the fine print. How long until the sessions expire, if ever? I often had clients buy 20 sessions, and spread the use out over months, coming in for three or four sessions in a row, learning a new workout, and then doing that workout on their own for awhile. They’d come back when they wanted to mix it up, and we’d start the cycle again.

Another popular option is 3- or 5-session packages. Still cheaper than one, but a smaller commitment. When I was training, I was a big fan of 3 sessions to start. It’s enough to assess your kinesthetic awareness (you’d be surprised how many people don’t know how to squeeze their butt on command), and get you started on a workout. From there, you can decide if you’re ready to roll on your own, or if this whole, having someone else tell you what to do thing, is too awesome to give up. It’s also usually a fairly reasonable price.

Finally, you have the option of purchasing just one session. It’s the most expensive option, and the least amount of commitment. Obviously lack of commitment in clients isn’t something trainers are looking for, however, this is a good option for two types of people: 1) you are knowledgeable about fitness, and simply want someone to shake up your routine with some new tricks; 2) you feel confident in your understanding of building a basic fitness plan, but you want to make sure you’ve got proper form when performing moves like lunges, squats, core work and other basic exercises.

In my totally unscientific opinion, at least ninety percent of people fall into the number two category. Just one session could increase your knowledge and confidence, and vastly improve your workout experience.

One final note about pricing and packages: check with your gym about group training (a great money-saver), half hour sessions (most are an hour, but half hours are cheaper), and senior discounts.

How to get what you need out of training

You picked a trainer, bought a package and scheduled your first session. Now what? The best advice I can give you is to be clear.

Be clear about your goals, your current aches and previous injuries, your likes and dislikes. As in any relationship, good communication is the key to success. And though you may become friends with your trainer, you’ve paid them to provide a service and it’s their job to deliver.

There is never just one approach or one exercise, and if something isn’t working for you, your trainer can easily change it. Good trainers love exercise and movement, and we want you to love it too. At the very least we want you to find strength, power or stress-relief in your workouts. If you feel self-conscious doing mountain climbers because your butt is in the air and your shirt inches up around your ears, we will find another cardio interval for you. There are many forms of torture and we know them all.

Once you’ve spoken your mind and it’s clear your trainer was listening, let the professional do their thing. Trust them. You’ve done your homework and chosen someone with solid qualifications, so let them help you the best way they know how. Sometimes it takes patience and a little trial and error to find the formula that works for you. Often, it takes longer than you want it to. But if you put in the time and effort, and work on your diet in your non-gym life, you will see progress.

So there you have it: a two-part primer on why to hire a trainer and how to go about doing it. I hope I’ve given you some useful information. and maybe knocked down a few roadblocks. Let me know how it goes.

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