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Should I Have a Personal Trainer?

Often times when beginning a workout schedule or joining a new workout facility, the question comes up “Do you need a trainer?”  There are many factors that play into making this decision.  Here are a few were critical elements in determining your need to work with someone:

  1. Financial.  The most obvious thing that most people have to consider when thinking about a trainer is whether or not they can afford one. Training rates vary greatly by facility or for in-home trainers. On average, training rates can run anywhere from $60/hr up to $200/hr or more. If finances are tight, but you feel it best to have a trainer, a couple of suggestions would be to train 1-2 times every 4-6 weeks. This way, you can have a new workout program made and make sure you are staying on track with your goals, while not breaking the bank.  Often people feel “bad” for not being a regular client, but a secret you may not know is that trainers love clients that get programs made every now in then. It can actually help them fill in the gaps in their schedules between regular clients. Make sure you tell your trainer ahead of time your expectations, that you want a written program you can do on your own. Another way to cut the cost is to split the training session with a friend. Rates are usually higher for two people, but the out of pocket cost per person is less expensive.
  1. Consistency.  If you are paying for a gym membership but not ever using it, you may want to consider using a personal trainer. There are many ways to increase workout consistency, such as having an accountability buddy or regularly attending a group exercise class. If you are having a hard time either getting to the gym or challenging yourself when working out, then a personal trainer would be for you. You may want to start with two times each week and on your off days, stick with walking or some form of cardio (or your trainer may give you assignments to do on your off days). If you are making some headway and are developing the habit of working out, then you may try to backing off to once a week, however some people prefer to continue with a trainer. It’s about finding what works best for you.
  1. Knowledge is key.  There is a ton of information available about working out…yes, there’s an app for that. The problem is that most people don’t fit the cookie cutter mold. Workout sites and articles can be great resources, but they can never take the place of individualized attention to specific needs. You may have an injury, a heart condition or just found out you are pregnant. Most people have specific issues that need to be taken into consideration when working out or creating a workout plan. While there is no license that is required for personal trainers as it is not a heavily regulated industry, there are many reputable organizations that offer personal training certifications. These organizations include The Cooper Institute, AmericanCollege of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and National Association of Sports Medicine (NASM). Having a personal trainer with a degree in kinesiology or exercise physiology is also beneficial. Remember that knowledge goes along with consistency. My degree is in Kinesiology and I work for a health organization, but I couldn’t workout consistently to save my life. I am someone who benefits from using a personal trainer because even though I have the knowledge, I need the accountability and have the desire to “turn my brain off” for an hour and let someone else do the thinking.
  1. A good personality match.  You may have worked with a trainer before and it got off to a rocky start or you may have worked with someone for years and things headed south. While knowledge is important in selecting a personal training, you need someone that you “click” with. This may not be as important if you are only having a program made every month or so, but if you are training weekly with someone you will want to have a good rapport with them. Just because you don’t “click” with someone doesn’t mean they are a bad trainer, it just means that they are not the right fit for you. You may want to tell someone at your workout facility what kind of personality you enjoy working with and then have them make the suggestion. For instance, you may want someone who works well with moms, is upbeat and understanding. Someone else may prefer a direct, no nonsense drill sergeant. Finding the right personality is one of the most important factors in choosing a trainer.

You may be someone who regularly exercises, doesn’t have any special health conditions and feels confident in your ability to access and use resources for working out. If that’s true, a trainer may not be worth the financial commitment. On the other end, you may be someone whose financial resources and schedule are not an issue and you choose to have a trainer regularly. Most of us fall somewhere in between. If so, these tips can help you decide if you need a trainer, how often and who to choose.

For additional information about Cooper Fitness Center or to find a personal trainer, visit cooperfitnesscenter.com.

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