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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Could personal training benefit you?

Most people are looking to improve their health and fitness at any given time and are peripherally aware that personal trainers exist, but don't really contemplate hiring one. Recently, I did a drawing for 3 free personal training sessions and when I notified the winner, she asked me exactly what a personal trainer does. I realized that lots of people probably have no idea what a personal trainer actually does; in fact before I started doing research into the health and fitness industry I really didn't know myself. So, here is a rundown of what trainers do and some of the benefits you might get from working with one.

1) Personal trainers educate people about exercise appropriate for their goals, strengths and limitations. If you're just not sure what to do to get where you want to be, a trainer can help you figure out a plan.

2) Personal trainers design exercise plans based on individual needs. A trainer can teach you specific exercises designed to get specific results and tell you how many, how often and how hard or heavy to do them.

3) Personal trainers help people create appropriate goals. "I want to lose weight" is a vague goal that is hard to quantify and is usually never achived. A trainer can help you figure out how much weight is appropriate for you to lose if that's what you're looking for, or how long it will take you to get ready for your marathon, or how many times you need to work out in a week to improve your health.

4) Personal trainers help motivate people. We can remind you of why you want to achieve your goals and of the steps you have already taken and need to take to get there. We can give you kicks in the butt when you need them. We can't make the decision for you to give it your all, though, and if you're at a place where you haven't yet decided to do what it takes to get results, a personal trainer can't make you follow through.

5) Personal trainers help you show up. If you have an appointment, you're less likely to miss your workout than if you were exercising on your own.

6) Personal trainers help you track your progress. Through fitness tests, body measurements, weight and body fat testing, we can help you figure out if what you're doing is getting the results you want, and if not, waht to do about it.

7) If you're in a rut, have hit a plateau or are just bored with your workouts, a trainer can help you blast out of it with new exercises, modifications or entirely new programs. It's important to be constantly changing your workouts, because when your body adapts to any given thing, you stop getting good results.

There also seems to be a lot of confusion about how often or how long one should meet with a personal trainer. That all depends on you, your goals, your needs, your schedule and to a certain extent, your budget.

If you're quite self-directed and just need to know what to do, a few sessions with a trainer might be all you need, with an occasional meeting to tune up your workouts or change the exercises so you don't get bored or stop getting results.

If you're able to stick to a plan pretty well but need support on the way, longer-term weekly trainer sessions might be the way to go. You can get a good workout in with the trainer and get a plan for the rest of the week, with the trainer checking in with you to help hold you accountable.

If you're having trouble sticking to a plan, or just don't feel you can push yourself as hard as a trainer will, you may want to meet with your trainer several times per week. If this is difficult for you to afford, think about group personal training. This way, you still get good personal attention and a hard trainer-led workout, but you'll be sharing the cost with others.

As to how long you meet with your trainer, some people meet for a few weeks or months to get in the habit of exercising and learn what they need to know. Others stay for years because they continue to find value in training. It's a way to stay on track and constantly update your workouts as your goals and body evolve.

Whatever your fitness goals, an experienced and certified trainer can probably add value to your journey. How you utilize that relationship to your benefit is mainly up to you.

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