Monday, January 11, 2010

Getting the Most Out of Hiring a Personal Trainer

I am a personal trainer. So, I think hiring a trainer, especially this one, is a great idea. Seriously, hiring a trainer is an excellent step in reaching your fitness goals. However, I often find that people don't really understand how personal training fits in to an overall fitness program.

There is a definite mind set out there that if you hire a trainer you have done all you need to do for your health and fitness. Two workouts a week with their trainer and they think they're done. We won't even talk about the canceling appointments in favor of getting their nails done, to take their cat to the vet, to go to a routine doctor's appointment, or even to get a massage. Then, a few months into working with you they wonder why they haven't reached their fitness goals.

A trainer cannot be there 24/7 to make sure you are eating properly and exercising on the days they are not with you. You trainer does not know, although they probably suspect, when you are not honest about your habits outside of your personal training sessions. You have to take responsibility for your behavior, for your health, fitness and well being.

However, a personal trainer can be a great resource offering information, guidance and advice that go beyond the training sessions. It's up to you to take advantage of that resource. During your sessions, a trainer will give you a good workout, teach you new exercises, make sure you're working out safely and with proper form. They will customize workouts for you to strengthen your weak areas and give you alternatives to work around injuries and make tough exercises easier when you're getting started.

Beyond the workous they offer advice on nutrition and tips on keeping motivated and finding ways to fit workouts and healthy eating into a busy lifestyle. They can even help to keep you accountable when they are not with you by having you fill out logs or communicate regularly by email.

Unless you can afford to work with a trainer five or six days a week, you will need to workout some days on your own. Ask your trainer for advice on strength training and cardio programs you can do. Your trainer might be able to recommend some good work out videos or a local class you can take. They may offer to write up a program that they can walk you through in place of your regular session workout. For my clients I offer an online program that gives them custom workouts to do between our sessions.

Make sure to ask your trainer about diet. Your trainer can help you figure out how many calories you should be eating each day. They will often ask you to fill out a food log for a few days that they can then review and give you guidance on where you can make healthier choices. I often direct clients to to fill out food logs. The great thing about this site is that there is an option to make the log "public" (the log can easily be switched back to "private" at any time). The client can then give their trainer the web address allowing the trainer to review the logs online. A trainer can also recommend a good nutritionist or some good books on the subject. After all nutrition is a subject on which it's worth getting some education.

Lastly I think it's important to know what your fitness goals are. Know what you're working toward. Just like your employer sets deadlines and performance benchmarks for you in your job, you need to set goals for your fitness program. Your trainer can help here as well in terms of guiding you toward realistic goals and time frames.

Taking responsibility for your own health, fitness and well-being is the key to getting the most out of hiring a personal trainer. A trainer can serve as a great resource but, ultimately you are in the driver's seat. The more you embrace this idea and make it a part of your lifestyle the better you will be, the better your results will be and that trainer of yours will be pretty impressed too.

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