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Pros and Cons of a Personal Trainer


Personal TrainerHave You Ever Thought About Hiring A Personal Trainer?

I have a new man in my life. He’s tall, dark and handsome and we meet twice a week. During our time together, he tells me what to do, when to do it, how to do it and how many to do. He makes me sweat and grunt and pushes me to my limits. This may not sound like the ideal male/female relationship, but it’s just what I need because my personal fitness trainer, Dustin Ponder, is pretty darn amazing. (And yes, he’s patient, supportive and encouraging and I trust him unconditionally.)

For me, running is a priority along with eating and breathing. But I’m not toned, flexible or strong (Dustin will gladly second that) and I knew that I had to incorporate strength training into my regimen. I finally stopped procrastinating and purchased 16 personal training sessions with my very own Bob Harper.

As a result of my I-swear-I’m-gonna’-stick-to-it resolution, I went directly to the experts – personal trainers themselves – to pinpoint the why’s, what’s and how’s of hiring one.

WHY YOU SHOULD DO IT (…OR AT LEAST CONSIDER IT)…

“There is so much health and fitness information and most people don’t know where to start. Trainers educate you on your terms. It’s like hiring a lawyer; you wouldn’t take on the legal system by yourself, so why do it with something as important as your health?” ~ Kevin Asuncion (NASM certified trainer & Co-Founder of Los Angeles based Movemo Fitness, www.movemofitness.com)

“PT’s make it their obligation and duty to get to know you and your body – your weaknesses and strengths, capabilities and inadequacies. They are your counselor, friend, stress reliever and motivator. They are there when you feel the lowest and stay with you as you grow or when you fall.” ~ Angela Bredenkamp (B.S. Sport Science; Personal Trainer; Owner and Founder of FunctionalFitnessTrainers.com)

“Trainers provide accountability, responsibility and expertise. I devise a safe & effective routines to help my clients achieve their goals in one-tenth of the time. I oversee the big picture structure: recalling the exercises and in what order they are most optimally completed, what their weights are, etc. By hiring a trainer, clients have a set of eyes watching them, a mind thinking about them and a heart caring about them.” ~ Laura Dow (ACSM Certified Personal Trainer, Yoga Instructor and Nutrition Educator and Wellness Coach)

“Everybody is different. A diet or fitness regimen that works for me may not work for you and vice versa. Personalized plans are based on your schedule, likes & dislikes and confidence level. It may take a little longer to see results, but they’re life-long. No diet or workout gimmick can give you that.” ~ Kathi Casey, ERYT, CPI (Founder, The Healthy Boomer Body Center, www.HealthyBoomerBody.com)

“A trainer learns how your body reacts to certain movements and correct imbalances, tracks your eating habits, notices your feelings & mood changes, and finds the correlation between them. A workout partner can get you up in the morning to work out, but a trainer teaches you how your body works and the best way to use it!” ~ Alexandria Serra, NASM-CPT, ACE-CPT, ACE-LWMC (B.S. Kinesiology; President, Recharge Fitness; Level 1 Kettlebell Instructor)

WHAT YOU SHOULD LOOK FOR…

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“Good trainers are responsible, attentive and safe. They don’t text/talk on their phone or engage in lengthy conversations with other gym members while they are training you. They are dependable and only cancel or reschedule when there are emergencies.” ~ Robin Castro, LMSW, CPFT, GFI (Transformation Strategist; Owner of Robin’s Body Shop – a fitness and nutrition company in Macon, GA)

“A good trainer will give you homework to do on the other days of the week so you stay on-track. Track your progress and write down every workout; they will be valuable in the months/years ahead when you move on from training or if you’re stuck in a rut.” ~ Jenny Skoog (NASM certified personal trainer, pre/post-natal coach; www.Skoogfit.com)

“An important factor is philosophy and program design. A bad trainer will often scribble something before the workout, or just make it up as they go. They must conduct an assessment when you first start. Everyone has issues/concerns that need to be identified and addressed in order to progress safely. If they are trying to get everyone to do the same exercise, that’s another warning sign.” – Brendan Hayden (CSCS Co-Owner & Dir. Coastal Performance in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, www.coastal-performance.com)

“Not all trainers are created equal. Sometimes the older trainers are more experienced, but not up on the new research. Younger trainers may be up on the new research, but don’t have enough experience. And just because someone is in excellent shape, does not make them a good trainer!” ~ Kim-Lien Kendall (Movement Educator, www.movementeducator.com and Yoga Instructor, www.kimlienyoga.com)

“Don’t settle for the first one you find or someone who offers you a good deal. Research their qualifications and talk to their clients to determine whether they were happy with the results.” ~ Andrew Neitzke (ACE Certified Personal Trainer at Thorbecke’s Gym in Tempe, AZ, www.thorpowergold.com)

“People call themselves trainers although they have not been certified, don’t have liability insurance, and/or aren’t CPR certified. The consumer really needs to be aware of these factors because it shows how serious the trainer is about what they do.” – Wendy Stewart (ACE-certified personal trainer; www.baltimorefitnessandweightloss.com)

ALTERNATIVES TO PERSONAL TRAINING…

If personal training sessions are way out of your budget, you can always try: boot camps, gym classes that incorporate weights, small group sessions (2-6 people) or ½ hour (versus hour-long) sessions. Or…

“Try negotiating a barter deal that benefits both of you. Many trainers who start out offer free sessions or another service in return. I have bartered office space, marketing services, and referrals with a few of my clients, as these are extremely valuable to my business.” ~ Kevin Asuncion

“Many gyms provide a first-time training discount or a few free sessions to get you started with your goals. Take advantage of those freebies and make the most of them. Build a relationship a trainer that may offer free tips and advice that will help you stay on track until you’re ready to hire them.” ~ Jenny Skoog

“The new wave of personal training is virtual wellness coaching. Our clients receive a monthly personalized program, grocery shopping lists, recipes, three weekly check-ins and an optional Skype session. Workouts are tailored to the client, with video links and audio instructions and costs one-tenth of traditional personal training.” ~ Alexandria Serra

IN SUMMARY… “Hiring someone to train you should be fun, challenging, and keep you intrinsically motivated to get in shape and stay in shape.” ~ Andrew Neitzke

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About the Author

Hi there! My name is Susan Gernhart and after spending my entire life in New York, I moved to Tampa, FL in May 2009. Speaking of changes, I fulfilled a lifelong dream by transitioning to a freelance writing career full-time in winter 2010 (having spent most of my career in the sports and entertainment industry) and have been working 7 days a week ever since! I've been published in several different outlets and have met some incredible people/subjects along the way, so I'm not complaining. I'm far from a health & fitness expert, but love writing, running, and snacking (!) and I look forward to contributing, learning and sharing on this site. Check out my work at www.susangernhart.com - thanks!

Community Thoughts (38)

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  1. MikeNo Gravatar says:

    I have been a trainer for over 12 years and I have many clients who say without getting a trainer they wouldn’t show up. A good reason to get a trainer is to learn how to perform exercises in a safe an effective manner. I see many people showing people haw to do exercises their way which may not be the safe way.

  2. Hiring a personal trainer may have it’s pros and cons like anything else, but if you reach your desired look you will probably be happy about it. Great post.

  3. AdvogirlNo Gravatar says:

    I love working out with my trainer. No matter how hard I push myself, I can’t get as good a workout as when I am being pushed by my trainer. It is a luxury. You don’t have to think about what is next, you just need to perform. My favorite indulgence.

  4. I have had a personal trainer in the past, and he was very mean to me. I know he was trying to motivate me, but I think some things are negative, when its important to treat someone with an obese problem as positive as possible. I guess the real deal is that you must find the right trainer for you. Great informative post here.

  5. Zahra BrownNo Gravatar says:

    Personally, I don’t need a PT. If I want someone to push me then I put on a workout DVD. That’s the only time I need encouragement.

    I wrote a blog about the worst personal trainers out there. People shouldn’t assume that just because the PT is qualified (if they even bothered to get qualified) doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing.

  6. Some people could never reach their goals without a personal trainer. They need the structure, accountability and proper approach. It’s an investment, not an expense.

  7. DeepakNo Gravatar says:

    Personal trainers are helpful in getting you in shape with proper monitoring….People need to understand their importance.

  8. Deepak, definitely agree with you.

  9. FitsiteNo Gravatar says:

    I think a lot of people are in need of a PT but they just don’t know it. They make sure your motivation doesn’t drop after a week and they make sure people lift those weights the proper way.

  10. PT’s can be great. When you are starting out, I think it’s a good idea to make sure your PT knows that you want to start out slowly. Especially if you are older, overweight, or both. I think most of us have seen trainers try to kill their clients during the first few sessions. Don’t let them do this to you.

  11. MikeNo Gravatar says:

    It’s hard work to get back into shape when you reach a certian age. If you’re young it isn’t so hard to get back up in your feet. Eating healthy is important too when your exercising, and a perfect diet. You can accomplish anything in life if you work hard at it.

  12. DanielNo Gravatar says:

    I have had a PT for about a year now and I can tell you it’s the best decision I’ve made in my life, period. I didn’t have the knowledge to really get going myself, only tidbits I’d read about or done in my high school gym class. I went 3 times a week for the entire year (barring some holidays or emergencies), and he was always there for me. I lost over 120 pounds, and am trying lose my last 15-20. I have gained an extensive amount of knowledge about different exercises and what I can accomplish. I hope everybody at least takes a look at what they can do for you. After all, NOTHING is more important than your health, we spend a ton of money on new gadgets and toys every year, why not put that money toward something that will last a lifetime, instead of just another toy you won’t like in a month anyway.

  13. Mark BungeNo Gravatar says:

    More important than a trainer is routine. If you go every day at a set time its a lot easier to mark sure you actually go each day.

    Even more important than that is diet, you are what you eat.

  14. RynoNo Gravatar says:

    I just started training with a trainer this week , im actually enjoying it so far. Thanks for great article.

  15. Funny GymNo Gravatar says:

    Im a personal trainer so it was interesting reading all this. Thanks for the post!

  16. AmyNo Gravatar says:

    It really is difficult to decide whether or not to spend the money on a trainer. However, if you don’t have another form of accountability or motivation, it can be an excellent option. Some trainers offer “demos” if you will. That’s another great way to see if a trainer is right for you.

  17. George ClarkNo Gravatar says:

    It really boils down to the chemistry between both parties.
    I used to give my clients the first two sessions at half price with a money back guarantee. You have to mesh with each other as with any relationship.

  18. PeterNo Gravatar says:

    Susan, I wish all personal trainers were like yours – patient, supportive and encouraging.

  19. Diet MindedNo Gravatar says:

    I’ve always liked the idea of a personal trainer and I think most people would benefit from having one. Problem is it’s just not affordable.

    Also, since you are dealing with another person, I think most people would not skip as many visits with their personal trainer as they would going to the gym by themselves.

  20. DerekNo Gravatar says:

    I think that a PT can really help someone that hasn’t worked out much previously, and get you motivated no matter what your skill level. However, I never had one myself since I really love to workout, so I never needed one. I do need some extra motivation once in awhile, but that I get either from varying my workout or popping in a DVD like P90X or something (people shouting at me always gets me riled up). Hope everybody is staying healthy, as a #1 goal!

  21. Blair JamesNo Gravatar says:

    I have nothing but kind words to say for my trainer who helped me lose weight. The support and encouragement he gave me was truly phenomenal. I think everyone needs someone to push them in order to achieve their goals and it’s always a great help to have a trainer that’s also passionate and dedicated.

  22. Aurela GaceNo Gravatar says:

    I had a personal trainer for a while, but I think it’s too expensive for the real value of their service. I just read a book and I know everything she knew, and it’s better to know yourself, than to always depend on other people for advice.

  23. AdamNo Gravatar says:

    I think it’s the financial side of things that would stop me getting a personal trainer. No doubt it would mean I wouldn’t slack as much but at the moment money isthe biggest factor for me.

  24. Jenn BrigoleNo Gravatar says:

    Wow. Virtual wellness coaching. That’s definitely something I should look into. But ultimately, it’s about finding what suits your lifestyle (budget and time wise) better for you to at least continue on the program that you’re supposedly committed to. After all, consistency and maintenance is what really matter, but that’s just me.

  25. MiaNo Gravatar says:

    I have to admit that I don’t like someone to boss me around! I know my limits and I know my goals. So why pay someone, when I can be my own trainer?

  26. YvonneNo Gravatar says:

    Everyone is different, some people can use a dvd and are happy with that others want to vary their activities and be pushed, but unless your trained to know what you limits should be or monitored to see how you have improved how do you know what to do to push or progress. Great post, obviously making a lot of people keen to have their say.

  27. GordonNo Gravatar says:

    I think that there is to many trainers who think more is better and over train there clients. I also feel that most personal trainers don’t focus enough on the nutritional aspect of their clients. Most people may feel that this is a mass generalization but this is how I feel. I think that some personal trainers don’t focus enough on there clients during training sessions. If your personal trainer busy playing with his phone while he’s working with you. You shouldn’t be working with him.

  28. I’ve never hired a personal trainer, I think I would love too, just to see if I get different results, but my PT is my interval timer.. I think if you have will power and you enjoy keeping fit, i need it not only to stay in shape but also for my sanity..watching your diet is actually the most important thing.. you can train with the best trainer in the world, but if your diet is not healthy, you will not see the results you want.

    So maybe one day I will get a few sessions, just to satisfy my curiosity :-)

  29. AmyNo Gravatar says:

    I thought about working with a personal trainer but the ones at me local gym don’t even look like they in shape their-self

  30. If you are fitness model then personal trainer is must for you, but according to me don’t pay others train yourself. ..

  31. JasonNo Gravatar says:

    I think that the industry is now being filled with inadequate trainers. The certificate standard is too low just so PT training companies can march them through the door for great profit. If you do need to hire a trainer I would not recommend someone just out of study, I would hire someone who has at least 5 years real client training and is activly doing continuing training in niche areas. Great blog guys.

  32. Hey actually in my opinion hiring personal trainer is good but it has its pro’s and con’s.Personal trainer can make u good workout.But it is very expensive.I go to gym so in my opinion dont hire personal trainer do u r own workout………

  33. KristieNo Gravatar says:

    I have had a personal trainer for several months and have achieved awesome results. If you do your homework and seek out a trainer that is not only certified but has a college degree in some form of exercise science then you will get the results you want and it will be worth the cost.

  34. PatrickNo Gravatar says:

    I would say another benefit of a trainer is that they can help you in achieving your wishes. Not everybody wants to be skinny, some people are looking to be bigger for football or a sport. Others want to run faster for a race. Trainers with the right training can help people with those sort of custom goals

  35. JoaquinNo Gravatar says:

    This is always a weird problem as everyone seems to be a personal trainer and for the most part most of them are but on different levels. Much like how there are older and possibly more wise trainers based on older ways and technology as opposed to the newer and younger trainers with different technology and understandings for peoples needs. I guess this is the toughest question that arises about personal trainers and what to look for. Who to pick?

    I should be like shopping and for some they are looking for general things while other search certain places for specific things which at times may be harder to find and a bit more expensive. Those willing to pay the extra buck and commit the extra mile will usually find the light and succeed because they sought after the right personal trainer for them. They should shop and sample before committing to find a person which resembles what they want to work towards and how they operate and how well they are familiar with body types similar to yours.

    I strongly believe when shopping for a product to serve a benefit they should look the way they need to be to immediately show capabilities. The ability to self maintain to show other shows commitment and hard work. A few things a good personal trainer should always offer.

  36. The only 2 cons I can think of when hiring a personal trainer can be avoided totally. 1) Do you research, find out of if the possible trainer is even certified and has a healthy fitness training background, master degrees are awesome, but personally they carry no weight for me. Many of my patients hold PhDs and are doctors, but still lack the training fundamentals a real personal trainer has. Look at his or her current client base; are they achieving the results they are paying for? Don’t hire a trainer just because he or she looks the part, they may specialize in different areas like bodybuilding, and your goals could be to do corrective exercise to fix a messed up shoulder. 2) Personal training can be expensive and take up your precious time but how much is your health worth to you. You need to ask yourself how much is your health worth to you? You only have one body, don’t waste it. 80% of people that say they cannot afford training spend tons of money on bad habits like smoking or drinking, or expensive hobbies that can wait for a while you straighten out your life. You have to make time. Move your schedule around and squeeze in a 30 minute or an hour workout. If an on call neonatologist who works 70+ hours a week can do it, then anyone can. And as for the “workout videos” they normally have good “cookie cutter” workouts, but they are not tailored to each individual nor do they hold you accountable or spot check your form to make sure you’re not going to injure yourself.

  37. Dan ClayNo Gravatar says:

    totally agree with it. there are not many qualified personal trainers in the fitness industry.

  38. Totally worth it unless you’re kelly harrelson

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