Paying for a Personal Trainer

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Paying for a Personal Trainer

Postby Jorpho » Sat Jul 17, 2010 3:00 am UTC

I was going to start off by posting a link to that study from earlier this year stating that people working with personal trainers obtain significantly better results than people working alone, but I suck at finding studies. I'm at least pretty sure I read this one correctly, though.

Anyway, I've been going to health clubs for a very long time with no loftier goals than wasting time, sleeping better at night, and maybe some vague notion about staying healthy. Consequently I am in rather good shape, but I do have an inclination towards actually achieving some quantitative benefit before I get too old. (I did try a fat loss program last year that was quite effective, if not especially enjoyable in itself.)

I suppose I could follow a program on my own, if I could find someone trustworthy to design it for me, but it is so easy to develop bad habits or to get suckered by bad advice. (I have no doubt there are a lot of people out there calling themselves "personal trainers" after a weekend certification program.)

The local health club offers PTs, of course, but tries to get people to commit to a year-long program of three sessions a week, at a rate of $676 per month. I can actually afford that and it's kind of tempting. I've had a few productive trial sessions so far; the trainer is friendly and seems to know what he's doing. Still, that is a lot of money.

Is this really such a bad idea? Perhaps someone here can relate good experiences he's had with a PT in the past? (yes yes Rippletoe lactates awesomeness, we do not need to talk about that.)

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Re: Paying for a Personal Trainer

Postby meatyochre » Sat Jul 17, 2010 3:15 am UTC

I'm renting a room from a family currently and the husband is a personal trainer with a chain place in the area (xsport fitness I think it's called). He keeps detailed papers on his clients' diets and exercise routines and he's on call pretty much 24 hours a day if they have a crisis. But it doesn't seem like this is something you couldn't do yourself. And it's certainly not worth 56 bucks an hour, in my opinion.

I mean, you could sign up for some sessions, but why sign up for a whole year's worth at once? Do a few and see if you like the person they give you.
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Re: Paying for a Personal Trainer

Postby Jorpho » Sat Jul 17, 2010 3:46 am UTC

meatyochre wrote:I mean, you could sign up for some sessions, but why sign up for a whole year's worth at once? Do a few and see if you like the person they give you.
Yes, I already have - as I said, they were productive and the trainer is friendly and seems to know what he's doing. And $56 does seem to be fairly standard for personal trainers everywhere - just maybe not the long-term thrice-weekly schedule.

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Re: Paying for a Personal Trainer

Postby Victoria Maddison » Sat Jul 17, 2010 4:56 am UTC

Jorpho wrote:Is this really such a bad idea?

Unfortunately there aren't any certifications a personal trainer can hold that say anything about the quality of their instruction, the industry is virtually unregulated. NCSA, CSCS, CPT, NASM, etc. are merely protection against lawsuits and required for insurance purposes. PTs in general aren't the most knowledgeable people and that may be OK if they serve a motivational role but if you're goal oriented and after results then not so much. The good ones however are easy to spot because they have a competitive background. If you're going to shell out for a PT ensure they've achieved at a high level themselves indicating first hand experience with the nuances of training, form, nutrition, injury prevention/rehabilitation, etc.

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Re: Paying for a Personal Trainer

Postby poxic » Sat Jul 17, 2010 5:24 am UTC

I worked with a trainer once a week for three weeks, which was fine for me. I learned things from him, then spent the rest of the week getting them down. (I'd like to get that arrangement again, but I wasn't very comfortable with that particular guy.)

I think he had to pace his instruction a little more slowly with the once-a-week thing, which was fine by me. I'm old and out of shape and felt that he was pushing me too hard every time I met with him. I had asthma attacks from the cardio he was setting for me. Once I was on my own, I could scale it back a touch and build it more gradually. By the next meeting, I'd reached the level he expected from me the previous time, so it more or less worked.
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Re: Paying for a Personal Trainer

Postby studyinserendipity » Sat Jul 17, 2010 3:09 pm UTC

When I signed up for a gym membership a couple years ago, it came with 3 sessions with a personal trainer complimentary. I think it was the same kind of situation as poxic, where I saw him once a week for three weeks. It was the perfect thing for me because I knew how to do some exercises but my PT really put in the time to show me how to get the most out of each exercise, whether to do circuit or sets based on my goals, when it was time to move up to more weight, etc. He gave me a chart to keep track of the exercises I was doing and chart my progress, which I really liked. After those 3 sessions, I was able to keep up the program (probably about 5-6x per week) for the rest of the year and make what was to me significant progress to my goals. I moved the following year so I was unable to continue at the gym, but if I had stayed I would have signed up for a couple more sessions at the beginning of the next year to get some advice on upping the intensity of the workout - different exercises, different body goals now that I had put on more muscle, and just an overall change in routine.

Using a personal trainer in my experience is great for when you are starting out or need a change (either more or less intense) from your current exercise knowledge. But I don't think you will need to meet with the person 3x per week for a year, unless you don't trust yourself to keep up the same intensity/routine if the trainer is not present (which is probably another good reason to have a trainer).
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Re: Paying for a Personal Trainer

Postby fooliam » Wed Jul 21, 2010 8:56 pm UTC

IF you're just going to the gym to stay in shape, and you've had pretty good results without a personal trainer, why pay the money?

However, if you've got some specific goals in mind, then a personal trainer will be a good investment, as they will be able to develop an exercise plan specifically designed to meet those goals. As someone else mentioned, there are a whole lot of different ways a person can become a "certified" personal trainer. There are a lot of certifications that mean pretty much nothing, but there are also a lot of certifications that a person has to be pretty knowledgable to pass the exam. A lot of people will refer to the ACSM Certified Personal Trainer as the "gold standard" and its a fairly rigorous exam, but it's not the only credible certification around. Your best bet is to find a trainer who has a 4 year degree in exercise science/physiology/kinesiology.

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