The health and wellness industry in the United States has exploded with new fitness apps, gyms, diet plans, and even new sports. Individuals looking to get in shape and have an active lifestyle who don't know where to start can dip into the $9 billion a year US personal training market.
Here is what you can expect when working with a new personal trainer, whether for general fitness or sport-specific goals:
Initial Sit Down
Experienced personal trainers won’t assume anything about your goals and will start off by asking about your background and current level of fitness or sports. No matter your goals or current shape, make sure you are honest and open about the questions. Personal trainers aren’t there to make you feel bad, they focus on getting results. If you want to make improvements on your current situation, make sure you're open with your trainer.
To get a sense of your capabilities and comfort, your personal trainer will likely have you perform a series of training evaluations. No matter what exercises the personal trainer has you doing, make sure to communicate if something is uncomfortable, especially in areas that are sensitive due to previous injury or medical conditions. In golf, your trainer might need you to complete a golf workout to see you in action but you might look uncomfortable due to an injury. Make sure you communicate this to your trainer so he or she can take precautions and measures to prevent further injury.
Based on your conversation, evaluation results, and goals, a personal trainer will be able to create your own personal workout plan. Similar to a professional athlete's training regimen, your personal trainer will make sure the plan is tailored to meet your fitness or sports goals and capabilities. For instance, if you have never been in the gym, a personal trainer isn’t going to start with powerlifting heavy weights day one. Some trainers may be certified as both a nutritionist and a trainer and can help build a customized diet to enhance your fitness plan.
Since you are paying a personal trainer to get you into shape, their success depends on you achieving your goals. This conflict keeps trainers focused on your results during each session and throughout the course of the plan. You may be able to lie to yourself in the mirror or fudge the numbers on your daily tracker, but your trainer will know exactly how you are progressing.
Correct Form and Safety
Many exercises and training methods can be dangerous if not performed in the appropriate manner. Especially with heavier weights, exercises like deadlifts, squats, and bench press can be extremely dangerous leading to injury and even hospitalization. As part of your initial evaluation, personal trainers will be able to see how well you do with the proper form. For heavier lifters, they offer safe lifting practices and weight recommendations to help the gym goes avoid becoming a cautionary tale.
The most important item a professional trainer can bring to any new workout or gym visit is routine. Many times, people new to the gym or exercise will give up or not see the results they are expecting. Personal trainers will be able to maximize your fitness by setting up a weekly or monthly routine that not only complements your fitness and exercise goals but also your daily schedule. Consistency also means your trainer will mix up your workouts once you start to plateau making sure you're growing and getting stronger consistently.
Similar to consistency, many new gym-goers are easily demotivated by lack of quick results or inability to maintain a routine. A trainer is like your own personal cheerleader during your sessions. They will keep you working towards your goals and are able to push you to be the best person in the gym. Think of the Jillian Michaels workout videos pushing you through reps.
Personal trainers know how to work the smaller muscles throughout the body many athletes might not even workout regularly. The first few workouts, especially for those new to the gym, are typically accompanied by soreness in areas never even felt before. Don’t let the soreness be a deterrent to continuing your workout, be sure to ask your trainer their recommendations on recovery.
If you want to avoid protein powders or adding extra food to your diet, stretching and hydration can help avoid lactic acid build-up. Be sure to let your trainer know if you have dietary restrictions. In some sports, there are also other factors that cause soreness such as the wrong fit of shoes, improper usage of equipment, uncomfortable clothes, etc. You must be able to find the best equipment and clothes that also give value to your money.
Avoid Missed Days
Many personal trainers may make you pay upfront for sessions. Any good personal trainer will let you know how much money you will lose if you miss a session. This tactic is called loss aversion and will motivate you to get to the gym for your session every scheduled day regardless of your motivation. Monetary loss is a strong motivator!
On top of making sure you are in the gym keeping you motivated by getting you to push through reps and sets, your personal trainer will be watching during workouts. As fatigue sets in, your trainer will be there counting every rep so skipping reps and sets is nearly impossible. During certain workouts, they will keep you on task especially during high-intensity cardio days where timed breaks are strictly scheduled to maximize the effect.
Places like Orange Theory and companies like Fitbit have capitalized on the science of exercise technology. Since scientists have found the optimal heart rate for certain goals, like fat-burning heart rate range, personal trainers are tuned into the science of working out. Many personal trainers have heart rate monitors so they know when to push and when to ease off to make sure you aren’t experiencing burn out. Technology is also expensive. Most trainers won’t require you to purchase hundreds or thousands of dollars or wearable technology as it will probably be part of your session fees.
Your new personal trainer has many benefits ranging from accountability to continuous growth, there are normal stages new trainees will go through hesitation, excitement, soreness, plateau, breakthrough. The last two stages repeat themselves over time. As science has brought new technology and understanding to exercise science, personal trainers are more attuned to the individual needs of trainees to maximize fitness and sports goals.
About the author: Jordan Fuller is a golf enthusiast. Like anyone else, he also had the need to work with a trainer, someone who could motivate him to excel. Now, he is a coach and golf mentor and he writes tips and advice on his golf publication site golfinfluence.com