Sunday, June 30, 2013

What Does it Mean to Hire a Personal Trainer?

Shameless self promotion...
Recovery from any illness takes many small steps, and a few big ones. I was blessed to be able to take a big one this week when I received clearance to return to my work as a personal trainer. By way of celebration and shameless self-promotion, I want to spend some time talking about why hiring a trainer might be right for you... or not... b

First, last, and always, wellness is a commitment that you make to yourself. Training partners and classmates might count on you to be there. Teachers and trainers rely on you for their vocation and income.  Your loved ones depend on you to be present and alive and strong for them. Your country and community might even call upon you to be fit enough to serve in war or peace. Many hold a stake in your wellness, but there is only one person to whom you are really accountable. You are the only one who knows the difference between 98% and 100% effort. Others can help to motivate and educate you, but ultimately, the only person you have to answer to for your wellness is the one in the mirror. Will a Personal Trainer help to hold you accountable? Sure. But sooner or later, you have to decide to save your own life. A PT ain't gonna "take you to raise."

Let's be clear: a PT works for you. You rely on them for expertise and good judgement, but if you don't trust them, you need to sever the relationship with all loving haste. Neither of you should ever forget who does the hiring and firing in this business.

At the same time, hiring a PT involves certain promises from you that you owe it to yourself to keep. You promise to pay your bill, but chances are that your Trainer is working for a gym or club who won't pay them until they have provided you with service. In other words, when you fail to show up for a session, the gym still gets paid, (you probably paid them up front anyway,) but your Trainer doesn't. The doctor can bill you for not showing up. A health club is much less likely to do that. It's more than just common courtesy... it's helping your trainer to pay their bills and stay in a profession that is probably more about passion than wealth for them. Even as you ask them to honor your commitment to wellness, your promise to honor their commitment to professionalism and to your best interest.

But enough about your Trainer's pocketbook... what about yours? Hiring a PT isn't ever cheap. You owe it to yourself to get your money's worth. That means more than just showing up on time and ready to work. It means putting the things you learn to use between sessions. Unless you're meeting with a trainer several times a week, 90% of your workouts are going to be on your own. Your Trainer is there to supplement your wellness program, not to be a substitute for it. Meeting 30 or 60 minutes a week with a trainer is not going to get you where you want to be all by itself. When I worked with Coach Carrie, I knew that I would endure 30 minutes of hell most of the time, but I also knew that she was teaching me workouts that I needed to repeat several times during the week if I was going to see any real benefit from them. If you show up for your Thursday session with your PT knowing that your last real workout was the previous Thursday... you're breaking a promise to yourself and being a pretty lousy steward of those dollars that you spent when you signed up.

Hiring a Trainer costs you a lot more than money. Is it worth it?

In exchange for my investment of time and money and effort, here are some of the benefits I received from my own Personal Trainer:

  • Scientifically designed workouts based on the knowledge and experience of a certified professional.
  • Initial assessment and monitoring of my progress based on my own performance.
  • "Teachable moments" when Coach took the opportunity to educate me about the art and science of the fitness business.
  • Exposure to new exercises  that I would not have found on my own.
  • Careful, specific observation of my technique with feedback to make my exercise safer and more effective.
  • A professional motivator, cheerleader, task master, and fan who shared my goals and worked with me to achieve them.
Look, I'm a very motivated guy. I work hard. I go the extra mile. But my Trainer helped me to levels that I would not have reached on my own. Maybe that's because I wanted to please her. Maybe it was just because she believed in me and convinced me to believe in myself. Whatever the reason, I know that I am faster, stronger, and healthier because I worked with a Personal Trainer. My work with Coach was time and money well spent.

I believe anyone can benefit from working with a Personal Trainer, as long as they are willing to keep the promises that relationship represents.
  • To be present
  • To work hard
  • To apply the things you learn
  • To trust your trainer's judgment, and your own
  • To accept the responsibilities of stewardship for your own money, time, and wellness
  • To end the relationship and find another solution when you are not seeing tangible results.
You may not be ready to keep those promises. In that case, congratulations for being self-aware enough to know it. You can still work out, educate yourself, ask questions, and get fit. Maybe you're just starting out. Maybe you've been working hard for a long time and really need to dial it back a little. Or maybe you have some other reason that's keeping you from taking the Personal Training plunge. There's not a thing wrong with that.

But if you are ready... if you feel like you could do better for yourself if you had some help, then hiring a PT might be just the right step for you.

Just be sure you hire a good one. (Insert coy self-reference here...) In our next session, maybe we'll spend some time considering just how you can tell if you've found a good one. 'Till next time...

Sleep well. Eat clean. Lift heavy. Run hard.


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