- You walk into the gym, head straight the treadmill (or elliptical or stationary bike) and never set foot on the weight room floor: Strength training is essential to maintain strong bones and retain muscle mass. If you do not strength train, after age 30 you lose approximately 3 to 5 percent of your muscle mass per decade. With a loss of muscle mass comes a loss of daily function and a slower metabolism – so you move less, burn fewer calories and – surprise – gain weight. A trainer can put together a program for you to begin weight training, and it doesn’t mean you will have to sacrifice your beloved cardio.
- You are lifting the same weight or running/cycling the same pace as you were when you began exercising a year ago, or longer: Increasing your weight and working toward a faster speed challenges your body to make change. Chances are, your body is comfortable with that weight or speed by now. You may not have the confidence to step it up on your own, however. A trainer can give you the kick in the pants you need.
- You do the same workout every time: Similar to lifting the same weight, doing the same exercises or sticking to the same routine becomes the norm for your body. You should change up your routine every four to six weeks. A trainer can give you some new ideas as to how to do this.
- You are constantly battling injuries: You might be doing something wrong – overtraining, lifting too heavy, using improper techniques. A trainer can help you identify what is wrong, and how to modify exercises to work around injury.
- You have every intention of hitting the gym, but (insert excuse here) comes up: A trainer makes you accountable: While a trainer cannot force you into the gym, shelling out cash for a set appointment is a pretty good incentive to show up – even at those times where you just don’t feel like it.
- You know you need to work out, but have no idea where to start: The gym can be intimidating. A trainer can show you where to start.
- You haven’t seen any results – whether that be weight loss, strength gains, better definition or improved energy – from your workouts: This could be due to any number of reasons, but if you think you are doing “everything” maybe you need a fresh, neutral perspective? Trainer, anyone?
- You are honestly confused by what to do? yoga? Pilates? strength-training? cardio? How long, how often? Again, a trainer can help you determine which workouts will help you best meet your goals. A good trainer will guide you to do workouts outside of the sessions you spend with him.
- You have hit a weight plateau: You lost the first 5, 10, 20 lbs. on your own, and suddenly the weight won’t budge. By offering something different, a trainer may be able to guide you through stagnation.
- You are bored by the gym: A trainer can make things interesting again. At least it gives you a purpose.
A trainer can provide you with guidance in setting and achieving your goals. When selecting a trainer, you must find someone with whom you have rapport — someone who understands your goals and that you trust. You must also be willing to follow your trainer’s advice – provided it is sound. If something your trainer says doesn’t sound right – challenge them! A trainer should help you achieve YOUR goals – not their goals. Your trainer should listen when you say “it hurts” but also push you past perceived limitations. I hear your objections:
“I can’t afford it.” Your body is an investment in health, fitness and self-confidence. Even if you cannot afford regular sessions, consider a tune-up session once a quarter. You could also look into partner or group training where two or three people with similar goals split the cost of a session. Think where else you spend your money — maybe you could give up a dinner out ($40 -$60) and spend that money on a training session instead.
“I know what I am doing/what I should do.” The best trainers have worked with trainers themselves. No one is above learning new techniques. Besides, if you know what you should do — why aren’t you doing it?
“I don’t know a good one.” Shop around and interview potential prospects. Hiring a trainer is an investment — treat it like one. Don’t just go with the first person your gym offers — they may be good, but they may be better for someone else. Don’t be intimidated…ask your friends for recommendations — ask prospective trainers for references and talk to them about working style and expectations. You can find a good one, but you do have to do some work.