Can Every Body Benefit from a Personal Fitness Trainer?

About five years ago, I joined a gym. My goals: to lose weight, enhance my health, and – I confess – reduce those unsightly bulges that made me shudder when I tried on a bikini!

The health club manager showed me how to use the Nautilus equipment, scribbled a few notes on a card labeled “Your Workout Program,” and thanked me for joining. Hmmm. Now what?

For the next three years, I attempted to achieve my fitness goals. But between my ability to create exercise excuses (“Hmmm, my little finger on my right hand seems sore – I’d better skip my workout today”) and my lack of knowledge, I didn’t get very far. I noticed, however, that some of the other gym regulars did progress. So what made the difference?

When I asked, I discovered that many of them had utilized the services of a personal fitness trainer. For example, one woman, Sue, noted that initially, “the most helpful aspect of working with a trainer was developing a consistent training routine, proper form and nutritional guidance. At first, what I valued was a trainer who listened to what I wanted and offered a personalized routine that would help me achieve my goals. Nutrition advice and follow up with me on how I was doing kept me motivated, especially when the first question of a training session is ‘So, what did you eat yesterday?'”

Sue recommended her personal fitnesss trainer, Dirk Bruins, with whom she continues to work out. “Currently, I value a trainer who pushes me beyond my strength limits and directs my focus on results and away from outside distractions,” she says.

Dirk offers these thoughts on choosing a fitness trainer who’s right for you: “I think that personality compatibility is probably the most important thing when selecting a personal trainer. Most good trainers will offer a free initial consultation meeting where the trainer and client can “get to know each other” and see if their style, personality, and interests match.”

How long does it take before his clients see results? Dirk estimates that it typically requires two to 3 week diet of “dedicated training and moderate dieting to see measurable results. Increased vitality, energy, and motivation result almost immediately.” His own qualifications include a B.S. in Genetics, certification as an American College of Sports Medicine Exercise Test Technologist and Emergency Medical Technician, and 15 years of weight training experience.”

Zach White, manager of the Scotts Valley World Gym in Santa Cruz, California, offered these responses to some of the most common questions about working with a personal fitness trainer:

1) How much does it cost? Zach says that rates vary across the country, depending on the area as well as the trainer’s education and experience. “Typically, the fee ranges from $25.00 an hour to $45 or more,” he adds.

2) Do I have to keep paying for sessions forever in order to get results? “No, usually in 12 to 16 weeks, you can achieve your goal,” says Zach. “And that is true whether your goal is to increase strength, increase endurance, or lose body fat.”

3) How should I choose a personal fitness trainer? Zach advises that you ask for personal recommendations. “You can also see if your gym has a list of certified trainers. And spend some time watching the trainers at work, to see if you’re comfortable with their style. For example, some trainers will get you all hyped up, while others have a more quieter and calmer approach.”

He also emphasized that it is important to interview the trainer, and be sure that the trainer is certified (the accredited professional organizations for personal fitness trainers include ACSM, AFAA, and ACE).

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