Why go to a personal trainer?
A personal trainer's job is to make a fitness routine specific to you. For example, if you have a bad knee, your trainer would help you figure out what exercises you can do that are beneficial to you without hurting you. Or if you were just getting into exercising, your trainer would help you ease into a routine that was doable and not overwhelming.
People use personal trainers for a variety of reasons, whether it be to live a healthier lifestyle or for a more specific reason, such as training for a half marathon. Some parents might go to a personal trainer to set a better example for their children. Parents can have an impact on their children's lives by simply getting more active and eating better.
Anyone of any fitness level can go to a personal trainer. However, personal trainers can be an expensive investment for some people. Some trainers will offer a discounted price if you bring a friend. Once you find a trainer you like, it's good to discuss price with them during your consultation or first session.
What happens when you go to a personal trainer?
Your first visit with your personal trainer will likely be your consultation. For the first session, some trainers won't put you through a workout routine. Instead, you will sit down and talk about your health, eating habits and goals. This first session is your chance to get to know your trainer.
Your trainer will want to want to hear about your personal health, such as if you suffer from any heart or lung conditions or if there's any reason a doctor would recommend you not exercise.
You and your trainer might also discuss your eating habits. Some personal trainers know about nutrition, but it's important to discuss any major dietary changes with your medical doctor or a licensed dietitian.
When you meet with your trainer, you will also discuss goals. It's also important to be realistic in what you can attain in a certain time span. For example, if you want six-pack abs, your trainer, regardless of how good they are, probably can't get you that in two weeks.
During your training sessions, you will do a variety of workout routines specifically crafted for you. You might do a mix of cardio, strength training and stretching. Each trainer's approach will vary, and it's good to find someone you're comfortable around.
Does it hurt?
During the workout, you might feel pain and fatigue. It's important for you to be able to distinguish between pushing yourself hard and when your body is asking you to stop.
For at least the first few sessions, you will likely be sore afterward. Usually after a few weeks, your soreness will likely decrease, unless you and your trainer add a new exercise.
What are the risk factors?
Exercise-related risk factors are one of the main reasons to get a personal trainer. One of the biggest risks of exercising is suffering from injuries based on poor form or from using the wrong weights.
A good personal trainer can decrease your likelihood of hurting yourself. One of your trainer's jobs is to watch your form carefully while you're exercising and correct any bad habits.
For example, knees and shoulders are typically the main two areas to be injured while exercising. If you're doing lunges, your trainer will make sure your knee isn't going too far forward.
What's the follow-up?
The number of sessions you have with your trainer will depend on your goals and financial means. If you have enough of an income to have regular sessions, you might go back weekly or every other week.
If you're training for a half marathon, then you might see your trainer up until the race and then take a break from personal training.
One of the benefits of having a trainer is that he or she will likely track your progress, allowing you to see how far you've come.
Source: Katie Howard,
of You & Improved Fitness; National Institute of Diabetes and Kidney Diseases;
The Mayo Clinic