In my years of working as a fitness and lifestyle consultant, personal training has been a major part. Personal training is just that, one teacher for one student. Let’s review why personal training works so well for helping people get fitness and wellness results.
Personal fitness training works for some people when the other methods (going to the gym, going to group classes, working out at home alone) have failed. There are several reasons for this. The main reason is the motivation factor. The trainer devotes full attention to the client during the workout and encourages the best effort. There is a feeling of being monitored by the trainer, as the workout routine is carefully recorded and progress is noted. It is harder to make an excuse to miss a workout to a teacher.
The exercise program is designed for the client’s individual needs. In a trainer designed routine the exercise selection is specific and produces individual results. The trainer sees only the client doing the exercises and can quickly correct improper form. A personal trainer is often able to give help with other needed changes, such as nutrition or smoking cessation. These kinds of needs are just as important as the physical activity.
Paying for a personal trainer is often a motivator in itself. Most people do not want to waste their exercise dollar and will work harder in the program.
The best trainers can offer clients efficient workouts that get results by following specific procedures. New programs start with an evaluation of the individual with a health history, wellness priorities, goals, and a fitness assessment. The health history screens for medical problems and for the need to see a doctor before beginning an exercise program. It also alerts the trainer to physical conditions that may need special exercises, such as bad knees, a back injury, diabetes, and etc.
Wellness priorities evaluate if physical and fitness needs are really the issue. Occasionally the individual really needs to focus on other aspect of wellness: emotional, social, occupational, spiritual, or intellectual. In these cases it is more important for the client to do just that and plan on a future big change in their physical activities. The fitness priority must be there for the training to be most effective.
Fitness assessment is a battery of activities that determines physical strengths and weaknesses. These evaluate body composition, cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength and endurance, and flexibility. From all the information collected goals are set. The question, “What does the client really want to achieve?” is answered. Long-term and short-term goals are set in realistic, reachable steps.
The trainer now can design the fitness program around the results of the evaluations. The exercise routines are designed especially for the individual client, and take into account any special areas of concern, like joint problems. Most trainers help motivate their clients with a tracking system of records and charts that records the progress made. Regular repeated fitness testing demonstrates improvement is helpful in the readjustment of the program.
Personal trainers spend much time improving the quality of the workouts people have been doing. Clients are taught to use proper technique in each exercise to reduce stress on joints and lessen the chance of injury. There are several common mistakes trainers find people doing when they first begin working a program together:
- Doing too much cardiovascular exercise and not realizing that resistance training will enhance the body composition changes that are desired.
- Not doing enough weight training to improve muscle tone and postural problems.
- Improper exercise form; doing cardiovascular and weight training exercises incorrectly. This produces ineffective results and increases the chance of injury.
- Incorrect amount of weight. Many men tend to use too much weight and sacrifice proper form. Many women do not use heavy enough weight and fail to see the maximum results in body composition and muscle tone.
- Working the wrong body parts. There is a tendency to focus too much on the muscles that are naturally strong, and not focus enough on the weaker muscle groups.
- Nutrition problems. Many women do not eat enough food (or the best food) to support maximum health and body composition changes.
- Motivation. Many people motivate themselves in a negative way, thinking awful things about themselves. A good personal trainer will look for the positive experience and motivation.
It is definitely worth the time spent with a good personal trainer if you want to improve your fitness level. How do you know you have a good one? A good trainer is educated and intelligent. They are certified by at least one nationally recognized fitness organization, and many have degrees in health and fitness related fields. In other words, a good personal trainer is a professional. It is important to check the credentials of anyone you are thinking of hiring as a personal trainer.
Look for a personal trainer who is a good listener and communicates clearly, encouraging and answering your questions. The trainer should be interested in your fitness preference and help you set safe and realistic goals.
Working out with a personal trainer may motivate you to push for maximum results, and accomplish more in one hour than if you were working out on your own. Everybody needs a coach at one time or another, and personal trainers are a great way to improve your fitness program.