Should I have a personal trainer?
I’ve been training or exercising regularly in some form for over 20 years now, from the very beginnings of mini rugby, through school and University, on to American Football (once I was working and could afford the kit!) and ultimately to riding my road bike in retirement (from these ‘contact’ sports at least). From a relatively early age I was introduced to gym work too and have always enjoyed it too, although mainly as a means to an end in improving my fitness for a chosen sport.
However, one thing I’ve never tried is a proper personal trainer. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had advice and assistance from various people (some of them PTs too), but never a regular personal trainer that’s set a full workout for me to do – whether they’re with me or not. Recently the lovely folks at Fitness First offered me the chance to rectify that.
So I headed down to their shiny new Baker Street gym and had my first ever personal training session. It was a great experience and learned a lot from the session, much of which I still use today. But to answer the question whether I think you (dear reader) should start using a personal trainer, I thought I’d put together some key questions to consider and help you make this decision. So here goes:
Are you new to working out?
Whether it’s a new sport, a new gym or a new exercise, trying something for the first time can be scary. So having an expert there can be reassuring and, more importantly, make sure you’re doing everything correctly/safely. When trying anything for the first time, I’ve always preferred instruction as anyone would, so on this level I would definitely endorse a PT or some sort of expert to advise you on the best way to train.
What are your goals?
Are you planning to train hard for a few months or even longer? Are you training to lose weight, get a bit fitter or for a specific event/sport? These are all things to consider when not only deciding if you should have a PT, but also which person you should select. For example, if you’re a cyclist then it’s probably worth finding a trainer that has some experience or knowledge of the other areas (off the bike) to train you.
Do you like (or need) the motivation?
In a nutshell, this one is two-fold: First, do you know what tough feels like? Second, do you need to know you’re throwing money down the toilet if you don’t go and see your PT? Any form of training needs to be tough and knowing to what degree can be half the battle when it comes down to it. You need to have the drive to turn up every time and push yourself as much as you need to as well. If paying someone does either or both of those for you, then great. If you can do it yourself, then even better! Having said that, I am inclined to recommend the odd ‘check-in session’ with a trainer of some description even if you only do it every 3-6 months – as the benefit of someone really pushing you physically, reassessing your goals with you and giving you some new or updated advice could be really valuable in the long run.
Do you like working out with other people?
Personally, I do not. I don’t mind working out with friends, but generally I never felt the need to socialise at the gym and I think my chosen sport now sort of speaks for itself too! I opt to sit on a bike in my garage (by myself) orout on the road (usually on my own), and even back when I was at the gym every morning I would generally be ‘that guy’ not making eye contact just working out with my headphones in. But if you like or need the company, then a PT or some kind of classes are a great idea.
Do you get bored/distracted easily?
I’m sure there are people that like the ‘surprise’ element of PT workouts and others that can’t keep their focus with all the other people around, but I can’t say it’s been a big issue for me. Having the right trainer there to keep you on point would certainly be a benefit.
So, should I have a personal trainer?
I had a fantastic session with a great PT, who happened to also have big cycling background and gave me some really useful advice. However, I wouldn’t see myself needing one regularly – not least because they’d mostly have to stand next to me on my bike on a roller in my garage watching me sweat! I could see the value in a 3-6 monthly check-in style session with the right trainer, but I have to say that my goals are set, I’m pretty experienced at training hard and I have no major issues with motivating myself (I’m normally up and on my bike by 6am if I’m riding). So for me, it’s not high on my agenda, but would I recommend it for someone else? Definitely! The benefits are clear and if I did see a trainer regularly I guarantee I’d be fitter by the end of it!