The true value of personal training is very frequently overlooked, partially because our profession is relatively young and the spread of misinformation is rampant these days because of social media. The truth is, there is so much information out there–good and bad–that it is nearly impossible to parse through it all if you lack the experience and knowledge base of those who work professionally in our industry. Is there anything wrong with working out independently? Absolutely not! However, personal training offers such a useful resource that if you care any bit about whether or not your workouts are getting you anywhere, you need to consider taking at least some guidance from a trainer.
We as trainers often offer complimentary orientations, workouts, or initial assessments. Believe it or not, this isn’t even a real trap. I love doing these because it serves as a low-barrier opportunity to help some individuals who may really be struggling with their health. I, like many other trainers, use this time to discuss your goals and health history, and observe your movement and possible issues that you may deal with in your day-to-day occupations that could contribute to any limitations. Based on what I observed, I will typically guide you toward the direction of corrective exercises that are geared toward alleviating any imbalances that I found. The next step is about your goals and what your pursuit should look like in terms of types of exercises that would benefit you and how frequently you’d want to train. Yes, I provide all of this for free, and so do most other trainers.
Way too many people will leave the assessment right there because they are confident that this was all they needed from us as trainers, and they should be able to take it from there. For some, maybe that was all they needed to start moving the needle toward where they want to be. However, more often than not, most individuals will be so much better off by enrolling in a training program.
If all of the value in personal trainers was in the piece of our job that we’ll do for free, there’s no way it would last as a profession. Up until this point, we’ve shown you a few of the tools that will set you up for success in the pursuit of your goal. Other than being able to interpret your movements and goals, our expertise as trainers is exemplified by our skill in designing and implementing the perfect program for you, which is at the core of what we’re trying to sell when we show you the prices of our training packages. The program itself is often misunderstood to be a simple, set list of exercises along with their sets, reps, and weight. Any trainer worth their weight will tell you that an exercise program is such a fluid and ever-evolving plan that it is changing every time we see you, even throughout a training session. This is because your program is constantly adapting just as your body is adapting and progressing.
An issue that the common gym-goer experiences is when their training comes to a plateau, which is essentially when you feel your strength or endurance are at a standstill. In most cases, unless you have pushed your body to its fullest capacity (which extremely rare), this is occurring simply from poor exercise programming. As trainers, we track your workouts so that we can quantify how you are progressing. This allows us to progress your program constantly so that you never experience that plateau in performance.
Something we as personal trainers are notorious for is how much we care about exercise technique. The reason we are so concerned with technique is very simple: proper exercise technique is crucial to get the full benefits from exercise, and we just don’t want anyone to waste their time using poor form. If you are reading this thinking “okay technique doesn’t matter that much,” I’m going to let you in on a secret. If your technique is compromised because the weight you’re lifting is too heavy, you’re missing out on the real strength gains. As personal trainers, we’ll never let you perform an exercise incorrectly and we’ll make sure you’re using a good weight as to optimize the benefits from your program. Not only does poor technique result in fewer benefits from a workout, but there’s also a greater chance of injury.
I’d say that around 80% of my clients experienced limitations from a previous injury when I first met them. That being said, an individual who is training without a trainer will often find this injury as an obstacle that is really difficult to overcome. As personal trainers, we work with you through the injuries and try to be part of the team made up of doctors, physical therapists, and other clinicians that are focused on helping you reach a healthy, pain-free life.
When you go to physical therapy for an injury, you don’t just keep making appointments after you’ve recovered. You eventually “graduate” and continue with a home exercise program on your own. As personal trainers, our training programs for our clients are not all that different. My end goal for training clients is to provide them with the tools and knowledge they will need to be successful in the independent pursuit of their own fitness goals and health. I don’t believe in people feeling dependent on a personal trainer for the rest of their lives, as a trainer’s job should be to equip their clients with the knowledge and skills necessary for success.
Ultimately, personal trainers act as your guide on your journey with fitness. We coach you through the training programs that we design specifically to improve your health and fitness, all while teaching you how to understand what your body is trying to tell you. One of the most shocking moments I’ve had in my professional experience was when I learned that some individuals cannot tell the difference between pain and muscle soreness. This inability to discriminate between these signals our body sends us can pose a massive hinderance on our path towards a healthy and active lifestyle. Personal trainers are an incredibly valuable investment for anyone who is on the pursuit of health- or fitness-related goals, but also for those who just love being active.