BlogHer, Fitness

Personal Trainers: The Good and the Bad

(This is cross-posted at BlogHer.)

If I had the money, I’d hire a personal trainer. I’d want someone really badass — a person who’d get up in my face, push me, and yell at me if I wasn’t working hard enough. Basically, I want someone who’d kick my butt on a regular basis. I want to be a lean(er), mean(er), fighting machine.

It’s not that I’m looking for motivation to go to the gym, because my three-times-a-week weight workouts are going to happen regardless. But I tend to do the same routines a lot, depending on which muscle group I’m working that day, so it would be helpful to have someone there who could lead me through different combinations. (Variety…it’s a wonderful thing.)

Or, if not for just variety and yelling-at-Zan purposes, having someone there to spot me so I can work my way up to lifting heavier weights would be really ideal. I tend to use heavier weights when I have someone there with me, because if I get halfway through a move and I’m stuck with a heavy bar above my chest, it’s nice to have someone there to take it from me so it doesn’t smash on my ribcage. For this reason, if I’m at the gym by myself I tend to lift weights I know I can handle.

I’m definitely doing better than when I first started, but if I had someone there with me on a regular basis I’m sure I could have progressed even faster — maybe I’d even be doing “real” pushups by now. (I am determined! I will do them!)

Given all this, you would think I’d jump at the chance to take advantage of the personal-training option at my gym (three free sessions when you first become a member, then one free session per month). However, as much as I like my gym, the trainers on staff are lackadaisical and completely UN-motivating. I’ve never actually had a session with one of the staff-trainers, but I’ve seen enough of them in action to know that I’d much rather work out by myself.

(Picture this: a woman does some ab exercises while her “trainer” stands by with arms folded, looking in the opposite direction. He speaks in a monotone. For the last half hour of their hour-long session? He tells her to get on the treadmill — which, of course, he won’t have to stick around for.)

The only trainers I’ve seen at the gym (the ones not dressed in the requisite bright teal staff t-shirts) who come across as attentive and motivating are the ones who aren’t employed by the gym. I’m guessing this is partly due to the fact that they’re getting paid more to be there. Either that, or they really like what they’re doing.

Even though I’ve seen plenty of unmotivating trainers, the ones who do know what they’re doing are truly inspiring and can go a long way in helping someone meet their fitness goals. I think the mark of a good trainer is someone who’s genuinely interested in your progress.

If you currently have a personal trainer, do you think the money you spend is worth it? If you don’t have one, would you hire somebody if you could?

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