Personal trainers were once a rarity reserved to A-List actors and pro athletes, but these days they’re more common than ever.
But opinions on hiring one are somewhat split. Some think a good trainer is worth every penny, while others think it’s all a big waste of money.
So, what’s the truth? The short answer is, yes, a personal trainer is a good investment if you can afford it, especially if you’re very busy or don’t have much experience with working out.
But if you want a closer, more detailed look, keep reading.
First, let’s go over the good things about trainers.
Reduces Your Learning Curve and Speeds Up Results
One of the biggest reasons to hire a trainer is the assumption that they know more about exercise and nutrition than you do. After all, it is their job, right? A good trainer should know what works, what doesn’t, and why.
This means they can help you get faster results, and hopefully you’ll even pick up some of the knowledge they’re putting down. It can also reduce your chances of injury, since the trainer will teach you proper form and critique yours while you workout.
Of course, this all assumes that:
Plans and Tracks Your Workouts and Diet
Another key advantage to having a good personal trainer is that they’ll be planning your workout and designing a meal plan to fit your needs.
It’s up to you to follow their instructions and advice, of course, but you won’t be wasting time racking your brain over which exercise to do or wandering the grocery store wondering what to eat. This is great for people with busy, demanding lives.
And not only can they cater their advice to your needs and goals, they can track and adapt to your progress, which isn’t something you’ll get by copying workout plans from a magazine or website.
Provides Accountability and Motivation
Are you the kind of person who has trouble sticking to a regular workout routine?
A personal trainer can help with that. They’ll make you more accountable just by being there – and with the awareness that you’re flushing money down the toilet with every minute you waste.
Plus, good personal trainers are part-time motivational speakers, who will help you workout with more intensity and push out one… more… rep.
That being said, you can get some of the same benefits from a friend or accountability partner – and they don’t charge by the hour!
Unfortunately, it’s not all good. Here are some of the biggest disadvantages to hiring a personal trainer.
It Costs Money (could be a lot)
This is the big one, right? Because if personal trainers were free, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.
If, like most of us, you’re not rich, the thought of paying one or two hundred dollars a week for a couple sessions with a trainer is enough to make your head hurt and your wallet cry out in pain.
Especially when there’s so much free exercise and nutrition advice online, and you can get free accountability and motivation from an exercise partner.
Most Trainers Aren’t Very Good
It’s very easy to become a “certified” personal trainer. Too easy.
And this means that many, if not most, trainers barely know what they’re talking about. At best, their suggestions will be limited, outdated, or based on methodology they don’t understand. At worst, their advice could be counterproductive to your goals – or even dangerous.
Don’t get us wrong. There are also lots of trainers who are like human encyclopedias of fitness and nutrition knowledge. But they’re few and far between. And the best ones charge hefty fees.
Reduces Your Self-Reliance and Self-Sufficiency
As the saying goes: “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”
Self-reliance is important. And this same idea applies to your exercise and nutrition. If you’re actually learning from your trainer and ingraining that knowledge, that’s great, but your trainer shouldn’t be a crutch that you can’t survive without.
You should eventually be able to create your own workouts and meal plans, not just rely on the ones your trainer gives you.
Now, you might be thinking, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, so should I hire a trainer or not?”
Well, that depends. There are a few groups of people that will benefit most from a trainer. Those are folks who:
If you fall into any of these categories, a personal trainer can be a very good investment. But if you have free time, a more moderate income, and/or a decent starting level of fitness, hiring a personal trainer becomes less of a “no-brainer” and more of an “eh, maybe”.
Tips on Finding a Good Personal Trainer
If you do decide to hire a trainer, it’s important to find a good one. Here are some tips to help you in your search.
Before hiring a trainer, you should ask:
In short, you want a trainer who has more than just basic certification, has plenty of experience as a trainer, is self-employed, and who has expertise that fits your goals.
Once you think you’ve found a trainer who fits those qualifications, you can try a session. Usually they’ll offer a free one to first-time clients.
During this session, pay attention to whether they:
The goal is to find a trainer who comes prepared and on-time, with a workout catered to your goals, and who understands how and why these exercises work.
If your trainer shows up late, puts you on the treadmill while they check Instagram, and has you doing exercises that they don’t understand and don’t fit your goals, that should be the last time you use their “services”.
By now, you hopefully have an idea of the advantages and disadvantages of personal trainers and whether hiring one makes sense for you. Plus, a checklist of easy guidelines to weed out sort the crappy trainers from the good ones.
Our opinion? If you have the money to spend, go ahead and splurge on a trainer. It can certainly help you hit your goals faster, whether it’s weight loss or getting jacked. But it’s definitely not a necessity.
After all, there’s more than one way to reach your fitness goals. Whether you’re dead broke, with nothing but a $10 gym membership and the internet to guide you, or you’ve got a personal chef and the best trainer money can buy, what’s most important is that you get out there and work! Hit the weights, the mat, or the pavement and make your goals a reality.