Before we dive into the cost and value of a personal trainer, whether or not they are worth your hard-earned dollars, I wanted to share something with you that’s personal.
I had a really rough week last week.
I’m not going to get into the details, but the reason that I’m sharing this is to let you know that I’m human too.
With all the stress that I had this past week it would’ve been really easy for me to reach for the sugar to try to soothe myself.
You know, in the past, I did stuff like that. I mean, I haven’t always been in amazing, incredible, awesome shape.
I reached for the sugar in the past, but I learned how to conquer those cravings and identify what the triggers were that sent me off course into sugar binges and comfort food sabotage.
And so this week, even though it was truly stressful I didn’t reach for that sugar because I knew if I did it would make things worse!
I’m sharing this with you so that you know:
I have those triggers too, but I’ve learned how to deal with them and you can too!
I want you to know that I support you in your journey. I can relate to those triggers, and the sugar binges, and all the feelings that come up when things are going sideways in your personal life.
And I want to encourage you to keep that self-love strong even in your darkest hour. It’s really important to remember: self-sabotage in the forms of negative self-talk, sugary comfort foods and eating binges will only make things worse.
And binges only make us feel worse.
Even through the toughest times, if you continue to practice self-love, you will come out on the other end stronger. I go into great depth about that in my Sexy Body program.
So, now that I’ve told you about my stressful week let’s move on to the topic.
I see individuals that work with personal trainers once a week, twice a week, sometimes even three, four, or five times a week, week-after-week, month-after-month, year-after-year, and these individuals more often than not look the same or, in some cases, they’ve gained weight!
This has absolutely perplexed me. I mean, how can somebody be paying for a personal trainer with no results? They’re paying their hard-earned dollars to have these personal trainers get them into amazing shape and nothing changes or, in some cases, it gets worse!
You know, I expect that to happen with individuals that don’t have a foundation of knowledge. They’re trying to figure it out on their own. And, you know, candidly, I went through years and years of that myself.
When I was trying to figure it all out on my own I would struggle.
Sometimes I’d “yoyo” with my weight.
Maybe you know about that. I expect that of the individuals that don’t have any direction or help getting started in the right direction because there’s so much conflicting information out there it’ll make your head spin and your butt grow!
I mean, there’s so much conflicting information on the internet, in books, all over the place, that it can be so confusing.
What’s worse is when you pay hard-earned dollars for personal trainers to help you get into amazing, crazy, awesome, sexy shape, and then don’t progress — or even look worse.
So for those of us that are spending hard-earned dollars to hire personal trainers, are we just getting bamboozled by these guys?
I mean, what the heck is going on? Are we being taken advantage of?
So, you know me. I’ve done all the research for you and found out the “straight skinny” on this very topic (perfect use of the pun!).
So, let’s look at the personal training profession.
PERSONAL TRAINER CERTIFICATION FACTS
Have you ever asked a trainer if they’re certified? I certainly have been asked that myself so I know the question comes up, but when you ask your personal trainer if they’ve been certified, do you really know what that means?
What does it mean to become a “certified” personal trainer?
Well, you might be shocked to find out that there is zero, zilch, zippo, nada, nil, none, no oversight by any government body about the personal training profession. None. Zero.
What that means is that any for-profit or non-for profit organization can put together a personal “certification” program–whatever that means–issue a certificate and you are now a certified personal trainer.
You know, this is not like going to a doctor where they have a Doctorate of Medicine degree that has been awarded by a medical school that is accredited by independent organizations. You have confidence when you go to a M.D. that they’re probably pretty qualified for what they’re doing, but you know what? It’s not necessarily the same with personal trainers.
Now, there are new regulations that are coming down the pike with certain states because you know what? The states are seeing the same things that I’m seeing; there’s no standardization.
There is no governmental body that regulating this industry.
And you want to know what it takes to get your personal training certification? Well, with some organizations it’s literally a pulse and two or three-day online class. You pass a test and now you’re a certified personal trainer. So it is wise to take that certification, with a grain of salt.
Now, that’s not to say that all personal trainers don’t know what they’re doing and are inexperienced or unknowledgeable because that’s simply not the case. There’s an awful lot of personal trainers that have a wealth of knowledge and know what they’re doing.
I just want you to be conscious and aware that just because somebody says that they are a “certified” personal trainer, doesn’t really hold a lot of weight in and of itself due to the very fact that there’s no government regulation on what a personal trainer certification is all about.
HOW CAN YOU TELL A GOOD PERSONAL TRAINER FROM A BAD ONE?
First – If a personal trainer is pushing supplements on you they’re probably a BAD one.
You don’t need supplements to get into amazing, incredible, awesome, sexy shape.
And supplements sometimes help you to get there–sure. There are very few supplements that I actually recommend that are options for individuals trying to get into great shape, but you know what? They’re only options, and sometimes they’re only for convenience. So if a personal trainer is pushing a lot of supplements on you, it’s probably because either they are earning a commission on that or the gym they work for is earning that commission as well.
Second – If your personal trainer is secretive about the diet plan that they have you on…
and they’re not teaching you, I would be really wary. They might not want you to learn about how they do what they do because they don’t want you to become independent.
You know why?
Because that cuts off their income.
A really good personal trainer will want you to become independent.
They want you to become successful in what you do because success breeds success.
Personal trainers know if you get into crazy, sexy, awesome shape you’re going to tell all your friends about it and then they’re going to get more clients.
A bad personal trainer sees your success as being a cut-off of their income and they’re going to try to keep you coming back for more.
(Hellooooo… can you say “co-dependent relationship.” No thanks!) So, if they’re secretive about how they do it and why they’re doing things, you need to be wary.
Third – If they push you too hard with training, watch out…
If you are absolutely dying in your training sessions, if you are almost physically sick, there’s something wrong. Trainers shouldn’t have to push individuals to that level. You don’t have to be pushed to that level to get into crazy, sexy, awesome shape.
It’s more about the diet than it is training — and trainers should know that.
So if they’re pushing you too hard, be wary.
Fourth – If you’re doing stability ball exercises and medicine ball exercises and all sorts of weird stuff that you don’t see a whole lot of other people in the gym doing…
and they’re not showing you the machines, they’re not showing you how to do things on your own, be wary. They may have been told by the gym not to show you that stuff, again, because the unscrupulous don’t want you to grow to independence.
They want you coming back and pay more money for personal training sessions. I mean, sometimes those exercises are necessary depending on your goals. But, you know, ask the questions and be wary, don’t just take the trainer’s word for it.
Remember, it is all about you not the trainer.
Fifth – You’ve got to manage your expectations.
You have to understand, if you’re going to hire a personal trainer and spend your hard-earned dollars, you’d better be motivated for a lifestyle change because it is mostly diet, very little of it is exercise.
If your trainer is advising for you to make major lifestyle changes, particularly with your diet, and you’re not prepared to do that, then you haven’t mentally prepared yourself. You’re probably not going to be successful because, you know what?
Your trainer’s only there one hour, two hours, three hours a week. I mean, what are you going to do with that other 166 hours?
You have to take accountability for that.
You cannot blame your trainer for your failure if they’re giving you all the tools and resources, but you’re not following it.
Now that you know all the warning signs and things to look for in bad personal trainers…
WHEN ARE PERSONAL TRAINER’S REALLY AN ASSET AND WELL WORTH THE MONEY?
#1 – If you’re new to a gym I highly recommend you hire a personal trainer.
Not only will they make you feel comfortable in maybe an intimidating environment when you’re new to working out, they’re also going to show you everything about the gym.
You’re going to have a buddy to go around with.
Ultimately, the goal is to get you independent so that you can go in there on your own and have your own workouts without a personal trainer.
The (costly) personal trainer relationship should be a short, defined time frame where they teach you everything you need to know.
#2 – Personal trainers are awesome for special needs:
If you have diabetes
If you have heart conditions
If you have injuries, surgeries, or you need special exercise or special considerations — personal trainers can be a fantastic help.
Just make sure they have the appropriate level of training and the experience to address your special needs.
#3 – If you’re an individual that struggles with motivation and would rather stay home on the couch.
Paying for a session gives you somebody to hold you accountable. Personal trainers are fantastic for that as well. But, again, you’ve got to watch out.
At some point you want to become independent from a personal trainer… unless you plan on renting a friend the rest of your life.
Most of us don’t have that kind of financial wherewithal, but they can be awesome if you’re planning on losing 20, 30, 40, 50 plus pounds and you need that motivation–personal trainers can be awesome for that. They can hold you accountable and keep you honest.
Now let’s talk about….
TIPS FOR SELECTING A GREAT PERSONAL TRAINER
1ST – See your doctor.
I don’t care what kind of shape you think you’re in, make sure you see your doctor before you start any diet and exercise program. I know you hear that as disclaimers. We have it on FAB University as a disclaimer, but it’s true.
You really have to see your doctor. Make sure you get a health checkup and your doctor has cleared you for any new diet or exercise program. I can’t emphasize this enough. It’s really important. And I highly recommend you share those results with your personal trainer.
A personal trainer can’t be successful for you if there’s something going on that you’re not telling them about.
2ND – Be clear about your expectations with your personal trainer.
Again, they can’t be successful if they don’t know what you want from them, so be ultra, ultra clear about that, meaning if your goal is to become independent with your diet and exercise, be super clear about that.
Tell your personal trainer, “Look, I want you to teach me all about diet. I want you to teach me about carbohydrates, and proteins, and fats, and what I should be eating, and how I should be eating it, and the timing of that.”
And if they’re not ready to do that and they seem kind of uncomfortable, well, then you’ve got to fire them and find somebody else because the ultimate goal should be your independence.
Focusing on your diet cannot be emphasized enough.
Most of losing weight (and staying and being in great shape) is about diet.
Less is about exercise than it is about diet. What I often see in the personal training industry is that they focus so much on the exercise and not so much on the diet — so people leave their personal trainers and they go right back to their old diet habits because they were given a plan, a food plan that somebody made up for them.
Left in the dark, they don’t understand how the plan was put together so it all falls apart when the trainer goes away.
So if you want to select a great personal trainer, part of your accountability is to be clear with them what your goals are.
3RD – Remember: You’re the employer. The trainer works for you.
You’re paying your hard-earned dollars to hire a personal trainer expert to help you get into and stay in amazing, awesome shape.
So what I would do if I were you is co-author a plan. Have it very clear right from the start what the expectations are.
Interview them. Don’t be afraid to ask them lots of questions.
Get references. Not from current clients necessarily, but from past clients and find out if those clients are still successful in keeping that weight off and getting into amazing shape.
Make sure you establish a relationship with the personal trainer. If it’s not a good fit where you don’t feel comfortable then you have to ask for somebody else.
You have to do that because, again, these are your hard-earned dollars that you’re spending and sometimes personal training can be really expensive.
So don’t hesitate.
Even though it might feel a little awkward to say, “You know what? I’m not feeling like we’re clicking (It’s me not you…). I’d really like to request somebody else. Who can you recommend?”
And then go through the whole process again. Interview the next one, ask for references, and talk to those references –past clients–not necessarily current ones.
Personal trainers work for us.
It is a business relationship.
You are the employer! Remember that.
Co-author a plan with your personal trainer that will allow her/him to be successful in helping you realize your goals.
So now it’s your turn… Please share your questions, thoughts and experiences below.
I enjoy reading your comments and respond personally to as many as I can.