Personal Training vs. Solo Training
When is a personal trainer right for me and what to do if it’s not?
Deciding to work with a personal trainer is a huge decision. How do you know if it’s the right path for you? Would you be better on your own? Stay tuned for the pros and cons of hiring a professional for your journey, and decide for yourself the best option on your health and wellness journey!
Price is one of the biggest factors when deciding to hire a trainer. Regardless of how much you may benefit from one-on-one coaching, if you can’t afford the fees, the stress of trying to make this work may be too much for you. Some things to consider when assessing the cost are:
Do you currently have a gym membership? If you already have a gym membership, your gym may offer free or discounted sessions with a trainer. If you have a gym membership and never use it, would you benefit from cancelling your membership and using the money for a trainer instead?
How much can you spend on your health and wellness journey? Budgeting is key! It’s expensive to hire a coach. You may be able to get discounted prices if you buy a longer term plan, but make sure you know how much disposable income you have prior to meeting with a coach. Think about expenses you may be able to reduce. Perhaps you plan on cutting down on drinking and going out with friends to promote a healthier lifestyle. That money could go towards training or a general gym membership.
What equipment do you already own? If you already have a plethora of equipment at home to work with, transitioning to working with a trainer can be very simple.You can even do online personal training sessions that can use the equipment you have and very easily fit into anyone’s schedule. Though you can buy everything you need for a great workout for less than $50, if you already own everything, you can put that money towards one-on-one sessions, and probably don't need a full gym membership.
Can you afford an additional expense and for how long? Maybe you just want a few sessions to learn the basics and then plan to train alone with your new knowledge, or maybe you are training for a triathlon and want 6 months of training. While you may change your mind, think ahead on what your goal is, so you can decide how much it will cost and if it’s affordable.
How much time do you have to train and what is the best time for you to train? These are 2 very important questions to ask yourself. If you work 70-80 hours a week to make ends meet, trying to set up a time with a trainer could be very challenging. While trainers can be somewhat flexible, they do still like to establish a schedule, and if you’re only available at midnight, finding someone available may not be an option. In this case, you may benefit from using other resources that are readily available and not time specific like youtube videos, workout apps, etc.
On the other hand, if you are currently training multiple times a week, not seeing progress and really need to find a way to have more efficient workouts, a trainer could be key! I typically work with clients 1-3 times a week (depending on their goals and time). In those sessions we aim to have the most well-structured workout possible! I want my clients to know there’s a lot of value to their training even if they can’t dedicate additional time to train outside our scheduled sessions. So working with a coach may actually save you time. They also can give you guidance on how to train outside of one-on-one sessions, making those additional training times more focused and efficient.
One of the biggest pros to hiring a personal trainer, is to have someone to track your progress and keep you accountable! Some people really thrive from having someone around to remind them of their goals and why the difficult steps now are going to pay off in the long haul. Sometimes that means having a neutral 3rd party person to cheer you along, while others benefit from working with friends or family. Only you can decide which accountability partner is best for you!
A personal trainer is also there to help develop your short and long term goals. While you have a dream of where you want to be in 6 months, the personal trainer develops a training plan to aid you in reaching that dream. They will tell you the best exercises, how often to train and formulate exercise plans, so all you have to do is show up and put in the time and energy.
If there are any setbacks on your path, they will adjust the plan for your needs. Sometimes a plan sounds good in theory but doesn’t work for you. They are there to find what you enjoy and what works. While you may find many free workouts on youtube and instagram, those workouts may not be the best for you. They could cause injury or just not provide you with enough information to successfully perform each movement. With a trainer, you will always know how the exercise should be performed, what muscles should be engaged and how to correct form issues.
Recovery from injury
If you have previously suffered from any kind of injury or surgery, it’s highly recommended to have one-on-one training. Even if you’ve been an avid gym-goer for years, the strain from injury and surgery can be way more to overcome than what you’ve experienced. The great thing about a personal trainer is they can provide assessments of your movements and figure out any places of concern. You may have muscles underperforming and not even know it!
A personal trainer can help make a program that will address any of these issues and get you back to functioning at your best. Unfortunately, without proper evaluation and assessment, many people begin their training again and can end up injured and not understand why. It’s so important to make sure the body is conditioned for intense training and you are setting yourself up for success.
Difficulty engaging muscles?!
Now there are tons of free workouts you can find online, but this may or may not be a good option for you. While influencers focus on shock value to gain followers and promote exercises that are not always safe for clients. You don't have to do crazy and challenging exercises to have fitness gains and these complicated exercises increase risk of injury which may take you out of the game for a while. Also, while these free workouts may give you a line-up of exercises you can do, they don’t often walk you through the steps of each exercise and inform you of the muscles you should feel engaging. So I’d leave those free workout options to those who have experience and just want some new ideas!
So often people train and aren’t even activating their muscles. I’ve had clients who said they could hold a plank for 3-5 minutes and when I corrected the form and had them engage their core, they couldn’t make it past 45 seconds. That’s all normal! Most people aren’t spending time thinking about what muscles are meant to be working on each exercise. Learning this can be the key to overall strength gains and stability. We want the body to work as a fully-functioning team!
Let’s be honest. Starting a wellness journey can be overwhelming. How often should I train? How much should I lift? Are people going to judge me? What if I mess up? Will I injure myself? There are so many nagging thoughts at the beginning. All these questions are valid too! While you see a lot of free content online with workout routines, there’s not a lot of information about the basics of starting a weightlifting or exercise journey. This is where a trainer can be vital to the process! They can teach you everything you need to know!
Personal trainers can walk you through the layout of the gym, gym etiquette, how to use the machines or properly do each exercise. Beyond that, they can be your guide through anything you need. The last thing anyone should feel when they go to the gym is judged. Having someone with you when you train will take all the guesswork out. You won’t have to guess on how much weight to do, how to divide up your training sessions, how long to train for, or how long to rest. They will take care of all the details and your job can be showing up and being focused!
Overall, there are pros and cons to working with a trainer vs. training solo. The most important thing is to think honestly about what you need to be successful, know the factors that may hold you back and pick what fits. If you’ve been going to the gym for years and are in a plateau, working with a trainer, even for a short while, may help you out of that plateau and give you a new drive to train. Maybe you’re just bored and want to try something new. Maybe you have never trained and want to learn. These are all good reasons to have a trainer, just know what you need to be successful! There’s nothing wrong with using the plethora of free resources, just make sure you are getting everything you need from them and feel educated enough to work solo.
Until next week… and remember that fitness is for all!