My friend is using one … Stallone uses a personal trainer. Should I use one? Do I need a personal trainer? Can I afford one? Why do I need one?

First, which fitness or training question is the important one to the potential client?

Some background: Personal trainers or individual coaches have been around for some time — actually dating back to Greek and Roman times! Trainers teach potentially fit people, or those in need of personal attention, the skills and insights to achieve a fitness goal. They can provide the human motivation to encourage adherence and promote success. Properly trained and educated, they can accelerate the process by doing “on-the-fly” assessments so that time and effort is better spent. A personal trainer can give the client that push needed to stay on track towards the goal, and reduce inefficiency while minimizing potential injury.

Fitness and improved health may seem elusive to people with busy lifestyles who need to work, have a life, travel and be a useful member of a relationship or family. An organized and efficient program administered by a personal trainer can be time-effective, life-effective, and workout-effective. In addition, some personal trainers have special skills that deal with specific pieces of fitness equipment, weights, heart rate monitors, etc., while serving as a trainer as well. Thus, an experienced and insightful trainer can help make the fitness experience successful and doable.

So … why a personal trainer? Before you ask for help from a personal trainer, you should ask yourself: what is my goal? If it is to lose weight and fit into your clothes, a reality that is very elusive now, then, a personal trainer may not be a good choice as few trainers have experience with diet and weight control. You may do better with a nutritionist or weight management clinic. If your goal is more balanced, including weight control, improved health and fitness, a tone body, shaped contours and reduced health risks, then your best strategy may be to hire a personal trainer.

Another important question to ask is, “Can I schedule and adhere to a fitness program?” Personal trainers are “an appointment” to a busy person, and as such an obligation to make those may be a driving force to get a trainer and make the appointment, particularly if you will be charged for “failing to show up”. If your lifestyle is more random, a scheduled visit twice a week with a personal trainer may become more frustration and stress, than a positive experience.

The expense is another issue: $75 per week or twice a week can add up quickly and if you do not have the proceeds from a lucrative movie to dip into, this could be a financial mistake. Are there alternatives to a “personal” personal trainer? Small group training sessions such as “Spinning” classes of 10 cyclists, aerobics, software solutions, video sessions with friends, online coaching sessions with remote location trainers, and others.

Who benefits most from a personal trainer? The individuals who benefit the most include:
Basically fit individuals who are trying to gain or raise their fitness or skill level to another level. A good example is the runner who wants to “put on some muscle.” Also weight lifting has a high injury rate, so it helps to avoid injury by using a skilled trainer as a guide through the rigors of the new sport.

Individuals coming back from an injury and who need a guide to get them through the rehab phase. This one-on-one attention by a personal trainer can be very rewarding because it is difficult to strum up motivation after an injury and when out of condition. The insights of the trainer can help with work-arounds to compensate for injuries during recovery and can definitely help to avoid re-injury.

Individuals in need of a particular skill or program offered by a personal trainer. A good example is a jogger who wants to become a runner. A “running personal trainer” can be very helpful in achieving a goal such as a 10K or marathon run. Running programs are plentiful but usually “cookie cutter-type” and, if you miss a week of the program, you would have to “catch up” on your own risk of over-training and injury.

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