Should I Be Working Out with a Personal Trainer?

Looking for a way to pump up those gym visits? Research suggests working with a personal trainer could be the answer.
Should I Be Working Out with a Personal Trainer?

Looking to take a routine workout to the next level, target a specific muscle group, or just learn how to properly (and safely!) use all the equipment at the gym? No, it’s not the latest “As Seen on TV” product— working out with a trainer might be the answer. Research suggests working with a personal trainer can provide the extra dose of motivation and intensity necessary to reap more benefits from the gym.

Bang for Your Buck? — Why It Matters

For many, the trickiest part of establishing a fitness routine is getting started. Sticking to it is a whole different story. But working with a trainer can help keep commitment levels high— studies suggest people who work with trainers are more likely to stick to an exercise routine than those who work out on their own Effect of certified personal trainer services on stage of exercise behavior and exercise mediators in female college students. Fischer, DV, Bryant, J. Department of Physical Education, College of Saint Benedict, Saint Joseph, Minn. Journal of American College Health, 2008 Jan-Feb;56(4):369-76.. In one study, college students who enlisted the help of a professional maintained or even intensified their exercise behavior over the semester, while those sweating it out on their own hit the gym less Effect of certified personal trainer services on stage of exercise behavior and exercise mediators in female college students. Fischer, DV, Bryant, J. Department of Physical Education, College of Saint Benedict, Saint Joseph, Minn. Journal of American College Health, 2008 Jan-Feb;56(4):369-76..

Working with a professional during exercise has other perks as well. Studies suggest getting some one-on-one supervision during a workout can lead to better results than doing the exact same circuit solo Influence of supervision ration on muscle adaptations to resistance training in nontrained subjects. Gentil, P, Bottaro, M. College of Physical Education, University of Brasilia, Brasilia, Brazil College of Health Science, University of Brasilia, Brazil. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2010 Mar;24(3):639-43.. Plus, after working with a trainer, people are more likely to select heavier weights and more intense workouts on their own than those who’ve been going at it alone the whole time Self-selected resistance training intensity in healthy women: the influence of a personal trainer. Ratamess, NA, Faigenbaum, AD, Hoffman, JR et al. Department of Health and Exercise Science, The College of New Jersey, Ewing, New Jersey. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2008 Jan;22(1):103-11..

Paying to Sweat — The Answer/Debate

The cost of a personal trainer can be its biggest detriment, ranging from $30 to $125 per hour. Before forgoing next month’s rent money to work out with one, check with the gym. Do they offer free intro sessions? A session or two to learn how to properly use the gym equipment and avoid injury might be all that’s needed to get more effective workouts moving forward.

Looking for a longer commitment? Try enlisting a few friends— trainers will often cut a deal for group training sessions. Websites like Groupon, Living Social, and Health Deals often have discounts on fitness memberships or classes.

When it’s time to choose a trainer, make sure to find a nationally certified one. While many organizations provide certifications, The American College on Exercise, the American College of Sports Medicine, and the National Academy of Sports Medicine offer some of the most well-known for personal trainers.

And remember: To get the most out of sessions, be honest with the trainer. Part of their job is helping people incorporate fitness programs into their lifestyles. If kettlebells cause panic or extra holiday treats have helped pack on a few pounds, let the trainer know. He or she can help identify ways to tweak workouts to ensure results.

Have you ever worked with a trainer? Did it improve your workout? Tell us in the comments below!

The Takeaway

Getting a little 1-on-1 attention while working out is usually more beneficial than going solo, even if it's only one session to get acquainted with the equipment!  

Photo by Caitlin Covington

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