What can a personal trainer do for you?

Personal training is as vital to some people’s fitness programs as a good pair of athletic shoes. But for others, a trainer is a luxury they can easily do without.

The personal trainer’s role
A personal trainer serves as your fitness coach and cheerleader. Whether you’re just starting an exercise program, or are an experienced fitness buff, a personal trainer can help you meet your goals. Always check with your doctor first though before you increase your activity level.

Personal training usually includes:

A fitness evaluation. This is a series of tests – overall fitness, flexibility, muscle strength and endurance – used to measure your fitness level. Your trainer should ask about your health conditions, medications and exercise experience. A personalized exercise program. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to fitness. A personal trainer will create an exercise program for you based on your goals, interests, ability level and schedule. Your trainer will modify the program as goals are met. Supervised exercise. You’re trainer should teach you proper exercise techniques that minimize injury risk and maximize results. If you have a question or your form is wrong, your trainer should be right there to help you. Also, he or she can encourage you to keep going when you feel like giving up.

Some people may want to meet with a trainer several times a week, while others may just want an occasional check-in to get feedback. It’s up to you.

The benefits
Studies show that supervised training programs can help exercisers of all levels achieve their fitness goals – no matter what those goals are. A trainer can help you:

Get in shape. Trainers will give you a workout program that will help you reach your ideal weight or fitness level. They’ll also motivate you to stay on track. Gain muscle mass or tone up. Your trainer will show you what strength exercises to do to achieve your desired look and feel. Maintain fitness. If you’ve already reached your goal, a personal trainer can hold you accountable so you don’t fall off the wagon. Improve athletic performance. If your goal is to improve your 5K time or do a triathlon, a personal trainer may help you accomplish it. Stay injury-free. Your trainer will show you how to do strength training and cardio exercises the right way.

Finding a trainer
Trainers usually work in gyms or personal training studios. Some may even come to your home for training sessions.

Cost depends on how often you want personal training, your region and the trainer’s place of employment. Expect to pay between $25 and $100 for an hour-long session. Personal training services may be available for a reduced fee if you’re a member of a gym. Some gyms may even include personal training in the cost of membership.

It’s important to check out the personal trainer’s credentials before you commit. Anyone can call themselves a personal trainer. There is no required education or certification. Still, you can find a trainer who is certified by a nationally recognized organization, such as:

The American Council on Exercise The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)

Ideally, you want a trainer who has a college degree in exercise science or a related field. Also make sure your trainer has liability insurance in case you get hurt.

Also, ask for referrals and a list of references before choosing a personal trainer.

Personal training alternatives
One-on-one personal training is not for everyone. If enjoy exercising on your own and don’t need the extra “push,” you probably don’t need a personal trainer. But, if you’re on the fence about hiring a personal trainer, consider these alternatives:

Group personal training. Some gyms may offer small group training sessions. You’d get the personal attention from a trainer at a fraction of the cost. Partner training. Share the personal training session with your spouse or friend. You’ll save money and socialize. Fitness classes. Classes like aerobics, indoor cycling and weightlifting are often included in the cost of a gym membership. Instructors will demonstrate proper form and help you if you need it. Group runs or bike rides. Many communities have local running or cycling organizations or teams that meet regularly for a run or a ride. This is perfect for people who crave company when they exercise. Other health professionals. Personal trainers can only help you achieve your fitness goals. If you need nutrition advice, see a registered dietitian. If your back hurts or you have other aches and pains, see your doctor.


American College of Sports Medicine. Selecting and effectively using a personal trainer. Accessed: 01/21/2010 Bureau of Labor Statistics. Fitness workers. Accessed: 01/21/2010 American Council on Exercise. Reap the rewards of personal training. Accessed: 01/21/2010