Do you really need a personal trainer?

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By Anna Bielkheden
Photo: James Patrick

These days everyone seems to have a personal trainer, and everyone seems to be one.
You think you want one. You have to have one. Those elevated fitness gods hold the secret to all the celebrity physiques you see in the tabloids…. yes? So be it if you’ll have to live on bread and water because darn you’re gonna afford that hot body! But do you really have to?

The plain truth is it’s not that difficult getting a certification to become a certified personal trainer through the many certification bodies out there. In perspective, it costs just as much studying and paying for the exam yourself as you’d be spending on about ten one hour sessions when hiring a trainer. If you do only one session a week, the package would last you about 10 weeks. It takes a fair amount of time to get self-certify. So what is it you are actually paying for? Is it really the knowledge or is it simply the motivation to get off your butt and push harder? While some trainers can give you valuable information from decades of experience, and there are indeed certain ones who are specifically educated to deal with medical conditions – most of the time you’ll get a training enthusiast that wants to make money from their hobby.

So why not make it your hobby instead? Or better yet make it your lifestyle. Why not borrow a few training books, read up on legit information online, learn about nutrition on your own and apply the science yourself?

Personal training is a major money making business. And think of it this way, if you actually learn what to do in the gym and become self-sufficient, which should be any honest trainer’s goal – they lose you as a client and hence your money.

Do you really think that sort of setup gives you the best bang for your hard earned buck?

Here’s what I think. If you are looking for motivation, look within. A trainer is always just going to be like training wheels that you sooner or later are going to have to take off.

Unless you are competing for a serious competition and need that constant tweaking, texting, emailing, pushing to not break, I say you can find it within you to create a healthy lifestyle that works with the help of intrinsic motivation.

It’s funny, because I remember when doing my personal trainer certification (yes I’ve done it) there was a whole section about the importance of a client’s intrinsic motivation vs. external motivation. Meaning, one should always strive for the client to learn on their own and be able to feel amped up about training to their utmost ability without your constant input. But does any trainer really want the client to become so fit, so knowledgeable and so utterly changed from within that they simply don’t need a coach anymore? Of course not. They (mostly) want, no they need you to be dependent because that is what pays their rent. All the power to great trainers. But can you get great or even better, life-long results without shelling out tons of money? The answer is a flat out yes. Personal trainers aren’t magical nor are they highly educated brain surgeons. They are hopefully knowledgeable, sometimes certified and usually love to train. The last part is why clients stay, most of the time. The trainers love for fitness keeps the client motivated, along with the fact that someone cares about them.

So here’s a thought. Start caring for yourself maybe even enough to find the motivation to stick to a program. Start educating yourself with the enormous, completely free information out there. Build a program. Find what you think is fun about fitness. Hate boring gym sessions and want a tad of that external motivation still? Sign up for a body sculpting (meaning not Zumba) group style training program that lets you be a part of a group atmosphere – I promise you that’s more fun than personal training anyway!

Long term fitness always comes from within. Someone can teach you – but you’re still the one who has to learn in the end.


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