As the new year begins and resolutions are now demanding to be kept or broken, the decision on whether or not to partner with a personal trainer to help you achieve your fitness goals can be daunting.
Perhaps you already have a gym membership, a “let’s get this low-carb bread” attitude and a plan in place to be a better version of yourself this year, but a new routine requires consistency, something that the enthusiasm from January 1 can’t push you toward for the next 52 weeks.
According to Shawn Johnston, fitness manager for Genesis Health Clubs in St. Joseph and a personal trainer, one way many achieve consistency is by finding someone to be accountable to when it comes to eating healthy and working out.
“As soon as you're not sure what to do, you feel uncomfortable, you feel lost. If you don’t have that accountability, it's easy to step back into our old routine,” Johnston says. “So that’s where training comes into play. It’s a great way for you to have that one-on-one, it’s a great way to build that rapport and build that relationship and be able to have someone who is accountable to you.”
Of course, many are nervous about working with a trainer, and part of that fear comes from not knowing what to expect. Below are some of the things you should expect from a personal trainer and how to make the most out of signing up with one.
They will weigh, measure and assess you during the first session, but it will make your training more personal.
According to Johnston, the first session is the most important because it gives the trainer an insight into your body and what your personal goals are.
“We’re going to measure your body parts essentially,” Johnston says. “We want to know height, age, weight and body fat. We focus a lot more on body fat percentage than we do on overall scale, because a scale just tells you what you weigh, it doesn’t tell you what you’re made up of.”
After you find out what your body is made up of and some of the numbers associated with it, you will be asked to share what your body can do.
“We’re also going to take you through an assessment,” Johnston says. “So an assessment is a mixture of a workout plus postural analysis to allow us to see how you body moves, because it’s not a one-size-fits-all program.”
Once you get past initial that sharing phase, it's time to move on to start the real workout.
They will touch you ... a lot. They will also keep you from injuring yourself, though.
When working with a personal trainer, expect to have some physical contact. During the experience, you will feel your trainer changing the position of your arms or touching a muscle in your stomach they want you to use.
While this may take a while to get used to, the guiding hands of your trainer can make a huge improvement to your workout and prevent injuries throughout your fitness journey.
“Haven’t ever worked out and you’re 40 or 50 years old? You’re going to need some of that help, that accountability and that know-how to make sure you can be successful,” Johnston says. “Even if you’ve worked out for 20 years, we can help you be 10 or 20 percent better just by showing you different ways to do stuff.”
They’ll help you outside of the gym as well, especially when it comes to food.
“Whenever having a personal trainer, you got to make the most out of it for sure,” Johnston says. “You got to remember that the trainer is there to help you when they’re with you and when they’re not, so don’t be afraid reach out and ask questions throughout the day.”
Johnston says many of his clients will text him throughout the day asking for ways to stretch sore muscles or choose a healthier option at a restaurant. While many trainers will start their clients with a meal plan, one that goes above and beyond will help you learn what healthy food looks like.
“We want to take small behavior changes and lead them into big behavior changes.” Johnston says. “Then we start creating a lifestyle, that’s more or less going to stick around forever.”
You need to have good communication with your trainer.
It may seem like your personal trainer is in charge of your relationship, after all they are the expert. But in order to have a functional partnership with your trainer, good communication is essential.
“On of the biggest things you can do when you’re working with a trainer is be open and talk about what you’re feeling, what’s going on, everything,” Johnston says. “We can tailor the programs and we can change them, but if we don’t know what’s going on, we’re going to base it off of what we can see. If you’re making it seem like it’s all great, we can’t help you the best.”
Even if you you opt out of using a personal trainer at the gym, Johnston says that if you are struggling with a machine or your form, a good personal trainer will be willing to help.
“Even if you’re not purchasing or working with a personal trainer, don’t be afraid to ask us." he says. "If you’re working out in the club and you have a question, we’re here to help.”