No… You… DON’T. There, I just saved you a ton of time and Google searches. I am utterly convinced of this fact. I can’t get over the money that people spend month-in and month-out on gym memberships, never mind personal trainers. What qualifications do I have to make this personalized assessment about an individual I’ve never met you might ask? Well to be honest, I don’t have any degrees or certifications (but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night – badum bum tish). I am not in fantastic Bowflex-commercial shape or anything. So what do I know right? What I do have is a lifetime spent in multiple athletic environments, a large pool of friends in the fields of nutrition, kinesiology, and physical education (sports people tend to cluster in these areas), and a burning desire not to pay for something you can easily find elsewhere for free.
So You Wanna Be a Fighter?
I used to be a boxing coach (as a side gig my last year of university). After four years of amateur boxing I wasn’t anything special, but I could lead classes for beginning and intermediate boxers pretty competently. I also did some personal coaching on the side, which is basically personal training with a unique twist. I can tell you that 99.9% of what any trainer says to you is available on the internet and most of it is probably common sense. Does any of the following information sound familiar?
• Eat small meals with protein and carbs, instead eat more meals per day
• Weight train between 2-4 times per week
• Do cardio 2-3 times a week
• Drink plenty of water
• Stop smoking – cut down on alcohol
• Reduce your fat intake
• Don't binge on sweets and cookies
• Keep a fitness journal
• Take a multivitamin
• Eat fruits and vegetables
So now that you know that, realistically all you need a personal trainer for is to yell, “PUSH IT,” right? I’ll save you the trouble, download the song by Salt-N-Peppa (or just go to anywhere roller skating still exists and steal it) and watch Rocky every time you need a little motivation.
Why Pay For a Free Lunch?
Obviously I’m being a little facetious, but the principle remains the same. I can’t figure out why in this day and age of the internet and 1001 fitness magazines, people feel the need to pay ridiculous rates to have someone tell them to do a few more sit-ups a certain way. If you truly feel as if you are a neophyte when it comes to physical education of any kind I recommend doing a little reading, seeing if you have a friend that could share some tips with you (which you could then verify online), or as a last case scenario, hire a personal trainer for like 3 sessions. After 3 sessions the personal trainer should have taught you the proper form for all the weights and machines and mapped out a decent little routine for you. If they refuse, just find one that will.
Just Pick One and Stay the Course
There are 4 billion exercise plans online all claiming to be the best one ever. I’ve trained with college football, basketball, and volleyball players. I have boxed extensively with two Canadian champions, and several other Canadian team members. I have grappled and sparred with professional MMA fighters. My friend/roommate is a certified dietician and has a Bachelor’s degree in nutrition. I know a little bit about working out, and what it truly boils down is simply getting your heart rate up 4-6 times a week doing a mixture of cardiovascular and strength building exercises. I am fairly certain the best and most efficient way to tone up and generally get into good shape is to do circuit-style workouts that combine both strength building and cardio workouts. Think of P-90X, Crossfit or some variant of those type of programs. Within those general guidelines, a personal trainer is just going to fill in details you would get online anyway. Work different muscle groups, get your heart rate up 4-6 days a week, and follow the basic nutritional advice most of us have been told a million times but choose to ignore (including myself) and you’ll be just fine.
Just Because They Are Good Looking, Doesn't Mean They Know Everything
It’s not that I think personal trainers are bad people, it’s just that I don’t think their knowledge is worth paying crazy amounts of money for, and it definitely doesn’t have to be delivered in a person-to-person matter. That is done solely to maximize profits. A second thing that people should watch out for is the classic upsell that many gyms demand their personal trainers try to pursue. In fact many gyms and companies offer large incentive-based commissions for trainers that get people to buy overpriced supplements, sign up for specialized courses, and other high-profit products. Personal trainers and gyms have a unique business structure where their clientele are often signing up for the dream of appearing a certain way, but are rarely willing to put in the work to do it. This has a weird overall effect on how things are priced and what has become “the norm” within the industry.
The certification process for calling yourself a “personal trainer” is almost not even worth discussing. Let’s just say it doesn’t phase out too many applicants. This means that there is a huge range of personal training knowledge on the market. I know for a fact that there are many personal trainers out there who have almost no idea what they’re doing, and get their information from the back of a supplement jar that they don’t need to be taking. Even if a personal trainer knows their stuff, if you need them just to get yourself motivated what does this say about you? Learn to fish for yourself instead of asking someone else to do it for you repeatedly. Your overall character, as well as your bank account will thank you for it.
Personally. I think the only real reason to go to any gym at all is to meet good-looking people of the opposite gender. Fifty dollars a month might be a reasonable cover charge to do this. Other than that, I honestly find most gyms to be a waste of time, and breeding grounds for infections and sickness. I absolutely hate waiting for machines or in line, and most male locker rooms leave much to be desired. Educate yourself, spend a little money to buy some essentials (as I outlined in this article), and then just truly focus on sticking to a plan (almost any basic plan will do).