What are the reasons for having a personal trainer? Most people say that a big reason to get a personal trainer is for the added motivation and accountability. There are other benefits like proper program development, decreasing your likelihood of injury, decreasing your risk of chronic disease, and even some mental benefits. Even just having somebody there to push you can give you a better workout. I can tell you from my personal experience that I get a better workout when I am with other people. Even for experienced lifters it can be great to have an outside perspective and for beginners there is a lot to learn. Having someone teaching you is the fastest way to get to your goals.
First, let’s see how much of a benefit you may expect to get out of personal training versus just working out on your own. One study showed that in a five month period where physical activity was supervised, followed by a 5 week unsupervised period, that health markers including muscular endurance, cardiovascular efficiency, and physical activity participation, increased during the five month supervised period then decreased in the 5 week unsupervised period. In one of the tests they measured how many push-ups participants could get in 60 seconds. At the beginning of the study the average was 19 push-ups, after the 5 month supervised period it was 31.9 push-ups, then after the 5 week unsupervised period it was back down to 23.2 push-ups. This shows that there was a real decrease in activity back to almost baseline after supervision (personal training) ended. This clearly shows the benefit of a supervised exercise program versus unsupervised. After the study only 24 percent of participants said they could keep up the exercise programs on their own (Fennell 2016).
In the previous study you can see a big drop in exercise participation without someone there to push them, but having a personal trainer can also be very important for doing the right type of program. A personal trainer will educate you on proper techniques, good form, and tips to keep you motivated with your diet and exercise. They will have you doing a comprehensive program that is right for your body type and goals. It is more than likely that you would not have a planned out program if you were just working out on your own. The most immediate aspect that a personal trainer will teach you is the proper form of an exercise. Proper form will increase the effectiveness of a workout and it will also decrease the likelihood of injury. When you do an exercise wrong you use improper movement pathways which put the wrong muscle to work. A good trainer should be able to spot this and correct your form. Working the proper muscle is very important to getting the most out of an exercise.
The mental benefits of physical exercise are so important. Of course, you can get the mental benefits from working out on your own, but as we have already seen you will get a better workout with a trainer. Especially when you consider that you are probably far less likely to workout at all if you don’t have a trainer. A personal trainer can also just be someone to talk to about your problems. I have listened to many of my clients’ stories and issues (which of course I would never tell to anyone) so I know firsthand this perk of personal training. Clients tell me it is nice that they can come to me with their problems. It is a very rewarding part of the job.
Chronic disease reduction is a very powerful benefit of working out. The risk of diseases like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes can be significantly reduced from exercising and eating healthy. One study found a maximum risk reduction of 75% for breast cancer, 49% for cardiovascular and heart diseases, 35% for diabetes, 22% for colorectal cancer from exercise (Kruk 2007). This should usually be enough to get anyone to exercise. Showing this is always so important to demonstrate that the benefits of physical exercise greatly outweigh the negatives. I know at the end of the day most people will still exercise out of vanity, but it is good to know there are incredible benefits like chronic disease risk reduction.
On top of creating a proper program for you a good trainer is just always there through the process to educate you on the little things that can make exercising more effective and fun. When you are struggling on an exercise they can remind you why you started or how far you have come, tell you the next jean size is right around the corner or that progress can take time. They can also help you with defining your realistic goals. They have the experience to know what you can and cannot achieve in a given period of time. This can be very helpful for knowing what you need to work for and know what is possible. It is common that a new client will have unrealistic goals for themselves, which is fine, but it is always a lot more helpful to know what is possible to avoid disappointment and burnout.
At the end of the day a personal trainer can really help you get towards your goals much faster than you can do it on your own. All the research points to the benefits of physical exercise on the body and mind, and having a personal trainer can be very important to motivating you to stick with a proper program. A personal trainer can also be a great friend and someone that will listen to you and help you feel better about yourself. The benefits of having a personal trainer are definitely obvious. Now you just have to make the choice for yourself!
Fennell C, Peroutky K, Glickman EL (2016) Effects of Supervised Training Compared to Unsupervised Training on Physical Activity, Muscular Endurance, and Cardiovascular Parameters. MOJ Orthop Rheumatol 5(4): 00184. DOI: 10.15406/mojor.2016.05.00184
Kruk J. Physical activity in the prevention of the most frequent chronic diseases: an analysis of the recent evidence. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2007 Jul-Sep;8(3):325-38.