Wednesday, 8 December 2010

"What's the point of personal training?.."

I often explain to people that having a job such as a personal trainer can be difficult. You don't have any tangible products as such to sell; instead your offering a concept, your time and a new way of life.

The customer pays their hard earned money and doesn't receive a nice piece of clothing or electrical goods; more often than not after that first transaction, they get nothing!

Once that barrier is crossed, there are still some people who aren't quite sure what it's all about.

"What's the point of personal training?.."
Well, there's no one-size-fits-all answer; just like the training, it's personal. Here are just a few of the things that working with a personal trainer can offer:

Despite what you may think from visiting some of your gyms, you can't just be a personal trainer without some study. Sure, some trainers are better than others, and some are very average to say the least. But they have one thing in common - knowledge.

I'm forever telling people that when I first joined a gym, I probably wasted 2 years of training incorrectly. I did a bit of this, some of that, some of what I read somewhere, some of what my friends were doing and tried to copy big guys in the gym.

You wouldn't buy a car and "just figure it out" without having lessons. So why join a gym with no experience and go it alone?..

If you can find a well educated and knowledgeable PT, train with them for a little while, take notes, get a program out of it and release yourself into the world of fitness with a bag full of knowledge. Don't be afraid to have tastes and ask questions to get a feel for their knowledge.

When you've always done something one way, it's very difficult to correct or amend this. They say, "to form a habit you have to do it the same way 21 times consecutively". Imagine you've done something incorrectly for years, the issue is probably much bigger!

It's hard to put into words the importance of good technique in the gym. Good technique reduces the risk of injury, offers greater benefit from the exercise, will allow you to progress and lift more in the long term, isolates muscles and doesn't allow for compensation from other muscle groups. In short, with the correct technique you'll improve faster an won't hurt yourself at the same time. Training alone or with friends often leads to less focus on tidy technique and instead emphasis on lifting larger weights. A personal trainer can get you on track, improve your technique and offer you timeless pointers to use in the future and set you on the right path for a successful gym career.

These guys could really do with a technique check or two:
- Home gym amusing video
- Deadlift fails and funnies

Some people work best to a timetable. They aim for three gym visits a week, then someone asks them out for a drink one night after work, one day they work late and one day their too tired to go. As a result, they're lucky if they get one visit a week to the gym. For these people PT can be ideal. Making appointments which they need to stick to, with, or without enthusiasm. It's a great way to add structure to your week and make sure you get the exercise you need and want.

Some people will even go further than this and say things to their trainers such as "I need an ass kicking". They have an old school idea of PT's shouting at them in a militant fashion and the think that's the kick they need in order to make them work hard. If that's what you want and need, most trainers will be happy to help. But don't worry, that's not the way most personal training sessions work!

There are certain mind sets which, without anyone watching, will cut corners. We've probably all done it at some point. If this happens in the gym, you do 10 repetitions when you'd set out to do 12. Ten minutes into your 15 minute run you decide "that's probably enough", or when you look at the biscuit jar you think "one or two can't hurt - I've earned them!" Then PT can really help you.

Knowing that you're going to be measuring your success by gains or losses and will be re-tested/measured/weighed on a regular basis can be a great deterrent from cutting corners. More often than not we know the difference between right and wrong, good and bad, it just helps if someone points it out every once in a while.

The gym can be a boring place. But it really doesn't have to be! Doing the same thing over and over is not only boring, but it's also ineffective. The body adapts to demands over time and if you keep up the same gym program, exercises, weights, tempo etc, your body will figure this out, no longer be tested or shocked and no longer forced to evolve.

There can be ENDLESS exercises and variations on exercises that can be performed to help avoid boredom and maintain progression. But, if you don't know them or don't know which ones work best then you need to ask.

Make sure when you approach a PT, you let them know from day one exactly what it is you want to get out of it (they should ask to be fair). If it's some more variety and new moves you need then tell them what you do and what you're looking to gain - why not book a taster and see just how much they know?..

So you've been training on your own for "X" number of years and you've done well; shed some weight and built some muscle, but it all seems to have slowed down a little.

Progression isn't coming as fast as it did and your body doesn't seem to be changing. Working with a personal trainer with new ideas, moves, structure to sessions and weekly workout can really shock your system and offer a great boost to your usual regime.

Personal training is exactly that - "personal". If you train with someone, or you've been taken under the arm of your more experienced gym buddy then the likelihood is, you do the exercises just because that's what they do and advise you to do.

Personal training should be specialised to everyone dependent on their current level of activity, previous history and knowledge, capabilities and end goals. Your training might be getting you somewhere, but is it exactly where you want to be heading, do you struggle with specific areas of your body, knowledge of how to improve certain aspects, organise your workout schedule and what and when to eat? A good PT can advise you through all of this and even offer information on how to adjust and improve your other sessions during the week.

In short, there's a heap of reasons why personal training can work for you. Whether you're taking your first steps into a gym, you've trained for 20 years in a gym, or you're a competitive athlete, that individual attention and "personal" approach can be applied to you in order for you to increase the benefits of your training and keep you motivated.

Perhaps ask yourself: Are you 100% confident that your training schedule, exercises, techniques and intensity mean you're getting the most from your training?...

As I will continue to say, "No one knows everything" so why not bend the ear of one of a personal trainer, see what they have to offer and see if you think they could help you improve your training?
This isn't a sales pitch, it's just fact...


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