Walk into a gym and you’ll see lots of buff dudes working out without any supervision. While you stand a chance of befriending one of them to learn of his workout routine, sometimes it’s best to enlist the help of a certified personal fitness trainer, whether you’re just getting started or have been at it for a while.
But, of course, the gym is like a marketplace: there are good and bad deals; you don’t want to be roped into buying a personal training package without knowing if the coach is worth it.
From figuring out how to use gym equipment and helping you achieve your fitness goals, to spending money on something (or someone) that may not live up to your expectations, learn why hiring a personal trainer could be the best—or worst—investment you can make for your health.
Trust that it's best to learn the pros and cons of having a personal fitness coach before actually signing any contracts.
"If you’re new to fitness," explains Brye Encarnacion, Fitness First Les Mills Certified Body Balance Instructor, "a personal trainer can definitely help you learn the dos and don’ts inside the gym, guide you through the proper use of gym equipment, help you with your form, give you the right exercises for your body and goals, and also keep you company in what might seem like foreign territory."
Encarnacion speaks from experience, having hired a personal coach prior to his own fitness career.
It’s so easy to step on the treadmill or lift weights, but it’s not easy to know if you’re doing things correctly.
A trainer can supervise your workout and provide you with useful techniques to keep you from hurting yourself. You'll know when to lift heavier or when to rest, and you’re less likely to get injured.
Spike Nicdao, PTRP, Fitness Institute of Australia Certified Fitness Coach and Functional Fitness-Makati Program Manager, says safety is often disregarded by gym-goers eager to see results.
“For example, some regular gym-goers will just watch and follow workout routines they see on Youtube or other websites," he explains. "While some will follow the program of their fitness buddy. Of course, we have different fitness levels and goals, kapag nakikigaya or nakikisabay ka lang, hindi ka sure kung tama ang ginagawa mo at baka ma-injure ka lang.”
JJ Henson, who slashed 60 pounds off his weight in roughly a year’s time, can attest to how investing on a personal trainer helped him realize his fitness objectives faster.
A client of Nicdao for years now, he shares: “The coach pushes you even when you're ready to give up. Also, he changes the program to make sure that your body does not adapt to the same exercises.”
Nicdao shares that he usually has a “personalized program” for each of his clients and a calendar to help him keep track of their progress. This is a better way to track one’s progress than just relying on the scale.
With a personal trainer, you don’t need to ponder about the next workout you’re going to do because it’s the coach’s job to provide you with a fitness program. Your job? Follow his program and execute the routines properly.
“Because you have a personal trainer, no time in the gym will be wasted. Also, you can avoid chitchatting with other people during your scheduled session. Workout time is workout time,” says Encarnacion.
No workout session is free so you want to hit the gym on time, finish your workout, and forget about all the excuses to ditch your training, so as not to put your hard-earned cash to waste.
“You will be committed to your time and to the time your personal trainer has allotted for you. Once the appointment is set, there’s no turning back. Since you paid for this, your commitment to it will be more valuable,” Encarnacion notes.
First, you’re basically making an investment when you hire a personal trainer, and it always comes with financial responsibility. It’s not cheap and can leave a hole in your wallet.
In a reputable gym, the average cost of personal training is P1,000 per session depending on the package, seniority, and experience of the coach, Nicdao reveals, adding that it’s ideal to train at least three times a week.
Do the math: if the coach charges you 1,000 per session and you train two to three times a week, then you’ll need at least P10-12,000 a month.
Credentials of your trainer
Given that most gyms are so damn good at convincing people to sign up for a personal training package after a tour and short sales meeting, you’re likely to end up with an inexperienced trainer whose background and qualifications you know nothing about.
“If you’re going to hire a trainer, you should check his or her credentials first, and it’s better if you’ll go for the one with certification,” Nicdao advises. “If the coach is not certified, you don’t have any assurance you’ll be safe under his supervision, or if he really knows what he’s doing.”
We’re not saying that this applies to all, but there’s a tendency for some coaches or fitness clubs to make personal training a “money-making” scheme.
Nicdao advises: to avoid falling into this trap, make sure to always evaluate your coach, your progress, and the sessions he’s requiring you to complete.
“Usually, dapat may diagnosis sa una and from there, the coach will decide how many sessions ideally ang kailangan mong tapusin. Example, if we see na konti lang naman ang iko-correct sa'yo, we might offer you 12 sessions in the beginning, then it’s up to you afterwards if you want to continue with our guidance,” he adds.
If you get a coach with a good reputation, you need to follow and adapt to his schedule to the point that you can't work out at your convenience, admits Henson.
Nicdao says there are also cases wherein the client transfers to a different location or the coach gets assigned to a different branch. “Kahit malayo ang coach pero nagalingan ka sa kanya, ang tendency ay talagang pupuntahan mo siya to train regardless of his location.”
Imagine that you’ve been training with a coach for quite some time now that the two of you take advantage of your client-trainer relationship. The tendency is you no longer might be top priority over his other students.
“Example, your coach has a different client requesting to get your time slot. Then, given na close naman kayo, he can ask you with 'Ma’am/sir, baka pwede kong i-move yung schedule mo at a later time?' to accommodate another student, to which you will easily agree,” Nicdao says.
But he clarifies this goes both ways as “closeness and comfortability” can also tempt the client to cancel on a scheduled session.
Since you always have your personal trainer to guide you, chances are, you’ll be dependent on him and fail to explore other fitness routines. Like group exercises or circuit training at the gym—not only are they free, they also allow you to meet other gym-goers.
“One of the advantages of joining group exercises at the gym is that you gain more friends and share the same fun and excitement in classes you attend,” says Fitness First Group Fitness Team Leader and Body Attack Instructor Charles Vincent Aguila. This expands your fitness routine, giving you a chance to broaden your spectrum of workouts
Now, do you think that hiring a personal fitness trainer to help you obtain your fitness goals is the best approach? We’ll let you handle the next move.