Beat the odds with a personal trainer


As an (award winning) personal trainer, Fitness Journal asked Alison Storey for her thoughts on the advantages of choosing a personal trainer, over trying to achieve goals alone.

To have a personal trainer or not – this is the question many people ask following the annual cycle of making New Year Resolutions to get fitter, leaner, meaner, faster or healthier…. and by April they’re often back on the couch.

It is an actual (and sad) statistic from the New Zealand Fitness Industry survey (NZFIS) 2015 that 75 percent of people who join gyms in January will no longer be there three months later, and no matter how many ‘we’d love for you to come back’ cards there are, they don’t.

A nice glass-half-full statistic is that when people employ a personal trainer as part of that New Year’s Resolution, 57.1 percent of them do stay for at least three months, if not beyond.

It also declares the primary reason for not employing a personal trainer is a financial one. Frankly however, there are plenty of objective arguments which can be made around investing in an exercise specialist versus the cost of buying a year’s gym membership and using it only six times, or the cumulative cost of eating out every lunch time, or the eleven coffees the average person buys in a week.  Put bottles of wine, or god forbid, cigarettes, into that financial argument and it starts to look pretty thin.

It is a boring but undeniable truth that if you don’t have your health, you put limitations on your life. If you have loads of money to travel but can’t walk to the plane what’s the point. If you have an amazing family but you’re always tired from being unfit and can’t find the energy to spend quality time with them, that can’t be good either.

It is also true that it is rare to be so self-motivated that it is possible to sustain a training regime by oneself with no encouragement, help or mates. Even Olympic champions, who are some of the most dedicated and goal driven people on the planet, have a coach.

So it’s confusing that people still berate themselves about not being motivated enough to train by themselves, when Olympians have trouble getting out of bed some days, but knowing the coach will be there to help them along keeps them working expertly towards their goal.

Expert help also means less risk in wasting any precious energy doing things wrong or not the best way to get to the result faster. Expert help means any energy put in to achieving the goal is tailored to you, your circumstances, your available time and your lifestyle.  

Expert help can also offer advice on leasing or buying exercise machines and equipment for the home, as the second biggest reason for discontinuing with gym memberships is the time commitment. Working out at home with a trainer’s guidance can help make workouts more time efficient. Even an ugly second-hand bike off Trade Me combined with the right programmes and intensity can do the trick.

Guidelines from the New Zealand Ministry of Health state the level of physical activity required to gain health benefits is five hours of moderate, or two and a half hours of vigorous, activity spread throughout the week, with weight training on at least two days of the week.  Understanding the statistics of non-adherence it seems a wieldy task to meet these guidelines without a decent plan or someone pushing you.

So I guess at the end of all of this, it should be clear that recruiting a trainer to help do the right things, in the right way, that works to create a sustainable, enjoyable habit of regular physical activity that maintains health, is a bit of a no-brainer investment in a better life.

The NZFIS 2015 also showed that in choosing a personal trainer, the majority of people said it was by referral. Without a doubt there should be a specific recommendation of a trainers experience and qualifications and so a proven ability to help people to achieve.

Interestingly, while all professional trainers will have little trouble enjoying keeping themselves in shape, only 3.8 percent of people hired a trainer based on their looks.

So even if it doesn’t look good, it can still do the job, like the ugly bike off Trade Me.


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