Weight and Resistance Training - Expectations from a Personal Trainer

01-05-2008, 12:08 AM
i'm looking for some guidance/perspective.

I have been working with a PT for about 3 months now. Once a week, 30 minutes at the local gym. We alternate between boxing one week and weights the next. In those 3 months, he has not varied our routine much. Added a bit of weight, occassionally a new exercise. (I currenetly do ST 3x/week, HIIT 4-5x/week, yoga/pilates 3-5x/week and swim/aqua class 2x/week).

My impression is that I'm just a 30 minute appointment to him. After an initial questioning about what I eat, there has been no follow-up discussion even though for the last 3 months I report, basically, that the scale hasn't budged. I have asked for specific information on a couple issues and he doesn't ever bring anything back. He has never once offered to put together a program for me to follow on alternate days - which in some respects is ok as I'm doing quite well on my own - but it seems like this should be part of the PT process. Am I wrong here?

I have observed a few other trainers at this gym and really don't think they are much better so I'm seriously thinking to stop the training and try something else. I hate to voice my displeasure as it's a small gym and I don't want to rattle cages (I really like it there, and I like the personality of this guy - I just don't think I'm getting bang for my buck).

Does anyone have any advice? Has anyone tried any online PT programs? I'm just exploring ideas right now.

01-05-2008, 08:16 AM
Trainers vary on their knowledge, skills, and commitment to their clients. But also you need to ask for what you want, tell him that this is making you think of quitting.

Thing is, I do think you are just an appointment to him because nothing is followed through.

Mine has gone the extra mile (and was rewarded at Xmas for it). He reviews my food diary, talks with me about my nutritional options, reads my emails that update him on the home front. But I have him 3x a week for as long as I can afford it, so I'm a long-term client if I go to goal.

With that said, I have become friends with the PTs at my gym, so I hear how they feel. They loathe the client that comes for just once a week. "What can I do with her?" I had originally thought the same, I'd hire mine for once a month as a check in on stuff he assigned outside. No dice. He was clear, best results will come from regular work together. What are the benefits of it--well, he really gets to know my changing needs and abilities and has I suppose my financial commitment to free him to plan for our work.

I understand "hey, I'm paying for this" but how much can he give of his time. Think of it this way. Let's say you pay $70/session, he gets maybe $35, is he to plan for the workout another "free" hour of his time and now only earn $17/hr? KWIM?

By keeping a schedule like ours I have seen results and had a constantly growing program.

I think the problem is both your commitment/schedule and his will and time.

Just my 2c.

01-05-2008, 08:40 AM
Hi Kris! I'm a personal trainer and have had plenty of clients who only worked with me once a week, either due to time or financial constraints. Don't worry, we PTs know that time is precious and training is expensive, so totally understand if once a week is all that's feasible! :)

I think the place to start is by communicating your needs and expectations to your trainer. He can't mind-read, so he needs to hear what you feel is missing in your program. Perhaps you should start with a frank discussion and see where you end up?

I don't think it's unreasonable to ask your trainer to set up a program for you to do on the days that you're not working with him directly. I always put together a complete program for a client, regardless of how often we physically work together. If we're only meeting once a week, I'll give the client two (or more) typed-up workouts for other weight-lifting days, as well as discuss his or her cardio program. And we always discuss nutrition, whether or not weight loss is one of the client's goals. To me, that's all part of the job of helping a client achieve their goals.

I don't have any experience with on-line personal training, so can't help you there. Good luck, and I hope it works out for you. :)

01-05-2008, 08:56 AM
To me, that's all part of the job of helping a client achieve their goals.

You sound like a good trainer. I think that's great. As I've come to know the others, I measure their commitment to their client goals and if they lack it, they're not worth it, IMO.

What keeps me so bound to my PT is he has said often and from the beginning how important my goals are. When he heard that I was weight loss resistant, he was excited by the challenge. His reward has been seeing my ability and body change ; ).

Anyway, this is where discernment on the OPs part has to come through. Do you get a good vibe from him in general? Do you believe his commitment to you is there? If not, IMO, adios.

Yes, have the confrontation. My PT and I have had 2, one where I seriously wondered if we should continue and I told him point blank that if X didn't change this might now work in the long run. IOW, light the fire under his butt and if it doesn't take, find someone more "flammable.":D

01-05-2008, 02:43 PM
Thanks for your feedback. I do appreciate it greatly.

My first thought (defensive probably?) is that there is no way he should question my commitment d/t only training once per week - it's simply a financial issue. Then again, maybe he's not aware that I'm at the gym 6 days a week, that I am totally committed to this life change

Once a week is all I can afford. But, I do recognize that I can't expect him to be putting in tons of extra time without pay. I was just of the thought that Meg described where there would be some discussion and guidance, some feedback on what to be doing in the sessions I'm not with him - not just 30 minutes of training.

It probably sounds egotistical, but I sometimes think that I learn more and know more just from reading and surfing the net.

Maybe I already have my answer.....maybe he was what I needed 3 months ago to get started with my strength training but maybe he's not the one to stick with as I move forward. Then again, I could put on my big girl pants and have a frank discussion with him and see what he says.

Thanks again. It's good to get different perspectives!

01-05-2008, 02:57 PM
Like Meg, I have and had many once a week clients. I also had a few once every 6 weeks clients. I know that their once a week session is just as valuable to them as the client who sees me 3 times a week. I provide alternate workouts, probably not as in-depth as Meg's, but I give either a second full-body workout or a split with exercises. Most of my once a week clients work out well on their own and rotate the types of workouts they do with me. For instance, a couple of clients do 3 day splits and make sure they cycle their days so that they are doing a different part of their split each time they see me. Another client does only her leg workout with me every week because she won't push herself as hard or as inventively as I will.

Nutrition is always a part of training- whether my clients comply or not is up to them, but if someone wants to go over a food diary or can't seem to drop fat, it becomes a major focus of training.

Constant emailing and providing changing daily workouts when only paid for one session a week is another story though.

IMO, you should speak up and tell your trainer how you feel. If you don't seem concerned about how your sessions are going or your progress, your trainer may assume that you are either happy or just showing up because you feel you should.

I had experience with an on-line trainer/nutritional program years ago before I became a trainer. I was hugely disappointed and felt that I had been taken advantage of. If you want a pre-printed workout, IMO, buy a couple of books. There is a lot of information out there. If you want a PERSONAL trainer, you need the person. Maybe you haven't found the right one or explained your expectations.


01-06-2008, 12:07 AM
Thanks Mel, Meg and Jerseygirl for your perspective.
I'll have my big girl pants on tomorrow and talk with him during our session.

01-06-2008, 08:20 AM
Do want to say "I" don't question your commitment. Affording it is terribly difficult!

Anyway, let us know how it turns out. THe fire under his feet might be enough OR you might be ready to go alone OR you might find what you need in another trainer. If you still have sessions with him at the gym, you can ask to use them for another trainer....

01-06-2008, 05:00 PM
I hired a certified personal trainer as a birthday gift to myself when I turned 40. The weight had been off a while and my fitness routine was boring.

I hired the instructor from my Boot Camp class at the YMCA--I liked her style in class and she seemed well organized.

1 1/2 hours for 1st session including setting goals, doing measurements, discussing food choices. Then a workout. She e-mailed me detailed instructions of everything we had done that day (she brought the equipment)--the sessions were in my house.

One week later:
2nd session at my house, new exercises, got the printout 2 days later

One month later: (I wanted to give myself a month to get stronger)
New exercises, including that I could finally ready to do "traditional" push-ups (first time ever!). The 3rd session was harder--she gave me compound exercises and the overall workout was more challenging.

Now I keep all the sheets stapled together in my gym bag. I have it at the Y and mix/match so I put in a full 50 minutes.

I like knowing that my form is correct now--she checked me during cruches, torso twists, lunges, everything. She was energetic, positive and encouraging the whole way thru.

Loved the investment and feel it was absolutely worth it.:)

01-07-2008, 05:54 AM
Wow Elana - sounds like you've got a gem there!

Well, I went back and forth about what to do and what to say during our session today. I live in a very small community and am an 'outsider' so usually proceed with caution as it's very easy to get a bad reputation in town. However, I was ready to chat with him and I was ready to finish off my remaining sessions with him and then perhaps try someone else. I was also open to continuing on with him. Tried to go into the session very open minded.

Our workout today was 100% reved up and changed. About 10 minutes into it I commented on the fact that he had changed everything up. He said he thought it was time - I said I was thinking the same thing, that I was getting bored with the previous routine. He also seemed more willing to discuss/listen to what I was doing in other areas and comment or make suggestions. I still think he's a bit weak where diet is concerned, but he did admit that there is so much information out there and so much that is unknown that a person really needs to just figure out what works for them as individuals (which is what I believe too).

Bottom line....I feel like we had a fantastic workout today and I'm going to sign up for another 5 sessions. Plus, I'm going to be more assertive with him as far as what my needs are. As I've thought about this....he's a young man (early 20's) and has limited experience with middle-aged women with 100 pounds to lose. Perhaps we can learn from each other.

01-07-2008, 06:01 AM
Kris, that's just fantastic! I'm so glad it's working out for you! :cp: I love your comment about learning from each other. :)

Keep giving him feedback on what you like, what's working for you, and where you need help. He's right about us all needing to find our own way with an eating plan that works for us, but perhaps he can give you some guidance or at least be an accountability partner. Sometimes it's helpful to bring in a food log and have a fresh pair of eyes look it over.

What a great resolution to a sticky situation!

01-07-2008, 09:22 AM
i personally think a pt would be willing to help you out. I think alot of them know they are expensive. And not all of us can afford too many sessions. I'm on a twice weekly meeting with PT. She's sat down, took measurements (and plans to once a month) and has asked if i needed help with nutrition (at this point i told her no), and during christmas when she was gone for vacations..she sent me a list of what to do. She also checked on me when she got back and saw that i was at the gym during the holidays. I think a pt that really wants to see you succeed will do this...with that being said....you do need to make sure you are expressing this to your pt. Ask him if he could check your nutrition journal or if he could recommend what to do on the days you don't meet. Let him know you are concerned that dispite working hard (even when he isn't around) you arent seeing results. If he doesn't want to be "bothered" maybe it is time to move on. Good luck!