Weight Loss Support - Nervous about a personal trainer?




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broke away
11-09-2006, 06:51 PM
Hey everyone,

I'm considering taking advantage of the personal trainers offered at the YMCA that I've joined, but... It sucks to be shy in general, and for some reason this seems even worse. I know they are not there to judge, I guess I should just keep remembering that. I'm also worried that they may expect more from me than I can give, particularly with my ankle issues (a few surgeries, some bones fused in the ankle which limit motion, etc). Maybe I've watched too much of The Biggest Loser ;)

I got down to about 260 (small changes, substituting bad food choices for healthier alternatives, walking and later joining a gym), and then my job (call center, so I do a lot of sitting) transferred me to a new state. Weight has crept back on pretty quickly, from 260 to my current 308 since Jan 2006. The before mentioned shyness doesn't help, so moving to a brand new place 800 miles away can be tough. I went to another YMCA with some friends before the move, and that seemed to really help. I knew they were there waiting for me, and if I didn't show then someone KNOWS I didn't go. It also made the gym more enjoyable to be there with friends...

For those who have personal trainers, did it make an honest difference? Did you find that you felt more motivated to go? I know that when I went before, I enjoyed my time at the gym, once I had a routine established. Any tips on picking the right one? I've read that some of the big gyms have personal trainers that basically just pass an 8 hour course (no offense intended, just something I've heard from a few sources), I'm hoping that the YMCA will have some trainers that have experience and knowledge.

Thanks in advance!


Sojourner
11-09-2006, 06:59 PM
Are you using their personal fitness program or hiring a trainer? You might want to try the PFP because its free with your membership (if they offer it)... you get some consultations with a personal fitness coach and a fitness plan and a private workout space. It might be a good way to test the waters before hiring a trainer.

Heather
11-09-2006, 07:13 PM
I didn't have much luck with trainers at our Y, but I think that is because shortly after we joined the head trainer left and that threw things out of whack.

They are absolutely NOT there to judge and a good trainer will work with you. Actually, if you think about it, they work FOR you!!!

I love our trainer. I AM more motivated and feel like I get a lot out of my weight sessions now.


mandalinn82
11-09-2006, 07:15 PM
I love my personal trainer. Yes, it motivates me more to go, and yes, the workouts are harder when he is there. Make sure your trainer is accredited by a major organization, which should help on the training issues.

It has definitely helped me in making an effective weight training program, and in motivating me to show up not only when he's there, but also the 2 workouts i do without him there, because he asks me if I'm doing them and is at the gym nearly all the time to keep me in check.

Meg
11-09-2006, 08:14 PM
Renee - I used a personal trainer when I was losing the weight and it made all the difference in the world for me. I needed the partnership, knowledge, and accountability that a trainer provided. In fact, having a personal trainer was so important to my success that I ended up becoming one myself!

If you don't mind, let me copy over something I wrote up a while back about how to pick a personal trainer. Maybe it will give you some ideas about what to look for. :)

How To Pick A Personal Trainer

Start by looking at the trainerís certification(s). Some of the widely recognized, reputable certifications are ACE, ISSA, NASM, ACSM, and NSCS, among others. But a certification really doesn't tell you much about the person and how they would train you. So it's only a starting point.

Go into this the way you'd go into any consumer transaction. You're the customer and will be investing a fairly significant sum of money. Don't be pressured into a decision! Ballys tells us that people always buy on the basis of emotion - try not to fall into that trap. Take your time, be rational and thoughtful.

Sometimes it's a good idea to initially watch the trainers interacting with their clients (who looks bored, who's paying attention, who uses cookie cutter workouts for all their clients) and talk to existing clients. Or start off by talking to whomever is in charge of the trainers, briefly set out your goals, and ask to meet with someone who that person thinks who work compatitively with you. Specify if you'd feel more comfortable with a woman trainer.

When you meet with a potential trainer, it should be all about YOU and your goals, not about them. Don't be dazzled by someone's credentials, list of initials after their name, or being on the cover of some magazine. The first thing I always ask is: what are a client's goals - where would they like to be in six months or a year? These should be YOUR goals, not what a trainer thinks your goals should be.

After I hear someone's goals, I then talk about how we're going to achieve them with a weekly plan of nutrition, cardio, and weights. Ask for specifics, not vague generalities. Ask questions! See how knowledgeable the trainer is about nutrition (some know nothing). You've been around the diet and fitness world long enough to evaluate what you might hear - you know what makes sense and what to run screaming from.

Look for a sense of rapport with the trainer. Is he/she easy to talk to? Does he/she understand your goals? Can you see working with this person over the long term? Would he/she make working out fun? Trust your gut instincts here.

Assuming all is clicking so far, don't even consider buying without actually working out with the trainer. You want someone who will push you but not kill you, and that's sometimes a hard line to walk. Some trainers consider it a point of honor to try to cripple all clients, which is absurd and dangerous.

Make sure the trainer is watching and correcting you as you do an exercise, not gazing around the gym. Pay attention to see if itís someone who just counts reps or someone who watches YOU and judges how hard to push. You want a trainer who can read your mind and know when to push and when to back off. When itís over, ask yourself if it was fun? Was it a better workout than you could ever achieve on your own? Did you learn anything?

Every workout should be individualized and customized to help you achieve YOUR goals. I have a huge beef with trainers who use the same workouts with all their clients, or worse, the same workouts week after week with individual clients. Like it's Leg Day and you automatically do the same routine. Boring!! I keep track of all my workouts on my computer so that we never repeat a workout Ė we rarely even repeat exercises since thereís always a way to change them up and make them new and different.

If your gym is anything like my Ballys, theyíll try to pressure you into buying a big package of sessions right off the bat. Itís usually cheaper to buy a lot at once, but my suggestion is to resist and only buy a few Ė like four or six or whatever is offered. That way you can work out with the trainer for a few weeks and have a much better sense of whether this is someone who you want to continue with over the long term.

Crescendo
11-09-2006, 08:36 PM
I had a personal trainer for pilates and he was REALLY GOOD!! I also joined a running club and I noticed results esp. in my stomach -- but the stress of school and work started to get to me so I quit both.

When I had one I really enjoyed it. The only problem was that it was kind of weird to have ALL of the attention on you with a PT. There is no place to hide -- it just you and him. I am kin of on th fence about it -- it is really good to have accountibility but it has to be mental first -- if you don't want to do soemthing you won't do it -- I made a TON of excuses even though I say results -- I guess I wasn't ready. Since then I have gained 30 pounds. I am trying right now to make exercise habitual and after I get that mindset SET then I am going back to my trainer -- hope that helps.

NotTheCheat
11-09-2006, 09:17 PM
I really like my personal trainer a lot. He works very closely with me and has me do all kinds of creative stuff that I don't think of myself. He is VERY conscious of my limits, especially when it comes to my knees. He is always asking if I am in pain and makes sure to show me how to do things with proper form. I definitely agree about watching how other trainers interact with people they work with. I wouldn't want to work with any of the other trainers at my gym (it is very small) from having seen them with other people.

broke away
11-10-2006, 05:03 PM
Thanks so much to all of you! I really appreciate all of the responses...

I'm going to take the advice of watching the trainers in action for awhile, in the meantime I plan on purchasing a key that tracks both my cardio and weight training so I can keep up with what I'm doing and watch the numbers grow. I think that might help with the accountability and motivation :)

I read up on what the Y offers. For $20 you can get a health assessment: resting heart rate, BMI, flexibility, heart and muscle capacities, measurements, etc. OR for $250 (6 sessions) / $360 (12 sessions) + you get the assessment included. They offer both land and water training, or a combo...

I'm actually kinda excited :) I'll update this when I actually do get a trainer and let everyone know how it went!

Thanks again!

p.s. Meg, your story is amazing! What motivation it is to see someone who went from using a trainer to becoming one! Thanks so much for the tips :hug:

BlueToBlue
11-10-2006, 05:31 PM
I meet with a personal trainer 3 times a week and it's made a huge difference for me. When I first started, having the trainer meant that I didn't really have to take responsibility for working out. I didn't have to motivate myself to go to the gym (I had an appointment, I either showed up or I lost $50, that was all the motivation I needed), I didn't need to know how to use the equipment, I didn't need to know what exercises to do or what was proper form. All I had to do was show up and do what my trainer told me to do. I am 100% confident that I would not have stuck with it if I hadn't had the trainer.

Eventually, the encouragement that I got from my trainer motivated me to start restricting my diet and to start exercising on my own. There's another thread where Meg mentioned that when she meets with clients for the first time, she can tell whether they are just interested in losing wieght or really committed to it. When I first started, I was definitely in the former category; it was working my trainer that motivated me to really commit to this process and proved to me that I could actually do it. Honestly, I credit my trainer with being the number one reason for my success.

Now I feel like I could take responsibility for my own workouts but I still meet with a trainer, for the following reasons:
1. Darn it, it's just easier than working out on my own. It's still a relief to have someone else figure out what exercises I should be doing and push me to work a little harder, instead of having to do this myself.
2. It's more interesting. At least for me, exercise is tedious and boring. I don't care what it is--weights, cardio, swimming, running--it's all boring. My workouts with my trainer are really hard, but they're never boring.
3. We do exercises that I would be afraid to do on my own. I'm fine with the machines but I'm still not 100%, maybe even not 50% comfortable, with free weights. Most of what we do is free weights. And we do all sorts of balancing and core exercises that I don't think I be comfortable doing on my own.
4. The worksout are far more intense than what I do on my own.

Your trainer should be able to work with you with respect to any past or current injuries, etc. In fact, this is just one more reason to use a trainer; you're far less likely to injure yourself if you are working with a professional. I've had two different trainers and neither expected more of me than what I was capable of doing (but sometimes I've been surprised at what I was capable of).

freiamaya
11-11-2006, 01:16 AM
Great idea to watch the trainers for a while. We have one trainer at our gym who features a whole wall of autographed "thank you" photos from top local athletes. BUT when he trains us normal people, he sits around, chats with OTHERS during the session, and answers his phone. His typical session goes like this:
"OK, now do 10 reps"
-scans room for social contacts--"hey, how ya doin'! Long time no see! What's up? Really? Well, last night I - wait a minute -
OK now do 10 leg reps-
ANYWAYS, we went to the bar last night and - just a sec, that's my phone - HELLO? HEY, HOW YA DOIN'!!!..."
SERIOUSLY.
He is actually leaving the gym this week for a "better opportunity". I hear he is joining the army (!). Seriously.
On the trainer side, you have to decide for yourself what you REALLY want in a trainer, vice what you THINK you want in a trainer. For example, I THINK I want a butt-kicking hard-core trainer, and I have seen several. After a couple of weeks, I rebel (!) and move on. I still don't know what I REALLY want. No, actually I do. I want to hire a trainer and have the muscles pop out without work. That's what I REALLY REALLY want. Haven't been able to find it though....hmmmmm.....
Best of luck!

Heather
11-11-2006, 11:07 AM
Barbara -- I am really enjoying my workouts with my trainer too! I am finding that when I work out on my own I enjoy it less. That may change over time, but I am glad to have someone push and challenge me, but also watch out for me. I do like the fact that I don't HAVE to think about what to do next or what exercise will get me XX. I like relying on his ideas and experience.

And it soooo helps to get someone who works with people like you. My trainer works with a lot of people who want to lose weight, but doesn't do as well with other types of people...

broke away
11-18-2006, 12:41 PM
I just wanted to type a quick update! I haven't hired a trainer yet, but in my quest to watch them with with their clients I've been motivated enough to start going to the gym regularly... Back on the bike/eliptical and weight training. Went from 308 to 298.6! I'm sure most of this is that initial water weight drop that you get in the beginning, but it puts me back under 300 so I'll take it and use that success to help push me foward. Seeing numbers in the 300's again was a huge mental issue for me, it felt like the utlimate failure to go back, so I'm very happy.

Thanks again to everyone... this forum is wonderful. :)

Edit: OH! I forgot... my parents are going to be moving to my new city! So no network of friends yet, but I do have that to look foward to.