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Whether you’re new to the gym or a fitness buff in need of a new routine, it may seem like an indulgence to hire a personal trainer, but the payoffs can last a lifetime. “Think of it as investment in your health; it’s not an impulse buy,” says Jacque Crockford, an exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise. Exercise not only keeps you in shape, it helps protect you from a host of chronic diseases.
But how do you know whether you’d truly benefit from a trainer’s expertise — or whether you could reach your fitness goals through other means, like online routines and group classes? Ask yourself these five questions.
A personal trainer’s sole job is to keep you on track. Sure, workout buddies can do that for free — and sweating with a friend is fun — but success often depends on finding the right person. Picking a pal who’s also crazy busy, has a different schedule or is flaky can backfire. What’s more, you may end up compromising or focusing on things other than what you need. With a trainer, it’s all about you. “I have a client who is super busy and we’ll just power walk together,” says Becky Schlageter, a personal training manager at Webster Place Athletic Club in Chicago. “She told me that otherwise, she wouldn’t do it.”
Or consider small group training options, especially if you’re social or loved team sports as a kid. “It’s a great way to get the personal attention of a certified professional and the fun aspects of training with others,” says Crockford. “Each member pays less (than for a private session) and the trainer can make more per hour, so it’s a win/win.”
“Most people who have a set routine don’t realize that a simple variation in grip or the height from which you lift weights (for example) can work muscles in a completely different way,” says Schlageter. Good trainers are also up to speed on the latest workout protocols, theories and research, and can offer ideas and tips for more effective cardio plus what tools and equipment can jumpstart your body and deliver better results, she adds.
For those who have already had an injury, it’s common to finish physical therapy and find yourself back in the gym, on your own without a plan or clue as to how to safely get back to or start working out. A trainer can develop a safe strategy with necessary modifications as your body finishes healing, helping you fully recover and end up fitter than ever.
—Rachel Sturtz, Tribune Content Solutions