Last year I began to work with a Personal Trainer. I was feeling unmotivated in my exercise routine and apart from sessions with my netball team I was struggling to get myself into a regular plan that helped me actually make a difference in my health and fitness. I knew a Personal Trainer through mutual friends so I started training with her once a week. The first thing she did was take my measurements – everything from my waist, hip, thigh circumferences through to my body fat percentage. We built a programme up in stages, I learned how to adapt it to compensate for injuries or shorter training sessions. I saw quick improvements and saw the benefit in weight training – something I’d never done before. It’s been a fun experience, so I thought I’d share five things that I’ve learned from working with a personal trainer.
Working out is all about routine (and 75% mental state)
I met once a week with my personal trainer, at 7am on a Wednesday morning. Knowing I was going to meet someone at the gym made it impossible to roll over and ignore my alarms. Importantly, I built my week’s routine around that session. A recovery day on a Thursday (I would always hurt the next day after meeting with Karen!) would lead to another gym session on a Friday. My early morning gym sessions are the most satisfying but also the hardest ones to get myself to! I’ve realised that it is 75% mental state for me – I basically bribe myself saying that if I get to the gym (or onto the seafront for a run) and I hate it, then I can leave but every single time once I’m there, I’m fine and I enjoy it. If I don’t have it planned into my weekly routine or allow it to slip, then I find myself coming up with excuses that I’m ‘too tired’ or ‘too busy’. Having a trainer helped me to see that a lot of my demotivation was coming from lack of planning exercise into my routine and sticking to it.
Weights aren’t scary
If you imagine a weight lifter, who do you see? For me, the weight section of the gym was the area that I had always avoided. Occasionally I had used a machine or two but free weights? No thank you! Far too many blokes who look like they know what they are doing and too much room for error, or so I thought. My personal trainer taught me how to safely use free weights showing me how actually weight training makes my body stronger and fitter – it also improves my cardio fitness Now I know what to look for, how to lift it and have the confidence in the plan I’m following, I don’t feel intimidated by the weights section and love seeing the impact from lifting.
Your body can do more than you think
When I first started I thought I wasn’t ever going to be able to keep up with a personal training plan. Surely my trainer would have to start me right at the basics? Turns out I was already strong (ish!) or at least stronger than I thought I was, I just didn’t have any structure to train within and once I applied a plan, I could accomplish more than I thought. This comes hand in hand with point 4 below!
Your goals will change but you have to measure *something*
Together with taking my initial measurements, every six weeks my trainer took them again. She reminded me that progress wasn’t just seen on the scales and sometimes would be only seen in one measurement – perhaps a smaller waist or a drop in body fat percentage (for me I went from 29.8% at the beginning to 27.5% just six weeks later). Sometimes a reduction in one would be seen alongside an increase in another and that is ok. It took me a while – I’ve pinned my happiness for a long time on a number on the scale but having a personal trainer showed me that getting stronger, more toned, fitter isn’t always going to see the pounds drop on the scale. As you tone up you’ll see a reduction in your measurements because 1lb of muscle takes up less space than 1lb of fat but they still weigh the same. At the moment I am proactively losing weight but for the first time in my life, it isn’t just about the numbers on the scale, there are other things to measure.
Knowing how to train properly makes your time more efficient
The biggest thing I’ve gained from having a personal trainer is knowledge of how to make my workouts more efficient. With cleverly paired exercises, a new understanding on which weights to lift and how much to lift, as well as an understanding of what cardio I should be doing in between. I’ve seen better results than on my own. Sadly my lovely personal trainer has moved back to America but I’m left with her plans and coaching which mean I’m far more confident to put together my own training plans now.
Have you ever worked with a personal trainer? What did you learn from the experience?