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Personal trainer?

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Watching The Biggest Loser, I could never work with any of the trainers apart from, maybe, Bob Harper. Leadership, to me, is leading by example. I never push anyone harder than I push myself, and I never shout if I can in any way help it. If I have to scream, I usually try to make it to the fire escape and just let go.

I get obstinate when shouted at. I've plopped down in the middle of a gym, on a planche, and refused to move on account of a trainer being shouty and, in my eyes, disrespectful. I either give my all, and expect the other person to respect that, or I can't. There's no inbetween. Shouting at me won't change it.

How these trainers expect anyone to do their hardest for them when all they do is heap abuse upon people TRYING is a mystery to me. I know it doesn't make for as good TV in many people's eyes, but somehow I think it might just help to... humanize everyone, from the contestants to the trainers.

Maybe being human isn't their goal.

But, as long as this is what I see as an example of a personal trainer, I'm terrified of actually getting one. I've been told it would be best for me by several trainers at the gym affiliated with my volleyball training (I went there for a few classes before Christmas)- they told me they couldn't devote the time needed to make sure I didn't push too hard while leading a class of twenty or more. I know it might be advantageous, especially as I'm going to be out of pt in just six weeks and need to continue careful rehab of the knee and leg, but... I can't deal with some wannabe drill sergeant shouting at me for being "slow" or "unwilling".

So, please, if any of you wonderful Spark Friends have any experience with a personal trainer and would be willing to share, I'd love to hear about it. I'm not going to make the time and money commitment from the examples I have. I can't have someone whose style is to shout at me to "give me five more!", or making me push hard enough to become unhealthy. Trouble is, my time as an athlete has destroyed my ability to distinguish when I have to stop- think of it as the off switch being damaged and only the kill switch function remaining.

I need a trainer who can work with that. But first, I need to know that such a trainer is out there. Someone to push, but also to stop pushing when it becomes dangerous. Someone to encourage but not coddle. Someone to give me an example to aspire to without being condescending.

Someone to lead by example.

Thanks in advance for your help!!!

(emphasis in training would be on endurance and flexibility with the obvious dash of strength training especially for the stabilizing muscles around the knee)
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • INSH8P
    There is a lot of truth in what these detailed accounts from members of the Spark Community reveal. I have both used personal training and have trained as a personal trainer. Because of what I do in other aspects of fitness, I do not have an active personal training business at the moment.

    If you have the opportunity to have small group personal training, you might find the individual with whom you click faster than making the rounds in complementary sessions. Another factor: more of the personality of the trainer comes out as you see the interaction from the distance of that individual working with the other clients in the small group. You, as a skilled participant, can tell whether the adjustments are appropriate and delivered with empathy.

    Take your choice of small group personal training: latest trends are Pilates, TRX, spinning, kettleball. Oldies but goodies are yoga, stability ball, and HITT.

    Best wishes on your selection process; the right trainer, the right time, and the right price are within reach. emoticon
    1955 days ago
    I have had a personal trainer and it was a great experience. My SP friend, Margo, had one and it was not so good, not because her personal trainer was a shouter, but because the trainer was a slacker and sometimes didn't show up. Just like any other profession, there are good ones and bad ones.

    I have some physical limitations due to injuries, so I wanted to make certain that I got a personal trainer who knew how to adapt exercises, etc. I interviewed them first before I selected one. She was great. She was neither a shouter, nor a cheer leader. She showed me correct form, corrected any movements I didn't do correctly, showing me how to use the weight machines, taught me some free weight routines, developed a cardio routine for me, and encouraged me to reach just outside of my comfort level. I enjoyed her and my routines, and I learned a lot about weight training that has carried me past needing a personal trainer.

    There is probably more than one gym in your area. Check out your gyms and interview PTs. Bring a list with you so you can tell them what you want from a PT, what, if any, physical restraints you have, and what questions you want to ask them.
    Select who you like best. If it turns out you are not impressed, don't give up - try someone else. The one-on-one training with a person who really knows about building fitness can be a very positive experience.

    I recommend it

    1958 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/9/2013 6:28:14 AM
    At the gym I go to, they give every new member two free sessions with a personal trainer. I was lucky enough to have my sister recommend her trainer and I went with him. He is AWESOME! He asked about my physical limitations (I have a bad knee and asthma) and always is aware of those and asks to make sure what exercises he is having me do don't aggravate them. He lets me take a short break in between sets if I get to winded or need to slow down and knows that I'll keep going - I just need to rest. He is funny and never pushes me TOO hard.

    I agree with the others that you need to try out a trainer to see if they work with you. You are the paying customer and are allowed to change trainers if the person you are working with does not mesh with you. I would definitely recommend it and maybe try out just a few sessions to see how it goes. Good luck! It's definitely a plus to have someone in our corner.
    1958 days ago
    I've worked with various personal trainers on and off for the last 10 years. I've been with my current one since Nov 10.

    Here's the deal; don't confuse television with reality

    I hire trainers like I would any other employee. I interview them, I tell them my goals, I ask them to show me a plan to get me where I want to be.

    I have used them exclusively for strength training in one capacity or another, For many years I ran distances (marathons) and wanted to develop an ST program to help with that. More recently, due to some surgery, my running days are over, so I've had my current trainer focus on overall strength and body development.

    I don't use them for cardio, I can do that fine on my own.

    It's a partnership. I ask lots of questions and expect them to know what they are talking about. I demand that they know how to do all the exercises that I do and to explain the benefits of what i am getting out of it. I expect them to show me how to do it right, keeping good form, and to make sure I don't hurt myself.

    I do my own research and have told him, "hey I want to be able to do pullups, let's work on that" or "I'd like to focus on squats" and have him develop me a plan to get there.

    Yes, I want them to push me, but when I'm done, I'm done.....I don't need a drill sergeant, I need a wise coach who will help me constantly improve and who can push me beyond what I can do on my own, yet still keep me looking forward to the next workout.

    It's kind of like hiring a contractor to work on your want to make sure you're getting the best value for your money and you demand they know what they are doing and that when they are with you that they respect and take care of your home.

    Good luck!
    1958 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/8/2013 9:21:35 PM
    Thanks so much for your help, MNABOY, ARUSHING and ELIZABETH.

    MNABOY, I know I wouldn't be a slacker, but sometimes it might seem like I am (like if I feel that I might strain a muscle more than will heal in a night I sometimes simply say I won't do a certain move). It's my hope that I might find a trainer that will find the "stop switch" point and won't let me get to "kill switch" (aka passing out). Thanks for your encouragement and sharing your experience- I'm still learning a lot.

    ARUSHING, that is precisely what I fear in getting a trainer, too. I'm not a novice- I know how to train efficiently and to the point of being in good shape (not top shape, I need a second opinion to get to that). Having someone who constantly amplifies my insecurities (injuries, not as good as I used to be) and simultaneously put themselves out as the be-all-end-all of fitness training would be horrible for me. Your good experience gives me hope, though.

    ELIZABETH, what I really need from a trainer is minor form correction, a training plan that will let me push my limits without crushing them to the point of re-injuring myself again (currently recovering from injury from pushing too hard), someone to help encourage me when the training gets tough but who won't coddle me or tell me I'll be able to accomplish things when I won't physically recover enough to do them. In short, what I'm looking for is someone who works like an elite athlete level trainer. I've had a slew of those (most of them very good), and most of them were attuned enough to their athletes' bodies that they made them stronger without letting them come to harm. If I'm doing it myself, I'm tempted to push too hard too soon and thus end up benched- again. Accountability will help, too, and I need them to be able to work on a flexible schedule because of my job.

    Thanks for the tip of treating a trainer interview like interviewing a prospective employee- it's a great one. I'll probably ask my RehabNazi (really, we get along well now but in the beginning my physical therapist and I had a rocky start and the nickname stuck) for some names, she's pushing me to get a personal trainer after all. I just need to filter them pretty strictly, can't afford too many misses (because of the time investment).

    Thanks so much for the advice! I'll definitely heed it!
    1958 days ago
    To me, trainers are like hairstylists in many regards: there are a lot of them out there, the barrier to entry into the field is relatively low, the qualifications they hold don't necessarily mean a whole lot, and it can take a few tries to find the right one. I've personally had a blah trainer who gave me canned advice that I found to be out-of-date or inappropriate for my food allergies and an AWESOME amazing trainer who has pushed me (in the right ways) to be an even better version of myself than I knew existed.

    Any trainer worth his/her weight in salt should set up a free intro meeting with you to talk about your goals and special needs/concerns - and I recommend you go into this meeting as if it were a job interview, ready to grill your prospective trainer (kindly :) ) about specific methods/exercises they embrace, past successes, what a typical workout might be like for your specific situation, etc. Through this dialogue you'll also get a sense of how he/she communicates with you - a big part of how successful you'll be together as a team.

    I don't know your goals with regard to getting a trainer, but I'd also invite you to consider what you're looking for a trainer to bring to your life - motivation? Accountability? New workout moves? Knowing this ahead of time will help you find the right one, too.
    1958 days ago

    Great blog - I've been thinking, researching and studying some of the same info regarding personal tainers.

    Had a trainer in mind and had discussed same with her. I returned from an out of town trip and she had moved on from that position of employment! She had a conflict between resposibilities as a spouse and mother VS. the gym pushing her to take on many more responsibilities and hours!

    I shy from the pushy trainers that put themselves out there as everyone's Savior. I have and can do it alone . . . but know that in a good match-up with a good trainer . . . I'd get where I want to be quicker and perhaps better.

    I'd imagine that finding and getting a great trainer is like finding and getting a great auto mechanic!

    Best of wishes for luck in finding one of the great trainers!
    1958 days ago
    My SIL is a strength coach on the major college level. Major athletes, major egos and major importance. He uses vocal encouragement but all I have seen is positive encouragement. He does know when he has a slacker and he has used private counseling as the first step. You would not be a slacker! Injury in the weight room equals unemployment so that is a key for the whole staff. If you need a "kill switch" check out the trainers credentials for training and experience. My "athletic days" were over in the 60's and my body is worn out from over weight work in my family business. So if you push too much too far my experience is watch out for your late 50's, your body wears out parts. SP has good advise about exercises and reps for free, but a knowledgeable experienced trainer is a bonus.
    1958 days ago
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