Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Guest Post: How to use a personal trainer

Last month, in anticipation of many people turning to personal trainers to try to accomplish their New Year’s resolutions, I asked my personal trainer, Amanda, to write a guest post on how best to use a personal trainer. I have been working with Amanda since August 2011, and have already detailed why I love working with her.  I train with Amanda every two weeks, with plenty of check-ins in between our sessions. She also teaches yoga and leads hardcore high intensity interval training classes at Uplift Studios. I think her tips are wonderful, and I hope you can gain something from them if you’re considering working with a personal trainer and want to know how to make the most of your time with them.

As Jen's personal trainer, I was honored when she asked if I would write a guest post for her amazing blog. We discussed several ideas and decided that to focus on how to make the most of working with a personal trainer. Having a personal trainer is an empowering choice. Not only do they offer expertise, motivation and support but they also create an effective and fun workout plan that is key for reaching your goals. Plus, they can help you overcome roadblocks or obstacles in your way. Who doesn't love that? 

But how can you maximize the time you spend with you trainer and make the most of your investment? If you’re spending valuable time and money on personal training, you deserve to get great results. And so much of that depends on you. So here are my top suggestions for maximizing each workout with your trainer: 

1) Show up. The most important thing you can do is to show up and be ready to work! It is not only a monetary investment but also something you can put your heart into it. Bring your strong work ethic and hardworking attitude to every training session. Trainers LOVE clients who are enthusiastic and excited to work out hard! 

2) Write it down. A great benefit of a personal trainer is having a workout designed specifically for you. To ensure you remember this workout and have the opportunity to try it again (on your own!), write it down or ask your trainer to email you a copy. After our sessions, I email Jen all the exercise we covered as well as the number of reps and amount of weight used.  She then practices on her own and comes back to me with questions, comments and feedback. Overtime, she is able to create her own exercise library of a range of different exercises and knows exactly what to do at the gym on the days we don't meet. 

3) Be on time. Trainers have tight schedules booking sessions in consecutive time slots. Many of us cannot go over the hour if you happen to be running late. Even five minutes can detract from your workout and can throw off your trainer's plan. Be respectful and show up on time. Or, even better, arrive five minutes early and complete a warm-up before the session even starts. [Jen: I could be better at this!]

4) Trust. Your trainer is the expert and has your best interest at heart. It is totally ok to ask questions about your workouts to gain a better understanding of your program but listen to what she says! She is as much invested in you as you are to yourself. Be open to trying new things too even if they feel awkward or uncomfortable. A great trainer will move you out of your comfort zone and push you beyond your self-imposed limitations. 

5) Clean up. Your diet, that is. No amount of exercise can reverse a bad diet. So don't get mad at your trainer if you are downing cheeseburgers and aren't seeing results even if you are working out hard. If you are going to make the investment of hiring a trainer, then be sure to listen to her nutritional advice.  Many will recommend switching to a whole food, plant based diet with lots of veggies and lean sources of protein. 

6) Speak up! Be honest with your trainer in what you need. Is it guidance for workouts when you aren't together or advice on how to get stretch properly? This is your time and it should be focused on what YOU need. Many trainers are intuitive but we don't live inside your body. Tell your trainer how your feel, your level of motivation and problems you are experiencing. They can then adjust your workout accordingly based on your feedback. At the start of every session, I always ask Jen how she feeling and if she has any requests. Based on her feedback, I am able to plan an effective workout for that day that is aligned with how she is feeling and what we need to work on. 

7) No lies! If your trainer asks about your diet and workouts when you aren't together, don't lie! Even if you skipped your workout and ate chips instead, your trainer needs to know. She will have a hard time managing your program if you claim to be doing better than you actually are. Be open and honest because trainers won't judge but ail instead be straightforward with their expectations. Be accountable and responsible for the time when you aren't together. 

8) Do your homework. Trainers often give you ideas, workouts and "homework" to complete on the days when you aren't training together. Being committed to this will ensure achieving your goals. Trainers cannot work magic if you are ONLY working out with them once a week. The more important part is doing the work on your own!

9) Be in touch. Keep your trainer in the loop. I encourage all my clients to send me emails and text messages if they have problems or questions. I also love hearing from them when they achieve a fitness goal on their own or choose a healthy option for lunch. It helps them stay on track while keeping me informed of their progress. Trainers also like to know when you are struggling and fall off the wagon. Reach out and get the support, encouragement and motivation you need. 

10) FUN. The most important thing to keep in mind when working with a trainer is to have fun! I have become very close with my clients and many I consider friends. We have a great time during out sessions, catching up but still getting in a hard workout. You should look forward to this time you have set aside as in investment in yourself instead of dreading it. So enjoy each session and make sure you like and get along well with your trainer.  When your energies mesh, you are bound to get results while having fun in the process. 

I hope this helps you maximize your training sessions. But I am curious! How do you make the most of your training sessions? 


  1. I didn't realize Amanda was your trainer! Her class last night was amazing, I bet she's a great trainer too!

    1. She's wonderful :) I have really loved training with her! I didn't run at ALL before I started working with her, but she got me to start.

    2. Hey Liz! Thanks for coming to class last night. Hope you are feeling the workout today :)

  2. Such a great idea for a post! Technically, I don't have a personal trainer, but I am in a triathlon training group that is very structured. For the new year, I bought a planner that will be solely dedicated to training-related things--workouts, diet, etc. I still need to sit down and map out my workouts for the next few weeks. ;)

    1. I've been considering getting a planner! I use my regular calendar to schedule my workouts, but I think having it on paper would be helpful because I could also plan out blog posts better. I don't like to be TOO planned in my diet, just because I never want to be obsessive (and I'm not doing hardcore training that requires serious thought regarding fueling), but it makes so much sense for you!