It once was that personal fitness trainers were exclusively for
the super rich, sighted by us normal folks only in paparazzi photographs of a
celebrity's entourage. But as fitness centers have spread throughout the
country and the number of personal fitness trainers has increased, getting your
own has become a real possibility for the average person, says Patrick
Hagerman, EdD, a professor of exercise and sports science at the University of
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"They're really much more affordable than people would
think," says Hagerman, who is also a board member of the National Strength
and Conditioning Association and owns Quest Personal Training in Oklahoma
Nor are personal fitness trainers just for the buff,
spandex-sporting crowd, says Fred Klinge, chairman of the Health and Registry
Board at the American College of Sports Medicine. Klinge emphasizes that the
scope of personal fitness trainers has broadened. "It's not just about
weight lifting and cardio work anymore," he tells WebMD. "It's more
about assistance in developing a healthy and fit lifestyle."
Although there haven't been too many, some studies have shown
that personal trainers can help people stick to their exercise routines more
effectively than they would on their own, according to Cedric Bryant, PhD,
chief exercise physiologist at the American Council on Exercise (ACE). But for
someone who hasn't had any experience with personal trainers, figuring out how
to get one can be daunting.
Who Needs a Personal Trainer?
You may ask yourself why you would benefit from a personal
trainer. After all, why should you pay for somebody to tell you to exercise
when you can just go and exercise for free?
But for some, having a person to answer to really helps provide
motivation. After all, if we never got scolded by our teachers and parents for
not doing our homework when we were kids, a lot of us would still be in the
second grade. Knowing that you have someone who will take you to task can make
Hagerman sees a lot of practical advantages to having a
personal fitness trainer. "It saves time and it reduces injuries," he
says. "You have someone who can help you figure out what exercises you need
to do and how the equipment works rather than wasting time figuring it out on
"A lot of people in the gym learn exercises by watching
other people do them," Hagerman continues. "But the person they're
watching probably learned by watching someone else, and whoever started the
chain probably didn't know what they were doing to begin with."
The expense of hiring a personal trainer can be motivation in
itself, according to Klinge, who is also general manager of the North Little
Rock Athletic Club in Arkansas. For the same reason that some people will clear
their plate at a restaurant so that they get their money's worth, others get
fit simply because they hate to see the money they paid for a gym membership
and a trainer go to waste.