The time is finally here. You’ve been waiting for it since Thanksgiving. You made up your mind after Christmas that THIS is the year you are going to be in better shape; THIS is the year that you make exercise a staple of your weekly schedule; THIS is the year you transform your body into the one of your dreams. You’ve done everything you need to do to plan: you’ve mapped out the closest gym to your home or office and you may have even gotten some new threads or sneakers from Santa! You know everything you need to know to make this the best fitness year yet…now what?
Sound familiar? All too often this scenario fits for millions of Americans who are desperately trying to make each new year a healthier one than the year before. But, unfortunately, these efforts quickly get thwarted and never move out of the beginning phase of starting a workout program, and the person is derailed by February. Why? Most of the time it is simply because “you don’t know what you don’t know.” It’s hard to know where to turn to when you are looking for advice. Whether you simply don’t know who to ask, or maybe you’ve had a bad experience in the past that you are trying to avoid this time, these little uncertainties can have negative ramifications when it comes to you achieving your fitness goals. Fortunately, there’s help.
The first thing you will want to do is decide whether you want to use a trainer or just handle designing your program on your own. There are some obvious pros and cons to going either route, but here are a few benefits of using a trainer that you might not be aware of:
1. Proper exercise technique- if you are new to weight training, having an educated person with you is extremely valuable to have in order to make sure that you are doing exercises correctly and safely.
2. Proficient program design-having someone who knows how to take care of all the details of your workout regimen like reps/sets schemes, is a great way to make sure that you are continually progressing and improving; making life easy for you since there is no guesswork involved, and making your time in the gym as efficient and productive as possible.
3. Accountability-knowing that you have a person dedicated to your needs can be a great way to keep you motivated to continue working out, and make sure you don’t “fall off the wagon.”
4. Partnership-knowing that you have someone encouraging and supporting you every step of the way to ensure that you get the absolute maximum benefit out of each workout, and therefore achieve your goals and desires, may sometimes be the only missing link you needed in the past in order to succeed.
One final point: if choosing a trainer is the route you plan on trying this year, there are a few things to keep in mind when you are making your decision. First, make sure that he/she is educated. One of the major issues that people run into is that they’ll take the first-available trainer, settle with whomever the gym they belong to puts in front of them, or pick the “best-looking person in the gym” (more times than not, the best looking trainer, is the least knowledgeable one). Make sure you don’t settle. Pick someone with a high-level certification (for example, NSCA-CSCS, NSCA-CPT, ACSM), and if possible, at least a bachelor’s degree in exercise science or related field (ex. Kinesiology, sports science). Second, make sure you are clear about what you expect from them; this is an investment that you are making in yourself, and you want to be certain that the person who you choose to help you is going to give you what you want. If you do an initial consult/assessment with a trainer (which they should offer to you anyway!), make sure you are clear about what help you specifically need from them in order to achieve what you want. Any trainer worth using will not only appreciate your clarity, but will also make sure that they accommodate you accordingly. This is all about YOU!
Creating a fitness lifestyle is arguably one of the most important things you can do to have an enjoyable and fulfilling life. As a result, it is imperative to make sure you put yourself in the best position to succeed safely and efficiently. There is no reason you shouldn't seek and demand the advice, guidance, and support you need from a reliable source in order to create the best version of yourself through exercise. You were given one body with which to achieve great things, and with a little qualified help when needed, you will be surprised at what you are capable of.
Joe Gernetzke CSCS