Friday, February 10, 2012

Why Work with a Personal Trainer?

I used to think that hiring a personal trainer was for celebrities who wanted to work out at home or for people who needed the motivation and structure of having someone oversee their workout.  Since I enjoy challenging myself and don’t mind going to the Y on my own, it seemed a needless expense.  Then in 2007 I read an article in the New York Times Magazine about how Dara Torres was trying a new approach to exercise using lighter weights and stability balls, focusing on stretching and movement as well as strength.  At that time there were few books or DVDs about this type of exercise so I went over to the recreational center at Indiana University and asked for a trainer. 

I was turned over to Bobby Papariella, who was finishing his undergraduate degree.  Over the next several weeks, he put together a routine that involved stability balls, a Bosu, and weights.  Some of the exercises he taught me are still part of my routine.  More recently I’ve been working with Greg Simmons, a world champion powerlifter, who coaches both student and professional athletes.  Greg and his wife Susan introduced me to the New Leaf program, which helped me get rid of the last few pounds I’d been trying to lose.  Greg is currently helping me with my balance, which has never been that good because of my uneven leg length, and with plyo, which is hard for everyone.  I’ve also worked with trainers I’ve met while traveling.  My husband and I have done a couple of workouts with Anne Tierney and Steve Sierra in Florida and I’ve visited Twist in Vancouver, BC.

Based on these experiences, I’ve concluded that there are a number of good reasons to hire a trainer:
  • A trainer can help you set realistic goals and monitor your progress.  For me, seeing results is the best motivator.
  • Nobody is completely objective about his or her own body.  A trainer brings a detached perspective and can point out particular areas that need work.
  •  Some trainers make use of assessment tools that allow them to measure your current level of fitness and design a program that is appropriate for you.
  •  Trainers can help you maintain proper form.  Particularly in strength training, good form is essential.
  •  Working with a trainer gives you access to the information they have acquired about diet, exercise, and other fitness issues.  Trainers with degrees in kinesiology, like Greg and Susan, are likely to know about the latest scientific research in these areas.
  •  And last, but not least, trainers can provide encouragement when the job of staying fit seems way too hard.

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