February 19, 2019

The Benefits of Working With a Personal Trainer


Runners training for their first marathon, new mothers eager to build postpartum strength, seniors who want to improve balance — regardless of your age, ability level or goal, a personal trainer can provide the kick start you need.

“There are many benefits to having a personal trainer depending on the fitness goals you have set for yourself,” explains Kate Hemesath, a UW Health American College of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer and fitness supervisor at UW Health at The American Center. “A personal trainer can provide additional education in areas of fitness that you may not be as familiar with, and they can also help perfect your form to make sure you’re doing exercises in a safe and efficient way.”

Personal Training Services at UW Health

Center for Wellness at UW Health at The American Center

Performance Edge at Research Park Fitness Center

Sports Performance at UW Health at The American Center

How a Personal Trainer Can Help You

Not sure whether personal training is for you? Here’s how a trainer can help and how to get the most out of the experience:

Personalized for your needs. Whether you have a previous injury or a risk factor like diabetes or high cholesterol, a trainer can create a program customized for your needs.

Add accountability. “Personal trainers are the best accountability buddies,” Hemesath notes. “You can always count on your trainer to help motivate you if you’re having a bad day. In the gym, it can be easy to take a little more rest time than you need, but personal trainers won’t let you take extra breaks. You’re definitely going to get the most out of your workout in the gym with a personal trainer.”

Get more than just exercise advice. “People think that personal trainers are only there to help you work out for a specific amount of time, but many trainers have diverse backgrounds, including in health coaching,” she says. A trainer can ensure your goals are realistic and SMART — specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely — and provide tips on how to overcome barriers outside of the gym.

Renew your motivation. Personal training isn’t just for exercise newbies. “A lot of people lose motivation because they’re doing the same exercises over and over,” Hemesath says. “When you continuously repeat movements, muscle memory kicks in and your body becomes more efficient at burning calories, so you won’t see the same results and may actually become prone to injury. Even meeting with a trainer once or twice can keep things fresh and new.”

Make it part of your routine. How often should you see a personal trainer? “That will all depend on your fitness goals,” Hemesath notes. “If you have a long-term goal that requires more effort in the beginning stages, then I might suggest meeting twice a week, if not three times. But if you’re more in a maintenance stage, once a month might be enough. Most clients I see once a week just to check in. If you have a weight loss goal, it helps to be accountable once a week.” A weekly session can also provide a game plan for the rest of your workouts that week.

Research your options. Most gyms make their trainers’ bios readily available. Hemesath recommends selecting a trainer who has a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology or sports science, and/or a certification from a respected organization such as the National Strength and Conditioning Association, the American College of Sports Medicine or the National Academy of Sports Medicine. You might also look for someone who has experience helping clients with similar goals. “If you want weight loss, someone who also has a background in nutrition might be more beneficial than a trainer who has experience only with competitive triathletes,” she says.

Look for a good fit. Most trainers start with a consultation, which usually includes a review of your fitness background and goals, endurance and flexibility testing, and measurements. “Those consults are kind of a telltale sign if it’ll be a good fit,” she says. You can also call or email with questions beforehand.

Bring a friend. To make your training session more fun or to make it more cost effective, consider signing up for small group training with a friend. “Then instead of having one accountability buddy, you have two and someone who can work out with you outside of the scheduled personal training sessions,” Hemesath says. “We recommend people who train together have similar fitness goals, but it’s OK if you’re at different fitness levels as the trainer can provide necessary modifications.”

Do your part. “It can be difficult to see results with clients who don’t do anything outside of the one or two hours we’re together a week,” Hemesath says. “We can only do so much. We provide that framework and hard workout once or twice a week, but there’s a lot of homework that needs to be done if you really want to see the full benefits of the training.”

Wherever you are in your fitness journey, consider giving personal training a try. If you commit to following your trainer’s advice inside and outside of the gym, it’s a worthwhile investment in your health and fitness that could pay dividends long after your session is over.

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