Posted on Jan 16, 2023
It’s that time of year again when the last thing you fancy thinking about is a personal trainer – all you want to do is eat and drink and hide under the duvet while everyone’s banging on about ‘New Year, new you’. It’s quite a conundrum.
The good news is you aren’t alone in struggling to work up enthusiasm for the gym this winter – which is where a personal trainer can come in.
Yes, we’re well aware we’re in the middle of a cost of living crisis, but hear us out. Investing in a PT is just that; an investment for your immediate and long-term physical and mental health. Sure, you could continue plodding along under your own steam, but honestly, has that really been working for you?
If you want results, there’s only one way to go. Here’s why.
According to experts, the average cost of a PT is £40 - £60 per hour. Which is steep, but don’t forget you’re paying for years of expertise. You wouldn’t scrimp on an electrician, for example. If you’re taking your health seriously, a PT is as good an investment as the food you buy, your expensive gym gear, or your road bike.
The benefits are massive, too. According to a study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 73% of participants increased their abilities, moving up a fitness level at the end of a 10-week block of PT input.
The study also found that “one-on-one personal training is an effective method for changing attitudes” which means you’ll want to spend more time in the gym. So, while you might be shelling out for a PT, you’re actually getting more value for money because you’ll actually use your gym membership, instead of letting another month roll by without visiting…
As for how a trainer can actively help you transform your health and reach your goals, we spoke to Tim Blakeley of Media Physiques. As someone who has worked closely with John Boyega, Gerard Butler and Luke Evans, Blakeley knows exactly the benefit a PT can bestow.
“Commitment and consistency are key,” Blakeley explains. “You can have all your macros sorted but if you don’t get your ass in the gym and train you won’t get anywhere. Having a date in the diary with a PT can help with that.”
“Even if you're training four times a week, there are 168 hours in a week so you’re actually just training 2.4% of your time,” Blakeley says. “When you're in the gym, having a trainer means that you're actually efficient in that time.”
“You see people in the gym sitting on their phones for five minutes between sets,” Blakeley says. “A PT has got a full calendar of clients so they don’t have time for you to sit around. They’ll keep you moving which keeps your heart rate up, keeps your muscles warm, and keeps you burning calories.”
Alongside emotional support and accountability, Blakeley explains that from a practical level, it’s always good to have someone there to spot you. “Without a training partner you can’t really do forced reps or work the negative,” he explains. “This in turn will hold back your progression.”
A Realistic Goal
As well as setting up a training and nutrition plan, the key thing your PT can help you with is setting a realistic goal. “If you have a weight check in the next day you’re unlikely to raid the fridge the night before,” Blakeley says. “We’ll always be asking, ‘Are you keeping on track?’”
With the plethora of TikTok PT content, it’s tempting to think you know what you’re doing. Wrong. Blakeley believes that sometimes we can’t see the wood for the trees. “There is so much content online, it can make you more confused,” he says. A PT has years of tried and tested knowledge and will deploy that to help you get in the shape of your life – without overcomplicating things.
Last but not least, if you’re training under your own steam it can be easy to push yourself too hard, too quick. This can lead to injury, or more likely, burnout. Wondered why you go HAM for a week then sack it off for the rest of the month? A PT can help with that.
So, what do you actually need to look for in a personal trainer? Finding a good one is like finding any other professional tradesperson. “Word of mouth is the best way to find a great trainer, especially if the recommendation comes from a close friend or family member,” Blakeley says.
Blakeley adds that while a PT might read well on paper, it’s difficult to know what they’re like on the gym floor until you actually train with them. Trialing PTs at your local gym is a good way to start, and most if not all will offer a free getting-to-know-you session.
What to look out for
- Does the trainer show up on time?
- Do they look like they walk the walk, not just talk the talk?
- Do they pay constant attention to their clients’s form and adjust when needed?
- Do they spot, and pass weights to their clients?
- Do they seem popular and well liked in the gym?
- Do they have their clients working hard? Drop sets, super sets, giant sets etc?
- Do they have clients that seem to have similar goals as yourself? For example, if your goal is to get bigger and stronger, it would be best to avoid a trainer who seem to only train clients for toning with light weights.”
Things to avoid
- A trainer who is always late.
- A trainer who is always checking their phone.
- A trainer who talks too much.
- A trainer who does exactly the same routine with all of their clients.
- A trainer whose clients leave the gym looking fresher than they did when they walked in.”
It’s all well and good listening to a PT talk about why PTs are great, but what about the average Joe? We asked James, a 32-year-old from Sheffield to talk us through his own experiences with a PT.
“I’ve always been quite fit, but never in like Brad Pitt shape,” he says. “It was fairly easy to stay slim when I was younger, and even though it got tougher as I aged, I resisted getting a PT because I thought I knew what I was doing. Eventually, I just wasn’t getting results. I’d tried all sorts of things to mix up my routine and then one day it just hit me ‘get a PT’. So I did.
“I’ve been working with my PT for a month and I’ve lost almost a stone. It was tough at first but now I look forward to it. I’m learning so much about injury-prevention (always a problem before) and just how the body works. Now I know why I’m doing certain exercises, not just that I should. It does cost a fair bit of money, but it’s false economy to shell out on your gym membership etc without getting results, so in many ways this is better value for money.
“Obviously there’s a difference between my seeing a PT a few times a week and people who do a six-week transformation, or whatever. I didn’t want to crush it for a short period then go it alone and end up back at square one, so I’m going to keep seeing my PT long-term, but just once or twice a week to keep me on track. It’s great to have that extra support. For the first time I can see a clear path to where I want my body to be, and how to get there.”