Updated: Sep 21, 2022
There are many MANY reasons why you would use a Personal Trainer (PT). Having a fitness professional work with you on a private, semi-private or even remote basis is expensive but can help change your life for the better. A PT can literally add years to your lifespan, support you with the closest thing we have to a magic bullet for mental and physical ailments and save you years of studying and thousands of pounds to fund those studies. Below we will explore a few of those reasons in more depth. If you've had any experiences with a PT please let us know how your life changed (or not) for the better!
Working out with a friend or partner can achieve some of what a PT has to offer. Your commitment to workouts can often improve as most times you don't want to let your friend down. Those days when you just don't have the energy, knowing your friend will be there can help encourage you to get a sweat on. However, it works both ways. Your friend might not be able to go for many reasons; work, social commitment, illness or just laziness. When that happens you might be more inclined to miss a workout. Unlike a friend your PT is a professional so shouldn't let you down.
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Another bonus of a workout partner is safety. Running outdoors in the dark, cycling on busy roads or as a spotter in the gym for a heavy lift. You and your friend can mutually support each other. Although, a PT can equally provide safety and support, if not more! Often a PT will have First Aid training so may be better prepared to confront any accidents.
Friends are free, PT's are not. Let's talk about why you might wish to use a PT instead of a friend or indeed, utilise a PT at all. The following points are all based on you having a good PT. Unfortunately, as with all walks of life, there are those that let the side down. What to look for in a PT is a whole other blog post in itself (here).
Investment in your health
The elephant in the room. PT's cost money, sometimes on top of your gym membership. The fact you are willing to pay for a PT only adds to the effectiveness. A PT is a financial investment. The fact you've spent money for your slice of time with a PT means you are all the more likely to attend a workout. A PT's cancellation policy isn't about putting money in their pocket, it's about reducing your likelihood to drop out. If you stand to lose £XX's for missing a session are you going to wave that money goodbye or make the most of what you've paid for? The most important factor in maintaining or improving fitness is consistency! All to often people give up, or workout 'feast and famine' style. I.e. workout hard for a few days or weeks, then drop off before realising they need to get their butts back into gear. Few things drive people more than money. Just turning up to a session because you don't want to waste your money is half of the battle already over. For that money you also get a whole lot more to the package...
For most people, if they were to hire a PT they expect the PT to have a sound level of knowledge. You get with them all of their expertise earned over time. The lessons learned from trial and error, the lessons learned from working with different body types and lifestyles. That proficiency is certified by various professional sources as well as backed by science and studies, not the latest TikTok trend. A PT can filter what you need to know for your goals and express them to you in an understandable way. The world of fitness can be confusing and sometimes contradictory. There are also a lot of myths and hype that a PT can set you straight on. Ever heard of the afterburner effect that has made HIIT so popular? It's only worth about 60 kcal over a standard workout during a 24 hour period. The media would have you believe a HIIT workout can be worth 2 whole sessions alone.
Consistency is key
I'm going to harp on about consistency again as it's the most important factor to maintaining or improving your fitness. Ignoring the obligation from financial pressure, a PT can invoke the same level of determination as a training partner. A good trainer that you have developed a rapport with might just be enough to drag you out of bed at stupid'o'clock in the morning or across to the gym after a days work. Purely because they are going to be there. If you are used to training solo, think about somebody waiting at the gym for you to arrive. For most, they don't want to let that person down. Not that a trainer should emphasise this emotion, but if you did cancel, you might feel guilty and more likely to turn up to the next workout as some form of apology. Whereas, a training friend you might not. Your friend might even thank you for not turning up as they didn't want to go to either. A good PT will encourage you to arrive at a session as long as it is reasonably practicable. Although a PT is also at the mercy of life, it's less likely a PT will suddenly drop out on you. All of which helps to maintain consistency, even with a few wobbles in commitment.
Accountability of your actions
A good PT won't tell you off or otherwise punish you for missing a workout but they will hold you accountable. The excuse "I just can't be arsed" is usually good enough reason for most to miss a session. However, to a professional PT you are less likely to utilise that excuse. Therefore, you will explain the real reason for your missed session to your PT. From which your PT might be able to deduce patterns and trends that are adversely affecting your fitness journey. In some ways, a PT is a private investigator, looking at your lifestyle from an outside perspective. From an outsiders view, they can ask you why you do, or do not, perform certain actions. Though a PT cannot/should not force you to change your ways, they can highlight how you are responsible for your actions, which may encourage you to change and keep the change. These lifestyle nudges will help you to bring about healthier habits or unlock some time for your health and fitness.
Coupled with an inwards look at yourself and its effects on your fitness, a PT can get you to look at the future you. As a professional, the PT has the detailed task of working with you to set realistic goals. A PT's training and experience can highlight what might actually happen with the time and effort you can put into training. You might want Olympic standard running speed however, you have 2 kids and a full time job. A PT should bring you down a peg or two to help you realise that unless you can train full time, the Olympics will be closed for you. What a PT should recognise, for this example, is your desire to increase your running capacity and work from there. Sometimes, a person can be doing all the right things but are expecting results far too quickly or that are too advanced. Again, from an outsiders perspective a PT can realign your thought pattern or guide you to a more realistic objective. This prevents you getting disheartened, giving up and ultimately interrupting that all important consistency.
The number one reason for not exercising is a lack of time. Considering you want to hire a PT or already have, it's likely you've found a window in your busy schedule to workout. A PT will help you to make efficient use of your time. This can take many forms, perhaps introducing more effective planning or workout systems to enable you to efficiently train towards your goal or add the incentive and pressure to make the most of your time. The motivation and investment to hire a PT might encourage you to make more time available for fear of losing your sunk cost. A PT can work the inward looking trick on yourself, by looking from an outside perspective, to re-establish your priorities. Or, simply enough, having a PT to time your rests and motivate you in a sessions can make the session run smoother and faster, allowing it to fit more easily into your life.
One way a PT can make better use of your time is by giving you different movements to work with. A PT's knowledge of the human anatomy can help with exercise selection. These exercises may better target your desired outcome for a given amount of time. Sure, all exercise and movement is a gift to the body but some exercises grouped together can hinder results. When if the changes to your body aren't happening are you a) going to quit b) carry on and hope. Most do option "b" for a little longer but then quit. With the correct exercises for your goals you could see the results better and sooner, boosting your motivation to carry on training. We spend thousands of pounds getting the education to make the right exercise selections and even then (at least at Armoured Muscle) we continue to develop our understanding with continued development to stay on top of the latest science behind exercise choices and effects....so you don't have to! As a bonus, having a PT by your side makes more exercises available to you, for example the ones that are unsafe or too heavy to perform alone.
Need to know filter
Unless you spend a large sum of money and time to gain the qualifications the PT has, you're likely going to resort to Google, social media or magazines to find out what exercises you should be doing. There's a whole bunch of things that can be bad about workouts and exercises you find in the media. You can learn more about media workouts here. A PT can filter what is valid and fast track your learning to help develop strong foundations and habits. You don't need to hire a PT forever, just until you feel comfortable enough to go it alone. Even for advanced trainers, they may want to branch out into another discipline. A PT might be able to help with that transition period.
Spot on form
Whether changing discipline, starting workouts as a novice or a seasoned trainer, a PT can keep an eye on your form. Sometimes, form can be wrong through a development of bad habits. On other occasions it may not be wrong but by changing your form you can target other areas of your body better. Mirrors and friends are good. PT's are better. A PT can assist you learning a new form and present the reasons why which delivers a rich understanding to aid your journey. Overlapping with safety, good form can reduce the chance of injury. If you're injured you can't train (to an extent) which may impact on your consistency. Just in case you didn't know, consistency is really important to keeping on top of developing health and fitness.
While on the topic of general injuries, a PT can be a great way of damage limitation. You may already be injured or obtain an injury while under the guidance of a PT. Unfortunately, even top level athletes with world leading coaches still get injured from time to time. All a PT can do is minimise the risk of injury. What a PT should do is work with you and possibly your doctor to keep you going. Some people become disheartened by an injury. The PT's job is to show you that all is not lost and that other areas can still be developed. You can build back up to your original strength and carry on from there. A PT may be able to reduce muscle loss through lower volume exercises and build up gradual development. The gradual build up should also mitigate the re-occurrence so that you can consistently train instead of going behind square one forever more.
Supporting you as a person
When you hire a PT you're not just paying for the time you see them in person. A good PT should provide you round the clock support. This can range from advice and guidance on workouts where your PT isn't present, what to do if you are feeling pain or discomfort after a workout, right the way to whether or not you should miss a few workouts to go on holiday. Providing you are open and honest, a PT should work with you not for you. There may be occasions where a PT elects to be un-contactable. Perhaps they are with another client or they choose to have one day a week to effectively be 'off work'. Ultimately, your PT should be approachable enough for you to ask questions no matter how small or trivial another person may perceive that question to be.
Let it out
In a way, a PT can become an unofficial therapist. Ever felt better for talking about a problem aloud rather than letting in run circles in your head. A PT is likely to be out of your friendship circle and can be a person to talk to. That way, you can have a chinwag about someone/something without worry of others knowing about it or get something off your chest without fear of condemnation from your social group. A PT might be limited by their qualifications and code of conduct but they can be someone who will listen. All in all, a PT can be a means of stress relief for your emotions.
Mental health impacts
As much as developing your physical fitness is likely to be the primary reason you hired a PT. Your mental health will be all the better off too. By becoming more physically fit and otherwise healthier through use of a PT, you will probably sleep better, relieve stress and make chemical balances to your body. Many mental health problems can come from chemical or hormonal imbalances. Physical activity, changes these ratios by reducing the production of bad chemicals or hormones and increasing the production of good mood altering chemicals or hormones. Combined with chemical alterations, physical activity can alter your body and health which then alters your own self-image. Ultimately, giving you more confidence, resilience and self-respect. Helped along a bit by a PT giving you sound advice and encouragement.
Motivated to workout
The human mind and body naturally wants to protect itself, including from arduous activity. A PT has the job of motivating you to push your boundaries. Motivation can come in different forms to different people. We have already discussed financial investment which can be a form of motivation for some. Some people find responsibility a motivational tool. This is where the PT has to swap professions to become a psychologist to find what motivation works for you. I've chosen to highlight motivation as a separate paragraph as in some cases the sheer presence of a PT is motivation enough to push out an extra rep, sprint those last 100 m or refrain from the slice of cake. If you're that kind of person, a PT can motivate you through their words alone. As is often the case in a loud, high intensity fitness class. Shouting "COME ON! PUSH IT" actually gets you to do 1 more rep....weirdly.
50/50 workout and nutrition
I had to mention cake. Like it's a food worth eternal damnation? A PT can guide you on your nutrition choices. This can be guidance, meal plans, right the way through to customised diets. The choice of nutrition guidance depends largely on the clients acceptance and the PT's qualifications. Next to consistency, nutrition makes a massive influence on your fitness progress. Navigating all the food the world has to offer can be a nightmare, especially as "scientists" change their minds so often. New fashionable diets and super foods come and go however, your PT has the grounding to tell you which ones are worth a try.
Bespoke and tailored
So far I've presented some of the subtler benefits of using a PT. One of the more obvious advantages is that a PT can write you a personalised training plan. Especially useful for newer entrants to fitness training is having a suitable pathway. A plan can show you where you should be and when, or at least the next step. Unlike generic plans from the internet, a PT can establish what you enjoy doing and for what reason. They will make the plan utterly built around you! No app or cookie cutter plan will make a workout that fits you, your body, your goals and your time frame. A real professional human that can take into account emotions and social obligations will give you a plan that you can consistently smash for your health and fitness. However, the catch is often that you'll get a little of what you want, for the cost of doing a little of what you need.
You will know what your ultimate goal is. A PT should break that goal down into stepping stones for you. These mini goals can become challenges to you. Completion of challenges are like small milestones. Little nibbles of success to keep you going. Physically, these challenges can help to motivate you, or squeeze a little more effort from you. The success also releases chemicals into the body that improve your mental state. A PT could set you a fitness test or simply challenge you to one more rep. Rounded up, the challenge can keep you in fitness training for longer and push you further, faster. You could do this on your own, however having an external factor deciding the parameters makes the achievement all the more rewarding while remaining achievable.
Behind every client
When you hire a PT you are not just paying for the time they see you. Not only are you paying for near round the clock advice but you'll be getting behind the scenes support. Just because a PT is not with you or not answering your questions does not mean they are not busy working for you. Plans don't write themselves and can't be written fully during a session. A PT will be writing up your plan and monitoring your development making alterations with your feedback and as they see fit. A PT could be testing workouts before you see them or learning new skills and information to help you on your endeavours. A PT can do the research and development on your case while you carry on with your life. For reference, here at Armoured Muscle, for every hour you are with us personal training face-to-face there's an additional 3 hours work on your file.
The last points to cover aren't available with all PT's. Though should you find the right one for you, they can help you through a medical illness or injury. A doctor, if prescribed, will likely give you a cookie cutter workout plan. That plan might not be any good to your unique body and needs. A PT's job is to have the time and inclination to get you a customised plan with exercises you are capable of within your medical limitations. This is not to say a PT should override the advice of a doctor. The doctor effectively generates your goal for you. The PT then works you towards that goal. A fully trained physiotherapist is more suitably qualified and skilled to assist with injury rehabilitation. However, a private physio can be vastly more expensive, due to their expertise, or like in the UK with free healthcare, far too busy and have long waiting lists. A PT can fill the gap of time and expense provided they are adequately qualified. If you need to lose some weight for surgery, a PT can also step in to help you shed some kilo's for that much needed operation to go ahead.
Right tools for the job
Often a PT will aquire a specialisation in a niche; that's where the PT boundaries start to blur. PT's can specialise in areas too such as weight loss and diabetes, lower back pain, functional patterns, and nutrition to name a few. Should your needs specifically be medical or performance based, a PT might be able to assist you. Though you may find yourself looking into something more along the lines of a coach. A PT might be able to fill a price and availability gap between a standard PT and a full blown coach. More often, due to the vast amount of avenues that health and fitness can take, a PT will focus on a certain area that may appeal to you.
Put all together
I've broken down a lot of reasons you might want to consider using a good PT. There are even more subtle advantages to having a PT. Each reason above on its own might not be enough to consider parting with your time and money depending on your priorities but stacked up, the value and effect is outstanding. Here comes the sales pitch. Each reason has a compounding effect that in many cases overlap. Your mental health might improve, making you more likely to exercise, changing your attitude, which improves your overall health, which boost your confidence, improving your mental health and back round we go. You need not hire a PT forever. You could utilise their skills for a specific goal or at least to get you on the right path. Either way your reasons for hiring a PT are your own. Remember, a PT can be/have/invoke:
Realistic Goal Setting
On Call Support
Improved Mental Health
Personalised Training Plans
Behind the Scenes Support
That's before you add in any higher qualifications and specialisations! Sounds good right? There's so many benefits to using a PT and not all of them are immediately obvious. If you've used a Personal Trainer before, let us know in the comments below.