If someone asked me to name the single best thing that I’ve ever come across in my fitness career; the one best piece of advice I would give someone – it would be so easy. I wouldn’t even have to pause to know what it is. Wouldn’t even bat at eye. Hands down – the best thing I’ve ever done is hire a trainer. Let me break this down for you:
Over the past 15 years, I have tried every possible thing under the sun to get fit. Seriously. I’ve run a marathon (not to mention how many 5Ks and half marathons.) I’ve done P90X and the Insanity programs (and I’ve literally got the tshirts to prove it.) I’ve joined gyms, tried group classes, online videos, you name it. But none of them gave me the results that I actually wanted. I would aimlessly move from program to program searching for what would keep me motivated and actually help me reach my goal.
That is, until I hired a trainer.
For me, my lightbulb moment came after I had a baby. I was carrying a bit of baby weight (that’s putting it nicely.) But I wanted to get in shape. So my sister and sister-in-law (both fresh off maternity leave and ready to see their toes again, too) hired Robby McCann, a Strongman competitor, to start training us.
When Robby first started training us, not only did we have the traditional burpees and jump rope we were used to, but he added (drumroll please) weights. Real weights. Barbells and trap bars and tractor tires, oh my. For the first time, we were adding serious weight to our workout routines. And man, did our bodies respond.
But not only did my trainer just add weights, he listened to us. He understood what our bodies could do and he pushed us (boy did he push us.) When you work out on your own, you only push yourself to a certain level, then you quit. But when you have a trainer, they will take you to the level you would normally quit, then push you just a little extra. And that “little extra” is what gets results and changes.
I’ve been working with Robby for almost three years now and really cannot stop singing the praises of a trainer. Let me give you some tips/thoughts on finding a good trainer and their benefits:
Find One That Knows Their Stuff: Do your research. Ask around. And find a trainer that knows what they’re doing. Someone that specializes in what you want (Strongman, weight loss, powerlifting, cardio, etc.) Don’t be scared to check out their references. Ask some of their current and past clients their thoughts and opinions. You want a trainer that isn’t just in it for the paycheck and isn’t just counting you as “another client.” Find a trainer that actually cares about you and your goals.
Find a Trainer you Click With: Super important one here. Don’t just hire the first trainer you see. Do your homework. Just because a trainer works well for your friend, doesn’t mean they’ll work for you. Everyone is motivated differently, and you need a trainer that knows how to harness that to get the most out of you during your workout. For example: give me a trainer that yells at me and motivates with negative comments (“you’re not working hard enough” or “you call that a burpee?”) and I’ll shut down. Seriously, that would do the opposite of motivating me. But give me a trainer that calmly points out areas I need to work on and uses praise – and I will work my butt off to do better. I honestly work for the moments I hear “good set.” That’s the training style that works for me. Some people respond better to the Jillian Michael’s boot camp style trainer. Both are fine, just identify the style that works for you and find a trainer that follows that style.
They’ll Get to Know your Strengths/Weaknesses and Lifting Style: The longer you work with a trainer, the more they’ll get to know you, your body, strengths, weaknesses, lifting style and motivation. Ok, that’s a lot, so let’s break that down. As your trainer spends time with you in the gym, they’re going to learn about you and what you need. They can tailor your workouts to what you NEED, not always what you like (can you say “the prowler?”) Your trainer will know when you’re tired, when you’re motivated and when you’re ready to bump up your weights – all without you even telling them. Honestly, my trainer knows when I’m ready to try new maxes before I even am.
Create a Relationship: Now, my trainer rocks. Not only does he train me, but he provides a sounding board for my ideas, thoughts and, ahem, complaints. We can work together to come up with workouts that point me towards my goals. The relationship you have with your trainer should be one that is symbiotic. You work TOGETHER to get results. You lift the weights, give feedback and put in the time at the gym and your trainer fine-tunes your program, motivates you and gets a sense of pride in seeing you succeed (oh, and a paycheck.)
It’s So Worth the Money: Your health is the single most important thing. Really. The older I get, the more I understand that. So, don’t be scared to spend the money. It’s an investment. Here’s something else – you’re not just paying for the trainer, you’re paying for the confidence and self-esteem that comes along with it.
Out of your Comfort Zone: I’ve never been a stranger to a gym. I think I’ve belonged to some type of gym since I was in college. But, when I went to the gym, I always hopped on the treadmill or elliptical or jumped in some type of cardio group class. I NEVER picked up the weights. And forget the bench. As far as I was concerned that was the “big boy’s area” and totally off limits and scary to me. But, a trainer will introduce you to the weights, exercises and machines and show you how to use them. They’ll make you feel comfortable using barbells and plates. And, getting out of your comfort zone is sometimes what you need to see results.
One That Trains Women: Ok, I saved one of the best for last. I would recommend hiring a trainer that works with women. They don’t have to work exclusively with women, but they should definitely have some experience training women. Women work out differently than men, their bodies are different and, yes, they may even pee when they deadlift (sorry guys, it happens.) So, you need a trainer that understands these things and how to set your program accordingly.
Honestly, guys, hire a trainer. Do it. I wish I had hired a trainer 10 years earlier. If you don’t know of a trainer, start Googling or asking around right now. Give it four months and watch it change your life (and your booty.)