The Truth About Training

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I remember when I used to hit the gym, but after some time away, it felt like the gym hit me. Undergoing several significant life changes put a pause in my fitness routine. In fact, I struggled to find a sense of routine in general. It didn’t help that my children, who truly are two of my life’s greatest joys, happened to be the world’s worst sleepers: it was three full years before I slept every night of the week without waking. A lack of sleep combined with a reliance on caffeine and quick meals resulted in my gaining back every pound of baby weight. It was clear that I had to make a change.

After resuming steady sleep and ditching the drive-thru, I found my way back to the gym. Some days I’d run, other days I’d use weight machines—every day felt random. I was certainly more active, but I was lost on how to proceed. Pinterest boards and YouTube videos provided plenty of ideas, but they didn’t provide direction.

You should get a personal trainer, I told myself, but I worried about the expense. Plus, what could a trainer do for me that I couldn’t already do for myself? Still, I figured I could sign up for a few sessions and the quick results would be motivation enough to move forward independently. It took my willingness to head into personal training with a positive attitude and a true commitment to my workouts for me to dispel my previous misconceptions.

Misconception #1:Trainers are tough.

Truth: Not all personal trainers are drill sergeants. “A lot of people think that personal trainers are mean and just out to get people,” states Gentry Washburn, manager of Cornerstone Fitness.

Ben Crosswhite of Crosswhite Fitness agrees: “The biggest misconception with our group is that we are going to put them through a rigorous workout the first day.” Randi Abell, Association Director of Community Health for the YMCA of Central Virginia, added that “if you want to be yelled at, you can find someone to do that, but if you want someone who will be more reserved and gentle, there are personal trainers out there to meet those needs.”

Misconception #2: A personal trainer won’t make that much of a difference.

Truth: What I needed most was some direction, some accountability, and some reachable goals, and I’ve gotten this from my sessions.

Washburn points out that a trainer can help you get into a daily fitness routine, learn exercises safely, and challenge you both mentally and physically. Abell adds that a good personal trainer can assist clients in setting realistic goals and develop safe, effective, and fun programs designed to help you meet those objectives.

Working with a trainer has given me a better understanding of how to (safely) add difficulty to my workouts; on the other hand, I now know how to ease back into things if I’ve been out with the flu for a week. Aside from said flu, since I’m paying for these sessions, I want a return on my investment. I show up and do the work. And because I’m goal-driven and a bit competitive, I want to see myself perform five more reps, push through to that final set, or even hold a plank for ten seconds longer than I did before.

Misconception #3: Once I start working with my trainer, I’ll instantly see results.

Truth: I’d heard stories about fast-track changes, so I thought that once I started a training program that I, too, would see changes sooner rather than later—but that wasn’t the case.

It turned out that I needed to complete the exact program my trainer developed for me several times a week in order to see any progress.

Trainer Scott Whipple offers these encouraging words: “You SHOULD NOT be frustrated if you don’t progress at the same rate as your neighbor. If you stay consistent with your workouts, your body will change.” Crosswhite agrees that training isn’t just a quick fix. He also points out that you will probably lose inches before you see a smaller number on the scale. “There are a lot of factors to losing weight and getting into better shape.”

Misconception #4: Personal trainers are expensive.

Truth: Personal training services aren’t free, but they don’t have to break the bank.

Most fitness facilities in the greater Lynchburg area offer services in personal training and have trainers on staff. They offer different packages, usually in half-hour or one-hour sessions.

Abell points out that even an occasional session can make a difference in motivation and accountability when it comes to sticking with a routine.

Don’t just randomly sign up with a trainer. Ask questions like you would in any job interview: what’s their experience? Are they certified? Do they have a degree in a related field? Abell notes that many personal trainers specialize in a specific area and suggests that clients with specific needs request a trainer who focuses on that particular area.

Misconception #5: I’m in good shape. I don’t really need to work with a trainer.

Truth: Anybody can benefit from working with a trainer, but whether you need to work with one or not depends on your needs and desired outcomes.

In 20 years of training clients, Whipple says he’s come across a handful of reasons someone chooses to work with a trainer. Some common reasons include: “I know I won’t/can’t challenge myself working out alone,” “If I have a scheduled appointment, I know I have to go,” and “I need someone else to hold me accountable.” Washburn also hears many clients say that they’re looking for someone to push them past the point that they would push themselves, (or as Crosswhite puts it, clients who are looking to bring their fitness to the next level).

I’m much healthier and stronger than I was when I began working with my trainer several months ago. Sure, I’ve gone down a dress size, but I genuinely enjoy my workouts and even use equipment in a section of the gym I used to shy away from. I’d say I’ve made a few small achievements I can be proud of. Not only have I shed about 20 pounds, but I also shed my preconceived notions about the gym—and it all started with hiring a trainer.

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