The Value of Working with a Good Personal Trainer

One of my dearest friends started working with a personal trainer last year and made quite a transformation, enough to inspire me to seek my own. She looks fantastic—healthier than she’s ever been—and she claims that other things in her life have fallen into place as well. I also remember someone from a kickboxing class once telling me how she achieved great results working with a trainer for a year and was now in maintenance mode. I, too, would like to get to maintenance mode. One day.

I had been making do with the Zumba and yoga classes that I was able to attend to at least 2 to 3 times per week. Sometimes I would get on the weight machines that focused on arms, back, and abs. At most, my efforts kept me from gaining weight, but I hadn’t been losing weight or toning up, at least not noticeably. It was discouraging, to say the least.

I’d argued with myself about why I should/not work with a trainer. I thought it was reserved for the wealthy, which I’m certainly not. And then I thought, I have no problems paying for tutors and teachers for my daughter to learn proper technique and be challenged to work harder, so why not do the same for myself? 

The first training session was a disappointment. I was expecting a tough-love Jillian Michaels persona who’d push me to get off my lazy butt, correct my form, and whip me into shape like those contestants on The Biggest Loser. Trainer X had me go through a series of movements and machines. I had a strenuous enough workout to be sore the next day, but I was disappointed with his lack of focus. He would wave hello to the people he knew, and he seemed to know a lot of people. I was thinking, “Is this what I’m paying for? Someone to tell me what to do? That’s it?” It was no different from taking a group class or doing a workout video. Where was the personalized attention?

I requested my health club exercise coordinator to set me up with someone else—at least someone who would explain why I’m doing what I’m doing and what I should be focusing on while I’m going through the motions. I needed to be engaged not only physically, but mentally. Most importantly, he needed to be focused on me while we trained.

Enter Alex. He’s made a world of difference in my approach to exercise, eating, and—corny as it sounds—life.

His approach is different from Jillian Michaels—no yelling, tough love, push-to-the-limit-and-see-who-breaks-first. There’s the trainer-side, of course, where he focuses on all the aspects of mobility, coordination, flexibility, and strength. Then there’s the added bonus of off-the-mat training—the true value.

He checks in on my progress—whether it’s food choices, exercises beyond our training session, or triggers which might get me off-track. We talk about choices—how we already know what’s good for us, but need to be mindful of our choices, making good ones ideally, but not fixating on the bad ones which are bound to happen. Setbacks are not permanent unless we choose to make them that way.

We share a Google Sheet, where I log in fitness activities completed, daily steps, and food intake, as well as his challenges/feedback for me. Rather than just simply telling me what to do, he gives me options, challenges, and mini-goals. I make what he calls “health happy choices.”

In almost five months of working with Alex, I see the beginnings of muscle tone in my upper arms, thighs, and even my butt. I have lost ten pounds plus inches from my trouble spots, which make me appear as though I lost even more weight.

For the first time I weigh less than what’s on my driver’s license. I am almost to my premarital weight, which is my first milestone. Next step is to get to my ideal weight—which is 20 pounds away—and then to maintenance mode. One day it will happen. Just need to keep making those health happy choices.


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