Getting a gym membership is usually the first step in working toward your fitness goals. But as a beginner, this can be nerve-wracking – you might not know where to even begin or how to use the equipment correctly. That’s exactly why a small portion of gym-goers hire a personal trainer.
At $40+/hour, hiring a personal trainer can be worth it. Personal trainers can design a routine, motivate you to go to the gym, push you through your workouts, and teach you about equipment. Since 89% of personal trainers are certified, it’s easy to find an expert that can help you toward your goal.
Not everyone will benefit from hiring a personal trainer. So, let’s go over what a personal trainer actually does and when you might want to hire one. We’ll then talk about the pricing and other possible alternatives.
What a Personal Trainer Can Do For You
There seems to be a lot of confusion about what a personal trainer actually does.
That’s especially the case if you’ve ever watched television shows like The Biggest Loser. You might assume that a personal trainer screams at you during a workout to get you to pump out an extra rep or speed up on the treadmill.
- That’s not typical (unless you’re in a boot camp setting or specifically ask for it).
- Personal trainers do a lot more than that.
Let’s first talk about what a personal trainer does before we discuss whether or not they’re worth the investment.
Exercise Program Design
In most cases, you’ll have a sit-down meeting with a personal trainer before you hire them and begin your new routine.
A good personal trainer won’t just make up a routine on the spot.
They’ll actually sit with you and learn about what you’re looking to gain from working with them. That includes your fitness goals, how many days a week or month you can commit to exercising, and any pre-existing health conditions that you might have.
Then, your personal trainer will develop a plan that both of you agree on.
Yet, this newly-created routine isn’t exactly set in stone.
As you progress through your routine and begin making progress, your personal trainer might make a few changes or suggestions. This might include changing specific exercises, adapting the routine to new injuries and conditions, and adding or removing days to better meet your goals.
This constantly changing environment makes a personal trainer a good idea now, and later on when your body begins to adapt.
Source of Knowledge & Education
There’s a pretty good chance that you’re hiring a personal trainer because you don’t know the first thing about working out.
But a personal trainer won’t just walk you through a workout – they’ll also serve as a source of knowledge for you to lean on.
You’ll learn how to use the gym equipment and how to perform exercises properly. You’ll also learn about which muscles each exercise targets as well as how to prevent injuries during your workout.
Eventually, you’ll be able to move on, create your own workouts, and continue on your own with success.
Motivation & Accountability
While your personal trainer probably won’t be making a scene by yelling at you in the gym, personal trainers can serve as a solid source of motivation.
They can motivate you to run a little further, bump up the speed on the treadmill, attempt a heavier lift, or even push out one more rep.
Perhaps most important is a greater motivation to even go to the gym in the first place.
It’s easy to convince yourself that you’ll go to the gym tomorrow instead or workout later in the day. That might be part of the reason why you’re looking for a personal trainer in the first place.
That all changes with a scheduled training session.
Just the thought of canceling or letting your trainer down might be exactly what you need to keep your appointment. In a sense, a personal trainer can hold you accountable without intentionally doing so.
Plus, you can be absolutely sure that a completely relevant workout session is waiting for you as soon as you get to the gym.
When to Hire a Personal Trainer
Not everybody needs or wants a personal trainer.
In all honesty, it can be quite intimidating. It might make you uncomfortable to work one-on-one with a pro if you’ve never set foot in a gym in your entire life.
But there are a few signs it might be time to hire a personal trainer.
- Your doctor or physician recommends it.
- You struggle to find the motivation to workout.
- You need help creating a workout routine.
- You have fitness goals and have no clue how to reach them.
- Your current routine just isn’t producing results.
- You want to switch it up a little.
The thing is – you don’t need to be a complete newbie to hire a personal trainer. A personal trainer can be useful to anyone that has fitness goals they’re interested in reaching.
The Cost of Hiring a Personal Trainer
Though personal trainers can definitely be useful in working toward your goals, hiring a personal trainer will cost you a good deal of money.
In most places in the United States, personal training rates are between $40 and $90 an hour. However, what you’re actually charged might be a flat fee for each session or an hourly rate.
This doesn’t seem like much for a single session. But personal training costs begin to add up if you have sessions several times per week or with a trainer who has higher rates.
The good news here is that free and discounted sessions might be a possibility.
Free & Discounted Training Sessions
Most gyms have personal trainers in-house 24/7. Unfortunately, just being a member of that gym doesn’t give you unlimited access to these personal trainers for your own personal use.
Gyms like Planet Fitness are quite the exception.
Planet Fitness offers a completely free program called PE@PF. As long as you’re a member of Planet Fitness, you’ll have unlimited access to small group training sessions that target specific muscles of the body or circuit training workouts.
Some gyms might even offer a complimentary personal training session to give you a feel for the gym and the trainers. Just keep in mind that these usually only include one session, after which point you have to pay.
Personal Trainer App
Just like anything these days, there is such a thing as “online personal training.” There are plenty of apps out there that can give you most of the benefits of having a personal trainer without the added costs.
Others have fees lower than $5 a month.
The benefits of these apps include personalized workouts based on your fitness goals, access to workout and exercise clips/videos, and the ability to record workout data (sets, reps, weight, exercises, etc.).
If money is tight and $40 or more an hour seems a bit steep, even a free version of personal trainer apps is better than nothing. In fact, these might be all you need to start working out again.
Choosing the Right Personal Trainer
Now, you’ve decided that a personal trainer is what you’re looking for. As excited as you might be to hire the first personal trainer that you meet, not every personal trainer has what you’re looking for.
Here’s what you should look for.
- Certification. About 89% of personal trainers hold certifications in the industry. Make sure that your personal trainer is certified by the NSCA, ACSM, NASM, ISSA, or ACE. It also helps if your personal trainer has specialized training that might help you specifically.
- Personality. You don’t have to be best friends with your personal trainer. But it’s a good idea to choose a trainer that you get along with and find motivating. You don’t want a personal trainer with a negative attitude or an aggressive style.
- Price. It’s important to consider your budget and how many sessions you’re looking to have per week. As much as you might like an $80/hour trainer, it might not be financially feasible for you right now. Overshooting your budget means fewer sessions and fewer results.
- Knowledge. Even if your personal trainer is certified, you want to be sure that they know what they’re talking about. It’s a good idea to choose a personal trainer with experience in your specific goals (fat loss, muscle building, flexibility, etc.). It’s your job to research your potential trainers.
Who you choose as a personal trainer is up to you. Just remember that the personal trainer that works for your friend might not work for you.
Group Fitness Classes vs. Personal Training
There are a lot of reasons that you might not want to hire a personal trainer. Yet, you might be in a position where you need a little guidance to get you through those first few weeks or months at the gym.
If that’s the case, a group fitness class might be more your speed.
Let’s talk about how these two concepts differ.
Just like hiring a personal trainer, the cost of a group fitness class will vary.
Some gyms actually offer free group fitness classes with your membership. These serve as a great way to get you into the gym without costing you a dime.
When a price is involved, you might be spending between $12 and $25 per class. Longer training sessions and more skilled group instructors might end up costing you a little bit more.
Compared to hiring a personal trainer, enrolling in a group fitness class is likely much more feasible for you financially.
Why Group Fitness?
You’re probably wondering the difference between a personal trainer and a group fitness class. Or maybe you think that the difference is quite clear.
Personal training is one-on-one and your routine is designed for you and you alone while group fitness classes target more of a wider base.
Here’s a look at why a group fitness class might be your best bet.
- There are tons of different varieties of group fitness classes – that includes boot camps, CrossFit-style workouts, dance, circuit training, and a lot more.
- You can switch up your workouts from day-to-day to stay active without sticking to a consistent routine.
- Some gyms offer group fitness classes all throughout the day – meaning you don’t have to work your daily schedule around classes.
- You’ll be able to meet new people and still work with a trainer skilled in the field.
- Working out in the presence of others might make you more likely to continue working out.
- Since you’re not working one-on-one with a trainer, you won’t feel as intimidated.
Group fitness classes aren’t for everyone. Yet, if your gym offers free fitness classes, you might as well give one a try to see what you think.
These classes might be just what you need to motivate you to workout.
What Group Fitness Classes Don’t Offer
One of the key benefits of working with a personal trainer is that you can get personal training at home.
Some companies will send a personal trainer to your home (with equipment in tow) and work with you one-on-one. This will probably cost you a decent chunk of change, but it’s much more convenient if leaving your home isn’t possible.
Personal trainers definitely cost a good deal of money and might just break the bank for you. Even two $40 workouts a week for an entire year will cost you over $4,000 annually.
A personal trainer might be worth it if you struggle to find the motivation to go to the gym or if you’re just not seeing results on your own. And you can always return to working out on your own after a few sessions or months with a personal trainer.
If it seems intimidating to work with a personal trainer, group fitness classes are always an option. Not only are they much more affordable, but they also offer a lot more variety and give you the chance to meet new people.