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Personal trainers: benefit or bah humbug?

Posted: December 11th, 2015 | Featured, Get Fit, Health & Fitness, Lifestyle | 1 Comment

By Erica Moe | Get Fit!

So, you’re ready to get serious about exercise, or maybe you want to take your fitness to the next level. And you may wonder if it makes sense to enlist a personal trainer to help you get the job done.

personaltrainingwebIf you want to maximize time, prevent injury, create consistency, track progress and make workouts fun, a personal trainer might be the key. Additionally, you’ll find:

  • Accountability: You’ll have to set an appointment and show up. A set day/time can be a huge help in getting you to the gym.
  • Coach/motivation: Maybe you’re OK at getting yourself to the gym, but once you get there, it’s not exactly enjoyable or beneficial. Having a trainer help you set goals and attain them can be a game changer.
  • Rehabilitation: You can get guidance on appropriate and safe exercises if you have a prior injury or are post rehab.
  • Teacher/specialty: If have a health condition like diabetes or arthritis, a professional can teach you how modify exercises to accommodate specific health needs.


It is imperative to hire a trainer that is certified. Look for certifications that are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), an independent, nongovernmental agency that accredits professions, including fitness. American Council on Exercise (ACE), National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA) and American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) are all NCCA accredited.

Additionally, your trainer should have certifications in CPR and first aid. Any other education, like fitness-specific certificate programs or bachelor degrees are also an asset since they show a strong base of knowledge.


  • The trainer’s availability should fit your schedule.
  • Fees should be set in advance. Ask about a savings if you purchase a package of sessions. Consider small-group personal training to make the fees more affordable.
  • Is the location feasible for you? Remember, the goal is to reduce barriers, so find a trainer that is close by.
  • Feel free to ask for references.

Does personal training work?

Research shows that those who worked once per week, one-on-one, with a personal trainer or virtually with a health coach increased VO2 max and reduced sitting time, which increased their overall health. Fitness coaching is proven to be beneficial in promoting fitness and exercise adherence. Compared to those who exercised on their own, researchers found that training load, power output and fat-free mass increased more when working with a professional trainer.

In my neighborhood

Personal trainers may work independently or be contracted into fitness facilities. In addition, there may be nontraditional personal training in your area to meet your needs. For example, the Mission Valley YMCA offers aquatic personal training in the pool for those with specific limitations or love of the water.

Want to take advantage of some local deals? Try the “New Client Special” at the Mission Valley YMCA, for only $249 you can get six one-on-one sessions with a personal trainer.

—Erica Moe is an ACSM certified exercise physiologist who writes on behalf of the Mission Valley YMCA, where she is a fitness director.

One Comments

  1. I like that you mentioned that a coach helps you with motivation. I’ve been wanting to get into shape, but I’m never motivated enough. I think having someone else there to provide some external motivation would be good for me, so maybe I’ll hire a personal trainer.

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