Personal Trainer-Why Can’t I Do This Myself?

I can do this by myself. I have heard this statement countless times from people that were beginning to make the commitment to a fit lifestyle. Many, because in some years past they were more fit than they are today, believe they can duplicate the success they feel they once had. “I lifted in high school” is a familiar one. I can’t afford a trainer is another. Sadly, the success rate of the people attempting this process by themselves is practically zero. Of course, we all know someone who has succeeded, but even those rare individuals tend to relapse to old habits, and give back the gains they fought so hard to achieve. Every January, the gyms fill with the New Year’s resolution crowd. Most, if not all, are gone by Valentine’s Day. Why? Simply, they don’t make progress, because they have no idea what to do. Is this at all self-serving, since I train for a living? Somewhat, but, then again, with studies coming out like this month’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (here), which shows no gains in reducing American obesity in the past ten years, and 7 or 10 Americans being overweight, how effectively can anyone debate the need to get healthy, and the downside of failing to do so?


Why do I need to spend the money for a personal trainer? A trainer is much more than someone to teach you a few exercises. Consider these factors…

Reasonable Goals-Let’s say that you re fifty pounds over your target weight, and have not exercised in years. If you go to the gym every day for two weeks, feel like you’re working up to your capacity, and lose no weight, what would you think is the most common response? I tried, but I can’t get fit, so I guess I’ll stay the way I am, or try another fad diet. A professional trainer might take a different approach, explaining to you that it takes a burn of 3,500 more calories than consumed to lose a single pound of fat (more complicated than that simple equation, but you must burn that amount more than you consume to drop one pound), and that, are your current level of fitness, you may only be able to exercise to an intensity that burns 350 calories per hour. That would mean you would be able to lose one pound after exercising to your capacity and eating right in about ten days. Sounds slow, doesn’t it? The pro trainer might then suggest that you spend your first few weeks working on your strength and endurance, so that you might then be able to handle more intensive exercise, which will also you to lean out at a much faster pace. Seem sensible?

Value-What would it be worth to you to be able to drop 40 to 50 pounds in six months? Let’s say that you try to go on your own. You pay for a gym membership for six months, don’t make progress, and then quit. Return on investment? Zero. An alternative scenario involves you hiring the right trainer. Yes, you will spend money for a professional’s services, but, if you achieve the results you desire, is it worth it? Most clients also realize a substantial savings in medical costs after getting fit. Less money spent on deductibles, co-pays, co-insurance, lost work days, pharma costs and many other expenses, when reduced or eliminated, often more than offset the cost of a trainer, plus, you gain information that you can use for years after your training sessions end.

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Safety-Proper form in exercising is vital. No gain in the gym is worth risking a traumatic injury. If you are using the other members in your gym for visual tutorials, you are then trusting that they know what they are doing. Sadly, most do not, they only repeat what someone else, who may be equally ill-informed, has told them. This is called bro-science, untruths that become fact by constant retelling and duplication.

Accountability- Making or accepting an excuse for not showing up at the gym today is very easy. When you have an appointment with a trainer, that you have paid for, you tend to be much more committed, and likely to show up and work. A good trainer will also hold you accountable for your food plan and non-session day activities.

Education-A good trainer will have an extensive education in exercise, physiology, anatomy and understand how to co-ordinate a plan to help you reach your goals. This has a much higher success rate that emulating others in the gym, who may be looking for answers, just like you. Putting together an effective workout is much more than knowing several exercises. A good trainer will structure your exercise prescription based on your last workout’s performance, your non-session day activities, food plan, strength and cardiovascular parameters, time of day, and timing of your next scheduled session. Do you have the skill set to do that on your own?

 Confidence- Often times, your trainer’s assessment of your capabilities will exceed your own, and once they can show you that you have strength and endurance beyond what you believe, you can push into new levels with confidence, and enjoy the gains that go with this new progress.

Coaching-The right trainer will not only put you through an effective series of workouts to help you reach your fitness goals, but will teach you what you need to know about the process as well. Good trainers not only can produce results in weight, fitness and strength gains, but educate you as well. I am proud to say that most clients that have trained with us for six weeks or longer could take a person new to fitness, into a gym, and structure a safe yet demanding workout for them, and do it with confidence.

So, if you have read all of this, and can see the value in having a professional partner for your fitness journey, then your next question may logically be about how to choose the right trainer for you and your needs. If that is the case, then check back soon for our next article about how to choose the right trainer, including what to look for in credentials, qualifications, what questions to ask to make sure you are a good fit together, and does their core training philosophy line up with your personality and needs. In the meantime, if you have any questions, drop me an email, at

Jim Harris