When most people think about hiring a personal trainer, they think about being in the gym with that trainer and working their ass off on a level they simply can’t achieve while they’re working out alone. This is ONE possibility for what a personal trainer is for.
But what most people don’t really think too much about is how much MORE a personal trainer can do. Any decent personal trainer SHOULD possess the skills to create an overall plan for a client’s fitness goals. This plan should include all the different aspects of fitness that a client will need to engage in to reach their goals. This plan should be long-term and should take into consideration many different aspects of the client’s lifestyle, history and personality.
Ultimately, a personal trainer is most useful as a long-term guide for your body’s movement needs. In this way, personal trainers are part of a smart, long-term healthcare plan, like having a therapist and a primary care physician. When they’re doing their jobs well, all of these professionals work to help you prevent health problems and maintain homeostasis both in your mind and your body -- which means you generally feel good, most of the time..
Not everyone has a therapist but everyone should. "Mental health" is not something only people with mental disorders or mental illnesses have -- everyone has "mental health." There are days, weeks, months and even whole years when everyone needs just a little extra mental health help, a sounding board, a validating voice to say, “everything is going to be alright.” I’m not suggesting everyone needs to see a therapist every single week, or even month, of their lives but establishing a relationship with a therapist so that you can call on them as needed or check in with them periodically is a very good idea for your long-term mental health.
The same is true for personal trainers. Once you’ve established a relationship with a personal trainer, you have someone to turn to as your goals change, your body changes, your needs change, your lifestyle changes. To establish that relationship, you may work with your trainer every week for several months or even a year then perhaps you step away to continue the work on your own until such time as you need them again, or just want to check in/ check-up.
Culturally, we have assumed that we should see a medical doctor like this for at least 100 years. The biggest differences are that most medical doctors 1) don’t take a holistic approach to your health and 2) are primarily trained in the treatment of existing health problems rather than prevention of health problems. Prevention happens in traditional medicine in the form of a yearly check-up and standard tests at specific ages.
If MOST people engaged the services of a personal trainer even as rarely as they seek preventative care from medical professionals, we would see our culture’s overall health and happiness improve dramatically. NOT because you got some good workouts in but because a personal trainer can test your physical health, talk with you about your current physical goals AND prescribe a long-term plan for those goals. If you invested a bit more time with a trainer, you would even get ongoing support with adhering to that plan and achieving those goals and recommendations for other areas of health you might need support in.
I dream of a future where our health clinics are small complexes that bring together the expertise of a medical doctor, a physical therapist, a mental health specialist, and a personal trainer. It would also be wonderful to include massage therapists, chiropractors, and naturopaths in that list. One place with all of these Heath professionals who would have the opportunity to conference about your well-being with one another so that everyone is on the same page and you are truly receiving the best, smartest, most holistic care possible. I know it’s only a dream but it’s a good one.
For now, finding yourself your own scattered team of health professionals that include some, if not all, of those you’d have available to you in my dream health complex is your best chance of truly preventative health care. This includes finding a personal trainer who can do WAY more for you that simply kill your quads in the gym one morning.
Personal trainers are for helping you establish long-term, consistent physical health habits. Personal trainers are for helping you understand how physical activity can fit into everyone’s lifestyle. Personal trainers are for helping you understand how your physical goals can be achieved, one day at a time, over the long haul.
Can a personal trainer kick your ass in a workout? For sure. But that’s not all a personal trainer is for. Not by a long shot.
is an NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer; an ACE-Certified Group Fitness Instructor; a certified Yoga Teacher; a Certified Intuitive Eating Professional; and a degree-holding Health, Fitness Specialist. She lives in Frankfort, Michigan and owns Every. Body. Fitness and Yoga Studio.