So you’ve tried those fasting diets, without much success. Joined the gym in January but never quite made it to February. Bought that cross-trainer off Ebay, but now just use it as a glorified clothes rack. After wasting endless amounts of money on dieting, fitness gadgets and gym memberships, many of us may consider turning our attention to something widely considered to be more effective – personal training!
After all celebrities don’t achieve their buff, red-carpet figures by willpower alone. They all have personal trainers, right? But with the average training session in the UK costing upwards of £35, it’s certainly not the cheapest option. So is it really worth the money?
According to Michael Gowen, Group Fitness Director at MotivatePT, “Celebrities actually make up a very small percentage of any trainer’s client base. Instead most clients are just regular people, with normal jobs who have all tried gym memberships, but just haven’t seen results. Many clients these days are on a budget and so only see their trainer once a week or perhaps just once a fortnight and they may even split the session cost with a partner or friends. By following their trainer’s advice between the sessions, many of our clients are actually spending less than they did on their former gym subscriptions – yet seeing significantly better results.”
Research shows that in the UK we waste approximately £37 million on gym memberships every year that we never use. Personal training sessions may be relatively expensive in comparison but if they work then surely this would be worth paying for. It seems that it would be better to spend out on a personal trainer and actually benefit from the exercise sessions than paying out on a gym and never visiting. But what does the science tell us about the effectiveness of personal training?
Most of us will evaluate the cost of training against the results we achieve, in order to determine if it represents value for money. In a study carried out by Bell State University two equally matched groups undertook an identical 12-week training plan. One group was unsupervised, whilst the other worked with a personal trainer. The group led by the trainer achieved 32% more upper body strength and almost 50% greater lower body strength than the group that trained alone. The experiment certainly illustrates the already known fact that we all work harder when being pushed by a trainer. Another study actually showed that exercising with a personal trainer changed people’s perceptions and attitudes towards exercise, leading to longer-term change.
“Ensure you find a personal trainer that has experience and a track record,” explains Gowen. “Ultimately you’re paying for results and that means working with a trainer who can help you attain your fitness goals. Ask the trainer for an exercise plan that you can do on your own too and if you need support reach out to your trainer by phone or email when you need advice. They’re there to help you achieve your goals and they should be giving you the knowledge and resources to enable you to continue on your own.”
It seems that a personal trainer can increase our exercise compliance and can push us to achieve better results than independent exercise. But whether it’s worth the money will ultimately be a personal choice based upon our spending preferences, lifestyle and willingness to change. As despite all the advice and scientific studies, it seems that much of our success with a personal trainer may ultimately be down to the level of effort that we’re willing to put into our training program.