As with any relationship, personal trainers are a significant commitment. And if you’re a commitment-phobe, you can easily talk yourself out of hiring one (they’re too pricey! they’re too nosy!). However, many people find they get better results when they enlist the help of a fitness pro. Here are five situations when you’d do well to hire a personal trainer.
1. You don’t know where to start
If you’re new to exercise or have been out of the game for a while, the idea of starting a routine can feel paralyzing.
Working under the guidance of a personal trainer can take a mountain of work off your shoulders since they’ll figure out a routine that fits your goals and lifestyle. All you have to do is show up and trust the process.
2. You’re not making progress
Few things are more frustrating than putting in the sweat and seeing little-to-no results from your exercise routine. Before you throw in the towel, consider enlisting expert help.
No matter your goal, a personal trainer can look at what you’re doing and give you an objective take on where things could be going sideways. (Poor food choices and too-easy workouts are common foes of progress.)
From there, your personal trainer can create a better plan for your goals and regularly monitor your progress. “By doing this, they can help you make small adjustments or shift your workout plan for you to achieve the best results,” says New York City-based personal trainer Jessica Mazzucco, C.P.T.
Choosing a trainer who also has certifications or experience in nutrition could help because a lack of progress often means you’ll need to switch up your diet approach, too, Nelson notes.
3. You keep quitting
We get it: Sticking with an exercise routine isn’t easy. With only ourselves to answer to, it’s easy to wind up quitting our routines after some time, especially when schedules get busy.
A personal trainer, though, is like an insurance policy. While the decision to work out or not is ultimately up to you, a personal trainer can give you that extra nudge you need to show up day after day.
“Your trainer is at the gym waiting for you, and they will probably call you out if you are making too many excuses as to why you can’t work out,” Mazzucco says. “It is also harder to cancel on someone who is waiting for you to show up.”
Even if you’re working with a trainer virtually, he or she can touch base with you to make sure you’re putting in the work. Plus, your trainer can help you stay motivated by reminding you of your long-term goals, highlighting your progress, and creating workout plans that excite you, Mazzucco says.
One tip: Just make sure your trainer knows you’re looking for accountability from the get-go.
4. You’re injured or recovering from injury
Injuries are common yet frustrating occurrence, so if you’re already working with a physical therapist, you may be wondering if you really need a personal trainer.
The answer? “It’s not an either/or; it’s both,” says Mark Schneider, C.P.T., a trainer who often works with people recovering from injuries. If possible, your best move is to work with both a physical therapist and a personal trainer at the same time—and for those two experts to be in communication with one another.
Your physical therapist’s job is to get you back to basic, functional movement, while your personal trainer’s job is to move you from a functional to a playful life, Schneider says.
He recommends looking for a trainer who has experience working with injuries or asking your physical therapist for recommendations.
5. You have very specific goals
Looking to compete in bodybuilding? Learn Olympic lifting? Train for a challenging hike? You could try a one-size-fits-all online program, but you’re probably better off going the expert route.
Working with a personal trainer is like having a cheat sheet. “A personal trainer, especially one who is familiar or experienced in the specific goal you’re going after, will give you workouts that will progress you without causing burnout,” Nelson explains.
Your trainer can also track your progress along the way so they can make tweaks as soon as your improvements stall or reverse. This will keep you moving along the right path and set you up for maximum success in reaching your goals.