I’m a personal trainer. I write workout programs for clients, I watch them perform said programs and track their progress from week to week, and I modify their programs as needed to help them meet their goals.
But I don’t write my own programs. In fact, I never have. I’ve been working with the same coach for the last 7+ years, and the reasons I have done so, despite being a personal trainer myself, are the same reasons YOU might need a coach.
#1. You Cannot See Yourself Objectively
Every time I hear myself speak on tape or video, the same thing happens:
I listen carefully, thinking I’ll hear MY voice, but instead I hear the voice of a stranger. Her voice is higher than mine, and she doesn’t speak in the same rhythm as I think I do, and just as I genuinely start to wonder who the eff this woman is, I realize she’s me. And what I’m hearing is how the world hears my voice — and it is vastly different than the voice I hear in my own head.
Something similar happens when we see ourselves in the mirror. Inside our heads, we look one way, but once we see ourselves through the eyes of others, we tend to see ourselves quite differently.
It’s this inability to see ourselves objectively that prevents us from being our own best personal trainers. We have an inherent bias about ourselves — about how strong we are, about how much we’re capable of, about how different areas of our body look. We underestimate ourselves, and sometimes we overestimate ourselves, and we can only come to truly know ourselves with time and practice.
Hiring a coach gives us the practice of seeing ourselves as others do — a coach can help us see where we’re strongest, where we’re weakest, and where we haven’t fully appreciated the body we already have.
#2. Your Exercise Selection is Also Biased
Quick — name your LEAST favorite exercise.
Mine is hanging leg raises. I dislike them so much that I’ve dreamed about them. Once, in fact, I was talking in my sleep, repeatedly saying, “I hate this shit! I hate this shit!” David tells me that, when he asked me what I hated so much, I simply said, “Doing abs.” Frankly, I’d rather deadlift than do abs.
Guess what my coach makes me do in addition to my deadlifts?
Hanging leg raises.
The fact is, I wouldn’t be likely to put the exercises I dislike in my program if I wrote it myself. Our natural tendency as humans is to repeatedly do the things we like, the things we think we’re good at, and it’s no different in fitness. Often, our hate for specific exercises is really just discomfort; we haven’t fully mastered the form, or we don’t feel confident with it, and thus we come to dislike those exercises. To achieve well-rounded health, however, we should work both our strengths and our weaknesses — and we should do both the things we love and the things we hate.
Hiring a coach ensures that we’ll do both our deadlifts and our ab work.
#3. You Don’t Know How to Adjust When You’re No Longer Progressing
Most people want to be healthier, look better, and feel better.
Those don’t *sound* like specialized goals that would require a coach, and while you can achieve these things at first with consistent application of almost any workout program, inevitably, your progress will stop. Your body will adapt to the workouts you are repeating, and at some point, whatever initial progress you achieve will stall.
This is not to say that your workouts need to change every day — in fact, there is a benefit to repeating the same workout for a period of weeks. But you do need to make progress in some way. Adding more weight to the bar, adding more reps, adding slower tempos, adding fewer or shorter rest periods, or adding new exercises are all valid ways to create the impetus your body needs to continue to change. These are not things you should apply haphazardly, though, and you don’t want to do them all at once.
Hiring a coach will allow you to follow a program pre-designed to minimize your plateaus and continue your progress without these issues.
#4. You Need Accountability
My 1:1 clients are the ones who cancel their training sessions most frequently.
I don’t think it’s because they’re inherently lazy or uncommited.
Instead, I compare their cancellation rates to those of my small group trainees — and I see that the small group trainees rarely cancel. The difference isn’t motivation; the difference is accountability. My small group trainees feel an obligation to support not just their own fitness progress but that of their group mates as well. When someone doesn’t show for a group session, she isn’t just beholden to me — she’s also beholden to her training partners.
Small group training works so well because people need accountability, and there is nothing negative or shameful about admitting that. Fitness — and by extension, health — is hard work. Sometimes progress is slow, and sometimes we let life get in the way of our goals. Having someone to whom you are accountable is useful when you’re debating whether to go to the gym or to fall asleep in your own drool while binge watching The Walking Dead.
Hiring a coach is the first step in accountability — and a coach can hook you up with a group to fall back on, too.
#5. Your Body is a Good Investment
One of the biggest reasons people don’t hire a coach is money — many people think spending $40-$75 per week on their body is excessive, or superficial, or wasteful.
But your body is your home — forever. You might live in 7 apartments, 2 houses, 1 condo, and an assisted living facility in your lifetime, but only one body will travel with you to all those “homes.”
Sure, signing up for the $7 per month gym membership sounds like a better deal. You get gym access whenever you want, and you don’t have to give up your daily latte to get it. What, however, is the success rate for people who simply sign up for the cheap gym membership? What percentage of those people actually reach their fitness and health goals?
Cheap gym memberships only buy you access. There’s no guarantee of meeting your goals.
Hiring a coach is an investment, but if this helps you reach your goals in less time than you would have alone, the coach is ultimately cheaper than the bargain price gym.
And your body is an investment that gives you more than just another card to keep on your keychain.