Yay, a post that has nothing to do with my pregnancy! Are you psyched? I actually wrote this over three months ago and am just now getting around to posting it, but I think this will is a topic that is always relevant and hopefully it'll make some of you rethink taking advantage of the free sesh your gym is offering or even biting the bullet on that personal tracking package you've been mulling over. Personally, I think most everyone can benefit from working with a trainer. I've been on both sides of the arrangement, and it all changed my life in the best ways possible!
Whatever you decide, here are 10 things you can do to get the most out of your next meeting with a trainer.
1. If you're not early, you're late. This seems so obvious but I cannot stress it enough. If you want to get the most out of your session, arrive early! Give yourself plenty of time to use the locker room, fill up your water bottle, etc. Let's just put it out there: personal training ain't cheap, and time is money. Keep in mind that if you're late, your trainer likely has another client after you and won't be able to extend your session a few extra minutes to make up for lost time.
2. Dress to impress (yourself, not me). If your not sure what to wear, ask! Personally, I think the perfect outfit for a personal training session for a female consists of: a supportive sports bra (I like Lulu's or Nike's); a semi-fitted tank or tee; a seamless or microfiber thong (I like Lulu's or Zella's); fitting leggings or tights that hit you somewhere between the knee and the ankle (I like Lulu's or Nike's); a pair of quality no-show socks (I like Nike's and Adidas' - Lulu's great as well but a bit costly for socks) and flat sneakers. More on that in a bit.
I've got to box jump onto a soapbox for a moment here and remind you that personal training and quality workout gear is an investment in your health and YOU ARE WORTH IT. You DESERVE to look and feel good in the gym. If you're wearing old or ill-fitting gym clothes that you're constantly have to pull and adjust, it WILL affect your workout and your confidence. And for God's sake if you're stopping to pull up your leggings after every rep, get yourself a nice high-waisted pair of workout pants! I speak from experience as this has been a GAME-CHANGER for me!
3. Get your gear right. All sneakers are NOT created equal. You might absolutely adore your cushy sneaks that you jog in and take to cardio classes, but that doesn't mean they're the right pair for your training sessions. If you only have running sneakers with a high heel lift and aren't ready to invest in other sneaks, explain this to your trainer and ask if you can perform any necessary exercises in socks.
If you ARE considering in investing in gym/training sneakers, look for something with a flat bottom and a stable heel. I personally love doing weight work in either my Nike Metcons (on sale!) or my Converse low-tops. I also like a lightweight sneaker, like a Nike Free, for a class or gym floor setting that involves resistance work but nothing crazy heavy.
4. Avoid resistance training for the 48 hours prior to your session. Show up fresh and ready to work. If you're sore and out of sorts, it's going to slow you down and affect your session. I have to say that as a trainer, it's a real bummer when an early AM client shows up looking/acting half-dead from some crazy class or workout they did the night before. I realize that we're all busy and have to squeeze in our workouts when we can, but please be mindful, about spacing things and rest/recovery time. (And if you're not sure, ask!)
5. Don't warm up beforehand unless your trainer tells you to. Some people like to do a little intense cardio right before a training session. I'm NOT a fan of this. Personally, I want you fresh and ready to lift. If you want to do cardio after our session or on a different day, great. But if you're out of breath from a 25-minute stint on the Stairmaster, you might not be at the top of your game for weightlifting, which requires not only strength but focus!
6. Pay attention. Typically I'll give a client two or three exercises to do at a time in a superset or circuit style, and I'll do the exercise first so they have a clear visual of what they're about to do. I definitely have clients who need me to re-cue them throughout workouts, and I don't mind. Some people legitimately have ADD and really need the reinforcements; some people are stressed or their mind wanders off and they need to be given directions again because they weren't paying attention the first time. I get it. It happens! However, I implore you to really focus as much as you can. If your trainer is on the floor demo-ing something, get on the floor with them for the best vantage point. I've had clients who were shy or insecure and kept their distance. Personally I think personal training is the perfect time to step out of your shell and practice your social skills. Get involved with your own workout! We all have personal shit to deal with outside of the four walls of the gym, but your time there should be spent tuned into your body and your workout!
7. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Look, I could write an entire novel on this one. The entire reason I got into this industry was to help other people feel comfortable with themselves. However, fitness is all about being uncomfortable. It's about pushing yourself - physically and psychologically - to your limits. It's about doing things that you might not want to do. Over. And over. And over again. Know that it's not supposed to be easy. You are supposed to struggle. I often say to my clients, "If it sucks, you're doing it right." I don't want you to feel pain, but I do want you to be challenged. You're going to be uncomfortable, and THAT'S OKAY. In fact, it's encouraged!
8. Be specific. The more detailed you are with your trainer - in terms of your goals, what you want and what need from them - the more you're going to get out of each session. Simply saying, "I want to lose weight," is great, but it doesn't give your trainer a clear picture of how much you'd like to lose and within what sort of a timeframe. Saying, "I'd like to lose 10 pounds in the next two months," is setting you up for a much better road to success. If you're not sure what a realistic goal for yourself might be, talk it through! Maybe you want to something more strength-focused, in which case "Do 10 push-ups without stopping," or "Do a full pull-up without assistance" might be good goals for you. Or perhaps you want to learn how to compound lift or increase the lifts you're already doing. Whatever it may be, working with a personal trainer is a great way to figure out HOW you want to get stronger.
Specificity doesn't stop at your goals. Maybe you have an idea of HOW you want your trainer to keep you motivated. One of the cues I love to give my clients is, "You're more than halfway there." For instance, if you like to know how many reps you have left in a set, ask you trainer to let you know when you've got three left.
9. Be open. I take the "personal" in personal training seriously, and I feel fortunate that my clients feel comfortable enough with me to open up about themselves. This honestly made leaving Equinox so hard for me, because I felt like I was saying goodbye to dear friends, and not just people I worked out with a few times a week. I had the great privilege of watching these folks grow stronger not only physically but mentally over the course of months and years. Sometimes it's a physical issue that you need to work through (like a hip impingement), sometimes it's emotional (like a break-up) and sometimes maybe it's something you're not quite aware of (like imoroving your hip mobility so you can not only perform heavy lifts correctly but feel more comfortable in that SoulCycle class!) If you're open, your trainer can help you get through it, and two is better than one, right? Find a trainer you feel comfortable opening up to and you'll be amazed how much you get done in those 60-minute sessions.
10. Be open. Not a typo! You should be open about yourself, yes, but you should also go in open-minded. Perhaps you're a female who has shied away from weight lifting because you fear getting "bulky." (If I had a dollar for every time I heard this!) But maybe you're working out consistently in other modalities and not seeing the results you want. Why not give it a shot? Two things to consider: 1) That "toned" look you long for? It comes from muscle. "Tone" is just a more popular, prettier way of saying "muscle." As in, muscle tone! 2) Muscle burns fat faster than anything else. Period. And another unpopular tidbit that no one wants to say out loud (and no one wants to hear, either...) is that you will struggle to see ab definition if your body fat is above 22%. And guess how you get your body fat down? Yep, you build muscle. And guess what builds muscle? Weight lifting. I'll stop there.
Any questions, I'm always here for you!