Thanks to the rise in public awareness of the benefits of an active lifestyle, hiring a personal trainer is not just for the wealthy or Hollywood stars. Most fitness centers offer the services of a personal trainer at affordable rates. Your first meeting with your trainer sets the tone for your workout relationship, so it’s a good idea to know what you should expect.
You may be asked to fill out some paperwork. This generally includes basic medical information and includes questions regarding your general level of fitness, your average activity levels and your usual diet. It may also include questions about alcohol consumption and whether or not you smoke, as well as information about any medication you may be taking. It is important to answer these questions fully and honestly to ensure that your trainer can design a workout program that is as safe as it is effective.
Weight and Measurements
Weighing you and taking detailed measurements before you start working with your personal trainer allows you both to track your progress. It can be embarrassing to be weighed and measured if you are out of shape, but seeing the numbers on the scale and the measuring tape change is worth a little discomfort in the beginning. In general, you can expect the usual chest, waist and hip measurements to be taken, as well as your neck, biceps, forearms, buttocks, thighs and calves. She may also measure your body fat percentage, take your blood pressure, gauge your flexibility and do a simple test of your cardiac fitness.
Your trainer will want to know what your fitness goals are so that she can design a program that will be most effective in helping you reach them. Think carefully before your first session about what you’d like to accomplish. Losing weight or gaining muscle are both understandable goals, but be more specific. Body contouring is one area where a personal trainer’s extensive training can help tailor a program that will not only get you in better overall health, but it can also help you change the shape of your body within certain limits.
Most trainers are not licensed dietitians, so they will not give you an actual diet to follow. However, your first session may include a discussion of nutrition so that you understand what your body needs as far as number of calories to ensure that your body is well-nourished enough to adapt to your new workout regimen. A healthy diet should include lean protein, whole grains, healthy fats, vegetables and fruits. Be honest with your personal trainer about your food preferences, because even though he should not design a specific diet plan, he may be able to offer advice on how to make healthier choices.
Depending on your fitness goals and general health, your first session with your personal trainer may or may not include a workout. If it does, you can expect to warm up by doing some aerobic activity to get your heart rate up. This can be jumping rope, walking on a treadmill or something similar. This might be followed by a workout with free weights or machines, or both. Your session should also include a cool-down period and stretching. Be honest with your trainer about what you can and can’t do, but part of her job is to push you a little harder than you’d probably push yourself. This first session allows your trainer to get a good idea not only of what you are capable of physically, but what you can handle mentally and emotionally as well. Be open to trying new things, but be honest about any discomfort, especially if it involves pain, shortness of breath or an uncomfortable racing heart.
Many personal trainers will give you a workout routine to do between sessions. This can be anything from a full workout, or a suggestion to walk, run, swim or engage in some other activity in between sessions with your trainer. Be honest about whether or not you’re going to follow these recommendations. The best personal trainers are true partners in helping you achieve your fitness goals, and – as with any partnership – the more open and honest you are, the more effective and satisfying the partnership is.
Emmy-award nominated screenwriter Brynne Chandler is a single mother of three who divides her time between professional research and varied cooking, fitness and home & gardening enterprises. A running enthusiast who regularly participates in San Francisco's Bay to Breakers run, Chandler works as an independent caterer, preparing healthy, nutritious meals for Phoenix area residents.