Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Is a Personal Trainer worth the money?

Today I had my third session with my personal trainer!  Ooooooh....get me.. ;)

James, my PT
Once the preserve of the rich and famous, it seems that every high street gym now has teams of PTs ready and waiting to help people in their search for a slimmer, fitter or stronger body.  When I was a regular at the gym a couple of years ago, I'd see the PTs working out, or working with clients, but was never quite sure what the point was, and never in a million years would I have imaged that I would be serious enough about my training to employ their services.  But things change. 

With my running focus now having switched to significant ultra distances rather than halves and marathons, I've realised that I really need to start working on my strength to give myself the best possible chance of not only completing the events I've got lined up, but of getting to the start line in the first place, and avoiding injury.  I've been considering how to achieve this for a while, and have started lots of Mondays with a plan of spending the week doing planks, sit-ups and press ups and all those other exercises in Runner's World magazine, to work on and improve my strength. 

Unfortunately, although I might do it for a few days, I'd never stick with it, and it really didn't make any difference.  I finally realised I needed some outside assistance!

So, I bit the bullet.  I went into the gym (where I hadn't set foot for months) and explained that I was a marathoner who didn't need any help with my running or other cardio but that I needed to work on my strength. The assistant I spoke to said she'd talk to the various PTs and work out who would be best suited to me and my goals, and get them to give me a call to arrange a session.  A week later I found myself changed, water bottle in hand, and ready for my first (free) hour of working out with Personal Trainer James!

As I briefly mentioned in a previous post, it went really well, and the two subsequent sessions have also been great - James understands what I'm trying to do and he explains which muscles are being worked by the different exercises I'm doing, and how that helps with the running.  I've found that I'm working much harder than I have ever done on my own in a gym, I push myself to achieve more than I thought I'd be able to, and he also has showed me how badly I was doing some of the exercises that I thought I was doing properly - my planks were twisted and my squats were more just leaning over ;)

I'm seeing real benefits in having a PT, and I really enjoy the sessions as I feel my body working hard and find myself improving, even during a single session, as I start to use under-developed muscles that my more developed areas usually compensate for.  But it's not cheap.  

I pay £40 per month for membership of the gym, and then on top of that, the PT costs £35 per hour.  I'm seeing him once a week at the moment and although there is an option to pay upfront for a block of sessions (and in return get a free session) at the moment I'm on "pay as you go".  As I progress, and get more confident in my workouts and what I'm doing, I might be able to drop it down to seeing him twice a month, but for the foreseeable future, I feel it makes such a difference that I'm going to stick with once a week.

So assuming that I'll miss a few sessions for holidays or other commitments, I can expect to pay about £2,000 for a year's PT training, which is just incredible - it's so much money! But after a lot of thought, I've decided that it's worth it if it reduces my chances of injury and makes me a stronger runner.  Running is everything to me, so it makes sense that I spend all of my money on becoming the best I can be and I really don't think I can achieve the level of progress in my training on my own, that I can achieve with the support, guidance, 
knowledge and motivation that comes with a personal trainer.

But I want to add one final thought to this I'm spending all my time and cash on making myself stronger, this is really the time to stop sabotaging my training by eating as badly as I do (lots of junk, massive portions, few vegetables and binging on biscuits!)

I'm about a stone overweight at the moment, which I know makes me slower than I could be and obviously puts extra strain on my body. I really have to start exercising a bit of discipline when it comes to food, because otherwise I'm really just wasting my money on all of these PT sessions, and in those media photos for the Brathay 10in10, no-one is going to believe that I'm an ultra-runner!


  1. I too have recently taken up with my our PT, she works me harder than I would work alone and I think like you do if I am serious about my running then I need to take these extra steps to improve my fitness and keep the weight down.

    1. That's great to hear! Glad I'm not the only one crazy enough to splash the cash for a PT :) Does make such a difference though