Should I continue with personal training?
December 6, 2011 8:49 AM   Subscribe

Should I or should I not continue with personal training?

I have worked out with a personal trainer 5 times a week for 4 weeks at about $62 a session. This includes 1.5hr of personal training, healthy lunch (which is when she teaches me what to eat how, how to prepare it, etc) and frequent nutritional and health information. After a month, I’ve noticed muscle strength, but not much else…perhaps a little more energy, but still tired. After a month, I decided to attend her aerobics classes twice a day, which lasts 1.5hrs and these sessions also include strength sessions, and I also supplement them with additional routines for another half an hour. I figured working out this way is more fun and just as effective but I am getting a pressure from those around me to continue with personal training. So I ask you, is it worth another $1300 or so for another month of personal training?

As far as the result from the first month, I lost 3 inches off my waist, which she says is having lost about 2kg per inch, so about 12lbs total. But on scale, I lost 6lbs or so. I am sure I gained little bit of muscle mass, but I am not sure if the money is worth building additional muscle and strength to lose at most 8-12lbs. Or should I attend her aerobics sessions regularly, at which I break a good sweat and find the strength trainings challenging..not to mentino at 1/15 of the cost, of course no healthy and nutritional lunch.

At the same time…I have never been unable to lose weight in a healthy way and keep it off. While I am learning a lot with this trainer, a lot of her information are stuff I already know and just haven’t been able to apply. I don’t think training with her will help me develop that habit all of a sudden, as it’s something I need to continue to practice. I’d appreciate your input.

Oh, as you probably figured out by now, she promotes healthy eating habit with controlled carbs (good carb), healthy protein, healthy mind, positive thinking, and not just working out till you puke and only eat tofu and water. If I continue, she says that upcoming sessions would be more about burning the fat calories that are between my skin and muscles. Would personal training sessions be faster in doing that than aerobics sessions?
posted by icollectpurses to Health & Fitness (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Well, it's working. Why would you quit?
posted by Miko at 8:54 AM on December 6, 2011

Would personal training sessions be faster in doing that than aerobics sessions?

That depends completely on what you are doing in your personal training sessions. In what ways do you feel the personal training differs from the aerobics, aside from the lunch thing that is?
posted by emilyw at 8:56 AM on December 6, 2011

Have you spoken with her about the long term strategy? By design, is this where you are supposed to be at this point in time? If you had a better idea of what the overall timeline of weightloss vs cardio health vs muscle mass is, you will have a better gauge of whether or not this is working for you.
posted by Think_Long at 8:56 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Why not scale back the number of times you work out with her? Attend her cardio class, and work with her 2-3 times a week rather than 5 times.

I worked with a personal trainer for a while, and like you, saw an improvement in the way clothes hung on me, but little by way of weight loss. And like your trainer, mine was telling me things that didn't bear out on the scale. When I called her on it, she was at a loss to explain things.

Apply what you've learned from her, certainly, but if my experience is anything to go by, the weight loss journey is one you do alone. No sherpa can guide you up that particular mountain.
posted by LN at 8:58 AM on December 6, 2011

Do you really need her help with lunch at this point? Can you not figure out a "healthy and nutritional" lunch on your own? If you can, I say drop the trainer. Or have one or two sessions with her a week, supplemented by her aerobics class.

I'm financially comfortable, but I simply cannot imagine spending the kind of money you're spending on an ongoing basis.
posted by kestrel251 at 9:00 AM on December 6, 2011 [4 favorites]

Is your goal to simply lose weight or is it to develop lifetime habits that are healthy and sustatinable? If it is the former, do the aerobics, if it is the latter, do the personal training. I would not do both.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:02 AM on December 6, 2011

I really liked doing personal training once a week - it helped me stay on track, get advice for the time ahead, and be accountable. Classes are great, so I'd talk to your trainer about scaling back the personal training so you can add more aerobics. I'm guessing she'll have a good strategy for you.
posted by ldthomps at 9:13 AM on December 6, 2011

Well, it's working. Why would you quit?

...because its costing $1300 a month?

If you are already able to lose weight in a healthy way and keep it off, why would you pay $1300 a month for a personal trainer and why would people around you pressure you to do so? I think there must be something you're not telling us.

If you problem is just motivation/sticking to a plan then maybe you could pay up front for shorter sessions once per week (basically just a check-up and ass-kicking if you've been slacking) for 6 months or so. Pay up-front so you're losing something by not going.

It does sound like you're doing a lot of work for minimal results (and not really getting in any rest and recovery... 1.5 hours of aerobics twice a day (is that every day?!) on top of 1.5 hours of personal training 5 times a week). Even if you'd lost 12lbs of fat and gained 6lbs of muscle (to make up the discrepancy between the scales and your trainers figures) that's over $100 per pound of fat loss - how much are you looking to lose? Can you afford that. Results tend to slow down over time, so you could end up paying $200 or $300 per lb towards the end

After a month, I’ve noticed muscle strength, but not much else…perhaps a little more energy, but still tired.
What are you expecting to notice? What is your ultimate goal here?
posted by missmagenta at 9:16 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: My ultimate goal is to lose weight, in a healthy way, develop good relationship with food and working out, and ultimately, maintain that weight and exercise habit. I am concerned about the money, but I have not been successful keeping it off, and eating healthy, I have limited access to cooking and food, as I am not near home, just living on my own, visiting.

I find aerobics much more fun, even though I don't know all the routines, it's about trying to move and keep up that makes me break sweat. Personal training was hard, but it also made me depressed by the end of it. To a certain extent it's because, as LN said, the weightloss journey is something I do alone, and I have had a bad relationship with food.

I have been on my own, food wise, and doing aerobics for little over a week now, and I've been doing well when working out, but food wise, not too good.

I am not expecting much weight loss from personal training, the pressure is mainly from my overbearing parents who expect me to have lost 40lbs by now (been little over a month).

I appreciate your feedback, keep'em coming.
posted by icollectpurses at 9:40 AM on December 6, 2011

First, congrats on losing 3inches! They say that 1-2 pounds lost per week is healthy pace of weight loss. Getting healthy takes time and revamping your relationship with food, exercise and your self-image is the only way to be successful long-term.

That being said, if you can afford it, go to the personal trainer once a week to help keep you on track and go to the aerobic classes other times. This will help you be accountable for a while and let you enjoy aerobics the other times. Changing habits takes a long time, but you can do it!
posted by getmetoSF at 10:05 AM on December 6, 2011

My concern is that you will hurt yourself doing fun, sweaty aerobics. The form I see in many classes ... Ay yi yi yi.

I suspect the trainer is not only teaching you what to put in your body but also how to use it. You have really spent some time (and $$$ investment) and I would advise you to keep it up until you understand how to use your knees and back and what to do with your kneck and jaw and the rest of them bones to prevent injury.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 10:07 AM on December 6, 2011

It sounds like the goal(s) that you have may not be entirely lined up with this particular personal trainer's approach.

Reading your original question and follow up comment - the most important thing to you is losing weight & size, not building muscle mass; a secondary goal seems to be keeping off the weight, and third sounds like learning to eat healthily.

If I'm getting all of that right, my suggestion would be to a) drop the personal trainer - keep doing your aerobics and sets that help burn calories fast and b) hire someone specifically to help out on the food/meals; maybe a life coach, a personal chef, or someone that could help you come up with a binder of recipes to keep at home, maybe cook you dinner once in a while.
posted by RajahKing at 10:07 AM on December 6, 2011

I know several people who spend $300/wk on training. Maybe the money's no object for you, we can't know that.

The thing is, if you're only doing this because your parents are bugging you, your chances are pretty low for continuing on your own, thus making it likely that you are wasting whatever money you're spending. The progress you're reporting is very normal and good. But the biggest single factor in whether you stick with a good diet and exercise routine is whether you *want* to or not.
posted by facetious at 10:09 AM on December 6, 2011

OK, I will be blunt: your trainer is terrible.

1.5 hours a day, five days a week, is a ton for a beginner. Of course you're feeling tired! This isn't a sustainable practice at all.

Two aerobics + strength classes a day, plus half an hour of additional work, is even worse. Seriously, your body does not respond to having the living shit kicked out of it by becoming suddenly skinny and fit. You need way, way more recovery time than you're getting to see any kind of results.

Your trainer should be telling you these things. She should be actively trying to dissuade you from coming to two classes in a day. She's not, because you're giving her an unholy amount of money, and she's going to keep taking it. She should be talking with you about goals, setting some timelines, and giving you an idea of what you'll be doing to get there, so you could, if you choose, leave her and do it on your own.

Also, "upcoming sessions would be more about burning the fat calories that are between my skin and muscles"? Is horseshit. Utter horseshit. You can't spot reduce. Period. The fact that she said this means, to me, that you're getting ripped off in the worst possible way.

Look, you can totally keep working out with a trainer. That's a totally valid choice and can be really useful for everyone, beginners and advanced folks alike. But not this one.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:16 AM on December 6, 2011 [18 favorites]

I would advice you to do the following:

1) Cut back on training sessions. Perhaps the 2-3 times as week as recommended above.
2) Start weightlifting in between (or tell your trainer to start scheduling weightlifting is that what you are doing?).
3) Cut down the time you work out.
4) Focus more on your diet.

I currently work out six time a week and from prior experience of being a model experimented with a lot of different methods of keeping healthy weight. There was one time I solely focused on cardio and while I lost weight the result wasn't pretty as i didn't have any muscles. Later on I discovered that weight-lifting not only accelerates your metabolism...but also helps you aesthetically (which for some people is the objective and not an added incentive).

Since your objective is to loose weight, I would keep the trainer for two times week (weight lifting sessions) then I would do cardio sessions on my own or at the free class. Weight-lifting is definitely needed and will help you much more in the long run.
posted by The1andonly at 10:19 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Tell your parents if they want you to have a personal trainer, they can pay for it ;)

If you find the aerobics more fun then do that, but if your biggest issue is food, I don't see how 5 meals per week with a personal trainer is going to do much to help with that. Have you considered spending the money on a good therapist instead? I'm of course assuming your problem is psychological/will power based rather than ignorance (ie. like many of us you, know what a healthy meal looks like, you know what a reasonable portion of food is but you get home late and tired or can't be bothered and order take-out far too often or chocolatey goodness is just too tempting). If the main cause of your food problems is your limited access to good food and cooking because of your current situation, its possible a good dietician could help you design a menu around your personal circumstances.
posted by missmagenta at 10:19 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Your parents are expecting you to lose forty pounds in a month? Did I read that right? That's crazy.

What would you do if your parents were out of the equation?
posted by chickenmagazine at 10:22 AM on December 6, 2011 [4 favorites]

If you have a bad relationship with food, maybe you need some therapy to help you deal with your issues. After all, no nutrition advice will help you deal with years of internalized attitudes and behaviors.

PT is good when you have clear goals and are motivated. But it's more about getting fit & healthy than melting away the fat, I've found in my experience. For example, in 3 months of training I've "only" lost 10lbs but I look and feel a lot better. Also, I take "small group" (3 people with one trainer for 1hr) classes that are only $20 per session at a local gym, so look around for something a little less intimidating and expensive in your area.

It's not going to be a magical transformation, I've been struggling to lose 30lbs for almost an entire year, and many people become demotivated when they don't see results. You might not be eating enough, or working out too hard, or have other medical issues that also will hinder your progress.

Good luck!
posted by lychee at 12:49 PM on December 6, 2011

Is your trainer a registered dietitian? If not, she's probably either a quack, or she's just pulling information about how to make meals off the internet, which you could do yourself. If you're going to pay thousands of dollars for nutrition advice, get it from someone actually qualified. You want someone with a degree in dietetics or nutrition science and a license as a registered dietitian.

As for the personal training, I agree that you're working out too much. I can't say whether you're spending too much money, but anyone who tells you they can target fat loss from a particular place and that you need to work out multiple hours a day to be healthy is flat out lying to you. I'd urge you to educate yourself about the way your body works so that you can evaluate the claims she's making.
posted by decathecting at 1:13 PM on December 6, 2011

I have been on my own, food wise, and doing aerobics for little over a week now, and I've been doing well when working out, but food wise, not too good.

I am not expecting much weight loss from personal training, the pressure is mainly from my overbearing parents who expect me to have lost 40lbs by now (been little over a month).

The reason your progress is this slow is not because of the quality of your personal training vs the potentially more fun/less expensive aerobics. It's because of your diet.

You're exhausting your body with exercise, which is good for fitness but will make you hungrier. It's basically impossible to work as intensely as you are and not to eat more also, unless you have superhuman willpower. Work out really hard for an hour, burn 500 calories. Eat one big cupcake? Progress neutralized.

You'd have much, much better luck with weight loss if you invested all that money into a meal delivery service, nutritionist, personal chef, even, etc. and lifted weights three times a week (to keep up your metabolism humming along). You have to create a calorie deficit. Weight loss is 80% diet, 20% exercise. Exercise is for fitness, not necessarily weight loss.
posted by devymetal at 1:53 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think that using a personal trainer once or twice a week is more then enough times. You want them their to guide you and set up your routine for the week. But 5 times a week with a personal trainer really adds up and probably isn't worth the money. If money is no object to you, then I see nothing bad about continuing to do this and see what happens over the next month or two. But certainly if this is a financial push, I would immediately reduce the sessions. Of course some people just don't have the discipline to stay healthy without somebody watching over them. But hopefully there will come a time where you can do most of what your trainer is teaching you on your own.
posted by ljs30 at 3:13 PM on December 6, 2011

"the pressure is mainly from my overbearing parents who expect me to have lost 40lbs by now"

This is physically impossible unless you started at 500+ pounds, suffer from severe water retention, and are under the care of a physician and following a protein-sparing modified fast. Your parents are wrong and you should not under any circumstances listen to them.

I'm not too impressed with your trainer either. For the vast majority of overweight and obese people, losing fat is very simple - often a challenge and often difficult - but simple. No five-day-a-week aerobic marathons needed.

1) Eat a standard ketogenic (low-carb) diet at a 400-500 calorie deficit. Eat 1g protein / pound of bodyweight, with the remainder coming from fats, and less than 20-50g of carbohydrate a day, in the form of green vegetables. No sugars, no grains, throw that shit out for now. If you want to have a bagel or a cookie, fine, we can talk about it later, but for the next few months, cross that shit off the list. If you fuck up and eat a cookie once, it's not the end of the world, but step back, look at your short and long-term goals, and get back to the plan.

2) Lift heavy things three times a week. Squats, deadlifts, overhead press, bench press, chin-ups/pull-ups, and dips. This is literally all you need to do for the next six months. You don't need to run, you don't need to jump around on boxes, you don't need to do a sit-up or balance on a ball. I don't care what program you use. Stumptuous, Stronglifts, Starting Strength, whatever. As long as you are doing those six exercises according to a plan, and you are really working hard, it is good.

I'm sure plenty of people are going to be mad for my low-carb + lift things advice and say Yoga or Crossfit or Marathon Training or whatever, or they'll say to eat whole wheat bread and pasta and tortilla wraps and shit and plenty of fit people do that stuff - but for a beginner who is overweight or obese, and weak, and who does not want to be that way anymore, 1) and 2) are your most efficient, most effective, and frankly easiest way to a new body. If you have any questions email me or DM me on twitter. Good luck.
posted by a_girl_irl at 7:39 AM on December 7, 2011 [5 favorites]

If you actually did manage to lose 40lbs in a month outside of proper medical supervision we would be telling you to go to an emergency room without passing go or giving anyone any more money, much less in multiples of $200.

"Also, "upcoming sessions would be more about burning the fat calories that are between my skin and muscles"? Is horseshit. Utter horseshit. You can't spot reduce. Period. The fact that she said this means, to me, that you're getting ripped off in the worst possible way."

THIS, your trainer is a lying sack of shit. restless_nomad is also exactly right that you need a hell of a lot more down time for both your safety and maximum benefit.

Also if your trainer is accepting money for sessions where they claim to impart medical wisdom about how you specifically can eat better, while not a registered dietician, what they are doing is considered to be practicing medicine with out a license in many states. This is a serious crime. A "nutritionist" is to a Dietitian as a "toothologist" is to an actual Dentist. Toothologists might be allowed to spout whatever uninformed bullshit that comes into their heads about fluoride, cavities, or root canals they want on the internet or to a crowd, but the moment they charge someone to tell them that their teeth need mega-doses of salt therapy they are committing a crime.

You can do a hell of a lot better, especially with half of a working class salary to pay for it with.
posted by Blasdelb at 11:20 AM on December 7, 2011

Weight loss is about 80% diet. Keeping to a caloric-deficit (300-500 depending on your current weight probably) , high-protein low carb diet every day is simply what you have to do. There is no way around this.

Cardio is somewhat helpful but not strictly essential, resistance training (weights) are better and rest between stresses is very important, almost more important than the actual resistance. Doing cardio 3 hours a day is way 5 days a week is way too much. I would suggest dropping this trainer, and spending that money instead applying yourself extremely hard to maintaining your diet, this above all else will show you the results you want. At least, the results I assume you want - you've said your parents want you to lose weight, not what YOU want, which is sorta another problem to tackle.

If instead of paying 60 bucks a day to this trainer, you set out a 50$ bill everyday, and the second you ate even 1 unplanned snack or meal you just immedately lit that 50$ bill on fire, I think that would be a better way of spending money for the end of weight loss than following this exhausting regimen, because if you do the trainer's 2 classes a day then come home and eat badly you are just burning it up anyways.
posted by spatula at 12:53 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

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