Should You Hire a Personal Trainer?

How to score your very own aspiring Jillian Michaels on the cheap.

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Think back to the last few times you were at the gym: huffing and puffing away on the treadmill while across the space, you could see a personal trainer, probably dressed in all black and working one-on-one with a perfect-bodied (at least, from that distance) client. Did you smugly think, I can get that type of body on my own — or did you perhaps feel a bit of jealousy thinking, I wish I could hire a personal trainer?

If you fell into the latter category, let me fill you in. This is a market with already saturated with overpriced gym memberships, and personal training is no different — on average, it’ll usually cost almost a month’s gym fee for a single one-hour session. However, if you venture beyond the standard gym, you can actually score a Jillian Michaels wannabe for less. A trainer is still an an investment and as such, you need to do your research before swiping your credit card.

Why hire a trainer?

Personal trainers are the best form motivation. You book an appointment and they make sure you work your body to its maximum capacity to achieve the results you want. Not only is your body going to look its best, but you’re also investing in your health — preventing trips to the doctor in the coming years. If you think you might need a therapist to talk to as well, trainers are well versed in that area as well. From personal relationships to stress at work, they listen — and when your breathing slows down, they up the intensity.

Where do you find a trainer?

The easy answer is: at your local gym, but be aware that you may get someone who has little to no experience. Chances are, the only question the gym will ask you is if you prefer a male or female trainer. If you have a special condition or are recovering from an injury, you will need to see someone with years of experience. They’ll cost more, but better safe than sorry. It’s a good idea to watch the trainers work with their clients on the floor and request the one whose style captivated your attention.

Many gyms have rates for non-members as well, so you may not even need to join in order to receive training. Better yet, there are gyms dedicated specifically to personal training, and these offer competitive prices and privacy during your training session. Many of these trainers began at chain gyms and branched off, clients in tow. Stephen Cabral Studio and Saldare Body Therapy are small and locally based boutiques offering some of the best body transformation testimonials around. Franchises Get In Shape For Women and Fitness Together are also personal training studios with multiple locations in the city. Many studios will also offer small group training which can be another way to make it a more affordable experience.

Want a trainer on a budget or in home?

While it may have a sketchy past, Craigslist still reigns as king when it comes to scoring a great deal. Trainers list experience and certifications on their services offered. As with any meeting scheduled online, you will want to do a quick background check: ask for references, check out Facebook fan pages, Yelp, and personal blogs. If it’s too hard to dig up some solid facts, find another.

Don’t be afraid of finding a trainer outside the bounds of a large gym. In fact, you should explore it! Most chains keep at least 50 percent of what your session costs, and forbid their trainers from working with you outside the gym if a relationship began through them — however if you contact the trainer through a site like Craigslist, then they can train you for less at your apartment, house, or outdoors. Feel free as well to approach your favorite group instructor and ask them if they offer personal training on the side. If it works out, it’ll most likely save you and your trainer money.

Lastly, meet your trainer before you start paying for sessions. If there is no chemistry, pass and find another. Trainers have different styles, as you may know from viewing The Biggest Loser. Find a trainer that fits your needs.

Do you have a stellar trainer? How did you find them?