Updated: Apr 15, 2021
As a personal trainer the answer to this question seems obvious to me, no, you do not need to have any experience working out or training whatsoever to start working with a trainer. In fact I would think most people that have no experience would want to enlist the help of a professional. However, overtime I have learned that many people think they need to be “in shape” before they can start working with a trainer. We’re going to talk a little bit about why people may believe this misconception and why it is false.
While growing up I was a competitive gymnast. This means I was exposed to difficult conditioning and training as well as tough coaching at a young age. I was used to coaches being strict and expectations for athletes being high. There was no talking back or disagreeing, you simply had to do what was asked of you. After I quit gymnastics I played tennis in highschool, while it wasn’t nearly as intense as gymnastics I wouldn’t say it was always fun or light hearted. Prior to becoming a personal trainer myself, my first experience seeing a trainer in action was while watching The Biggest Loser on TV. The coaching seemed tough and I remembered a lot of yelling. So what does any of this have to do with the perception of personal training and coaching today? I think many people still view trainers as strict coaches that are constantly screaming, like we’re always teaching a bootcamp, which understandably seems pretty intimidating. If you were an athlete growing up you may have had similar experiences to the ones I described above and may feel nervous about stepping into that environment again.
If you’ve never worked with a trainer before how would you know what a typical training session looks like? If the only example of a training session you’ve seen was from an episode of the Kardashians why would you think it would be any different? Are there trainers out there that operate this way? Yes, there definitely are, but in my experience that is not the majority. Prior to starting my own business I worked at a corporate gym for a little over 3 years where at times we had over 60 trainers on staff. I don’t recall a single trainer ever yelling or screaming at a client. Are there different styles of coaching and training? Absolutely, but in my opinion I don’t think yelling at or berating clients should be a part of that. There is nothing wrong with some loud words of encouragement especially during a difficult set or when trying to motivate a client to keep going because you know they are capable, but again that’s not the same as screaming or belittling.
So why should you work with a trainer if you have never worked out before or feel like you’re out of shape? Well before we get into this, do you feel like you have to be healthy or have good teeth before seeing a doctor or a dentist? I know it’s a little bit of a reach but I think this proves the point I am trying to make. If you have never lifted weights before, or are trying to accomplish a specific goal, don’t you think seeking out the help of a professional would be beneficial? A good trainer will teach you proper form which will help decrease the risk of injury, as well as create an individual program that is tailored to your goals and needs. They will work with you and actually listen to what you want. If you dislike a certain exercise or feel pain with a specific movement, they should help you work around it.
To keep this short and simple, while it can be intimidating to start working out, you should never feel embarrassed or like you have to put work in before you can start working with a trainer. They should be encouraging and help you feel comfortable, as well as help build up your confidence in the gym.