To answer your question, yes, I'm aware of the arrogant nature of that title. And yes, I am only talking about facts/issues/questions related to the fitness field. But, to be totally clear, this blog post is really targeted at my former, office working self.
A few years ago, I thought personal trainers were little more than meatheads who threw weights at people and simply counted the reps. Every profession has its stereotypes, and with no background in exercise science (besides reading men's health and getting coached a bit in college) I actually thought I knew just as much (if not more!) than many of the trainers in the commercial gym I belonged to. In fact, I may have even used the dreaded term "muscle confusion," for which I will never forgive my previous self.
To be honest, I had a dangerous level of knowledge about the entire strength, conditioning, and fitness field. You know what I'm talking about - the kind where I knew just a bit to think I was better than everyone else, but not enough to realize I didn't know everything. In fact, I often liken that level of knowledge to the equivalent of giving a 6 year old a chainsaw. They may have seen someone use it, but they have no idea about safety or have the slightest indication of how to use it themselves.
So, in an effort to exonerate myself for that previous ignorance (or, more specifically, arrogance), here are three reasons why a good personal trainer is one of the best investments you can make for your health:
1. They Know The Science!
I take a lot of pride in what I like to call "getting my nerd on," which involves really diving into the anatomy, biology and even into some physical therapy. The creatine-phosphate system? The krebs cycle and electron transport chain? Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy? Sure enough, these are all topic I can talk about in depth....but doing so here will swiftly put you to sleep.
Being able to justify certain things with my clients not only puts my mind at ease, but I like to think it does so for my clients as well. Now, this doesn't mean I will just blabber off why lactic acid is not what you feel when you're pushing through an exercise (it's actually hydrogen ions from the krebs cycle....or so they think!), but being able to talk about it usually helps put the minds of my clients at ease.
For many people, the value in a personal trainer is simply having someone tell you what to do. When you think about all the choices we deal with on a daily basis (shower or no shower? cereal or eggs? respond to that creepy text message?), it's no surprise that many of us would rather just come home and chill out, rather than going the gym and dealing with all the ensuring questions that arise there. Suffice to say, it becomes a lot easier to exercise when you can shut off your brain and do as told.
Plus, there's the whole issue that we all tend to really only do what we're comfortable with, and what we excel in. For example, I'd rather repeatedly hit myself in the face with the door to my freezer than run anything over 0.25 miles. But? I realize that the reason I don't like is simply because I'm not "good" at running long distances, and there's much more to training than simply picking heavy things off the floor. The times that I've been coached have involved a good dose of conditioning, and while it's left me hating life, I know it's what I need.
3. The Value of Hiring a Professional
Finally, just like anything, there's the value in simply hiring a professional. For example, if your car's "check engine" light suddenly came on, you wouldn't try to take care of it by yourself, would you? Yet, that's precisely what people do with their bodies. The pain you have when you go out for a run, put on a coat, or simply wake up in the morning IS that "check engine" light, but rarely do people often see someone about it. In fact, if people started treating their bodies as well as they often treat their cars, we'd probably see a much healthier society.
Now, just like any other profession, you have the spectrum of great-terrible trainers, so not quite everyone is created equal. (If you need to see what qualities make a great trainer, you can view that here.) But, a great trainer is not just a meathead, and often times can give you exactly what you need to get out of pain, move better, and get you on the path to lookin' good.