I’ve played golf all my life. Let’s be clear, though – I’m not very good! If I were to go out and play right now, I’d probably shoot in the mid-90’s on 18 holes. When I was a kid, one Christmas I got a book named something like ‘Everything You Need To Know About Golf’. It’s was full of colorful pictures and talked about a sport, so I was immediately won over. I read it cover to cover at least twice. And when I needed to troubleshoot something, I referred back to that particular section. Later in college, med school, and residency, I watched The Golf Fix weekly. If I missed it, I recorded it and watched it when I could. I was a self-taught master of the mid-nineties golf game and proud of it!
My oldest son started playing, though and he had a coach. I thought my golf game was fine for my age and was actually proud that I’d never had a single lesson in my life. The more I took my son to lessons, though, the more I questioned whether or not I should have a coach. I finally gave in and scheduled a lesson. Immediately I realized I was long overdue. I had self-taught myself but that only could carry me so far. There were several fundamentals I thought I had correct that I just flat out had wrong. It took a skilled, experienced eye to see that. We worked on the basics and grew from there. In 6 months, I grew my game in leaps and bounds. I shaved 15 strokes off my game and was loving every minute of it. The only reason I’m not shooting lower scores now is just because I don’t get out there that much anymore.
How about for you? Have you had times in your life you did better learning on your own? How about with guidance? In the exercise world, those ‘coaches’ are usually what we call ‘personal trainers’. A personal trainer can be a valuable asset to the growth of your health.
A personal trainer can teach proper form and technique. They can provide motivation when you need it. Bored with exercise? A personal trainer can vary it up to keep you entertained. They are there to provide constructive feedback and monitor your progress.
Ok, let’s say you’re convinced you want to find a trainer. Where do you start? Honestly, one easy place is to ask around. Get feedback from others who have used trainers. What did they like or not like about a particular trainer. What were strengths and weaknesses? What could be better? Also, there are 3 big areas of certification and it’s worth asking a potential trainer if they have any of these: NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association), ACE (American Council on Exercise), and/or ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine).
As a general rule, there are two areas you’re looking for help. One is weight training which builds and strengthens muscles. The other is cardiovascular training which improves heart and vascular health, improves endurance, boosts metabolism and increases energy. Not interested in a personal trainer yet and you’re a beginner? Try weight training 2-3 times per week and at least 30 minute cardio exercise 2-4 times per week. You’ll feel the difference!
Here are some final tips when thinking about hiring a personal trainer. Ask for references. See how long it can take before you should start seeing results. If they are coming to your home, definitely ask for a background check. Ask about their personal accomplishments or those of their other customers – find a trainer that fits best with your goals. There’s a big difference in trying to improve mobility to pick up grandchildren and training to compete in a triathlon. Different trainers are better at different goals. How much do they charge? Do they have good support from local gyms? And last, can they provide you with a detailed plan/scope of your personalized training?
There’s value in being self-taught but also realize there’s value in professional help. For exercise, if you’re looking for professional help, a personal trainer is the way to go. Use this article to guide you and I’m sure you’ll be able to find someone who can move you in the direction of better health!