After Nissa Schweitzer had her second child, she discovered her body wasn’t bouncing back as quickly as it did after her first child. She decided her usual aerobic workout regimen was going to need a new approach.
This approach included strength training and interaction with a personal trainer. If she was going to do it, why not do it right?
“My husband said the trainers at the Sanford Wellness Center were really good,” Schweitzer said. “Then I thought, ‘OK, I’ll do it. I need to do something, and I need to be held accountable.’”
That led to the next seven years with a personal trainer. And Schweitzer is still going strong on that count, working out twice a week with the assistance of Shaelee Nelson, a personal trainer/group fitness instructor at the Sanford Wellness Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Access to Nelson’s expertise in crafting a sensible and effective exercise plan has been a great help, Schweitzer said. And knowing that someone else has built time into their day to help her achieve her goals adds an aura of accountability that can’t be ignored.
“Accountability is a big deal,” Schweitzer said. “Having a personal trainer has prompted me to work out more often at home as well, but I know those workouts are not like the ones I do here with Shaelee.”
Personal trainers motivate
Nelson, a Brookings native, is a South Dakota State graduate with a degree in exercise science. She did an internship at the Wellness Center her last semester of college and then began working there full-time. She had developed a wide-open view of what goes into being a good personal trainer, something her clients seem to enjoy.
“Even in the one-on-one sessions, you’re cheering them on,” Nelson said. “You’re jokingly saying things like, ‘Pick up the pace. You can do this.’ You build a relationship so you can joke around that way.”
Nelson had a client doing a wall-sit recently. It’s an exercise used to strengthen quadricep muscles and can – with a client’s blessing, of course – reach the point of physical discomfort if you do it long enough.
“My client said, ‘OK, Shaelee, you need to tell me a story,’” Nelson said, laughing. “I’m like ‘Oh, OK.’ Sometimes you have to think on your toes to keep them motivated to get through a little torture.”
Choosing a personal trainer
Introducing a personal trainer into a fitness plan typically starts with a conversation and questions. Why did you decide this is what you need? What kind of goals do you have? What do you want to work on?
Kim Donelan, membership and programming supervisor at the Wellness Center, emphasized that potential clients should feel comfortable asking questions both before choosing a personal trainer and then after committing to a plan.
Some issues to consider:
- “Talk about your goals,” Donelan said. “Talk about the kind of exercise you’ve done in the past, your health history in regard to things like knee surgeries or back pain, and then listen to what your trainer has to say about those goals.”
- Make sure the availability of the trainer works within your schedule. That includes days, times and the location of the facility. “Make sure it’s convenient for you to get there,” she said. “It’s hard to stay motivated sometimes, especially when you’re starting out.”
- Find out what kind of clients a trainer typically works with. Do they work with people dealing with heart disease? Or motivated athletes? Or somewhere in between? There are plenty of options.
- Continue to ask questions after training begins. “Don’t be afraid to ask things like, ‘What is the purpose of this exercise?’” she said. “The client should be confident in telling the trainer how the exercises feel. They should be able to give true feedback to the trainer.”
What does it cost?
One-on-one half-hour sessions go for around $25 for members. Hour-long sessions go for $38. Small-group sessions, typically for six to eight people, cost less.
“You don’t get the one-on-one attention with the small group, but the plus side is that you have even more social support,” Donelan said. “Studies show if you can build a relationship with people, as opposed to a treadmill, you’re going to stay motivated longer.”
Above all, consider what you’re getting in return for your investment.
“It is a valuable and intentional way to get healthy and stay healthy,” Donelan said. “It also helps you stay motivated. Yes, there is a financial obligation, but it is well worth it as opposed to a month membership where you’re just wandering around the gym not knowing how to do things correctly. That’s where the investment is well worth it.”
Make moving fun
That goes for both small groups and one-on-one training.
“The goal is to figure out what they like to do,” Nelson said. “And then make it fun. You try to personalize it. You’ll get some complaints about working out – not serious, though. In the end, they always smile and laugh and tell me that was fun.”
Creating variety can be a vital part of a personal trainer’s role. There are a lot of different ways of getting the same things accomplished. Or in this case, some different things accomplished.
“Week by week, I’m learning more exercises,” Nelson said. “It can be, ‘Let’s grab dumbbells. Let’s grab bands.’ There are so many different things you can do. I have a lot of people ask, ‘How do you come up with this stuff?’ There are so many things you can do.”
Developing a rapport can be a crucial part of sticking with a plan that includes a personal trainer. Schweitzer meets twice a week with Nelson at 9 a.m. They’ve become good friends over their time working out, something that can make the challenges of the workout easier to take on.
“When people ask me how this works, I tell them it doesn’t feel like I have a personal trainer,” Schweitzer said. “I do, of course, but she’s also my friend, and we might talk about anything. She makes it fun, and I know I can get more done with her help.”
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