My Personal Trainer Costs The Same As A New Car; Here’s Why I Won’t Cut Him From My Budget

personal trainer cost

Dana and her trainer Travis at a charity plane pull event

When you think personal trainer, do you think of some buff guy who goes to rich women’s houses and looms over them while they fling pink dumbbells around? That personal trainers are an extravagance for women with too much money on their hands? Irrelevant when you can watch workout videos on the internet?

Well, that’s not my trainer, and it’s definitely not me. My trainer kicks my ass, and I save my hard-earned freelance income to pay him as much as some peoples’ car payments–and it’s worth every cent. As you’re gearing up for 2013 and making fitness plans, you may be weighing your options. It’s tempting to think you can work out on your own and get the same benefit you would from a trainer, and maybe you can. As for me: I know I can’t.

I see Travis at his private gym for 30 minute-long strength training sessions, twice a week. With my discount (for being a long-term, regular customer), I pay $240 every four weeks. My car has a quarter million miles on it, and though $240 a month would probably buy me something, oh, 10 years newer, my personal trainer cost is one of the last things I would cut from my budget.

Here’s what I’m paying for:

  • The commitment of a fixed schedule. I’m paying for my two time slots a week, so whether I think I feel like working out or not, I go. And I’m always glad I did.
  • The knowledge of someone who’s been studying exercise physiology and body mechanics for years. He knows what works and why, how much weight to put on me, when to back it off or switch it up, and how to work around injuries or issues. No matter how many articles I read on the internet, I’m not a professional, nor an expert, and I simply don’t know what will get the best results. He doesn’t change his mind with the latest fad. I do several basic strength moves every session, and while, granted, that can get a little boring, it’s sure as hell effective.
  • The experience of someone who’s competed in (and won) numerous bodybuilding competitions. He’s not just talking the talk–he knows how to work every single muscle on the body to its fullest. And I get the benefit of that when he changes an angle slightly, the better to isolate a particular muscle.
  • The understanding of someone who’s been injured, undergone surgery like me, and rebuilt himself after losing nearly 100 pounds of muscle. He gets the emotional and mental aspects of this trauma and doesn’t let me either push myself in risky ways, or slack off out of fear of re-injury. When I started training with Travis I was a wreck, physically and emotionally after two months down with an overtraining injury and spinal surgery. It took someone who, like me has learned they are not invincible to handle helping me rebuild my confidence and psychological strength, in addition to physical strength.
  • The relentless expectations of someone who knows what I’m capable of and refuses to let me get away with anything less. When he’s saying, “more, more, MORE!” I am very likely cursing him under my breath because I don’t think I can wring anything more out, but he’s always right – I can give just a little more. There may be trainers who think women can’t handle or shouldn’t do heavy weight, but he’s not one of them.  And no matter how much I may yell or roar or swear he doesn’t let me stop until he’s satisfied that I’ve given it everything.

I work out on my own too; I can’t afford to hire a trainer five days a week. My self-guided workouts in my garage gym take at least twice as long, yet at the end my body doesn’t feel as if it’s accomplished half as much. I may think I’m pushing myself, but I’m only fooling myself. In the gym, Travis keeps me going, telling me just as I think I can’t go any further, “this is when other people stop, but this is when you work!” Well I can’t stop then!

I lollygag around when I work out at home, twiddling with my Pandora Linkin Park station, checking Facebook between sets. There’s no rest with Travis. It’s one lift straight to the next; high reps with minimal time in between. Halfway into our 30 minutes, I’m trembling, muscles so fatigued I have trouble operating the clutch or gear shift in the car when I leave.  There’s no doubt I’ve gotten the best workout I possibly can.

I interviewed several trainers before choosing Travis, and nearly a year later, I wouldn’t train with anyone else. Once you’ve committed to paying a professional, selecting the best person for the job is its own tough task. I’ll share some tips for that later this week.

Photo: courtesy of Dana McMahan

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    • Citlali Talina Contreras Moren

      Thanks for the inside info, Dana. I do not have a PT but then again, the culture here does not encourage the existence of several PT. It’s one per gym if you are lucky (the downside of living in a very small town in Mexico) I really wish I could work with one. Seriously thinking of taking the plunge and travelling to Guadalajara and train to get certified as a PT!

    • Bonnie Lang

      Great article! As a personal trainer myself, I really appreciate your words…I know many people view it as a luxury thing (the money issue is always a struggle with people, and I understand as I probably couldn’t afford it if I wasn’t one without a deal!), but you brought up some great points. It’s SO beneficial! Can I share your article on my blog? Great read (and cute pic at top)!

    • The Holistic Chick

      This is the absolute truth, you will spend $$ on a trainer but it is the best $$ you will ever spend. Speaking of which, I need to go sell my soul again to mine…

    • kelly

      Agreed, sometimes I cringe at how much I pay for crossfit, but it’s so worth it. Who needs a nice car anyway?!
      PS- There is a typo in your header. Personal is misspelled. :)

    • kelly

      Agreed, sometimes I cringe at how much I pay for crossfit, but it’s so worth it. Who needs a nice car anyway?!
      PS- There is a typo in your header. Personal is misspelled.