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8 Things Your Personal Trainer Wants You to Know

8 Things Your Personal Trainer Wants You to Know

Have you ever wondered what your personal trainer is thinking about? If so, this article is for you. Or, if you’re thinking about purchasing personal training, this sneak-peek into the mind into the mind of a personal trainer should help you make your decision.

1. Our sessions together can’t undo a week of bad decisions.

Before you even think about paying a personal trainer, you need to ask yourself a very important question:

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“Am I willing to make my health and fitness a priority, not only in the gym, but in my daily life?”

Sometimes people blame their personal trainer for their lack of results, but more often than not, the buck stops with the individual. Of course, a good personal trainer should offer guidance that will empower their clients to make good decisions outside of the gym, but all of your training sessions could be for naught if you’re not willing to take action with the instruction you are given. Put simply, an hour or two of exercise cannot undo a week of poor eating decisions.

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2. You don’t get bonus points for “extra credit” workouts.

Fitness and fat loss results don’t happen while you train, but rather during your body’s recovery process after training. You are welcome to partake in as much light activity as you want to; walking, water aerobics or swimming, and dancing are some positive “extra credit” activities that would probably be safe to do in addition to your work with a personal trainer. More vigorous activities like sprinting, long-distance runs, lifting weights, and CrossFit classes, however, could quickly become counterproductive if you’re not careful. It would be smart to mention any additional activity you’re pursuing to your trainer, who will make sure the extra stuff is taking you towards you goals (instead of away from them).

3. “More” does not necessarily mean “better.”

I don’t know how a “one hour personal training session” became the norm, but this seems to be what people expect from a personal trainer. This idea is woefully simplistic, because the ideal length of your workouts depends on a wide variety of factors including your needs, goals, experience level, the type and intensity of training, and more. If your personal trainer ever stops a session after 40 minutes, this doesn’t mean he or she is lazy and denied you  20 minutes; it probably just means 40 minutes was the ideal length of that workout.

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On a similar note, how sore you feel after a training session is not an accurate gauge of whether your workout was effective or not. Your body will be sore when you perform an activity that is new to you. For example: lifting weights for the first time (or first time in a long time), performing a movement you’ve never done before, training at an intensity higher than you’ve ever experienced, etc., will make you sore.  However, your body will adapt to these challenges as time goes on, and your soreness should gradually decrease during the process. This doesn’t mean you need to “confuse your muscles” or “shock your system” or anything like that (note: if a fitness routine is marketed with such buzz-words, it probably means it’s a rip-off); it just means your body is evolving into a stronger version of itself (and maybe it won’t suck so much when you drop a pencil and have to bend over to pick it up after squat day). 

4. You don’t need to work with me forever.

The best personal trainers are not dictators, but rather liberators. Instead of making a client feel as if they must depend on their trainer for results, they make an honest effort to set them free. Your personal trainer should be teaching you about things like proper form, exercise selection, and progressive overload (the gradual increase of stress placed upon the body during exercise training) as time goes on. If these concepts are new to you, or if you have quite a lot of work to do, I’d recommend sticking with your personal trainer until you feel confident in your ability to apply these concepts on your own; however, that doesn’t mean you need to work with him or her forever. I can’t speak for everyone, but I know I feel a wonderful sense of satisfaction when I get to watch a client walk off into the sunset with full confidence that they can keep moving forward without me.

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5. Honest, open communication is a must.

No matter how smart your personal trainer might be, she isn’t a mind-reader. If you’re struggling with something, you need to tell her about it. I once had a client who told me she was concerned because she hadn’t lost any weight in the last month or two we had been working together. Baffled by this, I asked her a long list of questions to figure out what the problem could be, and it turned out she wasn’t eating anywhere near enough food to fuel the demands we were placing on her body. And that brings us to…

6. Working out while undernourished is counterproductive.

You need to come to the gym hydrated and you should also eat a snack including carbs and protein about an hour or two before your training session. If your progress stagnates, don’t jump to the automatic conclusion that you need to eat less; in my experience (especially when working with women), the opposite is more often the case. As your fitness level and physical strength increase, so do your caloric needs. Keep a food diary and share it with your personal trainer if you find yourself at a standstill, so they can help you identify the problem and implement a solution.

7. A minor injury doesn’t mean you can’t exercise.

There is nothing fun about spraining an ankle or wrist, but that doesn’t mean all activity is off the table. Your personal trainer should be able to work around your injury in a way that is safe and beneficial for your progress. For example, if you have a broken ankle, you could still perform seated or lying upper body exercises that target your chest, shoulders, and back.

8. Where you are starting from is irrelevant.

I know you might be intimidated by working with a personal trainer, especially if he has an incredibly fit physique, but please don’t feel that way. An awful lot of us (self included) have struggled with weight gain, body image issues, emotional eating, and just about anything you can dream of. A good personal trainer would never judge you for your starting point, because it just doesn’t matter; the important thing is where you’re going, not where you’ve been.

Have you ever worked with a personal trainer? If so, tell us about your experience in the comments.

Are you a personal trainer? If so, leave a comment telling us what you would add to this list.

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Daniel Wallen

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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