Why to NOT Rule Out Personal Training | My 3 month experience
Yup, you read that right. I did personal training for 3 months. The home workout advocate, former cross country runner and strength training skeptic did personal training. FOR 3 MONTHS. Ok, I’ll stop now, but if you know me well, this is sort of a big deal especially since I absolutely despised gym days when I used to run track. What changed, you may ask? Taking courses like Exercise Physiology and Exercise Metabolism in college completely changed my perspective on strength training and I slowly started adding in strength workouts here and there.
I exclusively worked out at home for a good year and a half after undergrad (goodbye ‘free’ university gym membership LOL) and used Pinterest, Instagram, and even the famed BBG program to guide my home workouts. I have access to pretty decent equipment at home, thanks to my dad’s shared affinity to being physical active and frugal. Despite these resources though, as my body got stronger, I noticed that to make more progress in terms of overall strength, I was limited to the equipment I had at home and I quickly became bored with recycling my workouts. There’s only so much I can do to change the exercises I was already doing and this caused me to reach a plateau in my home training.
Cut back to the beginning of January of this year, I decided to start a gym membership and personal training. I’m a member of Crunch Fitness and they offer a complimentary meeting with one of their personal trainers on duty. This was when I met my personal trainer, Xi, and as soon as we found out that we went to the same college and even studied in the same department, we hit it off pretty well. She tested my fitness abilities by giving me a few basic exercises to do (planks) and even new ones that I haven’t even attempted to try (pull ups with a resistance band to assist). She asked me what my fitness goals were and I replied with “I just really want to increase my upper body strength". At the end of the first session, we set up a training schedule for the next 3 months and I was all set!
I had personally training 2 days a week at 7:30am and each session lasted around 30 minutes (give or take a couple minutes depending on what I did that day). Xi always gave me a different workout for each session, so no two sessions were exactly the same! Since I just wanted to improve my overall upper body strength, we worked on the muscle groups for the arms, back, shoulders, and abs. In addition to working with dumbbells and resistance bands (which I was already familiar with), I was also introduced to new equipment like battle ropes, slam balls, the barbell, and heavier kettlebells (>10lbs). I even started developing some gnarly calluses in the process (for that grip strength fam) and started using chalk for when I had hanging exercises.
Not gonna lie, the first 2 weeks of personal training were tough, mostly because I was always sore for a few days afterwards, especially after doing assisted pull ups. I never really used to workout my lats, so doing those pull ups really woke them up! I did start noticing changes after I passed the first month: my posture was better, my core strength was definitely there, and my arms were getting a little bit more defined. Some exercises that were definitely new to me included: sled pulls, farmer carries with two 16kg kettlebells, landmines with the barbell, and jack knife sit ups with a 10lb barbell plate.
By the end of the first month, Xi progressed me to bench pressing. Keep in mind that the last time I even attempted to bench press was my junior year in high school and I could barely do the 45lb barbell by itself. So yes, I was quite nervous/anxious to hit the bench again. I ended up surprising myself by setting my PR of 73 lbs for my 1 max rep.
For months 2 and 3, training days usually looked like this: heavy on Tuesdays and endurance/ab work on Thursdays. By then I was already used to this routine and truly enjoying seeing my progress in the gym. My calluses were becoming mainstays and I wore them with pride (still do, btw). My grip strength was also being improved on and hanging leg raises were on the list of exercises on some of the endurance days. Xi even had me do them on the rock wall grip instead of the bar, and all I’ll say about that is even though I felt like a badass b*tch doing them, my hands hated me for it haha.
It was also during this time that I really started to notice my body changing physically, and even some people in my life started to take notice too. My pants were starting to fit a lot better and some were even getting looser since my stomach was leaning up. Some of my long sleeve blouses were feeling loose around the waist but a little more snug around the arms (deltoid area).
By the end of my personal training sessions, my bench PR was broken yet again and now it stands at 85 lbs for my 1 max rep. It is getting a lot easier for me to do more reps of assisted pull ups and I now have more upper body exercises in my library to choose from and play with. I can also definitely say that I am way more confident navigating the gym by myself and that I actually prefer to workout first thing in the morning. While I wasn’t really tracking my weight during this three month experience, I am definitely sure I lost around 10 lbs. This could also be due to the fact that I am eating healthier, drinking a lot more water, and am running consistently again.
So do I recommend personal training?
Yes, 100%. Whether your goal is to lose weight, get abs, or even improve your strength, if you put in the work and stay consistent, you’ll have no problems accomplishing your goal(s). Yes, it can be pricey, but if you really want it, you’ll figure out ways to make it work out. It’s one thing to motivate yourself when you workout alone, but nothing can really beat the power of someone knowing what you’re capable of and pushing you to your limits (in a completely safe way). Without Xi’s guidance, I can honestly say that I probably would have never attempted to use the barbell or pull up bands.
Would I do personal training again?
Yes, but probably not in the near future due to other financial obligations (travel, school, etc).
So that’s basically it! If you have any questions about my experience, please feel free to contact me via email or Instagram DM. I would be happy to help in any way I can!