The benefits of using a personal trainer

When I was younger, my sisters, cousins, mom and aunts were obsessed with Jane Fonda and her workouts (who wasn’t??!). I think I even dressed as Jane Fonda in workout gear for a party when I was about 8 years old, leotard, leggings and all. Recently I tried to use youtube to do workout videos, but had a bad experience trying to do Pilates and hurt my back, and just haven’t tried again. Although I did find an original Jane Fonda workout and it was so tough! One day..

I decided to start using a personal trainer in September 2018 as part of the plan to achieve my weight loss and fitness goals. I knew it would a big lifestyle change to commit to; and I anticipated, based on my personal experience in the past, that having to change my diet and get fit (and stick to it) would not be easy to maintain and sustain. I felt like I needed a coach, the moral support, the expertise and basically a cheerleader, that I pay for.

I started out training twice a week, at home. As a mom of three, its really great to have this time scheduled out in my week to dedicate to exercise, with an expert and the exercises are curated for my body and goals. I feel its the best use of 45 minutes compared to other fitness options. I didn’t feel ready to join a class and I didn’t want to join a gym and not go.

But the Cost??

It is pricey and it will be more than your monthly gym membership with most trainers in Cape Town cost around R200-R300 per session, usually more if you train in your own home. But, I don’t think you should let the price put you off. If you are committed to getting fit, a trainer can really help you focus, give you advice regarding your diet, motivate you and keep you on track.

How do choose a trainer?

If you are looking for a trainer, its really important for you to be on the same page with respect to your goals, approach and personality. Do your research about the person, their experience and how long their clients stay with them. Call them and have a chat to see if you get along.  You should feel comfortable and you should be able to chat and open up. This person could possibly be taking you on the toughest journey of your life and you need somebody who motivates you and listens to you and will push you to do better. My trainer is female, a few years older than me, a mom and has many years experience in  training, pilates and sports massage. Bear in mind, the more experience, the more expensive they will be.

During a session, your trainer should not be on the phone or distracted. They should be totally invested in you during your time, counting down your reps like your own personal Jane Fonda.

They need to gradually increase your fitness and not push you so hard that you throw up on day 1. Yes, this can happen if you have not been exercising.  I have had a trainer before who worked me so hard on day 1, I could not even walk down the stairs at the gym after the workout. Once I eventually made it, I got to my car and sat there for 30 minutes recovering, with weak legs and exhaustion that I couldn’t even drive home. That experience put me off personal trainers for a while.

You need to be sure the trainer will start gently, but also push you and change the workout every few weeks, so you don’t get bored of the workout. As your fitness level increases, they should change it up, increase the weights, do different combinations. Basically, you need to be enjoying the workouts. In the beginning it won’t feel fun. You might feel like its torture and constantly think of ways to cancel the session, but stick with it because as your fitness level increases you will love it and you will love what your body can do and how you feel after a session.

Other benefits…

Besides the exercise, my trainer instructed me write a daily food diary that she would check each time I saw her. She gave me a list of foods to eat and things to stay away from. She spoke to me about portion sizes and basically taught me how to eat, keeping it all pretty basic. I eat from all food groups and don’t do anything extreme. All the eating advice I followed was from her and I am sitting here 20kg lighter. Each week she would weigh me and it would be recorded. It was great to celebrate each week’s weight loss with someone. Every six weeks she would take my body measurements. She would also give me advice on what exercises to do on the days I didn’t see her.

I would recommend getting a trainer or a coach if you are starting your fitness or weight loss journey. It played a big role in my success and commitment to my lifestyle change and weight loss journey. I believe I needed all that “handholding” in the beginning, it helped me in the difficult times so I could push through and get to this point.







Siham Arieff
Siham Arieff

Siham is a wellness writer, stroke survivor, mom of 3 and coffee lover on a health and fitness journey who recently relocated back home to Cape Town, South Africa.

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