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Is Personal Training Too Expensive And How To Know When You Need It

Written by: Nick Jack
Category: 2014
on 01 September 2015
Hits: 6520

Personal Training & Fitness industry has exploded over the past 10 years with the help of reality TV shows like the Biggest Loser and the evolution of bootcamps, crossfit and various other forms of fitness training. I myself have been a Personal Trainer for nearly 11 years now and have seen so many things change, some for the better and some for the worse! And while PT is more popular than ever it has been around a lot longer than people think. If you look at most professional sports they had a coach who not only helped them to excel at the skills needed for their sport but was very much a fitness coach too. Boxing is a classic example, I always think of the old guy Mickey who was Rocky's coach in the Rocky movies. Tennis, athletics and even team sports like football and basketball had some element of personal training or fitness training because it was absolutely necessary to take you to the top of your game. It was used purely for performance and injury prevention. How it became so prominent as it is today in gyms all around the world is hard to say what ignited this but one thing is for sure it coincided with the increase in sedentary office jobs, and reduction in manual labor. And while a personal trainer would have been completely ridiculous 100 years ago, this profession is needed now more than ever. With the addition of technology to make our lives faster and more luxurious it has come at a huge cost to our health. Even our kids needing trainers to teach them how to play! This article will explore what the idea of personal training is all about and who needs it the most.

The History Of Health & How Modern Science Is Killing Us

Never before in the history of humankind has their been so many health practitioners all with different methods and philosophies about how to improve your health. There is more physiotherapists, osteopaths, chiropractors, nutritionists, naturopoaths, massage therapists, exercise physiologists and let us not forget personal trainers. But my question to you is, even with all of this extra help, that has really increased dramatically over the past 20-30 years, has the overall health of the western world improved or become worse? Is there more obese, chronically sick people than there was 100 years ago? We as a whole have become significantly worse! Even with all the fancy modern science and multi million medical procedures and assessment tools we are still developing chronic disease faster than we have ever experienced. Now this is not to say that the current health professions are not doing a good job or are needed, they absolutely are, it is to make the point that there needs to be some education among the community as to how to become healthy. If you are not sure just how different our health is now versus 100 years ago, and you think we are healthier now, take a look at the pictures below to see the difference in Chronic Disease from 1900 to 2010. You can reference these stats and more from the Centers For Disease Control & Prevention. These current trends can be traced to many things, most noticeably poor nutrition which I have covered in great detail in one of our articles here you can read - Sugar is the killer of all health plans

But the most annoying and frustrating problem with the health industry is our current mindset of trying to find cures and fix people and ignoring the real reasons or the root cause of why we are getting sicker. We must stop treating symptoms and begin looking at the body as a system of systems, each one intertwined into the next. You cannot rely on medical drugs to fix your problem and go back to what you were doing. You cannot just exercise and eat crap food and expect to be healthy either. Better education and a solution to this is needed and needed fast!

Okay so I have made a pretty strong point here, we need to do something about our health FAST! Experts who know what they are talking about and can prove it. And I don't mean using terms like Scientifically Proven. Modern Science has been great for improving the quality of life with vaccines for infections diseases which you can see from the charts above were a massive factor in 1900. Modern science has also provided great answers to many complex and severe medical emergencies and the progress made here has been astounding.  Treating of traumatic accidents such as loss of limbs is nothing short of amazing.

However where modern science loses me big time is when it comes to dealing with chronic disease and one big factor they have never cracked - weight gain and obesity. These so called scientific experts are still mucking around looking for the magic pill and trying to treat health as you would with a car needing a new part. Remember scientists at one time told us smoking was okay and even radiation had no health concerns! The answers to chronic diseases is in fact quite simple, as remember many of these current diseases did not exist in 1900. When you look at photos from this time period you will not find many people needing weight loss or personal training! The answers to modern health problems are found in old literature, something that seems oblivious to many of these scientists and health experts even universities are corrupting up and coming experts with latest research. Pretty big statements to make but tell me I am wrong. We all know that if we eat only good healthy food, avoid alcohol and smoking, exercise regularly but not too much, get to bed on time and keep our stress levels in check that we will be of good health. Some of the absolute rubbish published by governments supported by Sciences is part of the reason we are where we are. I will touch on this in more detail shortly.

I highly suggest you read the book "Nutrition & Physical Degeneration" by Weston A Price for proof of exactly what I am talking about and you will see pictures and statistics of people of all races from all over the world in perfect health using simple strategies without the need for modern science. The best book you will ever read about Health bar none, and if you are thinking of hiring a Personal Trainer or Nutritionist make sure they have read this book, for if they have not it is fair to say they still have a lot to learn.

 

This book was written way back in the 1930's and was an epic study by Dr Weston A Price who was a highly respected dentist and dental researcher to travel around the world and observe the health of 14 different primitive races of people and understand how the achieved such amazing health. He made records of dental arches, tooth decay and observed overall health and well being of indigenous tribes who at that time had not been exposed to modern foods. He compared the same race of people who were eating modern foods and documented the startling statistics and also the pictures of these people (see above). In EVERY SINGLE case that people were introduced to modern foods like white sugar, white flour, vegetable oils and other processed foods this race of people developed many of the chronic diseases that we now know as being normal, such as diabetes, arthritis etc. These people had no word for these diseases prior to eating modern food because these diseases did not exist. We created them, with our modern science!

Is Personal Training Too Expensive?

I have not yet answered the question in the title so I will do that here. Personal training prices have traditionally been looked at as only available to the wealthy. With the addition of group training and small group training it has made Personal Training more affordable to the masses. Personal Training as one on one is the best and most effective method because it becomes exactly what it says "Personal". Meaning that the entire program is tailored specifically to you and no body else. Well at least it should be, more on this later.

Prices can vary significantly depending on where you are in the world but let's say $100 US for 60 minutes is the fee for one on one personal training. And you want to train 3 times per week. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Your goal is to lose 10-12kg, improve your fitness and be able to sleep better as you have not slept well for over 10 years. Your trainer tells you that this is going to take you about 12 months to achieve this goal. This would mean you are now going to spend $300 per week for 52 weeks. This is going to cost you in total $15,600 to get into the best shape of your life. This is a lot of money. Sure you could do it yourself. But do you know what you should be doing to achieve this? Are you certain you know what to eat? Are you certain you know what type of training is best to get the results you are looking for? Most people (personal trainers included) apply a fitness strategy to become healthy and this is why they fail!

Now let's say you don't do anything about trying to lose weight and over the course of the next 10 years you gain an additional 1kg per year and end up being diagnosed with diabetes, need a knee operation as the extra weight now has developed a chronic osteoarthritis problem, you hardly ever sleep and you are on some medication to help you with this that has side effects of you guessed it.... more weight gain. As your health has deteriorated you keep taking days off work and your boss is putting pressure on you to get more done. Life feels like it is doing in and on top of all your medical problems now you feel depressed and seek the assistance of a psychologist. Now if we were to add up all the medical costs associated with this scenario it would be significantly more than $15,600. Plus remember the personal training would have also enabled you to do more things in your life that may have opened the door to new and exciting opportunities because your brain would be focused on achieving goals and chasing your dream as opposed to just trying to get healthy.

To put it in perspective just how much we as a society spend on Medical costs that we have already seen are not really achieving anything anyway here is some startling statistics again referenced from the Center Of Disease Control.

The Cost of Chronic Diseases and Health Risk Behaviors

In the United States, chronic diseases and conditions and the health risk behaviors that cause them account for most health care costs.

  • Eighty-six percent of all health care spending in 2010 was for people with one or more chronic medical conditions.
  • The total costs of heart disease and stroke in 2010 were estimated to be $315.4 billion. Of this amount, $193.4 billion was for direct medical costs, not including costs of nursing home care.
  • Cancer care cost $157 billion in 2010 dollars.
  • The total estimated cost of diagnosed diabetes in 2012 was $245 billion, including $176 billion in direct medical costs and $69 billion in decreased productivity. Decreased productivity includes costs associated with people being absent from work, being less productive while at work, or not being able to work at all because of diabetes.
  • The total cost of arthritis and related conditions was about $128 billion in 2003. Of this amount, nearly $81 billion was for direct medical costs and $47 billion was for indirect costs associated with lost earnings.
  • Medical costs linked to obesity were estimated to be $147 billion in 2008. Annual medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those for people of normal weight in 2006.
  • For the years 2009-2012, economic cost due to smoking is estimated to be more than $289 billion a year. This cost includes at least $133 billion in direct medical care for adults and more than $156 billion for lost productivity from premature death estimated from 2005 through 2009.
  • The economic costs of drinking too much alcohol were estimated to be $223.5 billion, or $1.90 a drink, in 2006. Most of these costs were due to binge drinking and resulted from losses in workplace productivity, health care expenses, and crimes related to excessive drinking.

Now looking at these stats and comparing that to $15,600, you tell me does $15k seem all that much now? Considering what the cost of an operation for your knee, the ongoing medical drugs for your other problems and the potential loss of income from losing your job will add up to. It sounds pretty scary but this is the exact scenario I hear everyday from new clients signing up with me at my studio. I believe Personal Trainers are the most important part of the Health equation, as they are dealing with people BEFORE people develop disease. The old saying "Prevention is better than a cure" is just so true. It costs less, takes way less time, and is so much easier. Yet for some reason the governments are blinded by this overwhelmingly simple solution. Instead they waste their time looking for more cures and quick fixes.

The big point is, it is not too late. You can do something about it, and I believe a good PT will be able to do that, but there plan MUST be built on solid education based health strategies for this to work. Unfortunately this is not usually the case and I often get people who have had a bad experience with other personal trainers or from a local gym which brings me to my next point.

How Do You Know If They Are A Good Personal Trainer?

Due to the heavy marketing of Fitness Training Institutes it has become easier than ever to get your qualification. Most institutes don't even require you to be healthy at all. You do not need any formal learning or proof that you know what you are talking about. You just need to pay the registration fee, sit through all of the course content and pass the exams at the end. That is it! I have never met a person who failed the exams either! I have worked with over 100 PT's in my 11 years and have seen over 90 of them be out of work within the first 12 months. Why? Because they do not know what they are doing, and are applying what they learn in their course which is "Fitness Training". Health and Fitness are two different things. Even the university graduates titled exercise physiologists are taught some very outdated and mainstream approach to health. Granted they are more educated but they lack a lot of experience. It is a lot different reading about how to rehab a disc bulge than having taken someone through the entire process. I would choose a CHEK Practitioner over any trainer for the sole reason that they take an holistic approach to health and understand that it takes this approach to achieve long term success. There are some great Exercise physiologists out there, I have two great EP's working for me, and some are my friends. There are also some great PT's. Unfortunately there is more average than good ones. Always make sure the trainer you think of hiring knows what true health is, and can do it him/herself. If they cannot become healthy using their own method how can they possibly show you how to do it? A good trainer recognizes the need for a holistic approach to health.

What Do I Mean By Holistic Health?

To become healthy it takes more than just losing weight. Your body is made up of a system of systems, each one relying on the next. You CANNOT sacrifice one of these systems, they all must be in tune. A good Personal Trainer will recognize these and have assessments to determine your current health status. They also will have proven strategies and a team of people around them to help if there is an area that needs to be resolved. These systems are:

  1. The Musculoskeletal system - The bones, muscles and all of the structure as such
  2. Hormonal System - controls hormones like thyroid, testosterone, cortisol etc
  3. Visceral System - Your internal organs & digestive system
  4. Limbic Emotional System - Your thoughts and mental processing

Most personal trainers focus only on the top system and apply a "go hard go home style of fitness training". Other more intelligent trainers will look a bit into the emotional system with goal setting etc but not really understanding the delicate role stress and sleep plays in the quest of health. Most trainers are ignorant to and completely ignore the role that the other systems play mainly due to lack of education and that is all too hard. Yet funnily enough the other systems are usually the ones in the most pain, and need the most attention from people who are in real trouble. Trying to smash someone in the gym with a hard workout who has a hormone imbalance or digestive problems due to a food intolerance, is a waste of time and will ultimately lead to illness, injury and despair when nothing changes. Now this does not mean Personal Trainers need to have the qualifications equivalent to a Doctor, they need to be aware of these concerns and have some way of assessing this to see if it needs to be addressed and then refer out to a professional. This is exactly what we do as part of our assessment process on your first session. We need to know how much stress is in the system before doing anything else. This is also why group training is not personal training. It cannot be personal because it is following a "cookie cutter" one size fits all method. We are all so different with our needs, weaknesses, strengths, lifestyle requirements, posture, skills, etc etc. It is impossible to follow the same program and say it is right for you. Take sports for example, a good team does not have the exact same player at every position and they all train the same way. Some players are good at certain tasks and others are better in different areas, their training must be devoted to improving their weakness and maintaining their strengths. If they can do that they will win! In terms of personal health and fitness it is the same thing.

At the bottom of the page I have some free reports you can download that talk about exactly this topic.

Do They Understand Weight Loss?

   

One of the big red flags for me is if they mention anything to do with CALORIES! The minute they mention how many calories this burns, or how many calories this is, this is telling me they do not understand weight loss or health at all! Counting calories has never worked and never will. This is the person who believes that if you lose weight you are healthy. I know many skinny people with six packs who are some of the most unhealthy people I have ever met. I was one of them! I can also tell you that the most obese people I ever worked with ate only one meal per day! Explain that to me how that works. Even Weight Watchers have abandoned their points system which is based entirely on this principle because they know it has major flaws. Read this article to see the truth about calorie counting and why it is a waste of time

If it was as easy as energy in versus energy out don't you think we all would be doing it by now! The quality of food is essential and cannot be overstated, as I proved to you at the start. Yet for some reason this is not taught on a large scale or given the importance it deserves. I have attended some Nutrition courses as recent as this year still prescribing low fat foods, avoiding saturated fats, following the Food Pyramid and even using sports drinks with the philosophy that it will speed up your metabolism.

Does your Personal Trainer understand the dangers of Fructose? How much sugar is the recommended amount, and what foods is it found in? What is food intolerance,  causes it and what to do to avoid or control it? These are just some of the big questions that not just personal trainers should know but the entire community. But you will struggle to find the correct answers as there is so much confusion due to the heavy marketing and mixed messages. Which is why you need a coach or a trainer to guide you with the right knowledge.

Supplements have also become a huge part of a personal trainer's toolkit, again as a quick fix solution for poor nutrition instead of dealing with the root cause of the person's problems. Health sacrificed for convenience or because people have been tricked by large companies that this is all we need. The essential vitamins we need for health are fat soluble these fat-soluble vitamins work most safely and effectively when we obtain them from natural foods by eating a diet rich in quality and variety. Read this article about supplements to get a better understanding as to the danger this causes to our health.

Do They Teach Movements Or Muscles?

Teaching people how to be functionally strong and move better for life activities versus just wanting to look good in a mirror are two very different things. Most gym programs are based on body building principles of training muscles in isolation to fatigue that has the sole purpose of improving your appearance. Unfortunately this is achieved at the expense of how you move, which is why this method is a disaster for sporting athletes and rehabilitation as both of these require enhanced movement skills. And for the everyday person who starts a gym program they are not body builders and don't want to be. They just want to be healthy people who can live life free of pain and do everything they want to do. Body building is not only very time consuming, and not relevant to the non body builder, but also very ineffective at teaching great movement. If you want to look good that is one thing, but most of the people I see and train come to me to improve daily life fully integrated and function-based movements to improve their strength and fitness. Sure they want to look good but they don't have the time to train different body parts, it is boring and many of them suffer from some form of postural injury or pain. The body when integrated perfectly, is a linked system that can more effectively absorb, distribute and produce forces within the body. The body utilizes multiple segments and joints, so the interaction between them become vital to the overall performance of the chain. Your body does not know the difference from a bicep to your calf muscle. It only knows movements.

An interesting point here is, and research has proven this - That strength increases significantly faster with complex movements. This is due to the high activation of the Neuro-muscular system to co ordinate many muscles and bones all in a split second. The development of the nervous system, is always of more importance to the body in terms of exertion and development of muscular strength. Always remember the brain controls muscles, not the other way around. We work with many stroke victims and severe spinal injuries and using a method of teaching movements in combination with muscle activation produces amazing results. Much faster than the old traditional method of muscles which is still used by many rehab centers. And you want to know something interesting this was proven to be ineffective way back in the 1950's by researchers who pioneered PNF!

What about Crossfit then? This must be a great method because they use a lot of complex movements and techniques, that they claim are functional movement. As opposed to body building, that more or less is dumbing down the body's nervous system with isolated robotic movement, crossfit goes to far towards the other extreme and breaks too many rules of progression. Technique is compromised in order to achieve a record time! This is fine if you have good technique and conditioning to handle this. But again most people do not have either. So the end result of this training is injury! Again I am not against Crossfit, I actually like some of their concepts of breaking up different disciplines, I just find that their exercise choice and method for progressing people is way too advanced.

This topic is my most passionate subject and I suggest you read this article here for the full story Why Isolated Strength Fails and Movement Skills Succeeds

This brings me to my next question....

Who Needs Personal Training The Most?

If you ask any PT who most of their clients are, you will find in most cases it is more female than male. More younger people use a trainer than older people. When in fact it should be the other way around! Why? This is another classic case of ignorance and poor education. Most trainers and gyms will treat older adults like they are already disabled and put them on a machine type of program that allows the person to sit down and pull or push weights while being perfectly stable and supported. Personal training is deemed to dangerous, and this is true for the trainer who adopts a "go hard go home style of training which will ruin an older adult. Putting old people on machines although seemingly the right thing to do as it is safe, it actually is training them to become worse at the things they lack which is - balance and good movement skills. Add on top of this the dangers of losing muscle which is known as Sarcopenia you now have the perfect recipe for disease and frailness! If you remember some of the statistics at the top of the page, the estimated cost of arthritis was $128 million! Osteoarthritis can be prevented and even reversed in some cases with a well designed strength training program.

   

Think about this upcoming question deeply for a second. Out of the two scenarios below who do you think needs individual assistance about how to get healthy? And the catch is you only have enough time to fit one of them in!

  1. A young girl who wants to lose 2-3kg and look good in a bikini? Or
  2. A person who is 59 years of age, and due to a back injury has gained 10-15kg, lost their mobility and struggles to walk up stairs. They fear they may lose their job, they have a family to support and diets have not worked for them in the past. They do not know where to start.

I know many 59 year old people and some that are older that fit this criteria. This is why we changed our business model over the years to focus on providing programs to cater for people who are in real need. Now this is not to say the young girl wanting to get in shape is not doing great stuff and that PT is a bad thing. It is a great thing and one we should encourage. All I am saying that many Personal Trainers fail to recognize their importance of their expertise and skills and how we can make a massive difference to the overall health of the community by helping those who really need it. This is why we changed our business model and starting creating the ultimate programs specifically for older adults (Stronger For Longer), rehabilitation & injury prevention and most notably programs for the busy overworked family man or woman needing to address their health before it is too late.

In my opinion this is a sign of a GREAT Personal Trainer. Someone who has extensively studied all the components of health, physical, nutritional, mental and even spiritual to devise the ultimate program. And not only do they have the education, knowledge and fantastic understanding, but they CAN PROVE IT! This is who I would pay money to train with.

I encourage you to check out our Testimonials page and also our You Tube Channel as I can show you hundreds of cases where everything I have just explained works.

Conclusion

There is quite a lot of information here that I have covered and I hope this enlightens you to what personal training was all about in the beginning and how you can get the most out of your money and time spent. But to help you out I will condense this down into the main points of what a good personal trainer will understand and provide.

  1. Hold several qualifications with regards to exercise and nutrition and be registered with a recognized National organization.
  2. They are continually evolving and learning by attending courses, reading books & completing online courses.
  3. Have an understanding there is a difference between health and fitness.
  4. Be living proof that their program works.
  5. Provide Individualized programs for both exercise and nutrition - no cookie cutter one size fits all program.
  6. Focus on building functional strength and movement skills as opposed to isolated strength.
  7. Provide you with proof of results.

I hope you enjoyed this article and if you would like to know more about our programs and if we could help you please fill in the form below.