By Vanessa Voltolina
So you’re ready to make the ultimate commitment to getting in shape (or at least getting off the couch), are you? Getting a personal trainer can provide a healthy dose of accountability and motivation, for sure. But what other magical powers do personal trainers possess (we’re kidding, kind of...)?
There are actually a few unexpected ways that a personal trainer can help boost your workout. See these five surprising insights from personal trainer and registered dietitian Cynthia Sass, author of the New York Times bestseller S.A.S.S! Yourself Slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches, and sports dietitian and certified strength and conditioning specialist Marie Spano, MS, RD, to learn more.
1. Transformational Moves For Your Body
Even if you get to the gym regularly, a trainer may be able to help you round out your fitness regime for optimal results and improved appearance. Trainers can help you “incorporate moves that help improve posture, which can make you look five pounds leaner without even losing weight,” notes Sass. She also observes that trainers can be a benefit to women who may be afraid to incorporate strength training into their exercise routine, out of a fear of bulking up. “A good trainer can show you how to get the benefits of strength training -- including muscle toning and boosting metabolism -- without using heavy weights or going for mass,” she says.
2. Improved Muscle Response
Mat exercises, free weights, 45 minutes on the elliptical and done. Or are you? While you may be perfectly satisfied with your current routine, Sass says that many of her clients have been following the same fitness program for years -- often workouts a high-school coach put them through!
While switching things up may sound easy, what many people don’t realize is that it’s best to change up your workout in an organized, routine fashion, says Spano. In this way, personal trainers can add moves that improve flexibility (something many people overlook) and can help slow down exercises -- which, according to Sass, "can have a big impact on how muscles respond.”
3. Less Pain
“This is a biggie!” says Sass. Why? Because a good trainer focuses on safety. Says Spano, “Your personal trainer can work with your doctor or physical therapist to assess injuries and modify exercises to help get you back up and running.” That includes proper warmups and cooldowns, and making sure that a client is performing moves with correct form. Not only can these fixes help prevent injuries, but they can also provide better results. For example, Sass mentions that instead of having you do sit-ups, which may be pulling your neck or hurting your back, a personal trainer can show you crunch-free, pain-free core-strengthening moves.
4. Cool New Stuff
Yes, you can troll the interwebs in search of cutting-edge fitness gear and training guidance, but a personal trainer can act as your go-between, since trainers often research new methods, moves and products on a regular basis. “Trainers can not only introduce you to new classes and equipment, but also tell you which are worth trying, which are all hype -- and why,” says Sass.
5. Functional-Movement Training
Some trainers specialize in functional movement, a system that documents patterns of movement necessary for normal function. By screening these movements, they can help identify your body’s limitations and asymmetries. “Not only can it point up what muscles are weak,” says Spano, “but this kind of training can help improve balance and coordination.” Trainers with an eye on biomechanics can identify smaller muscles you may not be using, such as when you lift weights. By pinpointing them, they can help you retrain your brain to use these specific muscles, which may be a boon to your overall fitness and help prevent injury or pain.