Weight Loss Diary: Why I hire a personal trainer

Written by Cheryl Tay on . Posted in Cheryl Tay Blog | Blog Post of Cheryl Tay

Lately I’ve been posting up photos of myself working out with Joey, my personal trainer, and I’ve gotten comments such as, “You’re already so fit, why do you need a trainer?” – which prodded me to write this post. I’m not here to preach why you should get a trainer, but rather, why I got a trainer.

Joey trying to correct my side shuffles with hurdle jumps at one of our outdoor boot camp sessions

Joey trying to correct my side shuffles with hurdle jumps at one of our outdoor boot camp sessions

It’s true that I do have a rather active background – I was on the school badminton team and cross-country team in my younger days. But once I started working, I never trained at those kind of intensity levels and in fact, I did reach points where I never exercised at all.  I have a comprehensive (and expensive :( ( ) gym membership with True Yoga/True Fitness/Original Bikram Yoga which includes access to all their gyms and unlimited supply of group fitness classes, but it’s not the same as getting one-to-one attention.

Some people feel that having a trainer sounds intimidating and that it is only for people who want to train for some competition or tournament. Some who are not even exercising at all, are skeptical about getting a trainer because they are unsure of the objectives and the cost.

Well, it can always be a trainer to train you for lifetime health – something that money can’t buy. Whether you are just starting out or you have been exercising for a long time, you will need help somewhere. It can be help for weight loss, help for a particular race you want to try or generally just want help to achieve your fitness goals and take you to the next level. Some, like me, want the proper guidance so that they can optimise their workouts (and not end up exercising to no effect or overtraining) and also make sure they don’t get injured.

In essence, I’m pursuing efficiency. I want to save time by making sure I’m training right and that will lead to progress. So here’s why I hired a trainer:

1) I Wasn’t Seeing Results

I decided to get my ass off the chair and exercise again so I started jogging at East Coast Park, about two to three times a week. I increased the distance as I went along, but I wasn’t seeing any weight loss, although the running got easier. But there was a limit to how much more I can increase – I can’t be endlessly increasing the distance or the frequency of my runs!

I saw my girlfriend Daphne tweet-ing about her sessions with her trainer so I enquired and decided to give it a shot. A trainer will help to assess your current fitness programme, as well as eating habits, and advise on where you can make changes for more effective workouts. He will be added motivation for you to stick to your fitness regime and he will also be able to help you develop and monitor realistic goals.

If you have been exercising consistently for weeks or months or even years, and isn’t losing weight or getting anywhere near your goals, you might want to consider hiring a trainer.

2) I Didn’t Know Where Or How To Start

I was scratching my head and wondering why I was exercising and not losing weight (the diet was another problem too), when someone educated me about high intensity interval training (HIIT). Basically, it’s an enhanced form of interval training of short intense anaerobic exercise with less-intense recovery periods. The workout itself is short (usually 30 minutes approx.) but it improves fat burning and keeps your metabolic rate higher throughout the day, hence is more efficient than traditional steady-state exercise like a 6km run where you keep your heart rate within your aerobic zone.

You can find a lot of HIIT plans on the internet and there’s a lot of information out there, but I wasn’t comfortable of trying anything on my own. I didn’t want to end up wasting time doing the wrong thing, risk getting injured or give up because I have no idea what I’m doing.

Before I got a personal trainer, I never knew what a dead lift is.

Before I got a personal trainer, I never knew what a dead lift is.

Having a trainer is useful because he helps me maximise your time (it’s already hard enough fitting training into my busy schedule which involves frequent travel) and more importantly, he ensures that I am within my limits and helps me to plan an entire programme around my schedule.

3) I Was Getting Bored With My Workouts

I was jogging a few times a week, going for yoga and maybe body combat if I felt like it – and that was all there was to my physical activity regime. I don’t go to the gym because I wouldn’t know what to do there – the only thing I ever use in the gym is the treadmill and I try to avoid that because I prefer running outside.

With Joey, I leave all the planning to him and all I do is just turn up. He will vary workouts (eg. circuit training, strength training, sprint intervals, boot camp etc.) and introduce different types of equipment (eg. Lebert  bars, TRX, ugly orange cones etc.) that I’ve never used before. It’s refreshing, brings change and a new perspective to my workouts.

I didn't know what TRX is - but now it has become a regular part of my training!

I didn’t know what TRX is – but now it has become a regular part of my training!

4) I Need To Be Pushed And Challenged

No matter how strong you are mentally, it’s different when there’s someone there to egg you on. “Focus, doing good, come on, one more rep, don’t give up…” – these simple words from the trainer by your side goes a long way, probably even bringing out that hidden strength you never knew you had.

One day, I will do that one pull-up without any assistance.

One day, I will do that one pull-up without any assistance.

Additionally, I don’t want to be doing things wrongly so my trainer is there to help me spot mistakes and correct my form. He will also explain what muscles which exercises are working and that helps me to understand my body better.

5) I Wanted To Learn How To Exercise On My Own

There’s no timeline to how long you need to have a trainer for. It depends on your wants, your needs, your goals and yes, your bank account too. You might even want to hire a trainer for a few sessions just to learn how to do the exercises correctly. For me, that was one of the reasons too. I travel a lot, sometimes for an extended period and I don’t want to slack off my regime too much. Hence, I will ask my trainer to prescribe a routine for me that I can do by myself, be it at a hotel gym, in the hotel room (if the hotel has no gym) or outdoor if weather permits.

The only thing I ever used in the gym was the treadmill, but after training with Joey, I now know how to have a more efficient workout in the hotel gym when I'm travelling.

The only thing I ever used in the gym was the treadmill, but after training with Joey, I now know how to have a more efficient workout in the hotel gym when I’m travelling.

6) I Wanted That Added Accountability and Motivation

When you hire a trainer, think of it as an investment into your fitness and health. At the same time you are also investing time with that money. With a trainer, you feel a little more obliged to keep training and not fall off the plan. Of course, he’s not going to breathe down your neck and force you to work out when you don’t want to, but at least he’s a valid reason to keep going.

Before getting a trainer, I would never have gone to the open deck of a car park and throw medicine balls at the wall.

Before getting a trainer, I would never have gone to the open deck of a car park and throw medicine balls at the wall.

7) I Wanted The Personal Touch

There are tons of DVDs or online programmes out there you can purchase and jump along with someone shouting at you not to give up, but somehow I prefer having a physical presence. The relationship doesn’t just end at the door to the gym; it extends to a 24/7 helpline. I exaggerate – of course he’s not going to be awake 24 hours, seven days a week waiting for your call or text. But having a trainer has helped me greatly in terms of responding to my queries related to fitness and diet.

Nowadays with technology so advanced, dropping a message in WhatsApp gets you a reply almost instantaneously. For example, if I am unsure about a certain food or if I get invite to a new type of fitness class (eg. power plates), I will check with my trainer. You don’t have to ‘report’ if you don’t want to, but I do check with him out of respect and also because I want him to be able to plan my training programe properly.

Joey, along with my wellness buddy Daphne, have become integral personalities in this journey of mine and that’s what I really appreciate. The friendships are valuable as it isn’t everyday that you find like-minded people. I do rain expletives on Joey quite excessively sometimes, especially when the training gets tough, but he understands. Sometimes the things he gives make me feel retarded doing them, but I know it’s for my own good. *big grin*

Another reason that people hire trainers for is because they are injured or they have a certain medical condition. Like if you are pregnant or you have a previous back surgery, but you still want to continue working out, it’s advisable to have someone there to guide you properly and efficiently.

Who’s my trainer?

I’ve been getting queries about who my trainer is. Currently I’m training with Joey Tan (Troika Fit). He’s a freelance personal trainer and the gym we are using at the moment is Energia Fitness. I don’t need to take up a membership with Energia; I just pay Joey and that’s it. We also have outdoor boot camp sessions.

It's important to build a good relationship with your trainer so he can help you better with your goals.

It’s important to build a good relationship with your trainer so he can help you better with your goals.

If you’re wondering about the rates, it varies with frequency, location and time of day (eg. peak hours will cost more). You can tell him you knew about him from me and he will give a special deal – trial session of $40, which will be waived if you sign on a package of 12 sessions at S$80 each (this is a special rate for my readers).

Getting a trainer can aid your fitness and weight loss goals but do be realistic about your expectations. Effort is needed on your part as well. You can train mean at the gym with your trainer but if you go home and go wild on your diet, then don’t expect to fit into a smaller pair of jeans or get that flat tummy.

I have lost about 4kg since I first hired a personal trainer in January 2013 (I switched trainers in February) but I’ve lost significantly more inches. It’s not about the numbers on the scale but how you look and feel. I’ve also become stronger physically and I never thought I would find back the discipline and commitment I used to have when I was representing the school.

My biggest takeaway is the mindset and the relationship with my body. I am still finding that happy place but I’m not as stressed out over my weight anymore and I’m a lot more confident about myself now.

Be realistic about your goals – for example, I’ve been travelling intensively in May (was only in Singapore for five days the entire month!) and couldn’t train properly so progress for May was slower.

I’ve not reached my desired body or achieved my long-term fitness goals yet, but I’m constantly renewing my short-term goals and setting new ones.

If you want it, work for it.

If you want it, work for it.

If you have more questions to ask me, you can also drop me a note at info@cheryl-tay.com.

*This is not an endorsement, advertorial or sales pitch and I am not taking any commission or referral fee. My opinions are all my own and I just wanted to share.

Cheryl Tay

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Singapore’s only female full-time motoring and motorsports photojournalist. Independent automotive consultant and prominent local motorsports personality Cheryl Tay is uniquely passionate about all things cars and motorsports. She also has a strong passion to share her interest and knowledge, hence having a dream to become the ‘Oprah Winfrey of cars and motorsports’ and create a multimedia platform for her sharing. - A female in a male-dominated world, Cheryl Tay is Singapore’s only female full-time motoring journalist and motorsports blogger and she regularly writes for prominent titles in Singapore, Asia and internationally. (See full list of titles that Cheryl Tay writes for here.)

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