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Training Weigh Ins

Personal trainers vs. V.O.D.

You’ve set your fitness goals and even carved out time in your hectic schedule to exercise. Now, how do you reach those goals? Two popular options are personal trainers and video exercise programs. While quite different, both can play a role in your fitness routine.

Real-Time Support

A number of exercise professionals agree that nothing compares with working with a personal trainer.

First and foremost, they maintain, trainers ensure you are doing each exercise correctly and that your body is aligned. This is critical when you are performing complex exercises or have no background in the exercises you are doing, says FONDA DICKENS (left), personal trainer at SHAPE FITNESS GROUP.

In addition, personal trainers ensure you get a complete workout – one that builds your slow and fast twitch muscles, core, aerobic capacity, and muscle strength – and that you get the results you want quickly and without injury.

“A personal trainer will push you further,” Dickens says. “They can tell when you have peaked or plateaued.”

Personal trainers also keep you motivated. In addition to encouraging you, they determine whether you respond better to a gentle or more challenging approach. With their vast knowledge of exercises, they’ll add variety to your routine, too. As a result, you don’t get bored, and your muscles must adapt to the changes – a must for continuous growth.

In addition to motivation, personal trainers can keep you accountable. Having an appointment with a personal trainer helps guarantee you’ll workout that day, but what about the rest of the week? Many personal trainers check in with you to see that you get multiple workouts in or to find out why not.

“A personal trainer helps you discover why you didn’t meet your goals and devises strategies to overcome your obstacles,” says DANIELLE BAUMAN (right), personal trainer at MOMENTUM ATHLETICS.

Also, while personal trainers may or may not have a degree in nutrition, many have extensive knowledge in the subject and offer nutritional advice and support. The biggest disadvantage to working with a personal trainer can be the cost.

A one-hour session generally runs about $50. To offset the price personal trainers often allow clients to take semiprivate classes. This way, you still get personalized attention but at $25 or so a session. Other potential problems can rear up if you end up working with a personal trainer who is not qualified, who pushes you too much, or whose style does not mesh with yours.

Fitness On Demand

And for others, whether because of costs or daily schedules, video fitness programs make more sense.

You can workout with some of the best instructors in the world with DVDs and online programs, according to CARRIE PAGÈS (below left), owner of IN BALANCE PILATES and an instructor for PILATES ANYTIME, an online program.

This is especially important when you live in a small town where you may not have access to, or limited access to, high-quality fitness instructors, she says. Another factor that makes video exercise programs a good alternative is their convenience. You can do them anywhere and anytime.

Some gyms, such as ANYTIME FITNESS, have a room dedicated to videos. An exerciser simply selects a program – conditioning, strength training, or a multitude of others – then follows the video, which is projected on a large screen.

“Wexer (a virtual fitness system) has 300 different workouts” says BRIAN KENNEY (right), personal training manager at Anytime Fitness in Wilmington. “Members come in late and take a twenty, thirty, or sixty-minute class in anything they want.”

Video fitness programs are also a popular option for those who are learning a new type of exercise such as Zumba, Kenney says. Newbies can put in a beginner DVD and slow it down or stop it until they are comfortable with the steps. Then, they can confidently join a live class.

Another advantage to video fitness programs is that they are inexpensive. You can get a single DVD for about $25 and use it for months, and online fitness programs generally run about $20-$30 a month.

The biggest drawback to these programs is that no one is watching to see that you are doing the exercises correctly. Also, some video instructors don’t give clear cues, which can lead to injuries, or provide modifications for the exercises.

In the end, using a personal trainer and exercise videos can be an ideal way to reach your fitness goals. And either option is better than doing nothing at all.

“Working with both a personal trainer and with video programs is optimal,” Pagès says. “I believe in doing whatever you can do to get three or more workouts a week in.”


To view more of photographer Katherine Clark's work, go to www.katherineclarkphotography.com.


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