How personal is your personal training? It can seem like a ridiculous question, but let’s explore.
A quick search on Dictionary.com reveals that there are multiple definitions of “personal”:
- of, relating to, or coming as from a particular person; individual; private
- relating to, directed to, or intended for a particular person
- intended for use by one person
The definitions continue, but, for our purposes, these will do.
When it comes to personal training, there seems to often be a disconnect between the type of “personal” that is marketed, the type that is delivered, and the type that could be experienced but is often overlooked.
Personal training is often marketed as something that is intended for a particular person or individual, meaning it is an exercise session in which only one person participates as directed by a personal trainer (see definition #2). What it typically ends up being is an individual or private exercise session (see definition #1). Now, both of these are dramatically different that what definition #3 tells us it could be — an exercise session that is intended for only one person.
Why is this so different? Think of it like this:
- Definition #1: You have a car that only you are driving.
- Definition #2: You have a car that is yours.
- Definition #3: You have a car that is custom-built for you, intended only for you to drive, and is specified to your likes, dislikes, driving goals, and driving ability.
Some people prefer to just have access to a car. Some people prefer to have a car to call their own. And some people prefer a car that meets their needs, is reliable, and will consistently get them from Point A to Point B while still providing a comfortable driving experience complete with appropriate technology and in a color, make, and model they like.
Relating this back to personal training, some people just want to exercise. Some people just want to have somebody tell them how to exercise. And some people want an exercise experience that is completely customized to their body’s abilities, goals, and preferences.
The issue becomes when you don’t even realize that option #3 is even an option. Worse yet, sometimes you think you are ordering option #3 but instead option #2 is being delivered.
If option #3 is of interest to you, you need to know how to determine if it is being delivered. Here are five things to be on the lookout for during your next workout:
- Your personal trainer assessed your body’s current abilities, specifically your joint motion.
- Your personal trainer used the information from the assessment to build exercises for you. If how you are doing your exercises seems like the way the majority of the people around you are doing them, they are probably not personalized to you.
- Your personal trainer is marking inter-session (i.e. between-session) progress by taking notes. They are comparing the notes they are taking during your current session to the notes they made during previous sessions.
- Your personal trainer is making intra-session (i.e. during the session) changes based on your feedback and your body’s abilities on that day.
- Your personal trainer checks back in with your body at the end of the session to see how it is doing compared to when you started that day’s session. This can be done verbally by asking you or by physically reassessing your body at the end of your workout.
All five of these criteria are mandatory to ensuring that your personal training experience is as personalized as it should be. If any one of these are not being met, you may think you are ordering option #3, but at best you are getting some version of option #2.
The most consistent place to find personal trainers that are able to give you a truly customized exercise experience is by finding a trainer in your area that is on this list as well as one of these two lists (MAT™ Specialists; MAT™ Jumpstart).
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