The best thing about having a personal trainer is the advice they dish out about health and fitness. And although it’s amazing to work out with a certified trainer, it can put a dent in your wallet and requires some scheduling flexibility – which is why many people hit the gym alone.
But just because you’re chasing those fitness goals on your own doesn’t mean you can’t get some great advice from the pros. We asked seven ace trainers for their top workout success tips so you get the most out of your fitness journey.
1. Set realistic, attainable goals
“During a first consultation, I try to find out what my client’s goals are. A lot of them come to me and the first thing they say is: “I want to lose weight.” With a bit digging [I find that] most people really want to improve their muscle tone and get stronger and fitter, plus decrease their body fat percentage.
“I always ask for a reason why the client has decided to start now, and a lot of the time they say that they lacked motivation, didn’t know what they were doing, or didn’t see results fast enough on their own.
"I always tell them I’ve made a commitment to them, so they need to make a commitment to me and to themselves to see the programme through and reach their goals.
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“As a PT we want to help our clients set realistic and attainable goals achieved in a healthy way, and this has to be communicated. (Losing 10kg in two weeks, as often advertised, is not realistic and not healthy.)
"What’s important to me is to communicate that the scale is the least important measurement system and that we focus instead on centimetre measurements.
"Scale and body fat measurements can fluctuate – especially with women and their menstrual cycles, and muscle and bone density can measure heavier too. This can be motivationally defeating.” – Aneeka Buys, qualified personal trainer, CEO and founder of Fitgirl.
2. You can’t out-train a bad diet
“Be excellent, be humble. Wake up with intention. You can’t out-train a bad diet. Fuel your body right. Commit to the workout and give it everything you’ve got every time. I am serious about your goals – now you’ve got to want it.” – Tammy Rawstron, health coach and trainer at Crossfit District Six.
3. Ask yourself the hard questions
“I ask my clients lots of questions because [I’m looking] from a yoga perspective and work with chakras. This will help me figure out what is blocking their weight loss and maintenance, or why they keep losing weight and gaining it back.
“These are the questions I ask: What is your ‘body’ story? Why do you want to lose weight? Have you tried weight-loss programmes before and why didn’t they work?
"Why do you think it will work this time? What are your short- and long-term goals? What do you think will interfere with reaching your goal and how do you intend solving the problem?
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“[The answers] will tell me if they are going to see results faster, their motivation level, their commitment level and how to motivate them.” – Mali Ramara, personal trainer and yoga instructor.
4. Strive for progress, not perfection
“I never want my clients to feel like they must look perfect. I want them to feel good first, and the rest will follow.
"Fitness goals are not a race – fall in love and enjoy training first. When that’s done, push and challenge yourself like you’ve never done before.” – Simo Supana, personal trainer
5. Keep pushing
“Don’t be discouraged when you don’t see results immediately – it will take a while for your body to adjust to training. When things get hard, remember that if you stop, you won’t see results.” – Yolanda Sokhela, personal trainer at Virgin Active
6. The scale can lie
“Do not stand on the scale! Yes, we’ve all been told that muscle is heavier than fat – but it’s true. The fitter and stronger you get, the more muscle you’re growing and fat you’re burning (and the leaner and meaner you’re getting).
"This means the scale is less likely to change drastically.
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“Instead, chuck out the scale (which messes with your head) and notice that your pants are starting to get a little looser, or that you’re fitting into that old pair of jeans from a couple of years ago a little easier.” – Jade Upton, founder of Unjaded Fitness
7. Don't overdo it
This article originally appeared on Women's Health South Africa.