Understandably, many Catholic women are reluctant to hire a personal trainer. Such an investment is often viewed as a display of excessive vanity and selfishness. However, as a devout Catholic who has both hired a personal trainer and become certified myself, I can attest to the many benefits of this service.
Exercise does not have to be selfish
Certainly, most of us are turned off by the airbrushed models who beckon us from magazine covers to “Get a Bikini Body in 4 Weeks!” but do consider that your body is a gift from God. We are all stewards of our bodies and are expected to care for them to the best of our abilities. Allowing our muscles to atrophy and grow flabby often leads to decreased energy, less restful sleep, increased risk of disease and depression and other health issues that can prevent us from carrying out our vocations.
Taking time to exercise for health is not selfish unless it’s done to an excess that prevents us from meeting our spiritual needs and the needs of our families. On the contrary, regular exercise provides energy and a sense of well-being that can make us better wives, mothers and Catholics.
The main idea is to focus on function over form. If you exercise with the goal of becoming more fit for your vocation rather than fitting into size 4 jeans, you’ll be on the right track. (That said, there is nothing wrong with exercising to lose a little weight so that you can fit back into your clothes and not have to purchase a new wardrobe.)
Where to begin
Hiring a personal trainer may seem like a luxury, but a good trainer can save time and effort by helping you set realistic and achievable goals and ensuring that your workouts are safe and productive. A knowledgeable trainer can also help you work with health limitations such as diabetes, fibromyalgia, asthma, etc. If often takes just a few sessions to learn the workouts so that you are able to do them on your own.
Personal training can be very affordable if you buy a package of sessions. Many gyms will also discount personal training services as an incentive to buy a membership. Another option is to buy group training sessions, which are less expensive than one-on-one training. Find a girlfriend or two who has similar goals, or even convince your husband or teen to train with you.
If you prefer to exercise at home, many trainers will be willing to come to your house and might even bring their own equipment. You may get a better price by doing this as there is no gym to take a cut in the cost of sessions.
Consider asking for personal training sessions as a birthday, Mother’s Day, or anniversary gift. You might also cut back on little luxuries like lattes, bottles of wine, etc. and save the money you would have spent toward training sessions.
How to hire the best trainer
You should be very picky about whom you hire as a trainer. You are purchasing a service, and it should meet your needs and schedule. I have met and observed many highly professional and knowledgeable trainers, but I have also seen trainers who are inattentive and try to use the same workouts for every client.
The most obvious place to find a trainer is your local gym or YMCA. Ask the front desk staff which trainer is hired most often and what type of clients he or she works with. Another option is to call your doctor or local physical therapist and ask for recommendations.
Interview several trainers before deciding which one to hire. During the interview, ask the trainer about his or her experience and education. Be very clear about your reasons for hiring the trainer and the goals you hope to achieve. If you would like help with meal plans, be sure to state that; but first ensure that your trainer has received some sort of training in diet and nutrition. Once you narrow down the choices, ask if you can observe one of the trainer’s sessions so that you will know what to expect and can observe how the trainer interacts with clients.
Be up front about any health issues or limitations you may have and the amount of time and frequency you can devote to your sessions. Ask for references from former clients and call them to talk about their experience and results.
Don’t be fooled by a trainer’s appearance. The heavily-muscled male trainer may not be skilled in creating a training plan for a woman who wants to train for a 5k or to simply keep up with her toddlers.
It’s okay to barter for the cost of the training. Some trainers will discount sessions during slow periods or may pair you up with another client who has similar goals or abilities and give you both a group rate.
Avoid trainers who insist that you buy certain supplements, vitamins or other products. Many trainers do sell such products, and some are effective, but do your homework and contact your doctor before investing in anything other than just the training sessions.
A few tips on being a good client
Although you are the customer, you will get better results if you observe a few simple courtesies.
First, arrive a few minutes early for your session, dressed and ready to go. Late clients are very frustrating as trainers often book clients back-to-back. If you are late, don’t expect the trainer to extend your session at the cost of someone else’s.
If you must cancel or reschedule a session, give the trainer at least 24 hours’ notice. Most trainers will understand the occasional child with a fever who prevents you from making your session, but ask in advance as some trainers will charge a fee for missed sessions.
Try to limit chit-chat. You should be focusing on the exercises and your breathing, and the trainer should be focusing on you. If a trainer keeps getting distracted or is not paying attention, call them on it. If it continues, ask for a refund and hire another trainer.
Take notes. Bring pencil and paper or ask the trainer to write down the routine for you so that you can duplicate it later on your own.
After your initial sessions are finished, you may want to hire the trainer for an hour or so every few months so that he or she can teach you a few new exercises or techniques to help you to continue to improve your fitness.
One last source of help
Don’t be afraid to pray for help in this endeavor! Pray for guidance in finding the right trainer and in setting goals to help you best fulfill your God-given vocation on earth.