Is there such a thing as an affordable personal trainer?

How to Find an Affordable Personal Trainer

by Dollar Stretcher Contributors

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How to Find an Affordable Personal Trainer

Beginning next month, I want to get in shape. I plan on joining a gym. My friend (who works out and always looks fit) is encouraging me to hire a personal trainer, but that's really more than I can afford. Is there a way to reduce the cost of a personal trainer?

Contact University Nearby

Talk to a school or university nearby. Sometimes they have programs where the students majoring in that need people to practice on, so you may be able to get a discount or find a student that is majoring in personal training and see if you can pay them. You know students in college could always use some money. You may be able to barter. Home cooked meals sure sounds good to some or offer to do their laundry.
Chris (via Facebook)

Share a Personal Trainer with Others

In my 15 years of gym membership, I have been shocked by the aggressive training programs deemed acceptable by some trainers, causing increased risk of injury and much more soreness than needed. Learning the principles yourself through reading fitness magazines is the best way to self-educate in my opinion. These subscriptions are very low cost at $12 annually sometimes. If you have your heart set on a trainer, YMCA offers this free when you join and city rec centers offer personal trainers too. Sharing a trainer with group of folks with similar goals and starting points makes sense too.

Start with a Workout Buddy

If you're just beginning your journey to fitness, what you probably need more than a personal trainer is a workout buddy. Perhaps your fit friend would be willing to work out with you? Also, there are some personal trainers who offer small classes for a group of similar fitness level.

Personal Trainer in Your Pocket?

Look at the gym you belong to. My gym, Planet Fitness, offers free personal training all the time. You just have to sign up.

Check out your local library. There are many tapes and books that you can try before you spend a dime. You may decide you can do your own training.

Surf the net. There are many trainers that have demonstrations or complete workouts online.

Do you have a smart phone? There are so many great apps. Have your personal trainer in your pocket.

Reach Out to Other Gym Members

I started working out a couple of years ago and am in much better shape today. Here are some of ideas that I have taken advantage of.

If you are completely out of shape, start simple by walking on the treadmill or stair master. Get a few beginner ideas from the people who work at the gym. They can show you how to work the machines and give suggestions on where to start.

As you progress, you may want to invest in a personal trainer for a short time to learn proper workout techniques. I couldn't afford long-term personal training, but what I learned in a few lessons (and the people I met) was invaluable. I did a group training session instead of one-on-one to save money. Then, I used that knowledge to workout on my own.

You will meet people at the gym who already have good exercise techniques and habits. They may be willing to workout with you occasionally and help you get started (maybe even your friend). I met people through the training sessions; we now workout together without the trainer. And, we always welcome new people to workout with us when they ask.

And lastly, the internet is a great tool to learn new and challenging workouts. I love getting new ideas so I can change my workout and not get bored.
Jessica from Texas

Fitness Is a DIY Project

Look to the web! Do a search for videos that teach the skill you want, including yoga, pilates, and tai chi. features hundreds and hundreds of good videos, but many sites specialize in particular sports.

Look to the library! You don't even have to look; just ask the librarian to direct you. Many books not only have photos showing correct technique, but they also delve deeply into just why and how you should move a particular muscle.

Look at the YMCA! Dozens of classes are available, day or night. Most have complete weight lifting equipment rooms, exercise machines, and friendly participants happy to give advice. Many have fantastic pools and child care.

Nothing against personal trainers, but fitness is definitely a do-it-yourself project.

She Trains with Jillian Michaels

I was facing the same dilemma. I am trying to pay off some medical bills from a minor surgery and planning for a 2014 wedding. I don't have the money for a trainer, so I started reading some blogs on eating well and exercising. I ended up tripping upon Jillian Michaels' website. However, I have found her website and the resources on it amazing. It's much like what my friends are getting through their gym and trainer, but I am paying a lot less. The cost is $17.33 a month, and I get a daily eating plan and shopping list plus exercise videos, instructions, etc. I ended up joining it and buying two of her DVDs from Target. For the cost of those DVDs (under $25 for two of them) and the online support, I have lost eight pounds. I am learning to exercise efficiently, eat healthier, and am starting to feel better.

Split the Cost with Others

Find three or four other people who would like a personal trainer and split the cost of one or two hours per week. You'll have a small group for support and still benefit from a great deal of individual attention.

Save on a Qualified Personal Trainer

It isn't advisable to skimp on a personal trainer because your health and well-being are at stake. Basic qualifications should include NCCA certification, college degree in exercise science, good references, professional liability insurance, and clear business policies about rates, cancellations, etc. That being said, here are some ways to save:

  1. Check with your health insurance. It may include a benefit for lower cost gym membership, which would give you access to a personal trainer employed by the gym. You'd have to pay extra but would save on the lower gym membership.
  2. Consider a certified trainer who's just getting started. Rates are usually based on experience as one factor.
  3. Find a trainer who provides semi-personal training for groups of two or more people.
  4. Combine once-a-month personal training sessions with a series of "boot camp" training sessions.
  5. Get a personal training plan from a personal trainer, workout on your own, and check in with the trainer once a month or once a quarter.

Nancy in California

Accountability Is Key

  1. Seek a personal trainer who will train multiple clients at a time.
  2. Seek a personal trainer who will train for half an hour rather than a full hour.
  3. Partner up with the most fit person in the gym who is just another member and really push yourself to perform.
  4. Join a gym in which the classes are included in the gym membership and really push yourself. When other people, who are already fit, see you gradually losing weight and getting into shape, they typically give advice, which often eliminates the need for a trainer.

I did both three and four above and lost 80 pounds over three years. Yes, it took a long time, but I haven't gained it back. You probably would be better off joining a small gym. It has been my experience that smaller gyms where everybody knows each other work much better. When you don't show up, people want to know why.

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