In some cases, I agree.
If a “trainer” is only telling you which machine to get on next between texts and how many reps to do, you should not pay a penny more than you absolutely have to. Assume that trainer doesn’t have a nationally recognized certification that required a written exam and an in-person practical exam. The gym manager simply showed the trainer the machines. Which means the trainer may know how a machine works, but may not know very much about how a body works, and really knows even less about how YOUR body works.
But if your trainer has a respected credential (the top 4 are ACSM, NASM, ACE, AFAA), then your trainer just flat knows more out of the gate. Your trainer has learned the basics of supportive eating, bio-mechanics, and exercise design as applied to a general population. The certification includes an overview of a special population or 2, such as children, or seniors, but the guidelines are general and meant to alert the trainer to seek out information when dealing with these populations. So this trainer is worth more than the machine operator. How much? Depends on experience. If your needs are simple, pay a bit more, but if the trainer has only been working for a year, not much more.
These 2 groups probably make up the majority of trainers “out there.”
This leads us to group 3. That’s the group my company belongs to. The personal trainers here at CoreMatters all have more than one certification. I’ve lost count of the ones I have. They also bring many years of experience to each client. For the client, this means that the solution is never one thing. It’s not always going to be Pilates. Or weight training. It’s going to be whatever the client’s body needs.
The problem is we have no way of differentiating ourselves as professionals. Our industry calls us all Personal Trainers. So that means the customer must be careful.
Know that the real value of personal training is customization. Your trainer should be studying you. For every client-hour I train, I spend a MINIMUM average of 1 hour per week outside of our session doing program design, planning and researching for our work that week. I’m weighing what’s been effective and shedding what hasn’t. I’m looking at obstacles and finding solutions. The tweaking process is endless.
This does not count the time and expense I spend maintaining my credentials by attending seminars for continuing education credits, meeting with and brainstorming with other trainers and business owners to bring the latest and best products and methods to my clients, nor the time I spend reading research or the expense of subscribing to journals and professional organizations.
So like any teacher, the amount of time I spend outside the classroom dwarfs the amount of time I see each client. The benefit to my clients is that when someone comes in for a session with higher than normal blood pressure or a reaction to a flu shot, I insist they go home and not “train through it” because I know EXACTLY what that does to the body at the cellular level. It’s nothing I expect my clients to know. I expect them to trust me to know. And that, to me, is priceless.