“A chair!”   That’s the image Jill had of her life when we were discussing her metabolic checklist. Like most of us, Jill led a very sedentary life – she drove to work; spent hours at her desk at work; and finally, she lounged in front of the tv to relax at the end of the day. The majority of us live like Jill in car-dependent communities where we even have to drive to the corner store for a quart of milk! The cost of this sedentary life is as high as smoking!

To embark on a healthier path, many of us make the leap every year to become more physically active. This often translates into joining a health club. The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association’s (IHRSA) 2013 Health Club Consumer Report indicates that 59 million Americans use a health club. That may be good news, but their data also shows that the average number of visits by a health club member per year is 99 days. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity five days per week or 20 minutes of vigorous activity three days a week, in addition to two days of strength training. That’s about 260 days!

Unless you walk, bike, swim or engage in other forms of physical activity on the days you don’t visit your fitness club, you are falling short of the recommended activity levels. That’s where a personal trainer can help you. Here are just three reasons a personal trainer is the key to succeeding with your fitness strategy.

A personal trainer is a professional. Even though this is the era of DIY, there are things you should leave to trained professionals. Certified personal trainers complete a certification process to master principles they use in their practice and continue to build on their knowledge base through continuing education. You can count on your trainer to bring new ideas that make every workout fresh, challenging and enjoyable. Your personal trainer can teach you proper form, better techniques and the right way to use the numerous machines in your health club. Your trainer helps you reach your maximum potential without hurting yourself.

A personal trainer keeps you accountable. Have you seen the V8 commercial with the personal trainer? Controversy aside, it illustrates how your personal trainer holds you accountable for taking actions toward a healthier lifestyle. One of the ways a personal trainer can help you is by ensuring that you reach the desired intensity in your workouts. A recent study showed that people overestimate the recommended intensity of their workouts, despite their understanding of the recommended guidelines. Working with a trainer ensures that you do what you are set out to do at every session – from the number of reps and sets to recommended session length. Just by hiring a personal trainer, you know you have to show up.

A personal trainer motivates and encourages you. We all have had those days that the road seems too long and the setbacks too many. Half way through my 10-week triathlon training last summer, I was ready to give up. The trainer in me kept pushing. When you embark on a path to a healthier you, there may be days that you don’t seem to see the destination! Your personal trainer is your biggest cheerleader, reminding you how far you have come and where you have to go. To reach your goals you need a lot of coaching and practice. Your personal trainer helps you take small steps to make substantial progress.

If you are still hesitant about hiring a personal trainer, remember that even professional athletes with a wealth of knowledge and talent in their respective fields use trainers. Jill realized that and with the help of her personal trainer she has a different image of her life. Today, it is a yoga mat!

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