Feature Archive

Going to the Pros

Do you need a personal trainer?

WebMD Feature

Feb. 21, 2000 (Santa Monica, Calif.) --You might think that hiring a personal trainer is like hiring a personal chef -- an extravagance that suits the rich and famous but is out of bounds for the rest of us. But the nature of personal training is changing. Increasingly, trainers are selling their services on a short-term basis, teaching clients the fundamentals and then, after two to six weeks, setting them free to exercise on their own.

This new emphasis has made personal training far more accessible to the average person. Instead of paying $150 a week for life, you can pay a total of $300 to $500 for six to 10 sessions. "You don't have to be Oprah to use a personal trainer," says David Gilroy, a spokesman for Idea: The Health & Fitness Source, an organization that certifies trainers. A recent survey conducted by Idea found that more than 4 million Americans used trainers in 1998, with 47% having fewer than seven sessions.

Lower cost isn't the only advantage of short-term training. "You also gain the independence to work out wherever and whenever you want," says Richard Cotton, a spokesman for the American Council on Exercise, another organization that certifies trainers. "People who are dependent on a trainer tend not to exercise unless their trainer is standing right there."