Personal trainers are often associated with people wanting to build muscle or lose weight. While these are worthwhile goals, there’s much more to the guidance that personal trainers offer, namely the accountability you need to make sustainable changes that boost physical and mental health.
Research shows that the best way to improve your physical and mental health is through deliberate physical exercise, gradual changes to your diet, and a focus on building sustainable habits that support your goals. But it’s hard to go at it alone and you’ll likely go through a lot of trial and error trying to figure out what exercise suits you best, which gradual changes to make to your diet, and how to build habits that last.
Personal trainers have extensive experience and education in the techniques that will encourage you to make lasting changes through goal setting and building small, sustainable habits over time. Working one-on-one with a certified personal trainer will get you there if you want to fast-track your progress and get those new habits to stick around for life.
Most importantly, personal trainers provide personalized accountability on a level that you can’t get from an online forum, workout buddy, or fitness influencer. After all, people need human guidance and accountability to change their behaviors; successful models of behavior change theory support this.
At Kickoff, we’ve found a way to make the benefits of hiring a personal trainer, such as accountability, tailored workout and nutrition plans, daily motivation, and expertise, more affordable and accessible than ever.
What Is Accountability and Why You Need It
Accountability is accepting the fact that you are responsible for your actions. While many people may understand this, holding yourself accountable for making changes can be challenging, especially if you’re new to goal setting and habit formation.
Personal trainers can provide the accountability you need to stay on track. Research shows that having an accountability partner increases your chances of accomplishing your health goals. While you can ask a friend or gym buddy to be an accountability partner for you, their own motivation may wane, impacting your ability to stay on track.
Having a personal trainer act as a professional, friendly accountability partner ensures you always have an experienced, knowledgeable person in your corner. Moreover, a personal trainer can help design a program that provides structure for working toward your goals. Your personal trainer helps you stay accountable to your program through regular (even daily!) check-ins, workout reminders, and feedback on areas you need help with like nutrition or reducing stress.
Experts recommend the best way to keep you accountable and motivated toward your goals is to have a personalized, evidence-based plan in place. The most effective strategy will be one prescribed to you based on your individual preferences, needs, and goals, all based on science-backed best practices. This is where certified personal trainers come in — they’re experts on program design and behavior change, making them the ideal resource for creating a plan that works for you.
Another way to increase your accountability is to use fitness apps that help you track things like steps, daily activity and workouts, food intake, and other health-related habits. Research shows the benefits of fitness technologies like activity trackers, which remind people to be active, and online coaching, which helps them stay connected. These technologies remove barriers to exercise by making motivation and habit formation easier to track while saving time. But the apps that provide access to experts like personal trainers, certified behavior change experts, dietitians and nutritionists provide the human accountability you need to make changes that last.
You can find additional motivation and accountability by joining a community of peers that share the same experience and desires as you do. A group of like-minded, motivated individuals can help you find fresh inspiration and feel connected to your community and commitment each day.
Why Customized Workout & Nutrition Plans Help You Succeed
While many pre-made workout and nutrition plans are available, the best chances of success come with customized plans. Everyone’s nutritional and exercise needs are different, and each person has unique preferences, time constraints, and specific health and fitness goals. What works well for one person may not work well for you.
If you’ve ever tried a popular pre-made workout or nutrition plan (like a trendy diet, for instance), you may have found that you didn’t enjoy it or it didn’t work with your lifestyle. Maybe it included exercises you didn’t know how to perform or foods you didn’t like.
Getting a customized plan leapfrogs over these hurdles because you can communicate with your trainer so that only the workouts and foods you know you can stick to and enjoy will be included. Plus, your trainer can guide you and teach you how to perform movements, work around physical limitations, and find variations that work for your body.
Adherence to your habits and new behaviors, as well as motivation to continue long term, is much more likely if you actually enjoy what you’re doing. When you do what you enjoy, you’re intrinsically motivated. And if you enjoy what you do, you’re more likely to stick to routines that support your healthy behaviors.
With more enjoyment and internal motivation comes more confidence in your abilities to stick to your goals and perform well, according to research published in Psychology & Health. For example, if your trainer gives you a workout routine that you genuinely enjoy, you’ll feel more confident about your abilities and will be more likely to improve over time.
A plan that’s fluid and flexible is key to sticking with it when life happens. A trainer can dynamically adjust your plans whenever you need. Life can get in the way of even the best intentions. You may hit a busy work season or time constraints and family commitments may change. Perhaps you end up with an injury that needs to heal or an illness that might stop you in your tracks.
A customized plan can adapt to your needs, and a personal trainer can help you adjust your expectations and focus on what’s truly important while providing structure so you can meet your goals. Think of this as adjustable accountability. Your personal trainer will work with your life’s ups and downs to find ways for you to prioritize your health. Instead of feeling lost, frustrated, and alone, you’ll have someone there to ensure you’re still on the right path — all you need is some innovative strategies to make the most of the time you have available.
Certified Personal Trainers Provide the Motivation and Expertise You Need to Reach Your Goals
While internal motivation and enjoyment are the keys to lifelong success with your health goals, sometimes getting to that stage can take some time and adjustment. A personal trainer can help you find what internally motivates you while providing some external motivation through encouragement, communication, and — you guessed it — accountability.
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist David Howington, MS, who trains clients through Kickoff, shifts his mindset from merely being a personal trainer to being a connecting point for his clients. “I check with them daily to show them that I care about them and their success. I also seek to deliver empathy. When they succeed, I celebrate with them, and when they struggle, I let them feel their feelings and resist the immediate urge to provide solutions,” he says.
When Howington provides this level of care for his clients, they feel able to relate to him as a person and a coach. “Being present and empathetic is crucial in helping clients find motivation,” he adds.
Your initial conversations with your trainer should focus on learning each other. Feeling heard and having your feelings validated are the key building blocks for respect and trust — two key characteristics of an effective accountability partner. This is why Chelsea Denlinger, MS, W.I.T.S.-certified personal trainer who trains clients through Kickoff, learns about her client’s reasons for seeking personal training, and their past and present motivations. She discovers what they like to do, works through barriers with them, sets goals with them, and holds them accountable. “I break down big goals into small goals and work to make things easy,” she says.
“For motivation, I find it helps to figure out if that person is more internally or externally motivated. I foster intrinsic motivation by encouraging them to reflect on choices and goals that are in line with their core values,” Denlinger adds. She encourages clients to visualize the life they want and how achieving their fitness goals will give them part of that.
“I find it also helps people stay motivated if they give themselves ways to track their progress and reward milestone achievements like working out for a certain number of days in a row or a certain number of times in the month,” says Denlinger.
These are some of the ways trainers help increase motivation, adherence, and, ultimately, the success and happiness of their clients. It’s not just about seeing results in the mirror — although that’s an excellent side effect. The connection and bond you build with your personal trainer paves the way for you sticking to the plan when you have doubts or life has other plans for you. When you know your personal trainer believes in you, even when you’re unsure you can do it, that gives you power. It gives you the accountability you need to boost your confidence, make better choices, and honor your body with healthy nutrition and exercise.