I started my fitness journey the way many do: utterly clueless.
High school was the next chapter of my life and I knew that I wanted to look and feel good about myself. My first foray into a gym was as a young teenager with no athletic prowess to speak of. Weightlifting seemed cool and fun—in theory.
In practice, it was a little overwhelming. Dumbbells versus barbells; machines versus free weights; cardio versus lifting. And that was only the start. How many reps, how many sets, how many exercises?
I stuck with it and saw some progress, but overall didn’t experience a spectacular return on my investment. All that time and work, and for what?
I started to think training was overrated. But the truth is that I spent several years fumbling. Something is better than nothing, sure, but it’s dangerously easy to spend a lot of time at the gym and still extract minimal value.
Eventually I branched out from the gym to try various sports and group classes. One of those group classes was boxing. And one day, I was the only person to show up. It was just myself and the coach.
Man, my eyes opened quickly.
The focus! The attention to detail! The knowledge! It was incredible how profound the experience of bettering myself was with someone at my side, on my team, whose duty was to amplify my progress and correct my mistakes.
That session planted a seed. I knew immediately I wanted to have that kind of impact on others, to help others experience what I just had. Years later I became a personal trainer; observing the glow of clients whose lives are bettered by movement continues to motivate me daily.
I have witnessed a lot of people start workout routines only to give up after a month or two. Or, like me, continue fumbling in the dark for years without noticing the errors hindering progress and enjoyment.
A good personal trainer opens the mind and connects it to the body. We reinvent a client’s perspective of what it means to be physically active and healthy, and improve the brain’s relationship with the body.
There are practical details, too, which are not to be overlooked. Bad form on exercises, for example, isn’t just a waste of time but potentially harmful. And bad form is very common. Trust me.
Programming is also tailored to specific goals, which maximizes the efficiency of each session. It also means having someone to hold you accountable—not just to show up, but also to push yourself in the moment.
I believe one of humanity’s greatest strengths lies in passing on knowledge. And science strongly suggests movement is among the most crucial aspects of our health, whether we realize it or not.
Find a personal trainer you trust and have them open your eyes.
This article was originally published in The Progress.