Dear Personal Trainer, You Are Worth The Money!

Ouch.  I’m so sore it feels so good baby!  I gave it a go with Meredith the personal trainer for a free 45 minute trial session and she did things to me that no woman has ever done before.  She made breathe heavily and sweat profusely!

She showed me exercises I never would have thought of doing to solely focus on getting me into shape for tennis.

45 Minute Trial Routine

* Sumo squat rope wave.  Whuh?

* Three TRX exercises to improve the quads, core, and shoulders.

* Wind sprints on the treadmill 3 minutes jog, 30 seconds sprint, 30 seconds rest 8X up to 12 mph.  I would never do these voluntarily.  Why suffer?

* Pro-roller stretches to roll out the calves, quads, IT bands and hamstrings.  Talk about pain all over.

* Side stepping through a maze for quickness and agility.

* Core training with cable pulleys three different ways.

* Four different stretches for the back, torso, and legs.

In retrospect, all the stuff I’ve been doing at the gym has been all wrong.  I was doing bench presses, butterfly squeezes, lat pull-downs, biceps, and triceps.  That’s it really.  I never bothered to do anything cardio, or work on the muscles that would help improve my serve or backhand.  I just went the easy route.  There is also 100% NO CHANCE I would have ever done any wind sprints or anything to make me sweat.  Again, I hate working out so I just focused on doing the easiest exercises that required the least amount of effort!

USING THE BLOG AND PERSONAL TRAINER TO SAVE SOME MONEY

I’ve decided to go with Meredith, but not for 10 sessions for $795.  The original plan was to spread the 10 sessions over two months.  However, that’s an amount I don’t feel entirely comfortable with.

Instead, I plan to start off with 5 sessions for $395 and go once a week or two and work out once a week or two on my own.  After each session, I plan to record all the exercises she’s taught me and compile the top 5 exercises to continue on my own after the 5 sessions are over.

Trouble Saying No

The difficult part I foresee is actually not staying dedicated to whatever routine she gives me.  What I fear most is telling Meredith after my 5 sessions are over that I will no longer need her services.  She’s young, recently moved here from Southern California and is building her list of clientele.  I feel bad not using her for more training sessions to help her financially.

The thing is, I shouldn’t feel bad since it’s my money.  This might be the downside of going with a young female personal trainer.  If I went with a 40 year old male veteran, I probably would feel less guilty for not renewing.  Women really are more trustworthy and better negotiators than men!

PERSONAL TRAINER INSTANT IMPACT

After playing a couple sets of doubles tennis I challenged the 15 year old high school sophomore student to a singles match.  He’s super fit, with not an ounce of fat on him.  We had already play for 1.25 hours, but I was ready for some more.  The kid had a big forehand and some penetrating volleys.  No matter, he went down 3-6 in 40 minutes.  My lower back started getting sore, but I wanted more!

I was tired, but not nearly as tired after training with Meredith for 45 minutes the other day.  So off we played for our third hour.  In 35 minute the kid, who is supposed to play #1 for his high school this year went down 2-6.  My endurance didn’t fail this time.

$395 is a lot of money, but not so much if it helps me achieve my goal of winning a tennis tournament this year.  I get to learn about the best exercise techniques from a professional,  get in better shape, and who knows, maybe even extend my life by several months!  How much would you spend to extend your life for even just one month?

Recommendation: I encourage everyone to shop around for health insurance, especially if you are not fit as you are probably paying more than you should. The internet has really helped lower the cost of insuring yourself and your family. eHealthInsurance has some of the lowest rates and best coverage. They are based right here in the Bay Area, and I have met a number of their representatives. Click to save money and ensure your financial health: Free Health Insurance Price Comparisons for Individuals and Families

Regards,

Sam

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. Travis says

    Man… IMO you are wasting a boat load of money. You don’t need to pay a personal trainer $400 for training advice. You can learn MUCH MORE by reading a book or two.

    If you’re paying someone $400 to motivate you to work out five times, that is even worse. If you really want to be in better shape for tennis in order to win a tournament, then you are already motivated. Work hard because you want to. If you only work hard because Meridith is yelling at you, then you don’t really want it, and you should do something else with your time.

    I’m not saying it’s wrong for an athlete to have a coach or trainer. It’s not specifically wrong for a fitness trainer to offer mental coaching advice. If she’s giving you advice or habits that will help you become self motivated to work hard, well that’s good. If you’re just working hard because there is a hot young woman asking you to, then maybe you should just watch porn or go to the strip club? (no offense, I’m saying that mostly joking)

    If you want to improve your motivation or the mental side of training, there are also books you could read for that (email me if you want recommendations), or if you wish to hire someone to help, you could try to find a mental coach.

    ** You also might want to be cautious about training with someone who has you doing sprints on a treadmil. That is unessecarily dangerous. Do them outside, or at least on a stable floor.

    I don’t mean to sound so negative. It just seems to me like you’re blowing your money on something that is more entertainment (or fooling yourself) than it will actually help with your tennis.

      • Travis says

        Thanks for your reply. Yeah.. I’m not very good at writing clearly. What I was trying to say is that there are better (and also more cost-effective) ways to improve your fitness, motivation, and tennis performance.

        She does have you doing the right type of exercises. (core stength, flexibility, speed/agility) That will certainly help more than what you were doing before. Don’t forget to also work on your lower body strength

        • Financial Samurai says

          Are you a fitness person yourself who has been working for over a decade and needs some help? What are the competitive sports you play that makes you the fitness expert? You probably want to read the previous article (link Meredith) to get some more background color. Is spending $80 an hour of training session less “wasteful” if you make $300 an hour yourself?

          Just give me some of your qualifications so I can put your comments in context. Thanks!

        • Travis says

          I’m not exactly sure what you were asking with your first question. I have been into fitness for more than a decade. I am not a certified coach or trainer. I compete in bicycle racing. I race at an amatuer level and have had good successes. I also used to train regularly in Muay Thai, and have been avid in strength training for 10 years.

          From what (little) I know about tennis, I do believe that it has similarities to bicycle racing in that success depends on three main things below. If any is lacking then high performance is impossible.
          1- Physical conditioning (strength, endurance, agility, etc.. also heavily reliant on off the court recovery habits)
          2- Sport-specific skills
          3- Mental focus

          Most of my post was trying to say that in relation to #1- in the long run you might be better to learn things in-depth yourself so you can tailor a workout plan to your goals and needs. A coach or trainer can do this for you. It does requires MUCH more time with you than Meridith is spending.

          The other reason for my post was in relation to #3. I wrote some more about this in response to Matt below.

          I had been considering the $400 cost compared to my own personal income, which is less than yours. While I think waste is absolute and $400 is $400, if I have the opportunity to learn training techniques that are significantly better than what I’m currently doing, at an hourly rate of 25% of what I make, I’ll take that for sure. Considering that you’ve spent a large amount of money to join a health club, utilizing a personal trainer to improve your exercise choice is a good decision in relative costs.

          One thing with sports-related expenses is that it can be hard to say whether something is right or wrong, or is worth the money or not. I spend a significant amount of money on bicycling equipment, and time on proper recovery and on learning. In absolute right/wrong terms, I could be working with all that time or doing something that benefits other people or my own life in other ways.

          Neither of us NEED to spend any money or time on our sports. Some of it we can justify as being good for our health, but probably 99% of the money we’re spending on sports is for our own entertainment/enjoyment. So the decision is subjective – there is no absolute right or wrong.

  2. Kevin @ Thousandaire.com says

    I’m gonna take the opposite opinion. If you are enjoying yourself and you feel like these workouts have improved your tennis performance, then go for it. I know the difference between reading a book and getting first-hand coaching and training. You could have read about all those exercises but never did them because you wouldn’t have had the motivation to try.

    Go for it, and keep us updated on the results (and maybe post a picture of Meredith)

    • Financial Samurai says

      Not only would I never have done the exercises, I definitely would have had zero motivation to try any of them because I’d feel stupid and wouldn’t have the desire to do them without anybody pushing me.

      Sure, perhaps one day a picture of Meredith will go up, and then I think any negative responses may change. But this is about fitness, darnit!

  3. Matt T says

    @Travis
    Travis, I strongly disagree with you. It seems like you’re saying if you have difficulty self-motivating to do hard work to get a desired result you’re wasting your time even trying. That’s the thing about hard work. It is, well, hard. Sam found a way to make doing something hard more enjoyable. Now he can enjoy both the result (hopefully winning that tournament) and the journey (working out with Meredith) instead of just the result. Sounds worth it to me.

    • Travis says

      Matt – I didn’t mean that he should give up on tennis or that he’s wasting his time. I do believe that when a person is lacking the motivation to train intensly, relying on another person to help may be more of a short-term crutch than a proper solution.

      There are a lot of different things that can prevent someone from training intensly. Some of them are:

      1 – They are just not used to training at high intensity, or not used to training methods.
      2 – They lack motivation because they do not have their goals and actions aligned due to lack of planning/prioritization, or due to changing of their personal priorities.
      3 – They are overtrained / burnt out physically or mentally.

      In case 1 – a trainer is an excellent idea. After re-reading the post a couple times, I’d guess this is the case with Samurai.

      In case 2 – the person would be much better served to revisit their goals for the season and the supporting fitness/training objectives they set to help achieve those goals. This could be the case with Samurai, and that is why I made the comment about doing something else with his time if he was not motivated — I was alluding that maybe he should reconsider how important his tennis performance and his goals really are, and that if they really are important, remembering that will help motivate himself whether he is with a trianer or not. (which would be much better than only being motivated while with the trainer)

      A person should consider how important their goals are to them and what they are willing to do to achieve them (which includes much more than just training intensley). Remembering priorities and frequently reminding yourself of your goal of winning a Tennis tournament is often all it takes to motivate someone to work intensly. If they still lack motivation for working hard after proper goal setting, planning, and frequent self-reminders, then they are probably not being honest with themselves about the importance of their goal, or they may have too high of stress from work/family life, leaving themselves too drained for training effort needed. (*If they do not have specific goals and supporting objectives laid out, they should make them ASAP!)

      Now.. sometimes people’s goals and priorities change over time. For some people if they are not frequently reconsidering and affirming or modifying their goals, lack of motivation can be the first sign or trigger that they may be changing what they desire to suceed at in life. As an example, last year my #1 focus outside of work was on my sporting performance. I had high goals and achieved all of them and more. This year, while my sport is still important to me, there are other things that are more important. My training motivation is not quite as high. I consider my goals regularly and understand that a big part of my lower motivation is because I want to spend more of my efforts this year on some non-sporting goals. Other things are now more important to me than my racing results. Thus, I adjust my training accordingly.

      In Case 3 – When a person is overtrained or burnt out, a physicaly trainer forcing high intensity could be a big mistake. I don’t know how often and how intensley Samurai works out (including both tennis and the lifting/strenth/speed work) so of course I cannot guess whether this could be the case. I do doubt it.

      It is extremely important for an athlete to balance training and recovery, and it’s quite common for motivated athletes to overtrain, which can be very detrimental to their performance.

      Sorry for being long-winded. It’s clear in the post that Samurai will benefit in the long-term from having better exercise selection, and will benefit from increased intensity at least during these 5 sessions. So having a trainer itself is certainly not a bad thing.

  4. Dr Dean says

    Sam,
    In answer to your questions: It is always more difficult to say no to someone who provides good customer service, man or woman.

    In regards to your second question, it must be true.

    Cause 80% of drug reps that visit our office fit your Meredith’s description. And I know those billion dollar big pharma companies have done their market research….

    To me the value of a coach in any area is:
    1) motivation-pushing you beyond your normal limits
    2) feedback-are you doing the work/exercises properly
    3) teaching-showing you something you didn’t know about already

    But you do have to decide on the cost/benefit analysis. Only you can do that-not me or Travis!

    • Financial Samurai says

      Interesting point about big pharma sales reps being attractive women. Makes sense to me I guess! Someone told me during the height of the real estate boom, all the best mortgage and real estate agents were ex-strippers! Interesting, interesting.

      Guess looks make a dif!

  5. JT McGee says

    I’m going to go off on a tangent and make a comment about something that makes me livid, even though it shouldn’t–business pricing,

    “but not for 10 sessions for $795. ”

    “5 sessions for $395″

    10 sessions are $79.50 each when purchased as a group.

    5 sessions are $79.00 each when purchased as a group

    Buy less, save more? Argh, I hate when they do that. Delis do this all the time ($9.99 a pound, 4.99 for a half pound.) Might have to make this a future post.

    • Financial Samurai says

      Actually, I wasn’t thinking of he buy more to save more angle. I was just thinking since I never work out, 5 sessions of new exercises and notes should be more than enough to get me through!

      • JT McGee says

        Yeah, I know, it’s just a personal pet peeve of mine. I’ve actually started to order two of the half packages as my own personal retaliation.

        “I’ll take 2 half pounds”

        “So…a pound?”

        “No, a two halves are a penny cheaper.”

  6. DoNotWait says

    A personal trainer is well worth it, especially when you have a specific goal like yours. Some people, but not so many, have the motivation to do all that by themselves. When you don’t, going for help seems very logical to me.
    As for your questions, it is always more difficult to say no to an attractive person, man or woman. Some attractive persons are also very aware of their “power” and use it for their own benefit, without you even notice it. So don’t worry that much for Meredith, I am sure she will find plenty of clients! ;-)

  7. krantcents says

    I have used a personal trainer. I find them valuable for the feedback and information. I never have trouble saying no to anyone. I am usually pleasant when I do say no. It doesn’t matter if it is an attractive woman. If she is attractive, I may take my time saying no.

    Yesterday, you joined a tennis club that has a significant membership fee as well as monthly dues and today you express that $395 is a lot of money. Am I the only one who sees a problem with this? It is your money, you can do what you want with it. To me, it would be like buying a Ferrari and putting regular gas in. Is it you don’t place the same value on your training as the membership?

    • Financial Samurai says

      I actually wrote this post a week before I wrote my Tennis club membership post. But yes, I don’t put as much value on training after the first 5 sessions bc I feel I will take notes and need to learn enough to keep me fit. The tennis club is more a lifestyle spend. And since I will now be playing much more tennis as the courts are always free and the weather gets better, all the less need for a personal trainer!

  8. retirebyforty says

    I doubt one training session really improve your physical level that much. Maybe it’s in your head and you were so pumped up that you beat the kid. Or maybe you’re better than you think!
    For sports, I think core training is crucial. It’s good that she has you working on that. I was afraid she would just have you do more weights.

    These below are mostly so you can look good in the mirror. ;)
    >I was doing bench presses, butterfly squeezes, lat pull-downs, biceps, and triceps.

    • Financial Samurai says

      One session definitely doesn’t, but multiple sessions do, and A LOT of tennis, and any sport for that matter is mental.

      If I know I’ve been pushed to hell before, anything less than hell becomes easy!

  9. Robert Muir says

    I’m with JT, she definitely needs some serious marketing/financial training. Perhaps you can propose a swap. ;-)

    Yes, I too feel bad when I have to reduce or eliminate the services of someone who is worthy of the money which I recently had to do when I reduced our house cleaning from weekly to once a month. After over a year of weekly services, I knew that she was counting on the income. And while we certainly appreciated the weekly cleaning, I really was starting to desire having the capital to invest more for earlier retirement. In retrospect, I should have given more notice, but we makes our mistakes and we lives with them.

    In your case, you have the opportunity to let her know up front that you really just want the training and that you feel you can motivate yourself after that. You can provide some honest feedback that while you probably would be back for more 5-lesson training/refresh in a year or two, you understand that with her talent, she may end up too booked up with regular clients to accommodate your cheap ass. :)

    • Financial Samurai says

      A swap would be nice! Perhaps even over a nice glass of wine! Ehhh?

      DoNotWait said it best.. she’s attractive and good. She’ll get tons more suckers like me. I don’t feel guilty anymore! YEES!

  10. Sandy @ yesiamcheap says

    I think that Sam is paying to be in Meredith’s company since you already know what you need to do. Does she bat her eyes at you? Trainers know that if someone finds them attractive they can get a greater commitment out of them which means more $$$. Don’t fall for it! Be strong.

  11. Jeff says

    Nice post, Trainers always push you harder. I’ve always worked out on my own because I am fairly knowledgeable about what to lift and how many sets/reps to do. However, after acl surgery I was forced into physical therapy. Man my physical therapist(trainer) really killed me in the weight room helping to strengthen my knee.

  12. Everyday Tips says

    Well, if you improved that much after just one session, then I would sign up for 30 sessions and become a professional athlete of some sort! :)

    Seriously though, I have no problem ending a deal. I had a personal trainer years ago, and I paid 65 dollars a session. After my 8 sessions, I said “I can take it from here, thanks” and I did.

    You can always tell her you will try it yourself for awhile and will re-sign up if you hit a plateau or something.

  13. Roshawn @ Watson Inc says

    Good luck with your personal trainer. I have always gotten instant benefit, when I have gone with them as well. They pushed me past the point when I would normally quit, which is big. I also like that yours gave you tailored advice for your tennis tournament goal!

  14. Charlie says

    I’m pretty good at sticking to my own decisions. Your post reminds me of the Friends episode when Chandler and Ross try to quit the gym. Chandler brought Ross along for support but he ended up leaving with a membership of his own because of the gym’s clever ways.

  15. First Gen American says

    I have to admit I laughed out loud when I read about your former workout. My husband has coined it the “beach muscles” workout and it’s not really that useful for atheletes. You can also pick out a beach muscle worker outer at the gym because they usually have little chicken legs and nice biceps. I think she’s worth the money if you learn to change your routine to optimize your fitness, plus you’re supporting a local entrepeneur. We used to have free personal trainers at our work gym and they have had an impact when I stuck to the routines they tought me. Interval workouts did amazing things for my endurance back when I was biking alot.

    I’m in a similar position now where I’m paying my friend’s wife $60/pop for physical therapy for my lower back (damn you kids). She is also building her business and between my husband and I we probably gave her $1000 in visits. She is amazing at her job, but it is always awkward when you have to say you feel good and don’t want any visits anymore.

    You can still stop using her and tell her that you’ll recomend her business to friends who are looking. People love referalls.

  16. Michael Real says

    I think paying $80 won’t hurt if you are really looking for someone who knows what they are doing and what would be great help. But if you know in yourself that you can do it without help from an expert or you are an expert already, then it wouldn’t be bad to work on your own.

  17. Pete says

    I don’t think spending that much is a bad thing, as long as it’s in line with what your income is, and that you’re dedicated to getting the most that you can out of the training sessions. I know far too many people that don’t take it as seriously as you sound like you are, and in the end they workout with the trainer a few times (at a high cost), and then just stop once it’s done. It sounds like you’re determined not to do that.

    All your talk about winning a tennis tournament and playing tennis competitively has got my competitive juices flowing, and thinking that I should really get back into it this year. I played tennis all through high school, and went to the state tournament my senior year. Since then, however, I haven’t played as much as I would’ve liked. Maybe I’ll have to start practicing, and next time I come to the bay area, I can give you a run for your money!

  18. Lindy Mint says

    I’ve never thought of someone’s age and sex (and good looks?) as being a factor in influencing me to spend, but it’s an interesting observation.

    I once bought a $40 bottle of concentrated cleaner from a 20-something girl who came to my door, just because she was friendly, a really good saleswoman, and I could tell she needed the help. If she had been an older unattractive male I most likely wouldn’t have even given him the chance.

  19. Nunzio Bruno says

    That’s awesome! I have had a similar experience with my trainer and I love the TRX isn’t that thing amazing..or the devil depending on how you are feeling that morning. As far as being an investment and getting a return on it I totally see the ROI. As far as it being expensive I know that pain and they really do make it hard to say no. I wish I could be as good as the trainers and the cute/nice saleswomen from Lindy Mint’s post with trying to solicit for Financially Digital ;p

  20. Personal Trainer Venice CA says

    Having a personal trainer could help you stay motivated and get the body you desire. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

  21. Roy says

    Having a coach, trainer, teacher in whatever discipline can take you to the next level. Whether you want to is subjective.

    $400 for 5 sessions sounds like a good compromise. I would suggest that 6-12 weeks later to go for a follow up 5 sessions. It takes about 6 weeks before your performance gains starts slowing.

    How you use personal trainers depends on you. Some people need a PT to get momentum so will need lots of sessions. But if you’ve already motivated and disciplined, you just need a few sessions – enough for the PT to design an exercise routine for you.

    You spent $10,000 on this club membership right? So isn’t another $400 worth it if it means you win the title of alpha dog? :)

  22. Jerry says

    I do not think they are worth the money, at least for me. It may lead to good results but I think I could achieve those results on my own (if I really wanted to!) I work out from my home but when I had my last job and I got a break on my insurance for going to the gym I did have a membership. I like the flexibility of doing my workouts at home and it’s a lot cheaper.

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