About 14 years ago, while applying for a bond on my then-dream home, the specialist bond originator was horrified at my wasteful expenditure that she said undermined the balance between money in and money out.
She was referring to my personal training expense. “This is ridiculous. It is too high,” she said.
“It is non-negotiable,” I replied.
It was higher than all my insurances put together, higher than every debit order other than my car. She couldn’t understand why I was spending three times more on personal training than I was on clothes, or why I would use disposable income on something I couldn’t touch. She couldn’t understand why I was shaping my life around what I considered foundational, but which she considered superfluous.
Of course, I managed the situation well, and moved into my then-dream home three months later. It was then that I realised the house was a bit far, and I had to travel the distance of three highway offramps, with traffic, before climbing onto the world’s biggest parking lot, William Nicol, to reach the gym, to do my personal sessions. This was long before online and virtual training was a thing.
Fast-forward longer than it takes for a baby to become a Gen Z mobile-device obsessed mini-influencer, and the house still stands, the bond no longer exists, and the roof needs replacing. But I am, God-willing, healthy, strong, and fitter (and in better shape) than at any age before the big four-oh.
Of course, the pandemic has brought one reality home like a tonne of bricks shattering any illusions: life is fragile and can be taken at any point. This week I learnt the devastating news of yet another dear soul I have worked with being taken by the virus who, on the outside at least, appeared strong.
But it simply reinforces the view that all we have is now, all we have is our health and wellness. Who wouldn’t spend three times what they spend on clothes to invest in that? This author knows of people who spend well in excess of R5,000 a month, routinely, on this privilege.
An investment in a personal trainer is an investment worth more than any new pair of shoes, any gadget, or anything in between. At the risk of drawing the ire of many readers, “personal trainer” does not mean a self-conscious and self-centred mirror troll with a few months’ experience putting you through three sets of 10 of every second machine. You can do that yourself.
A trainer is someone with the knowledge and experience to help you achieve your goals, tailored to your specific body type and experience, cognisant of all your ailments and hindrances. A trainer is a suitably qualified exercise and sports performance expert. A trainer is someone who will draw up a personalised programme and teach you how to perform movements properly. They will walk the delicate line between pushing you and holding you in line with the bigger goal of wellness in check.
If you’ve never had the experience of working with a trainer, take a moment and consider this: how many times have you decided that you are ready for a change, ready to take “this” seriously, then gone out and bought the best shoes you can find, topped it off with a few pairs of tights that scream “the real deal”, only to wander aimlessly through the quagmire of sameness and “sort of” results, before quitting again.
The first six months of working with a trainer triggered results and gains that I had only dreamt of in the 15 years prior. There’s a reason trainers exist – and it’s not for ego, or to tell your coffee friends that your trainer has a six pack.
And so, whenever I am asked, what is the single-most effective step one can take to finally achieve results, the answer is always two-fold. First, start moving and commit to moving while cleaning up your diet. You must do something. Secondly, invest in a trainer, if only for 18 months or two years until you know how to exercise and periodise your own training.
Then, every so often, go back to a professional and you’ll be astounded at how, over time, you pick up bad habits and your form and intensity lets you down without even realising it. A professional set of eyes keeps you honest.
How do you find a trainer or biokineticist that’s right for you? Look for credentials and experience and get referrals from people you have seen break through seemingly impossible ceilings in their fitness journeys. Remember: a trainer is not there to hurt you. When you put your physical wellbeing in someone’s hands, you want that someone to have hands that you trust.