Before we even look at answering the question, how long should you have a personal
trainer, let me tell you one thing: this is the wrong way to approach personal training!
If you want to achieve “fitness” (whatever that means…but more on that later) in a certain
time-frame, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.
The truth is, making the decision to acquire the services of a personal trainer is a big step,
and there are loads of questions you need to ask before thinking about how long you should
retain their services.
You’ve got to measure your budget vs. their expertise. You have to know exactly what you
want, and how well equipped a personal trainer is to help you achieve your goals…
Only after answering these questions, can you even begin to look at how long should you
have a personal trainer (and then you’ve got to think, why am I asking this question in the
That does not mean, however, that how long should you have a personal trainer is an
unimportant question. In fact, as well as showing you how else you might want to approach
your PT work, later in this guide we’ll give you full timelines for some of the most popular
goals outlined by clients.
But first let’s deal with the question itself…
Choosing your personal training frequency, and the length of time you want to hire a
personal trainer for, completely depends on what your goals are.
Now, don’t worry…
If none of what I’ve said so far is helping to answer your questions, there’s plenty of time
yet. In this article, we’ve split all the need-to-know aspects regarding the question how long
should you have a personal trainer, into easily digestible steps.
Basically, by the time you reach the end of this article, you should know exactly how long
you should retain your personal trainer’s services, and all the factors you should consider on
the way to making that decision!
Step One: Shifting the mind-set, from time to goals
If you’re asking the question how long should you have a personal trainer, you might be
approaching your new fitness commitment from the wrong angle.
Think about it…
Why ask how long should you have a personal trainer, when you could instead ask about
what you could achieve in the long-term if you choose to hire one?
Thinking like this doesn’t mean your doomed from the start. Far from it!
In fact, most beginners start out thinking in terms of time rather than achievement, and all it
means is that you have to shift your perspective slightly.
Now, before we talk about what to consider during the decision-making process for
personal training, let’s look at the reason people may ask questions in terms of length rather
Unfortunately, all of this confusion is a product of modern dieting culture.
When people think about health and fitness, they tend to think about dieting, and dieting –
contradicting just about every piece of solid nutritional advice out there – tends to target
Guess what this means…
Got it in one – that most diets are unsustainable in the long term.
Instead of treating your fitness, and your personal trainer like a short term diet, you should
instead view their services as a long-term change.
Placing emphasis on goals over time will also help you find the best personal trainer for you
Goals are a far more rewarding and sustainable approach to hiring a personal trainer. An added bonus is that it will also make it easier for you to find a personal trainer in the first place…
Personal training is a competitive industry, so trainers often try and look for clients who they believe will stick with them in the long-term. Despite what you might think, often this isn’t incentivised by money…
A client who stays with a trainer, and who is willing to develop and change their approach to fitness using a trainers advice, gives the trainer the opportunity to innovate, improve their repertoire, and improve overall as a trainer.
For you, the client, it also means that your trainer will offer you discounts, free sessions, and added services, because they will want to try new things with clients whom they trust.
In fact, one of the first things we teach our Level 2 and Level 3 personal trainers is to make sure their loyal clients are aptly rewarded with such deals. This is the cornerstone of all good personal trainer marketing.
In short then, when you’re looking for a personal trainer, ask in terms of what you want to achieve from your fitness journey, rather than how long you should train in order to “get fit.”
Step Two: Your life vs. Your Life in the Gym
So, we’ve covered why you should approach personal trainers with set goals in mind, rather than vague ideas of “getting fit.”
See, the great thing about a good personal trainer is that they will help you change your whole outlook on fitness, and to a certain extent, on life. Once you make the change from thinking that there’s some end-point where you will be declared “fit,” you can start to enjoy what you do in order to stay healthy.
This has the subsequent effect of rendering questions like how long should you have a personal trainer a bit void: why would you worry about length of time when you’re enjoying what you do?
With this in mind, the next step of deciding how long should you have a personal trainer, or whether you should have a personal trainer at all, is to consider your life vs. your life in the gym.
What we mean by this is that, unless you’re somebody like The Rock or a professional body builder, the likelihood is that you won’t be dedicating your whole life to fitness.
You’ll probably have a job, a family, hobbies, friends… and guess what? All of these things are going to be distractions away from health and fitness.
And so they should be!
Having a balanced social life and a positive mind-set is just as important as improving your physical health.
This is why a good personal trainer will help you see your fitness pursuit as part of your life, rather than a short-term thing that only occurs during the hours you spend in the gym.
Why is this important?
The statistics show that there is no magic point at which you are declared “fit for life.”
Let’s think about this…
You go to a personal trainer, and you tell them that you want to train for four months. Great, for those four months, you’re going to improve your fitness, and you’ll most likely consistently hit your recommended weekly activity levels.
But what happens afterwards?
Rather than thinking in terms of time, a much more sustainable approach is to change your lifestyle so that fitness just becomes one of those everyday things. Like filling the dishwasher or going to work.
This way, you can guarantee – even if you stop seeing your personal trainer – that you maintain some degree of fitness moving forwards.
How to merge your life and your life in the gym, and how your personal trainer can help you
Now, here’s the interesting bit…
Later in this article, we’re going to tell you exactly what you need to be asking your personal trainer in order to ensure that they are meeting your requirements.
But for now, let’s focus specifically on how a personal trainer might help you start changing your day-to-day routines, so that you lead a healthier lifestyle.
Your personal trainer shouldn’t just be there to help you improve in the gym. These days, many personal trainers will offer nutritional advice as well.
In fact, if they aren’t offering nutritional advice – or at least asking questions – then you should speak up.
When it comes to a healthy lifestyle, changing your nutrition for the better is crucial. Try asking your personal trainer what you should be eating specifically around workouts, and what kinds of meals they would recommend to improve your gains in the gym
Finding the right hobby for you
Even the most dedicated personal trainer can’t be with you all of the time. In fact, many of the people asking how long should you have a personal trainer, are asking that question because they have grown bored of their gym routine.
As opposed to spending all your time with your trainer, you should try and supplement your PT work with a hobby.
Hobbies also filter into the goals you want to achieve. For example, if you’re a climber, you might want to improve your ability to do pull-ups and chin-ups, and your personal trainer can help you achieve that.
Basically then, make sure your work with a personal trainer filters into some practical hobby, as you’ll better be able to enjoy the results.
The Competitive Edge
If you’ve spent any amount of time around people on a “health kick” you’ll notice one thing… they’re all competitive.
In fact, this is one positive takeaway from what are often short-term fitness plans.
Personal trainers are great at bringing out your competitive side, challenging you to always strive for more. If you embrace this, you’ll soon find yourself forgetting all about questions like how long should you have a personal trainer.
Instead, you’ll look at what you can achieve, and once you’ve hit your goals, what you can achieve next.
Step Three: Personal trainers as coach, friend, and service
Another reason why so many beginners ask questions like how long should you have a personal trainer, or in general are cautious about hiring a fitness trainer or PT, is because it’s hard to understand the PT / client relationship before experiencing it.
More often than not, your PT isn’t an authority figure like a doctor or lawyer. You don’t go and see them (or you shouldn’t go and see them…) out of necessity.
Instead, having a personal trainer should be enjoyable and life affirming. Investing in the expertise of a PT is the quickest way to get on track with fitness changes, and the only way to make such lifestyle changes is to really invest in your new routine on an emotional level.
So it becomes less a question of how long should you have a personal trainer, and more a case of what can me and my personal trainer achieve.
With that in mind, let’s try and get an essence of what a client / trainer relationship is like, so that we can get to the bottom of how to shift your mind-set from being time-oriented, to being goal-oriented.
Trainer as coach
This is perhaps the most obvious dynamic.
It’s what you’re paying your trainer for, and it’s where their expertise lies.
Everything we’ve mentioned so far comes into play here. An expert personal trainer won’t want to train you for two months with the vague goal of getting “fit.” They will want you to achieve a specific goal, and will do everything they can in order to get you there.
This is why, at least at the start, you should never begin by asking how long should you have a personal trainer…
If you start by asking this, then you’re severely restricting your trainer’s ability to maximise your fitness potential, and to draw you up a personalised fitness programme in order to help you achieve your goals.
Trainer as friend
What’s the point in spending multiple hours a week with a person, without even trying to strike up a friendship.
Clue: there isn’t one…
Viewing your PT through the lens of how long you need to be with them in order to get fit completely devalues one of the most important aspects of having a personal trainer: the opportunity to make a new friend.
Here at OriGym, we’ve heard countless stories of personal trainers being invited to their client’s weddings, to birthdays, and even of lifelong friendships being forged in the gym.
The truth is, once you’ve started working with your personal trainer, you should soon forget asking about how long should you have a personal trainer for.
Trainer as service
Remember, you’re paying your trainer!
This doesn’t have to make things awkward – in fact, it definitely shouldn’t – but you do have to raise your concerns if you’re not happy.
Nine times out of ten, a personal trainer will adapt their programme for you if you want to achieve more, or if you feel like you’re being pushed a little too far.
And on the subject of using your voice…
Step Four: Making progress, and using your voice
Personal trainers are well used to hearing their own voice.
From early morning until night, they spend their days motivating clients, shouting encouragement, and talking about all the small problems clients encounter in the gym and their everyday lives.
By their very nature, they are social animals.
However, what is equally important, especially given the question of how long should you have a personal trainer, is the client’s ability to voice their opinion.
Let’s explore that a little further…
Moving forwards by telling your trainer what you want…
Before we move any further, let’s look at why you’re asking the question how long should you have a personal trainer.
What does that say about how your personal training sessions are going?
Usually, when clients are asking that question, it means that they are losing interest in their fitness sessions, or worse, that they have become frustrated with the lack of progress they are making.
This is why goals are so important: they allow you to move towards a set achievement, which keeps you motivated in the long term.
Now, it’s your personal trainer’s job to keep you motivated, and in an ideal world, they would spot you losing interest long before you became frustrated enough to ask how long you should have a personal trainer…
But remember, personal trainers are busy. And we mean busy. They will usually have back-to-back clients from early morning, right until early evening, and that excludes any group classes they run, and time dedicated to marketing.
So let’s say they haven’t noticed you’ve become bored with your routine, and you’re making no progress…
When should you ask your personal trainer these kinds of questions?
Well, the “right” answer is as soon as possible.
As soon as you feel that you are not getting your money or effort’s worth out of your personal training, you should raise it with your personal trainer.
Remember, they are there to be your friend, your coach, and a service provider, so they will be there to understand your issues and help you overcome them, whatever they may be.
Another way to look at it is to ask how close you are to your goals, and how soon you want to achieve them.
If you’re asking the question of how long should you have a personal trainer for and you’re not frustrated, then it’s usually because you’ve got an event or a deadline coming up that you want to achieve your goals by.
In this case, let’s say you’re running a half marathon, then you need to start asking questions as to how quickly you can make real improvements, and what your personal trainer can do to help.
Of course, to do this you kind of need to know how long these goals take to achieve, and what’s a realistic point at which to start training.
Now, guess what we have prepared for you in the next step…
Step Five: How long should you have a personal trainer: The most popular client goals, and how long(ish) people take to achieve them!
Let’s recap what we know so far…
- When it comes to personal training, it’s far better to be goal oriented than it is to be time-oriented, and approaching your fitness in this manner will help you find a better personal trainer for your needs.
- Your personal trainer routine and your life are not mutually exclusive. A good personal trainer will help you lead a healthier, more balanced life by changing your routine, your outlook, and your approach to nutrition.
- You should have the confidence to speak up and use your voice to change your personal trainer plan, especially if you’ve become frustrated with a lack of progress.
So, where now?
While it is much better to talk to a personal trainer in person, and describe to them your goals, in terms of planning ahead, it is sometimes handy to know what other clients have targeted in terms of achievements, and how long it took them to get there.
But how do you get this kind of information?
We’ve got you covered! We asked practising personal trainers what their clients asked them for help with, and how long(ish) it took to achieve those targets!
We should probably also mention, that we’ve presumed clients approached their trainers as beginners, so the timelines reflect those who had little previous commitment to exercising on a regular basis.
Now, it’s worth pointing out that all of the information above is anecdotal, and people differ with their fitness journeys.
It’s also worth mentioning that in all cases, these were initial targets, and all of the clients chose to continue working with the personal trainers, dispelling the need to ask such questions as how long should you have a personal trainer for.
But if you were worried about time, looking at the above should give you some idea of how long things tend to take when your take personal training seriously, and find the right PT for you.
And before you go!
Now it’s your turn!
How was your first experience with your personal trainer? Did you continue training after you’d reached your initial goals?
Let us know in the comments, or join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter!
Are you interested in transforming your fitness hobby into a career? Download our free prospectus for all the insider tips of what a career in fitness can offer you.