In today’s day and age there are a lot of exercise programs available online and no shortage of professional opinions on the topic as well.  Some are okay, some are really well done, and others are just garbage.  As a fitness and performance professional I get asked for advice on choosing programs quite often and perform one on one coaching even more so.  With all the information available you would think that I would just be asked general opinion more often than performing one on one coaching and find it difficult to really pick up much personal training and coaching volume as a result, but the truth is that it has become quite the opposite as I devoted more of my time to one on one training.  I have a few ideas as to why that is and will dive into them a little as we go on.

Here is a quick overview:

  1. One on one coaching is personalized and tailored to you: goals, life, schedule, and everything I can think of to find out.
  2. Accountability:  Having a program and following a program are two different things.
  3. Psychology:  People put more value in what they pay more for (how else do you explain apple users).


Coaching is personalized

There are many ways to gain size on your arms, increase your bench, and improve a number of areas in fitness, but getting there the most efficiently and with the lowest risk of injury requires the next level of knowledge and expertise that a good trainer can provide.   A good coach/trainer is there to watch your reps and find specific ways to improve your program every time they are with you.  Yes, they can make a plan that you could follow, but that plan doesn’t take into account a lowered recovery capacity from a traumatic life event in the middle of a training block, changing exercise selection to still see progress while dealing with acute injury, and whatever unforeseen circumstance comes up along the way.  These differences are the major reason I don’t try to make large changes to someone’s current program if I didn’t write it or sit down to find their exact goals and starting place as there is the possibility that their current program is heading in the right direction, but may be in a different phase than I can tell from seeing one workout.  I also can’t tell you what the best type exercise right at this very second for you to do when if I don’t know what you have been doing.  What I can do is see strength imbalances if I know the type of squat or large multi-joint exercise you are attempting to do and point out your weaknesses and ways you can work on them.


I can’t workout for you, but if people see you training with me and know we are working together I want you to see results.  Clients are walking billboards for trainers and if I get you good results I will get more clients, make more money, and be able to change more people’s lives.  Not every client is going to get stellar results, especially if fat loss is goal number one.  For most people three sessions per week is quite the expense, but even then I only see them and have control for 1.5-3 hours of their week.  The rest of the time they are making their own choices:  I can give them recommendations, but I can’t guarantee what they put in their body, that they get adequate sleep, or that they avoid injury during the rest of their week.  Although I can’t force a better lifestyle outside of the gym simply asking for food logs and checking in on those things creates an atmosphere that puts these activities in the front of their minds and produces awareness the rest of the week that usually leads to better overall adherence.


Admittedly, some of this could also go into accountability, but it is a little more than that.  If a friend, family member, or random gym member asked me for my top 5 tips for [insert lifestyle goal here] and I wrote them out on a note card  handed it to them I would not be the least bit surprised if not a one of them looked at that note card more than once.  I would actually be surprised to learn that one of those individuals faithfully followed all 5 tips for an entire month.  Why is that?  Is it that m top 5 tips are bad?  Hard to follow?  Difficult to remember?  Depending on the exact goal some of these may be true, but the top reason I suspect would keep people from faithfully complying to my quick tips would be perceived value.

It is known that people put more value on things they pay for.  It seems pretty ridiculous to say that the same information given vs paid for will have better compliance just based on cost, but this is not the only area where this happens.  When I was involved in my churches college ministry we saw similar trends with mission trips.  If we plan a free short trip there is very few people that will sign up and even less will show up, but if we had even a small fee more people will show up and participate.  The short lesson is that people assign a higher value to the things they pay for regardless if it is actually better.  Many times I have pondered increasing my one on one training prices in order to get more clients (not to mention more money), but I really want to make it as affordable as I can so that a wide array of individuals can benefit from my services while still making a decent living.  Part of why I started writing regularly is to reach a wider audience that can lead to being able to provide quality information to a larger number of individuals, but I would get better compliance and therefore better results purely by charging more for my services.

Final Thoughts

There are good programs out there, but they are set for the general individual and not specifically tailored for the individual.  If you want specific results seek specific programming by a quality trainer.  If you want better specification and compliance you should seriously consider paying for it and getting regular feedback and ideally one on one sessions as often as you can (or afford) with a qualified trainer, but even that comes down to how much you value your results.


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About Roger James CSCS, NSCA-CPT

I am a trainer (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist®, NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer®, NASM Golf Fitness Specialist), coach (USAW Sports Performance Coach), and now blogger with a passion for fitness, health, and performance. My love for the gym began as a way to get stronger and better at sports. While my early training packed on strength it also packed on unhealthy weight. After a pectoral injury made strength training take a back seat, I focused on my health and losing weight to go from 270lbs to 200 in about 3 months time. I favor evidenced based training and lifestyle choices to build not just the body clients want to see in the mirror, but that have the strength and ability to live life as actively as they desire. This site is a way for me to help others on their health and wellness journey.  It is my goal to provide quality material to help educate and expand peoples thinking about fitness, health, and wellness.  I am not a doctor and do not claim to be.  The information provided on my site is there as an educational tool so that others can make informed decisions about how to live their life.