Apples to Apples

I’ve been critical in the past of personal trainers, wondering exactly what physical benefits a client gets from the relationship, and whether either the physical or psychic benefits are worth the cost. But until today, I’ve never been able to compare side-by-side, minute by minute, my free workout – built only of motivation and common sense – against the workout designed by a (presumably) credentialed professional.

This morning, I began my 3 mile (12 lap) jog at a local high school track just as 20 participants arrived for a fitness “Boot Camp.” (I’m guessing $25 per person?) The trainer had the group drop their armfuls of pads and mats and water bottles right in front of the home side bleachers. As a result, as I swung around the track, I could get a snapshot every couple minutes of Boot Camp activities. Here is how our workouts stacked up against each other:

Time My Activity Boot Camp Activity Notes
6:00:00 AM Run Wander around, wait for latecomers ____
6:02:30 AM Run Run The boot camp ambled over to the track for a one lap warm up right as I was cruising through. I got a mouthful of elbows and I stumbled over feet – I felt like I was running through a cornfield.
6:05:00 AM Run Sprawl self on mat due to exhaustion from quarter-mile jog
6:07:30 AM Run Stretch
6:10:00 AM Run Stretch
6:12:30 AM Run Stretch
6:15:00 AM Run Flail around on mats Fine. We’ll call it abs.
6:17:30 AM Run More flailing on mats
6:20:00 AM Run Stroll over to adjacent basketball court
6:22:30 AM Run Skip around basketball court The boot camp leader yelled at the group to skip with their knees up high. This instruction caused several folks to have coordination issues.
6:25:00 AM Run Twist and dance around the basketball court
6:27:30 AM Run Stroll back over to the track
6:30:00 AM Water break Water break

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  1. You’re right to file this one under All Time Nuttiest. This particular “Boot Camp” (I chuckle as I type those words) represents probably the bottom of the barrel in terms of what one might experience working with a (so-called) trainer.

    But it doesn’t prove that all trainers suck. I had an awesome experience working with a personal trainer some years back. He was tuned in to my needs and gave me just the right amount of encouragement to push beyond my limits without injury. Now that I’m at a CrossFit gym I’m being challenged to excel way beyond anything I would have thought possible for myself, again with respect for who I am. When the trainer says, “go out and run a mile and don’t come back until you do, and keep track of your time,” that’s what’s expected. No coddling going on here.

    Not everyone needs or wants a personal trainer. But personally, I do better with one. The key is to find the RIGHT one.

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