It's 2016. We're hitting the barre, swinging kettlebells and doing burpees on the regular.
Before going further, I should mention it's awesome we're all so fitness-focused lately. It's a breath of fresh air, especially with how common sedentary lifestyles are (have you heard sitting is the new smoking?).
But speaking from personal experience, hopping from one trendy fitness class to the next isn't all that effective in achieving results.
About a year ago, I did exactly that, and a lot of weird sh*t went on. First of all, I wasn't getting nearly as toned as all those barre classes promised I would, and I wasn't that surprised. The exercises didn't feel very hard, so frankly, I would have been shocked if I had seen results.
On top of that, everything hurt a little bit. My neck consistently hurt for two days after holding a one-minute plank, and my upper back was always aching at least a little bit.
Long story short: I was in pain, and I wasn't gaining muscle. It wasn't fun. Why was I putting all that time and energy into something that wasn't getting me anywhere?
Recently, though, I worked with a few personal trainers. And after doing burpees, pushups and even pedaling on a stationary bike in front of them, my fitness game drastically improved.
If you think personal training isn't really your thing, bear with me for a second.
You only need to do it once.
I even consulted a few personal trainers who agreed taking just one session can do wonders when it comes to fitness and injury prevention.
You'll learn how to work out in a way that doesn't hurt you.
Very soon after working out with and talking to a personal trainer, I figured out where all that neck pain was coming from.
During nearly every exercise, I brought my shoulders to my ears and tensed up my neck. I was supposed to be activating my core that entire time and dropping my shoulders, and I wasn't. Who knew?
As New York-based trainer Jason Tran explained to Elite Daily,
Knowing if your knees buckle on a squat or if you have limited range of motion on a shoulder press is important. Simple ways to correct these basic movements and knowing what and how to modify will go a long way when working out in group classes or on your own and can prevent future injuries.
No matter how great your group-fitness teacher is, he or she can only give you so much attention. A personal trainer, on the other hand, can truly study your body and let you know exactly what to do so you don't get injured.
You'll see results a whole lot faster.
The reason I wasn't getting much out of my barre classes, as it turns out, is that I was doing most of the exercises wrong.
Without knowing it, my body figured out how to modify certain exercises so I wouldn't feel them as much, and no one was watching closely enough to tell me how to do them right.
Working with Trinity Connors, a New York City-based personal trainer, taught me how to do very similar moves correctly -- and they were a whole lot harder when someone constantly corrected my form.
Via email, she explained,
Group fitness classes are incredibly motivating and have the bonus of community and competition, but there's so much room for error. No matter how great a teacher is, they are only able to make general corrections, and don't have the time to give any real individual attention. A session with a trainer should include an assessment of your strengths, weaknesses, and imbalances and go over basic core movements like squats, deadlifts and pushups. Ideally, even after a single session, you would leave with a better understanding of where your body is in space and time (um, highly important!) so you move more efficiently and safely in future classes.
I only worked with her once, but it did wonders for my form, and I'm already seeing results. So worth it.
It won't break the bank.
Most people avoid personal training because of how much money it costs. And don't get me wrong, it can get expensive if you do it on a weekly basis. But if you only plan on doing it once, you can probably get a free or inexpensive session.
A lot of gyms offer free personal training sessions when you first join, so take advantage of them if you don't want to use all those machines incorrectly for eternity.
If you don't plan on joining a new gym anytime soon, there are plenty of programs to help you pick one, like Find Your Trainer, which lets you choose a personal trainer based on location and gives you a number of pricing options.
Convinced yet? Good. You'll have a six pack by bikini season.