3 Months of Personal Training
It has been 3 months since I embarked on a new fitness journey: personal training. I have – more or less – captured and shared a lot of it via Instagram Stories. However, since I have been receiving a lot of questions from you, I thought it was about time for a detailed post about personal training, my progress, time management and just a general fitness update. So here it goes…
My (full) Personal Training Review
Q How (and why) did I decide on personal training?
Over the past few years, I have maintained a fairly regular workout routine. Of course, I had times during which I worked out more and ate healthier, followed by times where I only made it to the gym once per week. Still, I would consider it a healthy, active lifestyle. While I have always been fine with my body, I do have to admit that the amount of time and effort I was putting into fitness was not creating the outcome I personally wished for. Mike always urged me to “seek professional help” (wow, that sounds so serious), in order to figure out which type of training was best for me and would show the desired results. Of course, his arguments were right, but quite frankly, I had no idea where or how to find a good personal trainer. My previous experiences with trainers (ie. at the fancy gyms) were underwhelming and not very inspiring.
Luckily, my friend Jay (whom we also share an office with) found someone. And she asked us to join her workouts. I wish I had some better tips on how to find a great personal trainer, but in this case, it sort of fell into my lap. Someone else did the work and I got lucky. Our first training was on March 28th and I haven’t missed a week since.
Q How long is a personal training session? What type of training do you do?
The sessions are scheduled with 60 minutes, where we actually train for a good 45-50 minutes. Every training is composed of new and different exercises, but overall the type of training is called functional training. It uses a lot of body weight, balance, resistance and dynamic movement. And our trainer is crazy about good posture, so a lot of the training is focused on actually doing the movements right and building muscle in the right places. To get a glimpse into our trainings, be sure to check out the video below with a few of our go-to abs and glutes exercises.
Q How often do you work out?
For me personally, 3 workouts per week has always been a good number (for many years). When I first started out with personal training, I went twice per week, adding a bit of yoga, a run or home-workout as my 3rd session. As cliche as it sounds, but you get hooked on it. After the first 3 weeks, I went up to 3 personal trainings per week and have even had a few weeks with 4 sessions recently. However, if I go in for a 4th training, we switch things up and usually do boxing to give the body some variety in exercise.
When I travel and only get to sweat with my trainer 1x or 2x per week, I add a gym session or home-workout. Our trainer literally goes above and beyond and sends us videos of exercises to do while traveling. If I don’t have access to a gym, a 5-8km run + a few ab exercises also do the trick.
Q How do you manage to work out regularly with all your travels?
This has been one of my biggest learnings over the past 3 months. If you want to make time, you can make time. It is simple as that. Life is all about making priorities, and training regularly has definitely become a major priority for me. I used to put my workouts at the back of the list of things to do. I considered it my “leisure activities” or “free time”, that’s why work and travels always came first. That has changed. How? Our trainer is so busy and popular that he actually has a wait list and we usually schedule our trainings 2 weeks in advance. This way, it becomes a fixed point in my agenda with the same priority like any other meeting I would have for work or a birthday dinner with friends. The easiest way for me to incorporate the trainings into my agenda is by going right in the morning or at the end of the day. Either 8am (I can be showered and dressed at my desk by 10am) or 7pm (home for dinner shortly after 8pm). I don’t find excused of why I can’t workout anymore, instead I arrange the rest of my day accordingly to make the time. I have gone to train the same day as getting off the plane from NYC, I have workout out on days that I had to fly out around lunch time and I go in on Sundays. At the end of the day, 3 workouts take up 3 hours of your 168-hour week. Make that 6 hours if you count driving there and washing your hair after as part of the time dedicated to working out. Still, 6 hours are 3.57% of your week. Less than 5%… and now let’s think about how fast an hour passes when we are browsing Youtube. Crazy to see it put in numbers, huh?
Q How much weight did you lose?
None. Nada. Nothing. I’ll be the first to admit, that I am someone who steps on the scale regularly. And still do. Just to see what everyone always told me: Muscle weighs more than fat! Right now, I weigh exactly the same as I did when I started training in March. Which is a good 2kg more than I weighed last summer. However, my body looks and feels so different.
Q How much does personal training cost?
A lot. Personal training is effective (if you have a good trainer), but definitely not cheap. With our trainer a private session comes in at 80€ and group trainings (anywhere from 3-5 people) are priced at 30€ per person. You can only purchase the trainings in blocks of 10. In comparison to other trainers, those prices are a really good deal. However, with 2-3 trainings per week, it adds up quickly and I realise that it is not something everyone can (or wants to) afford.
QWhat do you like most about personal training?
At the end of the day, it comes down to 3 things. If you find yourself a trainer that lives the “personal” in personal training, it is a whole new level of working out. There is no “one size fits all solution” and our trainer actually looks at each of his clients individually and what their body needs. Hence, the progress is more or less guaranteed. I love how strong I now feel and how much more toned I have become. Even Mike says how much “harder” everything feels when he hugs me. Secondly, I love the fact that the only motivation I need is to get myself to the gym. Once there, I can turn of my brain and only need to follow the trainers instructions, but leave completely dead and exhausted every single time. In my opinion, it is almost impossible to push yourself the way a trainer standing next to you does. And lastly, 95% of the time I work out with some of my best friends. We all have the group trainings and I love that we get to have time outside of the office together. That’s why one of my favorite workout tips is always: get yourself a training buddy!
Q What about food and diet?
I would be lying if I said that you can see results by simply working with a personal trainer. In my opinion, the training I have done in the past 3 months is the most effective time I have ever invested in my fitness. And I am super proud of how strong my body has become and the abs that have started appearing. However, without a healthy diet, there can’t be much progress. Since I have always been really conscious of the way I eat and am lucky to love healthy foods, I didn’t change much. The only “rules” I try to follow are the following:
- Carbs for breakfast and/or lunch only. No white bread or pasta. Bascially I stick to oats, quinoa, rice, “protein bread” and sweet potatoes for my carbs.
- 3 meals per day, no snacks. This is not new to me, it is a way that I have eaten for a good 2 years now. Different things work for different people and I know a lot of people swear by many small meals throughout the day. For me personally, it is important to let my insulin drop, which is why I try to always have 4-5 hours between meals with nothing but water or black coffee/ herbal tea between.
- Protein with every meal. A healthy source of protein is important to me. This can be 150gr of cottage cheese for breakfast, some tofu, lentils or chickpeas in my salad for lunch, grilled chicken or fish for dinner.
- Low sugar. I don’t add sugar or sweetener to anything I eat, but I also try to keep an eye on my fruit sugar intake. Our trainer recommends sticking to berries and citrus fruits. He is not a fan of bananas.
- Healthy fats. This is not something that has to do with my training at all, but recent blood work showed that I lack healthy, essential fats. That’s why I have been making an effort to add more coconut oil (ie. even a bit in my morning coffee), flaxseed oil or tahini to my meals. I honestly have no idea how my trainer feels about this, but I want to be the healthiest version of myself.
- Alcohol. In an ideal world, I wouldn’t drink alcohol – at least according to my trainer. But hey, this world is not ideal and I love my rosé or aperol spritz way too much.
- Cheating? I don’t like the idea of cheat days or even the term “cheating”. I enjoy an ice cream after dinner much more if I know I had a healthy breakfast and lunch (or even dinner). I eat 90% healthy and love eating this way (just my opinion and taste), but when dessert or a bottle of rosé come along, I prefer to call it balance rather than cheating. Who am I cheating? Myself? Not really! I am fully aware of what I eat, and make those decisions consciously for me, myself and I.
However, I have noticed that with eating healthy most of the time, my body has also become less tolerable to “unhealthy” stuff. I usually end up feeling crappy and then just prefer to go back to my regular routine. The only thing I personally want to work on is portion control. While I eat healthy, I also eat a lot (and like to eat a lot). I (almost) always eat until I am full – or a bit more.
Q Fuel before and after your workouts?
As mentioned above, my go-to workouts are at 8am. For those, I don’t eat before but simply have some black coffee (sometimes with a bit of coconut oil in it for extra energy). After my workouts, I don’t eat for about 30 minutes (aka how long it takes for me to drive home and shower) and then just eat whatever I usually would. Our trainer is not a fan of supplements, protein powders or shakes – so none of that!
QHow do you cure sore muscles?
Magnesium. I take at least 200mg every night before I go to bed. That helps with the muscle recovery. For the first couple of trainings I was so sore, but now I hardly every get sore anymore. If I do, I use a foam roller and take and additional magnesium.
QHow do you motivate yourself to workout?
I get asked this all the time, and quite frankly the answer the the most cliche of them all: it happens naturally. When you notice your body change, when you feel yourself getting stronger and when you get to experience that completely-exhausted-but-happy-AF feeling after a good workout, you become addicted over time. I always thought it was major BS when people said they crave their workouts. Sure, I loved a good yoga class or a run on the beach, but I never actually felt a craving for it until recently. I worked out to stay fit and in shape, not for enjoyment. Now, it feels weird when I go more than 2 days without working out. I miss sweating with the girls and get excited about which new exercises the next workout includes. My personal tips for workout motivation? Workout with friends, treat yourself to new gear every once in a while (sounds basic, but seriously!) and give the progress a chance to show. I would almost go as far as to bet that if you worked out 3x per week for 4-6 weeks while eating (semi)healthy, the results (both visual and also psychologically) would be enough to stay motivated. They say it takes 28 days to make things a habit, so if you start today, by Mid-August you will have a new (healthy) habit. And remember, 3 workouts per week take up less than 4% of your time.