Get Personal

An in-home trainer is a good fit for busy people or those who have trouble getting motivated
Get Personal
Illustration by Joseph Daniel Fiedler

In-home trainers — once the exclusive province of celebrities and the ultra-rich — are moving into the exercise mainstream.

But because the luxury aura remains, hiring a personal trainer can be a bit intimidating to newcomers, a bit like engaging a personal shopper or interior designer for the first time.

But experts suggest shelving the reluctance because professional trainers are the kind of hired help that can really put your “house” in order.

Not having a gym in your house is no excuse, says Lindsay Bogdasarian of Coach Me Fit in Ann Arbor. “It takes very little personal equipment to get a great workout,” she says.

Hand weights, a resistance ball, and access to a step or stairs are all that’s needed for a workout, Bogdasarian says.

Working out, whether in a gym or at home, is admirable and something more people need to do. The advantage of adding a personal trainer to the regimen, Bogdasarian says, is that they keep you “accountable.” An in-home personal trainer often is the push needed to get you on the right track until you’re disciplined enough to continue regularly on your own, she says.

Michelle Segar, founder of, says she uses a personal trainer to learn two or three new exercises that she can readily do on her own. “Then, when I’m ready to add something new, I call them again,” Segar says. “I also might make a follow-up appointment to have them check and make sure I’m doing the exercise properly.”

For some people, a personal trainer can simply function as a one-time investment in changing bad eating and workout habits for life. “The trainer is there to get you going, and eventually the fitness knowledge gained” should keep you motivated and self-sufficient, says Thomas Birk, chairman of the Department of Health Care Sciences at Wayne State University.

Personal trainers also can be an efficient choice for those with little time for commuting to the gym. Young, stay-home mothers, for example, can schedule at-home training sessions to coincide with their child’s naptime. The need to arrange a visit has an added side benefit because having an appointment makes you more likely to stick with it. “Some people need the motivation, and if they were left to get in the car and drive to a fitness facility, they may not comply,” Birk says.

The personal element also deters cancellation. With a personal trainer, it’s more than just a financial exchange, Bogdasarian says, it’s an agreement between you and your trainer.”

Personal-trainer fees typically run $60 to $75 per hour, experts say. Check the amount in advance, of course. But also be sure to inquire about qualifications. “Trainers can be certified over the Internet in a couple of hours,” Bogdasarian says. “So potential clients should look for nationally recognized certifications such as the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), or the American Council on Exercise (ACE), and National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).”

After you’ve done that homework, you’re free to do your in-home work. And, for that, Segar advises: “Stop thinking about your ideal weight and learn how to develop a positive life and lifelong relationship with physical activity.”

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