Hiring a personal trainer is a sizable investment. An educated, qualified trainer is expensive. Are they worth the hefty price? In many cases, absolutely.

While some people possess the knowledge and motivation to productively exercise on their own, personal trainers can significantly help up the chances of being successful. In all honesty, what could be more important than improving your health?

Losing body fat can improve your quality of life and increase your life expectancy. Building strength and flexibility may allow you to play with your kids or comfortably travel the world in a way you aren't able to now. Not everyone can afford a trainer, and even those who can should consider whether the price of a trainer is actually worth the financial pledge or if they can manage maintaining and building fitness on their own.

Trainer or No Trainer? Ask Yourself These Questions!

Do you know what exercise program you should follow to reach your goals?

A qualified personal trainer will develop a customized program just for you, based on your current fitness levels and your specific training goals. If you're looking to build muscle mass, they will assign you the ideal exercises and training volume to encourage tissue growth. If you're hoping to lose fat, they'll create a program best for burning the most calories. He or she will also take into consideration any injuries or existing medical conditions you may have. If you have high blood pressure or are pregnant, for example, they can help tailor your sessions so that you're only working at an intensity and performing the types of exercises that are safe. Books and articles can help you create your own workout regimen if you do decide you'd like to train on your own rather than with a trainer.

Are you familiar with the techniques of most exercises?

If you've never done strength training or used a cardio machine, a gym can be an intimidating place. Learning how to do exercises correctly will ensure that you get the best results, but more importantly, it helps to minimize your injury risk. Lifting weights places extra loads onto your muscles, joints, and bones, and its important to avoid placing them in a vulnerable position. Plus, mastering techniques takes practice and having a trainer by your side to make immediate corrections can help you learn more quickly. If you feel like you're familiar with most exercises and that you're ready to set out on your own, begin with lighter weights and gradually increase the load as weeks go by to allow your musculoskeletal system to safely adapt to the stress.

Do you need someone to help you be accountable?

Be honest with yourself. If someone isn't expecting you to show, do you have the motivation to get your workout done on your own? Having a scheduled appointment with a trainer will help prevent those unplanned, last-second conflicts from popping up at the last second. Understanding you and your trainer are working as a team toward the same goal can also provide that extra nudge you need to make better nutritional choices throughout the day. You won't want to let down your trainer, who's putting in time and work to help you achieve success. If you do opt for going without a trainer, but struggle with discipline, consider recruiting a workout buddy who is also looking for extra motivation to meet you at the gym at a scheduled time everyday.

Can you motivate yourself?

Okay, let's say you're pretty good about getting to the gym. You make yourself get up early for a run before work or have the discipline to stop in at the gym on your way home from the office. When you're exercising, are you able to push yourself? A personal trainer will know how to motivate you. They will encourage you to eek out a couple more reps or to run a little harder than possibly you would if you were doing things solo. This can help you not only reach your goals more quickly, but will help you build mental toughness. If you do decide to go ahead without a trainer, consider challenging yourself on your own by periodically either increasing the speed, duration, weight, volume, or distance of the exercise you're doing.

Would you like to have measured results?

Most personal trainers will use the very first session to test your fitness levels. This helps them understand where you are, in regards to cardio fitness, strength, endurance, and flexibility. They use the results to then tailor your workouts to address your weaker areas. However, they also use them to gauge the effectiveness of the training program they developed. After six to eight weeks, they'll take you through the battery of fitness tests again. This allows you, and them, to see whether and how much you improved. Seeing your improvements displayed in objective data can serve as motivation as you continue in your exercising efforts. It also helps your trainer figure out if your program needs to be tweaked in any way. It's important to note that you can test yourself, but having an experienced trainer will better ensure the accuracy of the test and results.

Okay, now what?

If after asking yourself these questions, you decide hiring a trainer is best, be sure to find one that is both educated and experienced. Check to see whether they have a degree in kinesiology or exercise science and if they have been certified by an established organization like the American Council on Exercise or the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Professional trainers will cost more, but if you're going to invest, you want to be sure that you're hiring someone who really has the skills to help you reach your goals.