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North Hills Monthly

Hiring a Personal Trainer a Healthy Investment

Oct 31, 2018 08:11AM ● By Kathleen Ganster

Kathy Hensler trains a couple of her clients at the Rose E. Schneider Family YMCA in Cranberry.

Retirement was the perfect time for Debbie Madigan to get back into shape and lose the 40 pounds that she had put on while traveling for her busy job. At first, the weight came off and she lost 10 pounds. Then Madigan found that she had quickly plateaued. 

“I was doing the same exercises and same routine, but I needed more,” the Hampton resident said. When a friend recommended personal trainer Marissa Anderson, owner of Moksha Training, Madigan signed up. 

“It’s been amazing. I can’t tell you how much it has helped me,” she said. Madigan started training with Anderson and has lost 20 additional pounds in four months, but perhaps even more importantly, has toned up. Her physician also noted that her health is better. 

According to Kathy Hensler, Healthy Living Director at the Rose E. Schneider Family YMCA in Cranberry, a personal trainer is an individual certified with the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to design safe and effective fitness programs. A trainer not only assists with a training program, but motivates clients and provides feedback and accountability. 

For Anderson, Madigan’s trainer, it is important for her clients to feel comfortable with her before they even begin their training programs. “We first have a conversation about where they are, their health history, their goals and exactly what they wish to accomplish in what timeframe,” Anderson said. She offers four complimentary sessions so that her clients get to know her.

“My clients are going to be more successful when we have a good relationship,” she added. 

Madigan meets with Anderson at the Hampton studio for workout sessions, but she also sends motivational emails with suggestions such as a walk around Hartwood Acres. They also have two mental skills sessions twice a month. 

“She talks with us about healthy eating, staying motivated and taking care of yourself,” Madigan said. 

Anderson said that personal trainers in the Pittsburgh area typically cost $45 to $65 per hour sessions, but of course that varies, and many trainers and gyms have packages that clients may want to explore. 

“There are always ways to make training more affordable; a great way to cut the cost is to find a friend and split the cost—and gain some extra accountability and fun,” Anderson said.

Hensler, who has 15 years of experience as a personal trainer and 30 years as a fitness instructor, says that clients should ask if their personal trainers are certified. “Don’t be shy about asking if they are certified and through which organization. Our YMCA only hires personal trainers that have a nationally recognized personal training certificate,” she said. 

Like Anderson, Hensler works with her clients to determine what their own goals are and then designs an individualized fitness program. She cautions that personal trainers are not necessarily certified dieticians (some may be, but clients should ask) and therefore, can’t give nutritional advice though they may make suggestions based on their knowledge. 

Clients don’t have to be members of the YMCA to take advantage of personal training services. Hensler said that they also work with corporations who want to offer fitness programming for their employees.  

For those worried about the costs, Hensler said, “The price of good health is affordable compared to the cost of disease. We offer affordable packages as well as small group training to help that person who does not have the pocketbook for personal training one-on-one.”

Hensler’s clients range from a 12-year-old hockey player building strength and speed, to a 35-year-old runner who wants to improve her core to an 87-year-old who wants to increase and maintain her strength, balance and flexibility. 

“Everyone has different goals,” she said. 

Kathy Arena takes her ‘gym’ to clients’ homes—or they can come to her gym in her Ross Township home. “It is perfect for someone who is really busy or doesn’t want to go to a ‘traditional’ gym,” she said. 

Like her counterparts, Arena consults with her clients before designing a personalized program. “We do a fitness assessment to see where they are and where we are going to start—many of my clients have injuries that we have to work around,” she said. “Everyone’s needs are different.”

Arena also works with corporate clients, taking the program to the workplace to make it convenient and ‘excuse-free.’ One of her long-time corporate clients even built a gym at their location. “I helped them select the equipment and other items—that was great,” she said.

Arena often works with friends or couples who train together or schedule back-to-back appointments in their homes. “That’s a good way to utilize our time together,” she said. 

She also stressed the importance of getting to know a personal trainer before beginning a training program. “Make sure that your personalities are compatible; you’re going to spend a lot of time with that person,” she said.

She suggests that clients begin with at least two sessions per week. Like Anderson, she keeps her clients on their toes. “I’ll text them out of the blue and say, ‘What exercise did you do today?’ I don’t want them to lose motivation,” she said.