Why Personal Trainers Get Results

A new study, published in the June edition of the Journal of Exercise Physiology, tries to determine which approach is better for reducing body-fat:

  • Weight Watchers or,
  • Working out at a health club.

The Study

43 overweight women (BMI = 25) were given a 12 week membership to either a Weight Watchers center or to a local health club.

  • The women in the Weight Watchers (WW) group were instructed to follow the WW program, including weigh-ins, counseling sessions and the WW point system for monitoring caloric intake.
  • The women in the health club (HC) group were instructed to follow the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines for weight loss.

The researchers monitored the participants progress by measuring body weight (BW), body fat percentage (%BF), intrabdominal fat (IAF) and subcutaneous abdominal fat (SAF), total cholesterol (TC), HDL-C with sub-fractions, and triglycerides.

The Results

At the end of 12 weeks,

  • the WW group lost 5% (9 lbs.) of their body weight,
  • while the HC group lost only 2.5% (2.9 lbs.).

Yippee!!! Weight Watchers wins, I never have to go to the gym again.

Whoa, whoa, whoa, not so fast there pardner. The “weight” lost by the WW group wasn’t all body-fat. In fact, the researchers discovered that a large percentage of the lost weight was lean tissue (ie muscle) and not fat.

And that’s no bueno.

Muscle requires calories to survive. Fat doesn’t. Lose your muscle and your metabolism drops. It’s not how much weight you lose, it’s how much body fat you lose and where that body fat comes from.

While the HC group lost very little weight during the 12 weeks, they may have improved their overall health picture due to their significant loss of intrabdominal fat. According to Ball, “these results imply that exercise may have positive influence on the metabolic syndrome despite the number on the scale.”

Ball also determined that the group support offered by Weight Watchers resulted in most of the WW group lasting the entire 12 weeks, while many of the HC participants quit.

“These results imply that overweight, sedentary women joining a fitness center with the intent of weight loss or body fat change will likely fail without support and without altering their diets,” Ball said. “Nearly 50 percent of people who start an exercise program will quit within six months.”

“This study attempted to discover what takes place in the real world when overweight women attempt to lose weight.” Ball said. “I think the outcome of the study speaks volumes about the necessity for a multi-pronged approach in order to lose weight, body fat and gain health benefits. I hope that this will be the first in a series of studies investigating commercial weight-loss programs.”

So what does all this science mean?

It means, that if you want to succeed at losing body-fat, improving your health and transforming your body, you need to combine the physical (diet, exercise, injury prevention, balance, neuro-muscular performance, energy system, etc…) and the mental (emotional support, coping techniques, inter and intra-personal techniques, etc…).

That is why good personal trainers are worth their weight in gold. In addition to the fitness and nutrition programming, a good personal trainer can provide the emotional support that their clients need while they are transforming their bodies and their minds.

Who would have thought that that big ball of muscle down at your local gym was actually an amateur psychologist.

Like this article?

The info in this article came from my Special Report – The Top Weight Loss Supplements for 2016.  

The full report is available to @HealthHabits subscribers, so if you want to see numbers 7 – 1, subscribe now by clicking on the button below. Number 10 is available here. Number 9 is here.

button subscribe


  1. “That is why good personal trainers are worth their weight in gold.”

    Indeed. They are also hard to find. Most of the ones I have met and worked with have fallen into two categories: utterly imcompetent and bodybuilders who need to make money on the side so they show no concern over my progress AND know jack squat about fitness since theirs comes from a bottle labeled “steroids.” I know good ones are out there, I’ve simply never met one.

  2. First, nice blog. I love the pictures, and especially the Homer Simpson graphic.

    I have to admit that trainers are very helpful. I got 6 free sessions when I joined 24 Hour Fitness about 7 years ago. I’ve been self-training since I was 13 (I’m 45 now) and had read a lot over the years, so I kept ignoring their reminder calls to use the sessions.

    Finally, I agreed to use them and found out that the guy had a lot of good tips. He helped me bust a few paradigms – i.e., a full range of motion is generally good but if your shoulder gives you problems then you can still get a great workout without it.

    He enjoyed training me since I was already in shape and he could push me hard. Very hard! Man, that was the best shape I’ve been in since college.

    My only problem was that they are kinda expensive. I believe in paying for what they deliver, but I just can’t justify $60 per session.

    I think I really just need a training partner to push me more, but I hit the gym at different times and at different locations depending on the day.

  3. You are both right about the training partner, but as with personal trainers, you need a good workout buddy.

    Comparable strength/endurance/intensity/goals/schedule/knowledge of training (if they know more than you, even better)…

    Re the cost of a good personal trainer, it’s only worthwhile if you need the education/motivation/company or you are verrrry image conscious.

    I have actually had current clients refer me to their friends and inflate the cost of my training rate. They wanted to lay claim to the most expensive trainer in Toronto. Sad but true

  4. I don’t know if you give out free advice, but I had a question for you. I have been stuck at 8-9 chin-ups for the last 5 months. Everything else is improving (bench press, shoulder press, deadlifts, etc.), but I can’t seem to break 9 chin-ups. Any advice?

  5. Are we talking chin-ups (supinated grip – palms facing you) or pull-ups (pronated – palms away)?

    I am going to assume chins – more biceps, more strength

    At 8-9 chins, you are no beginner, but here is the progression I use for chin-ups. I learned this from Charles Poliquin

    Stage 1 – Negatives – 4 sets of 1 rep – 30 sec negative reps mind you – 2-4x per week

    Stage 2 – Negatives + Isometrics – 4 sets of max reps – Pull all the way up – chin over bar and lower yourself 1/3 of the way down – hold for 8 seconds, lower to 1/2 way – hold for 8 seconds, lower to almost all the way down – hold for 8 seconds. On the last rep of each set, do a 30 sec. negative

    Stage 3 – Spotter assisted chins – Have a spotter help by holding 2 ankles and giving you a little help at your sticking points. When you can do 12 reps, move to the spotter holding 1 ankle. When you can do 12 reps like this, have the spotter hold you at the waist.

    Stage 4 – We are going to blow right past standard bodyweight chinning and move on to added weight chins
    (hold a dumbbell between your ankles / have a spotter resist your attempt / attach plates to a dip/chin belt)

    4 sets of max reps – try to push the weight up as high as you can – play around – heavy weight for singles, lighter weight for higher reps

    Stage 5 – Start playing with grips – a medium grip chin is your strongest style – add in wide grip pull-ups (palms away), narrow grip chins, medium grip pull-ups and finally narrow grip pull-ups

    You can also try sternum chins – http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=VwUdklIaInY
    Eventually move to 1 arm chins

    Once you get to phase 4, you will be blowing past 9 chins.

    Even when you do, going back every now and then to the negatives and isometrics is a good idea

    Hope this helps

  6. Last year my wife signed up at a local 1 on 1 training gym. After a month, I joined her, and it was great. There’s so much stuff out there to read on fitness, and a lot of it can be confusing. Learning what works from a professional kept us motivated, and we continued right through the summer. I went for three solid months, 6 days a week. She continued for another month. It was tough, but we reduced a lot of body fat – and we were 49 at the time.

    Our trainer was good – a young guy with a sense of humor who understood what we needed for our age. He was polite and professional. I happened to notice other trainers who frequently swore or used some language that would have ticked me off. I don’t know about their knowledge, but their attitude put me off.

  7. Like any other business, there are good and bad service providers.

    I am glad you had such a good experience.

    I hope you referred him to other gym members/friends/family/etc..

    I have worked in health clubs where the LOUD trainers have more clients than your guy. It made me shake my head.

    I remember one male trainer in particular who would stare at his reflection in the mirror when he should have been focusing on his client’s exercise form.

    His last name was Myers; we nicknamed him Mirrors.

    Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment.

  8. If you live near newtown pa…..the BEST trainer is Vaughn Hebron at VMS Movement….former Philadelphia Eagle and 2 time super bowl winner with the Broncos…..he is absolutely dedicated, intelligent and focused on your success. TRY HIM

  9. I personally feel that ‘diet clubs’ like Weight Watchers are passe. People know what they need to eat and certainly know what they need to NOT eat and to sit and listen to someone talk about food and kcals, and what desserts you can get away with and still be on your ‘diet’, etc. etc. is priming the mind to think way too much about food, which, in the end, makes you eat more. ALTHOUGH, I think it is extremely important for people to get feedback on HOW WELL they are or are not eating — not just for kcals and the other macronutrients (fat, carbs, protein), but also for micronutrients — vitamins, minerals, trace elements. Which is why I think trained professionals, like dietians/nutritionists would be great to have on board for this ‘multi-pronged’ club. I said I thought ‘diet clubs’ would (or should) become obsolete, but I would like to see ‘clubs’ or programs or groups MUCH more prevalent and accessible that STILL monitor whatever bio-markers are feasible and relevant for the person (weight, waist measurement, w-h ratio,triceps skinfold and other skinfolds to give a proxy of body fat, or % body fat, % muscle)and feature personal trainers (good ones) who can work with the group and individuals and spend a good portion of club time MOVING the attendees, and a nutritionist/dietitian on board who would be able to analyze diets of attendees for total nutrient quality and then advise attendees on how to make realistic changes to improve/optimize their intake, and of course, have time in the club for group support and discussion. It would also be great to have a counsellor type professional accessible to help with food and exercise ‘issues’. A person could be a member of such a club for as long as it takes for them to achieve fitness goals and to master the skill set they need to SUSTAIN their fitness for life. Of course, they can always be welcome to come back for tweaking, dietary assessments, and monitoring, periodically or if they fall into a relapse. THIS is,IMO, the future — ‘fitness clubs’, if you like.

  10. blog is’t very good and very help to find something about health..

    I am glad you had such a good experience.

Comments are closed.