Last updated on Jan 15th, 2021 at 04:47 pm

Durban’s Lisa Raleigh, personal trainer for SA’s The Biggest Loser TV show, gives us the pros and cons of using a personal trainer to get in shape.

Read more and see how you can win a personal training session too…


1. TECHNIQUE QUEEN: Having a professional assist you with correct technique is essential in avoiding injuries. The correct technique will also ensure you work the correct muscles at the correct angles in order to achieve your desired result. There would be nothing more discouraging than slugging away for months only to realize your neck is thicker, biceps larger and legs ready to kick-start a Boeing!

2. CAPITAL M FOR MOTIVATION: We all have those days where if its up to me its not gonna be! A good trainer will lift your mood no matter what. By the time you finish your hour all will be put into perspective and your problem at hand seems so much more manageable.

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3. THE COMMITMENT FACTOR: Booking and paying in advance is a HUGE motivator. Paying at the end of a month is not an option with most trainers. It urges you to go when you know the guilt is worse than the pain!

4. A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action Please! Having a trainer guaranties an hour of no distractions, no waiting in queues and no idle chitchat. A lot of people waste precious time waiting in the cardio line because that is all they know and trust. Its also easy to chat to people you havenâ??t seen in a while and then feeling better by saying â??yes, I went to the gym today for 2hrsâ? having a trainer means getting to the point, maximising your workout time to its full potential and avoiding small talk.

5. VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE: You must have heard this, â??if you keep doing the same thing how can you expect a different resultâ?. This is so true for the human body. Keeping your muscles guessing helps to prevent the dreaded plateau. If a trainer wants to keep their client inspired and motivated month after month, the exercises will need to change frequently to prevent boredom.

6. THE POWER OF NOW: Having someone think for you for an hour is a real treat. Most of us donâ??t stop making choices or decisions for a second. For that hour you forget all issues ad stresses and you are forced to focus on your posture, breathing perseverance and every contracting muscle in your body priceless! NB: this takes practice!


1. LEAN ON ME: Becoming too reliant on your personal trainer could cause a problem. You need to be learning about how and why you are doing various exercises. You need to be ready if your trainer decides to leave or maybe for some reason you have no choice but to stop.

2. WE ARE NOT ALL CREATED EQUAL: There are trainers and there are GREAT trainers. If a bad experience with a trainer puts you off, donâ??t label them all to be the same. Try a few until you feel satisfied and inspired.

3. SHOW ME THE MONEY! Trainers are costly and can be considered a luxury. However it depends how high your health and self-esteem is on your priority list! Cutting back on other less important expenses might le you have the luxury without the guilt.


1. FLEXIBILITY: if you are one that hates to be tied down then having the freedom to train whenever you want is great. You can fit it in whenever you get a gap in your day.

2. THE GREAT OUTDOORS: A super reason to go it alone would be to enjoy the beautiful country we live in! Use your ipod/MP3 player to listen to music that lifts your mood and spirit. Take in all that you see and feed your soul.

3. FUN AND MORE FUN! With no commitments you can do what you feel like doing on that specific day. Go to a dance class, run along the beach, do yoga in your garden, a swim at the pool, a game of sport with your friends. The variety will keep you motivated and you will be exercising without even realising it.

4. ME TIME: Having that 1/2 hour-hour all on your own could be a great way to spend some time clearing your head, living in the moment and experiencing some mindfulness. Just breathe and enjoy the peace and quiet.


1. LOST IN TRANSLATION: Honestly- where do you begin with little knowledge and direction? It can be really daunting and overwhelming. You will be second-guessing yourself constantly whether what you are doing is correct for you, safe or even working!

2. ITâ??S ALL ON YOU: With no body to really push you beyond your limits itâ??s more difficult to achieve GREAT results. Arriving number 1, trying harder number 2, is really on your own conscience at the end of the day.

3. BOREDOM: If you not they type to continuously research new programmes or to read up ideas in books/mags, you will soon become bored. It wont be long before other things take priority. NO FUN or NO results, and training is history.

What to watch for if you hire a personal trainer

1. Are they fully qualified? Ask for a certification if you would feel more at ease.

2. Did you have a full assessment? This is critical! Goal setting, picture, blood pressure, fitness testing, body composition are necessary to establish personal plan of attack.

3. Have his/her rules been explained to you properly so there are NO grey areas?

4. Be aware of a trainer that talks too much – this can be distracting and annoying. Remember the session is about you!

5. Do they push products too much? Note- great results can be achieved with NO supplementation, just correct and clean eating.

6. Personality compatibility: It is critical that your trainer vibrates on the same energy levels as you do. This will create a recipe for success.

7. Unprofessionalism: Talking on a cell phone, being late, chatting to acquaintances in the gym and disappearing for minutes on end is very unprofessional; Being the client who is paying a good fee-donâ??t settle for this- speak up or move on.

8. Lack of variety: Your trainer should mix things up on a regular basis to challenge new muscles and keep you excited. A great trainer should have lots of experience with new exercises and should be keeping abreast of new studies and techniques to maximise your results.

9. Poor knowledge: Be aware of a trainer who knows little about nutrition. Nutrition is 80% of the battle won and a great trainer should know this and have ample advise to give you about diets to avoid and why. A trainer that sticks to using machines only, lacks the ability to use functional training as part of your routine are big warning signs.

10. Progress reports: A great trainer should be re-assessing you on a regular basis. This feedback is valuable in determining whether you are on the right track or whether adjustments need to be made in your diet/training programme ASAP! Remember your goals and your trainerâ??s goals for you need to be the same.


1. INCORRECT TECHNIQUES: Performing exercises correctly is important for your safety and of course effectiveness. My advice would be to hire a personal trainer for 3-5sessions just to learn the basics and to get a personalised programme drawn up.

2. CONSUMER VICTIM: Training at home requires very little equipment. Donâ??t be fooled by the many TV ads convincing you to buy their latest product. All you need is a ball, resistance band, skipping rope, mat and a few sets of different weight dumbbells to have an effective workout at home.

3. BE AWARE OF DISTRACTIONS: Your cell phone, maid, family, pets and chores will always be a challenging factor when training at home. Be disciplined enough to take a complete 30 min break away from any distractions. Close the door, turn off your cell phone and play your favourite music. OTHERWISE your workout will land up stretching out over hours leaving you frustrated.

4. KEEP A TRAINER JOURNAL: Without the help of a mentor or motivator, pushing yourself can be challenging. Set yourself goals for each session/week and make notes of your achievements. Remember to include a reward if you achieve it!

5.  RESEARCH: to keep you inspired google/read up on different programmes regularly. This can make the journey fun and different each time, which will keep you on track.

6. TRAIN WITH A FRIEND: Having a training partner is a great way to exercise. You will motivate each other on days where maybe one of you is feeling tired or low. You are less likely to skip a workout if you know you will be letting somebody else down too.

7. JOIN A CLUB: Find out what you enjoy doing and join a dance school, walking/running club or a tennis group. This is great for networking as well as loads of fun. Before you know it, youâ??ve done an hour or two of exercise without even realising it. Doing something you love is great for reducing stress and even better for the soul!

Win one of 100 personal training sessions 

100 lucky readers can each win their choice of either:

A personal training session at VO2 Max gym for anyone (no weight limits) or a personal training session at the Lisa Raleigh Weight loss and Wellness clinic for people 15kgâ??s and over their goal weight.

Click here to enter. (Competition closes 30 April 2009. Winners must be able to attend the training sessions in Durban.)

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.