I Worked Out With a Trainer For 30 Days, and Honestly, It Changed My Life
If there's a group fitness studio or innovative exercise class in New York City, I've tried it. Likely more than once. I much prefer workout classes to planning my own regimen — which, if I'm being honest, might mean playing on my phone at the gym instead of actually lifting weights.
I've taken everything from HIIT to aqua cycling, but as many times as I've stepped up to a barre or snapped my cycling shoes into a stationary bike, I had never tried personal training — that is, until recently. Curious what it would be like to work out one-on-one instead of alongside 50 other people, I decided to shake up my routine.
For 30 days, I trained at PERFORMIX House, an exclusive, full-service gym and creative studio in Manhattan. My one-hour sessions were guided by two of its founding trainers, Meghan Hayden and Gabe Snow. I thought I'd simply gain some muscle, learn some new moves, and check out a cool new gym (I did). But I took more away from the experience than I could have imagined. Here are the changes I've noticed along the way.
Training Kept Me Accountable
My workouts weren't just in my calendar, but also my trainer's, which meant I couldn't hit snooze on my alarm or decide to stroll through the park instead of hitting the gym. Knowing that there was someone counting on me to show up was just the push I needed to stick with my routine — and once I was there, I really worked.
When you're exercising alone, or even in a class, you can always tone things down. Too tired to sprint on the treadmill? A jog is a few button clicks away. Not feeling those last two reps? Ending a set early is as simple as placing your weights on the floor. But in personal training, there's always someone watching. This held me accountable for each and every exercise. If I needed a break, I could take it — but that didn't mean I was done for the day.
I Felt Better Prepared For Each Workout
In studio classes, I'm rarely instructed to stretch before picking up weights, mounting a bike, or warming up for a run. At PERFORMIX House, the first five to 10 minutes of each session were reserved for stretching, foam rolling, and other techniques to wake up my muscles. This period not only physically prepared me for my workout, but also gave me a moment to mentally gear up for the hour ahead.
I Lifted Much Heavier Weights
I expected to learn some new exercises and for the trainers to adjust my form to avoid injury. But I underestimated how many pounds I'd be able to push, pull, and carry with their guidance. Instead of my usual 10- or 15-lb. dumbbells, I found myself holding a 20-lb. kettlebell in each hand, without ever feeling strained or getting hurt. If nothing else, my trainers helped me realize I was capable of taking on more than I initially thought possible.
I Learned How to Recover
This isn't the first time I've tried switching things up — I once worked out every day for a month to see how my body would change. That experience taught me that resting is essential.
At PERFORMIX House, recovery days were built into my regimen so my body could heal between sessions. I never worked out on the weekends, and regularly took advantage of the studio's infrared sauna during the week. I also met with PERFORMIX House nutritionist Lance Parker, who urged me — beyond anything else — to drink more water and work toward a consistent bedtime and wake-up time, so I'd get an adequate amount of sleep each night.
Working Out Became Part of My Social Life
This might be the most surprising takeaway of all. I never realized how antisocial group fitness classes can be. Even when I go with friends — which is often — we don't talk during class. It's even more rare to have an elaborate conversation with the trainer, though I try to offer a polite, "Thank you, great class," on my way out the door.
Seeing Meghan and Gabe (mostly) every day for a month opened the door to chatting between exercises, during stretches, and after my sessions. Honestly, it helped take my mind off how tough the workouts could be. There are lots of lessons I'll take with me, and having more fun is definitely one of them.