Stuck in a workout rut? Try a personal trainer

YMCA personal trainer Wendy Yu working with a Y member. Photo: presidio ymca

When you hear friends talk about working out with a personal trainer, do you think, what a waste of money — I can exercise on my own? Or are you intrigued but not sure you actually need a personal trainer?

According to fitness professionals, everyone can benefit from finding the right trainer, even if it’s just a few sessions to get you started on a personalized exercise program that will keep you motivated. According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), a personal trainer can help you reach your goals by designing a safe and effective workout program. But as with any relationship, it’s important to find a coach that matches your personality and offers the kind of support and encouragement you need.

Suzy Dito, director of Wellness and Member Engagement for the Presidio YMCA, is not only a certified yoga therapist and wellness coach, but she also works out with a trainer at the Y. After dealing with morning stiffness for a year, Dito saw a physical therapist who diagnosed a muscle imbalance and recommended personal training. Now, Dito completes a simple daily five-minute routine, along with weekly hour-long personal training sessions, and the stiffness is gone.

Dito believes one of the best reasons to seek out a personal trainer is to add variety to your workouts. “You need to change up your fitness routine every 8-to-12 weeks,” she says, “to tax different muscles. A trainer will work with you on agility, efficiency, strength, and balance.” Dito says you don’t have to invest in a personal trainer forever; you can spend three-to-six months learning routines that you can do on your own. “But I personally need someone to push me out of my comfort zone,” she says.

Luis Andarcia is a San Francisco-based personal trainer and longtime triathlete who works with private clients and teaches TRX and indoor cycling (spinning) classes at the Presidio Y and at Crunch on Union Street. He works with three main types of people: those who have little experience exercising but with a specific goal like losing weight; those who are training for an event like a triathlon; and people who want to stay or get back in shape, like new moms. Most of his clients train with him once or twice a week, and Andarcia encourages them to work out on their own between training sessions, even if they’re traveling. “It only takes three or four weeks of not exercising to lose fitness,” he says.” To motivate clients to keep exercising on their own, Andarcia suggests that they sign up for a race, like an upcoming half-marathon. “I try to hold people accountable for working
out,” he says.

Dito says it’s important to interview potential personal trainers, asking how they motivate clients, and what their style is like. “I like to chat between sets,” she says. And the NSCA recommends asking questions like how long the person has been a personal trainer; if he or she is CPR certified; what types of clients the trainer has worked with; the duration and cost of each session; and what
services are included.

Trainers can charge anywhere from $25–$75 per hour; if you use a trainer at your gym, it will be a charge in addition to your membership fee but less than for an independent coach.

Presidio YMCA: (415) 447-9622,
Luis Andarcia Personal Training: (415) 335-8471,
Crunch Fitness: (415) 292-5444,

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