Why I Gladly 'Waste' Money to Work Out With a Personal Trainer

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Personal trainer with man on rowing machine in gymnasium
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Three times a week, I get up early and work out with a personal trainer at my local gym. Many people quickly write off the idea of paying someone to yell at you and push you to lift more weights or run faster. But what if your job depended on staying physically fit? Or, what if you could save money on your life insurance or health insurance premiums by going to the gym and working out consistently?

I take a lot of flak from my friends and coworkers for "wasting" that money. (A certified personal trainer can cost $35 or more for a half-hour session.) But to me, it's an investment that I'm making in myself and my health. We hardly think twice about spending money to continue our education to get ahead on our careers. I think we should look at spending money at the gym the same way.

Do the Benefits Outweigh the Costs?

Many researchers tie costs of not having a healthy life with our mood, health issues, happiness and sleep patterns. A study from researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that exercise significantly reduced symptoms of depression in patients aged 20 to 45. Studies from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine show that aerobic exercise programs than run at least 16 weeks can help with insomnia.

One reason that I love working out with a personal trainer is that he provides me with accountability. Paying him gives me an added incentive to go to the gym, because he charges me if I don't show up without giving at least 24 hours notice. That monetary penalty works for my personality. A personal trainer can help you form plans to diet, lift weights and conduct cardiovascular exercises. I find it extremely helpful to have a personal trainer who can teach me more challenging exercises and ensure I am performing them correctly.

People in many professions -- such as police officers, firefighters, members of the military, prison guards -- are required by the nature of the work to be in good physical shape. In some of these jobs, a portion of your performance evaluation and eligibility for promotions is tied to your fitness level. For these workers, it can be a savvy strategic career move to hire a personal trainer.

There is a tradeoff to these benefits: a cost associated with working out, in both time and money. Only you can decide of the benefits outweigh those costs.

Working out could lower the cost of your life insurance and health insurance. Many U.S. companies, including Fortune 500 businesses, provide discounts on employee health insurance premiums to those who work out through company-approved programs.

Factor a Physical Trainer Into Your Monthly Budget

Do you want to work with a personal trainer? Do you think your job or health could depend on it, but you're not sure how you can afford one? Consider what is important to you. If working with a personal trainer and taking back control over you health is important to you, consider adding it to your family's monthly budget.

While everyone's health and career are different, hiring a personal trainer can pay dividends in your life. Often it is hard to directly see the return the return on investment in monetary terms. But the second- and third-order effects of becoming healthier can help to make it worthwhile.

Do you use a personal trainer? Do you think it is a needless splurge? What if you could not only see health benefits but an increase in your career prospects? Would it be worth it then?

Hank Coleman is the publisher of the personal finance blog Money Q&A, where he answers readers' tough money questions. Follow him on Twitter @MoneyQandA.


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