There are plenty of perks to having a personal trainer. But even fitness pros admit it’s not impossible to get in shape sans supervision. “You know your workout preferences, personality, and body better than anyone else,” says Gunnar Peterson, a celebrity trainer and the chief training officer for the fitness streaming service gymGO. Follow these essentials to get a trainer-tier sweat at every workout.
Step 1: Do a self-consultation
Start by getting clear about your aims, says fitness and wellness expert David Kirsch, owner of Madison Square Club in New York City.
Go for mini goals. Set intentions you can measure in the short term, like “I want to run three times this week.”
Build a schedule. Plug every workout and rest day into your phone, with alerts.
Log everything. Jot down a few notes about how your workout went when you finish. “Keeping a log helps you see what’s working and what’s not,” says Kirsch. Chest up, core tight! Check your form when you start to get tired.
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Step 2: Fix your form
The pros cringe when they see gym-goers moving through a routine with bad form. “It makes your workout less effective and may set you up for injury,” warns Peterson. The following techniques help you find proper positioning.
Carry a cheat sheet. There’s no shame in pulling up a workout on your phone with images you can refer to.
Film yourself. Prop your phone against a wall to record your moves and see where form is suffering. Or just use a good old-fashioned mirror.
Have posture check-ins. “People tend to lean on cardio-machine handles, and their posture begins to suffer,” says Kirsch. Every few minutes, remind yourself to stand tall and engage your core. On the elliptical or bike, make sure you’re not relying on the machine to support your body weight.
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Up your accountability
“Having a trainer of course forces you to show up every time,” notes Peterson. “But people also tend to work harder in the presence of others.” These tricks help you keep your commitment fiery without the extra helping hand.
Id your motivation style. Do you prefer cheerleader or drill sergeant? Pick a lane, then come up with a few motivational phrases (“You showed up—finish it!” “You could hit the gym for a half hour or waste it on the couch on Instagram!”) for those moments when you want to quit or skip a workout.
Use tech. Stream a workout video of a trainer you admire so you hear her voice and words of encouragement while you do the moves.
Find an audience. “If motivation is an issue, I would try to get out of your house to work out, not just go into the basement,” says Kirsch. Go to a public gym or a park or grab a workout buddy so you feel a bit more on the hook to finish what you started.