Why I Hired a Personal Trainer

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(or, how not to be the boy who blocked his own shot)

Allow me to let you in on a little industry secret: all of the best trainers in the world…have trainers.

The best coaches have coaches. And the people who design some of the best, most effective programs you’ve ever heard of…hire other people to design programs for them.

This goes for everyone from top-level bodybuilders and physique competitors to Olympic lifting specialists to powerlifters who hold world records.

Off the top of my head, I can drop 15 of the most recognizable names in the fitness industry, and tell you that each of these people has a trainer for one aspect of their program or another. And, off the top of my head, I could name another 15 who I would allow to help me.

Which brings me around to the main subject of this article.

I have a personal trainer.

More often than not, this surprises people. The obvious question is, “why would an expert on training—who’s designed countless programs—hire someone else to train him?”

That question doesn’t just apply to me, of course. You might be wondering why any of the top coaches in the world—let alone all of them—would decide to hire other coaches.

While the main reason that people seek out coaches is simple (“I want better results”), there’s a litany of secondary and tertiary reasons that support that primary goal. And we’ll talk about all of them.

You see, I’m of the mind that everyone can use a coach; I believe everyone can benefit from coaching.

So. Let’s talk about why I hired one. 

I’m going to be honest here. Really and truly honest. For a long time, my workouts sucked. They sucked HARD. To the point where I pretty much hated training.

This got so bad that I was skipping workouts at least a few times a week, and when I wasn’t doing that, I was phoning it in. In short, my training was just…well, awful.

I can’t tell you why, exactly. It was probably a combination of things. Stress. Life. You know the deal.

This was in October of last year. I’d been living in Cali for a few months, was adjusting to the life of a married man and stepfather, dealing with a few massive changes in my business…that kind of thing.

I guess the long and short of it is that somewhere along the way, training became more of a burden than an outlet. It became a chore instead of a priority. Naturally, things went south in a bad way. I stayed in the best shape I could despite this, but you know how that goes.

After nearly two months of this, I decided I really needed to turn things around. I spoke to a few people about it, but no one was much help. Other fitness professionals would just nod sagely, and say, “oh, it’s just burn out. Take a few months off and you’ll be fine.” Not a bad idea, I guess, just not what I wanted.

Ironically, it was one of my former clients who provided the answer. One day, I was talking to my boy Claudio (one of the featured transformations in ALPHA), and he asked me, “When was the last time you actually enjoyed training?”

I thought about it and finally replied, “When I was still living in NYC.”

That made me think. Why was that the last time I was really enjoying my time in the gym? What was different?

The answer was simple: back in New York, I had a trainer—a great one, who also happened to be one of my best friends. I wrote about this here, but for those who aren’t aware of the story, you probably know him, anyway.

My former trainer’s name is Matt McGorry. We stopped training when I moved out to Cali, which turned out to be pretty auspicious timing, because that pretty much coincided with the time Matt was cast in the Netflix original series Orange is the New Black, and subsequently became way too fucking famous to be training me, anyway.

(These days you can see his pretty mug on the new ABC drama, How to Get Away With Murder. And, yes, it’s weird for me to see him on TV. )

This pretty much decided this issue. I needed a coach. Thankfully, I happen to know a few people, so I reached out to some of the best in the biz.

Since Matt was busy being a TV star, I decided to check in with some of my other friends. I decided that I wanted someone to design an intense program for me, and I would execute it in the gym. Online training, just like I offer with my coaching program.

Designing a program for myself was out of the question, so I reached out to my buddy Erik Ledin, of Lean Bodies Consulting. Erik and I go way back, and I love both the results he gets and his general approach.

Without question, hiring Erik was one of the most intelligent things I’ve ever done. Ever.

I worked with Erik for just two months, but that was more than enough to jump start my results, and get me to a place where I enjoyed training again — and that was just the start of all the advantages.

Certainly, my results were better, but there were other benefits as well. The truth is, training with someone else’s programming brings the intensity to a whole new level. Not just because it’s good programming, but because someone else is doing the hard part: the thinking.

When I was designing my own workouts, I still had to think. And because I was splitting my attention between thinking and training, there was just no way I could focus 100% on training. Having someone else do the thinking really helped me focus on just showing up and executing.

I got to just focus on is training as hard as possible. Each minute, I’d just focus on this exercise, this set, this rep. In other words, I got to turn my brain off for an hour.

I’d just show up, do as I’m told, and work as hard as I can.

This made all of my sessions more productive than they’d been in a very, very long time.

Now, of course, for me (or any fitness pro) this ONLY worked because I trust Erik implicitly. If I had just hired some random trainer, it might be harder to turn off my critical eye, and question or second-guess him at every turn; obviously things wouldn’t work out as well.

For non-fitness professionals, having a high level of belief in your coach is still imperative: if you don’t trust your coach, you can’t benefit maximally. Which is why you should hire someone elite, who has gotten results for people in your situation; the credibility lends itself to trust

All of which is to say that I believe everyone should have a coach—at least at some point, even if it’s only for a short time.

No matter the industry or category, coaches—great coaches—have a way of bringing the best out of you and taking you to the next level.

You see, simply entering into a coaching/student relationship brings immediate benefits, and allows you—the person being coached—to progress simply by the nature of these advantages.

Briefly, some of the main advantages of coaching are:

  1. Knowledge/Expertise – This is (hopefully) the main reason people hire a coach or trainer. The person you’re hiring has a high level of expertise with the given subject, and can leverage that knowledge to your benefit. In the case of training, you’ll get in better shape, and hopefully learning something.
  2. Extrinsic Motivation – Simply, people work harder and perform better when someone else is helping them. Coaches in particular have this effect because they are actively pushing you to reach within yourself for more.  The combination of motivation and intensity always leads to greater progress and better results.
  3. Accountability – By FAR, this is the greatest benefit of coaching. If you know someone is counting on you, you show up. Both physically, and metaphorically. Hiring a coach gives you multiple types of accountability. Let’s look at fitness coaching—if you hire a trainer, you’re paying for it and therefore a LOT more likely to work hard, a lot LESS likely to skip workouts, and in general more prone to taking your program seriously. As for non-financial accountability, the simple fact that someone is investing time in your success obligates you (emotionally) to strive to perform and achieve. We’re people pleasers, and when we place people in a position of authority (trainer) we are hard-wired to want to please them even more. Anyone who’s ever played a sport knows how much it hurts to think you’ve let your coach down. This translates into training, business coaching, therapy, or nearly anything else. Knowing we have to report our actions, and those actions are being examined, and to some extent, evaluated makes us want to be on our best behavior at all times. It’s no surprise that the mere act of hiring a coach often spurs people to new heights of success.
  4. Love and Friendship – This happens later in a coaching relationship. I can tell you as both a coach and a client, if you invest in someone emotionally, and they invest in you, and you’re both working towards mutual success, it’s impossible not to grow closer. Your goals are their goals, and so their successes become your successes. Your ups are their ups; their downs are your downs. Despite the oft-lauded notion needing to maintain a baseline level of professionalism, the coaching/student relationship is, in my experience the coach/student relationship is ALWAYS enhanced when care about each other. This is why I have always said that, on some level, the “personal” aspect of personal training is more important than the “training part.”
  5. Caring for each other enhances both motivation and accountability.

Those are just some of the benefits of coaching; there are far too many to list.

As I said, I don’t think everyone NEEDS a coach—but I think just about anyone can benefit from coaching.

Coaches themselves understand this fact the most intimately, which perhaps explains why trainers and coaches are “over-presented” in my programs; any given point, fully 50% of the clients enrolled in my online coaching program are other fitness professionals.

If you want to read a personal account of someone who has experienced ALL of the benefits listed above, check out the piece below, by one of my coaching graduates, Tony.

Before I started training with Roman I had a vague (at best) sense of where I was going, training-wise. I grew up overweight and have never really been able to describe myself as “lean,” and have definitely never been considered “ripped.” That’s what I wanted. For some reason, however, I was habitually fooling myself into thinking that I was bringing enough to the table to get that done despite the lack of results from month-to-month.

Enter John Romaniello – trainer and coach, fitness expert and all-around badass. You knew that already. What you don’t know is how great of a friend he is.

Training with John was an ever-evolving experience. At the beginning, I looked at it from a more traditional point-of- view. By that I mean that I viewed John as merely my coach and myself as just another client. Almost immediately I realized that he didn’t look at me as “just another client.” To John I was Tony and he was going to do all he could to help me get what I wanted. That alone helped me substantially.

Not only was Roman a new friend who just happened to be helping me get into shape I found out quickly just how much he really knows. I was astonished at how humbling his programming was for me. Here I thought I had really been doing work in the gym – ha! The joke was on me there. John showed me what it really meant to work, but the help didn’t stop in the gym. His nutritional advice was spot-on and produced unreal results. He didn’t try to cram a bunch of supplements down my throat—only sound, proactive advice and strategies designed to help me reach my goals.

As I assume happens with a lot of his clients, I also brought some of life’s problems into the coaching experience with me. John didn’t shy from those issues – he had plenty of encouraging and helpful words for me when I needed them most. As we progressed with the coaching, he’d answer my questions, but also follow up and ask about my life. Partially it was because the information helped him refine my program, but part was because he actually cared. All of that just trickled back down into the awesomeness of the training experience.

To make a long story short, if you want to take a step towards bettering your health and looking good, give enroll in his online coaching and you won’t be disappointed.

In the past months I’ve done more than I ever thought I could (both inside and outside of the gym), made strides toward my goal physique, coped with and confronted things and made a new friend to boot. I can now claim that I’m in the best shape of my life and only improving from here on. For that I can’t thank Roman enough, but this testimonial is my first step. Thanks for reading.

-Tony Roe      

Tony is just one of the hundreds of people who have graduated from my coaching program over the years. Tony, like so many other people who have gone through the program, has achieved results beyond what he and they thought possible. They’re now living in bodies they thought they could never have. They’re now happy and secure in the knowledge that they invested in themselves.

I could not be prouder to have helped them, or to call them friends.

And now, I could not be prouder to announce that I want to help the next group—and I have just 8 spots available.

You see, just last week, I announced a brand new iteration of the coaching program. Not only has every aspect been improved upon in some way, I’ve also streamlined the process.

Perhaps most impressively…over the past 6 months, I’ve spend countless hours (and a LOT of dolla dolla billz) having custom software designed, that will make the coaching experience better for my clients. Every single interaction is easier, and every aspect of the program is now MORE effective.

I’ve been able to increase capacity (this coaching “class” is the largest I’ve ever taken on), but I still have room for EIGHT more people. And I’d love you to be one of them.

So, I want you to ask yourself…

Are you the type of person who can benefit from coaching? Perhaps. If any of these apply to you, then yes.

  • You’re trying to get to the next level…
  • You find yourself lacking motivation…
  • You find yourself spinning your wheels…
  • You just can’t figure out why you’re not progressing…

If any of those apply to you, it’s time to consider letting someone else take the reins. Let me be your guide.

I can’t wait to help you get to the next level, as I’ve helped Tony, and as Matt has helped me.

If you allow me to leverage my knowledge; if you allow me to motivate you; if you allow yourself to be accountable to me; if you allow us to develop the kind of relationship that bonds us in a common cause—consider what you can accomplish.

Consider my track record.  Consider my success.  Consider my methods.

Consider investing in yourself.

Then…consider the alternative.

Isn’t it time you got what you’ve been working for?

Let’s do this. Together.  

=====> Apply for online coaching. <===== 

Oh, and…if you were curious about Tony’s progress…he went from 215 pounds at 23% body fat to 194 and 11%. This means he dropped about 23 pounds of fat while gaining 7 pounds of muscle—in just 16 weeks.

In terms of other improvements…Tony says, “I’d say my best improvements were in the way of conditioning – like being able to jump rope for 20 minutes straight at varying intensity, move through circuits at a brisk pace, etc. However, my Bulgarian split squat (goblet style) went up drastically – to the tune of being able to do the 5/5/5 with a 70-pound dumbbell and no rest (from a typical load of 40 and needing to rest a few times). The balance and coordination aspect of this was greatly improved, too.  Overall, in addition to looking better, I’m just fitter and more capable. I just feel that I’m a better version of myself, in every way.”

Now how’s THAT for progress?

Now, of course, Tony isn’t the only person to feel that way. There’s Jim Crowell, who also acknowledges that training was life changing…

Jim Crowell Facebook Testimonial

=====> Apply for online coaching. <===== 

Or, you could look at a client like Poli, whose physical transformation was pretty amazing.

We could also look at Claudio, the bro I mentioned earlier. His pictures are all over the internet, but you can check out some of the kind words he left on Facebook here…

=====> Apply for online coaching. <===== 

So. As I said, I have 8 spots available for the new coaching class. I’ve got a group of amazing people signed on, and I’d like to fill it out even further.

I’d like to help YOU change your life the way I’ve helped other people change theirs.

Are you in?

I truly hope so.

You can apply here.

About the Author

John Romaniello is a level 70 orc wizard who spends his days lifting heavy shit and his nights fighting crime. When not doing that, he serves as the Chief Bro King of the Roman Empire and Executive Editor here on RFS. You can read his articles here, and rants on Facebook.

Comments for This Entry

  • Stephen Davis

    See this is why for those who want to continue working with you - I suggest offer extension Now the question is who is Training John Romaniello?

    September 26, 2014 at 6:34 pm

  • Ty C

    Jesus, I could not be any more excited about the next chapter in this fitness journey. Started as a Tennis player, confused, frustrated in the gym, wondering what to do, where to start? Had a couple fun sessions with a personal trainer, lots of clever/creative and fun workouts but hard to wrap one's mind around... Start taking bootcamp classes, swung kettlebells, had a coach, progressed so fast. Read ETA, decided to step it up again, I'm a damn athlete, I should be able to lift heavy weights, fear of bad form lead me to hire another trainer. He simplified it in ways that made training something easy to wrap my head around, lifted over 300lbs in squat and deadifts, awesome! Happy with myself, train on my own, squatting and deadlifting heavy still, but progression not linear. John is awesome on social media, John promotes online coaching system, Ty signs up, Ty hella excited!

    September 26, 2014 at 5:57 pm

  • Tim Bellisari

    Great article. You hit it right on the head. As an Athletic Trainer and high school wrestling coach I see it first hand how the benefits of a good coach/motivator can bring people to new levels. I never thought about for myself but it makes perfect sense. Thank you

    September 26, 2014 at 11:48 am

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