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From Maintaining Motivation to Developing Key Skills: Exploring the Value of a PT in Sports College 

By Jane Sandwood

University drop out rates in South Africa are noted to be “remarkably high” — in fact, between 50 and 60 percent of first year students drop out in their first year of varsity. While many students may leave due to reasons relating to finances, work, or family, others may experience academic challenges. For those enrolled in a sports college program, however, meeting fitness goals while balancing the academic side of things can present as a daunting challenge. Hiring a personal trainer (PT), however, can present a variety of advantages for student athletes — from gaining a personalised fitness plan to working on individual skills that can be brought to the team.

Developing key skills

Whether it be related to the sport you play or general fitness, working on the development of key skills is a great reason to enlist the help of a private trainer. Not only will you receive individualised attention, but you can work on weaknesses in a safe space, effectively allowing you to bring those skills to your team. A private trainer can also help in breaking up the monotony in your workout routine, allowing you to develop skills in a variety of areas rather than just a few. Healthline highlights one study, which followed 21 resistance-trained men over the course of eight weeks. One group completed a fixed exercise routine, while the other completed a randomly varied routine through an app. “Researchers found that changing things up with a varied workout routine made people feel more motivated,” Healthline noted, further pointing out that the fixed and varied routines also had similar muscular effects.

Staying motivated

When it comes to meeting fitness goals, remaining consistent can become a major challenge for many, especially student athletes who are navigating academic goals as well those relating to sports and fitness. As such, hiring a PT can make a world of difference when it comes to remaining accountable to your goals, and can help greatly in staying motivated, too. Staying motivated can be a major struggle for many when aiming to work on personal fitness goals outside of their team. “Many people lose motivation when they exercise on their own, and they begin to reduce the frequency or intensity of their workouts,” Verywell Health points out, noting that a PT can help avoid this. Personal trainers can also work with you to create realistic goals as well as a personalised, tailored workout plan that is generally impossible to get when exercising as a team. Having a personalised training plan has additional benefits, as it can help ambitious student athletes from ‘overdoing it’ while still achieving their goals, effectively taking a significant amount of stress out of the equation.

Challenges surrounding mental health can also complicate finding and maintaining the motivation needed to meet fitness goals. According to the South African Sports Medicine Association (SASMA), mental health issues in elite young athletes are common. “Maintaining an athlete’s “super human” identity as well as pressure from parents and coaches are all contributing factors.” Psychology Today points out the risks related to mental health for elite athletes, which include the training schedule, being away from family, injury, education level, chronic pain, and levels of athletic identity, to highlight just a few, though student athletes are also saddled with academic responsibilities (from deadlines to exam prep, etc.).  In addition to addressing mental health concerns through a medical professional, obtaining a private trainer can be a great way to alleviate the pressure that comes from meeting fitness goals. By providing expert guidance, realistic workout plans, and positive encouragement along the way, a personal trainer can help you ease into a solid and healthy routine.

The importance of a highly qualified PT

Student athletes face a variety of challenges while at sports college, from juggling a full schedule of classes and practice to maintaining a social life. However, some students may face specific challenges that can further complicate their time spent in college and as an athlete — such as navigating a sports injury. For example, the pressure to “push through” can outweigh the risks to some driven athletes, resulting in further injury and setbacks. Enlisting the help of a private trainer that specialises in helping athletes with injuries, however, can help an athlete successfully recover by guiding them through the right exercises safely.

When looking for the right private trainer for you and your needs, there are a few things worth keeping in mind. In addition to finding someone who specialises in various skill sets, Sports Illustrated Showcase points out that quality personal trainers are essential to a proper experience. “Quality personal trainers possess the knowledge and expertise needed to create personalised workout programs based on your current fitness level, specific goals and any limitations or injuries you may have.” Ensuring that a prospective PT is properly qualified is paramount to hiring the right individual, while reviewing their prior experience will allow you to gain an understanding as to whether they’re suited to your needs. In addition to being highly qualified and free of criminal convictions, holding an in-person interview before beginning private sessions will allow you to ask questions while simultaneously determining whether there is a good rapport worth pursuing in the gym on a regular basis.

For student athletes, navigating the academics of college while maintaining fitness goals can be a major challenge — especially when additional factors (like mental health) are involved. By enlisting the help of a professional personal trainer, student athletes can benefit from maintaining motivation, realistic and tailored workouts, and striving towards both academic and personal fitness goals.


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