Tested: The Personal Trainer

So is it really worth forking out for a personal trainer? Marie Claire finds out…

Mix it up - Reasons to go running - Fitness - Marie Claire
Mix it up - Reasons to go running - Fitness - Marie Claire
(Image credit: Rex Features)

So is it really worth forking out for a personal trainer? Marie Claire finds out…

As I stare at myself in the floor-to-ceiling mirrors (there ostensibly so I can see what my body's doing as I attempt to squat, lunge and generally wince), it strikes me that I'm not really equipped for exercise. The leggings I'm wearing are at least ten years old and the trainers, which I think must have been sent into work as a freebie as I definitely don't remember buying them, are bright neon blue. I look faintly ridiculous, and that's before you factor in the feeble attempts at lifting weights. We discover embarrassingly quickly that they don't make Kettlebells light enough for me to lift… and so begins my month with personal trainer Jarod Chapman.

I am not a gym bunny, the last time I attempted a bike ride my boyfriend got so frustrated at my general lack of speed he cycled off without me, and early morning starts to get a workout session in before work are not appealing, but for one month I am giving myself over to Jarod, who after a year on the road with Tina Turner, is turning his attentions to one with slightly less impressive thigh muscles.

WEEK ONE Buoyed up by my holier-than-thou, healthy starts to the day, I'm practically skipping to the office in the mornings (although exhausted by around 3pm). To my relief there's been no pounding the treadmill and instead lots of weights, squats and 'core-stability exercises', read: fancy sit-ups, that still have me sweating, but should tone up everything untoned about me, read: everything. Some good habits are rubbing off though (or maybe it's because Jarod's forcing me to keep a food diary, which he wants to see) and walking back to work after my third session, I wander into M&S to stock up on food for the day and force myself down the salad aisle rather than heading straight for the sarnies. Today's lunch: spicy crayfish tails with quinoa and sprouting peas (and a chocolate mousse from the healthy eating session, I might be picking up healthy habits, but my sweet tooth's still firmly in place).

WEEK TWO With all sessions so far having taken place in the early hours of the morning, in week two we add a weekend workout. Saturday's midday start feels somewhat indulgent. There's also the advantage, for Jarod at least, that it gives me time to wash my face and brush my hair before arriving. A regular session so far has involved a top-to-toe approach to exercise, moving between arms and legs, free weights and machines, but to mix things up a little, we have a souped-up Pilates session this week, which involves lots of me trying not to fall off a large exercise ball. Unfortunately, to my cost I discover that Saturday training + Saturday night dancing = not being able to walk on Sunday, or Monday for that matter.

WEEK THREE Inspired by all the healthy activity, I've signed up for a three-day trial of The Pure Package's Bikini Body eating plan. It starts well with a little fridge bag waiting on my doorstep first thing on Monday morning. Breakfast of Bircher muesli is delicious, lunch of egg on rye bread with salad actually stops a colleague in her tracks as she walks past my desk and I even get dairy-free chocolate mousse for pudding with dinner. Tuesday morning dawns bright and early, although today someone has swiped my Pure Package parcel from my doorstep. To make up for it, Jarod is waiting in the studio with a pile of new Nike workout gear (clearly my raggy leggings were getting too much for both of us). Bouncing around in matching new trainers, there's some new stomach exercises in today's routine and I learn how to stretch properly myself (up until now, Jarod's been the one attempting to pull my arms out of their sockets at the end of each hour). Not nearly as fun as having someone else do it for you, at least I'm learning what to do when my month is up and I have to motivate myself to do all this exercise without a chirpy personal trainer to force me.

WEEK FOUR There's clearly something wrong with me because I wake up this week actually looking forward to working out. I haven't looked forward to exercise since a sixth-form crush on one of the guys who worked at my local gym. With a trip to Paris on the horizon and the fact I'm about to be unleashed on the world to train 'solo', Jarod spends this week's sessions devising a routine for me using elastic bands (not the small brown kind, but not dissimilar in texture), which I am apparently going to take with me and hook onto my hotel room's door to ensure four days in Paris do not three weeks' exercising results undo. I have to say, he has more confidence in my degree of willpower than I do. We also add in some morning runs together from my office, which is all well and good until the rain comes down – although I'm dutifully informed that exercise in bad weather shows real commitment.

WEEK FIVE And so I'm on my own. After a month, I can genuinely see a difference in my body – it's not quite Jennifer Aniston's yet, but there is actual tone to my arms (wouldn't stretch to use the word muscles just yet) and I can run for half an hour without turning beetroot red. I do stick with my prescribed exercises in Paris, although scared of getting lost I do my 'run' on a dusty machine in the poky little gym in my hotel's basement. Back at home, my exercise bands aren't getting quite the three-times-a-week turnout they should, but I am actually jogging, cycling (at a speed deemed acceptable by my other half) and doing plenty of those core-stability exercises I was shown, which I figure is only fair given that while I might have reconciled myself with the odd early start to get fitter, I haven't yet worked out how to kick my addiction to those M&S chocolate puddings.

To contact Jarod Chapman, log onto www.jarodchapman.com. You can also watch his at-home workouts within the fitness channel at marieclaire.co.uk/mctv.

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