I hired a personal trainer for 3 months

I hired a personal trainer for three months in 2023, was it worth it?

So in July 2023, I decided that I wanted to hire a personal trainer to help me organise my strength training routine, and specific mobility issues and have someone to hold me accountable for my nutrition.

After spending a few weeks performing research, and looking at the wealth of personal trainers both locally and online, I made my decision.

The trainer

I’ve been following a trainer called Corey Baird / Corey’s Lean Living for some time, he is based in New Zealand and is a LES MILLS Trainer amongst other things – you’ll have most likely seen him in action if you’ve seen any LES MILLS CORE or BODYBALANCE masterclasses. You can find his social profiles below:

Corey's Instagram

However, the main reason I chose Corey wasn’t down to his history with LES MILLS, although you might argue I was only aware of him due to my affiliation with LES MILLS, it was because he had recently turned 50 and looked to be in the sort of shape I aspire to be in when I reach that age. I’m not talking six packs either, from following him on Instagram his strength and mobility were impressive, and it was this that was very appealing to me.

So I sent Corey an email, as per his Instagram and patiently waited for a reply. After a few days, Corey replied with a friendly response that asked me a couple of initial questions, e.g. my location, and detailed his options for working together looked like.

I won’t go into specifics, as Corey can cover that directly with you if you’re interested in working with him, but I was given four options:

  • Training and nutrition – with Zoom monthly calls, email/WhatsApp comms
  • Training and nutrition – with email/WhatsApp comms only
  • Training – with Zoom monthly calls, email/WhatsApp comms
  • Training – with email/WhatsApp comms only

No matter which one of the four options you select, Corey provides a 12-week personalised training program that is broken down into three 4-week periodised programs based on your goals. You cannot pause your program once it starts so be sure that you’re able to complete all 12 weeks in sequence.

The setup

Before we got started, Corey sent me a few links to review and complete before we got underway:

  • A Google Form that covered some basic questions for me to answer
  • Sign up for iNutritionPro (nutrition tracking web app)
  • Sign up to PtEnhance (training tracking web app) and complete assigned questionnaires, these covered
    • Diet, exercise and sleep diary
    • Medical history and present medical condition
    • HLC1 nutrition and lifestyle questionnaire
    • Pain and discomfort questionnaire
    • Consent form and waiver
  • Corey also requested I send him three photos (front, back and side profiles), my current weight and measurements around my midline (at belly button height).

These questionnaires were interesting as they got me thinking about my diet, any aches/pains I’m currently dealing with, my exercise/training routine (including when I teach my classes), and how well I’m sleeping.

Following this, Corey and I agreed on the date I would start my training program and nutrition tracking. I received my first block (4 weeks) of training via PtEnhance along with my calories and macro split (protein, carb, fat) via iNutritionPro.

Getting started

I wasn’t sure what I was going to receive from a nutrition perspective, but I was grateful that it was calories and macros with some suggested meals, which allowed me to have lots of flexibility with what I eat. I had worries about it being a “just eat chicken or fish with veg for each meal” plan, which wouldn’t have worked for me, so I am glad Corey provides this flexibility to his clients.

I didn’t find the iNutritionPro very easy to use or intuitive so I opted to track my daily calories using the industry standard, MyFitnessPal (MFP). I had used MFP before so it made sense to continue using something I already had and knew how to use, not to mention they have a pretty decent and fast iPhone app which made tracking foods simple and quick to do.

Before I knew it I was already, and pretty easily, cleaning up my diet, removing the cookies, chocolate bars, cake and sweets with relative ease. I completely surprised myself with this change as I know doing this on my own I’d have been much more likely to take a “one won’t hurt” or “let’s start again tomorrow” approach which would have led to me giving up – again. Knowing Corey was expecting to see results at the end of each month made my adherence to the plan much better.

The training was very different, in a good way, from the usual metcons and “strength workouts” I’d usually do, picking random ones from Instagram or from one of the many apps I’ve tried over the years, such as Fiit. Now there is nothing wrong with apps like Fiit, I’m an advocate, but knowing I get a lot of HIIT and cardio from teaching my LES MILLS classes I really wanted my focus to become about strength and mobility.

Corey took what I had available in my home gym (he had this information from the questionnaires) along with the time I had available each week and provided me with a training plan to suit my goals. If you’re interested, here are some of the movements he prescribed for me:

  • Split squat
  • Reverse nordic
  • Poliquin slant board step up
  • Hip knee extension (swiss ball)
  • Hip thrusts
  • Reverse hyper (swiss ball)
  • Bench press
  • Lat pullover
  • Chest flys

He also gave me how many sets, reps and suggested weights (from what I have available) along with any specific guidance on each exercise in the notes.

As you can see it was varied and had a focus on the weak points I had mentioned in my responses to the questionnaires. Given Corey was on the other side of the world he proactively requested for me to send him videos via WhatsApp of the final set of each exercise as often as I could so he could provide me with feedback, even if it was a “this is looking great”, that was good motivation knowing I was on the right track. He also continued to quiz me on how challenging I was finding the exercises, so he could scale up or down based on my feedback.

Time for a break

At the beginning of October, we had previously booked a week away in Cape Verde. This was an all inclusive, sit in the sun all day kind of holiday, which had the makings of undoing all of the good work I’d put in up until that point. But thankfully the hotel gym had just enough equipment for me to do my workouts pretty much as planned, so each day before the breakfast buffet we headed to the gym and got ~45 minutes in, which not only felt good given I was able to stick to the plan, it also gave me that feel good feeling and set me up for the day.

From a nutrition perspective, at the beginning of the holiday I was more strict with what I was eating and drinking, but as the holiday went on I realised all wouldn’t be lost if I indulged a little and I’ll get back to it once we get home – I was only coming here once after all!

Getting back to it

When we got home from Cape Verde (it was lovely by the way!) I continued to weigh in daily and my weight fluctuated pretty wildly for a few days, this probably had something to do with flying, water retention and the volume of food I’d eaten in the last few days! But once I was back on top of my nutrition my weight soon levelled out and I was going back in the right direction once again.

By this time I was starting phase 3 (the third and final month) of Corey’s program, and like the two phases before this, the exercises, reps, tempos and recommended weights changed once again. This month the weights got heavier and we continued working on my strength and mobility with some super challenging exercises (for me), including:

  • Swiss ball push-ups
  • Swiss ball knee flexion
  • Knees over toes calf raises
  • Prone pikes on swiss ball
  • Reverse nordics
  • Hack squat
  • Standing wall bridge
  • Standing back bridge

Communication with Corey

Throughout our three months working together, Corey and I had numerous messages via WhatsApp, where I would send him clips of me moving through the exercises, along with discussing how challenging I was finding the programming. Corey always had some constructive feedback and praise for my efforts, which helps to keep you motivated during our dark, cold winter mornings.

We also had three video calls via Zoom (one per month), the first was 30 minutes and the following two calls were supposed to be 15 minutes, but in reality, they were more like 25-30 minutes each. The calls generally consisted of some friendly general chat (which was nice) at the start and then we worked through how my nutrition was progressing, followed by the workouts. Corey would give me additional advice and rationale along the way to ensure I was comfortable and understood the why behind everything we were doing.

My results

As far as the workouts go, to my knowledge, we weren’t specifically tracking my strength or mobility in a particular way. When we caught up I would feedback to Corey on how I was feeling, and I was generally feeling good, I wasn’t feeling quite so tight all the time, especially around my hips and thoracic spine, and many of my niggles I’d put up with for some time had either gone or were less noticeable as often. Needless to say, this all left me feeling rather positive.

Alongside this, I also enjoyed the process of having a strength training plan to follow, which helped me stick to the process, left me feeling strong as I was progressing my weights over the weeks/months, and it was nice doing less “cardio”, e.g. LES MILLS classes (on my own) or metcons/CrossFit style workouts.

We were tracking my nutrition (via MyFitnessPal) and the effect that had on my body (weight and measurement). To give you an idea of what cleaning up my diet, having a strength and mobility training plan to follow, and sticking to the recommended calories/macros did for me, despite having a 7 night all inclusive holiday:

9th August 2023
(What I provided to Corey before we started)

  • Weight: 91.3kg
  • Waist: 96cm

27th October 2023
(The last set of measurements I gave Corey, around 11 weeks in)

  • Weight: 87.9kg
  • Waist: 91cm

Note: the waist measurement was taken at the belly button level, first thing in the morning, before food.

I haven’t measured my waist since, but my last weigh in on 20th November 2023 was 86.4kg.

I wasn’t necessarily looking to lose much weight during this process, but having lost around 5kg does feel nice, I feel more confident topless and teaching my classes, but the downside was some of my trousers are quite loose now!

In summary

I cannot recommend Corey and having a personal trainer enough, it has been a great experience for me, so much so I’ve decided to do another three months working with Corey solely focussing on my strength and mobility as I’m quite happy with my nutrition now.

From a nutrition perspective, having a professional providing me with calories/macros and knowing I’ll need to discuss my progress with them was enough to help me shift my bad habits and stay accountable. I also feel better too, I have no tummy issues and maybe I am looking better for my age (due to having a lot less sugar!) – who knows!

From a training perspective, having someone know my issues and provide me with a suitable plan to match my goals was great. Having the guesswork taken out of how I spend my own training time was motivating, just turning up and following the plan kept me going when I didn’t always feel like it.

This isn’t something I would do forever but it’s been enjoyable in several ways:

  • Having someone to hold me accountable
  • Being provided with calories/macros and nutritional guidance
  • Being provided with a strength and mobility plan that meets my goals
  • Having ongoing support via WhatsApp and Zoom calls
  • Not having to go to a local gym to meet my trainer multiple times per week (this hasn’t been discussed but I’ve enjoyed this)
  • Seeing results from the effort I’ve put in over the 12 weeks
  • Corey was a good match for me personally

So there you go, thank you for reading this far and if you have any questions about my experience please let me know. Corey’s details are at the top of this post so if you wish to approach him for help, please do, just let him know I sent you.


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