Fitness Trainer and Financial Advisor

In a previous post Pay Someone to Enforce the Discipline, I compared fitness trainers to financial advisors.

"I’m pretty sure [the trainees] can get exercise routines off the Internet and do the same exercises on their own. Are those people foolish in paying good money for nothing?"

Peter Sagal is the host of NPR’s new quiz show Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!. He also runs marathons. He wrote a story in Runner’s World magazine about engaging a personal trainer.

He confessed that using a trainer has created reliance. He finds himself at a loss not knowing how to exercise when he’s traveling. He also can’t pin down the tangible improvement from working with the trainer on top of his own efforts. However, he wrote,

"But even if some heartless physiologist were to prove to me that my sessions with Tess weren’t doing me any good at or at least no more good than my old, unguided hours of wrestling with weights, I would still look forward to Friday mornings, and being dragged through the stations of the cross-fit."

Sounds like an ideal financial advisor client! Why pay a trainer even if it’s proven ineffective? Because the trainer provides

1. Inspiration

"First, I get to enjoy the sympathetic magic of hanging out with someone much fitter, more attractive, and more cheerful than I am."

2. Attention

"Even more important is something even harder to come by in this distracted world, and that is another person’s full and complete attention.

… …

"Attention must be paid, so sometimes we end up paying for it. And it’s worth every penny."

Link to full article: Getting Personal.

Do you agree with Peter Sagal? Is a fitness trainer or a financial advisor "worth every penny"? Can clients really do just as well on their own? Which attention-giving business is worth getting into?

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  1. wm tanksley says

    I don’t hire a financial advisor; but I could imagine doing so if I had enough money to be worth my time in selecting one.


    For the same essential reason that if I were a lawyer, I would hire a lawyer to represent me: because a professional forms, evaluates, and executes plans professionally and without regard for persons, while I mistakenly think that every idea I have is pretty clever.

    The saying among lawyers is “A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.”

    Now, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t pay a pro to actually directly handle my accounts, and if I were working out I probably wouldn’t have a personal trainer every Friday; but professional supervision gives SOME benefit.


  2. Dan says

    My wife is a strength and conditioning coach. She has worked with athletes and general population. Almost all have seen improvements that they know are coming from her sessions (and in the athletes case, she measures them). So I find it weird that Peter can’t pin down any improvements due to the training. So either he isn’t being honest with assessing his improvement or his trainer isn’t very good.

    For instance “And in those three years, I’ve set a PR in the half-marathon, finished two others in sub-1:30, and qualified for the Boston Marathon twice, while keeping injuries and strains to a minimum. So, clearly, working with my personal trainer has done wonders for me, and I shall never mock those who do it again.”

    Yet he can’t pin down whether it was due to his training or hers. Did he radically changed his own training methods in those three years as to make this hard to assess? If he really doesn’t feel those aren’t at least partially due to his trainer, I feel that he isn’t getting what he should out of the paying for the training. Sure the psychological benefits are nice, but you should also be able to figure out there are physical ones as well.

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