As a Scottsdale Personal Trainer on more than one occasion I have had clients come to me and say "I've been working out with another trainer but I have not been receiving the results I think I should be." My first response to this is usually "well how is your diet looking?" If they tell me that their diet is dialed in, I'll ask "have you been doing your cardio?" Again if the response is positive and they have in fact been doing their cardio, I'll ask "do your workouts leave you exhausted and sweaty?" If the other two answers are favorable this response is usually "sort of, my trainer and I go through the motions and do a lot of talking."
Now I'm not suggesting that it's not OK to talk with your trainer or client during a workout but the point I'm trying to make is more often than not you will encounter trainers who lack one very important element to being effective. Intensity. That one word can be the difference between you the client getting your money's worth and you having a seventy dollar per hour friend. Usually the trainers I've seen do this are oblivious to the fact that they even do it. Most of the time they think that if they can hold a "good conversation" with their client for an hour then they are giving value. This does not make them bad people. They're just clueless to the one word that stops them from being great trainers and you from getting your results sooner. Intensity.
I find that when I mention intensity to people the first reaction is often intrusion. I'm not a fan of intimidation. While that form of training does seem to work well in the military. The average Joe off the street usually does not respond well to this type of training. Occidentally you will have a client who requests the "boot camp" style workout but in general it's not appropriate.
When I talk about intensity I'm referring to a mindset. It's an attitude. We can have fun and we can talk but at the core of this workout we're here to work OUT. This is something that should be understood by both the trainer and the client. Now obviously not everyone is the same. Every client is going to require different levels of "intensity." What might be intense for one client may seem like a light warm up to another. This is where your trainer is so valuable. The trainers job is to find what is the correct intensity for YOU.
Here is a brief breakdown of a workout with intensity and one that goes through the motors. We're going to use caloric expenditure to prove this. These numbers are based on the "calorie expenditure calculator" provided on Hampden-Sydney College website ( http://www2.hsc.edu/fitness/calculators/calories.html )
In the first example we're going to use a 200lb individual who is exercising for one hour with their trainer.
Weight training (normal) = 470 calories burned
Weight training (intense) = 640 calories burned
Difference of = 170 calories or that Pepsi you had with lunch
Now this is just a general "estimate" to their version of an intestinal workout. I have had clients regularly burn 800 calories + after we've been training together for a little while.
Lets look at another example. This time we'll take someone who is 135lbs and enjoys swimming for an hour on their own at home.
Swimming (casual) = 405 calories burned
Swimming (fictional = 1305 calories burned or 65% of the average 2000 calorie diet.
This is a great example of "going through the motors" and "doing work." Both individuals are spending an hour in the pool. One of them is going to look a lot different than the other after a few weeks.
If your workouts have begun to feel more like a social hour rather than a workout maybe it's time to try something different. You've already made the time commitment to be in the gym as well as the financial commitment for your trainer and membership. It's up to you to make sure that your getting the most out of your time and money.