Personal training is expensive!

People spend triple on their cable than they are willing to spend on fitness!

I’ve been thinking about the cost of personal and small group training.

Is it too expensive?

No.

Not really.

I was recently asked for my recommendation – she was willing to spend $30/month for a gym with classes and kickboxing. I had no solid recommendations – as those facilities do not offer programs that I would generally recommend. I offered some guidelines for what to ask, such as are the instructors certified?, but I didn’t have much to say.

Prioritized spending

The average American spends $86 per month on cable (does not include internet or phone).

Fifty-six percent of Americans have a smartphone – average cost is $200 for the phone (with a 2-year contract) and $71 a month – versus $36 per month for those “dumb” phones (from the CTIA Wireless Association).

The average American adult spends $2295 a year on alcohol.

Read 10 Things Americans Waste Money On.

A little perspective

Compare this to what she is willing to spend on fitness.

$30 x 12 months = $360 a year.

Wow.

$852 or more a year for a cell phone. $2296 a year for alcohol. A measly $360 a year for fitness.

This makes me sad.

Life costs money

Please do not get me wrong, I do realize personal training can be expensive. That is why I choose to offer different levels of service. Small group training and classes make fitness more affordable. As to not be a hypocrite, let me be honest with you.

Do I have a smartphone? Yes. And I could probably do without, but it would make some of my business dealings more difficult.

Do I have cable? No. I do not even own a television.

Do I buy alcohol? Rarely. I do not have an iPad or tablet. I rarely eat out – eating healthy at home saves money and calories.

My frivolous spending is limited to coffee (black, no fru-fru drinks) and the occasional pair of shoes (which I have to be able to wear for work).

The bottomline

I am not saying that everyone can afford personal training and should hire a personal trainer. There are many individuals out there who truly cannot afford it. I am just sharing a little perspective.

Think about where you spend your hard-earned money – is this spending improving the quality of your life?

And as always, if you are working with or thinking about working with a trainer, make sure he or she is a qualified professional.

Like what you read? Please visit me at Better By Becca!

Exercise & Pregnancy

I have been asked  to address the subject of exercise and pregnancy. The truth is, I do not have anything brilliant to say. There are many medical and professional organizations who have outlined exercise prescription during pregnancy. Unfortunately, some of the advice becomes well known and widely accepted – while other pieces of advice seem to be overlooked.

What we know

We know that the supine (back down, face up) position is not safe after the first trimester – the risk of venous obstruction is too great. What does that mean? The fetus will not be fed and nourished.

We know that pregnant women should not perform the Valsalva maneuver. An instructor or trainer will not name this as the next exercise to perform. It is something that individuals do unconsciously – and sometimes consciously – during exercise. Oversimplified, it is holding your breathe under strain – and this is common during isometric exercises such as planks or wall sits. To learn more about the Valsalva maneuver, click here.

We know that pregnant women should avoid contact sports, or any any activity that could cause loss of balance or trauma to the mother or fetus.

Often overlooked

There are numerous precautions regarding exercise and pregnancy that are too often overlooked.

For example, the thermoregulatory control. Pregnant women need an increased awareness of the ambient air temperature, humidity, etc. because the pregnant body is less efficient at temperature control.

High-intensity exercise should be avoided. In part because of the less efficient thermoregulation. In part because of the stress it puts on the mothers cardiorespiratory system. If it is putting stress on mom, it is putting stress on baby!

Pregnant women tend to have greater ligament elasticity – a result of the change in hormones (just like females have different elasticity during different portions of their cycles). This increases the risk of injury, such as hyperextension of the joint.

Pregnant women must be cautious with weight- and load-bearing exercise. This could include anything from running and jumping to squatting and overhead pressing. Because the weight distribution is different, there is added stress to the spine (e.g.,common to experience lower back pain). If not careful, exercises could increase lumbar lordosis and cause temporary or long-term conditions.

The basics

Here are the guiding principles regarding exercise during pregnancy:

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The bottomline

If you have been active for months and years leading up to pregnancy – then you can maintain a much higher activity and intensity level than a woman who has not. There are certain positions that all pregnant woman should avoid – not because pregnancy is an illness, but for the safety and health of the unborn child. Some exercises are dangerous and extremely difficult to perform correctly when you have a baby belly!

NOTE: This is not intended to be an exhaustive article. I have linked to some key resources below. If you are pregnant, always talk to your doctor and consider working with a qualified fitness professional. Be informed. Be smart. And keep you and your baby safe!

Like what you read? Please comment and share below and visit me at Better By Becca.

References

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1724598/pdf/v037p00006.pdf

http://www.acsm.org/docs/current-comments/exerciseduringpregnancy.pdf

ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, Edition 8

McArdle, W. D., Katch, F. I., & Katch, V. L. (2010). Exercise Physiology: Nutrition, Energy, and Human Performance (7th Ed.). Lippencott Williams & Wilkins: Philadelphia.

CrossFit: The good, the bad, and the ugly

I have been avoiding this post. The thought and energy that I have put into this is exhausting. But time and time again:

Is CrossFit a good choice for me?

99% of the time my answer is NO! My intent is to educate and inform – including the good, the bad, and the ugly.

My need for answers and information

I am a person who needs answers. I need to approach a topic from all perspectives and angles before I make a decision. (I come across as highly opinionated, but I am also highly informed and I therefore have great confidence in my opinion.)

Given my need for information, I decided that I needed to seek out scholarly and scientific support for CrossFit – as if I wanted to promote it. I spent endless hours searching for anything peer-reviewed. I was searching for legitimate research for the CrossFit model. I sought the input of colleagues and exercise physiologists – do they know of any research?

Nothing.

I did come across a study that measured the energy expenditure of CrossFit workouts versus other high intensity workouts. I do not question that you expend energy, so this study was less than helpful (not to mention had only 40 participants). Beyond this, there was nothing scholarly. The health and fitness journals will not publish anything that lacks validity and reliability.

My thirst for reliable data and research was unfulfilled.

Been there, done that

I also participate before I draw a conclusion. I have been to a half a dozen CrossFit gyms – some in large metros and others in small town nowhere. Only one had reasonably qualified staff (St. Louis Park, MN). At each location, I was able to experience their ‘introductory’ class. Each class was taught a little different. At one location, we performed rowing, air squats, pushups, situps, and pullups. At another, the same workout but without the pullups. Each facility had large groups of prospects – there was no health history, no experience questionnaire, no technique instruction. You just went at it and completed the workout for time.

THE GOOD

I want to start with the good – because there are some good aspects. CrossFit thrives on building a community. Many joke about CrossFitters who have “drank the Kool-Aid” and the reality is that they have bonded with others. These social bonds – developed during times of vulnerability (most everyone has a certain level of vulnerability when trying to completely, physically exhaust themselves) – are meaningful and difficult to match. The support, accountability, and empowerment cultivated by the group dynamics is the #1 reason many individuals are attracted to CrossFit.

I must commend CrossFit, as many do require fundamental classes prior to graduating to full WODs. The only draw back to something like that is someone like me – new to CrossFit but not new to working out or the exercises – would be forced into those courses without the opportunity to bypass or test out if I can prove I have the ability and know-how.

Another good aspect is the use of workouts to measure improvements. This provides something tangible and quantitative to work towards. It is important to direct individuals away from weight-specific goals, so a goal to improve the time it takes to complete a workout is ideal. I do something similar – but different – for myself and my clients.

THE BAD

Not based on science

CrossFit is not based on the basic scientific principles established and continually tested by exercise physiologists. I did a scholar article search, looking for research that supports CrossFit – and I came up empty. The majority of articles that support CrossFit are written by Greg Glassman – who by the way quotes himself (big no-no).

I have asked CrossFit trainers and enthusiasts time and time again to show me the science from which the CrossFit model was designed – or the science that it follows. No one has been able to do this. Is it new science that has yet to be proven? The human body has not changed in over a hundred years – there is nothing new and the same principles apply today as they did then, and 50 years ago, and 10 years ago.

Wait a minute!

An interesting side note: Glassman – CrossFit founder – does not do CrossFit WODs. (Most say he suffered an injury that prevents him from participating. He does have a limp.)

I could not find a biography for Glassman. As far as the general public knows, he has no education nor credentials. If I had to guess, I would say that he has a marketing degree because he has done well in that respect.

Not ACSM’s Top 20

Here is food for thought, brought to my attention by a fellow exercise physiologists: CrossFit has never made it onto American College of Sports Medicine’s Top 20 Fitness Trends – a list they publish annually.

Why?

Because ACSM would never promote a program that so blatantly contradicts science and research.

THE UGLY

So there is good and there is bad. The same can be said for anything, right? But what is the ugly?

Injuries

SERIOUS and non-serious injuries persists. Yes, there is an inherent risk of injury to all physical activity. Yes, weight lifting has some of the lowest risk of any sport or activity – WHEN DONE PROPERLY. CrossFit is not known for proper form and technique – and watching it makes most professionals cringe.

Watch the CrossFit Games on ESPN – all of the top competitors are wearing kinesiology tape (a tool developed for physical therapist to use with clients through the therapeutic process). Kinesiology tape IS NOT something that makes you look cool. I used kinesiology tape after my knee surgery and through physical therapy to aid with the reduction of inflammation. It worked, I did my therapy, and I stopped wearing it. The use of kinesiology tape is indicative of impaired movement, muscular imbalances and weaknesses, poor quality of movement or mobility, etc.

You could argue that this is not a serious injury. Let’s think critically. How many of these athletes will compete for the rest of their lives? How many will have to give up some exercises completely because they lose mobility in their shoulder after working through this ‘non-serious’ injury?

Pain is NOT good and it is NOT something to work through. Pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong, “STOP.”

Threatens lifelong health and fitness

As mentioned above – how many athletes can sustain this level of training for a year? Two? Twenty? If an exercise causes injuries – whether it be traumatic or overuse – then it does not promote lifelong health and fitness – nor longevity.

Ask yourself, can you sustain this for the long term?

If an activity results in a chronic ailment that prevents you from living pain free – then it has negatively influenced your quality of life. Is that the goal of working out?

The bottomline

CrossFit is a workout for athletes. It claims to build athletes – but it does not train individuals to athletic fitness or using the basic scientific principles known to work – and known to reduce risk of injury along the way.

Is CrossFit all bad? No. Does the good outweigh the bad and the ugly? In my educated opinion – no. Plus, you can get a similar workout – with health and fitness benefits and greater concern for safety – from a functional fitness training facility with qualified trainers and staff.

p.s. Not one of my colleagues – most with master’s degrees, PhDs, and endless certifications – would workout at a CrossFit facility themselves. We are some of the fittest and most athletic individuals I know. We see the scientific flaws and prefer to train in safe, effective, and efficient manners. One has been a CrossFit Competition Champion 3 years running – never training ‘CrossFit.’ Something to think about.

p.p.s. Ask a medical professional – such as a chiropractor or orthopaedic surgeon – if he recommends CrossFit. Most will avoid a direct answer, he knows the inherent risks but it puts more money in his pocket.

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Are group fitness classes effective?

I taught two group fitness classes yesterday morning. Back to back. I do this most Saturdays. Out of curiosity, I wore my heart rate monitor this time. First, I wanted to see how high my heart rate got during some of the exercises I selected for the TABATA class. I did not intend for the heart rate to get too high, and it didn’t. Second, I was curious as to how many calories I would burn during two hours of teaching – two classes that I heavily participate in.

When I stopped my heart rate monitor at 2 hours and 2 minutes, I was disappointed: 890 calories. To give you some perspective, my average 45-60 minute workout burns 500-700 calories. Granted, this was not the same intensity, nor designed to be my workout, but it led me to think critically about whether my classes were adequate and appropriate – and about the overall effectiveness of group fitness.

Intended outcome?

Why do most individuals attend group fitness classes? Most have the goal to lose weight. Are group fitness classes targeting that goal? I believe that the answer to this question is complicated – it is both yes and no.

For example, depending on the exercise selection, TABATA can be a effective and efficient workout. I perform this form of high intensity interval training on a regular basis. I design my classes in an equally effective manner (with a lesser degree of intensity). BUT, if a member comes to my Saturday morning class and this is the 8th class she has been to this week, will it be effective? Will the intended outcome be reached? Probably not.

Desired results far too uncommon

I have been in and out of my fair share of gyms. When you are a group fitness instructor, by default you end up filling in at what seems to be every workout facility within a 30-mile radius. And unfortunately, I have seen very few members achieve their desired results. Weight loss. Improved fitness. Very few group fitness programs will get you this results. Even more disheartening, is that I would see the same faces over and over – watching some individuals attend 8-10 hours of classes a week – with no results. Sadly, most of these individuals are overtraining. Some are undernourished due to extending periods of dieting and/or yo-yo dieting. Most are frustrated and at a loss for what else to do.

Solution

It is pretty simple. While I am not a proponent of many group fitness classes, I will not suggest that you forgo the classes. I will recommend the following:

  1. Attend NO MORE than 4 group fitness classes a week. Most group fitness classes target the same muscles, energy systems, etc. and miss the same muscle groups, form, technique, and energy systems.
  2. Research your instructor – ONLY take classes led by degreed and certified professionals. This one may be tough. There are some good instructors out there who do not have degrees, they have been fanatics for years and they bring good energy and great intentions. But generally speaking, you want to work with someone who has been trained to manage situations as they arise – providing variety that is safe, efficient, and effective.
  3. Work with a qualified trainer first. While working with a qualified personal trainer long term is not always financially feasible, it is in your best interest to invest the time and money into a few (3-12) foundational sessions with a trainer. A qualified trainer will teach you form and technique that the group fitness instructor simply is unable to provide in the setting (some know your form is off but are not able to correct form on every person every hour). With this investment, you will gain valuable knowledge that you can bring with you and ensure that you get the most out of your workout.
  4. Wear a heart rate monitor. Sweat is not indicative of a good workout – however most group fitness class attendees use sweat as the measure of whether the workout was good. It is not the only indicator. Neither is soreness the only nor the best indicator of a good workout. What else can you measure? Your heart rate. Target heart rates are highly individual – for more specifics please contact me personally.
  5. Change? If you have been going to the same class for years – it is time for something new!
  6. Give it your all. Some times a group class can become social hour. While this is not all bad, remember why you are there and give it 100%!

The bottomline

Not all group fitness classes are bad. These classes can be a great way to build community support and accountability. But if you are a regular attendee, be honest as to whether you are getting the results for the time and energy you put into the work. If you go to classes every day, and are not getting the results you desire, you may be overtraining – or simply inefficiently training.

I love group fitness classes – that is how I got my start. (It is also the reason I suffered overuse injuries and eventually elected to have surgery.) Follow the 6 recommendations above and you can get the most out of those classes!

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Where do you go for fitness advice?

We are bombarded with health and fitness information. Infomercials, magazine ads, and the latest and greatest books and workout DVDs. On my way into the gym to teach a group class this morning, the TV caught my eye – Tony’s 10 minute workouts. Oh Tony! The 10-Minute Trainer series boasts the ‘breakthrough’ super-stacking technique and promises rapid results. I stopped to watch a bit (mostly waiting to see the name of the program to look it up later). Another marketing scam — ?!?!!!

Do you go to Tony Horton and Beachbody for advice?

Who do you trust?

This past weekend I was invited to participate in a group workout at the park. I provided some of my expertise, but I was truly there as a participant with a goal to meet other individuals interested in fitness. Towards the end of the afternoon – I sat back and watched and listened. A fitness enthusiast provided ‘training’ to inexperienced individuals.

(If you do not know much about fitness, an enthusiast who has been working out and is excited might seem to provide some good advice. Unfortunately, very few can offer sound advice. And remember, we are talking about YOUR BODY here. You only get one body in your lifetime. So I ask, who do you trust?)

It is not that he was giving bad advice or guidance. It was incomplete. Exercise form and technique were a disaster – I had to turn away and bite my tongue. I could not watch. While I do not want to see anyone get hurt, I was focused on placing myself in his shoes and I would not like it if someone stepped in to correct (whether the individual was right or not). And given the situation, I knew the risk of injury was low.

If you are a fitness professional – what would you do?

This situation has me thinking about who we trust for advice and how I can continue to educate and share – reaching one person at a time.

Who do you go to?

It is easy to trust friends and family when it comes to health and fitness advice. We trust them with many decisions in life – relationships, occupations, financial investments, etc. But do they have the answers?

Do you have a friend who has successfully lost weight and kept if off?

Do you have an uncle who coaches high school football and loves to workout?

Do you have a sister who has always been thin (but also never eats and possibly struggles with disordered eating)?

While any one of these individuals could have valid and helpful advice, I will strongly advise against allowing them to become your expert and your go-to for health and fitness advice. Health and fitness is a science – requiring education.

Qualified professionals

I have a post dedicated to qualified fitness professionals, please read it. Not all ‘professionals’ are created equal. Further, not all fitness facilities require trainers and staff to be educated and certified. While education and certification are not everything, they do provide validation that the individual has studied the science. (Note: not all certification are created equal, you can read about that in the above post as well.)

If/when you hire a trainer – ask about and verify his/her education and certification.

Food for thought

The Biggest Loser receives a lot of publicity. The trainers have been deemed experts – and they sell millions of books and DVDs, appear on numerous talk shows offering advice, etc. I personally would not trust any of the trainers with my life. These trainers qualify as fitness enthusiasts.

Jillian Michaels – no degree and no current certification (and not a respected certification)

Bob Harper – no degree, AFAA certified (has a degree but I have not been able to find what he studied)

Dolvett Quince – no degree and no certification

On the other hand, Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition’s Chris Powell is a former athlete with  a degree in Exercise Science, with concentrations in biomechanics and physiology and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).

You can read my reaction to the beginning of the most recent season of The Biggest Loser.

The bottomline

I feel like I am beating a dead horse at times. I will write about it and talk about it over and over. More than likely, your friends and family are not your best source of health and fitness advice – regardless of how much time they spend in the gym. It is important to trust your body – the only one you get – to a qualified professional.

Beware of fitness enthusiasts – many do not know the proper form and technique and regularly suffer personal injury.

Beware of celebrity experts – many are just that, celebrities.

You only get one body – it deserves the best.

Treat it kindly. Treat it wisely.

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What makes a fantastic personal trainer?

photo (32)

I am a personal trainer…

but honestly, I am more than a personal trainer. I am a coach for life. I see more than others see. I see a whole person – looking to be better tomorrow than he/she is today. And I guide individuals to betterment.

What separates a fantastic trainer from the others?

A fantastic trainer is the one with the personality that best matches your needs. I have been doing research on what sets me apart from my colleagues. The responses are heart warming and tear jerking. Some responses relate to my enormous education and love for learning. But more mention my heart.

I am with my client every step of the way.

I am a role model – living what I teach.

I genuinely care about a client – including her spirit, not just her physical being.

I am honest. As this blog is titled: strong, brave, and honest.

Passion

The one aspect that I would add to the meme is passion. I am passionate about my work, and being my best so that I can be the best for my clients. I have the opportunity to live out my dream daily – through this blog and through my teaching and training.

Are you living your passion?

The bottomline

I sometimes feel like a broken record, but not all trainers are created equal. IF you are looking to hire a trainer, do your research and find one with not only the education (please click and read the link) but also the spirit and heart to match yours!

We NEED. More. Yoga.

Yesterday I practiced yoga for the first time in months. It was a basic practice – relatively speaking. Very different from the forms of power yoga that I prefer. But this practice was a gentle reminder of what I have been missing in my training regimen. Yoga. Stretching. Lengthening.

What we often miss photo (33)

Stretching. Lengthening. Decompressing – both physiological and psychological.

I am guilty of not stretching as much as I should. I diligently stretch after running – other than that, rarely.

Our muscles need stretching – especially if we are putting in the work. Weight lifting involves continually contracting muscles. While proper form also includes lengthening, this is not always enough to allow the muscles to reach full length. I will not pretend to be a yogi – I am far from being a yoga expert. But I have done my research! (Don’t I always?)

Injury prevention – Research has shown that yoga has injury prevention properties. I would attribute this to the lengthening of muscles. The National Academy of Sports Medicine’s Corrective Exercise protocols incorporate lengthening into the four step program design. Unfortunately, corrective exercise is often only incorporated into training regimen after an injury has occurred. Why not use yoga as a tool for injury prevention?

Yoga & mental health – Yoga is known to be a ‘mind-body’ fitness practice. Some view this as getting in touch with your soft, gooey insides. I argue that ALL exercise requires mind-body awareness (Markula, 2004). Yoga has been shown to improve self efficacy and confidence and reduce depression and anxiety symptoms (Junkin, Kowalski, & Fleming, 2007; Markula, 2004; Rahimi & Bavaqar, 2010).

Relaxation – At the core of any yoga  practice is centered breathing. This necessitates focus on breathing. This allows our minds to relax and be free of the thoughts and worries that bog us down. Further, focusing on lengthening muscles allows those and other muscles to relax. Tension melts away.

Pain management – The benefits of pain management are well known and widely accepted. Time and time again, research has shown that yoga reduces back pain and other chronic aches and pains.

The bottomline

We could all use a little more stretching. I like the structure of incorporating a consistent yoga practice – and now realize I need to add that focus back into my program. As with all fitness professionals, not all yoga instructors are created equal. I would strongly urge you to read the American College of Sport Medicine’s resource on Selecting and Effectively Using a Yoga Program. Further, it is my personal opinion that instructors with 500+ hours of training are leaps and bounds ahead of their counterparts.

Looking for yoga that you can do at home? Debbie Williamson is your woman, with both DVDs (kids too!) and downloads. After traveling the country and experiencing many different styles of yoga and instruction – she is by far my favorite!

References

Junkin, S. E., Kowalski, K., & Fleming, T. (2007). Yoga and self-esteem: Exploring change in middle-aged women. Journal Of Sport & Exercise Psychology29S174-S175.

Markula, P. (2004). “Tuning into One’s Self:” Foucault’s Technologies of the Self and Mindful Fitness. Sociology Of Sport Journal21(3), 302-321.

O’Donovan, G., Blazevich, A. J., Boreham, C., Cooper, A. R., Crank, H., Ekelund, U., & … Stamatakis, E. (2010). The ABC of Physical Activity for Health: A consensus statement from the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences. Journal Of Sports Sciences28(6), 573-591.

Rahimi, E., & Bavaqar, S. (2010). Effects of yoga on anxiety and depression in women. British Journal Of Sports Medicine44i68-i69.

Uncomfortable at the gym? Sometimes I am too

I am upset. I dislike it when other trainers – particularly those less qualified and less educated than myself – make comments on my workouts. I currently work alongside a trainer who frequently hassles me about my workouts. Comments like “done already?” are getting quite old. His ignorance of my knowledge regarding the scientific bases and effectiveness of my workouts is evident. I typically let these unnecessary comments roll off my back. As I reflect on his comments made earlier this week, I am concerned about what he may say to others – and how some individuals may take it.

The situation

Earlier in the week I ran to the gym prior to teaching a strength class. I ran just over 5 miles and I was walking on the treadmill to cool down – sunglasses atop my head and gloves in hand – when he began to talk to me. Here is how the conversation went:

He asked “did you run here?”
“Yes.”
“How far?”
“A little over 5 miles.”
“That’s not bad, how are you getting home?”
“I’m getting a ride after I teach class.”
“Why don’t you run home?”
“Because I train smart.”
“Well if you are going to do it you might as well do it all the way – I mean” and I cut him off,
“once you join me on my training plan you can make comments, until then keep them to yourself.”

Comments gone bad

He is an example of a hater. He is an example of someone who assists in making the gym environment intimidating and uncomfortable. Mind you, he is an average trainer – no education and no certifications. He is in great physical condition. He works out “hard” but his methods of “killing” people are not based on science and are based solely on making it as hard as possible. Does that get results? Sometimes, but not without unnecessary risks. photo (27)

Back to the comments. If you tell me I am not working hard enough – you have not done my workouts. Nor can anyone make those comments without doing a full needs assessment. He does not realize I have a history of over-exercising  – but then why would he care? He does not know the physical obstacles I have overcome and for which I carefully allocate for when designing my workouts. But he does not bother to think before he speaks.

The gym culture

I do not like the gym culture this cultivates. Every piece of cardio equipment around me was occupied – and individuals were listening to this conversation (he does not talk quietly). What does the woman who just came in to get 20 minutes on the treadmill next to me now think? Is she now thinking, well if her workout doesn’t count why did I bother with this? We do not know. I personally wouldn’t risk making this comments and threatening someones confidence, determination, etc. Most individuals – and especially women – are uncomfortable and self-conscious at the gym to begin with. This justifies those thoughts and feelings to a certain degree.

I have been trying to decide whether or not to approach him about the matter. Do these comments truly negatively impact the culture, or have I been spoiled by the truly positive environment I previously worked in? There is a time and a place to hassle individuals in an effort to push them – based on my observation he is not cognizant of these boundaries.

While we work at the same gym – as a trainer he is not my competition. No individual will be choosing between him or me. If someone wants to train with him they would likely never have the desire to work with me (and vice versa). However, they may come to me after they get hurt training with him. Regardless, he is not my competition.

The bottomline

I needed to vent. I suppose my focus on the psychological aspects of exercise makes me more sensitive to these issues than most trainers and avid gym-goers. But I believe this is another example of when we should stop and think before we speak.

An overlooked component of goal setting

In a recent discussion with a friend, I was asked about how I measure success with my clients – seen as it is well known that most individuals do not attain their desired results with personal trainers. Well the good news is, I can honestly say that I have had 95+% success with clients. Does that mean that all my clients have successfully lost weight? No. It means that I set my clients up for success. There is no room for failure.

How do I set my clients up for success? By giving them the tools that they need. By listening to their pains, needs, and desires. By asking questions – what has or has not worked in the past, what are the challenges and obstacles, what is the easiest, what is the scariest, etc.?

And among other strategies – success can be molded with appropriate goal setting.

Goal setting, plus photo (19)

I know, I know. You have heard it before – you must set goals. We are bombarded with the advice to set goals, but are we shown HOW to set goals? I often see one common flaw in most goal setting advice – negative terminology. I suspect that most of us do not give it a second thought. Most individuals do not even see the negative.

For example, I will not let a client set the goal, “I will lose __ pounds.”

Do you know what is wrong with this goal? You may immediately suspect that I do not want my client setting weight goals (which is true). However, I do not allow the use of negative terminology. This means, no goals with the words lose, less, not, don’t, won’t, decrease, etc.

Instead, we use the words more, improve, increase, will, etc.

Language and perspective can be incredibly influential. True, it is semantics. But our brain processes “I will wear a size 8” far differently than it processes “I will lose 2 dress sizes.” Successful goal setting is associated with acceptance of where we begin and building a map to where we will go. You want to improve? Talk with positivity. You want to fail? Use negative terminology. In the schools of psychology and philosophy this is called the Law of Attraction – that “like attracts like” and that by focusing on positive or negative thoughts, one can bring about positive or negative results

photo

The bottomline

“Like attracts like.” You have to believe. You have to be optimistic. You must focus on the improvements and the behaviors you want to increase, rather than the negativities (e.g., telling yourself that you cannot eat something you actually want to eat). Below I have included the foundational steps of goal setting. Let’s set goals!

THE SCIENCE OF GOAL SETTING

You must be honest and realistic with a self-evaluation of your strengths and weaknesses so that you can set appropriate and challenging goals. Also, you must be honest with your process as you move towards a goal. If the goal is too hard or too easy, you can adjust it. If it is easily accomplished, reset for a higher standard. It is okay to adjust the goal based on your feedback and learning. By having a deadline or timeline for your goal, you are able to examine your progress and re-visit the feasibility of the goal.

1. Commit your goals to paper

2. Review your goals on a regular basis. Make your list of goals accessible, so that you can review it on a regular basis. Frequent reminders will help keep you on track.

3. Be specific. Set the goal to exactly what you want to achieve.

4. Be realistic. Begin by setting small, attainable goals in order that they will propel you into future success. For example, set a simple goal that you will avoid excess food at a party this weekend. Set another goal as simple as having a great workout tomorrow.

5. Focus on the short-term goals, as short-term changes in behavior will help you reach long-term goals. Set small goals to get the ball rolling, and success will breed success.

6. As you achieve your goals, return to your list and update the entire set of goals.

 

A good problem to have?

I like to think that I am humble – but confident. That confidence can be mistaken for arrogance – but I simply know what I know. The key to this is that I also know what I do not know. I know that I am good at what I do. The fitness industry is known for pushy sales. I never sell myself and individuals still find their way to me. Why? I know what I am doing and they can see that. Further, it helps that I look the part!

I recently relocated to Minnesota. I have been training a few clients here and there – keeping one foot in my passion for health and fitness. The problem? Other gym goers see me training and want to train with me. Your average trainer would probably kill for the number of walk up clients I could have. But I do not have the time for these clients. Between a full time job, online clients, in-person clients, and leaving time for this blog – my schedule is booked. (Time to raise my rates!)

A problem with the industry

I have also had a couple of individuals admit that they were happy to see someone they felt they could trust. Awesome? Well, yes and no. I wish I trusted my colleagues, but I do not. I am happy that at least some gym-goers can identify quality trainers when they see them. I wish I could refer my overflow…but I am not sure where to send them. Who can manage bum knees, hips, and shoulders and still achieve weight loss or muscle building? 80% of my colleagues do not know how to build a program (i.e., 4-12 weeks’ worth of workouts that complement one another while working for a common goal) let alone how to successfully work around comorbidities (not to mention that a ‘personal trainer’ is only qualified to work with asymptomatic individuals). I have talked about qualified personal trainers and I will again and again. And again. Because I do not want to see you get hurt. And I do not want I see you fail. I do not want to see you throw your money and time away.

I am not good at saying no – because I want to help. I want individuals to feel and move better. I have conversations and hear pain indicators –

“I have tried everything” or

“I just don’t know what to do” or

“I am tired” or

“I have given up”.

I love the excitement of being able to bring life back to someone’s eyes. I love watching someone MOVE. I love seeing improvements – empowering others to be their best.

The bottomline

I need to practice using my ‘NO’ muscle. I can only take on so many clients. And what happens to the others? Do I let them wander aimlessly? Do I refer them to an unqualified trainer? A bit of a professional ethics dilemma.