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Is a Personal Trainer Right for Me? (part 1)

Is a Personal Trainer Right for Me & What to Ask (Part 1)

Working with a personal trainer can have tremendous benefits to reaching your health and fitness goals.  What often happens, however, is that the client feels they don’t get what they need and the trainer feels frustration because they couldn’t help them, leaving everyone with a less than happy experience.  Before working with a personal trainer, or not, first consider why you should or shouldn’t’ use one, and if you do, what you need to know.

When you should work with a personal trainer

You should work with a personal trainer if you have a specific goal in mind.  In that way, the trainer can help set up a program specifically designed to get the results you want.  For instance, say you want to run a half-marathon.  The trainer can put together an exercise program that includes specific running drills to help improve the efficiency of your running gait, as well as build your cardiovascular endurance, and strength and power through resistance and plyometric exercises.  This program would be geared towards getting you in shape and building the endurance and power needed to sustain the run.

If you are looking to lose 20 pounds, then the trainer can build a program designed to increase your cardiovascular function, and strengthen and build muscle mass in order to help you burn fat and carbs at a higher rate.  In our customized workout plans, for example, we conduct an assessment and goal list with clients like you so the workouts help you achieve your specific goal AND so they work for where you presently are.

When you shouldn’t work with a trainer 

At the risk of sounding rather harsh, avoid working with a personal trainer if you don’t plan on:

  • doing what they ask you to do,
  • following up with exercising on your own,
  • keeping session appointments, or
  • arriving on time for session appointments.

At the same time, avoid working with a personal trainer who doesn’t:

  • show up for your session appointments,
  • show up on time for your session appointments,
  • always seems ill-prepared for your sessions, or
  • shows more interest in what is happening in the gym or on their phone than with you.

Why spend all that time and money on a personal trainer if you are not committed to take their advice and do what is expected, or if they are not committed to helping you reach your goals?  Lastly, a good personal trainer will plan for your session ahead of time and will help you work out a good routine for the days you don’t see her/him.

Can a personal trainer help with nutrition?

 While a trainer can make some general nutrition recommendations, they cannot, and should not, design specific diets and meal planning unique to your needs.  This type of expertise is done by registered dieticians, which are licensed individuals in every state, have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in nutrition, have residency/internship requirements and testing, plus continuing education requirements.  Therefore, if you are looking for a nutrition program designed specifically for you and your goals, you need to seek the advice of a registered dietician, ideally one that works with what your goals are (i.e., sports performance, weight loss, etc.)

In Part 2, we’ll take a look at the questions to ask before deciding to work with a personal trainer.  In this way, you can choose one that best fits your fitness needs and goals. Click here for Part 2.

Exercise and Fat Burning – Demystified (Part 2)

Exercise and Fat Burning – Demystified (Part 2)

In Part 1, we took a look at how much exercise is enough.  Take a moment to read “Exercise and Fat Burning – Demystified (Part 1)“, if you haven’t already.

Now let’s look at the last two questions, how hard do I have to work out to burn fat, and do I even have to exercise to lose weight.

How hard do I have to work out to burn fat? 

Just because you work out hard doesn’t mean you burn more fat.  And, just because you workout at a lower intensity, doesn’t mean you don’t burn fat.  In fact, have you heard you can work out at a lower intensity and burn more fat?  Confusing?  Let’s explain.

If you exercise at a low intensity level, a higher percentage of the energy expended in your body actually does comes from fat.  But, the total energy expended is low, therefore, you don’t burn that much fat.

On the flip side, if you exercise at higher intensity levels, a lower percentage of energy expended in your body comes from fat.  The higher percentage comes from carbs.  But, the total energy expended in your body is higher, therefore, combined, you burn both more fat and carbs.

So, to answer the question, you are better off working at higher intensities because your total energy expended, while low from fat, is higher from a combination of fat and carbs.

Do I even have to exercise to lose weight?

The truth is, you don’t have to exercise to lose weight.  In fact, what and how much you eat has more to do with it than exercise.  However, there is a real downside to leaving off exercise.

When weight is lost without exercise, it’s usually muscle that is lost.  And, should you gain back this weight, you’ve gained back fat.  Have you ever known someone who lost a lot of weight quickly and their skin looks saggy or they have a “sunken” look?  This is not unusual if a person loses weight quickly without exercising.  Building muscle through exercise, while dieting, decreases the potential of looking like that.

The Bottom Line…

That is, exercise will build stronger muscles, which burn more calories, even at rest.  And, you can lose weight faster by combining exercise and eating less calories, creating a bigger deficit between the calories consumed and the calories burned.

Take some action now – you’ll find more of the common myths on weight loss, and facts behind them, in our complimentary ebook “7 Myths About Weight Loss, and the Top Proven Strategies to Overcome Them!

Need help in achieving your weight loss goals?  Checkout our 21-Day Fast Fat Loss Program.

Exercise and Fat Burning – Demystified (Part 1)

Exercise and Fat Burning – Demystified (Part 1)

In this two part series, we’ll cover the facts behind exercise and weight loss.  We expand on these basics in our popular ebook “7 Myths About Weight Loss, and the Top Proven Strategies to Overcome Them!

How much exercise is enough?  How hard do I have to work out to burn fat?  Do I even have to exercise to lose weight? 

These are a few of the most common questions that often get asked about exercise and weight loss.  While the answers can be unique to each individual, there are enough commonalities that can get you started in the right direction if you are trying to lose weight and get in shape.  Let’s take a look.

How much exercise is enough?

This depends upon one’s particular health and fitness goals.  The amount of exercise an athlete needs to train for a particular sport or competition is going to be different than a mom with two kids trying to lose 20 pounds.  Here, we’ll address the non-athlete.

Generally speaking, to get healthier, more fit or lose weight, following the U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines of “between 150 and 300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity per week,” is going to best answer the question.  Since this is surely one of the areas where more is better, the range of physical activity recommended, indicates that more health-related benefits are realized by increasing the amount of cardiovascular activity.  This increase should be done gradually by increasing the time, frequency, intensity, and type (variety) as one’s body adapts to the exercise.

Moderate-intensity physical activity is an activity that increases a person’s heart rate and breathing to some extent.  Brisk walking, swimming, dancing, or bicycling on a level terrain are examples.  Vigorous-intensity physical activity is an activity that greatly increases a person’s heart rate and breathing.  Jogging, swimming continuous laps, or bicycling uphill are examples.  These are aerobic activity examples.  Further down we’ll look at resistance training.

It doesn’t matter how you split the time up during the week to get in the recommended number of exercise minutes.  For example, this can be met through:

  • 30-60 minutes of moderate-intensity 5 days per week or,
  • 20-60 minutes of vigorous-intensity 3 days per week.

And, on a given day, it can be done in one continuous session or multiple shorter sessions (of at least 10 minutes).

If all this seems a little much, consider this:

  • 3 to 4 sessions per week will still get you gains in cardiovascular capacity, and
  • A minimum of 2 days per week is needed to maintain a level of cardiovascular health.

Just as cardiovascular exercise is good for heart health, so is resistance exercise good for bone and muscle health.  (It has also shown to provide some indirect benefit to the cardiovascular system.)  As we age, it becomes even more important to maintain strength and mobility vital to performing daily functions and enjoying a quality life.

The goal of resistance exercise is to train each major muscle group 2-3 days per week, using a variety of exercises and equipment.  This can be done in the following manner:

  • 2 to 4 sets of each exercise will improve strength and power,
  • 8 to 12 repetitions of each exercise will improve strength and power, while
  • 15 to 20 repetitions of each will improve muscular endurance.

For each muscle group worked, it’s important that there be at least 48 hours between resistance exercise sessions to allow your body to repair itself to prevent injury from overuse.

Much like resistance training, flexibility exercise is also important to maintaining mobility by improving the range of motion your muscles move.  To achieve this, stretching and flexibility exercises should be done 2-3 days per week.  Even doing this just a few minutes can greatly help.

Neuromotor exercise is just a fancy name for improving one’s motor skills, especially balance, agility, and coordination.  While this can be done a number of ways, some of the more popular forms are through yoga and tai chi.  This type of exercise should also be done 2-3 times per week.  Another alternative, for balance, in particular, is to do some resistance training on one leg.  This saves time, advances the exercise and combines two tasks at once.  Just make sure to start slowly.

Breaking all this down, an optimal exercise program might look like this:

  • Cardiovascular exercise 3-4 times per week; alternating days with
  • Resistance exercise 2-3 times per week; adding
  • Flexibility and neuromotor exercises 2-3 times per week into the days you do your cardio or resistance training.

When starting an exercise routine, try just 1 day of each and increase as you adapt, and most importantly, remain committed!

In Part 2, we dive into burning fat, weight loss, and some common myths around that.
Check out our 7 Myths About Weight Loss and the Top Proven Strategies to Overcome Themif you haven’t already.  To read Part 2 now, click here.

Is a Personal Trainer Right for Me? (part 2)

Is a Personal Trainer Right for Me & What to Ask (Part 2)

For Part 1, Click Here

When considering using a personal trainer, approach it as if you were interviewing someone for a position in your company or business.  You are, after all, entrusting them to help you improve your overall health and fitness level.  So, if you’ve decided to work with a fitness professional, and are armed with your goals in mind, there are 7 important questions you should ask before choosing one.

1. Are they certified through a nationally recognized organization?

This is the most important question to ask.  Sadly, since the fitness profession is unregulated, there are people giving fitness advice and training with no credentials to do so.  You want a trainer who has undergone an extensive certification process.  The most reputable ones take months to study for and require a comprehensive exam process.

Some of the best certifying bodies include the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), Athletics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA), and American Council on Exercise (ACE).  While there are other organizations that certify, these are the most recognized and preferred certifications you should be looking for.  ACSM and NASM follow a more scientific approach and typically have better results.

 2. Do they have a higher education degree in a related field?

While this may not be a deciding factor on choosing the trainer to work with, individuals with college degrees in the related fields of exercise science, exercise physiology, human anatomy and physiology, rehabilitation, etc., have underwent years of study.  They typically will have a better and more complete understanding of the human body, how the body reacts and adapts to exercise, and in determining the exercises that best meets your fitness needs and goals.

Whether many want to admit it or not, exercise is a science and there is a wealth of quality scientific research in the field.  Therefore, it is worth considering a trainer with an undergraduate or graduate degree in an exercise science or related field.

3. What type of people do/have they worked with?

This helps you identify if the trainer will be a good fit for you.  For example, if the trainer mainly works with body builders and you are a mom with 2 kids wanting to lose 20 pounds, they may not be the best choice.  However, if they’ve worked with people like you, then they may be a good choice.

The important thing is that you need to be clear about what you are trying to achieve.  Then, look for a trainer who either specializes in that, or has extensive experience working with others with similar goals as yours.

4. What type of success have they had with their clients?

 In addition to the type of people they have worked with, it is a good idea to ask about their client success stories.  In other words, ask them to tell you what their clients have achieved while working with them.  A good trainer will have several success stories.

The reason this is a good question, is that it will provide insight into what is possible for you.  Just be sure the successes they mention are pertinent to what you are trying to achieve.

5. What type of program will they design based upon your specific goals?

This helps give you a general sense of how they will approach your training.  You are looking to see if they will be working with you on a comprehensive program, one that includes cardio, resistance, flexibility, balance, speed and agility and flexibility training, or any combination of these.

Your program does not have to include all of these types of training, but it does need to include the parts that are most important to reaching your goals.  The trainer needs to be able to tell you what that encompasses.

6. What is their philosophy on training?

This question is geared towards determining if they will be a good fit for you on a more personal level.  And while this can illicit many different answers, your goal is to determine if how they train fits into your goals, desires, capabilities, and how you like to be approached.  For example, you might want to have fun exercising, yet expect to work hard.  Or, you might enjoy a more disciplined approach, such that a trainer is more like a drill sergeant.

There are no right or wrong answers to this question.  However, you are matching up their training philosophy with what best matches how you like to be approached and the personality you work best with.  Thus, it is worth taking the time to find this out before deciding on a fitness trainer.

7. What are their expectations of you?

This is a very important question because it is about your personal responsibility.  You need to know what the trainer expects from you, and determine if you can meet those expectations.  It also establishes an understanding between you and the trainer.  In this way, there are no surprises.  The trainer knows what they are holding you accountable to, and more importantly, you know what you are holding yourself accountable to.

Not only does the trainer have to be good for you, you also need to be willing to do the work necessary to reach the goals you desire.  What you do is 90% of the results you will achieve.

Lastly, you need to evaluate if you like the trainer’s personality, and whether you can work with and get along with them.  It’s a bit like a relationship you want to take seriously.  After all, it is about you and your health!