Who is Personal Training Good For?
Everyone can benefit from personal training. All ages, all sizes and all abilities can see significant and productive life altering enhancements from exercise. Simply adding guided exercises to one’s life with the supervision of a certified fitness professional can improve the mind, body and spirit.
Personal Training for School Age Children
The latest statistics from the American Obesity Association show that 30 percent of children aged 6 to 18 are overweight, and another 15 percent are obese. Parents are not always the best role models for their children and want to save them the suffering they may have endured as an unfit or over fat child. Given that childhood obesity predicts adult obesity with amazing accuracy, parents are wise to encourage healthy habits early on. A trainer can provide direction, structure, and strategies that help create a habit of healthy living that can have a tremendous impact for a lifetime.
It's OK to Start Young
It’s never too early to expose children to physical fitness. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, kids as young as 8 years old can benefit from low-resistance exercise with small weights and actually grow stronger with little risk of injury. For many children, their only experience with physical movement is through gym class. Physical Education classes are not always the very best experience for children, especially those who are less physically able, are overweight, have not developed muscle strength and coordination or balance. Those children can highly benefit from working with a personal trainer to not only develop the physical components, but also the confidence, education and support.
During the school age years is when habits begin to be set for a lifetime. If a child has poor ideas about physical activity or poor exercise habits, those will carry over into adult hood at which time it will be much more challenging to begin an exercise program. Most schools no longer require daily physical education. In fact the only state which does is Illinois. Children are moving less and eating more. Not only are they eating more, but they are eating more poor quality and highly addictive foods and are more engaged in sedentary activities such as video games and computer time.
The school age years are when children are beginning to develop a more sophisticated sense of self. This is the time that can set them up for a lifetime of success regarding health and fitness or a lifetime of struggle, depression and illness. Personal trainers can help children of all ages and abilities have great experiences with their bodies and in accomplishing new levels of fitness every workout. A personal trainer can show a child every workout, how they are progressing, and a child can sense it as well.
Children love the idea of the personal attention of a trainer whether one on one or in a group. A personal trainer is a privilege to have and makes a child feel special. A personal trainer is someone a child can look to as a positive role model. As a parent you would want to surround your child with the best possible role models in all areas of his or her life including health and fitness.
Child athletes who work with personal trainers are guaranteed to have an edge. Some personal trainers are used in the off season to build strength, conditioning as well as sport specific performance. Personal trainers can work with a child’s coach or other team of professional to ensure the best outcome for the child.
School age children will soon be off to college where everyone is aware of the common Freshman 15. When children become young adults and are making food, exercise and lifestyle choices independent of their parents supervision it’s best to have laid a solid foundation of healthy habits as early in the school years as possible.
Is a Personal Trainer Right for Your Child?
If your child does not like organizes sports including physical education classes or is self conscious about trying new activities a trainer can be helpful. Personal trainers are also good for young people health issues who should be supervised when exercising and for whom exercise can provide life enhancing and extending benefits. If your child has expressed interest in working with a personal trainer, consider bringing him or her to the gym to meet a qualified trainer.
What Kind of Trainer is best for Children?
A personal trainer who works with adults is not always the best option for a child. Children are not necessarily small adults when it comes to working out. They have special needs and will not necessarily fit into traditional exercise machines nor will they be a match for every trainer. Your child’s trainer should have a degree and/or nationally recognized certification (NSCA, ACSM, ACE, etc). Be sure they have specific experience training children. They should connect with your child, view the exercise session as something fun and not punishing as well as have a sense of humor and patience. The typical gym routine is not going to necessarily be fun or appropriate for a child. The trainer should have offer a balanced routine of strength, cardio, core exercises and stretching. Games can be incorporated to make fitness more fun while still productive. The trainer should also help the child to become independent as an exercise and point out exercises they enjoy and can continue on their own. Always check the trainer’s references and ask to speak to both the child and parent when checking references. Ask open ended questions to get your gut feeling about the trainer's philosophy about working with kids and setting goals. Finally you should attend the first one or two sessions with your child and see the trainer and the training session meet your needs.
As a parent you need to be patient and encouraging for your child to get the most of the sessions. To improve motor skills, speed, and coordination, children need to work with a trainer once or twice a week for three to four months before they see improvements, develop a habit of exercise and become motivated to stay active on their own. Once the initial training period is up, consider a bi-monthly visit or seasonal training depending on your child’s other physical activities. For kids to develop a new lifestyle takes time, and the goals of you, your child and the personal trainer need to be realistic and modest.
Personal Training for Athletes
Professional athletes and the rich and famous were among the first to realize the advantages of having a personal trainer. Some might say that personal training evolved out of coaching. Athletes in nearly every sport rely on increasing strength, endurance and flexibility to improve performance, but the increase must meet the demands of the specific sport. Simply lifting increasingly heavier weights, for example, may not result in increased power and speed in a specific sport. Personal Trainers who specialize in specific sports can incorporate both the foundational conditioning and sport specific training to produce an effective athlete.
Personal trainers can provide athletes with effective, up-to-date information on training techniques and technology. Personal trainers also serve as coaches in motivating the athlete and sharing a joint responsibility in their success. Ask any athlete if they work harder on their own or with a trainer and an alarming majority will agree that they would prefer a personal trainer. Personal trainers provide motivation and help to facilitate a higher level of results. Sports specific personal trainers also serve as mentors to athletes to improve athletic performance.
A personal trainer can help athletes beyond basic strength and include training for speed, agility and quickness as well as plyometrics, core conditioning, flexibility, recovery, sports nutrition, as well as goal setting and accountability to those goals.
Personal Training for Women
Exercising with a personal trainer holds many health benefits, especially for women. Some women fear working with a personal trainer because they believe they are going to bulk up like a man. Women simply do not have the levels of testosterone to build bulky muscles. On the contrary, weight training helps women create lean, beautiful, and toned bodies.
On their own, some women nearly starve themselves to lose weight. Working with a personal trainer can show women how they can significantly reduce their percent body fat and increase fat-free mass and resting metabolic rate while eating more calories. 95% of women who starve themselves regain the weight and more. Working with a personal trainer promotes the maintenance of weight loss because muscle was preserved and fat was lost at a safe rate.
Women who diet alone, without personal training can lose fat, but they can also become skinny fat people, meaning that when they lose weight, they lose both muscle and fat. On the scale they may be happier with what they weigh against gravity, but when they look in the mirror naked, they still see too much fat and flab. Working with a personal trainer is the fountain of youth for women. Exercise promotes clearer skin, thicker shinier hair, better posture, detoxification, reduced risk of disease such as cancer, osteoporosis, heart disease and dementia, and it also promotes longevity.
Women are not necessarily exercise experts. They are less likely to have played sports than boys and may not have good past experiences with exercise to have the confidence to go to a gym by themselves. Overweight women are more likely to be intimidated by joining a gym than a man. A personal trainer can take away the fear and intimidation women have about gyms and exercise.
Resistance Training for Increased Weight Loss
Some women believe that they can burn more calories in an aerobics class than they can working with a personal trainer. Although resistance training does not result in significant caloric expenditure, it does significantly increase lean body mass and resting metabolic rate. For every pound of muscle you gain strength training, your body automatically burns an additional 35-50 calories every day. (e.g.: 10 lbs of muscle equates to an additional 350-500 calories burned per day!). Women who overdo the cardiovascular exercise are not as fit or lean as those who work with a personal trainer and balance their program with strength conditioning.
Women also are social creatures and enjoy the interaction and prestige of having a personal trainer. Some women prefer to work with a small group personal training session where the ratio of the trainer to clients is 2 or more. Building a trusting relationship with a personal trainer allows women to rely on their trainer for expertise in areas of health, fitness, nutrition and wellness. With so much confusion about diet, exercise and supplements, it’s valuable for a woman to have someone she trusts as a resource. Personal trainers can also help women with before and after fitness assessments; weekly weigh ins, portion control, giving feedback on food intake, timing meals and workouts and so on. Personal trainers can help women develop the confidence to improve other areas of their lives from finances to relationships. Overall there are many advantages to a woman in hiring a personal trainer. She may start out wanting to lose fat, but will be pleasantly surprised at what far reaching effects personal training can and will have.
Personal Training for Men
Men can enjoy a high level of personal fitness throughout their lives - and it's never too early (or too late) to start! After about the age of 35, a man’s testosterone levels begin to decline. Just as menopause reflects a decline in a woman’s hormonal levels, andropause reflects a decline of male hormones. At first the decrease in levels are unnoticed, but the changes soon become noticeable.
After the age 35, men begin to notice:
- Increase in “love handles”
- Increase stomach size
- Increase irritability
- Increase in memory loss
- Decrease sex drive
- Decreases the function of organs
- Decreased energy & stamina
- Weakening of muscle strength and bone matter
Just remember, the more fat a man has, the higher the conversion of testosterone to estrogen. The less testosterone men have, the less muscle they produce. It is not uncommon for a man of retirement age to have higher estrogen levels in his body than a woman of the same age, provided that the woman isn’t on estrogen therapy.
Men may feel like they know their way around a gym and don’t need a personal trainer, but the truth is that it’s not necessarily true. Just because someone is a male does not predict they will know how to fix a car, just like being a woman doesn’t necessarily give them the skills to know how to cook. Even if a man is comfortable going to a gym and using some machines does not mean that they know how to use them correctly, in the right order, using the right combination of weight, sets, rest, recovery, variability and so on, in order to produce results. If a man has gone to a gym and is not seeing results or is not seeing them as quickly as they would like or may have gotten injured, it would be wise to enlist the services of a fitness professional.
Enlisting the services of a personal trainer is not necessarily about vanity for a man. Like women, men also want to look and feel good. Holding on to youth, when a man may have been involved in athletics may be a motivational force. A man may be motivated to look good and be in good health for a promotion at work, to keep up with a teenage son, to take a trip they have wanted, to have a healthy sex life and so on. Regardless of the motivation, a personal trainer can help a man to fast track their results. Compared to women, men see results faster. They genetically are designed to have more muscle, have less fat and be taller.
A man might consider a personal trainer several days per week to jump start their fitness plan and see fast results. Then they may want to have the accountability of a personal trainer on a weekly or bi-monthly basis to check in on their progress, provide new and progressive workouts, incorporate new exercise and push the person harder than they would push on their own. Personal trainers can find out what sports or activities a male enjoys or enjoyed growing up and can incorporate sport specific drills in to the routine which make it fun and challenging.
Personal Training for Seniors
Personal training is especially important for seniors because it allows them to live longer stronger more enjoyable golden years. If the senior already is plagued with disease and disability, a personal trainer can help them restore independence again and even reverse disease. For seniors, a personal trainer can act as a liaison between themselves and their doctors. A personal trainer can work along with a physical therapist, cardiologist or other specialist to carry out a home exercise or therapy program.
Training Benefits Everyone
The facts are that people of all ages can benefit from strength training. In fact, strength improvements of up to 174% have been reported in 90 year old, institutionalized volunteers. A strong core musculature is critical for activities of daily living such as getting into and out of a car or bed as well as lifting a bag of groceries from a cart to the trunk of a vehicle.
With age comes debilitation of the central nervous system, cardiopulmonary system, digestive system, endocrine system and musculoskeletal system. Exercise slows the degeneration process. By the time a person is a senior they can have a range of abilities and disabilities depending on their lifestyle and genetics. All seniors would benefit from strengthening their muscles and joints to improve posture and correct imbalances.
Live Life to the Fullest
Working with a personal trainer can help a senior develop confidence to be fully engaged in life. For example as someone ages, they may not live life to the fullest because of fears related to their health such as being able to stand waiting on long lines, be in a crowd without losing balance, travel with out the fear of keeping up with fellow travelers, walk on ice with out slipping, going to altitudes with out losing ones breath and so on.
Physiological changes begin to happen as we mature. For example:
- There is a 10% decrease per decade after the age of 30 of cardiovascular function.
- The loss in muscular strength occurs at a rate of approximately 12-14% per decade after the age of 50.
- We lose 10-20% total bone mass by 65 years of age. Men lose bone at a rate of approximately 1% each year after the age of 50. While women lose at a rate of 2-3% each year after menopause, beginning as early as the age of 30.
Due to lack of mobility and loss of muscle mass, the metabolic rate gradually starts to slow down which in turn increases the obesity rate
Working with a personal trainer also gives seniors a social outlet and purpose. As seniors age and become retired, it’s easy for them to get out of a routine, feel unproductive and not have purpose to their day. Working with a personal trainer psychologically gives them something to look forward to. Most personal trainers work in a fitness center which should have a friendly, bright and clean environment. Seniors have the opportunity to meet people while working with a personal trainer as well during the times they are exercising on their own.
Personal trainers provide the seniors with a safe, effective and fun workout program that will allow them to see improvements in their bodies rather than declining health. Seniors will enjoy going to the doctor and seeing improvements to their blood pressure and blood chemistries. There are also a large percentage of cases where seniors are able to lower their medication dosages or come off of medication all together. Overall working a with a personal trainer will allow a senior to achieve a higher quality of life.