Why is Personal Training Important?
Attempting to get fit without a personal trainer is like trying to fly a plane without a pilot’s license or trying to fill a cavity without having dental training. Personal trainers are expert body transformation specialist. They study and master the art of using aerobic and anaerobic exercise, strength training, supportive eating and recovery to bring about positive physical change in a fun, effective, safe and efficient way. They do that keeping the individuals goals, abilities and lifestyle into consideration.
Can someone get fit by themselves, of course, but they are much more likely to get there more slowly, run a high risk of quitting and may even get injured. Those who exercise with a personal trainer see quicker and more dramatic results. Personal trainers not only ensure a safe and effective program, they provide motivation, support with positive lifestyle changes and they keep each workout, interesting, progressive and fun.
Knowing your Health and Fitness Goals
Most of the time that someone contacts and retains a personal trainer; they have a goal in mind. They want some type of positive physical change. It may start out with wanting to lose weight and also involves wanting more energy, less pain, to feel better, look better in clothes, and reclaim longevity. Others will have more specific goals with a deadline such as looking a certain way by a family reunion or preparing for a sporting event.
Knowing your outcome when embarking on an exercise program with a personal trainer will help your momentum. The clearer you are about what you are striving for, the better able your personal trainer will be able to guide you. When selecting goals, state them in a positive way, state them as if they are going to happen and have a deadline. An example might be, "I will lose 12 pounds by April 1st". Some other examples might be:
- I finish eating by 7 PM.
- I consume 8 eight ounce glasses of water daily.
- I will exercise three days per week for 45 minutes beginning Monday
- I will eat 5 raw vegetables per day
Writing down a goal, reading it often and sharing it with your personal trainer along with anyone else who might support your fitness and wellness efforts is another important tool in moving you closer to your goals. There is a connection between your brain and your actions when you write something down physically.
Consider obtaining a new notebook to record your fitness goals on the inside cover. Review them often – at least once per day. Re-write them as you accomplish them and set new goals to achieve. Set up rewards for when you achieve your goals. In that same notebook you can also record your food log, exercise sessions as well as sleep, water consumption and any other information you wish to scribe. The notebook ultimately becomes your success story. It's a journal that chronicles how you have changed. It’s a wonderful tool to reflect on your successes, challenges and breakthroughs. Writing your goals and accomplishments allows you to see a pattern of success as well as what doesn’t work. This gives you ammunition for staying on track in the future.
Once you have a goal in your mind and you can visualize it and verbalize it in detail, you increase your chances of achieving the goal. Personal trainers will help you to set goals. They are experts in both goal setting and achievement. Expect your personal trainer to ask you about you goals regularly and to re-assess your progress to see if you are achieving your goals.
Assessing Your Fitness
Although there are some variations in the personal training services you can receive, you should expect a comprehensive fitness assessment to kick off any personal training sessions or program. Assessing your fitness will give your trainer the baseline of your fitness level. It will also identify abilities ranging from excellent to poor. A fitness assessment will give you a comparison of improvements over time and allow you to gauge your fitness compared to other males or females your age.
The fitness assessment should begin with a comprehensive health, medical and fitness history. The personal trainer will want to identify things such as family history of disease, personal medical history including surgeries, injuries or any medication. They will also want to know your lifestyle information including your experiences with exercise, your current exercise program, and how many hours per day you sleep and sit as well as any concerns you have.
Once the lifestyle and medical history is assessed and reviewed, personal trainers will next determine which fitness tests are the most appropriate for the client. They typical tests include:
- Resting heart rate
- Blood Pressure
- Cardiovascular test (step test, bike test, treadmill test)
- Strength Test (bench press, squats)
- Muscle Endurance Test (pushups, sit ups)
- Body Composition (weight, body composition, circumference measurements)
- Flexibility (sit and reach, other joint mobility tests)
Additionally, personal trainers may test things such VO2 max, gait or posture analysis or sport specific testing for speed, agility, accuracy and so on.
Fitness can be re-assessed as often as a weekly scale weight or as long as 6 weeks apart to see measurable change. Knowing your re-assessment date is important to keep you on track to reaching your goals.
All of the information gained in a fitness assessment is confidential and only shared between you and the personal trainer. You can give permission to release the information to your doctor or other professionals. You will typically receive an electronic report with your results that also gives recommendations for improvements.
While engaging in a fitness assessment may not be a great experience the first time around, the re-assessment is a totally different experience as you are measuring significant improvements in results.
One of the reasons people fail at getting a result from an exercise program is motivation. They fall short of following through with their intentions. When there is not a plan for success and the accountability of a personal trainer to rely upon, a majority of people drop out from their fitness programs.
When a personal trainer takes on a client, they view the relationship as a joint responsibility in achieving the client’s goals. The personal trainer takes on 50% of the commitment by providing the success formula along with the motivation and accountability. The client does their part by showing up and making the necessary lifestyle changes.
Most people have tried to start fitness programs on their own at least 13 times before considering hiring a personal trainer and having success. When a client first begins exercising they should expect moderate muscle soreness. For some, this is enough of a deterrent to quit. If you have made many attempts on your own to exercise, doing the same thing and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.
People may go through 4 phases in making the decision to start and stick with a personal trainer:
Contemplation – In this phase, the client is thinking about hiring personal trainer, but not quite ready to make any commitments.
Preparation – In this phase, the client is taking steps in order to begin exercising. The steps may include purchasing exercise clothing including running shoes. They may also visit several fitness centers, interview several personal trainers, determine where exercise can fit into their schedule, purchase fitness equipment or determine if child care needs to be addressed and so on.
Action – This phase is a moment in time when the person decides to make a commitment in moving forward with their goal to exercise. Something usually happens where the person experiences enough physical or emotional pain to make a change. Some examples of “the pain” could be clothing not fitting, someone commenting about weight gain, pain in a joint, a health scare or an impending birthday.
Maintenance – This phase is where the personal trainer is most valuable regarding motivation. The client may have moved up to the action phase many times, but never to the point where exercising on a regular basis became an enjoyable part of their lifestyles. Once a person begins exercising they spend the most time in maintenance working on making exercise a regular habit. Personal trainers are key to helping clients move through the maintenance phase
Deciding to exercise has such far reaching effects on a personal lifestyle. The client can expect to lose unwanted fat, improve cardiovascular endurance, get stronger, more flexible, eliminate pain and much more. If the only change a person does is to add productive exercise into their lives several times weekly, they can expect to be in better health, have higher levels of fitness and produce improvements even at the most cellular levels, however there is a catch. Exercising alone without changing other lifestyle factors is a long slow process to significant changes. Exercise without healthy and nutritious eating will slow the body change process. Exercise without seven or more hours of sleep per night may even break the body down. Exercise with excessive levels of chronic stress will wear on the immune system.
Changes such as significant fat loss, improvements to body composition, detoxification, and cellular health and so on, are much better realized with the addition of lifestyle changes. Exercise is one piece of the wellness wheel. When combined with the most natural foods, managed stress, and proper recovery, exercise is more productive and enjoyable.
Personal trainers are adept at helping clients with lifestyle changes. From cleaning out their pantries to educating them on how to grocery shop, cook and eat, personal trainers can help clients weed through the sea of confusion about making the best choices, applying the tools to use them and ultimately achieving a desired result.
Ideally exercise should be something that the client looks forward to. They should show up for an exercise session rested and energized. They should leave their exercise session feeling accomplished and like they did something great for their bodies.
If all of the pieces of the wellness wheel are not in place, the wheel becomes out of balance and health will suffer. Your body is an amazing machine and will give you warning signals if it’s not in balance. Those signals can come in the form of colds, sore achy joints, torn muscles, gut issues, headaches, fatigue and so on.
Your body will also function optimally when your lifestyle habits are in check. Personal trainers can support you in making better food choices, quitting smoking, cutting back or eliminating alcohol, building time in your schedule for exercise and getting enough sleep and so on. Personal trainers can also work closely with other wellness professionals on your team such as a counselor, hypnotist, biofeedback specialist, nutritionist and other alternative practitioners.
Personal trainers are likely to see clients 2 – 3 times weekly in the initial phases of training. Because clients see a personal trainer much more often then they see a doctor or most other wellness professionals, there is a wonderful opportunity for the trainer to check in on behavior changes regularly. Expect a personal trainer to ask about changes to behaviors you are working on each session.
Personal trainers are adept at finding solutions to obstacles that may stand in the way of success. One of the tools that personal trainers may use for helping clients to make positive behavior changes is journaling. Journaling can be a powerful tool that allows both the client and the trainer to see how progress is being made on a particular behavior. For example, if the client is working on eliminating alcohol, the trainer can give them tools to set them up for success at times when alcohol will be present or during times of stress when someone might be compelled to choose alcohol... The fact that a client is recording their food and beverage intake in a journal, which the personal trainer is going to review weekly, helps the client to follow through on their commitments. The client knows that trying to deceive the personal trainer is truly only selling themselves short of making the desired behavior changes. In addition there should be a trusting relationship built between the trainer and client such that the client truly wants to not disappoint themselves and their trainer.
Personal trainers can also work with other therapists and coaches to offer continued support in helping to bring about positive physical change. As a personal trainer helps a client to get fit, making other behavior modifications becomes easier. Having success with one area of their lives, such as exercise, gives them a model to have success in other areas as well. Once a person begins to see and feel all of the positive benefits of working with a personal trainer, they are naturally more apt to make healthier food choices, smoke less, have better quality sleep, socialize with other people who are healthy and so on.
Setting an Example for Your Children
You are your child’s greatest teacher. Children from birth look to their parents as role models for behavior. Children will do as you do, not as you say. You are much more likely to have a child who is interested in exercise, sports and healthy eating if you are. Sitting on the couch and eating processed foods, yet telling your children to go outside and play sends an incongruent message to them. As children mature, they will come to respect healthy habits if they are taught them early on. As children get older, it’s a much tougher challenge to convert them from sedentary lifestyles and fat food eating to making better lifestyle choices. They will always look for boundaries regarding movement and food.
Physical fitness is a wonderful family activity. Since families are so time crunched, spending time together exercising is a great way to get your children engaged in a healthy activity. Exercise with children should be more focused on fun. Give your children the opportunity to choose the activities. If you are going to take lessons as a family such as tae kwon do or swimming or rock climbing, take turns choosing the activities so each family member has the opportunity to choose one they would like to enjoy.
By nature, children enjoy exercise. Today’s children move less and childhood obesity and disease is a sad reality. Technology along with two working parents, single parent families, unsafe neighborhoods, super sized meals at the drive through, and physical education no longer being mandatory, has lead to early onset of childhood diseases.
Sad Statics Regarding the Health of Our Youth:
Children in the United States today are less fit than they were a generation ago. Many are showing early signs of cardiovascular risk factors such as physical inactivity, excess weight, higher blood cholesterol and cigarette smoking. Inactive children, when compared with active children, weigh more; have higher blood pressure and lower levels of heart-protective high-density lipoproteins (HDL cholesterol). Even though heart attack and stroke are rare in children, evidence shows that the process leading to those conditions begins in childhood.
- The 1987 National Children and Youth Fitness Study indicates that at least half of youth don't engage in physical activity that promotes long-term health.
- Less than 36 percent of elementary and secondary schools offer daily physical education classes, and most classes are unlikely to foster lifelong physical activity.
- A fitness testing program sponsored by the Chrysler Fund Amateur Athletic Union, which tracks fitness among 9.7 million people between ages 6–17, shows that children are getting slower in endurance running and weaker.
- Using the 95th percentile or higher of the CDC 2000 growth chart, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study (NHANES IV, 1999-2000) found that the prevalence of overweight American adolescents ages 12–19 was 15.5 percent for males and females, a substantial increase from NHANES II (1976–80).
- About 10 percent of adolescents ages 12–19 have total cholesterol levels exceeding 200 mg/dL.
- Fifteen million American children under age 18 are exposed to secondhand smoke in the home. An estimated 2,000 American young people become smokers every day.
- Children spend an average of 3 to 4 hours a day watching TV. Inactive children are more likely to become inactive adults.
Healthy lifestyle training should start in childhood to promote improved cardiovascular health in adult life. All children should engage in regular physical activity each day. Parents should take the role in leading children to fitness. Fitness should focus on fun. Not all children like competition or team sports. Try different activities to see which your child has the most interest in. Take turns letting each child choose an activity to try.
As your child’s greatest teacher, they are watching your physical activity habits along with your eating, smoking, alcohol habits as well as how you take care of your health, and even if you schedule annual check ups. Children also are very aware if you are an appropriate weight for your height.
Some Ways to Encourage Your Child to be Physically Active:
- Be an active role model yourself. Mom's or dad's participation in physical activity increases the participation rates of their child. Children will do as you do rather than as you say. Pushing your child in a stroller, taking them to the gym or getting involved in a mommy and me classes from early age’s sets the stage for a lifetime of positive fitness habits. As children get older, engage in play with them at the park rather than sitting on the bench and watching. Encourage them to participate in sports which interest them.
- Sign up for an event. There are many age appropriate fitness events for children and families to work as a team or individually. Many events are for a great cause which also teaches children about being humanitarian. It will be necessary to take time to physically prepare for the event which is great cause for the family to exercise together.
- Get outdoors – We typically spend way to much time indoors. Just about every state park has trails set up with walking paths and exercise stations. It won’t feel like exercise for your child if you are focusing on nature rather than getting your heart rate up. Take advantage of what is in your environment from college campus’s to rail trails, look for opportunity to explore your community on foot or on bikes as a family.
- Sign up for family lessons. There are many types of fitness classes available from self defense to swimming, ice skating to volleyball. Find an activity your family will enjoy learning together and commit to a season worth of lessons.
- Plan an active family vacation. Vacations can be both relaxing and active. Let each family member choose something they want to do from rock climbing to kayaking to snorkeling to cycling. There is no shortage of wonderful ways to physically explore a vacation destination and there will always be time to relax.
- Teach your child to set goals early on. There is much research pointing to the value of setting goals and ultimately achieving goals. Even young children can set goals and it’s a fantastic when they reach them. Goals should be age appropriate and determined by the child and coached by the adult. Having a goal in mind will teach your child about following through and accomplishing a commitment as well as setting up rewards for goals completed.
- Provide everyday clothing for your child that encourages free movement and mobility. Have proper fitting foot wear. If your child is uncomfortable or their movement is restricted, they are less likely to move. If they don’t have the appropriate equipment such an a properly fitted helmet, knee pads or a bike that functions properly they will quickly lose interest at best and at worst could be badly hurt.
- Photograph your child being active. Surrounding your child with pictures of themselves and you participating in physical activities sets the tone for happy memories and associations about fitness.
- Actively support your child's involvement in physical activity. Invest in appropriate equipment for the activity they are the most interested in. Go and watch your child's games. Drive your child to and from practices and games. Consider volunteering. Kids love when their parents pay attention to them.
- Help child learn the fundamental skills of running, throwing, catching and kicking a ball. Once they gain confidence with the fundamentals, they will naturally progress to more challenging movements.
- Emphasize fun rather than competition and slimming attributes. Give encouraging comments about your child's body. Love and support your child just the way s/he is. Build your child's confidence and put joy in playing. Help your child to learn the skills needed to enjoy sports.
- Introduce your child to active adults, athletes, coaches, officials and leaders in sport. Buy sports books about women athletes for girls. Watch women's sport events on TV with your daughter. Take your child to sport competitions in your community. Read the sports pages with your child and follow the performances of athletes.
- Cut down on TV, video, computer time.
- Plan activities within your child's abilities so your child can achieve success.
Setting an Example for Other Adults in Your Life
When one member of the family or household takes an interest in fitness that can positively influence those around them. Seeing the changes in a loved one many times motivates the rest of the family to join in. There are many health or emotional reasons that may move someone to want to get fit when another member of the household begins experiencing the far reaching effects of being physically fit.
Working out together can re-connect couples who may have had different hobbies or interests. Couples can plan to spend part of their day exercising together which allows for the opportunity to communicate and have an endorphin rush. As couples bodies begin to transform they may become more physically attracted to each other again. They may set goals together, try new physical challenges and spend more time being active rather than sitting. The psychological effects of exercise on a couple are such that they are more likely to stick to their exercise program; they have a better chance of living longer, stronger more energetic years and will share a common interest which many couples lose over the years.
Being fit can bring longevity and happiness back into a relationship as the couples have more energy, feel more self confident, have better mental clarity, less pain, are better able to complete activities of daily living with ease, and look and feel younger.
There are times when a loved one will not be interested in getting fit; in fact they may try to sabotage your plan to get fit. If that is the case, you should continue with your commitment to yourself. You can not force someone to become involved in exercise. They must begin when they are ready. Nagging, teasing or other derogatory behavior will not move the person any closer to exercising, in fact it will do the opposite.
Some tools that may work to encourage your loved one to exercise include inviting them to exercise with you. Asking them to pick an activity they enjoy or liked to play as a child. Give them choices as to when to exercise. Consider hiring a personal trainer to conduct a couple’s session. With the personal trainer leading, the spouse won’t feel like you are being bossy, a know it all or putting them down. The personal trainer will know how to direct the session so that both individuals regardless of their abilities are successful.