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Personal Trainer

Sabotage : We have become awesome at this...

Sabotage : We have become awesome at this...

All along the path to change we doubt ourselves , we criticise ourselves for past mistakes, this is not helpful. In turn this leads to a perpetuation of the behaviour we may be seeking to change. We dwell on past failures and this affects current or future behaviour. We often pre conclude " I failed at this before therefore I will fail again"...

How Thin People Think

How Thin People Think

As part of the Precision Nutrition course there are some great book recommendations, my new favourite is The Beck Diet Solution (Beck, J) which basically looks at the inclusion of cognitive therapy techniques to help you learn to think differently enabling changes in eating behaviour...

What Does The Indicator Light On My Dashboard Tell Me?

What Does The Indicator Light On My Dashboard Tell Me?

Indicator lights on the dashboard of your car telling you something is wrong are just annoying, right? But they are there for a reason (apart from squeezing money from you for some expensive service)! They blink away in front of you...

A Client's Journey Part 2: "Getting Going"

A Client's Journey Part 2: "Getting Going"

This is going to be a monthly feature probably. We are still following one particular client, this journey started many moons ago and still brings something new to the table each time we visit it. Imagine how you could be inspired by reading the words of someone who actually went on a real weight loss journey, after all the words are the words of a real life person like you or me...

How to Facilitate Change in Diet and Exercise Patterns

How to Facilitate Change in Diet and Exercise Patterns

For most people, modification rather than elimination is all that is needed when it comes to changing ones diet or physical activity levels. Unlike stopping smoking, for example, there is no "quit day" when it comes to behavioural change linked to exercise and nutrition. There may of course be targets...

Balance Issues and Progression Ideas

Balance Issues and Progression Ideas

On a daily basis, I see people doing 1 legged squats on things like a Bosu ball. Even worse, doing the same exercise with weights! I always wonder why are they doing this. I am constantly referring to a phrase called "Goal of the Exercise" (GOTE). If I am ever questioned by a client as to why we are "doing this" and I don’t know the answer...

Confronting the Truth: It's Tough

Confronting the Truth: It's Tough

As a trainer I am often giving advice. I generally have an opinion on most things fitness related…are they valid?  I hope so!   One of my guiding lights is Dr John Beradini, who runs a company called Precision Nutrition based in Toronto (www.precisionnutrition.com). He was recently chosen as one of the top 20 most influential trainers in North America by Livestrong. He has a lot of awesome stuff to say…

Do One (Positive) Thing Each Day...You are So Worth it...

Do One (Positive) Thing Each Day...You are So Worth it...

I saw this quote the other day and like many similar quotes it made me smile.. "the difference between a rut and a grave is just the dimensions". I come across many people who if I was being judgemental are in a "rut", whether that be with their life, their health, relationships, work...

10 Signs Your Personal Trainer is a Keeper !!

From the outside looking personal training  is a strange business, it probably has the largest mismatch between ( under ) education and income than any other occupation out there.Its  an easy business to enter but its hard to sustain a full time income unless you become good at what you do. There probably is no other occupation where such ( under) education can return so much income..no other industry  where anyone can call themselves a " personal trainer"...but know one can define what that really means. Its an industry littered with the most bizarre array of skills, abilities, certificates, courses, awarding bodies, and without regulation even a top grade qualification is no indication of the ability of a trainer.

So here are some thoughts based on observation, experience, and generally working with clients for the last ten years. In no order;

10 Signs You Should keep Your Trainer

1.The trainer has more than one certificate and has undertaken some relevant course in the last 12 months, stuff changes all the time...so should your trainers skill set.

2. If  No1 appears not to be happening does your trainer keep abreast of trends in the industry or maintains knowledge intake in other ways...this doesn't include reading the old copies of Mens Health in the Doctors waiting room. I read  a new habit, nutrition or health related book each month.

3.They listen to what you say and tailor your workouts accordingly, they have more than one way of altering  the exercise and can do that seemlessly . They explain the change and don't blind you with bullshit.

4.They turn up on time, return calls and emails , are presentable , are not on the phone ( really as a trainer how many times do you need to check your phone in one hour?) texting away. My dentist doesn't use a mobile phone whilst drilling in my mouth.

5.Gets the balance right between listening,understanding, pushing, advice , encouragement.. you feel comfortable with this person.

6. Your trainer has some personal goals and visions for their own health and fitness, they are proud of their achievements to date and are always trying to " grow"

7.Your trainer takes notes, records data and offers advice based on the information from  that  data ..

8. Your trainer inspires and encourages you, picks you up when you are down without negative judgement , you want to leave the session feeling positive...right?

9. Always knows when to refer out...I am not a doctor, a marriage counsellor, a specialist in migraines, a lifestyle coach ( I do refer out to for clients who need this type of coaching, it helps me along the way )

10. Doesn't let you get away too easily,we all have a list of excuses , yes me included, but hey we are here to change things  , sometimes tough stuff is needed!!

Thoughts and comments always welcome.

Everyone gets on of these along the way.. the PLATEAU !

There are many health and fitness magazines out there, they tend to be heavy on advice on " how to get a six pack" or how to get a " beach body in 14 days" or how " to look like Arnie " , I guess having this on the front page sells magazines , however, real nitty gritty stuff/ subjects    gets passed by. One subject that receives scant attention is one many if not all people on a change journey experience. Yup the dreaded plateau. CALORIE DEFECIT

To get weight loss you need to create a calorie deficit. Many times ( and I have said this about myself!!) clients will tell me they are doing everything thats being asked of them but are not or have stopped losing weight. This situation could be called weight stable or a eucaloric state where intake and expenditure are equal.There are 3 possibilities here.

1. They are consuming more than they think

2. They are exercising less than they think

3. A combination of 1 and 2.

INTAKE

If you are not keeping a journal or counting calories in some manner  then you may be totally unaware of where you are at in terms of calories per food or calories per portion.Raising awareness may be needed, clients may need to learn how to find out how to understand calorie content of foods, especially ones that they consume frequently. People can be shocked to find for example that a large latte has more fat and calories than a piece of deep fried chicken.Another big issue is the amount of calories that get forgotten about that are obtained via liquid intake.People often underestimate calories drunk...especially when it comes to alcohol, fruit juice, milk...some of these are hard for clients to remove. Journalling can also be improved to help identify eating patterns, making them more accurate can turn up many hidden calories and show where food is being consumed. ( e.g. restaurants where sometimes even " healthy " options have become calorie laden)

ENERGY OUTPUT

A plateau can occur in a number of ways. Most people when they start to loose weight enjoy some success especially if they have received both nutritional guidance and have started to follow a well designed individualized exercise programme, however, after changes occur some form of stalemate comes along . This can be very frustrating for the client " I have been working so hard"....this would be a time to change the programme around.As weight loss occurs then changes occur in the physiology of the individual, as this happens the energy cost per exercise goes down.This is for two reasons a) the person is lighter and they burn less with each activity and b) the metabolism slows due to a decrease in calorie intake...

As such the same programme that got the client to loose weight may not continue to help them on their journey. The physical changes that have taken place have altered the clients need  for energy intake or expenditure.

Often clients , product manufacturer`s , textbooks, websites, " experts" all over estimate the amount of calories used during exercise. People get very hung up on " what machine burns the most calories", well if you are just starting out it probably doesn't really matter.  If you  are only going to start off with 20 mins of cardio 10 extra calories isn't really a big deal.However seeing big numbers on the display of a machine can lead to a false position leading to actually increasing calorie intake in an over compensation .

PLATEAU THOUGHTS

As clients lose weight the amount of calories they need per se becomes reduced.This is because as there is less body  to actually burn calories.You could say that with every % point they decrease they will burn 1% less calories.In effect if the person wants to lose 10% of their weight they need to find a way of living on 10 % less calories.In "Best Weight" by Freedhoff and Sharma they ask how  to determine if a plateau has been reached. Two questions should be examined;

1. Can the client eat any fewer calories and still enjoy life?

2.Could the client exercise more and still enjoy life?

If the answer to either is " yes" then they have reached a plateau. If the answer is " no" and weight hasn't changed for 6 weeks then they have reached a floor where no further loss of weight is likely.

In summary plateau`s can be overcome , it can be a very frustrating time for both the client  and the professional alike..when this stage occurs its time to make changes..either to the volume of exercise or the nutritional part of the equation. The latter may be achieved by keeping a more accurate journal and an increased awareness of portions and calorific amounts of foods  and liquids consumed.

Another Day in the Life of a Personal Trainer....

Occasionally we are going to do a snap shot of a day in the life, today is the second in a series , its hard hitting and nothing in here is untrue or spiced up to sensationalize . Read on. Its Friday , for most the last day of the week, for me its day 5 of 7 this week....trainers can get worn out too!! The day starts early, 5.30 am , I eat before I leave, this never changes even if I am running late, its cold as I hop on the bike, probably about minus 5 degrees but its only a short trek to the studio. First up its bootcamp ( BC for short) now it our third year and still full up 3 x a week. It takes a lot of effort to attend at that time of the day and we are still rolling with a full house, today is a station circuit , 50 seconds per station, 10 second rest, 3 sets per station , ( we do a working set, an isometric set and a working set back to back depending on the exercise) we work hard , we still have a laugh . Three bootcamp members (later) today are starting a journey to become personal trainers , which is awesome , I am going to be more than happy to help them grow and develop as they work towards their goals. I am proud of them...

One hour later we are done and off people go to work ,get the kids ready for school,and the next client comes in. We will call the client DP We have been working together for over 4 years and have a fantastic relationship, always smiling and sharing a similar sense of humour  aids to the session flying by. DP missed the first session this week so we pull back a little on the resistance levels paying close attention to a couple of injuries , we always do something new, I like to challenge each client mentally and physically. The client is having with breaking or changing some food habits and we agree to have a sit down hour in the coming week to go over some issues and hopefully we can find some agreed solutions.

Next up come a couple who are relatively new to Inspira. Last week the gentleman came on his own and felt the after affects of solo attention for a few days. From a training perspective its not nice to get feedback that points to me overloading the client and we agree to lighten up today. I regularly check in during the session to see if we are aggrivating any part of his body that was bothering him last week.We regularly rest as required. The session goes real fast and we swap  coaching ideas ( he is a lifestyle coach...always full of pearls of wisdom that I rebound back on to my clients)...we always do an educational component to each session , usually about movement patterns, what does what and why  in the body. I encourage them to get at least one session done before we meet next..

Back on the bike for a 20 min cycle south, its still colder than I would like, I guess its good for the complexion...and it burns a crap load of calories.I have pre written the next clients programme but H has just come back from an injury so we have to see how it goes, for example one row motion hurts the elbow, a quick switch doesn't help so we search for an alternative exercise. Ok thats better and the client can continue without pain... H is another long term client who always makes time to ask how I am and we swap a few stories health related along the way. Its all good at the end, I must remember to follow up on that elbow situation in a few days.

Moving again to another long term client, I arrive and SC seems bit down and quiet , it takes me at least ten minutes to ask and I find that she has been diagnosed with arthritis in her big toe,( she has been in a lot of pain probably from running and has other foot issues) this is a big problem as she is running a 30 k at the weekend and worse is leading a team of Running Room entrants ( and doesn't want to let them down at the last minute) . In short we are going to have to modify many exercises ( those that use the big toe to push off , bend , generally use...did not realize that even eccentric part of the squat was also a problem) ..so we have to think quickly, do some mental reassurance and show some quick " foot box" exercises for the ankle to try and take the pressure away from the painful area...( I found out 2 days later that the race was run and the soreness in the toe probably changed the gait pattern and caused some grumbles in the hip musculature..but hey we got there...)  We did discuss the possibility of not running especially as the " pain" and other potentially related injuries seem to be increasing with time and usage.

A quick 20 minute cycle back uphill and into the wind ( cold, cold, cold..) to the last client of the day,,,we have been training frequently just recently , working at increasing strength and at the same time introducing new and different exercises. We have been training over a year and progressing nicely . K was a complete gym and weights virgin a year ago , now she can do many many things that make me proud...her skill set has gone through the roof and she is probably only one of a very select few who has never sworn at me during a session. Soon..maybe soon.

Its bloody cold but I go home, exhausted, change clothing and pop out for crushing 30 min run in the cold, hard but enjoyable, have to keep in shape, have a 10 k coming in May so have to start training earlier if I want to beat last years time....,I am tired ,its early to sleep tonight.

Why I was resisting keeping a food journal and what I did?

Until recently I had not allowed myself the benefit of having a " trainer" . Obviously having been a trainer for ten years I have often asked , indeed even given out deluxe food journals for people to keep. From a casual observation it does appear the people who are more likely to fill in a journal are also more likely to get results! So when i told my trainer that I wanted to lose weight I was told to fill out a food journal, a not unreasonable request especially when the trainer knows I also ask the same of my clients. This would be easy I thought (I had never kept one previously despite once previously being asked, I wriggled out of it) , indeed I had wondered many times before  why people didn't, fill them despite the obvious benefits. The diary can show behavioural and organizational issues that a client may have, I sometimes ask people to add in emotional feelings associated with meals..." how does it feel when you eat that"? This can show patterns of non diet behaviours and highlight alternative choices that might be helpful in eliminating negative emotions or reducing calorie intake.

Making people log the times of the food can show for example how hunger has a role in disorganized eating.. we can see for example common patterns arising that contribute to poor eating patterns.

Most commonly ( and also from my observations) the following issues shown by the food journal that don't help " organized eating" :

Not eating within 30 mins of waking ( so many people resist this simple great start to a a good days nutrition)

Going longer than 3 hours between meals and snacks

The journal can also highlight simple issues ( too few calories per meal ), not including protein in all meals and snacks...

But like my clients I found myself resisting keeping a journal, was this going to be used to judge me, show that I could improve my own nutrition..was it going to take up too much of my time, so I had a decision to make. What to do?

However I considered the benefits..it was going to provide me with calorie level feedback ( after all slight weight loss was my goal)  and as such decision making, it would help me show patterns that may be compromising my efforts, ( I can track my hunger back to questions like " why did I get hungry"?) and it was going to help me create new habits ( it was even making me think..." if I eat this I have to write it down... do I want it that much?)

So I did it and guess what.... I kept it going, after all we are all creatures of habit, initially what was daunting became my new habit, in addition raising my level of food consciousness started to bring results, so far I am proud of my efforts, in future I will work on strategies to help my clients become more compliant in keeping their own journals.

I like the term " best weight"...

Recently I joined the Canadian Obesity Network, something that I stumbled on during my quest for more information on all subjects health related, they produce a neat little read entitled " Best Weight " ( Freedhoff and Sharma). I want to pick out some of the best bits that I think are helpful to those looking to loose weight...

I always like to see if my client has realistic expectations and a plan, more often that not I find that they don't have either. Further questioning may be needed to learn about motives and objectives.Aesthetic reasons can often be a prime motivator and these could be short term ( my daughter is getting married and i want to get into a specific suit) or long term goal like improve self esteem or finding a grew partner...However successful weight loss for aesthetic reasons may be harder to achieve than doing the same for health reasons. If weight loss is driven by self esteem or concerns over  body image then these issues need to be addressed first. To assist in that sometimes I refer clients out to a life coach...

If the goal is health related weight loss its nice to share with the clients what to expect, maybe increased energy or less knee pain....I try to define objective quality of life goals that can be obtained in a reasonable time..success should be measured by achievement of these goals rather than actual weight lost.Maybe we should take away that the goal of weight loss is not about numbers on a scale but to reduce health risks and improve quality of life. Even a 5 % weight loss can produce measurable medical results!

In goal terms its probably best that they are as least daunting and obtainable as possible...rapid weight loss cannot be sustained, it can be achieved short term , but has a negative affect on lean tissue in the body. Sustaining weight loss is more important than achieving massive numbers..its better to lose 50% less than too regain it all and sometimes more back...

This leads me to the concept of " best weight". I do like this concept, its refreshing and I am surprised that I have never come across it before. Its so simple.The book describes " best weight " as a non statistical goal that is easy to set. Clients can take their weight down to any weight they put their minds too, but to maintain that weight they need to enjoy the lifestyle that got them there.

The term " best weight" is the weight achieved whilst living the healthiest lifestyle that they can truly enjoy. They maintain that there is a point when you can no longer eat less or exercise more and still like their life. The weight achieved whilst still liking their life is the " best weight " achieved without further intervention...and that is the lowest weight currently possible.For sustained weight loss the client should consume the smallest number of calories that allows them to enjoy each day.With exercise clients should do as much as possible, but there is a maximum above which the person will not do, chances are they will come to hate exercise, then they quit.

Eating less and exercising more in a situation that the patient doesn't enjoy is the definition if a diet which is why 95% of them fail as the client returns back to previous lifestyle choices. A healthy lifestyle is the smallest number of calories and the greatest amount of exercise that a person can enjoy.

Ref: Best Weight . A practical Guide to obesity management ( Yoni Freedhoff and Ayra Sharma . ) Published by The Canadian Obesity Network

Compliance...why can't people just do it?

This is one of my favourite topics. I talk over the " compliance " issue more than any other subject and with a massive wide variety of people. For me its one of the hardest factors to "make sense" of, because really in black and white terms failure to do something that has been suggested to you as health beneficial is only going to cause your problems later down the line. Its sad in a way and frustrating for both client and trainer and I still have trouble understanding the root of this issue. I heard a recent story about a recovering heart attack patient who was not taking his prescribed medication because he didn't like pills,  compliance here was a potential  life and death issue  .I  guess people are so complex there is no one particular reason why this situation existed. Maybe he just didn't see the benefit, to most it appears black and white, take the pill, live, don't take the pill , potentially die.

However, there is growing consensus among researchers that the behavior of the health care provider has a significant influence on patient adherence. Specifically, the health care professional’s ability to communicate and explain information while expressing warmth and concern for the patient appears to be associated with increasing patient adherence. Which from a personal training perspective makes the job just that little bit harder. Some people just don't see the benefit of " extra " anything  or indeed " less " of something , getting them to even go to bed 30 mins earlier is like asking them to amputate an arm...we have become so stuck in out habits that all change however small is resisted. However small amounts of change can bring big returns.

 

WE TALK ABOUT IT A LOT

But on a more individual level I have clients that ask me for " 5 Minute " programmes of exercises they can do daily, how often do they follow through and do it, sadly almost never. I discuss these issues with a Lifestyle Coach and to sum up our joint  thoughts would translate to something like this..instead of me (trainer ) telling you WHAT to do, but that both the trainer and the client should work together to come up with a compliancey solution. Instead of being told what to do we need to find or create new thought patterns,or habits, in affect we have 2 people working on one problem, not one telling the other what to do !

We discuss sleep and mainly the lack  there of. I can find any client 100 articles promoting the benefits of sleep, I can send these articles to my clients..I can find no research ( haven't really looked ) promoting a lack of sleep and its benefits. However, people may still not see the value in sleep and you then may have to look for the reasons... " why" .. ." Why do you not value sleep"? Its the a matter of understanding the clients sleep beliefs and the disregard for it may come from elsewhere in that persons life and history.

It appears that what people value most they do most, when it becomes the most important thing to that person they may end up complying. From a  trainers standpoint we want everyone to comply with what we suggest and if that persons belief system is different to ours  then we have difficulty in understanding why people do what they do. Perhaps the best way forward is to simply say " what can I do today thats going to help me towards my goals?" Do something, small , simple and achievable...

One thought that goes through my head is we just don't love ourselves enough , then I found this quote which sums it all up

"You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of our love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection." – Buddha

SOME INFO FROM THE UK.

I found the following information on Wikipedia to give you some idea of the problem health care faces in the UK
  • up to 90% of diabetes patients do not take their medication well enough to benefit from that medication
  • 33-50% of some cancer patients take less of their anti-cancer medicine than required.
  • only 75% of coronary heart disease (CHD) patients take sufficient medicine for it to be effective.
  • Up to 75% of hypertensive patients do not adhere to their medicine.
  • 41-59% of mentally ill patients take their medication infrequently or not at all.
  • 33% of patients with schizophrenia don’t take their medicine at all, and 33% are poorly adherent.
  • Less than 27% depressed patients adhere to their medication

In the UK, the societal impact of such high levels of non-compliance is significant:

  • 110,000 people per year die prematurely from coronary heart disease that is largely preventable. Death rates are three times higher in manual workers than among managers.
  • If CHD patients adhered to their medication, each year 40,000 – 50,000 fewer people would have a stroke and 25,000 would not have a heart attack.
  • 25% of cancer patients have to cut back on food shopping to cover the extra costs of cancer.
  • 70% of patients with advanced cancer suffer with pain, very often in conjunction with other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, and confusion, amongst other symptoms.
  • 1,400 people die from asthma attacks each year, 90% of which are avoidable

The most common causes for lack of adherence appear  to be aging, lack of education, lack of information about the benefits ( of taking the prescribed medicine) and on, I also read that between 20 and 30 % of prescriptions in the US go unfilled.

A Day in the life of a Personal trainer

5.30 am , rudely awaken by the incessant buzz of the alarm, its not attractive but up we get, quick check outside , good no more snow, can cycle to work today, it maybe minus 8 but its a good warm up. Quick check of the emails and texts to see if we have had any overnight cancellations , a fantastic and nutritious shake ( spinach, walnuts , almond milk, blueberries, 2 scoops of protein powder if you want to know) , a fish oil capsule, some multivitamins and its out the door.

First up today is a one hour circuit style bootcamp , quickly set some equipment up ( we planned our circuit the night before) and get ready before the clients come in. One class member brings in an article on stretching , we quickly chat about that and welcome the other participants, its Friday, the last class of the week. Its cold and snowy but we still get a good turnout , its nice to see the regulars, some of whom have been coming for over a year, 3 times a week. How is that for dedication? We warm up and work them hard, bit of banter flies around the room and we smile our way through the next hour, everyone seems in fine form and no one is complaining. One hour later and we are done, they work hard, I am always impressed with their attitude and commitment.

Next up is todays first client, bouncing in, smiling and ready to go, we swap a few lines , check on a few issues that may affect the session and we move into a short warm up, some mobility exercises and we are then hitting the weights, nothing too aggressive today, more like a maintenance session. We move round the studio concentrating on some big key exercises, an hour later we are done and we go our separate ways.

Today I am moving on to cover another client , 5 k south and decided to use the subway, the first two clients today are both longterm ( 4 and 3 years respectively) and they are both a pleasure to work with. Its only a ten min travel time and the session has been pre planned so we hit the ground running straight on ten o clock, the time flies by, the whole studio is talking about Lance Armstrong who was on TV last night , general consensus was he was a cheat and now do we believe a word he is now saying. The session glides past , a moan and groan along the way but no problems to report,coat on and back out into the snow, chat with the client as we leave and discuss nutritional strategies for her partner who I also train.

Onwards, quick duck into Hortons , grab a coffee and a tea ( my client deserves it !) and walk 5 mins round the corner. This client is very unique , she has lost way over 50lb since we started and kept that off, albeit with a few bumps along the way for over a year. Quality. Secondly we train beside a swim pool with a temp of 86 degree , its different and challenging, especially as we are going to work mini circuits today, high reps, low weight, no rest periods and additional cardio, it adds up to a killer session, more , more , more, come on lady push it out. We even had the kids cheering along, wonderful moment, sweat is dripping off and there are no prisoners today. Does she work hard, my god yes.

Travel time again, client is running late and forgot her cheque book, after 5 mins I am accused of persecuting her on the basis of those two facts, its not true but we both smile at the thought of that prospect. Short session today but effective, try to re arrange an extra session next week but no times exist that work...shame.

Break time .Return subway journey north and a quick bike ride home, time to sit and relax, take in some food, let that digest and we are going to get on the spin bike for 30 mins and listen to some tunes, love these quiet times getting some cardio in.

Couple of quick phone calls to staff and leads , write up my next programme, only one more session today. Have cut down my workload on  Friday and its helped to free up some quality time. 6pm last session of the day, client is never late and walks to ever session regardless of the weather. I am impressed. Its been just under a year of workouts ,   my client works hard and gives her all, at this time on  Friday night I can ask for no more.

Its been a great day...still got to write up tomorrows programmes though...early night I think

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So if the Fitness Industry is a mess what should we do?

What do I see in the future of the fitness industry? I recently devoted a blog to my thoughts on why its such a mess and out of control, it is after all a relatively new industry ,commercial gyms probably only came into being in the 1970`s, Personal Training, as we know it sometime in the late 80s... My point in short was that it has become a sort of cash cow preying on fear and emotion...( for example big box gyms like to exploit this ...my most recent work experience within such an environment had me hawking my services around at about a minimum investment of 5k, selling a minimum package of 50 sessions, this was somewhat painful if, in my professional opinion the client only needed 20 sessions , and after all its the " professional " you are paying for, as such I had to attempt to sell something that the person didn't really need, or indeed want )...yes folks it was all about the money, never about the client.

Needless to say client results ( those who had paid for a trainer), in my opinion were low and trainer turnover was high....it was like a semi successful business model , one side made a load of cash , the other side of the equation ... well, you know what I am saying.

My first observation I guess then across the whole industry is lets see clients as people not as a waking ATM machine, I once heard a training pressuring a client to come back and train again on the same day, yes, really.

Secondly lets put some regulations out there that mean something, anyone can own a franchise small box gym, a training studio, don't get me wrong it gets more opportunity  to people out there in places that weren't previously served , but hey can you imagine running a yoga studio and not having a clue about the discipline , not able to offer basic gym user advice is surely a recipe for disaster.

Yes its about business but really its not is it? Its about health.

It appears that anyone can open up a chain of weight loss clinics and franchise them to anyone who has the cash...there are many of these chains out there, are they any good at taking your cash and giving results...well they are good at one side of that equation too. Can you imagine giving cookie cutter weight loss advice too someone who is desperate ...would you feel guilty if you were selling like this...

Thirdly, I am bored with fad diets and the people who peddle them...book after book, do you know how many times in the last ten years of my career that some one has said to me " what do you think of Atkins, South Beach, Cabbage soup, hi fat , low fat, low carb ...latest book on Oprhey  etc etc" its crazy.. publishers wanting to cash in , fashions are fads eating healthy shouldn't be.

It drives people crazy as they jump on board the next train to " ten less pounds" to fall off at the first station. Ever notice how many people want to lose " ten pounds".... .The whole media , Tv , press, advertising should consider that pumping out health advice for profit isn't really helping.There are some great exceptions ( I like Dr Oz ..but even then he recommended something last year that was sweeping the nation so to speak , I even saw handwitten cards in a local supplement shop proclaiming basically you were going to lose 20lbs and live to a ripe old age if you took his product, emails swept around the net... and then.. nothing).

Everybody wants the scoop , then the next scoop...it fills up TV space. I saw a programme yesterday morning selling a treadmill with a desk built in so you could use your laptop and still use the treadmill, apart from the fact that its dangerous , stupid and  totally unnecessary the show just went right along recommending it, ITS WRONG GUYS. You have a responsibility to the nation to give good, impartial ( not product placed ) advice.

Fourthly, lets start thinking for ourselves, do we need reality TV shows to tell us our nutrition is crap, do we need another diet book to tell us what we are eating is wrong, do we need anymore people telling us to exercise more,eat more vegetables, get more sleep , guys we can do this for ourselves , we don't even need gyms... lets not be dictated to by some early morning chat show host who knows nothing about anything really let alone fitness , lets be mindful on what we are doing.

Just think where did your grandma go for advice on nutrition, she didn't she worked it out for herself.

Whats Wrong with the Fitness Industry and why is it not working?

Been holding off on this topic for a long time but its time to share some thoughts on whats going wrong. Lets see ... more gyms than ever, more trainers than ever, more health fitness and diet books, TV shows offering advice .. more companies trying to sell you your dreams, endless lose weight franchises.. I could go on... do you see where I am going with this ...health in general is getting no better despite advice and facility availability  reaching an all time high...Nautropaths, holistic nutritionists, dieticians.... ten a dollar , personal trainers " qualifying " by the bus load, gyms open 24 hours at the end of the street dragging you , sometimes literally in the door...so how come the health of the nation at every level is getting worse.

Where do I point the finger?

1. Government... a client recently told me he was meeting with a senior ( very senior ) government minister to discuss " health programmes " , I can't go into further details but lets say it was a good job I wasn't meeting the guy ....what does the Government do now, when you think about it it scrapes by with the bare minimum of input . A couple of years ago they even raised HST on for example " personal training" , hardly encouraging and a pain for gyms and their owners. But what could Governments do ... lets see... what about taking fast food adverts of TV that are directly aimed at children.... what about more funding for schemes such as " Right to Play" , what about banning sponsorship by fast food companies of sporting events ...its been down with cigarettes, why not with junk food. Mind you some sports would fall apart without MacDonalds and Coca Cola`s funding...at Government level the list of educational and financial input could be endless... why not use some of that extra revenue raised through HST and put it back into health, what about subsidizing obese peoples gym memberships and allowing Personal Training to be available to these people through health care schemes..

2. Big Gyms: Always advertising on the radio and TV promoting themselves, but what do they give you? Ever walked around a big box gym ( lets say in May) and check out a class, 90 % plus of the people in the class don't really need to be there ...then 10 % who do need to be are not even really getting results . Are the wrong people going to the gym, do the people who really need to go ever sustain attending more than a couple of months ( they end up paying for the next 8 months as they either can't cancel membership or feel too guilty about giving up)...gyms can be intimidating to the people who need them the most...do you ever see a gym advert showing overweight people ..? Do they specifically try to help minority special populations...not really.

3. Personal Trainers; Possibly the worlds most unregulated " profession" , countless certification providers, no continuity , poorly educated , ( its not there fault by the way) and allowed to work in a industry whose standards should be questioned and thoroughly scrutinized . Did you know that a 3 day training course and a 2 hour exam is all it takes to become certified in this country , then you are licensed to " kill" so to speak. When you compare time spent " qualifying " as a trainer relative to other professions its laughable , would you let a doctor tell you what to do, diagnose you, offer you a health opinion if they had  40 hours max education. I think not. Things seriously have to change and I speak from very close personal experience as we take on board coop placement students from local colleges for work experience, what they lack to be considered " safe"  , even after 2 years of college ,is shocking and sad to see. There is no one out there providing uniform standards or qualification, no one governing body and no sight of one on the horizon. Did you know that anyone can call them selves a " personal trainer " regardless of qualification, would you trust your body and maybe even your life to someone who is $30 an hour on Craigslist who is actually showing you a photo of themselves shirtless and showing off their abs..is this what it has come down to...you are better than this people..

 

4. Magic Formula Weight loss centres: Hand over your credit card now, but before you do ask them for their success ratios ... I know of one that keeps it statistics looking good by throwing people off the programme if they are not losing weight...no wonder " results are guaranteed".. these places play on your emotions, sell you some product and then sell you some more. There is no magic formula, its all down to you...I approached one of these places recently offering training services for their clients....apparently "their clients don't need a trainer", flabbergasted I left...

The fitness has been turned into a cash cow as business see an opportunity to make some bucks, I won't point fingers but the list of bad boys out there is big and growing , be careful where you spend your hard earned..

New Years Resolutions : Do they Work?

New Years Resolutions  So its a new year and the resolutions will be flying about all over the place. For me its the same one every year, no alcohol for January as a minimum and after that see how long we can last in abstention. This started would you believe 30 years ago this year and has been broken only once ( blame some fog, a fear of flying and a 4 hour delay in Amsterdam ....it was also on the 28th of the month so it was four actual weeks which is kind of a month.)..I digress but it can be done.

I pick only ONE target and stick to it, this has meant over the years going to weddings and not even toasting the bride ( water just doesn't do it) , avoiding alcohol situations ( pubs, meals out , ) etc etc, its not been easy, temptation is always there, but I have been immensley proud of my achievements. During the period of abstention I become a bit of a preacher man , telling all and sundry that I am on a " mission" , I use this as a sort of reinforcement mechanism, reminds me and makes me sort of accountable to the person I am talking with.

Now back to you, I am not that interesting ! What is it about a date on a calendar ,in this case 1st January that sets people off in a frenzy of health related thoughts and activities. The gym owners  love January, the regular gym devotees hate the month, it lasts around 3 months , the persons resolutions wither and off they go, usually paying for a gym they aren't using for months after. I think I once read that by March only 5 % of January joiners are still going to the gym more than once a week, a massive 80% weren't going at all.

I have alluded to this elsewhere but for me its about behavioural change  and not about outcome goals, does anyone think that joining  a gym  ensures results ? So setting yourself a weight loss target is less of a good idea than setting yourself a goal of "attending" the gym 3  times per week and adding one extra hour of sleep per night ( the idea being that a change in behaviours will produce outcomes)

However,  change is difficult people , I hear all the time how much " I want to lose weight" , " I want to get fit (whatever that means ) again"  everyone resists change , even though going to the gym 3 times a week looks easy on paper trust me its not. If you are currently not going to the gym at all suddenly trying to attend 3 times a week is a big ask, HUGE...and what happens is people find themselves missing the target weekly, this causes stress and in turn opens up the " I am defeated " trapdoor and they drop off the wagon completely....A simple suggestion is to find some one to act as a coach to help you set up realistic expectations for you and to help you when things go wrong . All successful people have or have had coaching at some level . You may just make yourself accountable to a friend, show them your " goals" and ask them or indeed many people to check in on you periodically. You could do this via Facebook for example , there are other support group structures out there if you look around...

So stop asking yourself " why " questions because they don't have answers, asking " what  questions " ....for example " why don't I exercise more"? becomes " what can I do to exercise more"?...and if you find yourself " falling off " the path, wipe that slate clean in your head, refocus, change paths if necessary , get your support on your side  and get back on the path. A recent book by Ali Zentner, " The Weight Loss Prescription " is well worth a read.