Archive for Personal Training
I am excited to teach my On the Ball class again this Spring. I hope to see you there!
There are a limited number of spots available (restricted by the room size), so if you want to attend you need to contact me right away to secure your spot.
- Level: Intermediate to Advanced
- Dates: Classes will start on Monday, March 26th, 2012 and will run through to June 4th (except Easter Monday, April 9th)
- Time: 9:15 AM to 10:15 AM
- Location: Kanata Beaverbrook Community Centre
- Registration: To secure your spot, please contact me via my website or by phone (613-296-8276)
- Cost: There are two options -
- Full session fee is $120 ($12/class)
- Drop in fee is $15 per class
Health clubs, fitness centers and gyms are focusing on several key initiatives in 2011 and each can have significant implications for you. There are a number of issues you need to consider before you sign up for that Personal Training program or boot camp at your local gym.
Fitness Trends in 2011
The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), a fitness trade organization, recently surveyed its members and identified the following key fitness trends they intend on promoting in 2011:
- Age Appropriate Workouts. Health clubs have realized that baby-boomers are the fastest growing segment of the market and that the programs that they offer GenXers (people born in the 1960s and 1970s) have to be different than the ones they offer older adults.
- Specialized Intense Workouts. Clubs are specializing in workouts that are more challenging than usual (for example, boot camps) and niche activities (such as boxing, rock climbing, martial arts, Zumba, etc).
- Group Classes. Group classes are making a come back after declining in the 1990s. For many people they are a more economical way to achieve their fitness goals.
- Personal Training. Personal training is more widely available. In fact over 90% of the health clubs interviewed offered some form of personal training.
What These Fitness Trends Mean for You
While health clubs push these initiatives in 2011, there are a number of factors that you the consumer of these services need to consider:
- Is group exercise training right for you? Many of my clients are busy professionals and they find the fixed group exercise class times too restrictive. They value the one-on-one attention that you get outside a gym.
- Are many of the moves in the group classes safe for you? The class instructor is often too busy, not attending to individual needs and may introduce some moves that are not appropriate for everyone in the class potentially leading to injury.
- Have you selected the right Personal Trainer? Health clubs are aggressively promoting Personal Training as a service. Make sure that the Personal Trainer you get is qualified and able to deal with your unique situation. I wrote an article on How to Choose a Personal Trainer or Exercise Therapist.
- Who is providing the age appropriate exercise programs or classes? As you age your body changes and old injuries and conditions need attention from a qualified trainer or therapist. Make sure that the program you are joining considers things like your bone health.
It is encouraging to see health and fitness grow and become more important for all of us. Exercise is a lifetime pursuit so we just need to make sure we are achieving our fitness goals safely.
Can someone tackle a chronic health problem, such as back pain, and use the opportunity to improve their fitness level and reduce their weight? A client of mine here in Ottawa for both my Physiotherapy and Personal Training services successfully managed to make all those changes.
Monique spent four years working with an Orthopedic Specialist and a Chiropractor to address a chronic lower back condition. Even though she felt she was receiving excellent care, she was not making the progress she hoped for and believed that it was time to try another approach. She also wanted to use the opportunity to change other aspects of her health.
Monique came across my website while doing a Google search for a Physiotherapist with a fitness or Personal Training background in the Ottawa area.
When we first met she told me about her back problem and stated that she wanted to “remake” herself. I sensed that Monique was committed to the changes she needed to make to improve her health and well-being.
I completed her initial evaluation and we reviewed the results together. We agreed to the following:
- She was carrying too much fat and we needed to reduce her weight.
- We would address her back problem with an exercise program that incorporated strength exercises.
- She would modify her eating habits.
Monique and I agreed on the following action plan:
- Increase her protein, fruit and vegetable intake. Monique needed a more balanced food mix. She needed the right nutrients to support her goals.
- Establish small achievable goals, which included getting up and moving every half hour. Sitting and moving in ways that supported her back as well as taking Omega 3 and drinking plenty of water.
- Daily walks that gradually increased in distance and pace over time. Monique was doing very little exercise when we first met. A daily walking routine is a great start.
- Incorporate strength exercises into her routine. Like most inactive people, Monique needed to increase her strength. This was particularly important given her history of back pain.
- Since Monique lives in a small community just outside of Ottawa (with limited access to gym facilities) her exercise program should be home based. We both wanted to make sure that she had no excuse not to exercise!
How did Monique do? Did she stick with her exercise and nutrition programs and achieve her goals?
Here is Monique’s step-by-step progress plan:
- Meet Regularly with Your Fitness Professional: Monique and I met once a week for the first three weeks to get her started. Follow-up sessions were spread further apart to encourage independence.
- Commit to Change: Her commitment to personal change overcame her resistance to exercise regularly. She forced herself to complete her prescribed walking and strength exercises.
- Reenergize: Her back felt worse when she missed her morning walk and her energy lagged. She was finally getting hooked on feeling reenergized!
As you can see in her photos, Monique is well on her way to her personal transformation.
In Monique’s words:
“Well being is the natural result of putting exercise first in your daily routine.”
Monique has not had a flare up of her back pain for several months.
A Physical Fitness Assessment lays the groundwork for a Personal Training program. It allows you (and me) to get a baseline of your body. By establishing the baseline, your personal training exercise program will be neither too hard nor too easy. It avoids the goldilocks challenge – we get to the just right – right away!
Many clients feel they need stretching exercises not realizing that they actually have above average flexibility. They might fell unsteady while hiking or walking downstairs and not realize that their balance has diminished over the years.
Unless you have a solid understanding of the different areas of your physical wellbeing, it is hard to decide what exercises would be best for you to do – that becomes my job.
Your Personal Car Inspection
A Fitness Assessment is like having your car inspected. You might be feeling like your car is not running like it used to or you are preparing for a long trip and want to make sure nothing goes wrong along the way so you bring it is for a general inspection.
Components of a Physical Fitness Assessment
Your Physical Fitness Assessment includes:
- Body Alignment – How you distribute your weight through your feet, how you carry yourself, your body mechanics of sitting, going up and down stairs, getting up and down from the floor to more complex movement patterns.
- Flexibility – The range of movement in your muscles and your joints.
- Balance – Your ability to integrate your visual, vestibular and proprioceptive systems to maintain your balance through progressively challenging testing.
- Core Strength – Your ability to activate or recruit your deep abdominal musculature or transverses abdominus. This is key in performance and injury prevention.
- Breathing Pattern – Your ability to breath with your diaphragm, which allows for maximum relaxation as well as maximum oxygenation to working muscles. Many individuals do not realize the importance of breathing as it relates to sleep, digestion, and general wellbeing. We cover these in detail during your assessment.
- Strength – An individuals’ strength varies not only from lower to upper body but within muscles groups as well. Having balanced strength allows joints to be well supported and the body to be well aligned. Most individuals do exercises they like and avoid the ones they really need. The product of a proper assessment is to address the weaker areas with exercises that you will enjoy – and do.
You might be taking better care of your vehicle compared to your body. You can always trade in your car but you’ll be in your body for life!
Maybe it is time to consider a physical assessment and an exercise program to get your body moving.
One of the first things I evaluate during a client assessment is the client’s posture. I find most people benefit significantly when they follow the posture exercises I develop for them. They quickly experience the benefits and incorporate the posture exercises into their regular personal training exercise program.
Below is a short video with two of my clients, Darlene and Ken, speaking about how they have benefited from incorporating posture exercises into their programs. They are clients of both Function to Fitness Physiotherapy and Personal Training in Ottawa and my online service, MelioGuide.
Benefits of Posture Exercises
Darlene and Ken both identify a number of benefits of an improved posture through posture exercises:
- Improved personal presentation and confidence. As Darlene says, “I have become aware of the difference it makes when I stand straight and strong.”
- Increased flexibility and strength in the upper body.
- Significant health benefits such as reduction of the incidence of migraines and back pain.
- Injury prevention.
Lastly, I would like to point out that good posture is the foundation to osteoporosis treatment and prevention.
Flexibility is a core component of the Personal Training exercise programs that I prescribe for my clients and is composed of stretching exercises appropriate for the individual client’s needs. I assess each client’s needs (including their flexibility) and then I work with them on the exercises I think will help them achieve their fitness goals.
During the assessment phase I ask my clients to show me the stretching exercises that they currently practice. The majority of them are using “static” stretching exercises where they keep the targeted muscle in a passive mode and hold a pose for an extended period of time.
I recommend that my clients practice active or dynamic stretching. In this case, the muscle that is opposite to the targeted muscle is activated. This sends a message to the brain to relax the target muscle.
Research has shown that this type of stretch is more effective than the static stretch when it comes to getting the maximum power out of the muscle. This is particularly true for the first 15 to 20 minutes before you start your exercise workout.
In this video, I demonstrate the two types of stretching exercises and discuss the effects in more detail.
Who you select to be your Personal Trainer or Exercise Therapist can determine how successful you will be in achieving your fitness goals.
Like other professional service providers such as a physicians, lawyers, or accountants, you should look for a Personal Trainer with the right mix of skills, expertise, and capabilities. And you want someone with the right personality fit for you.
The following are some questions to ask when you evaluate a Personal Trainer, Exercise Therapist or Fitness Professional.
1. What Certification do They Have?
Certification and training is becoming increasingly important in the fitness field. The problem is that there are a large number of organizations providing certification programs and the standards among organizations vary.
Keep in mind that there is no regulatory body for Personal Training looking out for you. Other professional groups have such bodies. For example, in Ontario, the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario requires that all practicing Physiotherapists pass an exam every five years and be subject to the regulations of the College. The College does not represent the interests of the Physiotherapist; it represents the interest of you, the public, to ensure proper delivery of service.
Several of the Fitness certification bodies such as a the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), and American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) require that their members possess a degree in the health field, pass an series of qualifying entrance exams and complete ongoing education to maintain their certification.
Why is certification important to you? Three reasons:
- The person who possesses the certification from one of these bodies has demonstrated a level of competency and knowledge in their professional area as defined by the body.
- The person has to complete continuing education to maintain certification.
- The person has access to ongoing research and literature from these bodies in the area of fitness and health.
2. What is Their Approach?
Ask them how they work. Do they do an assessment? What is involved in the assessment? Will you be exclusively working with them or will they bring in an assistant?
If you have expectations of how things work and do not want to be surprised, ask these questions.
3. Do They Have the Specialized Skills Required to Meet Your Needs?
As you can probably tell from the first point, Fitness Professionals, like many other professionals, are specializing. That is good since each of the major areas of fitness requires domain expertise and a Personal Trainer can only have domain expertise if he or she commits time to the area.
Some Fitness Professionals are starting to focus on areas like sports conditioning (in some cases for specific sports), the aging adult, and women’s issues. You should consider looking for someone who has expertise in your area.
4. What are Your Fitness Needs and Goals?
If you can clearly answer this question, you will be able to quickly determine which Personal Trainer is right for you.
If you have a pre-existing medical condition and an exercise program will be instrumental in addressing the condition, then you should be looking for a Personal Trainer or Fitness Professional who can assess the condition and design a program that is both effective and safe. More than likely, that Fitness Professional will have a medical background. A Registered Physiotherapist with a background and credentials in fitness conditioning will probably fit the bill.
If you play a specific sport, then you should be looking for a Personal Trainer who has a track record of training athletes in that sport. Quite often, these type of Fitness Professionals have worked at the university or even the professional sports levels.
Maybe you are into bodybuilding – either competitive or recreational. Again, you will want to look for someone who has trained others in this specific area.
5. Is There the Potential of an Injury?
Your Personal Trainer may not have the right training or background to deal with someone with a pre-existing medical condition. The possible result: a new injury or aggravation of an old injury.
Make sure that they are qualified to assess and treat specific conditions.
You should make a point of asking questions related to each of the points I brought up. Also, don’t hesitate to ask for client references if you are unsure about the person.
Good luck with your search and your fitness program!
Starting a regular exercise program and sticking with it can be quite a challenge for many of us. Each of us is unique and what techniques motivate us can differ from person to person. If you are a very social person, then group exercise activities may be best for you. If you are the competitive type, then signing up for a 10K race or another challenge will keep you motivated and on track.
What I think is important for you is that you need to recognize what strategy or technique works for you and that you use it.
I have been helping people achieve their fitness goals for many years and based on my observations of what works and what does not work, here are seven suggestions on how to motivate yourself to exercise.
1. Know Your Long Term Fitness Goal
If you keep focused on your long term fitness goal the better the chance you will stick with your program day-in and day-out.
I find that long term fitness goals fall into one of three categories:
- Your Health: Are you concerned about your health and the changes your body is going through as you age? As we get older we lose muscle and bone mass. The level of fitness you are at between 40 and 65 years of age often indicates your level of fitness at 80 and can mean the difference between having to live in a nursing home and being able to live independently.
- Sports or Activity Conditioning: You may be someone who regularly plays organized recreational sports and need a conditioning program to optimize your performance and reduce your risk of injury. Or you may be planning a trekking holiday overseas and want to make sure that you are in condition for the activity so that you enjoy everyday of your holiday.
- Vanity: Are you starting an exercise program because summer is coming and you want to look slim and trim in your bathing suit? Many people regularly exercise in order to look and feel good. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. The results of an exercise program can be quite rewarding and build positive self esteem.
2. Exercise With Other People
Research has shown that the more social an exercise activity is, the greater the likelihood that people will continue to participate. This is frequently a successful strategy because the group activity allows people to socialize while they workout, friendly competition among the participants keeps members motivated, and people feel socially accountable if they are a no-show at a training session. This is why group exercise classes such as dance, aquafit and spinning are so popular.
The downside of group classes is that the instructor may not be a trained fitness professional or may not have assessed your specific fitness needs, and may be encouraging you to do exercises that could risk injury.
3. Work With a Qualified Fitness Professional
If you are able to find a Fitness Professional or Personal Trainer who is capable of assessing your needs and developing a program specifically to meet you goals, and that you personally like, then this is probably an effective strategy for you. Working with a qualified and skilled Fitness Professional has a number of benefits:
- You gain regular access to a domain expert who can coach you through the various stages of an exercise program.
- It creates a situation in which you are accountable to someone for regularly attending your program.
- A properly designed exercise program will take into account your needs and capabilities allowing you to achieve your goals free of injury
You will gain the most from the Fitness Professional when they provide you with a fitness assessment, program design, and initial implementation of your routine. After that, you can pace your sessions.
4. Compete Against Your Peer Group
One strategy that I have used in the past to motivate a client is to have the client complete a fitness assessment and then I show them how they stand compared to their peer group. This does not work for all clients but works wonders for the competitive Type A personalities.
One of my clients is a successful high achiever professional who works in Ottawa during the summer and relocates to Florida as winter approaches. I had not seen him for awhile and when he called me, I knew (and he knew) that he had become quite de-conditioned. I gave him a fitness assessment and when I showed him the results, I made a point of comparing his results to people in his age category. When I showed him his low percentile results compared to his buddies in Florida, that was enough to get him back to a regular exercise routine.
5. Put a Stake in the Ground
I have had several clients over the years who have successfully employed this technique. Basically, they kick-start their exercise program by committing to themselves that they will meet with me twice a week for several weeks until their exercise program forms into a habit. They know themselves well enough that once a habit is in place, it will stick.
6. Pick an Activity You Enjoy
You can increase your chances of sticking with your exercise program if you incorporate physical activities into your regimen that you enjoy. Golf, tennis, non-contact ice hockey and soccer are popular recreational sports for adults. Work with your Personal Trainer or Fitness Professional on an exercise program to supplement your favourite sporting activity so that it is even more enjoyable.
7. Exercise and Socialize With People Fitter Than You
Don Wildman is the retired founder of Bally Fitness. Now in his late 70′s, he is more active than most men 30 years younger than himself.
Wildman’s secret to fitness? Wildman eats healthfully and takes lots of supplements, but the key element to his fitness strategy is younger friends. ”Old guys don’t train anymore, so all my buddies are real young,” he says. “They’re more fun. They push you, and you push them, and you forget how old you are.”
These are seven strategies that I have seen work. Do you see yourself in one of these? Find the one that works for you and you will be on the road to success.
You know that exercise is important. However, you may not know why exercise increases in importance as we get older.
As we get into our middle years (and on), our body goes through a number of biological changes. One very significant change is the decrease and loss of muscle mass. A reduction in muscle mass leads to weight gain. This is one of the reasons why I always encourage my clients to incorporate strength training into their personal training program.
Muscle Mass and Weight Gain Explained
A recent news article by National Public Radio on why we gain weight as we age provides a good description of what happens to muscles with the passage of time. Here is a quick summary of what they have to say:
- As we get older, muscle mass decreases and the muscles that are left over are smaller and weaker than those of a younger person. Young muscles repair naturally. That is not case for older muscles. We are not sure why this happens – we know it just does.
- Muscles are the “energy powerhouse” of the body. It is where the calories get burned and where your metabolism plays out.
- If your percentage of muscle mass decreases as you get older, then your ability to burn the incoming calories also decreases over time. And this is why we gain weight as we age. As a muscular 25 year old, you we able to easily consume (and burn) 2500 calories a day without gaining any weight. As a 45 year (who has not been on a regular exercise program), those same 2500 calories per day have lead to a noticeable weight gain.
- Exercise, at any age, causes muscle cells to get bigger and stronger. And bigger, stronger muscles burn calories.
Now you can see why I encourage my clients to make strength training a component of their personal training exercise program. Many people come to me because they want to lose weight and look trim. Frequently, they have had injuries in the past or feel that their bodies cannot take the stress of exercise. As a Physiotherapist, I complete a full medical assessment of their fitness level and gauge what they are capable of doing. As a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and fitness professional, I develop safe and effective exercise programs that let them achieve their fitness goals over time and free of injury.
Now that you know the affect muscle has on weight gain, here are some takeaways that I would like to suggest:
- Exercise is not just for the young. It is important at any age and the benefits of strength training extend beyond being strong to weight maintenance.
- Do not delay starting an exercise program. The NPR article talks about the benefits people get from starting an exercise program late in life. I agree that there are benefits, but what I have noticed is that some of my older clients who have been de-conditioned for an extended period are limited in their development. I have younger clients who are also de-conditioned, but I have noticed that they are able to turn it around faster and achieve a higher level of fitness than my older clients. To my knowledge, there is no definitive scientific study identifying the relationship between age and ability to achieve specific fitness levels. However, my suggestion is the sooner you start, the better you will be throughout your life.
- It is important you follow a safe exercise program tailored to YOU. What you are capable of will be determined by your fitness history, medical condition, the presence of injuries and other factors. Your personal training program needs to include a thorough assessment by a medical and fitness professional and only then can a program be prescribed.
- Your exercise program needs to account for the risk of joint inflammation and injury. The NPR article makes note of the frequent result of joint inflammation as a result of an exercise program. Unfortunately, they do not describe how this can be avoided. An exercise program needs to include a medical assessment so that the fitness professional understands the limits of your joints. Once this is understood, the exercise program should be designed to stress your muscles to grow without aggravating the joints.
- Your exercise program should grow with you. The NPR article refers to a lady who started a Yoga program and quickly experienced more endurance, a loss of weight and an improved outlook on life. This is good news. But one needs to keep in mind that there will be immediate benefits to any exercise if you start from a low level of fitness. Your exercise program will need to challenge you as you make progress in order to continue on the path to fitness and to keep you engaged and interested.
If you are interested in the NPR article you can find it here:
This is the second part of my video presentation on how to build strong hand grip. Part 1 focussed on flexibility exercises for your hand. In this second video, Adrian Das brings us through his exercise program to build strength in your hands and massage techniques to reduce pain and discomfort.
Since posting the first video, I have had several clients approach me about exercise programs for their hands – in other words a personal training or Physiotherapy program for their hands. Many people experience hand problems because of extended use of their hands when gardening, working at the computer, or playing their favorite musical instrument. Repetitive activities can lead to imbalances and injury. That was why I asked Adrian to show me his program and share it with you. I hope you enjoy both videos and start using some of the exercises, stretches and massage techniques.