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    What to Look For in a Personal Trainer

    Many, many people are always asking me about how do you tell a good Personal Trainer. I have no idea what they are talking about, every single one of us are over the top fantastic. Right?  Wrong!!!!

    I have been training for over 20 years, yep, that is correct over 20 years. And I can tell you there are good trainers and ones that make me puzzled beyond belief. So I have started to compile traits of a good Trainer.

    They Are Professional – Well what does professional mean? See below.

    Appearance – they dress professionally, they are not looking in the mirror at themselves all the time, or wear clothes that are so tight, they look painted on. Mesh shirts are definitely out, or thongs (for those of you who remember them, and I hate to say it, when I taught aerobics classes, I wore one). Flashing the six pack abs is another sign, they are more into themselves than you. There is a big reason uniforms are required in health clubs.

    Responsiveness – I have an 8 hour rule or if I get the e-mail late at night 14 hours, it should never be more than 24 hours. If they can’t get back in a decent amount of time, it indicates one of three things. 1. they are too busy with clients  2. they are unorganized,  3. or their life is more important than their clients. All of which adds up to, they are not going to spend the time on you.

    Follow Up – Good trainers follow up with their clients, they give them homework or see how they are doing depending on the goal. If there are specific conditions, it could entail follow up with Doctors or Therapists. Checking in periodically to see how things are going, is important.

    Has a Nationally Recognized Certification – Certifications have become a dime a dozen in our industry, it used to be there was about 4-5, now there are over 30. I have see some ads on Craigslist for Trainers charging$ 35 an hour, and their tag line “I love to work out, and can work you out hard too” or “I have been working out for over 15 years, it is a passion of mine” Yep, I want to sign up right now, with my newly rehabbed broken ankle, that is just the guy I want to train with. At least a certification means this person has studied,  sat down and taken a test. They have some reasonable amount of knowledge.

    Listens and Pays Attention – Any one who has been in a gym has see the Trainer with their client constantly checking their phone. I always want to ask for what? What is so important that you can’t put that phone down, not even when someone is paying for exactly that….your attention. Or the Trainer who when you first approach, immediately tells you what you need to do, and all you have done is say hi. A Trainer cannot plan an appropriate program if they don’t know your goal. Hence the title PERSONAL Trainer.

    Perform an Assessment & Reassessment – This can be a variety of things, a movement screen, a goal , pure strength and flexibility, it will depend on who the client is. It is an important step, how do I know the program I designed based on goals, and assessment is working unless I test and then retest. Again, it could be as simple as decrease in pain, but unless I follow up (there is that word again) I will never know.

    Keeps the Client Focused – Now there are times a session can be used as what I call a therapuke session. I am paid to keep my client focused on their goal, that is part of my job. My job is not to be a gossip, not that there will not be times we can’t joke around or share, it just needs to not take over the session. (I definitely need to work on this one)

    Give the Client Nutrition Specifics – I am not a nutritionist, I give general no-brainer information. I constantly hear Trainers telling people exactly how much protein they should be eating or the specific time of day they should be eating, the specific protein powder, etc. etc. I know for a fact (my daughter excelled in Organic Chemistry) that our bodies are more complicated than to give  this type of advice. I do know how to spot red flags in diets and appropriately refer to a Nutritionist. Not to say if someone is eating Smackdonalds (McDonalds) every day I wouldn’t step in and suggest they might consider taking it out of their diet.  I give general information on skipping meals or eating a lot one day and nothing the next (as I stated earlier no-brainer guidance).

    Diagnose Conditions – How many times have you heard this? “If you can’t reach your arm overhead, you have impingement syndrome” “if you get sciatica, you have piriformis syndrome” I actually used to be one of these, but then I took a Medical Exercise Course and it opened my eyes to how many different conditions can smell like, look like but isn’t, this is why Doctors and Physical Therapist go to school a lot longer than we do and get paid more. This is why I refer out, if I get a proper diagnosis from a professional,I am more effective.

    Eats During Session – This is one of my biggest pet peeves, I have been guilty of it from time to time due to tight scheduling. Under normal circumstances Trainers should not be chowing down in a session.

    Now you have looked up on the internet, asked around the gym, and found a Trainer you are interested in.  I believe Trainers should give a half hour free consultation (I do not believe in free sessions), this gives you the opportunity to get a feel for personality, training style. Let’s face it, most of what keeps clients coming back is trust and a comfort level with us. Here are some questions to help get the ball rolling.

    • How long have you been in the industry?
    • Tell me a bit about your experience.
    • How long are your sessions, what is included in them? Warm up and cool downs can be included or does the Trainer expect you to do them on your own. I have a hard time paying $100.00+ for them to warm me up on a treadmill and chit chat, unless of course, I can’t get this done on my own.
    • What is your certification (look it up at IDEA Fit, they have them listed with information)
    • What is your approach or philosophy to training?  If you want slow and steady, someone who is into Boot Camp, Insanity, or Crossfit might not be the one for you, on the other hand if you are into hard core training, they would work great.
    • What is your cancellation policy, weather policy, holiday availability? There should be clear concise answers to all these questions, if there is a lot of hmmm, uhh, they have not thought these things through and you might end up either with a charge you were not expecting or a no show trainer.
    • Why am I doing this? (this is more during a session).
    • What would be red flags I should watch for during the training? Heart palpitations would be a correct answer, or sudden joint pain, it will greatly depend on your assessment. They should be able to give you at least a couple of examples, if they can’t, be afraid, very afraid.

    Now to muddy the waters just a bit, there are always exceptions to the rules.  I have been know from time to time to break some of the guidelines above. It goes back to trust, which has to be earned. I strive to keep all my clients injury free, I don’t ask them to perform exercises that are above their level, success is key not pain.

     

     

    Decompress - It is Life Extending

    Decompress Class – Now being offered for free on Fridays at 5:45 until 6:25pm at our Woodglen Location. 

    Stress, that dirty four letter word everybody experiences yet never owns up to. There is good stress (exercise) and bad (too much computer time) both effect the body the same way or so research tells us. Huh? How can that be? I go to the gym and work out, and that is handled by my body the same as if I spent 5 hours being tortured? Some people would consider going to the gym torture, for sake of this article, pretend you love to exercise.

    I have to disagree and I don’t have any big studies (I can find a few small ones) to back me up. What I do know is when my daughter graduated from grad school, we had to plan the celebration from up in the DC area (she was in Blacksburg) for several family members, some coming from as far as Hawaii. Drive down, entertain, sometimes up until 2am, starting our day at 8am, attending both ceremonies with no rest in between. Interesting enough I felt pretty good, somewhat tired, but got through the entire four day weekend. This was a miracle! On the other hand, I have had one conversation with my sister and it has put me in bed for a day. How was that possible? Doesn’t everything on the internet have to be true and it clearly states stress is stress.

    So we go to my philosophy on stress (and this comes from over 20 years of seeing people change posture from one session to the next). When we look at stress as manageable, it does not effect us the same as when we look at overcoming us. The problem arises because we can’t always choose to engage in activities that we control all the aspects of. Take work for example, how many people love their job, I mean really love their job. I think we all have days that just beat us down, now think about that week in and week out. Not mention family, they can really push our hot buttons.

    In order to combat stress that deeply affects our brain, muscles, joints and emotions, we need to decompress. When you take the time to breathe, relax, restore, you do better in life no matter what. Decompressing is like sleep, the answer is “I just can’t find the time” “I am literally so tired, I just can’t” “I have to catch up on Downton Abby” Sound familiar?

    Well this how important I think Decompressing is. I am now offering a free class. Yep I said FREE! My gift to all the stressed out people out there, come on in and unwind, restore, see if you don’t feel better. Space is limited so sign up early.

    You can e-mail info@llife-energy-fitness.com or call 301-275-3579, or sign up via our online system

    The Magic Pill

    People all over the world are looking for a magic pill to lose weight, keep their youth, have more energy, use less medication, and feel less aches and pains. The list could go on and on. We read about it everyday on the Web and see it on TV: “New weight loss secret the stars use,” “Discover the new cream that keeps Cindy Crawford looking younger than before,” “New special diet that literally melts pounds off you,” “Use chia seeds and it will fix whatever ails you.” I guess my question would be, if all this works so fantastically well, why don’t we all look and feel like we’re in our 20s?

    Great news! There IS a magic formula, that if followed, actually does all of the above and more. But very few people practice it. In fact, they create all sorts of excuses why they can’t. The most common response I hear as a personal fitness trainer is, “That will never happen.” I can’t stand on my soapbox too much either, because I struggle with using the magic formula myself. Have you guessed it? Here are some more hints (yes, this is a little test):

    • Reduces your body weight up to 5 pounds within a month, without dieting
    • Brightens your skin and minimizes the wrinkles
    • Eliminates dark circles from under your eyes
    • Increases your energy after 1 one week
    • Reduces inflammation
    • Improves cognitive function
    • Reduces your hunger cravings
    • Has been known to reduce the use of medications

    All of the above actually have been proven scientifically. The FDA supports these claims! Have you guessed it yet?

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    funny-dog-pictures-beauty-sleep

     

    It’s SLEEP! The magic formula is sleep, not 4 to 6 hours, but 8 to 10 every night. Why so long? Well there is a lot of science behind it, with long syllables of chemical equations and interactions. Needless to say, it comes down to two biggies, human growth hormone (HGH) and rehydration. We can’t look good without them. If you don’t get enough rounds of your sleep cycles (stages 1 through 5, all of them), you don’t release HGH. And if you don’t release HGH or enough of it, your body can’t repair itself. So you’ll look haggard. It’s the same with rehydration. Your body also needs water in order to repair itself. If you don’t drink enough water, you’re not going to recover from that CrossFit workout as quickly as you should. With aches and pains combined with not enough quality recovery time, you’re at an increased risk for injury.

    Think about this when you’re chugging down coffee because you can’t completely wake up. Or when you’re feeling frustrated because you can’t lose weight. Or when you’re buying that $100.00 cream because you don’t like your wrinkles. Or when you’re getting out of bed and feeling stiff and achy. Then ask yourself, “Isn’t there something I can do to get to bed a little earlier? To quiet my mind before bed rather than watch TV or get on the computer?”

    Give yourself permission not to be perfect about it too. Take baby steps, and give yourself a pat on the back (or in my case I get a massage) when you’re successful. I’ve been working on this for about a year, and I’ve noticed a huge difference when I get good sleep compared to when I don’t. It took me about 6 months to get into a routine. But now that I have, it makes a world of difference.

    Good luck and let me know how you do. I’m here to support anyone who wants to get better sleep.

    Sharon

    Sharon@life-energy-fitness.com

    Welcome & Why

    Welcome, yes, I have finally decided to blog.  First off, I would like to welcome you if you are new to Life Energy Fitness or are old friends deciding to see what I am up to now. Thanks for letting me bend your ear for a bit.

    Most of the blog is going to be on topics that attract my attention, either good or not so good. So this is primarily my take on health fitness, mind body, and issues that affect our life in general resulting in impact on our health/wellness. This is different from the quarterly newsletter,  which is well thought out, researched, and proof read to the best of my ability or  looked over by someone I can coerce into doing it for me.  Therefore, if I make huge mistakes in this publication, give me a little leeway.

    All the Best in Health and Fitness, Sharon