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Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category
29 September, 2011
When I walk into gyms I often see someone trying to balance on swissball or stand one legged trying to push some sort of weight overhead. I am not embarrassed to admit I used to be that trainer, pushing my clients while standing one leg on a bosu – (http://bit.ly/pH3Yso) while doing a deadlift with a dumbbell in one hand. Every trainer has to go through their journey to find what works best. However I am proud to say I have been through that journey and oddly enough have ended right back at the beginning – BACK TO BASICS. Our goal in training is to maximise the results of our clients (which is unfortunately too often weight loss), essentially if we achieved the same results than if the client would have achieved if left to themselves – we would not be very successful. So therefore the one thing that has to be on the trainers mind is the outcome – “What is our goal and what exercises get me there the quickest”? Too often personal trainers are looking to entertain their clients (because results and or weight loss are not coming) so they pull out all the “fun stuff” to justify an hourly rate that is often inflated for their experience level. At Studio41 Personal Training Studio, we have minimal balance equipment and definitely do not focus on any gimmicky equipment. We have olympic standards weights as my “toys”.
Lets take a step back to understand some basics – the more lean muscle someone has the higher their metabolism and the more fat they burn at a resting state. So therefore to build lean muscle is the key with anyone who wants to drop body fat.
This is somewhat also driven by the consumer. We often choose trainers who we “like” and therefore think are great. But when asking about the trainers philosophy, thought process or even qualifications – often the client can’t answer these questions, when in fact these should just be the basics of trainer selection. Your trainer has to be good. Here is a tip – do not go to the new trainer in which the sales or membership consultants will set you up with. Why not spend a year buying packages off different trainers and he who gets the best results wins your long term commitment – that would be interesting and would certainly see a few trainers out of a job very quickly. You are paying a personal trainer good money and you should demand high level of skill.
So what is the problem with balance equipment? When we put someone on a balance piece of equipment we take away the stability of that exercise and hence the muscular system will produce less force which minimises the amount of muscle someone can build. The other day I saw someone kneeling on a swissball while trying doing a heavy lat raise for muscular development of the shoulder (I didn’t say anything, where would I start?). So we need to stop being tasked focus and looking for the quick fun new gimmick that will put a smile on someones face. Having fun should be part of the process – not the goal. And trust me the smile is always bigger when someone drops 10kg and gets their body back.
So unfortunately if you want results – the simple answer is what it has been for a long time, train hard, eat lean, drink plenty of water and sleep well. Nothing new here!!!!
25 June, 2011
To answer this question we first have to decide on what the role of a personal trainer is. This is surely to do one thing, help someone to get results. However results mean different things to different people. From just turning up, to stripping bodyfat to building muscle. However lets look at by the most common goal or result that most people want to achieve – Lose body fat (often this is what is talked about, but really it is the feelings that people gain from achieving body fat loss that people want – increased confidence, self esteem etc). However if fat loss is the goal then there has to be several things that your personal trainer has to be doing. Remember you are paying this person on an hourly basis (and therefore every minute counts) and so that hour has to maximised.
1. Does your personal trainer have a measurement process and do they use it regularly or is it just a token measurement at the beginning and then something that is forgotten about?
Unfortunately people do not like to be measured as it not only shows up success, but also failure. However I find this with personal trainers as well. If we measured someone progress we would find that a lot of the time we are not as successful quite as much as we think we are. It is always nice to remember the odd success and always talk about them and forget the large majority of clients that have dropped off over the years. At Studio41 personal training studio in Wellington we use the biosignature method of hormonal profiling to track and measure our clients. This allows us not only to understand some ones hormonal profiling and therefore steps that need to taken to undergo weight loss, but also to track some ones lean muscle gains and fat loss.I can say that it is one of the hardest things when someone does not improve between measurements. However, if you take this not as failure and only feedback we simply learn that what we are currently doing is not working and therefore we need to change. Therefore to find out something is not working is still incredibly helpful as it allows us to try new things eventually finding the things that do work.
2. Does your personal trainer record your sessions (all the details)?
Our job as trainers is to help someone to improve. In order to improve we need to apply slight overload in-order to get that response. It is not simply “doing exercise with you”. So assuming they are using a programme (if not please run away very quickly) I need to know how many reps were achieved last week on what exercises and with what weight. Then and only then can I make sure you make another rep or you lift a slightly heavier weight. If you as a client lift the same weight as last week I have let you down and just wasted your time, and at Studio41, we value your money and time too much to waste it.
3. Do they periodise your training plan?
Here at Studio41 personal training studio we use undulating periodisation protocols, this means we will always contrast as much as possible heavier weight with volume. Having high volume all the time is a quick way to become overtrained (which is one of the many criticisms I have of Crossfit). So contrasting this with heavier weight (the term heavy being relative, it maybe 12 – 15 reps for a female or down to 2 – 4 reps for a male) with high volume is a great way to get the body strong and then teach it to use that strength to build a lean strong body.
4. Do they do the same programme or give you something different each week?
One of the biggest mistakes trainer make is that they try to entertain the client (refer to http://bit.ly/kfQfOf for more on this) therefore they are always on the search for the new and wonderful exercises. However staying on the same programme for 4 – 6 weeks allows the client to get stronger at that programme. Every time your body does a new exercise there is an element of “learning” the exercise your body has to go through, therefore taking away the ability of the body to get stronger. Someone should be on a programme for 4 – 6 weeks before changing it. However if your trainer is keeping accurate records they will know precisely the moment you plateau and thus know when it is the right time for you to change.
5. Do they keep you to minimal rest periods?
Although you should be able to chat freely with your trainer, if your goal is fat loss, understand you are not at your personal training session for a social catch up. 30 – 60 sec rest should be utlised with the right choice of exercises. If your trainer is not using thier stop watch to time your rest periods it is all too easy to talk about the demise of the hurricanes and end up with a 90 sec or 2 min rest which will totally undermine what you are trying to do. One of the hardest things as a trainer is to keep someone to strict rest periods as you develop a friendship. However, the trainer has to appreciate that your money is not being spent so you can catch up socially. Even after 2 years of training, you still deserve a professional attitude and sessions that are maxmised.
Remember, your trainer is a chosen fitness professional, chosen to help you achieve a goal, not to make you laugh or have a social catch up with you in a gym environment (it is ok to have these things if they are a byproduct of moving forward towards your goal). So choose wisely and don’t get stuck with one trainer, shop around until you meet one with the above criteria, and if you have a great personality match with a trainer but they don’t meet the above criteria, take them out for lunch every now and then, but don’t pay them for a body transformation that wont happen.
23 May, 2011
I have just been asked by another personal trainer on my thoughts about the new fitness gadget out on the market. My reply was simply the same one I have been giving for years – “it will entertain a few clients and will end up in the corner all dusty in a few months”. This example can be seen with the good old powerplate. I would be hard pressed to find one that actually earned its high price back and didn’t get used as towel holder after a few months.
The problem is this – Personal trainers are task orientated and not outcome focused. They are not worried about helping to achieve a goal with a client (the odds are most trainers could not tell me a specific goal that they are working on with the individual – and “I want to get toned” is not a goal), they are just worried about the current session. If trainers are not moving forward towards a goal, they have to revert to one thing, and that is entertaining the client. This is why clients and personal trainers alike are always reaching for the new toy, whether it be a body blade, kettlebell, the new “functional” training exercise or some other poorly made device that is on the market (the iride is my personal favourite – http://bit.ly/kcAB7e ).
Everybody who comes into studio41 sits down with me initially and I try to understand what exactly it is that they want. I have been doing this for 10 years now and no one has ever told me that they want to be entertained, try all the new toys on the market and just generally have a good time. People tell me about the weight they want to lose, about the new body they want to have and how unhappy they are with a mid section that is ever expanding. i.e: they want results.
I have been through the years and circles of trying to figure out where I fit into an industry that is completely overrun with people who dont know what they are doing, as a result I have been through my swissball years, (yes once upon a time you could walk into a gym and see me squatting on a swissball), bosu years and of course the “functional” years.
After training with Charles Poliquin for a number of years, it surprised me how simple his programmes were (not in thought process, but in exercises). After this I really stripped the BS out of my programmes, no toys, no gimmicks. Just getting back to what the essence of my job should me – getting results. Every exercise is chosen to work the client hard, burning calories and building lean muscle tissue, not to entertain. When someone sees themselves changing body shape in only a few weeks, that is the most powerful gift you can give.