Do I really need a personal trainer?

fitness model male    This post originated in April of this year.  However, I think it is an appropriate follow-up to my last entry.

DO I REALLY NEED A PERSONAL TRAINER?

The short answer may be a “no.”  But, you may want to check out a few guidelines on my ABOUT page, to see if you really do.

A personal trainer can provide motivation, as well as strategic implementation of workout routines, helping you reach your goals.

However, you may want to consider who is training you first.

Who is their target audience?  This is a priority question.  If you are looking to run your 1st marathon, you need a coach/trainer which runs consistently–not one which thinks running supplements his weight lifting routine.  Same consideration affects your choice if you are looking to gain muscle hypertrophy (enlarge your muscles).  You want someone who is knowledgeable, and understands safety is paramount.

Is your personal trainer certified?  This is controversial to some, but certification adds credibility.  It is not a guarantee of client results or expertise in the field; however, it means that the PT has completed an exam assessing his/her knowledge of essential principles.

Who is/was their clientele? Knowing who they have helped and gained results for in the past, can predict your future; and if they are the trainer for you.  My focus and target audience is also listed on my ABOUT page.

Do they have references? There should be someone who can recommend their services to you.  If they work out of a health club, look at the people they have trained.  Watch them train.  Do you like what you see on both counts?

Be prepared…Have a list of questions which are important to you, to reach your goals.  For example, “Do you check in with your clients, even on off days?” or “I’ve been told I am pre-diabetic, but I also have knee issues.  Can you still help me?”  Being prepared also means being prepared to expend more than calories; you should be willing to invest in your health and overall well-being.  It is an investment; and your mindset should reflect that.  Shoe shopping, Starbucks, and eating out certainly add up; and spending money on a trainer is certainly more results oriented.  Also, certifications as well as preparation costs.  Realize this, and be cognizant of your trainer’s time as well as efforts.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Questions?  Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com

Trainers..what would your clients say about you?

getting ready  I’ve often wondered–what makes a client break-up with their personal trainer?  You may be asking–why is she using the term “break-up?”  Well, it is a relationship–a close one at that.  No, it shouldn’t cross the boundaries of professionalism.  When it does, you as the trainer, can no longer serve your client rationally or without bias.  Yet the question still lingers.  What makes you and your client part ways?

I realize it may be a number of reasons; and believe it or not, cost usually isn’t at the heart of it.  Well then, what is?

The number one reason why clients dismiss their trainers?  They didn’t get what they wanted.  Equally at the forefront, was their trainer appeared distracted or was late.

GIVE ME WHAT I WANT

Very few know better than I, what unrealistic expectations clients present.  That’s not what I’m talking about here.  Question is this–do you ask your clients what they want to look like?  Do they want the body of a ballerina, or the muscles of Jillian Michaels? Better still, do you ask them for a picture of what they absolutely do not want to look like, after their time with you?

Clarifying expectations before you start training, can save you both a lot of disappointment and frustration.  If you are basically a running coach, and your client wants to run a marathon, jackpot!  However if they want to become a competitive weight lifter, you may or may not be an optimal choice.  Yes, you can still work with that person.  However, your 1st obligation is to giving the client what they want; whether or not you are part of the equation.  It could mean you find someone to help them meet their goals.  In turn, that reference may provide clients more suitable to your training format.  It’s business; and more importantly, being of service to those who need guidance.  Today that may not mean you; tomorrow it might.

DISTRACTED & DISINTERESTED

The trainers I have witnessed, I would never hire.  At one gym, one too many were texting, while walking behind clients doing squats with VERY HEAVY weights in their hands.  Better yet, the trainer was doing his workout, while clients across the aisle on mats were doing endless crunches.  And, in a position that was sure to leave them reminiscing about whiplash.  Why would I pay for that?  Why should anyone?

ON THE CLOCK..AND COUNTING

Being on time is pretty basic to any job–one you’d like to keep anyway.  Everyone has unforseen circumstances.   Traffic alone can be one of these; especially in and around Chicago.  Stuck in traffic? Flat tire? Baby relieved him/herself on you?  Take a picture of it.  Forward it to your client.  Or go the good old-fashioned route–CALL THEM.

ROME WASN’T BUILT IN A DAY, BUT AT SOME POINT THEY LAID THE FOUNDATION

Laying that foundation is tantamount.  It should come in the form of a contract between you and your client–setting forth expectations of each.  Early in the relationship (yes, I said relationship), you both need to outline and clearly define objectives.  What negates the contract, as well as what will keep you working with them should be discussed.  If both agree, you’re in business.  If not, part company NOW.  Be thankful you know beforehand, that this will not work.

In conclusion, a personal trainer should really be doing more of the listening than the talking.  He/she should be discerning if this is a suitable client before any teaching/training begins.  Yes, we all have to make a living; and a livable wage.  That can only come however, if you know who you can help, as well as who you can’t.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Questions? Comments?  Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com

Working out isn’t working…is your routine, routine?

gymnast  My objective in writing this series “Working out isn’t working,” was exploratory.  Indeed, I have learned a few things along the way myself.  I hope you have too.

I will be writing a few more posts on this topic.  However, I believe I’ve covered a range of reasons why your workout may not be working.

Those who follow me regularly, realize my routines run the gambit.  From INSANITY, hot yoga, to running and ballet inspired, my workouts incorporate the gym as well as home based.  When Chicago weather permits, a leafy trail is my preference for running.  From the onset of this blog, I have reiterated my view:  changing things up a bit yields me the most from my workouts.

Well, someone else feels the same essentially.  http://fitness.mercola.com  COMMON FITNESS HABITS THAT CAN PREVENT YOU FROM REAPING MAXIMUM RESULTS.  This article is dated November 15, 2013.

Dr. Mercola goes a step further however, than I.  He addresses delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), from the standpoint of working out through this.  He also believes as do I, in a solid strength training routine–avoiding machine hopping.  Once you have that in place, changing your routine helps offset boredom, and keeps your body from saying “I got this.”  He also addresses the “stretching before exercise” debate.  His commentary on this topic alone is worth the read.

Throughout this series, I have tried to address nutrition, as well as introduce how to train with a THR (target heart rate)  This post is entitled “Let’s Take the Guesswork out of this…”  It is dated November 9th, listed under Fitness.

Though I’ve tried to incorporate nutrients and meal selection, it’s come from the “what not to indulge,” vs. “what you should indulge.”  More coverage on this before I conclude this series.

However, I hope I’ve hit on at least a few reasons, why your workout may not be working.  As stated in the beginning, this venture has and continues to be, a learning experience for me as well.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Be sure to check out my ABOUT page.  Questions? Comments?  Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com

Working out isn’t working….a little thanksgiving please

meat & chopsticks  The holidays will soon be upon us.  Thanksgiving is once again usurped by the Xmas season.  This usually leaves us with expanding debt as well as waistlines.  However I offer a solution; at least for the latter.

LET’S BACK IT UP A BIT

Being thankful doesn’t necessarily equate with a religious belief.  Whether it does or doesn’t for you, Thanksgiving may be the perfect time to back things up a bit.  How?  Start with being grateful for the meal before you.  Next, give thanks for every bite of food you are able to chew, digest, and assimilate as nourishment for your body.  No, this is not “the count how many times you chew your food” diet.  This is something more.  This is being actively engaged in eating a meal.  You can call it mindfulness, gratitude, or thankfulness.  That matters little.  It will blossom into an understanding, and eventually eradicate mindless eating.

I use this method regularly.  It slows me down, and enables me to focus on what’s in my mouth, as opposed to the next bite I want to put there.  Satiating your appetite and not feeling deprived is difficult.  With this method, you’ll enjoy your food more, while consuming less.  Yes, it takes practice.  But you may find as I have, the rewards go beyond a declining number on a scale.

Before you toss this idea on the scrapyard of “won’t work for me,” try it.  You will forget more often than you remember, at first.  That’s ok.  As I said, it takes practice.  Eventually, you will find yourself eating less, but tasting more.  You won’t be in such a hurry to swallow, to get to the next morsel.  Second helpings may become a thing of the past.  “All You Can Eat” buffets will be a waste of money.  Why?  Thanksgiving is now more than a day marked by the calendar.  It is not about turkey, dressing, or sweet potato pie as much (though I do love sweet potato pie).  It won’t be about football or planning your Black Friday overindulgence.  Thanksgiving for you at least, will have become a way of life.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Questions? Comments?  Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com

Working out isn’t working…press reset

dancer in white  This post originated in August of this year.  It was titled “My favorite reset cleanse.”  Intermittent fasting or “cleansing” has become the latest technique in battling the bulge.  In my opinion, nice and easy does it.  So this is my version of a “cleanse.”

Cleansing can be a vital component in revitalizing your life, your lifestyle, and yourself.

In my last post “Detox 360–body work,” I discussed intermittent fasting.  It is a segway into my favorite “reset.”

SLOW AND STEADY

I’m sure you realize by now, I am not a proponent of a cleanse that doesn’t encompass lifestyle change.  It is why my series is entitled Detox 360, starting with “Clean up your act….”

Yet I do believe there are benefits to hitting the “reset” button.  Your body (for the most part) is quite proficient at digesting, synthesizing, and eliminating food and fluids.  This doesn’t mean it couldn’t use a break.  Hard hitting cleanses coupled with fasting, which induce runny stools and flatulence, isn’t my idea of giving it a break.  It can upset the ph balance in your body, and wreak havoc with blood sugar levels.  Therefore taking your body from meals, to heavy fluids, to finally H20, I believe is a better alternative.

CHOOSE YOUR WAY

This cleanse can last a day or a week.  There are those who make it last longer, by decreasing what’s on their plate, a little at a time.  Know you can shorten or lengthen at your discretion.  If you are diabetic, take medication requiring food, or trying this for the 1st time, consult your medical professional.

Begin with eating a meal you normally consume. Your subsequent meal should be lighter in nature.  Your next should consist of an opaque juice, such as V8 or a blend.  Lastly, you end with only H20.

If you are doing this over the course of a week, remember your meals should progressively become lighter. You then transition to opaque fluids to ever clearer ones, until you reach your H20 phase.  It is essential to keep yourself well-hydrated, once you begin with fluids only.  What does that mean?  Your urine reflects your hydration status; therefore it should be clear, slightly to moderately yellow.  Anything dark is telltale for inadequate hydration.

How long do your fluid only days last?  For me, it is not longer than 1-2 days.  My H20 day is just that–one day.  Again, this is not meant for everyone; especially if you are diabetic or taking medication requiring food.

BRING IT BACK

Your H20 phase doesn’t spell the end of your cleanse.  It is only the “reset.”  It is a reset for your body; but also for commitment and perspective.

Just as the cleansing process was a subtle yet steady progression, so is the reversal.

Starting with clear lighter fluids, you gradually progress to opaque or heavier ones, then to soup (can be thicker or creamed), then to salad/veggies, then a meal.  Again, this can be stretched out for as long or as short as you like.  My last “add back” however are heavier carbs like potatoes, breads, and pastas–then my animal proteins.  You may choose to go with meat first, then your carbs.  This is your body, your cleanse.

I realize for “detox purists,” this is not their idea of a cleanse.  Far from being one of those, is why the post is entitled “my favorite cleanse.”

THE BENEFITS

This is a the pause button for my mind, as well as my body.  It forces me to make a commitment, stick to it, and remember that I made this choice.  After concluding this regimen, I not only feel a sense of accomplishment, but find I am consciously engaging in meals.  I chew my food more slowly (without really trying), savor each bite, and unconscious snacking all but disappears.

For me, this cleanse gives my digestive system the break it needs.  It doesn’t send me sprinting for the bathroom, play “hill & valley” with my blood sugar, or leave me incapacitated to complete a workday.  Yes, there is an adjustment period.  In comparison to some detoxes however, the side effects are marginal.

Have a favorite detox or cleanse you would like to share?  Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Let’s take the guesswork out of this….

recovery needed

This is a re-blog which was originally published in November of 2013.  Many of my readers found this helpful at the time.  If you are struggling with “the numbers” including the scale, this may help

Here is something you may have heard about, but never used.

TRAINING HEART RATE

Training heart rate is something you may want to consider if your weight loss is stalling.  Getting the most from your workout, once you know your THR, helps with intensity.  Before I get into that, let’s debunk what THR is not.

HEART RATE MAX

Heart rate maximum is 220-age.  This number supposedly represents the highest rate your pulse should be while exercising.  The reason I say supposedly, is because it is still just a number.  I exceed mine regularly, before breaking a decent sweat.  Depending upon how aerobically fit you are,  it may need adjustment.  Heart rate max is a starting point; a way of deciphering your THR.

TRAINING INTENSITY AND THR

Figuring out your THR is pretty easy.  Start with 220-age.  This gives you your HEART RATE MAX.  This number is then subtracted from your RESTING HEART RATE.  Resting heart rate is just that; your pulse while doing nothing.  You may use your carotid (pulse on either side of your neck) or your radial (pulse found on thumb side of your wrist).  Use you index and middle finger to check your pulse; never your thumb.  Take your pulse for one full minute.

Your result from this subtraction is your HEART RATE RESERVE.  This number is now multiplied by desired training intensity.  Let’s say you want to work out at the high-end of “moderate intensity.”  This number is around 55%.  Your result is now multiplied by .55, then added to your resting heart rate.  This result is your THR.  Sound confusing?  Let’s clear that up.

Example–50-year-old female, who wants to work out at low-end of “high intensity.”  This intensity is represented by 60%.  Her resting pulse is 78.

220-50=170 (heart rate max)

170-78=92 (heart rate reserve)

92 x .60(training intensity)=55.2 (round to 55)

55 + 78(resting heart rate)=133

133 to 134 would be the THR (training heart rate) for which she would aim, if she wanted to work out at the low-end, of high intensity.

Let’s look at this same woman; however this is her “moderate intensity” day.  Low end of moderate intensity is 40%.  Her age is still 50; but her pulse today is 72.

We start with 170, because this is 220-her age(50).

170-72(resting heart rate)=98(heart rate reserve)

98 x .40(intensity)=39.2 (round to 39)

39 + 72=111

Her THR  for moderate intensity is 111-112.

This formula is known as the KAROVONEN Method.  It uses percentages (40-85%) of heart rate reserve, rather than just a heart rate max.  It also enables you to tailor your workout intensities, toward your target heart rate.  This might help you achieve your weight loss goals, by adjusting and varying your intensity.

In its entirety, the formula looks like this:

HRmax-HRrest=HRR(heart rate reserve)

[HRR x training%] + HRrest = THR(training heart rate)

If you have any underlying cardiac conditions, or just getting started, check with your medical professional before embarking on any exercise routine.

Need further help with THR, HR max and intensity?  Contact me @serrenity.c@gmail.com

Keep up and keep at it.

Working out isn’t working…part four

hair out of H20  This post originated over the summer; however, I believe it’s integral to any exercise routine.  If your workout isn’t working, lack of down time between workouts may be the reason.

You’ve been hitting the gym, pavement, and/or the DVD workouts 5-6 days a week.   If this statement falls into the category of “things that make you go huh?” this post is not for you.

However if you are working with a high intensity routine most everyday, you may be wasting your time.  UNLESS you are inserting a recovery day.

Recovery days are essential.  They are the “pause” if you are in a state of constant “play.”  Exercising everyday at moderate to high intensities, you will burn caloriesYour body will also demand more calories.  Translation?  You will want to eat more food.  Yet this isn’t unusual, nor does it necessarily mitigate your workout.  It simply means your body requires additional fuel for additional work.  It can become a problem though, if you are overdoing either.

Sore muscles or DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) may be an expectation if you haven’t worked out consistently.  If you have overextended yourself or tried a new routine, it also maybe the price.  Yet if you have trouble staying awake by midday, achy muscles are a constant companion, and headaches are becoming a part of your post-exercise routine–you are overdoing it. Yes, these symptoms can be attributed to dehydration (more common than you realize among the diligent).  Hydration issues aside, if these sound familiar or persist–slow down.   A check-up may not be bad idea either, if you have not had one.  Your body at this point, is not making a polite request.

RECOVERY–What does it really mean?

Recovery days run the gambit–just like sports.  They mean different ideas to different athletes.  If you are an avid runner, a recovery day may be a “recovery run.”  Check out http://running.competitor.com.  “Workout of the Week: Recovery Runs.”  I found this article very useful, providing insight into recovery as well as running past fatigue.

If the thought of running makes you run the other way–recovery could be that “day off.”  Working towards constructing that chiseled physique?  Check out http://2buildmusclefast.com. “Importance of Rest and Recovery in Muscle Building.”  This should be of particular interest to bodybuilders.  Why?  In part, the article stresses the need for rest, if you want to become sculpted faster.  No rest, no gain, appears to be the theme here.

What if your workouts are here, there, and everywhere?  Not a problem–here are a few suggestions from my “toolbox.”

If you’re a consistent follower of my posts, you realize my workouts vary:  running, INSANITY, gym, hot yoga, as well as ballet inspired.  Because of this, my recovery needs vary as well.  Therefore, a day off for me, literally is “a day off.”  While my teenage son may be into recovery runs (he runs cross-country & track), running is no longer my only form of exercise.  It once was–and still remains my favorite.  However, because my body started to “maintain an even strain” unless I upped my mileage, I had to find something else to get the results/weight loss I once derived running.

Recovery first and foremost–has to entail adequate hydration as well as nutrition.  You will not achieve your goals without either of these.  Yes, eating to fuel “your habit,” is a balancing act.  If you take in more calories than you’re burning, you will gain weight.  And, it may not be the muscle hypertrophy for which you are striving.  My advice?  Start with adequate hydration.  See my post “Not enough? Too much?  A little guidance please…”  Once these needs are met, realize your body is going to demand–not request–higher quality food.  While potato chips, ice cream, and French Silk pie may not be totally eradicated from your thought process, they will not fuel your transformation.  Therefore, be prepared.

On my high intensity days (hard/long run, INSANITY, hot yoga) my drink of choice is electrolyte replacement, supplemented by H20.  My meal?  ONE–not all, of these days includes a meal I really really like.  Otherwise, I make sure I have plenty of salads, fixings for fresh tostadas, chicken breast, & roast beef around.  I am not a fish eater or a vegetarian; nor do I have any plans to become either.  Therefore, my meal plans/snacks include protein in the form of chicken, roast beef, some pork, legumes, or protein bars.  Vegetables, especially snow peas, green onions, mixed frozen, broccoli, and carrots are usually found in my fridge.

Lower intensity days (ballet inspired workout, light run, run/walk) H20 is my drink of choice.  Meals are lighter; and usually DO NOT include a splurge on these days.  My philosophy is lighter workout, lighter food.  While I haven’t the scientific data to purport this rationale, it works for me.

Whether you lift, run, dance, kick a soccer ball, walk, or are a diligent chair exerciser–keep it up.  Keeping it up however, means keeping your body from giving up.  Giving it the rest, hydration, and nutrition it requires are ALL part of RECOVERY.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Be sure to check out my ABOUT page.

Questions?  Comments?  Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com