Wednesday, May 04, 2011
Because there is more to good health than a number that stares at us from between our toes in the morning.
I've seen so many posts from members who are distraught that the scale isn't moving when they've been so good. They want to know what they are doing wrong. Well, they really aren't doing anything wrong. The weight doesn't magically drop off the minute we decide we need to lose. Weight loss is a slow steady process that takes time. Because our weight is not a static number and fluctuates for many different reasons, a person should find other ways to measure their success. Which is what I did when I decided I wanted to lose weight and become healthier all those years ago.
When I decided I needed to make a change, I didn't use the scale to measure my success. Instead, I used a pair of pants that I wanted to fit. I did this because in past, I knew I was very obsessive about what the scale said. Not so long ago, I used to weigh myself every day basing my day on what the scale said. One pound up, bad day. One pound down, good day. That wasn't healthy and I can't tell you how long I spent yo-yo dieting because I was too concerned about my weight and not my health.
To begin, I weighed myself once for my starting weight and said that I would NOT weigh myself again until I fit those pants. When I tried on the pants, I couldn't even hike them above my hips. that was pretty embarrassing. I knew I would be losing weight if I could put them on.
So, for the first about 4 months, I watched what I ate, I exercised and each week I put on the pants to see how I was doing. Slowly but surely they started inching up my hips. Before long I could button them. I couldn't breathe, but I could button them ! Eventually, I could comfortably wear those pants.
That's when I decided to get on the scale. I'd lost 37 pounds and was thrilled ! I couldn't believe it. So, you don't need the scale to know if you're making a difference or not. I let those pants be my guide to whether or not I was making a change. That was over seven years ago and I did go on to lose more weight.
Today, I refuse to weigh myself because I don't want to be judged by my weight. There really is more to my good health than what the scale says. I am fitter today than I was over 20 years ago, but I'm also heavier. You know what ? That doesn't matter. I may have been thin back then, but I wasn't fit. Today, I am fit. My health and fitness is more important than what the scale says.
This is why I want to tell all the members who feel bad about what the scale says to not worry !! Find other ways to gauge your success as you lose. Remember, the scale can't tell you how many push ups you can do. The scale can't tell you how fast you can run or walk a mile. The scale can't tell you if you have more endurance. The scale can't tell you if you can bench over 100 pounds. the scale can't tell you your blood pressure. All the scale tells you is what your bones, muscles, blood, intestines, flesh, breakfast, lunch, water, waste, etc... all weigh on any given morning. So, don't let the scale determine how your day will be !!!
Yes, it is important to maintain a healthy weight. But know this, weight loss is nothing more than a byproduct of a healthy lifestyle.
Don't be afraid to ditch the scale and weigh yourself less often. As you can see by my own results, you don't need the scale to know if you're making a difference.
Monday, February 21, 2011
Folks, this is a WARNING to all of my Spark buddies who are thinking of hiring a personal trainer.
This morning, I decided to hit the gym early to get in a short workout on the elliptical. While I was there, a personal trainer and her client hopped on the treadmill in front of me. I've got to say this... I was APPALLED by what I saw !! Now, I'm a fully certified personal trainer myself. I'm also a fully certified group exercise instructor. I was trained by very reputable organizations. So, I was shocked by what I saw.
At first, I thought the PT was just having their client do a 5-10 minute warm up on the treadmill. Well, not exactly. Yes, the young woman did a short brisk walk. THEN, the personal trainer gave her a set of 10 pound hand weights AND had her do bicep curls as well as shoulder presses while she was walking on the treadmill !! If that wasn't bad enough, then this personal trainer (a college aged young woman) preceded to INCREASE the incline on the treadmill. I saw her as she pushed the buttons to increase the incline. Then the client put down the weights for a short time. I thought, okay, no more weights while walking on the incline. NOPE... the PT gave the hand weights back to the client who then was told to do more bicep curls and shoulder presses while walking on the incline.
Maybe it's me, but this personal trainer didn't seem to think anything was wrong with that !!!
It got worse. Another thing this trainer did was to keep increasing the speed of the treadmill. They were pushing the buttons, not the client. A personal trainer NEVER touches the buttons to increase speed. The client pushes the buttons to where they feel their maximum limit is. The PT doesn't make that decision. A PT is their to encourage their client to push a bit harder, not do the pushing for them.
Which is why I am warning all my Spark Buddies that IF they see a personal trainer advising a client to do strength training exercises while on a treadmill, STAY AWAY from that trainer !! No well trained (reputable) personal trainer would have their clients using hand weights while on a treadmill. We all know how dangerous it is to use hand weights while walking. It places too much stress on a person's joints. The only safe way to combine cardio and strength is with a good circuit training workout or class.
I was really shocked and quite honestly, I'm going to talk to the head of the trainers to tell them what I saw. What that PT did was not safe and was downright dangerous to the client.
Here's what "gets" me, I know that the trainers are all supposed to be certified via NASM. You have to be to work at this gym. That's who certified me. They are a very reputable organization. I know for a fact they do NOT teach their students to use hand weights on treadmills ! Which makes me wonder where this trainer learned fitness. They can't keep teaching their clients that it's okay to do shoulder presses while walking on an inclined treadmill.
It's trainers like this woman who makes the rest of us look bad. That's why it's important for a person interested in working with a personal trainer to get a referral. Find out as much as you can, watch the trainer and see how they interact with other clients. Because some of them really don't know what they are doing.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Something interesting happened at the gym on Monday that made me pose that question to the class I was teaching. At the time, we were getting ready to do some push ups. Push ups are a regular component of my Pump/Sculpt class. Anyone who takes my class on a regular basis, knows how I love doing push ups ! LOL !! I'm trying to get my class to love them too. However, some days, the class moans at me when we get to the push up segment of the class.
I know many people don't like doing push ups. Many women tell me they can't do them because they aren't strong enough. That's a legitimate reason to not do push ups on your toes. Doing military style push ups are difficult. They take practice. So, if you can't do those, then do modified push ups on your knees. Then some women complain that those are "girlie" push ups not real ones. So, why do them ? Well, doing girlie push ups are a perfectly good way to help increase your upper body strength so that you will be ready to do military style push ups on your toes.
And this is where my question comes in. I'm talking to my class about the benefits of doing push ups and as usual, they are moaning. However, one gal in my class is my HERO !! She's a young woman who became pregnant a few months ago. In fact, it was seven months ago. She's been taking my class all the way through her pregnancy. When her stomach started increasing, I gave her exercise modifications she could do so that she could still participate in class.
Well, on Monday, we had to raise her bench a couple extra levels so that she'd be able to do, yes folks, PUSH UPS ! While she can't do military style push ups on her toes because of her stomach, she can do table push ups. And that's exactly what she did i.e. did push ups on a raised bench. So, I pointed to the other folks in the class who'd been moaning, smiled and said,"if your seven months pregnant class mate is making an effort to do push ups, what's your excuse ?!" And with that remark, they did their push ups willingly.
I tell my class regularly that I'm not looking for quantity, I'm looking for quality. If you can't do 10 good military style push ups, do as many as you can and when you can't do any more with good form, drop to your knees to modify. I'd rather see 2 or 3 good push ups than 10 lousy ones. The 10 lousy ones aren't doing you any good. The 2-3 good ones will. It may not seem like much, but it's a start.
Three words can help you to do push ups. Practice. Practice. Practice. no excuses.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Hello all ! I've finally had a chance to sit down and look at some of the photos I took while in England. One of the side trips I wanted to do while there, was a trip to Stonehenge. I've always been fascinated by ancient monuments. Stonehenge, the Pyramids, Maya ruins, the Great Wall of China, etc... Well, I honestly don't know if I'll ever get to see the Pyramids or Great Wall. So when I had a chance to see Stonehenge, I jumped at the opportunity !! I found a tour that would take me to Stonehenge, Bath and Windsor Castle.
Stonehenge is an absolutely extraordinary work of architecture, engineering as well as art. You just can't imagine how much work was necessary to create this structure over 4,000 years ago. The archaeologists don't have an exact date for the structure. They feel it was built over many thousands of years. What we see today was built on top of other stone rings. There are many different types of stone rings all over England. Stonehenge is the best known.
Now, here's something that really struck me while driving towards Stonehenge from London. It's at least a two hour drive, depending on traffic. I was looking at the various highway signs as we traveled. In the US, let's say you're going to Disney Land. 50 miles away, you'd see a sign that said,"take highway X, 50 miles to Disney Land." 20 miles later you would see a sign,"20 miles to Disney". And so it would go, sign after sign all telling you how far you were from Disney or whatever place you were traveling.
Not so in England. There was not so much as a single post that said, "this way to Stonehenge". We were in Salisbury, which is beautiful country. Our tour guide was talking about the history of Stonehenge when I saw one sign that said,"stonehenge" with an arrow. We went down a hill and as we crested the next, there is was. It was absolutely STUNNING. It's a breathe taking sight when you first see it. There is nothing in the area to detract from the stones. No condos. No tourist shops. No highway stops. nothing to say you're anywhere near Stonehenge.
I really appreciated that. The English Heritage Foundation has done everything to keep that area as pristine as possible. There was a tourist center to pick up information, tickets and touristy items. But, it was recessed. Stonehenge is up on a slight hill. The tourist building had been recessed. Even the parking lot is at a lower level than the stones.
Well, we got our tickets and walked up to the entrance. The stones are fenced off from the road. However, the ticket gets you inside the fence. There is another small wire fence that surrounds the stones. Tourists are no longer allowed to touch the stones. It seems that too much damage was being done and well, some people are a little weird. Anyway, the wire fence is only knee high. it's a small barrier that does no detract from the view of the stones.
What really thrilled me was that our tour arrived before everyone else. Stonehenge can get very crowed during the peak season. When we arrived, it was around 10am, when the monument opened. There were only a handful of people there. Which really made the experience all the more enjoyable. As much as I love traveling, some times places I want to see can get very very crowded. It's tough to appreciate something when you're surrounded by a million people. The same thing happened at winter. The tour I was on did the reverse. Instead of starting at Windsor, we started at Stonehenge. When everyone else was in Bath, we were at Windsor. It was nice having some "space".
In general, the weather for my trip was grey, overcast, cold and a bit drizzely. Not so for Stonehenge. I had a beautiful blue day !!!! And so, I was able to get some really great photos. If you ever have a chance to go to London, take the side trip to Stonehenge. It's absolutely amazing !! Here, I can prove it !! LOL !!
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
That is a question that several people have recently asked me. What do I have to do to become a personal trainer or group exercise instructor ? Do I have to have a degree ? Where do I start ? What certifications do I need ? Who provides these certifications ?
A person does not have to have a degree in physiology or sports education to be a good personal trainer or group exercise instructor. Yes, it is extremely beneficial. However, there are many folks, like myself, who discovered their love of fitness late in life. You do not have to go back to school to get a degree, but you do have to have certification from an accredited nationally recognized organization.
The first question you have to answer is this. What do you want to do in the fitness industry ? Do you want to teach a class like Body Pump or step aerobics ? Or do you want to work one on one as a personal trainer ? There is a difference between the two and they each have separate certifications. A person who is certified as a personal trainer can not teach a group exercise class if they aren't certified. The same is true for a group exercise instructor. They may be certified to teach a class, but personal training is the same and different.
So, if you find that you want to do both, you will need both certifications i.e. personal training certification as well as group exercise certification. Yes, there will be a lot of overlap as far as what you need to know. In general, becoming a personal trainer requires much more work than the training required to become a group exercise instructor.
Which is more rewarding ? Don't quit your day job. Most of the people who work in fitness aren't doing it for the money. In fact, most of the trainers I know (including myself) all have another job. Fitness does not pay well. It never did. The Jack Lalannes, Jillians and Bob Harpers are few and far between. Most of us are in fitness because it's something we love. We certainly aren't in it for the money ! LOL !!
I always encourage people to do something they really love. So, if fitness is something they enjoy, then I will urge them to become certified. The fitness industry always needs good people to pass the word !!
Back to certifications, once you've decided which program you'd like to do, you need to decide who you'd like to train with. There are many very reputable, fitness organizations out there. If you can make sure you're certified by a nationally recognized group. Yes, some gyms do have their own certifications. However, those certs are only good for working at that gym. They may not be recognized by chain gyms. Most chain gyms will and do accept the certifications from the following organizations.... NASM, ASCM, AFAA, ACE, ISSA, etc... If you google search any of those acronyms, you will find their websites. There are many more reputable fitness organizations out there. You can start with these. Check out there websites and they will tell you what you need to become certified.
One thing I will tell folks is this, certification classes do not come cheap. In general, the cost of the certification for personal trainer can range from $500-$700 dollars for a two to three day course. Once you've studied the materials and then taken the seminar, you'll then have to take the exam. You are not fully certified as a personal trainer or group exercise instructor until you've passed your exam. And yes, some of the exams can be quite difficult.
I spent three months studying for my NASM CPT exam.
Once you've become certified, the work doesn't stop. You'll need to take continuing education classes each year to keep your certification current. Most personal training certs are only good for two years unless you recertify.
So, yes, once you get into fitness, it can be expensive to stay in the industry. As a fitness professional, you will be expected to keep up with all the current fitness and health information. You need to keep all your certifications up to date. You can't let them lapse if you want to continue to work.
Let's talk about group exercise instructors for a moment. Let's say you'd rather teach a class instead of working at a personal trainer. What does a person need to become a group exercise instructor ? First, you need to decide what type of class you'd like to teach. Do you want to teach step aerobics ? Indoor cycling like spinning or maybe kick boxing ?
Before you can specialize in a particular sport, you need the certification for general group exercise instructor first. In short, you can't teach step if you don't know the basics of teaching a class. Where do you start ? Start with a fitness organization like ACE or AFAA. Both are highly respected fitness organizations who run programs that teach instructors. The AFAA group exercise instructor certification is a one day class. Doesn't sound difficult, does it ? i.e. just take a one day class. Well, it's not quite that simple. Yes, it's a one day class, but you have to know all the material prior to taking the class. You'll receive a couple of books and pamphlets you'll need to study before you go to class. The class will be your review as well when you take your practical and written exam.
Group exercise instructors need to take two exams. They have a practical exam that assesses their skill as an instructor. They'll then take a written exam to determine their knowledge of the material. What's in the practical ? You'll be asked to demonstrate what is and isn't a safe move for a person. You'll be asked to demonstrate three different levels of a movement. Example, if a person can't do military style push ups, what would be a good modification for that person ?
Most people don't realize how complex teaching a class can be. You have to remember that you could have many different types of people. When you teach a class, everyone should be able to participate in some way. I've taught people from 20-60+ years old. I always give people different options. Maybe they're injured. Maybe they have bad knees... you as an instructor have to keep all these things in mind when you teach a class.
Okay, so you've got your general group exercise certification. Now what ? Now, you get to specialize. Yes, if you become a group exercise instructor, you'll need two certifications. You'll need your general certification as well as your specialization certification. Where do you get specialized certs ? Depending on where you teach, you could take certification classes with Zumba, Les Mills, AFAA, ACE, Johnny G, etc...
If you want to become a Les Mills certified Turbo Jam instructor, you'll need the general group exercise certification plus the certification from Les Mills. As I mentioned earlier, there are many reputable fitness organizations out there.
Now, you have your certs. Will a gym hire you ? Not necessarily. Yes, you have your certs, but most gyms require an "audition" prior to hiring you. Which makes sense. Why would a gym hire you to teach a class if they don't know how you are in front of a group ? Once you have your certs, you need to start designing your class. You'll learn class design as part of your certification training. I had to audition. I still have to audition if I want a job at another gym. I love working in front of an audience ! LOL !! It's the frustrated vaudevillian in me ! LOL !!!
If you are really interested in becoming an instructor, one thing I'd recommend is that you'll need to train with an experienced instructor. If you'd like to teach kickboxing, keep taking a class with an instructor you admire. Ask that instructor if they'll teach you the basics of class design. Do make sure you have your basic cert before you ask or at least let them know you're training to become an instructor. Most instructors are more than willing to train newbies. I've trained several and I still train people. All you have to do is ask. It's important to have a mentor to help you on your way.
Does that all seem daunting ? Working in fitness does require quite a bit of work. Personally, I think it's worth every single effort you put into it. And before I forget, you absolutely MUST be trained in CPR. Not doing it is not an option. You must always have current CPR training. I take the training every single year. If I don't have current CPR training, my gym can let me go. All gym personal must have CPR and first aid training.
Now, all of the above is just for getting certified. Teaching a class or working with a person one on one are entirely different. Let me ask you this,"Are you a people person ?" Do you work well with others ? Are you patient ? Because I'll be honest with you, that two of the most important things a fitness professional needs to be a good fitness professional is social skills and patience. You could know everything about fitness, but if you aren't a people person, you're not going to last long.
A good fitness professional has to work with many many different people and yes, some will aggravate you. You can never ever lose your temper. Thus the need to be patient. You must always be professional no matter how irksome your client might be.
I've found that the best instructors really do have a good rapport with people. They have good social skills. They are good communicators. They are good teachers. They show empathy. Having empathy is a lot more important than people think. Being an instructor isn't just about kicking people's butts. Yes, some people do need a drill sergeant. Others won't. Keep in mind that fitness is not a one size fits all mentality.
Here's something I've learned, you don't have to be twenty something to be a good personal trainer or group exercise instructor. Good fitness professionals come in all shapes, ages and sizes. No, we do not all look like Jillian !! In fact, I've found that most people are intimated by a professional like Jillian. They won't take a class with that person because they feel they aren't fit enough.
Never be that way. When you teach a class or become a PT, everyone should feel welcome ! Thus the need for good social skills. You don't want to intimate people. You want to encourage them to be the best they can be.
As I was saying about age, it's important that older people realize that they too can be good personal trainers. I've talked with many baby boomers. They've told me quite frankly they'd rather work with an older personal trainer instead of a recent college grad. They don't want to work with a 20 something size 0 PT because they feel that person doesn't understand where they have been. That's why they want to work with someone older. Someone their own age understands their needs.
So, if you're 30, 40 or older... it's never too late to become an instructor ! I'm 46 years old and have been teaching for the last five years. I love it !!
Do what you love. If fitness is something you're really interested in, start doing your homework. Study and read everything. Check out those websites. Best of luck ! You can do it !
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