Why Should I Bother Getting a Personal Trainer?

Whether you’re a regular gym bunny who’d rather gouge out your own eyeballs with a blunt knife than miss a session or have forgotten what the inside of a health club looks like, there are many benefits to signing up with a personal trainer.

You’d be in good company
According to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), around 12 percent of the estimated 51.4 million health club users in America use the services of a personal trainer. Although the majority of users are between the ages of 18 and 44, there really is no lower or upper age limit for enlisting the help of a personal trainer.

You actually can teach an old dog new tricks
Everyone can figure out how to use those machines, right? Actually, no. If you’re just starting out with exercising, the last thing you want to do is “teach” yourself how to use the equipment – wrongly. Even if you hit the gym with alarming regularity, a personal trainer can help you tweak your routine to maximum effect.

You’re more likely to stick to your exercise schedule
It’s a miserable day and the thought of dragging yourself to the gym is hardly appealing. It’s all too easy to think “I’ll do it tomorrow.” It’s still raining the next day and the next. Before you know it a whole fortnight has gone by and you haven’t so much as touched your toes. That situation is likely to be entirely different if you have booked sessions with a personal trainer. You won’t want to just not turn up and you won’t want to waste your money either.

They’ll push you to new levels of fitness
Having a personal trainer is ideal for those who are inclined to give up too easy. Whether it’s five more reps or holding a position for just one more minute, when you think you can’t do another thing, it’s the job of a good personal trainer to get you to do just a bit more. Your reward will be a stronger, fitter you.

Plateau, what plateau?
When you work out regularly, you’ll see results week after week. That is, of course, until you reach that dreaded plateau stage. It happens to most people – however hard you work or how many pieces of lettuce you eat – your results level off. Personal trainers will be able to recognise this stage for the normal occurrence that it is and motivate you to work through it. They’ll also have no end of tips and tricks to add variation to your workout and kickstart those results once again.

But, but, but ……

“I can’t afford a personal trainer.”

Really?

Most health clubs offer free introductory sessions with their in-house personal trainers. Take advantage of the freebie and use the time to try to negotiate a better deal. While the group option might not be dangled in front of your face, it’s likely that there is one. Try negotiating half price sessions for you and two of your friends. You’ll be able to cheer each other along, and make significant savings as you do so.

Author Bio

Linda Forshaw is a Business Information Systems graduate from Lancaster University in the UK. The leading contributor to Degree Jungle, a college research site, Linda is a full time writer and blogger specializing in education, social media, and entrepreneurship. Contact her on Twitter @seelindaplay

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Personal Training: What Can I Expect to Make?

We’re excited to publish a guest post this week by Eli Galayda of the website How To Become a Certified Personal Trainer.

So you’ve decided that you want to be a personal trainer.  Congrats! Yours will be an exciting and active life centered on helping people achieve their personal fitness goals and witnessing clients improve their quality of life.  What’s more, you’ll be able to do that while maintaining the ability to be your own boss and set your own schedule.  It’s a win, win. You’ll have the freedom to choose your clients, the autonomy to set the routines, and the satisfaction of watching the transformation of your clients. That said, there is still the all important bottom line: What Kind of Salary Can I Expect to Make?  And more importantly, What Can I do to Maximize It?

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According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics the median annual salary in 2008 for personal trainers was $29,210 (Currently, 2008 is the last year of available data). It is important to remember though that this is only a rough estimate… a toss at the dartboard.  There are a myriad of factors that can go into what you make; such as: do you work with a gym… If so, what is your cut? Are you certified? How busy do you keep your schedule, do you work weekends? Where do you train? Personal trainers in NYC can charge a higher rate than one in Buckner, Illinois.

Regardless of those factors though, there are some simple steps to help ensure you’re maximizing your bottom line.  Below are 5 key factors that affect what kind of salary you can expect to make.

  1. EXPERIENCE.  You’ll need it… The more, the better.  Although, there are other ways to get experience.   Become an expert in a new type of exercise program.  Take for example Tae Bo, Kettle Bells, or even Cross-Fit.  The trainers who mastered these disciplines at the onset were able to go to gyms with a unique set of qualifications that their peers didn’t have which made them valuable and highly sought after.  Right now some think that exercise programs geared toward the ageing “baby boomer” population are set to explode.
  2. SALESMAN.  Learn to be one. Hopefully one day your client base will do this work for you, but until then, it’s all on you.  You will need to learn how to not only sell your services, but yourself as well.  You’re going to be working face-to-face with your clients for an extended period of time.  They will probably see you more than they see their own parents.  For that reason it is important that they not only respect what you can bring to the table in terms of fitness… but like/respect you as well.
  3. EDUCATION. It helps. Perception is reality.  If a potential clients looks at your resume and see’s that you have a B.A. in Kinesiology or Exercise Science it will most likely serve as an indication that you are qualified for the job.  If you are lacking in those areas it behooves you to go through a personal trainer certification program.
  4. NEGOTIATE. Doesn’t hurt to try.  If you start at a gym they will expect a cut from your training sessions.  In most cases these commissions are negotiable… even if they say right off the bat that they aren’t.  If you’re bringing new people into the gym, use it as leverage for a higher commission.
  5. DIVERSIFY. aka, get a side job.  Especially in the start it may be hard to build up a client-base that can sustain your cost of living.  Until you get to that point there is no shame in having a side job waitering, bartending, etc.  Hey, Brad Pitt worked at a taco stand while he was getting his acting career off the ground.  Do what you have to do.

Learn more about How to Become a Certified Personal Trainer.

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Healthy Eating: Protein Salad

The importance of eating a healthy and varied diet is generally well understood by those in the personal training field.  However, try as we might, sometimes we get stuck in a rut with the foods that we eat.

So here’s a great recipe to add to your repertoire, based on the Perfect Protein Salad sold at PCC Stores.  It has just the right amount of protein, raw veggies and whole grains.  The great thing about it is that you don’t have to follow the recipe exactly for it to taste great.  You can adjust it based on what you have in your fridge – which means you usually have all the ingredients to make it in a pinch.  I’ve added chopped napa cabbage and diced jicama to this salad before – simply because I needed to use them before they went bad – and the salad was just as good.  If you don’t have all of the ingredients for the salad, no big deal – find a similar substitute (such as a couple of diced shallots or 1/2 a red onion if you don’t have green onions) or just leave out what you don’t have.  And if you don’t have garbanzo beans in your pantry (to get your protein) throw on some diced or shredded chicken instead.

In A Pinch Protein Salad

Salad:

1 cup grain (farro or wheat berries)
1 25 ounce can of garbanzo beans
1 english cucumber, seeded and diced
1 red, green or yellow pepper, seeded and diced
1-3 stalks celery, diced
1-3 carrots, diced
1/2 to 1 bunch green onions, sliced
1/3 – 1/2 bunch parsley, chopped

Dressing:

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or white wine/red wine vinegar)
1 tsp dried dill (or 2 tbsp fresh, chopped)
1 tsp dried basil (or 2 tbsp fresh, chopped)
1 tsp salt (sea salt, or Maldon)
1 tsp minced garlic
NOTE:  you could also try throwing in some chopped fresh chives, or oregano, tarragon.  Feel free to experiment with what you have available!

INSTRUCTIONS

1.  Cook the grain as instructed on the package directions

2.  Throw all the salad ingredients in a large bowl.

3.  Combine all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.

4.  Pour the dressing over the salad and combine well.

Enjoy!

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Fitness in your Forties: Issues and Strategies

If you’re in your forties, and have started to notice new and more frequent aches and pains, you’re not alone.  We all know that as we age our bodies are going to change, but do you know what is most likely to change and what you can do to work with it?

A very common issue is that as we age our connective tissues become less elastic, and can lead to a greater likelihood of joint injury.  It’s important to respect that connective tissue.  Try to incorporate activities that can stretch and strengthen those connective tissues.  Here are some suggestions:

  1. Yin Yoga: has recently experience a surge in popularity.  That particular discipline focuses on strengthening the connective tissues from the waist to the knees, so if you have tight hips (say, from years of cycling or running and not spending enough time stretching!), yin yoga could be for you.  Check your local yoga studios to see if they’re offering yin yoga classes in your area.
  2. Weight Training:  preserves and maintains muscle mass.  As we age, we tend to lose muscle mass and our metabolic rate also declines.  Even if you get plenty of cardiovascular exercise, if you do the same thing you’ll lose muscle and gain fat.  Strength training is the only way to preserve, or increase, muscle.   Weight training also helps with bone density and joint elasticity.
  3. Lengthen:  for many people, height begins to decrease in their forties.  Focus on posture, sitting and standing tall as if a string is attached to the top of your head and  pulling you up.  Push your shoulders back and down, opening up the space around your neck and ears.  Try to lengthen your spine by stretching.  Yoga is great for length.
  4. Warm-up before you exercise:  take 10-15 minutes to warm up before you exercise, especially if you’re a weekend warrior!  Warming up starts the flow of synovial fluid, which lubricates your joints.  Warming up also increases your core temperature which can loosen your muscle and reduce the change of injury.

Being in your forties doesn’t mean the end of exercise.  It just means you should need to exercise wisely and listen to your body.

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Defeating DOMS: Tips for Alleviating Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

There’s no mistaking it, that soreness that creeps in after a punishing workout and proceeds to plague your movements for the next few days. According to WebMD, delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS, is in fact, “tiny injuries called microdamage in the muscle fibers and connective tissue.” It generally happens after you step up your workout, try a new strenuous activity, or use eccentric muscle contractions (increasing tension on a muscle when it is lengthening, like when running downhill or doing pushups).

© Maridav - Fotolia.com

© Maridav – Fotolia.com

DOMS usually peaks at around 48 hours after your workout, and those few days can certainly be a challenge. Here are some ideas from around the web on ways to defeat DOMS:

  1. Rest. Have you ever heard the phrase, “if it hurts, don’t do it”? Allow your body to recover by giving it a break (usually 3-7 days).
  2. Apply Heat. Use heat via heating pad or warm bath to increase blood flow to the area and alleviate soreness.
  3. Stretch. There is serious debate about whether or not stretching actually helps DOMS, but there’s no denying that it’s at least satisfying to stretch when you’re sore. Some experts maintain that it helps ease muscle tension, and can prevent muscles from tensing up and the pain getting worse.
  4. Light Exercise or “Active Recovery.” Think taking a walk or going for a light swim, getting your blood flowing and your muscles warm. However, be sure you don’t over do it–if you pile another hard workout on top of the first, you might just make your soreness worse.
  5. Anti-Inflammatories and Supplements. There are the standard anti-inflammatories like aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen sodium, which can help with pain, but don’t help with actual recovery. There are also options like the regular intake of probiotics, lemon verbena supplements, or Omega-3 fatty acid supplements, that have all been said to help with soreness and recovery after a workout.

While there is no one easy solution for beating post killer-workout soreness, there are plenty of choices. Do some personalized real-time research on delayed onset muscle soreness, and see what works best for you.

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Personal Training: Disc Problems – Is Pilates for You?

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Do you have a family history of spine/disc problems?  I do – and it’s pretty significant.  My brother and mom have both had multiple back surgeries, and my maternal grandfather and great grandmother were plagued with neck pain.  Watching my mom and brother suffer over the last decade makes me want to do all I can to avoid their situation.

I recently accompanied my brother on an appointment to his surgeon (he was about to have a fusion done on some discs in his neck).  I asked the surgeon if there is anything you can do to prevent disc issues if you know you have a family history.  The surgeon’s answer: there is no magic pill.  BUT core strength, exercise and a healthy diet can help.

Any time I think about core strength, I think about pilates.  Pilates is a form of exercise that helps build flexibility and strength in the abdominals, legs, arms, hips and back.  Spinal and pelvic alignment are emphasized, along with building a strong core and breathing.

I had been taking private and semi-private pilates lessons with a personal trainer for a couple of years, but stopped taking classes when I moved to a new town.  With my mom and brother recuperating with my family after having surgeries this summer, it was definitely in my face that I needed to get back into pilates.  At the same time, I’d been having some back/neck pain issues and tweaks – which I felt were muscular, but there was enough of a doubt to freak me out a bit.

So, I made an appointment with Debby Bowen at Bend Pilates, and have been going twice a week ever since.  About 4 months later, I feel great.  My core is stronger than it was and is protecting my spine – I actually feel relief in my spine when I engage my core correctly during physical activity.  I can feel my core support my body when I run, ride my mountain bike, and do yoga.  I’m more flexible in my hips and legs, and I’ve also been working on strengthening my rotator cuffs. What’s more, my body awareness is better – I’m learning how to use the right muscles so I don’t tweak out.

Although there is no guarantee that I won’t ever have a disc problem, at least I know I’m doing something about prevention!

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What You Should Know About Yoga: The Good, the Bad, and the Bendy

Yoga has, in many ways, become synonymous with a healthy way of life. Indeed, the term “yoga,” a Sanskrit word, means, “to ‘yoke’ or unite the mind, body and spirit.” With the promise of total alignment and harmony of your entire self, who wouldn’t want to try yoga as a means to a better life?

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The benefits of yoga are plenty. Tangible results include increased flexibility, muscle strength and tone, better posture, balance, and range of motion. In addition, yoga also provides less material, but still very real results like getting rid of stress, improving your concentration and focus, and even lowering blood pressure and slowing your heart rate. In short, it’s hard to argue with yoga’s results.

Still, there are some risks to yoga, and their seriousness may surprise you. Whitney Fetterhoff’s recent review of The Science of Yoga reminds us that yoga isn’t all about gentle poses and focused breathing. There is a real danger for injuries like, “dislocations, dead nerves and ruptured lungs,” according to the author of The Science of Yoga, William J. Broad. Other problems Broad cites include possible weight gain from a lowered metabolic rate, risk of stroke, joint instability or even brain damage. These issues sound more like warnings for a contact team sport than calm, peaceful, yoga.

Be that as it may, no one is saying you should hang up your yoga pants or exchange your mat for a pair of running shoes– far from it, in fact. However, it is important to know that there are risks with yoga, and like any workout regime or sport, beginners should start slow, learn through proper instruction, listen to their bodies, and increase the level of difficulty at their own pace.

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