Hiring the right personal trainer for you is very important, if you end up with the wrong one, you may end up stuck in a contract with them for a long period of time. Although there are TONS of options of where to get a trainer, there are some places you’ll want to stay away from.
Many corporate gyms have set rules that trainers have to follow, even if the instructor has tons of experience and a lot of certifications; they won’t be able to put their knowledge to good use, working as a corporate employee. Here are a few reasons why you SHOULDN’T hire a trainer from a corporate gym.
Corporate structures do not allow for individualized workouts. This means that most of your workouts will be pre-written or picked from a book of workouts that match your description. This does not allow for truly individualized workouts based on your muscular imbalances, fitness goals, flexibility issues, or medical limitations. Although it may feel like a good workout, you may be further engraving muscular imbalances and movement dysfunctions that can lead you down a path to future injuries.
No emphasis on form or muscular imbalance correction. As stated above, you will not receive individualized routines from a corporate structure; this doesn’t allow your trainer to fully correct any muscular imbalances that may be holding you back from having good form on exercises. Since their job is to simply just beat you up and send you on your way, there won’t be any time for them to truly teach you how to move and explain why you’re working out the way that you are. Once your done with your sessions; it will be easy to fall out of the routine due to the trainer not actually showing you how to workout and structure your workouts in an effective way for you personally.
You are just a number. Due to the mass amounts of members within most corporate gyms, personal trainers get flooded with tons of clients. If a trainer is pumping out 10-15 clients per day, at only 30 minutes per session; how do you think that effects the quality of your sessions? Less than an hour sessions are not optimal to for the trainer to warm you up properly, and truly focus on your weak points. The relationship you have with your trainer does truly matter, and if you’re just another number that goes up on the board every month, your trainer most likely is not going to try to hard to get to know you and your goals too well.
Remember, I’m not saying this applies to every single trainer working at a Gold’s Gym , Anytime Fitness, or other corporate facilities but the majority of the time, these facts are true. Always remember when it comes to personal training, you get what you pay for. The cheap rates at corporate gyms are tempting; but the quality of your sessions will reflect that.
Thanks for reading, if you have any questions regarding personal training; feel free to contact us below!
Lower back pain is one of the most commonly felt pain among the population, and is increasing dramatically as the years go by. Studies have shown a direct link to the increase in sedentary lifestyles, to the increase in lower back pain that you and someone close to you is most likely experiencing.
Commonly brushed off as “getting old” or from a past injury, doctors don’t have a solution for most people unless the pain is stemming from a buldged disc, or something surgery can fix. A high percentage of us experiencing low back pain actually don’t need surgery, but rather an exercise program that helps balance the musculature around the hips, and strengthen the correct muscle groups.
NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) quotes:
The pain you experience not only effects your back, it effects motor control and normal movement, resulting in compensations that lead to muscular imbalances, atrophy of muscle groups, and over-activity in the wrong places. You can imagine that because of these compensations, there will be a chain reaction and commonly another injury follows shortly after low back pain (knee pain, hip pain, or ankle pain).
I’d like to pass off ideas from the National Academy of Sports Medicine, regarding how to go about choosing a Corrective Exercise routine to help decrease or prevent low back pain. Keep your spine healthy and you will be sure to live happy.
Considerations for exercise programming to prevent low back pain.
Exercise programming should focuses on stabilizing and strengthening the deep spine and major muscles of and around the low back. One of the larger muscles that is integral to the stability of the spine is the quadratus lumborum as noted by McGill and colleagues. They found this muscle was “best suited to be the major stabilizer of the lumbar spine.” They further stated the “side support” or “side bridge” exercise was identified to optimally challenge the quadratus lumborum and the muscles of the abdominal wall while minimizing lumbar spinal loads (12).
Therefore, based on McGill’s findings, performing an endurance side bridge or side plank is an ideal way to not only improve spine stability but it can also be used to establish a strength baseline with clients. The full side plank position is performed with the top foot placed on top of or in front of the lower foot for support. Instruct clients to lift their hips off the floor to maintain a straight line over their full body length, and support themselves on one elbow and their feet. The uninvolved arm is held across the chest with the hand placed on the opposite shoulder. The test ends when the hips return to the floor. This exercise and test can also be regressed and performed with the knees bent and contacting the floor when working with deconditioned clients.
Normal endurance times in the full plank position for healthy men and women with a mean age of 23 years are 90 seconds and 70 seconds respectively (12). Given the relatively young age of the participants in this particular study, shorter endurance times may need to be considered when working with clients with a history of low back pain. If your client experiences pain when performing this maneuver at any point, the test should be stopped immediately.
Now that a strength baseline is established, exercise selection may be established. When working with a population of clients with a history of low back pain, one must consider the type of exercise and its effects on the low back or the “Risk vs Reward” of an exercise. The chart below, adapted from the work of Wilke and colleagues, demonstrates the intradiscal pressure with common exercises and activities (13). Note that standing represents 100% of intradiscal pressure while performing a sit up is more than double.
Although the below “Superman” exercise can be beneficial to improve erector spinae strength, it results in 180% of normal intradiscal pressure compared to standing. Therefore the “Risk vs Reward” should be considered when recommending exercises for clients with a history of LBP.
The graph below, adapted from McGill, demonstrates this “Risk vs Reward” concept related to several common exercises. The risk of injury is represented by the red dotted line. Exercises that are above the line represent a higher risk of injury due to the compressive loads on the spine, while the exercises below the line represent sufficient muscular EMG activity for the spinal stabilizers with relatively low spinal loading.
Risk vs Reward Adapted from McGill
As you can see, the Bird Dog and Curl Up have a very similar effect on muscle activity, but the Sit Up has high joint loading (i.e., risk). The same holds true for the exercises Stir the Pot (low risk, high reward) and Sit Up on a Ball (high risk, high reward). When developing generic protocols to prevent low back pain it is safer to focus on integrating exercises that are below the ‘injury risk line’ and are focused on high exercise volume.
Three exercises that provide sufficient spine stability with minimal loading are known as the “Big 3” which are the modified curl up, side plank and quadruped bird dog. Spine stability requires muscles to be co-contracted for durations with relatively low levels of contractions. These exercises are designed for endurance and motor control, not for strength (14).
Bird Dog Exercise – Activate core muscles. Raise one arm to shoulder level as opposite leg simultaneously lifts off floor, extending to hip height. Pause momentarily. Return to start position and alternate sides. Maintain a straight spine position, do not allow hips to twist or rotate. Do not hyper-extend low back when extending leg.
McGill Curl Up – Lift shoulders off floor, trying to maintain a neutral spine position without rounding low back. Do not allow head to move forward of shoulders during movement. Elbows can remain in contact with floor during movement. Pause momentarily. Return to start position.
When performing these and other exercises to improve core stability, abdominal bracing or activation of the abdominal wall musculature is also recommended. These exercises should be performed in a neutral spine position when possible, avoiding pelvic tilting and excessive low back rounding or arching. After clients have demonstrated sufficient strength and motor control, they may be progressed to exercises that involve flexion and extension in order to further strengthen the abdominal and erector spinae musculature (15).
Stir the Pot – Begin kneeling in front of stability ball. Rest elbows on ball. Straighten legs into a plank position. Keeping spine straight, roll elbows in a circular motion on the ball. Perform this movement in 10 second intervals resting 3 seconds between reps.
Considerations for exercise programming to improve low back pain.
It is of utmost importance that clients with existing low back pain be cleared by their physician before starting an exercise program. If the client has completed physical therapy, you can use the exercises that they have learned during their sessions as a good starting point and base for progression or refer to the NASM Essentials of Corrective Exercise book for recommendations.
Here are some general guidelines for working with clients with previous or existing low back conditions (16):
Never exercise through pain.
Groove appropriate and perfect motion and motor patterns before adding load or other challenges.
Start by taking gravity out of the equation; start supine or prone, quadruped, kneeling then standing.
Increase intensity or time, but not both.
Intensity can be increased by either changing resistance or changing stability.
If the client is ready to be progressed, the following guidelines will help you do this safely and effectively (17):
If the client is still making progress then continue with the current work load.
If the client is at plateau then progress at a 2-10% increase.
If the patient experiences a flare-up then decrease volume.
Some other suggestions to consider when working with clients with a history of LBP are:
Avoid unsupported forward flexion exercises at first.
Avoid lifting both legs in a supine or prone position.
Avoid rapid movements especially twisting at the waist.
Extend warm-up and cool down periods.
Focus on good form, training the movement and not the muscles.
As with all exercise programs, long-term adherence and exercise execution on a regular basis are important to achieve satisfying results. After your clients have mastered the movements and are able to maintain good form, you can provide them with short at-home protocols that they can do without equipment to establish regular activity patterns and thus increase their results.
Fat loss can be a lengthy and challenging process, and surprisingly we make it too difficult on ourselves. The simple answer to fat loss is putting yourself into a caloric deficit for a certain amount of time; whether that be from eating less than it takes to maintain weight or increasing your total caloric burn each day.
Although quite simple, the biggest complaint I hear as a personal trainer is that after a certain amount of time dieting; most people hit a plateau and weight loss slows, or stops completely.
Diet Break? Why would I STOP dieting if I want to keep losing weight?
Let me make sense of the term “diet break”. The name says it all, after a certain amount of time being in a caloric deficit; you take a short break and bring your calories back up to maintenance. This could be for as little as a week, or as long as 1-2 months (depending on how long you have been dieting for).
Although it may sound contradicting to take time off from trying to lose weight; you have to look at the whole picture. Fat loss does not happen over-night, just as your weight gain did not happen over-night. Dieting for long periods of time can slow your metabolic rate, decrease muscle mass, and make you lose strength.
When we’re looking at someone who is in the over-weight or obese category; they most likely need to diet for a long period of time to get to a healthier body fat percentage and weight. Imagine what 6-12 months of an aggressive diet can do to your metabolic rate, especially to someone who already has a slow metabolism to begin with.
A new study released this year (2017) from Burns and Colleagues; revealed that implementing diet breaks every 2 weeks was more effective than staying on the same caloric deficit for 16 weeks straight.
Group 1: Dieted in a 33% caloric deficit for 16 weeks
Group 2: Dieted in a 33% caloric deficit for 30 weeks, with a diet break every 2 weeks.
Note: Group 2 dieted for longer; but since every 2 weeks they were brought back up to maintenance calories; the researchers doubled the length of the dieting period. This allowed for a control in the study.
Upon completion of the diet; research shows that Group 2 had shown to lose 50% more fat than Group 1, AND had less metabolic slowdown.
How do I apply a Diet Break to myself?
Although the research study show diet breaks to be far more superior than traditionally dieting for a long period of time without a break; you may want to take diet breaks less often than the study had done.
I say this because; you will unfortunately be dieting for a longer period of time with that frequent of dieting breaks implemented into your period of fat loss. This will draw out the weight loss process for a longer amount of time, making it harder mentally, and physically to build muscle mass and increase performance in the gym.
Everyone will require a different strategy, but I suggest trying out a few different ways of implementing diet breaks into your current way of eating; try taking a diet break for 1-2 weeks for every month of dieting. This doesn’t mean go eat whatever you want; you just eat the amount it takes to maintain your weight, rather than being in a caloric deficit.
I hope this introduced a new tool in the tool box for some of you who may be struggling to lose weight. Remember to look at the big picture, weight loss comes with time, hard work, and consistency.