Friday, February 26, 2010

What You Can Learn From My Clients Part 1

1. Sticking feathers up your rear doesn't make you a chicken!

What does this have to do with hiring a trainer? If you've never heard that cliche, I'm sure you've heard this one: 'there's no magic pill'. Both are true about hiring a trainer. It's really quite simple -- just because you have a trainer doesn't mean you're going to get fit; it doesn't mean you're going to lose weight or reach your goals. Now, this may sound severe, but sometimes a little severity is what is needed to spark a change!

Your success is determined by you, not your trainer, not your spouse, not your life circumstances. I've been a personal trainer for a long time & worked with a lot of clients over the years. Some clients get that, some don't. The client that gets it, succeeds.

Don't get me wrong, personal training is a great way to reach your fitness goals; but, the role of a trainer is to educate, encourage, and hold you accountable. Our role is not to work with you 3-5 times per week for the rest of your life! At some point we want you to make fitness a habit, so much so that you don't need us anymore. That means you'll need to learn from us, find social support and consistently do work on your own.

My most successful clients have been those that pick my brain (I love it when a client asks me questions!). They're the ones that email me in between sessions with questions or updates on what they've been doing on their own. They read all material that I give them and they fill out their workout & food logs diligently.

Supplementally, your trainer must help you set goals & teach you how to set goals on your own. They need to teach you fitness terms, guidelines, form and progression. Lastly, they need to slowly wean you off of depending on them every week.

What it really boils down to is this: if you're ready to make a change, you will make that change. A trainer is a tool for you to use, not your 'magic pill'. You must do the work, you must make the effort.

Stay tuned for parts 2 & 3 of this series!

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Child's View of Sports & Weight

Angie Conway is one of OnTrack Fitness's group fitness instructors with a unique viewpoint about being overweight in the fitness industry. She's shared part of her journey in the post Breaking Stereotypes, now she's going backward, to share her childhood...

I have been overweight all through my life starting at the age of 10. This is when I hit puberty and had a growth spurt, both up and out. By the end of fourth grade I was 5’4” weighing 120. Neither my doctors nor my parents saw what the charts indicated for my height they were all concerned about my weight for my age.

I participated in every sport possible. I was in dance classes, played softball, basketball and I excelled despite my size. I loved to ride my bike all over town. During the summer I would ride from sunrise to sunset. In my elementary school I was one of the fastest runners in my grade.

But, clothes were ackward for me. I was 10 and had the body of a 19 year-old. I was in Girl Scouts and the uniforms weren't made for my level in my size. When I was in fifth grade, I was on the basketball team and there were no uniforms that fit. I had to have special shorts purchased for me, the color was not the same as everyone elses. My jersey had to be altered to give the shirt another 2 inches around.

The summer after sixth grade I tried out for softball all-stars. There were a couple other girls that were big, but I was the biggest. When it came time to be timed on our running, I had the fastest time. I made the team. This team had great success. We won state tournaments in two different divisions and went to play at a national level, several states away in Kansas!

By the time I got to junior high I weighed about 160 and still expanding outward. The town I grew-up in had several elementary schools that all poured into one junior high. The beginning of my seventh grade year we played dodge ball for the first time in class with a mixed boys and girls teams on teams. I was the last one picked. It always hurts to be last picked, but in junior high it is a popularity contest, and the fat girl is not popular. No one in my gym class really knew me and what athletic abilities I had, they only saw a fat girl.

The art of playing dodge ball is to hit others with one of those red rubber playground balls. And, of course, to catch one that someone hurls at you. Again no one in the class knew that I had just spent the last summer playing softball all over the state of Indiana and across the mid-west. I was not the shy girl hiding in the back or the prissy girl saying “oh don’t hit me” -- I was up front throwing and catching until I was the last one standing. From then on this fat girl was never the last to be picked.

Read more about Angie in her other post.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Components of Fitness

Most people, when they start an exercise program, know they need to do a little cardio and maybe pick up a few dumbbells here and there.

There's more to it than that. You'll get better results if you know all components of fitness -- and you work within them! You'll be as fit and healthy as you can be, plus you'll be less likely to become injured.

Below are the components:

Muscular Fitness
This includes muscular strength & endurance.
Muscular Strength: the maximum force a muscle can produce against a resistance in a single, maximal effort.
Muscular Endurance: the capacity of a muscle to exert force repeatedly against a resistance, or to hold a static contraction over time.

Both muscular strength and endurance can be work on through resistance training.

Cardiorespiratory Fitness
The ability to perform repetitive, moderate to high intensity, large muscle movements for a prolonged period of time.

'Cardio' training can be worked on through exercises such as walking, running, aerobics class.

The range of motion around a joint.

Flexibility can be worked on simply from stretching major muscles after each exercise session.

Proper Body Composition
Body composition itself is the makeup of the body in terms of the relative percentage of fat free mass and body fat.

Proper body composition is where good nutrition and exercise meet.

The first thing you need to do is ask yourself if you're touching on all of these components, or are you focusing all of your time on just one or two.

Knowing the components is the start point, but remember there are training guidelines for each components, which I'll be talking about in another blog.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Processes of Change

Have you been struggling to get on an exercise program for years, never quite able to make it a habit for longer than a few weeks at a time? You're not alone -- and there is hope!

Many people jump into a full exercise program with good intentions but it ends up being too much, too fast and the whole thing just fizzling out. We're not used to hearing people say to ease into a workout program. We've been told 'no pain, no gain'.

We have a different philosophy at OnTrack Fitness. We work with new clients through what is called the 5 Stages of Motivational Readiness for Change (click to read more and to find out what stage you're in) and work them through the processes of change. This isn't something we created, this is a proven method of behavior change. These processes were originally used for smokers, we now use them for people wanting to become more physically active, like yourself.

We briefly discussed the processes of change in the previous post, 5 Stages of Change. Once you've determined which stage you're in, it's time to implement strategies & techniques to modify your behavior to become a fitter, healthier you.

They're divided into 2 categories:

Cognitive Strategies:
*Increase knowledge - Read & think about physical activity

*Being aware of risks - Learn about how/why inactivity is very unhealthy

*Caring about consequences to others - Recognize how your inactivity affects your family, friends & co-workers

*Comprehending benefits - Understand the personal benefits of being physically active

*Increasing healthy opportunities - Increase your awareness of opportunities to be more physically active

Behavioral Strategies:
* Substituting alternatives - Participate in physical activities when you're tired, stressed, or unlikely to want to be physically active

*Enlisting social support - Find a family member, friend or co-worker who's willing & able to provide support for being active

*Reward yourself - Praise & reward yourself for being physically active

* Committing yourself - Make promises, plans and commitments to be active

*Remind yourself - Set up reminders to be active (ex: keep comfortable shoes in the car and office to be ready to be used any time)

These processes describe how people change, and depending on what stage of change you're in will determine what process you will you start with. If you find you're in stage 1 or 2, start working on the suggestions we give in the cognitive processes. If you're in stage 3, 4 or 5, you'll want to put more of your focus on the behavioral processes.

If a smoker can become a non smoker, you can become healthier. Remember, just like a smoker may take several attempts to quit, and may always have an urge to smoke, you might cycle through the stages of change several times before making physical activity a true habit. Even people in stage 5 may fall back a little now and then. The key, though, is never give up.

Information from: Motivating People to Be Physically Acitve

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Breaking Stereotypes

What is a fitness instructor suppose to look like? Most people have a stereotypical thought of a fitness instructor. Picture this: A male instructor w/ buff muscles, a ripped 6-pack, tan and always pumping more iron. What about female instructor? See if this comes to mind: Stick skinny, perky, leotard wearing.

If this is who I had to workout with, I would be intimidated. How would you feel? I would feel too fat to workout with them! Just as someone would clean their house before a cleaning lady came, I would want to drop 20 pounds before working out with them, maybe even squeeze in a marathon for good measure. This may or may not be how you feel...

Not all fitness professionals fit into this stereotype. Don't get me wrong, there's a place for this kind of trainer, and I'm sure it appeals to a certain type of clientele. To be honest, though, fitness instructors are regular people just like you. We have a passion to workout and help others gain from the healthy benefits of fitness. Just like you, we have medical conditions and sometimes we have problems with our weight. Sometimes a medical condition (such as thyroid disease) can cause a person to gain weight. Some medications, like steroids or other hormone containing prescription, can too. But, we have a passion to work through these issues and in turn, to help and encourage others who may be struggling with similar problems.

When I started teaching fitness classes, I didn't fit that stereotypical mold. In fact I broke it. I weighed 280 pounds -- Yep that's what I said! I'm 5’4” and had a BMI over 40. At the weight of 280 I ran, did push-ups, crunches, jumping jacks, heck I even played women’s professional football. My philosophy in my classes is “if I can do it, so can you.” But, I never gave up on my quest for fitness and health!

There's a certain scrutiny around fitness instructors. I know I'd want an instructor/trainer that's knowledgeable, has my best interest in mind and cared about my health. I wouldn't want someone that doesn't know what it's like to be overweight and out of shape. I'd want someone that I can relate to. Since I started teaching fitness 4 ½ years ago I have lost almost 100 pounds. So if I can do it so can you!

Written by OnTrack Fitness's group instructor, Angie Conway. Angie has been married for 13 years and has 2 daughters, 6 & 9. She played women's professional football for 5 years and grew up playing softball and basketball.

After struggling for many year's with weight, Angie started a fitness ministry at her church, Greenwood Christian Church in Greenwood, IN. This ministry has been successful and growing for over 4 years.

Angie understands and wants to help others obtain a healthy weight.

She is a certified group fitness instructor and is currently working on her personal trainer certification and is pursuing her degree in Health and Wellness.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

5 Stages of Change

When we work with clients, one of the first things we do is determine how physically active they are through a simple model called the 'Stages of Motivational Readiness for Change'. It's a long term for something quite simple. If you're struggling to get on, and stick with an exercise program, this information may just be what you need to change your lifestyle.

First, you must determine what stage you're in. Studies have shown that anytime people are trying to make any lifestyle change, they go through 5 stages. If you're aware of this and can determine which one you're on, it's much easier to walk through the stages to eventually make the change you desire.

This model focuses on your motivation to change and the actual behavior change, two very different things!

Here are the 5 stages:

Stage 1: Not thinking about change. These individuals do no physical activity and do not intend to start in the next six months.

Stage 2: Thinking about change. These are individuals who do not participate in physical activity but intend to start in the next six months.

Stage 3: Doing some physical activity. These individuals participate in some physical activity but not at levels that meet the CDC/ACSM guidelines of accumulating at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most/all days per week or the ACSM guidelines of at least 20 minutes of continuous vigorous exercise at least 3 days a week.

Stage 4: Doing enough physical activity. These individuals participate in recommended amounts of physical activity but have done so for less than six months and may or may not maintain this level of physical activity.

Stage 5: Making physical activity a habit. These individuals have participated in recommended amounts of physical activity for six months or longer.

Which stage are you on (I hope you don't say stage 1!)? Maybe you think you've been on stage 3, but have fallen away a little and now are on stage 2. Not to worry, it's normal to move around a little within these stages. The goal, of course, it to get to stage 5 and stay on it most of the time.

So, now what? How do you make the change? There's actually a process you can use. We'll briefly go over this process today, and will talk in detail in a later blog.

Cognitive process: Increase your knowledge, be aware of risks of not being physically active, care about consequences of others, comprehend the benefits and increase your healthy opportunities.

Behavior process: Substituting alternatives, enlisting social support, rewarding yourself, committing yourself and reminding yourself.

This may all seem complicated and confusing, but it's really quite simple. If you take anything away from this blog post, I hope it's this: everyone struggles with change so don't give up, learn where you're at in the process, learn as much as you can and start thinking about how you make healthier choices in your own life -- starting right now!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

3 Basic Fitness Terms

It's a good idea to familiarize yourself with some basic terms. Today I want to discuss three terms: physical fitness, physical activity and exercise.

Physical fitness is an outcome that can be attained through exercising at the frequency, intensity and length of time prescribed by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), below.

Physical activity is any bodily movement that results in the burning of calories.

Exercise is a subcategory of physical activity; it's physical activity that's planned, structured and repetitive.

The ACSM physical activity & public health guidelines for healthy adults under age 65 is this:

"Do moderately intense cardio 30 minutes a day, five days a week
Do vigorously intense cardio 20 minutes a day, 3 days a week
Do eight to 10 strength-training exercises, eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise twice a week."

It also states that you may split the 30 minutes of cardio into 3 -- 10 minute bouts.

For more information about these guidelines and more, click here to go to ACSM website.

Remember that's it's important to become knowledgeable about fitness terms & definitions. When you have a basic understanding of fitness, you'll be more likely to understand what you need to do to become fit.

*Always check with your doctor before starting an exercise program*

Welcome to all Things Fitness

Welcome to OnTrack Fitness's first blog! We are dedicated to bringing you all things fitness & wellness related. When you read our blog, know this information is here to teach, encourage and help you become fit for life.

We're determined to share our knowledge to help you achieve your fitness goals. Our hope is to give you a trustworthy place to learn terms and tips; a place to teach you how to discern what claims are true or false about fitness. We'll also walk you through the process of going from a non exerciser to a fit, healthy person. We'll also write about how to safely and effectively challenge your body as you get fitter.

If you're interested in OnTrack Fitness helping you get fit & healthy, feel free to contact us: 317-281-7922

Check out our website

I hope you enjoy and continue to come back!