Tag Archives: personal trainers

A Personal Trainer’s Love Letter for People Who Want to Lose Weight

I considered titling this post “What Everyone Who Wants to Lose Weight Needs to Hear” but that sounded harsh. And the point of this article isn’t to lecture, it’s to reassure. Consider it my love letter. The words from my heart for all those who’ve been disappointed by the fitness industry or guilt-tripped into buying a diet plan or product. I know you’re frustrated. I know you’re self-conscious at times (especially in the gym, if you ever set foot in that awful place, right?). But here are all the ways you can rise above the bull**** and take ownership of your health once and for all. And the best part? Not a single claim about “the right” kind of exercise or eating program. Because we both know chances are that they’ve already failed you.

 

 

Personal Trainers Won’t Judge You

I know it’s super intimidating to see well-sculpted trainers walking the gym floors but trust me, they get you more than you think. In fact, a lot of fitness professionals have been inspired to work in the industry because they’ve gone through personal health, weight or athletic struggles themselves. These people are full of empathy and are good listeners. If you’re willing to open up and be vulnerable, they’re sure to put their best foot forward to guide you on your weight loss journey. Please know that when you approach a trainer they will not judge you! We work with people every day who are dealing with the complex emotional and physical struggles that accompany weight loss.

 

Kiss Your Guilt Goodbye 

I’ve worked with a lot of clients who will have a late afternoon slump at work or a late-night anxiety attack at home that sends them in search of the good stuff (i.e., the cookies, ice cream, chips). They tell themselves they will only eat a few bites of the yummy snack but before they know it, their desire to feel better has led them to consume the entire sleeve of cookies, pint of ice cream or bag of chips (or sometimes all of the aforementioned at once!). Guilt drives these actions, not hunger. So, it’s time to kiss your guilt goodbye.

It takes some practice but in the moments when you catch yourself at risk for mindless overindulging simply remind yourself that you’re not a bad person for wanting a treat. Enjoy it. Relish it. (That’s right – no food is off limits entirely and emotional eating is OK sometimes – yes – it’s OK!). Remind yourself of all the reasons you will feel better if you don’t let yourself spiral with the overeating. Remind yourself of how you have felt after episodes like this in the past and put the food down after you’ve had a little bit. Even when you’re tempted to guilt yourself over slip-ups for overeating (which will happen) – don’t! This practice in self-control and self-talk will eventually lead you to a place in life where you can enjoy a small dish of ice cream guilt-free instead of a whole pint with a side of self-shaming. Remember, there are chances every day to practice and you will get better in time. Guilt sends people backwards, not forwards.

 

 

Don’t Panic 

When ANY of us humans are confronted by an uncomfortable situation we routinely have a knee-jerk, panicked reaction to try and rid ourselves of it right away. Similarly, the fear of our excess weight can startle us so badly that we are desperate to do anything to make it go away quickly. To feel better again. But the challenge with reacting in a panic is that we don’t choose very sustainable actions for feeling better.

You deserve better than short-sighted actions and measures that shed weight quickly. You deserve the luxury of taking your time to find better health. If it’s over the course of a few years of slow but sustainable change then so be it! Almost every program that has you shed weight really quickly is at VERY high risk of having you rebound in weight gain just a short stretch down the line. You can still see and feel incredible changes in your body and health without feeling the rush to do it in 90 days. Don’t panic, just commit to taking one step at a time.

 

Become a Well-Equipped Warrior

Weight loss is emotional. It’s tough. There can be a long story behind why someone hides behind her weight for security or why another person keeps losing and regaining that same 50 lbs. Oftentimes, healthy exercising and eating isn’t enough because your mind keeps playing hardball. It stays fixated on your past trauma or reminds you of cruel words or abuses from authority figures. Sometimes, our minds can’t stop playing “the comparison game,” looking at other people and social media highlight reels and wondering why our lives feel less happy and beautiful.

The weight loss journey is often undertaken as an individual process. But how many wars are won as a one-woman show? Warriors need a support system to win. Warriors need people who are willing to boost them up and support them through the mental and physical obstacles standing in their way of losing weight. These support systems can come from significant others, family members, friends, fitness professionals, nutritionists, life coaches, psychologists and doctors. Most people who struggle to lose weight or who have cyclical weight fluctuations will greatly benefit from seeking out the guidance and counsel of a mental health professional. Please don’t look at scheduling an appointment with a psychologist as a failure. It’s a MAJOR win and will probably be the missing element that will help you finally gain control over your body.

 

 

Your Health is More Valuable Than Any Product

I’m not a product person. I’ve had dozens upon dozens of well-meaning and passionate individuals approach me about the health/nutrition product lines that they sell. They want me to join their ranks and represent the line or help spread the word to my audience. I’m always happy to enlighten clients and readers about what different products are out there; HOWEVER, there isn’t a bone in my body that can endorse a product line as being an excellent be-all-end-all, go-to for weight loss (even well-deserving, scientifically-backed ones!).

There isn’t a single nutritional supplement, shake or meal plan that you’re going to be willing to consume in excess (and pay up for) for your entire life. That’s right. I’m a professional who wants to see you succeed long-term. I don’t give a rat’s *** about before and after photos for results people get in 30 days because you know what almost ALWAYS happens? The weight comes right back on when people abandon the short-term exercise program or “drink-this-shake-in-place-of-most-of-your-meals” plan.

YOU deserve to learn how to get control of your REAL life (ya know, the one that continues after the fad diet). YOU deserve to eat REAL food. YOU deserve to keep the weight off. YOU deserve to feel proud of your progress even if it’s not as dramatic as before/after pics from a 60-day plan. Remember, these photos aren’t the full story. How many of these people are posting a two-years later pic and boasting about it? 

 

 

Your Mind is Powerful But it’s Not Always Right

A lot of people who want to lose weight feel like the whole room is staring at them – at their thick thighs or fleshy belly, vanishing waistline or double chin. They stand in the middle of parties and boardroom discussions feeling unworthy and self-conscious. Same thing goes for in the gym. But hear me on this one: YOU ARE WRONG. You’re not unworthy. And no, the whole room (or gym) is NOT picking apart your faults. You are your greatest critic.

The second we get out of our heads is the second we free ourselves of shame, blame and ridicule. Don’t you think you deserve that? Remind yourself of the many things you’re great at and the wonderful qualities that are deeper than the surface. These are your core. Not your physical appearance. When we place our confidence on those lasting qualities, we gain the power to approach our body transformations with a calm mind instead of a ridiculing one.  

 

Remember, You CAN 

The tagline for WellnessWinz is “Start Believing You Can.” I chose this years ago because so many people hit roadblocks in their mind that prevent their bodies from performing. The same can be said for people in their careers and relationships. Our minds can be powerful vehicles driving our energy and decisions.

Your weight CAN be lost. I know it doesn’t feel like it. Your mind is probably telling you that you’re stuck with it… but you’re not. The second you believe that you can commit yourself to the incremental changes that amount to permanent weight loss is the second that your life changes. The physical process of losing weight may take a little time but the mental shift required to jump start it all can happen today.

 

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

 

 

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The Truth About CrossFit

I get this question a lot: “What do you think about CrossFit?” Here’s the thing…I could give you my opinions but they are just that; opinions. The real, objective truth about this controversial fitness company can be summarized when you understand the one thing that most people don’t realize about CrossFit and which applies to all of its locations. So, here it is…the truth about CrossFit.

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Drumroll please….

THE TRUTH:

CrossFit is NOT a franchise. It’s a licensed brand. Knowing this simple fact explains the entire controversy surrounding the CrossFit brand. Allow me to explain…

In most franchises, there are standards that franchisees must abide by. A gym franchise will have the same look, experience and employee standards from one location to the next. In licensing, all that is the same from one location to the next is the brand, the name. Everything else is basically left up to the affiliate who purchased the rights to license the brand.

On CrossFit’s website, the easy steps to affiliate with the brand are explained: “Write us an essay (application), license a name, set up a website, send us photos and you become part of the growing community of CrossFit affiliates.” Rights to this powerhouse fitness name are a matter of writing an essay, attending a weekend-long seminar, finding a location and insurance for a box, and paying an inexpensive, annual licensing fee. This will result in two types of box owners: 1) Professionals who go above and beyond to equip their facilities with best practices and seasoned professionals, and 2) People who are not professional in the way they recruit their employees and run their gym.

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This is what causes some boxes to have the best personal trainers in the industry and others to have professionals who lack appropriate credentials and experience. The discrepancy in professionalism leads to wide gaps in safety standards and exercise programming. Such significant differences cause some CrossFitters to be fiercely loyal to the brand and leaves other box members disillusioned as their safety is risked by instructors who can’t properly support participants during workouts.

So, there you have it. The good and bad rumors about CrossFit are all accurate. It depends on who you ask and where (and with whom) they have worked out. In truth, this isn’t very different from gym franchises. Every participant in any fitness program will have a unique experience contingent on a number of factors. It’s up to YOU to decide who you can trust, not just at CrossFit boxes but everywhere. The good, the bad and the ugly can exist in just about every fitness brand. Advocate for your health with informed decisions, a little trial-and-error, and knowing when to step away from a haphazard or dangerous exercise environment. There’s a better place waiting for you around the block.

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Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

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The Best + Worst Qualities in a Personal Trainer

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It always depresses me when someone has a bad experience with a personal trainer and it intimidates them from branching out and getting help from a better professional. I get it though, not everyone is going to mesh in the trainer-client relationship, and that’s okay! People have different needs when it comes to coaching styles, scheduling and expertise. But, across the board, there are a few behaviors to look out for when assessing whether a trainer is a top-notch professional…or isn’t…

“The Bad” vs. “The Good”

1) Cookie Cutter Programs vs. Quality Programs

If you watch a trainer on the gym floor and he is taking every one of his clients through the same routine, that’s a red flag. Why should any trainer take their 55 year old female client with weak knees and osteoporosis through the same workout as their 30 year old male client who is training for his first triathlon? Okay, that example is a little too obvious. But, you’ll actually see this happen a lot. This demonstrates a lack of in-depth knowledge about the body and how it works or reflects a lack of respect for the individual needs that each client has. Either way, this trainer is not worth your hard earned money!

A trainer who designs quality programs for you is who you want to trust your health with. A quality program will relate to your goals, but probably includes some exercises and progressions you hadn’t thought of. For example, you may be wanting to run a marathon but your trainer knows that without a balance of strength and stretching you will be a risk for injury and thus, makes space for them in your training regimen. A quality program will be fully customized to your specific needs.

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2) Working Out w/ You vs. Full Attention on You

Have you ever seen a trainer getting their full workout in alongside their clients during a paid-for session? Don’t look twice – it’s too painful! This is a big “no-no.” The workout experience should be a client’s time, not the trainer’s opportunity to get in a few extra sets of chest. If the trainer is working out too then she isn’t able to pay full attention to her client’s form and may put them at risk for injury.

Of course, there are several scenarios when the trainer has to workout with you – like if they are taking you outside for a buddy run or if they are demonstrating an exercise. This is all okay, but when it starts to feel as though you have a pal performing sit-ups alongside you instead of a trainer coaching you on form and perseverance, you owe it to yourself to speak up or find someone else to work with. A wonderful trainer is watching everything about you – head to toe – during each exercise. I know…kinda creepy to think about, but it’s for your own good!

 

3) Unreliable vs. Attentive

The easiest tasks a trainer is responsible for include: 1) emailing and communicating with clients promptly and consistently (c’mon who doesn’t have a smartphone glued to them 24/7?) and 2) showing up on time and offering the client their undivided attention. Ironically, some trainers have a hard time meeting these minimum service standards. So, if it takes the trainer a week to get back to you (assuming the email didn’t get spammed) or if they are consistently late to sessions, do yourself a favor and find a polite way to save yourself more stress and hassle. It’s the trainer’s job to manage you not vice versa.

Chances are that it’s already tough to make time for exercise and show up on your own, let alone when you have to sit around for 15 minutes waiting for your trainer! Decidedly not motivating! So, be sure to find someone who has a rock solid reputation. Unsure how to figure that out? No problem. First, ask around. Second, find a way to workout near the trainer desk (the place trainers congregate and meet clients). This is a good way to subtly spy on interactions and behaviors, and learn more. Pssst – if a trainer is on the gym floor talking loudly about something inappropriate from the weekend you’re free to question their professional standards!

 

Mirror Mirror

 

4) “Mirror Mirror” vs. Selfless

I definitely remember being overwhelmed by all the gym mirrors when I first started working as a full-time trainer. It felt almost compulsive to check my image but I knew it was important that I resist. Likewise, as a trainer, it’s important not to talk about your own body and image hang-ups with your clients. Anything that is physically self-centered is just simply off the table. How would you feel if you were trying to lose 20 lbs and your slim trainer complained about her supposedly “thick thighs?”

Ultimately, the trainer has to be selfless. She needs to understand that every little glance in the mirror or negative comment may be taken personally by her clients. A great trainer will focus all her energy on YOU and will balance empathy with tough love so that you get to your goals and feel great.

 

5) “This is what I did…” vs. Objective

Let’s pretend you’re a woman working with a male trainer and he says “I tell all my clients to eat junk food the day before a tough workout – it always helps me rock my deadlifts.” Or, let’s say, you’re with a female trainer and she says “I did this awesome detox diet for 30 days and lost a ton of weight so I get all of my clients to do that now.” In both scenarios, the trainer is giving you an example of what seems to work for them. It’s okay for the trainer to consider that diet and exercise methods they have tried or experienced might work for some of their clients. But, for trainers to take their subjective experiences and project them onto you (and their other clients) as catch-all solutions isn’t cool. It’s short-sighted. 

Just because a trainer loves running and lost weight doing it, doesn’t mean she should force this exercise on you, if it isn’t right. Likewise, just because another trainer lifts super heavy 4-5x/week for competitions, doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to fall in love with a routine like that too. The point is – and yes, there is a point – you want to work with someone who will stay objective and think outside the box on your behalf.

Never settle. Always demand what you deserve – someone who cares as much about your health and body as you do (if not more)!

 

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

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Frenemies; Exercise Myths That We Hold Onto

From years of training people in the gym, I’ve found that a woman’s devotion to myths about healthy living often becomes her greatest obstacle. Some women may even cling to exercise myths, fearing to test their falsity. I will call this behavior “cray cray” because in truth, these perceptions behave like frenemies. They appear well-intentioned but in reality, they are bent on deceiving you. I said “cray cray” and frenemies in the same sentence…now you know this will be an “interesting” read, haha. So here it goes… 

What's your excuse

Myth #1: “I don’t have time to exercise.”

This is actually the number one excuse for why people say they don’t exercise. Time is not something that multiplies itself. If only, right?! I’m pretty sure we can all say that we’ve used this excuse at one time or another. In fact, my grandmother said it perfectly once….

Grandma: “I hear you haven’t been using your new exercise equipment very much.”

Dad: “Yea, last month got really busy with the business.”

Grandma: “Well, what about this month?”

Dad (with a little uncomfortable chuckle): “This month? We were out of town the first two weekends and last weekend…well, I guess last weekend I was just catching up on some things around the house.”

*Pause*

Grandma: “You know what I hear?”

Dad: “What’s that?”

Grandma: “All I hear are excuses, excuses, excuses!”

‘Nuff said, Grandma! Amen!

If only I had the courage to be as straight-shooting as my Grandma! Love her. I’m sure a few clients would have walked right out the door! Haha. Seriously though, how often do you keep piling excuse upon excuse? The average American watches 5 hours of TV a day and, according to a report from Nielson,

“The average American then spends another 32 minutes a day on time-shifted television, an hour using the Internet on a computer, an hour and seven minutes on a smartphone and two hours, 46 minutes listening to the radio.” 

Ponder the amount of screen time you get on a daily basis and tell me honestly that there isn’t a day or two in the week when you can give it up and enjoy some fresh air (or even stinky, body odor air at the gym…compelling, right?).

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Myth #2: “I have to be in better shape before I go into the gym.” This is something that people think but rarely say out loud.

I have seen this time and time again….and it drives fitness professionals nuts. People will be afraid to come into the gym because they think it’s a place where everyone will be staring at them agape if they’re not trim and toned. Perhaps there are a few snobbish facilities in the world; however, the vast majority of gyms actually exist….get this…to help you! Yes, there will always “that person” trying to show off their six-pack but doesn’t she look just as egotistical as she does impressive? Not to mention most other people are too concerned about how they personally look to notice. And yes, there will always be a few vain trainers who are just interested in lifting weights as often as possible, and staring at themselves in full-length mirrors all day long, but they are in the minority. Whew. Most trainers have solid intentions and genuinely want to help you. Yes, YOU! It takes a lot to “make it” financially as a trainer, and professionals understand this going into the industry, so believe me when I say that these are kind, people-oriented individuals with an interest in serving others.  

Now, before you get scared and say that you don’t wantdon’t need, or can’t afford a trainer (ahem, “excuses, excuses, excuses”), allow me to say that you can approach trainers without having to pay them for a session. Most gyms actually have a trainer walking around the gym during peak hours to assist members. If not, there is likely still a trainer hovering around in between clients. If a trainer is not presently with a client then feel free to approach him/her and ask ANYTHING!

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Why not take a few minutes of a professional’s time? They will be glad to give you a pointer. It’s also in their interest to show you good customer service and share their knowledge. At the end of the day, if you DO decide to purchase a session or two, you might consider reaching out to them first. They know this and thus, will put on a smile!

With regards to the energetic professionals teaching group classes:

Unless you know that a group exercise instructor is also a trainer or health professional, be wary of asking them too many questions outside of the scope of their class format. The advice may be more opinion than anything else. It very much depends person-to-person. If the required knowledge is out of their scope then feel free to ask them if they can introduce you to another fitness employee who works full-time in the field.

All this to say, come to the gym when you’re desperate, have put on weight, feel blue, and want to hide in your closet. It will make you feel better because there are normal people, just like you, there too.

Myth #3: “If I can’t workout a lot then it’s a waste to workout at all.”

You may be in denial at having thought this before but chances are that over 50% of the women reading this blog post have felt that it’s simply too overwhelming to begin a workout program because they think that being in a good routine means exercising every day. Although it’s true that establishing a daily routine can help with exercise adherence, it’s not easy to go from never working out to working out every day.

Believe it or not, you can actually gain health benefits from working out only once a week. Yes, it’s true! You will not become a power lifter or a marathon runner from this routine; however, over time, you will make your nervous system sharper. In plain language, your muscles will better know what to do when it comes to external stimuli which correspond or relate to the task of the exercise you performed. For example, if you’re doing squats and lunges once a week then your body may be more flexible and less prone to injury when lunging across your living room to catch a puppy who just ran away with your socks. Am I the only one who has this problem on a regular basis?! Another example: If you do shoulder press regularly then you will be more capable of lifting a heavy box onto a high shelf or reaching overhead without straining your back or neck.

The first 4-6 weeks of any brand new routine are largely about how the body’s nervous system is responding and adapting. These adaptations happen first before major strength gains. Think of it like a baby learning how to move its legs before crawling or walking. Your body has to learn before it will perform. The more you commit to working out a little bit, the more prepared you will be to ramp up your routine before an important event like a wedding, anniversary, or road race, without getting injured or intimidated.

Please do not let perfectionism or fear get in the way of exercising. Whatever energy you can put in will be better than nothing. There are MANY benefits from ANY exercise. Period.

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Note: To help you plan your routine and make it past February, the following articles will be published soon:

The Nitty Gritty; Secrets that exercise professionals know that you should too.

Let’s HIIT it; What high-intensity training is and how it can help save you time in the gym

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

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References:

http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/average-american-watches-5-hours-tv-day-article-1.1711954

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nervous_system