Published by : Brittney

The Importance of Protein

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As a trainer, I concentrate on muscle toning and cardiac exercise, but there is another dimension to my work. I may need to counsel an overweight client on better nutrition and eating habits. It surprises me that many do not get enough protein. They run out of steam in the middle of the session and we have to take time for the client to rest and gather up additional energy. The gym sells protein powder but most fear weight gain. This is not the case. If you do not ingest enough natural protein, you will burn muscle tissue. So, you must make up for your lack somehow. Many of these powders can be mixed with skim milk or plain water to keep calories at bay. You can opt for protein bars right before your workout. I don’t prefer the extra sugar and carb content, but if it is an emergency, so be it.

This is not a big issue for me as I cook for myself in my small but well-organized kitchen. I prep my meals in advance and include a generous portion of protein either in the form of meat, chicken, or fish. I have the greatest new touchless faucet from, so it is easy to hold something in one hand and activate the faucet without dropping what is in the other. It makes for faster prepping as I don’t have to put things down to turn the faucet on and off. You can’t just let it run and waste water—not to mention pump up your water bill. In fact, when I work with meat or poultry, I do not want to touch the faucet with dirty raw meat hands. Then I simply must drop everything and clean it. This is one of the great rules of working in the kitchen. It also applies to cutting boards (especially wood) and countertops. It is an obligation of cooks who want to keep themselves and their families healthy. Salmonella can enter on little cat feet—sneakily so to speak. You must keep after it.

It is a godsend to have a touchless sensor kitchen faucet and it was well worth the expenditure. Have you seen the great design? I hated having an old one that had no special features. The problem is that most faucets last for years and it is hard to justify the expense of replacement. Getting a water filter is a good one.  Once I saw the ad on TV however, I was hooked. I saw myself juggling ingredients for my meals and coping easily with the new style faucet. I think they look best in polished chrome. Why not match it to your cabinet pulls? Coordination is now completely possible with the new appliance finishes. Ultra-modern and sleek are the bywords of the industry. Designers are working overtime to give us a reason to spend. It is a must in this day and age to have a well-appointed kitchen.

Take Care of Your Feet

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Trainers should have a good solid background, but you can always pick up various tips and tricks. They come from what you read, hear in the wind, other colleagues and clients. There is so much to know and while I focus on exercise and nutrition, I recently have gotten into the benefits of massage. Most of you no doubt have enjoyed a great Swedish, Thai, Lymphatic, Prenatal, Sports, Soft Tissue, or Shiatsu one. What people don’t focus on much are the feet. They get a pounding all day and good shoes are a must. Athletes know about good fit. It helps them take a healthy stride. They also know about foot massage, aromatherapy, special lotions and exfoliating agents. It is an entire field dedicated to keeping sports and exercise routines going strong.

The same benefits of body massage apply to the feet: relief of soreness, tension, aching, and pinched nerves. You can use any style massage on one area of the body and vary the degree of pressure, stroke, and friction. I love it when the masseuse applies a stimulating cream after the basic technique has been done. Try lavender or peppermint if you want a thrill. I like a citrus or rose hips bath before the massage as well. Those who get pedicures know that exfoliation of dry and dead skin should be a regular treatment. Hot paraffin wax dips are available upon request. You place your feet into a receptacle filled with melted wax and when you remove them, they are coated with a heavenly layer of wax. When it is removed, the skin is soft and smooth as glass. Oils are dissolved in the wax for best effect.

On my own, I have some small foot massaging gadgets. There is a small wood cylinder over while you can roll your tired feet. There are also gel inserts for shoes that come with self-massaging spikes. It is no longer about an old-fashioned foot rub by your hubby or wife. All kinds of products make the experience divine, but here’s a few of my favorite ones: No matter whether you are experiencing kneading, pressure, or the application of warm or cold lotions, the element of touch is what makes a foot massage so pleasing. A professional masseuse or pedicurist knows just what to do and for how long. I suggest at least a half an hour to be tension-relieving. The toes, under arch, heel and pad of the foot are all targets. For me, the harder the better or it isn’t palliative.

Foot powders can also be used for damp and itchy feet after a massage or pedicure. There are well-known brands for athlete’s foot, but I am talking here about simple, scented products. They work best if you wear shoes (with socks preferably). Bare feet, by the way, are going to need a lot more help. Every aspect of foot care restores vitality and energy to the body. This is why I make it a regular routine now.

If you are going to be into fitness, you might as well go all the way. It is not just about diet, exercise, and getting enough sleep. This is certainly vital. It is also about the air pollution that affects our health. It is a surefire way to ruin all the progress we have made. If you are indoors a great deal of the time, and perhaps work in an office with smokers, you are facing a losing battle with second-hand smoke. It steals your life over a long period of time, so get wise and get out. I have words for you, and a helpful plan.

People with asthma and allergies already worry about pollutants and allergens in the air and they take immediate action. They are on the right tract early on. Now it is time to take the smokers head on and kick them out. Stop suffering. I have heard many clients complain that despite the general ban on smoking, many companies still allow it at your desk. They feel that there is a significant reduction in productivity if smokers have to take the elevator down and leave the building. Time slips away. They get to talking to other indulgers and all of a sudden, out comes a second cigarette. No break means bad luck for the rest of us.

Sure, you can change jobs but it is not fair. I know, life isn’t fair, but you have rights. I suggest you get a group of employees together and lobby the boss. Circulate a petition perhaps and get more than 80% of signatures for maximum impact. It could work if you have everyone rally around you.

If you cannot go this route, I have another solution. You can do what I have done at home. I bought a fine air purifier with a HEPA filter. I am told this is the best kind as they do not give off dangerous amounts of ozone. While they are not as energy efficient as other units, they make up for it in the quality of the air that goes through the system. You can install it as a part of your central AC or in the form of a standalone one-room device. If has made a huge difference for me at home. I work with health nuts so it isn’t a problem at work. Thank goodness.

We are what we eat. Are we also the air we breathe? It isn’t a stupid question. I venture to guess that it makes a difference to control your environment for obvious reasons. It doesn’t take up much room or cost very much to change the air quality around you. Keep it on all day and night or just when you wish. I wonder why I waited so long for me to tell you all about it. This should be one of my most positive blogs.

Housecleaning Burns Calories!

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Hey, fitness buffs! Welcome to my blog. I have a surprise for you. Perhaps you did not know that you can burn calories just by vacuuming the house. If you do the dishes and dust, maybe tackle the bathroom and clean out the garage or attic, you can burn even more. What a way to keep in shape and lose pounds. It makes me laugh, too. I wanted to do a study of different activities to compare what they can do for you. It would be a new kind of calorie burn calculator that you could request to be sent to you via my online magazine. We all have the sports and recreational activities version, but not one that includes household chores like cleaning the gutters and raking the leaves.

Remember that just by living for a day you burn calories. Sleeping will use up a couple hundred, too. Add a few tasks and the number goes up and up. When cooking for a half an hour, you can use up 93 calories on average. If you garden, the figure is higher at 167. Washing the car burns 168. Playing a sport will amp up the results to 300 or more. High impact aerobics is toward the top of the list just under basketball, racquetball, swimming and football. Dancing, walking, and yoga come a bit lower. Choose what you like as long as it adds to your total number for the day.

There is a general rule of thumb about weight loss and calories. To lose just one pound, it takes burning 3,500 calories. That is a lot! You start by determining your daily requirement for weight maintenance (usually 2,500), and estimate what you are consuming. If the numbers don’t tally, you clearly need to eat less or exercise more. Don’t forget that men and women burn calories in different ways so it pays to know your own basal metabolic rate. It will reflect your age, sex, and body composition.

Of course, I am all about the exercise. Diet is important, but you need to balance the two. If time is short, remember what I said above about housework. You can shove that vacuum around your carpet and generate some sweat. The heavier the machine, the more calories burned. Often it’s a battle of Bissell vs Hoover. It is an odd way to select a vacuum, but I recommend it. If you follow my advice, I will consider you a true fitness fanatic where every little thing you do counts. If you wear the gadget that totals the steps you take, or check in on Facebook at the gym a lot, you are the perfect candidate. With rampant obesity on the rise, we should all take heed of any tactic that works in dropping weight.

Those who prefer a gym workout are okay with me. There is nothing as satisfying as cross or circuit training followed by a session in the sauna or whirlpool. You can get aching muscles for sure, but you can by vacuuming, too.

I Love My Job

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I have great clients. They can be the best part of the life a personal fitness trainer. They are motivated, interested, and pay attention to what I have to say. I consider myself a kind of teacher of good health and love disseminating information on the benefits of nutrition and exercise. While we all know about the importance of eating right and gym workouts, some just pay lip service to it. I am a constant reminder in this blog of keeping the wheel of health turning. I want you to be the best you can be. It takes some vigilance and supervision, so here I am. Get up and start moving!

It is fun to let you know about the daily life of a trainer in this blog. If you are in the business, you can share experiences. If not, you may want to take on this role at some point to help others. I can’t stress how important it is to maintain good relationships with your clients. They are the lifeblood of your business. Some really stand out. For example, I have a new one who brings a heavy backpack full of workout clothing and gear. I wonder why he wants to tote it all back and forth. I can see that it has affected his stress levels and most of all his back. He is close to the point of real injury and I need to talk to him about this. Here is an example of counseling at work.

I sat him down and gave him my best “listen to me” look. I talked about the dangers of overloading the back muscles on a continual basis and shared a Facebook page with him that had some more tips. He could either make the backpack lighter or carry it in a better way. He understood but insisted on bringing everything to our sessions nonetheless. I didn’t want to pry any further, but I got my point across. The next time I saw him, the backpack was significantly lighter and he was not straining under the effort. I praised his good sense and suggested a series of massages to relieve the sore muscles.

After another week passed, I had a session with my client during which I noticed that he did not wince when we performed certain exercises. The massages had worked wonders. Now that he was in better shape, having a lighter backpack would not do further damage. I always wondered, however, what on earth had been in that tote. When he went to get a towel, I took a quick, sneaky peek. There were some small weights inside, the kind you use to tone up the arms. We had them in the gym, of course, and he didn’t need another set. I was nonplussed. Why carry something that will destroy your back if you don’t have to. I had to say something.

Upon his return, I gave him a lecture and made him remove the weights immediately. He complied with a smile, and we proceeded to have our session.

Hit the Ground Running

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Blogs should be helpful, not preachy. I pride myself on offering information on health with a focus on personal fitness routines, proper techniques, and the use of various equipment for different types of workouts. If you are a newbie or a fitness buff, I hope you will find my advice of use. My goal is to get everyone off the couch and feeling in tip-top shape. Today I want to talk about how exercise can improve your energy level and help you sleep better. I got the idea after seeing a blog post on Be Right Light about it. After all, getting rest is the key to productivity and results.

Exercise is a vast category. It includes sports of all types, circuit training at the gym, jogging or fast walking, and even dancing. I have a friend who tap dances and swears by it to lose weight and tone up. There is a song that goes:

Brush, brush, brush ball change

Moving to the right

Brush, brush, brush ball change

You can do it day or night

Whenever you feel like napping

Get up and start in tapping

Better than any diet

C’mon, get up and try it

After you stop laughing, consider the truth of these words. Find a dance class easily at the community center or a local college and broaden your horizons. I hear people complain all the time that they are tired of their workout routine and adjusting all the machines at the gym to get just the right weight. Trainers are there to help, but if you are really souring on your regimen, add a bit of cardio to it in the form of dancing. Tap is for any age or body type. People do it in their nineties! If you didn’t start as a child, as most people do, it is never too late. I hear that an evening dance class—even ballroom or salsa—will tire you out enough to help you fall asleep quickly. You will enjoy a deeper sleep if your muscles have been active.

Nutrition is also important. Eating well makes you healthier and sets your body rhythms in proper motion. Socializing is recommended for those with insomnia. Having friends and going on outings breaks the monotony of life. Together with exercise, all these factors influence one’s ability to sleep enough hours to feel refreshed. What works against you is watching too much TV late at night, talking on your cell phone, or reading texts and emails. It is vital to turn off the lights well before bedtime and get that mobile device out of sight. Don’t rev yourself up before you try to nod off by thinking about everything you did that day or want to do tomorrow.

One of the biggest complaints I hear from clients is fatigue from lack of sleep. You won’t have enough energy if you don’t have a regular pattern. Go to bed at roughly the same time every night and you will notice the difference. Use a comfortable pillow and a blanket to keep warm. If you are cold, you are likely to stay awake.

A good trainer has to mix things up now and then. It is not good to get stuck doing the same old thing. It is a sign of inherent laziness. Trainers must be up to date and stay on their toes with trends. We plan regimens for particular clients and do cross and circuit training to make things interesting; but people get tired of boring repetition. The body likes to move in new ways so you must get creative. It also gets into a nice groove when doing prescribed regular exercises, so changing the momentum is not always indicated. A careful trainer knows just when to add and subtract techniques. You want to be sure to cover all the bases and address toning and strengthening all the areas that need attention such as the legs, core, and upper body. Change for the sake of change is not a good practice. It is novelty for its own sake and not for a real purpose.

I listen to clients and they tell me where it hurts and when I need to stop and adjust the routine. I also hear what works and is successful. I get my best ideas from other people. For example, I worked with a regular who loves basketball and talks about it incessantly. I started to take a closer look at the game and homed in on particular moves. I wanted to incorporate the way the body looks on the court into my training regime. I can modify certain types of jumping and twisting elements from the sport that will work wonders for the client. I might even use these techniques on others. It makes a good story to tell people about the origin of their exercises.

There is also a lot of reaching up in basketball and quick action spurts and stops. I am working on adding to my new regime as I listen to the clients’ response. Minor adjustments can make a movement more suitable for someone with particular needs. We all want to focus on certain parts of the body first and foremost, but I believe in workouts that address the entire being. Thus, basketball moves are part of a more comprehensive plan. I often incorporate an outdoor basketball (source), such as when teaching a series of moves called wood chopper. Standing tall with feet apart, the client holds the basketball with two hands, bending the knees to strengthen the thighs. He or she then moves the ball with straight arms to the lower right followed by a sharp movement upward to the left. The head follows the direction of the arms. You are working out three areas of the body at the same time. You are pulling in the core as you reach with the arms, toning them in the process. The thighs get a lot of the benefit.

Exercise is a way of life and it pays to make it fun and interesting. If sports movements do the job, so be it.

Fun Day at Work (NOT!)

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A full-fledged router table is a glorious thing. I got to see one close-up in my gym when the owner decided to put in some wood shelving. I am glad that I liked the thing because all the noise was irritating my clients. As a fitness trainer, I can’t have stress in the workplace. The clients may not return. A workout must be a pleasant experience, not one punctuated by loud, woodworking noises. I must say that the table is impressive—a user-friendly and powerful package of everything you need to work with wood except the lumber. It is a one-stop shop that includes a robust motor that will cut through just about anything nature has to offer. The craftsman brought in for the shelving job said a good router table is vital to effect clean and accurate work. It is a clean working surface to be loaded with tools. He told me you can adjust the cutting depth even to microfine levels and then wrote down this web site: Maybe this was too much information. Yes, I liked the table, but no I did not like the noise pollution it created. All I could think about during my training sessions that day was be gone wrenches, dust guards, miter gauge, and assorted woodworking hardware.

At first, before the noise went on and on, I actually wanted to try my hand at woodworking as I was fascinated by all the tools. I wanted to know if the woodworker could do more than simple shelves. Surely you could make more artistic artifacts. But my mind quickly went back to the training at hand. I tried to interest them in the fascinating ability of the router table to construct something useful, but it didn’t work. I went home frustrated and tired. I was worried that I would confront all the noise and dust the next day. I woke up with some anxiety and made my way to the gym. It was early and yet the router table was still there. Would I be able to survive another day? The answer was apparently yes as the craftsman was not yet in place. The shelves had been mounted during the night. Maybe word got out about all the fuss and bother. I felt a little guilty about making the guy work overtime late into the night, but it was for the best.

About noon, the craftsman showed up to remove his table and place it in another part of the gym where he was going to build more shelves to hold our giant plastic balls. He made a lovely rack decorated with pegs for the stretching ropes and belts. As a trainer, I was going to like this new organization. It would keep things off the floor and out of the way of clients. Now we had room to put down yoga mats for floor work. I no longer had a grudge against the craftsman and his ingenious router table. Rather, I praise him to the skies.

Working out at the gym is great. Having equipment at home so you can roll out of bed and onto the treadmill is great, too. But there are days when that stuff just isn’t going to happen. Especially when you have clients who are not used to exercising, you need to make fitness accessible. I have found a few things to show clients that can really help in that regard!

First, remind them that going for a brisk walk counts!  Even if it is for only 20 minutes, that’s better than sitting on the couch. Running is possibly better, but depending on how fast your client can run and how long they can sustain it, walking might be the way to go. All they need is a good pair of shoes. I have been known to do laps around my coffee table during commercial breaks and run laps around my house when the weather is bad. Even walking in place is OK, especially if you modify it with some high knees, kicks, or side stepping. Get creative!

Second, set them up with a routine to do. The less fuss, the better. I prefer to do timed circuits because as my client improves they naturally increase their reps of each activity. The more repetitive it is, the more likely they will remember the routine—so don’t pack too many exercises into it. Establish your client’s athletic ability (jump lunges are not for everyone!) and find out how long the client wants the routine to be. I usually ask what they want to accomplish because it can guide me in choosing the activities. When doing so, I remind them that some of the results that they are looking for cannot be accomplished in 10 minutes a day!

Some good non-equipment exercises:

  • Just about everyone already knows how to do these. Just check their form to correct any deficiencies first. But you can’t beat a pushup for upper arm and core strength!
  • Walk Out. I love these. The client gets on all fours, hands and feet on the ground a foot or so apart, knees straight. Then “walk” the hands forward until you are in the plank position. These are so great for your abs.
  • These are especially good for those who are not great at pushups. Have your client hold the pose longer each time to continue building strength.
  • Jumping Jacks. This is another one most clients probably already know how to do. They are great for a burst of cardio in between strength sessions.
  • These are so awesome for toning legs. Make sure that your client has proper form and that the front knee stays behind their toes.
  • Reverse Lunge. Some say these are safer because your momentum doesn’t sit on your front knee. If you client is struggling with proper form, this might be a better option.
  • Walking Lunge. Little harder. Fun variation on the lunge, gets you moving more and adds a little cardio.
  • Jumping Lunge. These are more challenging but can do wonders for your leg muscles! Again, a great way to add cardio to a strength session.
  • Side Lunge. Get the inner thigh involved too!
  • If you want a great butt, do squats. This is something else they probably know how to do, just make sure they’re doing it right so they don’t hurt themselves.
  • Jump Squats. If they have squats down, do jump squats. Sneaky way to pack some cardio in.
  • Some clients like these because you’re on the ground the whole time. Make sure that they are creating a straight line from knee to shoulder before coming down.

Pick a few exercises from the list and create a routine. Determine an appropriate amount of time or reps needed to complete the workout, run it by your client and get them started! If you’ve got other go to exercises, send me a line and let me know. Maybe I’ll add it to the list!

Be a Tortoise.

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That seems like a weird title for a fitness article, right? I’m telling you to go slow! I can hear you right now—Brittney, that goes against everything I know about fitness. But especially for my newly converted couch potatoes, I really want you to be the tortoise and not the hare. Let me explain:

When we decide on a new activity, we tend to throw ourselves in wholeheartedly. Friends, that may seem like a great way to start but it will backfire. Especially in fitness! There is so much enthusiasm at the beginning. As trainers, it is super hard for us not to get caught up in that energy and want to push our clients right away. I know that one of my goals is always to get the client some results right away. Results get returns, right? If they see something improving, people tend to come back to the gym. And aside from me getting paid for the repeat business, I love seeing people feeling good about themselves.

But, folks, we’re doing our clients and ourselves a big disservice.

First of all, there are the finances. Some people join a gym and sign those long-term contracts. Then they realize that the gym is too crowded for them to use the equipment they want when they actually have time to go. Maybe they realize that gym—which is close to their house—is actually in the opposite direction to work, and they end up stuck in miserable traffic every morning or evening. Or they buy a bunch of equipment in an attempt to really buckle down at home and then after a few weeks, realize it doesn’t target what they want, doesn’t deliver on what it promisedor is too complicated. Sometimes people try things because others do and it turns out not to be for them. I have known people who jump headlong into whatever the newest fitness class is or whatever the latest home gym equipment is only to find out that they hate it. All these things are a waste of money for them. They feel discouraged and embarrassed. They don’t have the resources at that point to find a better gym or a new piece of equipment. Fitness falls by the wayside, equipment gathers dust, whatever. The point is, they quit too early.

The other issue is more serious. When you jump into something without learning the proper techniques or letting your body adjust to the new activity level, you are setting yourself up for an injury. This is something I always need to remind myself and my clients. Just about anybody can do a huge amount of mountain climbers in a day. But is that good for you? How are you going to feel the next day? Nobody should be going from sitting on the couch every day to running a marathon. It just doesn’t work like that. As trainers, we have to teach people to do the exercises and stretches correctly, gradually increasing their fitness levels. As a workout fan, it is hard for me to do that. I always want to jump right in and see how far I can push myself! A lot of my new clients are the same way. But if we aren’t teaching them basic skills and strengthening their heart, lungs, and other muscles, they are not going to last. They will get injured or be too sore. They will grow resentful and burnt out. That does not sustain a healthy attitude toward fitness.

So like I said at the beginning, friends. Be a tortoise. Start slowly. Try a few gyms or different types of classes. Borrow a few workout DVDs from the library before you commit to a program. Buy equipment that can handle more than one type of exercise to avoid boredom. Start out slow. Then add more time, more frequency toget to the results you want!

Just like teachers and homework, fitness trainers hear just about every excuse in the book as to why a client either isn’t pushing themselves or skips a session. I decided to combine the three most common excuses I hear and how I combat them with my clients. I am hoping that you will have some success with these when you use them on your own clients or to help yourself continue to work toward your fitness goals.

  1. I don’t have time. There are different ways to pack some workouts in, even on busy work days! For example, when I know I am going to have a wall-to-wall day without my usual time to work out, I have a few tricks. I either sleep in my gym clothes or lay them out right next to the bed. It conditions my brain to say, “Game on!” the minute my feet hit the floor and stops me from hitting the snooze button. Sometimes I’ll get up 15 minutes earlier and do a quick routine like the ones listed here. I know you can find 15 minutes! I advise other clients to walk up and down some stairs at their office or take a walk around outside if it is a nice day during their lunch break. You can even incorporate fitness into your chores. Maybe take the dog for a longer walk when you get home. If you have to clean, put on some fast-paced music and dance! If there’s nobody to watch your kids, include them! Drag them away from the tv and play a game of tag or some basketball. Go to the playground with them and actually PLAY, don’t sit on a bench and look at your phone. Remind your clients (and yourself), that there is no rule saying that you need to get all of your activity in one block of time! Do some reps in between commercials of your favorite shows. Sometimes I’ll even do laps around the coffee table!If you actually look for the time, you’ll find it!
  2. I don’t see results. As a trainer, this one drives me crazy. This is why we take measurements in the first place—fat weighs more than muscle so sometimes clients actually think they are gaining weight, even though they are dropping inches. But there could be a few reasons for this. Usually, I tell clients to chart their eating and sleeping for a few days and then we look it over to see if something can be improved. They are likely consuming too many calories. With a few tweaks to their diet, they are off and running again. Another reason, especially for people who are doing things on their own, is that they stop challenging themselves. They have to either add more reps or time, or they need to make the work harder. That should set them back up for success.
  3. I just don’t like to work out. I hear this one a lot and I totally understand! Some stuff can be boring! But fitness isn’t all about weight training, or running on a treadmill, or whatever you think it is. It’s also a regularly scheduled basketball game with friends. It’s walking laps around the mall with a buddy before the stores open. It’s taking a bike ride with your kids. A run with your dog. Gardening. Dance lessons with a romantic partner. It can be any physical activity that you like to do! I have so many clients who tell me that they were more fit as kids and I remind them why—we all played on playgrounds or ran around the neighborhood with our friends. We were having so much fun that we didn’t realize we were doing physical activity! I encourage clients to talk about what they like to do so that we can find something that they will really enjoy—and stick with!

There you have it. An answer for some of the most common workout excuses I hear. I hope these tips help! If you have other methods or hear different complaints from your clients, put them in the comments. We’ll get a useful reference list going!

Taking Measurements with Calipers

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The first time you take body measurements for someone can be nerve-wracking or upsetting for the client. They are so important, though! Both the trainer and clients need to have a good idea of where they are starting at. It helps to motivate and point out improvements when your clients don’t think they are getting anywhere. Where I work, we do three measurements: a scale, tape measure, and then calipers.

Today I just want to focus on the calipers. Personally, I think that one is the most humiliating. We have a rule here at our gym, and it is that female trainers always do female clients, the men deal with the males. Makes everyone a little more comfortable.

Always, always use the same side of the body. I use the right side. The site of your measurement will dictate how you make the folds, but apply the calipers about a quarter inch from your fingers. You also need to wait a couple of seconds after applying the calipers to be sure that they have the correct reading. I do each measurement at least twice to make sure that they are approximately the same number, giving the body about 15-30 seconds to go back to shape in between before I make the fold again.

I know places that take seven measurements but here we do four. My boss is fond of the Jackson/Pollack method. Here’s what we do:

I like to start with the triceps. The goal is to find the center of the arm. First I find the midpoint between their shoulder and elbow. Then I determine where the center of that point is. I make a vertical fold there and take the measurement.

Then we do the abdominal area. People tend to hate this one. I tend to go an inch to the right of the person’s belly button. It is a horizontal fold and it is one of the easier places to measure in my opinion.

Next is the hip measurement. I usually have clients bend to the side away from me so that I can find the top of their hip joint. This fold is made on an angle of approximately 45 degrees, following the natural fold of the body.

The last measurement I take is in the thigh area. You have the client shift their weight to their left leg for the measurement. I locate the center point of their thigh between hip and knee. The fold is vertical again, as close to the center as you can.

Once you have all the measurements, you have to use a formula to come up with the correct % of body fat. You can also use the American Council on Exercise’s calculator, which does the computing for you. Math was never my favorite subject anyway! It gets everything done faster for the client so we can move on to talking about what the numbers mean and formulate a plan of attack for what we want to do.

I always remind my client that these numbers don’t define them. It just helps us focus our energies on the things that will most benefit them!

How Fitness and I Became Friends

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My clients often want to hear why I got into fitness training. I really think that being honest with clients can really establish a good relationship, although I sort of wish I had a better story! Maybe one like Jillian Michaels, something inspiring. But really, I have my family to thank for my love of physical activity and my profession as well.

To put it kindly, my parents were just big fans of physical activity. My dad is a high school basketball coach and my mom ran track all through school. We were that family always outdoors on the weekends—biking together, on the trails, swimming. The fitness bug caught on with all three children as well. My older brother took after my dad, got a basketball scholarship for college, and is now a semi-pro coach. My baby sister is still in college and thinking of going into sports medicine. I think she will make an excellent physical therapist one day

Then there’s me. I started ballet when I was five and fell in love. I branched out into other styles and danced right up through my senior year. It was a great way to stay in shape, express myself, and make friends. It even paid off financially for me. I had a part-time job all through high school at the dance studio,helping instructors with the younger girls. I really thought I had found my calling in life. When I headed off to college—studying dance, naturally—I struggled a bit with the new level of competition. Some of these girls were like tiny angels who glided on their feet. I felt huge and awkward next to them. I started avoiding some of my classes. My advisor recommended that I do some light weight training to get stronger and build more lean muscle over the winter break of my freshman year. Eager to do something unrelated to dance, I joined a gym the day after classes ended.

When I walked in, the only way to describe it is that it felt like home. Everyone was so warm and friendly! I was matched up with a wonderful personal trainer. He answered every one of my questions and developed a routine that would help improve my flexibility and develop lean muscle. He found exercises that I could do back in my dorm room with little equipment or space. I went back in the spring feeling better about myself and my abilities but my heart was no longer in dance. I switched my major to physical education and vowed to become a great personal trainer. I haven’t looked back since!

How about you? How did you become friends with fitness?