Husband-and-wife celebrity trainers, Chris and Heidi Powell, give new meaning to the term “power couple”. The dynamic duo makes writing books, hosting TV shows, creating workout apps and raising four kids — all while staying ridiculously fit — look like child’s play. The couple are probably best known as the former hosts of ABC’s “Extreme Weight Loss”, where they coached and coaxed dozens of contestants to reach and maintain unimaginable weight-loss goals. Now, they’ve translated their life-changing weight-loss regimen from show into a new iPhone and Android app they’ve aptly named Transform.
We met up with Chris and Heidi at studio in New York City to pick their brains about the things they wish their clients — both virtual and in-person — knew about how to lose weight and keep it off. And here’s the thing: Yes, they’ve made their bones (and killer abs) in the gym, but some of their best get-fit advice is all about what you need to do before you even lace up your sneakers. Here are five things they want you to know about how to shed those extra pounds — for good.
- How to get the chiseled six pack abs of your dreams
- 1. Weight Loss (and Better Health) Begins With Water
- 2. A Toned Body is Made in the Kitchen, Not the Gym
- I Didn’t Need to Hire A Personal Trainer to Lose Weight!
- 1. Savor Single Servings and Strength Workouts
- 2. Do Fasted Cardio
- 3. Keep it Simple
- 4. Focus on Nutrition
- 5. Track Your Food and Up Your Intensity
- 6. Make Small Tweaks
- 7. Go for a Lifestyle Approach
- 10 Reasons You’re Afraid to Hire a Personal Trainer
- Lacey Stone
- Anna Victoria
- Dyan Tsiumus
- Dell Farrell
- Kelley Coffey
- Kimberly Mills
- Erica Lugo
- Maximizing Success With Online Personal Training
- Frequently Asked Questions About Virtual Personal Training
- Should you hire an online personal trainer?
- Will an online personal trainer help me lose weight?
- Is online fitness coaching effective?
- Does online personal training work?
- How do I find an online personal trainer?
- What is virtual personal training?
- Why should I try online personal training?
- How much is online personal training?
- What are the benefits of online personal training and fitness coaching?
- Choosing The Best Online Personal Trainer For You
- The Best Online Personal Trainer App
- Do I Need a Personal Trainer to Lose Weight?
- What Does A Personal Trainer Do For You?
- How To Know If You Have A Good Personal Trainer?
- How Often Should You See A Personal Trainer?
- How Long Should You Have A Personal Trainer?
- So, do you really need a personal trainer to achieve your fitness goals?
- 3 Reasons Your Client Is Not Losing Weight (And What to Do About It)
- What should you do if you have a client like Mrs. Jones?
- Don’t Hire a Personal Trainer Until These Questions Are Answered
- If you want to find a personal trainer that will actually help you reach your goals, then you want to read this article.
- Give Me One Week In Your Inbox…
- 5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Trainer
- 1. How Quickly Will I See Results?
- 2. What Type of Diet Do You Recommend?
- 3. What Type of Workouts Would You Have Me Do?
- 4. What Should I Do For Cardio?
- 5. What Supplements Should I Take?
- The Bottom Line on Personal Trainers
How to get the chiseled six pack abs of your dreams
Jan. 18, 201903:06
1. Weight Loss (and Better Health) Begins With Water
Before you roll your eyes and say, “tell me something I don’t know,” consider this: One in 10 medical consultations for tiredness and fatigue can be attributed to dehydration. If you’re dragging at 7:00 am, how are you going to get up and get your butt to the gym? What’s worse, Chris Powell says, is “the mechanism in our brain that signals thirst is often mistaken for hunger,” which certainly isn’t going to help you win the battle of the bulge. If you have trouble drinking enough water, Powell points to his “10 Gulp Rule” as a surefire way to keep thirst (and cravings) at bay. “Every time a a water bottle touches your lips, drink 10 gulps before putting it down and you’ll be well-hydrated all day long.”
Chris and Heidi Powell, celebrity trainers and creators of the fitness app Transform. Allison Tyler Jones
2. A Toned Body is Made in the Kitchen, Not the Gym
If you’ve read anything about health in the last five years, it has been this: You can’t out-exercise a bad diet. And there a couple of reasons for that. One, exercise — not even an hour of SoulCycle — can compensate for a diet that’s fueled by a nightly dose of Mexican food and margaritas. After all, those 528 calories you burned on the bike are quickly eradicated after two frozen margaritas, which clock in at 760 calories. And here’s that second reason: When we exercise, we tend to use food-based rewards to treat ourselves for a job well-done.
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“It doesn’t matter how many crunches you do; if you’re not eating right, you’re never going to see those abs,” says Heidi Powell. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should scrap that exercise routine for a restrictive low-calorie diet. You just need to pay attention to what’s fueling you — and your workouts. Experts recommend eating a well-balanced diet that features plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole-grains, and lean meats and dairy. “Nutrition drives weight loss and nutrition drives muscle gain,” says Heidi Powell.
I Didn’t Need to Hire A Personal Trainer to Lose Weight!
Last April, I decided it was time for a lifestyle reset. Maintaining my weight seemed nearly impossible, and slowly but surely, my go-to clothes all seemed to have elastic waistbands and lots of stretch.
After an emergency appendectomy, however, I knew something needed to happen. I’ve always been active, but my workout routine was unstructured-I walked 20 to 45 minutes a day and did some weight training here and there as an afterthought. And it had been decades since I counted calories.
I needed a systematic plan that would set me on course for the next 30 years-losing weight, maintaining strength and improving flexibility, while eating healthy food that doesn’t taste like cardboard.
I’d never considered an online training program, but I decided to try it out-I used SHAPE’s Virtual Trainer-and input my measurements. The results revealed that I wasn’t an hourglass, an apple, or a pear-I was a tree trunk! I had a long way to go. It’s been two months, and I’ve been sticking to it. Along the way, I’ve discovered some major benefits of an online program-beyond losing inches and pounds. Here are the top three things that made it easy for me to stay on track:
1. Online Training Benefit #1: Tracking calories is simple online…and no math!
I knew that consistently tracking my food and workouts would help me figure out what changes I needed to make, so I started signing in to the Virtual Trainer every day to input how many calories I consumed and burned. Simply typing in my information was so much easier than carrying around a food journal all day. Plus, it did all the math for me!
2. Online Training Benefit #2: It’s easy to adjust for setbacks
Two weeks into the program, I pushed myself too hard and end up at an orthopedist for knee pain. Then just when I thought it was getting better, I tripped over my laptop plug and end up with leg spasms-and in physical therapy. I couldn’t exercise for two weeks, but instead of throwing in the towel, I logged in and simply adjusted my daily calorie needs accordingly, so it was easy to figure out a diet based on my lowered activity level.
3. Online Training Benefit #3: There’s a built-in support group
As I’ve worked to overcome my knee problems, my online circle of friends has been very supportive and helpful. Shape’s Virtual Trainer has a “virtual” community were we can talk to and support each other. I’m 62, and while I initially thought I was too old for the online fitness world, I realized that age didn’t matter in the virtual community.
It’s been eight weeks since I signed up for Virtual Trainer, and I’ve already lost five pounds and two inches off my waist. I can zip up skirts and pants I haven’t worn in years! I love the compliments I get from my family, and I even inspired my husband to get healthier and drop weight.
But above all, the program has helped me take the necessary steps to re-set my diet and exercise routines so I’ll stay fit and healthy for the next 30 years-and that’s been the biggest reward!
- By Gary Suwannarat as told to Diana Vilibert
Shedding fat and gaining muscle takes some dedication—and not just when it comes to training. While of course strength training, cardio, and yoga can help shape your body and mind, you also need solid sleep and a healthy, sustainable meal plan. That’s especially true if you’re aiming to drop fat fast.
To find out how to get lean in less time, we asked top trainers to share the methods they turn to. Follow their tips, and watch yourself get sculpted.
Just keep in mind: Lowering your body-fat percentage and losing weight takes times, so give yourself a few weeks (or more) to see results.
1. Savor Single Servings and Strength Workouts
“Learning what a serving size is can be extremely important for someone trying to get lean or cut,” says Adrian Williams, C.P.T., training manager at Tone House. The goal is to keep your portions small. Williams does aim for a bigger breakfast, though, often including four whole eggs, one piece of whole-wheat toast, and one avocado. He’ll have a medium-size lunch, like baked salmon with half a sweet potato and a salad. Then he’ll end the day with a small dinner, such as grilled chicken with steamed Brussels sprouts. “Consume a lot of water and avoid white starches, like bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes,” Williams says. “Nutrient-dense foods will be the key factor in providing your body what it needs while consuming fewer calories.”
As for your workouts, stick to strength training, but mix in a little heart-pumping activity, too. “I usually increase the cardio aspect of my strength training if I’m preparing for a competition,” Williams says. “Less rest, timed intervals, medium weight, and a higher rep range”—those are key to getting chiseled.
2. Do Fasted Cardio
“Having just trained for a physique competition, one of the changes you can make to lean out is steady-state cardio in the morning,” says Noam Tamir, C.S.C.S., founder and coach at TS Fitness. Do it on a completely empty stomach or after taking some branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which come in powdered form, just like protein. Depending on your size, goals and fitness level, aim for about 30 to 60 minutes at a walk or light jog, Tamir says. “You want the intensity to be moderate—about 60% of your VO2max—and not for a long duration,” Tamir says. This will help your body utilize fat for fuel more so than carbs. You’ll see the weight melt off faster.
3. Keep it Simple
“Honestly, you’re never going to beat the basics: reduce calories, get sufficient protein, increase your vegetable and water intake, and get extra sleep,” says Dan Trink, C.S.C.S., founder and co-owner of Fortitude Strength Club. For Trink, that protein comes from foods like eggs and grilled chicken. As for water intake, he ups how much he drinks, consuming four to five liters of H2O per day. “Oh, and make sure you’re tan,” he jokes. “Everyone looks more ripped with a tan.”
4. Focus on Nutrition
Shaun Jenkins, C.P.T., senior training manager at Tone House takes a shot (sans alcohol) every morning. He mixes one ounce of apple cider vinegar with water, lemon and Cayenne pepper, and throws it back at 6 a.m. “It’s a great reset for the PH levels,” he says. As for the rest of his slim-down plan, he keeps his protein sources as lean as possible (fish, chicken, and red meat once a week max), eats lots of healthy fats (mostly avocados, at almost every meal), and consumes plenty of fibrous veggies, like sweet potatoes, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts. “Trial-and-error is the best practice in your weight-loss journey,” he says. “And shredding effectively takes time.”
5. Track Your Food and Up Your Intensity
If you don’t write down what you eat in a day—especially when you’re trying to get cut—then that’s your first mistake, says Jared P. Smith, CrossFit Level 2 coach and creator of B.A.M! at NEO U. “Otherwise you may think you’re making changes but you’re really not,” he says. “Personally, if I’m focused on getting leaner, I’ll make sure I’m cutting out sugar as much as possible, as that’s a primary cause of inflammation.” He also ups his hydration.
Smith focuses on muscular endurance (low weights, high reps) during his workouts when he’s trying to lose weight, rather than going for low reps and high weights (the typical approach to building strength). He’ll also combine that lifting technique with CrossFit and HIIT classes. “I’ll do more interval-based endurance workouts consisting of both sprints and longer distances,” says Smith. So if you’re hoping to slim down, try swapping heavy lifting days for conditioning workouts, involving things like the assault bike, ski erg, burpees, or jump rope.
6. Make Small Tweaks
About two to three months before a big event you’re trying to get ripped for, increase the amount of cardio you’re doing—and try to do it in a fasted state, so 20 to 30 minutes right when you wake up, says Marco Paul, CrossFit coach at Brick New York. Try a cardio machine to get it done or do 45 seconds of work, followed by 15 seconds of rest for moves like burpees or jumping jacks.
Also, try to cut back (or stop altogether) on processed sugar, drink more water, and cut sodium to 500 milligrams per week. To round it out, really make sure you hit that sleep goal of seven to eight hours.
7. Go for a Lifestyle Approach
“Training has to be full circle, including structured strength lifts, interval training, long structural sessions, and recovery with mindful practice and yoga,” says Mike Ramirez, CrossFit Level 2 Coach at ICE NYC/CrossFit Below Zero. That also includes sleep and recovery. Ramirez’s favorite longer cardio sessions involve running and a rower. “Slow and steady with some intervals and intensity changes throughout is what I go for,” Ramirez says.
Also, “balance your meals with a handful of protein, two handfuls of veggies, and a quarter palm size of fat,” Ramirez says. You’ll know you’re getting just enough food if your energy stays up, along with your cognitive function and libido.
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10 Reasons You’re Afraid to Hire a Personal Trainer
FitRadarFollow Jul 29, 2019 · 10 min read
Though personal training is more mainstream than ever, there are still plenty of people hesitant to hire a trainer. They worry about the cost, they worry about the pain and they wonder things like: Will I look like a complete idiot? Is my trainer going to torture me? These fears are normal, but you shouldn’t let them stop you from hiring a personal trainer. Learn more about the most common fears and how you can get over them.
- It costs too much
Personal training can be expensive, costing anywhere from $30 an hour to more than $100, depending on where you live and your trainer’s experience. Yes, it costs, but there are plenty of reasons to hire one and it can be a good investment. If you end up with an exercise habit, long-term weight loss and a resource you can turn to for advice, that’s a pretty good pay off.
If budget is an issue, consider these options:
- Semi-Private Training — With this, you may train with around 2–5 people in a very small group setting, often in a circuit training format.
- Small Group Training — This may be a boot camp-style class with a limited number of exercisers and either a flat fee for a series of classes or a fee for individual classes.
- Workout With a Friend — You can also save money by working out with a friend or family member.
- Negotiate with your trainer — Not all trainers will do this, but it’s worth asking.
2. I’m Too Overweight and/or Out of Shape
If it’s been a long time (or ever) since you’ve worked out, hiring a trainer may bring up scary questions:
- What if I can’t do the exercises? — You need time to reconnect with your body in a physical way and that means you may not do the exercises right. Give yourself time to learn the exercises before getting discouraged.
- What if I can’t make it through a workout? — Your trainer’s job is to create workouts that match not just your goals, but what your body can handle. Your trainer will check in with you throughout the workout but, if something feels too challenging, say so. Your trainer needs that information to know when to push and when to back off.
- What if my trainer sees what a fat, lazy slob I really am? — Your train will ask tough questions about your exercise and eating habits, revealing things even your friends or family may not know. You may feel vulnerable revealing those secrets, but your trainer isn’t there to judge you. “Fat, lazy slob” isn’t even crossing his mind…He’s too busy thinking about what he’s going to do to help you reach your goals.
Remember these things:
- You’re stronger than you think you are
- You know more than you think you do
- It gets easier with time and practice
3. I Don’t Know What to Expect
“I’m not doing pushups, or swinging some weird kettledrum…And I’m notjumping up and down until I throw up.” That’s what one new client blurted as soon as she walked in the door. She gave a grudging nod when I asked, “You’ve been watching The Biggest Loser, haven’t you?”
In the absence of experience, you may imagine all kinds of scary things that could happen during your personal training session. But, your trainer isn’t going to make you do anything you aren’t ready for.
What you can to do ease your fears:
- Do your research — Before you hire any old trainer, get recommendations from friends to find trainers in your area that have been vetted and, often, reviewed.
- Express your fears — You can often get instant reassurance by talking about what you’re afraid of. Write down questions before meeting with a trainer — What should you wear? What will you do during the first session? Should you bring your own water or towel?
- Look for warning flags — Look for alarm bells that go off during your first meeting. Did he gloss over important facts about your health history or fail to ask anything at all? Did she say her favorite part of a workout is when her client pukes at the end?
4. I’m Afraid It Will Hurt
“Is this going to hurt?” Well, if you have to ask…
Seriously, exercise shouldn’t cause pain. There will likely be some discomfort, of course, which is true anytime your body does things it isn’t used to. A few things you can expect when you start exercising:
- Burning muscles — It’s normal to feel some burning in your muscles, especially if you’re a beginner or if you’re doing high intensity or high repetition exercises. The burning comes from lactic acid building up as your muscles become fatigued. This is uncomfortable, but it will pass and may become less of a problem as you get stronger.
- The Jello Effect — This is when your body becomes fatigued during an exercise and, as a result, may wobble in an alarming way, much like Jello. This should pass with a rest period, but tell your trainer if you feel very weak and/or unstable. You may need more recovery time.
- Muscles you’ve never felt before — Your body has more than 650 muscles. You won’t work all of them during one workout, but you may feel like you have. It’s normal to feel an exercise everywhere, even in unrelated body parts (e.g., “I think I felt that pushup in my left earlobe.”) As you build strength in the weaker areas of your body, this will be less of an issue.
- Stiffness and soreness — Any new activity can cause soreness within 24–48 hours of your workout. Some soreness is normal and you may find that an anti-inflammatory, a hot bath or a massage can help. However, if you can’t brush your hair/walk down the stairs/breathe without pain, you overdid it. Tell your trainer if you experience excessive soreness so he can scale back on your workouts a bit.
You shouldn’t feel any actual pain, though. Any sharp, stabbing pain in the joints, muscles or connective tissue should get your immediate attention.
5. I’m Afraid of an Injury
This is a healthy fear, but one that shouldn’t stop you from hiring a trainer. Any movement can cause injury and activities that combine a personal trainer, a new exerciser, heavy equipment and moving body parts can up that risk. Your trainer will do everything possible to avoid this, but there’s no guarantee you won’t get hurt. Here’s how to decrease your risk:
- Get a check up — If you’re worried about aggravating an old injury, see your doctor to get clearance.
- Be Honest — As you’re filling out your health history form, which should happen before you start exercising, list any past or current injuries, surgeries, conditions or illnesses. Tell your trainer about any pain you have, any movements that bother you or any exercises that have caused problems in the past.
- Give regular feedback — Complaining is probably the most fun you’ll have during your workout session and you can make it even more useful by being specific. For example, “I hate this exercise,” isn’t quite as helpful as, “I hate this exercise because it really bothers my right shoulder.”
- Be your own advocate — If anything feels wrong during an exercise, stop. Injuries often happen when you work through pain rather than stopping. Some clients are shy about speaking up, often thinking: “Well, he wouldn’t have given me this exercise if he didn’t think I could do it, right?” As brilliant as your trainer may be, he can’t anticipate everything.
6. I Have Trainer Trauma
If you’ve ever left a personal training session crying, limping, crawling and/or vowing to stop payment on your check as soon as you have the strength to lift your phone, you’ve probably had Trainer Trauma.
Like every profession, personal training has its fair share of boneheads. Some may treat your first session like it’s a contest to see how much torture your body can handle. Some do this because they think that’s what every client wants. Others do it because a client may request that kind of workout without realizing how hard it really is. The result is, at best, Trainer Trauma and, at worst, an injury.
For every bad trainer, there are hundreds of good ones, but you may need to approach your new search with a few things in mind:
- Ask for recommendations from friends, family, or trusted websites
- Ask for references — Ask your trainer if you can contact current or previous clients to get the real story
- Look for experience and education — Make sure your trainer has experience training a wide variety of clients and dealing with any injuries or conditions you may have. He should also have an accredited personal training certification.
- Be specific about what you want — When you do meet with your new trainer, tell him about your previous experience with Bad Trainer. What went wrong? What do you want to be different? How could Good Trainer make it up to you?
7. I’m Afraid of Failing
If you’ve tried to lose weight with diets, exercise programs or other failed ventures, you may be afraid of another weight loss failure. Unfortunately, hiring a trainer is no guarantee of success. A trainer can do a lot of things for you — teach you an amazing variety of exercises, challenge you, give you personalized workouts, track your progress and motivate you. What he can’t do is give you what you most need to have to lose weight: A desire to change.
Sometimes, hiring a personal trainer is no different than trying a new diet or a new fitness gadget in the hopes you’ll find something that will finally work. The problem is, no diet or gadget or personal trainer is going to make any difference if you don’t believe that how you’re living is making you more miserable than having to change it.
Having a standing appointment that you’re paying for and an expert to guide you can certainly be motivating, but it’s no talisman against failure. Before you take the plunge, ask yourself why you want to hire a trainer. Good reasons to hire a trainer: You’re not seeing results, you don’t know where to start or you’re stuck in a plateau. Bad reasons to hire a trainer: You want to lose weight fast, you feel pressured by aggressive salespeople, you want the perfect body, or you think a trainer can magically transform you into the kind of person who is motivated to exercise.
8. I’m Afraid of Committing
Hiring a personal trainer is a big commitment and it’s normal to get cold feet. It’s more than just meeting someone for an hour to exercise, you’re also committing:
- Money — You may pay $35-$100 an hour to work with a trainer and that’s a big investment. Look at your budget and figure out how much you can spend before signing up.
- Time — You have your appointment time to deal with, but you also have prep time, drive time and time to workout during the rest of the week. Look at your schedule to make sure you can fit this in.
- Trust — You’re trusting this person with your body, your time and your goals. You should feel comfortable from the very first session. If you’re not at ease from the get-go, go elsewhere.
- Your lifestyle — You’re not just committing to an hour of exercise when you sign up for training, but other aspects of your life as well: Your diet, how you spend your time, how active you are, how you sleep, how you deal with stress, etc. Make sure you’re really ready to change before making the commitment.
9. I’m Afraid of Looking Like an Idiot
When you hire a trainer, you will be expected to do a variety of physical movements and, yes, sometimes these movements will be awkward. Not only that, but your body will have a variety of responses to this physical activity: Sweating, shaking, wobbling or just downright confusing. Some common worries:
- What if I fart? You certainly could and, frankly, it isn’t that uncommon. The best way to deal with it is to laugh it off, saying something like, “I guess I picked the wrong day to eat a can of beans for lunch.”
- Do I stink? — Maybe. But your trainer has inhaled so much body odor, she probably doesn’t even smell it anymore.
- Am I sweating too much? — No. Clients often feel embarrassed when they leave a big pool of sweat on the weight bench. Your trainer is actually quite pleased when you sweat. It means that your body is doing what it’s supposed to: Regulating your body temperature. Go forth and sweat.
- Am I really this uncoordinated? — No, you’re not. You may be quite graceful in real life but, when faced with an exercise that involves your limbs going in different directions, you feel like an idiot. Many exercises feel awkward, exposing the fact that you aren’t perfect and that we all have to practice new things. Having patience, an open mind and a sense of humor will go a long way towards easing your self-consciousness.
10. I’m Afraid I Won’t Like My Trainer
When you’re hiring a trainer, you’re not just looking at someone’s certification, experience and education, you’re also looking at their personality. Most personal trainers can get along with a wide range of people, but not all personalities mesh very well.
Increase your odds of finding the right trainer by thinking about what’s important to you. That might include:
- Gender — If you have a preference for whether you want to work with a male or female, speak up right away.
- Personality — Do you want someone who’s quietly encouraging, or someone more aggressive?
- Training style — Most trainers will adapt to what you want and need, every trainer is different. For example, if you want new, creative workouts, make that clear from the beginning so the trainer doesn’t stick you on the same old machines. Giving your trainer some guidance may save you, and the trainer, from a bad experience.
Most important, speak up if things aren’t going well. You may think your trainer should read your mind but, unless you spell it out, your trainer may have no clue you’re unhappy.
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Let’s be real: No one’s born with six-pack abs and boulder shoulders. Being fit takes work—it doesn’t matter if you’re hiring a personal trainer or you are one.
“Fitness is a long game and the fairest game in town,” Lacey Stone, a Flywheel instructor, creator of the fitness program “8 Weeks to Change,” and a trainer on Khloe Kardashian’s show Revenge Body, tells Women’s Health. “The more you give, the more you get.”
Want proof—and a healthy shot of motivation? Take a look at these before-and-after photos showcasing the weight-loss transformations of seven personal trainers.
Yep, Lacey Stone speaks from experience: Changing your body requires changing how you live your life. “You need to look at it as a lifestyle change if you want to have lasting change,” she says. “Find a workout you love, give yourself time to change your bad eating habits to good, and find a supportive community of people who keep you inspired on your journey.”
Related: ’Khloe Kardashian’s “Revenge Body” Helped Me Lose 50 Pounds—But This Is How I Kept It Off’
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NOT BORN THIS WAY, NOT UNATTAINABLE. Fitness is the fairest game out there, the more you give the more you get. Stop making excuses and start putting in the work. #RebootCamp #8WeeksToChange #PracticeWhatYouPreach #TeamLacey #HardWork #CleanEating
A post shared by Lacey Stone Fitness (@laceystonefitness) on Jun 9, 2016 at 10:30am PDT
Instagram star Anna Victoria, a personal trainer and the creator of The 12-Week Fit Body Guides and the Body Love app, has amassed over a million followers thanks to her refreshingly honest posts—and isn’t afraid to use her personal experience to relate to her fans. But “your self-worth should never be linked to your size or a number on the scale,” she says. “We are always changing and growing and experiencing ups and downs, and you deserve to be happy and love your body through it all. Our ‘transformation’ never really completes and we should always be aiming to improve ourselves in whichever way we see fit. It’s not a bad thing to want to look better, but it is when it’s done at the expense of your mental and emotional health.”
Watch Anna Victoria and other fitfluencers talk about National Workout Buddy Day:
Dyan Tsiumis, the head instructor and director of training at SWERVE Fitness in New York City, has kept off 85 pounds for years now, but she still regularly shares her “transformation” photos with her followers. “My journey will never be ‘done’ because I will have a body as long as I’m alive,” she says. “It’s not as if one day I’ll wake up and say, ‘OK, I’m done!’ Moving and eating are part of life, so how you do it every single day matters. Some days that looks amazing and others, not so much, but I always give my best. I constantly remind myself to appreciate where my body is in the moment.”
Related: 6 Things You’ll Have to Give Up if You Want to Lose Weight FOR GOOD
Dell Farrell became a trainer after gaining 20-plus pounds in college. Through lots of trial and error, she ended up losing all that weight, and then some. “The most important thing I learned during my journey was that consistency comes from building key habits that help you stick to the plan automatically,” she says. “When you make being consistent the easiest option, you will get sustainable fat loss. The bottom line is, you aren’t always going to feel motivated—so build a system that makes you keep going especially when you don’t feel like it.”
After having bariatric surgery, Strong Coffey Personal Training owner Kelly Coffee originally lost more than 160 pounds in just under a year. But then, she gained back more than 60. What eventually stopped the regain, and helped her continue to lose, was throwing out the scale and focusing on self-care. “I have no idea what I weigh, and I hope never to know,” she says. “Knowing what I weigh, and regularly checking in with the scale, are behaviors I associate strongly with dieting, and so it has no place in my care-based life. Screw the number—all that matters is how I feel in my own skin.” In addition to training, she speaks around the country about body-positivity and offers free online workshops like “Why We Sabotage Ourselves.”
After 15 years yo-yo dieting, Kimberly Mills lost 60 pounds in eight months, and has kept the weight off for seven years now. “It was all about mindset,” she says. “Rather than focusing on the outcome (my goal weight), I gradually discovered that focusing on the process and mini goals, such as running my first 5K, was what helped me in being successful in achieving and maintaining my goals for the long term.” In addition to “focusing on small, sustainable changes,” she started working with a personal trainer. Now, she is one—and the proud owner of Fitpossibilities personal training in Missouri.
A personal trainer and the owner of EricaFitLove Studio, Erica Lugo found that carrying a ton of extra weight not only made it hard for her to physically do things, but to be mentally engaged, as well. “Through losing weight, I learned that getting healthy is so much more than walking through the gym doors or cooking vegetables over pasta,” she says. “It’s about changing your mindset to become mentally healthier: how you feel about yourself, how you learn to accept every curve, dimple, and mark is the biggest shift. Sure, I have a healthy body now, but I also have a mind that’s free of comparison, negative self-talk, and limits!”
Ashley Mateo Ashley Mateo is a writer, editor, and UESCA-certified running coach who has contributed to Runner’s World, Bicycling, Women’s Health, Health, Shape, Self, and more.
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Maximizing Success With Online Personal Training
With online personal training, not only do you get a workout program tailored to you at an affordable price, you can have the best fitness trainer online, have the convenience and capability of taking control of your own fitness—and succeeding at it.
Having the best online fitness trainer is not only the most efficient way to work on those goals (and workout), but also the fastest.
With a professional on your side, you are able to sort through the momentary fitness fads and trendy online creations and pick out the stuff that really works.
Access to so much information that is so easily published and reachable can be a bad thing. When it comes to information about health and fitness on the internet today, it‘s definitely hard to tell what is ‘real’ and what is ‘fake’.
A personal trainer can help blur out the background and help the really important information stand out that is customized to your fitness journey.
From week to week, new fad diets pop up, new studies supporting those diets, and a new 2-minute workout that can shed your winter weight. With all this background noise, it is impossible for someone simply looking to get fit to keep up with it.
Wouldn’t it be better to just have an expert, one of the best fitness trainers online, handle all of that for you?
Wouldn‘t you want to put your health in the hands of a professional?
Wouldn‘t it be great if that professional, one of the top online personal trainers, was working on you, about you, and for you?
Letting all of this control go to an educated and trained professional can leave you with empty hands to help you focus all your attention to following a plan they built for you.
Your success can mean maximizing that time working on your plan rather than wasting hours researching one.
Frequently Asked Questions About Virtual Personal Training
Should you hire an online personal trainer?
If you‘re looking for an affordable way to get fit and healthy, as well as have a convenient workout schedule at a click‘s notice, online personal training is for you. Online fitness coaching is fantastic for people of all fitness levels, backgrounds, and who have all kinds of goals.
Will an online personal trainer help me lose weight?
If one of your goals is to lose weight, having an expert in your corner that has the expertise and knowledge to get you there can be extremely effective. Handling weight-loss on your own can be frustrating and dangerous, but hiring a personal trainer can help you lose the weight—and keep it off in a safe way.
Is online fitness coaching effective?
Absolutely. Although it is an emerging trend at the moment, online fitness coaching is not simply another health fad. We are only beginning to realize the vast benefits online coaching offers as more and more people transition their workouts online.
Does online personal training work?
If you are a skeptic of this new method of personal training, just know this: with online personal training, you will have access to a certified expert, building a customized program just for you. This trainer will be with you, coaching you every step of the way—who wouldn‘t want that?
How do I find an online personal trainer?
You can easily scroll back up, close your eyes, and choose whichever trainer your eyes land on. Any of our trainers on this list can help you on your fitness journey. A match made in personal training heaven.
What is virtual personal training?
We want to show you how to utilize technology for good. Working digitally with a real personal trainer can be that gateway to a real-life relationship using a virtual medium to bring you convenience and effectivity, all online.
Why should I try online personal training?
Not only is having a personal trainer online play to a convenience factor, having an expert a phone call, text or video chat away is a fast and effective way to help reach your goals.
How much is online personal training?
Some of the best virtual personal trainers out there may run you about a couple hundred a month—depending on how often or how deeply they get involved in your fitness journey. Trainiac, however, will only cost you $50!
What are the benefits of online personal training and fitness coaching?
With customized workouts that are tailored to your fitness goals and needs from a trainer that you‘ve hand-selected, success isn‘t just in your immediate future—it‘s inevitable. Online personal training and fitness coaching offers you a convenient, affordable, and accountable way of tackling those fitness and health goals.
Choosing The Best Online Personal Trainer For You
Certain things that you should take into consideration are:
- Certifications: What sort of prior training does the trainer have? There are multiple different licenses, certifications, and degrees you can have to be certified as a personal trainer.
- Specializations: You might have some sort of injury that you have to work around or if you are part of a specific population, a personal trainer that is learned in a specialization can help. Especially if you need a customized workout plan, getting a trainer that is specialized in your specific needs can make the partnership a lot easier.
- Personality: Although the trainer might be completely qualified for the job at hand, your trainer‘s personality actually can make a huge difference in your fitness journey. You might have the best trainer in the world but if you don‘t vibe with him or her, it simply won‘t work out (literally).
- Communication: One thing that really sets an online trainer apart from a traditional, in-the-gym trainer is the fact that in most cases, an online trainer can be reached much easier than a traditional one. With apps like Trainiac, you can order a package where you have unlimited access to your trainer whenever you need them. However, if that‘s not so important you, this might not mean much. Communication inside the gym and relaying your goals and feelings during a workout may mean more to you.
- Trust: You‘re taking control of your life, your fitness, and your health. Hiring the best online fitness coach and trainer is sharing that responsibility and trusting someone to guide you through your journey. Do you trust that this is the right trainer?
To help with choosing the best online personal trainer for you, reach out to several trainers when trying to find an online fitness coach.
After you reach out, see how they respond to you. Your initial reaction and impression of the trainer can help dictate or you see how the relationship is going to go.
The Best Online Personal Trainer App
With so many trainer apps out there, how do you know which is best for you?
A word of caution—some apps claim to offer “personal training”. However, there are some of those personal training apps that only offer pre-made, cookie-cutter programs that are applicable to the general population and not personally tailored to your fitness journey.
However, there are some good apps, like Aaptiv, that can be high-quality training—but nothing beats the personalized training app that offers one-on-one coaching.
Trainiac Personal Training
As one of the first online personal training apps that offer one-on-one training with a highly-qualified, certified personal trainer, Trainiac works with the client or the user asynchronously.
Offering a personalized, customized, and tailored workout plan for you and only you, you‘ll have the opportunity to work with a personal trainer on your own time.
With organization, communication, and assessment all done in one place, Trainiac also offers the simplicity of logging on in one place and having everything you need.
You can try it out for yourself, free, for two weeks if you want to see if the app and the trainer are right for you.
As well as this, he advises dieters to find an activity that suits them best, such as “boxing, football, gardening or cycling” which they can fit into their usual routine.
Michelle Keegan recently revealed the secret behind her bikini body, and like Courtney she agreed doing physical activities which she enjoys helped to keep her in shape.
Speaking in a recent interview, the former Coronation Street star said; ‘“Find something active that you enjoy so that it doesn’t become a chore! I love taking my dog for long walks. Do exercise with a friend! That way, you can spur each other on.”
The actress also doesn’t believe in overdoing exercise and instead likes to set herself small doable targets.
She continued: “Don’t overly push yourself. I only set myself a target to spend 45 minutes in the gym and then, I’m done. I think it is important to do everything in moderation.
“Set yourself a realistic goal so that you have something to work towards.”
Courtney Fearon is a Master Trainer at Sweat by BXR, which launched its first standalone studio in Canary Wharf in September 2019. Courtney will be hosting classes at Canary Wharf’s resident strength and wellbeing festival founded by Carli Wheatley – Strong Island 2.0. The festival is an ongoing programme of new and unique health and fitness classes scheduled throughout September and October at various locations on the Canary Wharf estate. For more information and tickets visit www.canarywharf.com
Do I Need a Personal Trainer to Lose Weight?
Written by definehealth on 30.01.2019. Posted in Blog
Put simply, the answer is no. In order to lose weight, you need to eat in a calorie deficit. This means, the total energy you consume through eating and drinking, needs to be less than the total energy your body uses. Our bodies use energy simply by existing and keeping us alive, however we also use energy through our general day to day activities, our work and of course, our exercise. And this is where a personal trainer can help you lose weight.
What Does A Personal Trainer Do For You?
◙ They customised an exercise program for you.
So many companies provide a one size fits all approach to fitness; classes designed to ‘make you sweat’ and ‘get your heart rate through the roof’ may be fun for a time, they may even get you some results in the short term, however if you are looking for long term, sustainable results, then the best way to do this is with a program that has been designed specifically for you. These programs should be written based upon how you move, your strengths, your weaknesses, and you current abilities in the gym. For example, can you perform a full range squat? Can you pick up a bar safely?
Once you get past the basics, your program should then become even more specific with some testing protocols introduced that you can then come back to and re test. One of the most common ways to test, is through 1 rm, 3rm and 5rm efforts. This will enable the person writing your program to know exactly which exercises you should be doing, how many reps and sets you should be doing, of said exercises and of course, at what weight you should be performing these exercises at.
From there, the key is progression. If your goal is losing weight, then the focus should be on building as much muscle as possible so that your body is burning as much fat as possible when you are not in the gym training. This will allow you to get long term, sustainable results. Rather than results that come and go.
◙ They teach you correct forms and techniques.
Again, so many companies offer a one size fits all approach ‘lets get as many numbers through the door as we can to optimise profit’ that they are taking away the most important role or a trainer; to teach clients how to safely and effectively implement the movements that will get them to their end goal in the fastest possible way.
Too often we hear ‘I stopped squatting because my knees hurt’ or ‘I stopped deadlifting because my back hurts’. Strength training is not only the best way to get fat loss results, it’s also the best way to prevent injuries. A strong back is not a back that injuries easily. Strong legs should mean strong knees. If you are taught how to lift properly, not only will your fat loss results come faster, your overall quality of life will improve.
◙ They help you set realistic goals.
We have been in this industry for 10+ years. Our trainers and coaches have over 50 years combined experience. This means we have a pretty good idea of what is achievable and what is only going to lead to disappointment. Having goals that are sustainable, measurable, achievable, realistic and have a time frame attached to them, not only gives you, the client, really good drive and direction, it also helps you to feel really good about the progress you are making. It will allow you to implement changes to your lifestyle that you can maintain, so that when you do reach your goals, you keep them, you don’t go backwards. Furthermore, if you have goals that are unrealistic, you might be doing so well, however because you are not achieving the goals you have set, you feel as though you are failing. If you feel like you are failing, chances are, you won’t want to continue pushing toward that goal.
◙ They challenge you to push your limit.
Find a good gym, and it won’t just be the trainer doing this, it will be all the trainers in the gym as well as EVERYONE in the gym. A good environment breeds success. Sometimes in order to improve, to progress, it’s going to be hard. If you surround yourself by people in the same position as you, by people who succeed if you succeed, by people who want to encourage you and see you do your absolute best, then it’s going to be so much easier to be your absolute best.
How To Know If You Have A Good Personal Trainer?
They care more about you, than they do themselves. When you are in the process of finding a good personal trainer, make sure they first sit down with you, talk about your exercise history, injuries and ask you about your goals. From there, I would expect them to explain how they can help you achieve these goals and map out a plan that will help you get there.
◙ They hold a degree and certifications.
Any personal trainer you find should have a cert III and cert IV in fitness as a bare minimum. If this is their only degree, then make sure they have done further studies (rehab courses, strength and condition coaching etc) as well as have some good experience in the industry. If they are new to the industry, make sure they have some form of mentor.
Anyone who has a degree in sports science or exercise physiology SHOULD be worth your time and money, although I am sure there are some outliers here, as there is with all professions.
◙ They perform assessments.
One you have sat down and spoken about your training history, injury history and mapped out your goals, the next step should be an exercise assessment to see exactly what you can and cannot do in the gym. This will allow the trainer/coach to get an idea of what kind of training you need to do to get to your goals in the fastest and safest manner.
◙ They are happy to answer questions.
Make sure you ask questions. Why are we doing this? What’s the next step? How does this help?
◙ They follow a program.
If you find your trainer going from exercise to exercise without really having a plan, then you probably don’t have the best trainer you have. When finding a good personal trainer, just ask them, ‘What kind of program will you be placing me on?’
◙ They take time working on form and technique.
If you have a trainer who teaches you movements such as deadlifts, squats, bench press, over head squats, clean and jerk, clean and press; skill full movements that have many requirements one must meet in order to perform the movement in full, then you are more likely than not, in good hands. They don’t need to teach you all of these movements, however you training should be based around 3-4 of these movements and ensuring you are progressing through these. Either progressing on your form and technique, or progressing with the weight on the bar.
On the flip side, if you are looking for a good personal trainer and they keep you to very basic movements, body weight movements only, lightweight circuits only or do lots of machine based movements with you, then chances are that you are yet to find a good trainer. Of course, there is a time and a place for most of what I mentioned, but that time and place is not every sessions, every week.
How Often Should You See A Personal Trainer?
This depends on many things. The main questions are, what are your goals? how badly do you want to achieve your goals? Will you train by yourself on a consistent basis? The other main question is of course, what is your budget?
To standardise this question, my recommendation would be to train 2 times per week with a trainer and 2-3 times by yourself. You can join a bootcamp if you don’t like to have a one-on-one personal session.
To perfect world this situation, train with a trainer each session.
We don’t live in a perfect world and not everyone can afford that. Not everyone can afford two sessions per week, then train once. If you can afford that and you won’t train by yourself, then train more. If you can afford that and want each session to be a session that allows you to work at your absolute best in terms of output, in terms of form and technique work, in terms of enjoyment, then train more.
There’s no set ‘this is how often you should train’ – it’s a case by case scenario.
How Long Should You Have A Personal Trainer?
How long do you want to be working at your best? How long do you want training to be really enjoyable? How long do you want to continue to grow and progress?
So, do you really need a personal trainer to achieve your fitness goals?
Did Michael Jordan have a basketball coach? Did Tiger Woods have a golf coach? Does Rodger Federer have a tennis coach? Does Simone Biles have a gymnastics coach?
Yes, they all do, and they all are (or where) the best at what they did. Would they have been good without a coach? Probably. But if you want to get the absolute most out of your training, then get a personal coach.
Tags: personal trainer, PT, weight loss
3 Reasons Your Client Is Not Losing Weight (And What to Do About It)
One of your clients–let’s call her “Mrs. Jones”–has hired you to help her lose weight. So you put her on a solid exercise and nutrition program that she’s diligently followed for a month. You re-test her body composition after a month and find that she’s lost only 3.5 pounds and 1 percent body fat.
Uh-oh, Mrs. Jones is not happy. She expected more and is questioning whether to continue on. You try to assure her that “weight loss is a journey,” but Mrs. Jones doesn’t care about that–she wants results. And she wants them yesterday.
We’ve all been there. There are certainly many reasons a client may not be losing weight as quickly as we think they should. Most of the time these are problems that we can help them identify and address. And in most weight loss cases, it starts with the client’s life outside of the gym.
1. Your client’s lifestyle outside of the gym is hectic and stressful.
Sure, exercise is great for the mind, body, and soul, but when stress is extremely high–perhaps from work or a bad relationship–the body has a hard time regulating itself for fat loss. Your client’s work schedule, a disrupted sleep cycle, or any chronically stressful circumstance can raise cortisol, one of the primary culprits of fat storage. When cortisol is elevated, it initiates a cascade of effects that simply makes any appreciable fat loss progress a lot more difficult.
Not to mention the actual training itself creates an additional stressor on the body, and that’s where things get tricky.
While it may feel good emotionally, intense training, coupled with high amounts of stress in other areas of life, is a recipe for failure.
When your client is having trouble losing weight, make sure you ask about medication and significant health issues that may be counteracting your client’s efforts. To name a few examples, depression, anxiety, hypothyroidism, polycystic ovary system, even special circumstances like Cushing’s syndrome, and other conditions associated with obesity can all hinder fat loss. While it’s not your job to medically diagnose anything, this information is good to know.
If these conditions are present and can be resolved over time, now may simply not be the best time for your client to engage in high intensity exercises 3-5 times a week.
Another reason your client may be struggling lies in his or her support network: some friends and surrounding loved ones can help or make it harder for your client to comply with your plan. If that’s the case, sit down with them, slowly go over scenarios that they may face on a daily basis, and help guide them to make better choices. For example, if they’re having trouble saying “no” to a co-workers’ invitation to happy hour, you can advise your client to say something like, “It sounds like fun, but I’ve made a promise to my trainer to make it to the gym tonight.”
It’s also important to help your client come up with an action plan and follow-up answers to questions that they are bound to get; and to let them know that not everyone understands the weight loss journey. Another way is to encourage them to write their goals in plain sight so they and everyone else around them can see them.
2. Your client is eating too few calories.
In theory, “calories in” and “calories out” is the universal equation for energy balance and fat loss. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for people to approach diet with the “work more, eat less” approach. Most of us are familiar that this a recipe for burnout and for the body to fight back.
Furthermore, those same people who often work themselves to oblivion end up getting the opposite results and killing their energy. It’s not so simple, and it is up to you to educate your clients on why simply “eating less” and “moving more” isn’t the way.
Help your client understand that exercise is a small part of the equation: adequate nutrition supports the workouts, their recovery, and their life. Meanwhile, the exercise helps them achieve the body they want. Explain to them that the body typically strives for balance. Tip things too far in one direction than the other, and the body will do what it can to right the balance (usually hold onto weight).
In addition, everyone’s base metabolism will be different. We know this as basal metabolic rate (BMR). Some common factors that will affect this include age, previous weight and diet history, daily activity levels, and intensity of training. For your purposes, here is how to calculate the basal metabolic rate, per the Harris Benedict equation.
For moderate exercise 3-5 days a week, multiply BMR by 1.5 for total amount of calories in a day.
BMR calculation for men
BMR = 66.5 + (13.75 x weight in kg) + (5.003 x height in cm) – (6.755 x age in years)
BMR calculation for women
BMR = 655.1 + (9.563 x weight in kg) + (1.850 x height in cm) – (4.676 x age in years)
These calculations offer a good base for establishing guidelines and educating your clients on how weight loss occurs. Make sure they understand that the long-term implications and negative effects of not eating enough go way beyond fat loss. Teaching your clients to be patient with their body and listening to what it needs, rather than starving themselves on a daily basis will help them achieve the results they want.
3. Hormones play a bigger role than you think.
Our imaginary client Mrs. Jones is doing everything by the books, managing calories, and creating a small enough deficit to tap into energy storage, but still is not losing weight. If stress and dietary adherence look fine and everything is checking out, then something else must be going on.
Spend any time reading about fat loss and you’ll be aware of how hormones can affect future fat loss efforts. Not all hormones though. Specifically, the literature points to three hormones that may be setting your client back.
Leptin: This is the primary hormone associated with feelings of hunger and satiety. Essentially, it’s the hormone that prevents the body from starving to death and indirectly controls the rate of fat loss. During a fat loss program, it is not uncommon for clients to under-eat, which makes the body produce less leptin and slow down fat loss. Leptin is a major reason why it’s far better to eat more calories on a consistent basis and train, rather than go into a huge deficit along with burning more through training.
Insulin: The body produces insulin in response to a rise in blood sugar, which can come from eating carbohydrates and sometimes protein. If your client has a history of crash dieting for years, insulin may be especially troublesome.
If you suspect your client is insulin resistant, have them see a doctor. If they do not want to, one of the best things you can do for them is teach them about proper eating habits. Ask them about what type of foods make them tired after they eat or initiate more cravings. It’s likely the client doesn’t immediately know, so encourage them to keep a food diary and track their foods (if they aren’t already) and associated moods for a week. These types of things will give you an idea of how they react to certain foods or even a certain amount of carbohydrates.
Cortisol: Cortisol is a stress hormone. It is vital for life and often mismanaged. When the body produces high amounts of stress, it slows the metabolism down and creates a fat loss nightmare.
This is very important to note because if your client has a crazy hectic work life prior to coming in the gym, hammering them with high-intensity exercises would not be the best thing for them, and only hinder their results.
What should you do if you have a client like Mrs. Jones?
When you first meet someone like Mrs. Jones, it is important to take note of the external stressors that are associated with her life and recommend an easier approach, rather than be aggressive. Pay particular attention to her nutritional, sleep, and stress patterns. What is she eating currently? Does she have “trigger” foods? How much sleep does she get? What keeps her from getting enough sleep? Where in her life is her stress coming from, and is it something she can control?
Your attention to these details is key to creating a successful program.
Although training will help stimulate fat loss, a priority in the program should be heavily placed on nutrition and sleep as they will have a much bigger impact on hormonal management and fat loss. Teach her that “more” is not necessary better, and that stress actually inhibits fat loss.
Keep Mrs. Jones’ program simple. She should strength train 2-3 times each week with a mix of density, strength, and conditioning so she doesn’t get bored and to facilitate fat loss. Inform her that she will need to do at least 1-2 days of moderate cardio at a slower paced rate. This is great for stress reduction and recovery of the system. The rest of the results will come from good quality sleep and nutritional habits.
It is up to you as a coach to help your clients make a change that they will love and not hate.
More articles for helping your client lose weight and get results:
- Is Cardio or Strength Training Better for Fat Loss? by Nick Tumminello
- How to Create a Meal Plan Your Clients Will Actually Follow by Mike Samuels
- It’s Time to Convince Your Clients the Scale Doesn’t Matter by Tim Berzins
George Kalantzis served in the U.S. Marines from 2002 to 2011, with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. He also guarded American embassies, trained at the FBI Academy, and has an MBA from Southern New Hampshire University. He’s a master instructor/personal trainer for the Equinox Fitness Training Institute in Boston and a licensed massage therapist. He lives in Hooksett, New Hampshire, with his wife and daughter. You can connect with him at his website or on Instagram.
Don’t Hire a Personal Trainer Until These Questions Are Answered
If you want to find a personal trainer that will actually help you reach your goals, then you want to read this article.
Most personal trainers are a waste of money.
End of story.
Their hearts can be in the right place, but the truth is that most just don’t have the drive or know-how to get people into great shape.
(And let’s be clear–getting people into great shape is the purpose, not simply running them through workouts for their own sake.)
Look around any gym and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
Trainers charging people $50 to 75 per hour to watch them do the same type of silly, ineffective workout routines found in fitness magazines (usually with poor form to boot).
You’ll notice that not much changes with their clients, either.
There they are day after day, paying and sweating, with nothing to show for it.
You’ve probably also noticed that many trainers aren’t even in good shape themselves.
How can you honestly sell yourself as a fitness expert when you’re a skinny-fat weakling? Who could possibly believe you?
Compounding the disservice is the fact that most trainers don’t give their clients proper diet plans, which is basically the kiss of death.
When it comes to building muscle and losing fat, you just can’t out-exercise a bad diet.
- Eat wrong and you’ll stay fat no matter how much cardio you do.
- Eat wrong and you’ll stay skinny and weak no matter how much effort you pour into your “muscle building workouts.”
- Eat right, however, and you can go far: rapid, long-term fat loss and muscle growth that will turn heads and get your friends and family talking.
And fortunately, eating correctly requires little more than following simple, flexible nutritional targets that allow you to eat foods you like while building muscle and losing fat.
But that’s another discussion for another article.
In this article, I want to focus on personal trainers and how to find one that can actually help you achieve your goals.
Let’s start with a question that is probably on your mind…
Why Do So Many Trainers Get Such Poor Results?
The unfortunate truth is having a PT license doesn’t mean you can get the type of results that people will pay for.
It means you were able to memorize and regurgitate some basic information about nutrition, anatomy, and exercise. You can even do it all online, where answers are just a Google search away.
The upshot is someone who is a “certified professional” that has spent a lot of time with defective textbooks and little to no time at the coalface.
Trainers also have to struggle with a simple dilemma: justifying their expense.
That is, to keep the wolf from the door, they have to keep their clients convinced that they’re needed.
While some people are happy to pay a trainer just to force them to show up every day, most want to feel like they’re getting more for their money.
And the easiest way to create that perception is to regularly change up workout routines and talk about “sophisticated” diet and workout principles.
The problem is the more you wander from the fundamentals, the less progress you make.
- “Muscle confusion” is a myth.
- “Clean eating” guarantees little in the way of muscle growth or fat loss.
- Low-carb dieting won’t help you lose fat faster.
- Focusing on fancy rep schemes like super sets, drop sets, giant sets, etc. isn’t optimal for natural weightlifters.
- Combing cardio and weightlifting isn’t optimal for maximizing strength and muscle gain.
The bottom line is that when all is said and done, a large percentage of personal training clients waste thousands of dollars to make mediocre (or worse) gains and then quit out of disappointment.
I’ve worked with thousands of people and seen it more times than I could hope to count.
It’s not all gloom and doom, though.
There absolutely are great trainers out there who are in awesome shape themselves, who know how to quickly and effectively get results in others, and who truly care about their clients and delivering on their promises.
If you’re one of them, I applaud you, because you’re carrying the weight of the entire profession on your shoulders.
So, if that’s the lay of the land, how do you go about finding a good trainer to work with?
The following questions will help.
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5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Trainer
Don’t hire a trainer based on on first impressions alone.
Just because he (or she) has the type of physique that you want doesn’t mean that he has a system that can get you there, too.
Just because he sounds knowledgeable doesn’t mean he has the right knowledge.
And just because he has a gaggle of clients doesn’t mean they’re getting their money’s worth.
Think of your first meeting with a trainer like a first date.
You know…the adult game of stranger danger.
Your goal is to discover, as quickly as possible, if this person is worth your time and money or if you should keep your toys to yourself.
You do this by asking the right questions…
1. How Quickly Will I See Results?
You know those crazy transformations you see all over social media and the Internet?
The ones where guys and gals go from beanpole or blubber-belly to statuesque fitness model in just a few months?
What you’re actually seeing is often the result of…
Extensive training history that allowed for rapid re-gain of muscle.
“Muscle memory” is very real, which means it takes far less time to regain muscle than it takes to gain it the first time around.
Anabolic steroids and fat loss drugs.
Many people are surprised to learn just how rampant drug use is in this space.
Gear is everywhere, from fitness models and competitors to personal trainers to “gurus” and even everyday gymgoers.
Many people are also surprised how powerful the right cocktail of drugs actually is.
When used properly (not necessarily safely, mind you, but effectively), steroids and cutting drugs can enable someone to do in 3 months what would normally take a year or longer.
A good example of this is the bodybuilder Boston Lloyd’s transformation:
As you can see, he gained about 30 pounds of muscle and got absolutely shredded.
Here’s the kicker, though: he did it in just under a year. (And admitted to using a lot of drugs to make it happen.)
Now, that isn’t to say that all impressive transformations are frauds.
Anyone can dramatically transform their body naturally…but it takes time.
For instance, research shows that the most natural muscle growth you can hope for in your first year of weightlifting is about 20 to 25 pounds if you’re a man and about half that if you’re a woman.
Those are “best case scenario” numbers, too, that presuppose several things:
- You follow your diet strictly.
- You miss very few workouts.
- Your body responds well to weightlifting (some don’t).
- You don’t spend much of that first year in a calorie deficit (which slows down muscle growth).
Now, the reason I’m telling you all of this is simple:
You should ask your would-be trainer what type of results you can expect if you work with him…and listen carefully.
Generally speaking, here’s the type of answer you want to hear:
- You can lose 1 to 2 pounds of fat per week if you’re cutting.
Unless you’re very overweight, you’re not going to be able to lose more than this without taking extreme (unhealthy) measures.
- You can gain 0.5 to 1 pound of muscle per week if you’re bulking.
Even when you do everything right, muscle building takes time.
There is no way to naturally gain 20+ pounds of muscle in a month or two.
- You can build muscle and lose fat at the same time (recomp) if you’re new to weightlifting.
Keep in mind, though, that muscle growth is slower when you do this than when you bulk.
I explain why here.
A discussion of bulking and cutting also begs the question of where you should start.
Should you cut? Bulk? Why?
Well, those are also good questions to ask a trainer, and the answers you want to hear are along these lines:
- You should focus on losing fat (cut) if you’re a guy over 15% body fat or a girl over 25%.
If your body fat percentage is too high, you’re going to build less muscle and gain fat even faster.
You can read more about this here.
- If you’re lean (a guy at 10 to 12% body fat or a girl at 18 to 20%), you can focus on building muscle (bulk).
The “sweet spot” for bulking is between 10 and 15/16% for guys and 20 and 25/26% for girls.
Again, you can read more about this here.
So, the bottom line is this:
If a trainer says he can deliver results that sound too good to be true…they are.
You’re looking for respectable, conservative estimates, not eye-popping figures that only steroids could deliver.
2. What Type of Diet Do You Recommend?
Most trainers are going to answer this in one of two ways:
- You should just focus on “eating clean” and you’ll be fine.
- You should follow a fad diet such as Paleo, gluten-free, or low-carb.
And if you’re really unlucky, he’ll want to toss you into the deep, dark depths of dietary hell…
Here’s the rub:
“Clean” eating and fad dieting guarantee little in the way of fat loss or muscle gain.
The truth is you can be the healthiest or most Paleolithic or carb-o-phobic eater in the world and still be weak and skinny fat.
Because, when it comes to body composition (how much muscle and body fat you have), how much you eat is more important than what.
Claiming that one food is “better” than another for losing or gaining weight misses the forest for the trees.
Foods don’t have any special properties that make them better or worse for weight loss or weight gain.
What they do have, however, are varying amounts of potential energy, as measured in calories, and various macronutrient profiles.
These two factors are what make certain foods more conducive to weight loss or gain than others.
Generally speaking, foods that are “good” for weight loss are those that are relatively low in calories but high in volume (and thus satiating).
Examples of such foods are lean meats, whole grains, many fruits and vegetables, and low-fat dairy products.
These types of foods also provide an abundance of micronutrients, which is especially important when your calories are lower than normal.
Foods conducive to weight gain are the opposite: high in calories and lower in volume and satiety.
These foods include the obvious like caloric beverages, snack foods, fast food, candy, and other sugar-laden goodies, but quite a few “healthy” foods fall into this category as well, such as:
- Fatty meat
- Low-fiber fruits
- Whole fat dairy products
Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t lose weight eating foods conducive to weight gain. It can just make the experience more trying.
A rather extreme example of this is a simple experiment carried out by Professor Mark Haub from Kansas University.
Mr. Haub lost 27 pounds in 2 months on a diet of protein shakes, Twinkies, Doritos, Oreos, and Little Debbie snacks, and you could do exactly the same if you wanted to (not that you should, though).
Think of it this way:
You can only “afford” so many calories every day, whether dieting to lose fat or gain muscle, and you have to watch how you “spend” them.
When you want to lose weight, you want to spend the majority of your calories on foods that allow you to hit your daily calorie and macronutrient targets without struggling with hunger and cravings.
When you want to gain weight, however, you have quite a few more calories to spend every day. And that means you can “afford” to eat a much wider variety of foods.
That said, I don’t recommend you join the hordes of radical “IIFYMers” that are on a quest to get shredded eating as much processed junk food as possible.
Remember that our bodies need more than just protein, carbs, and fat to function properly.
They also need an assortment of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that we can only get from relatively unprocessed foods like fruits and vegetables.
Here’s a good rule of thumb (and the type of answer you want to hear in response to this section’s question):
If you eat enough protein and get the majority (~80%) of your calories from relatively unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods, you can fill the remaining 20% with indulgences.
Check out this article if you want to learn more about creating healthy meal plans with this style of dieting.
3. What Type of Workouts Would You Have Me Do?
If you’re like most people, you’re looking for a trainer for one simple reason:
You want to lose some fat and gain some muscle.
You might think of it in different terms–“shifting fat,” “toning,” “turning fat into muscle,” and so forth–but it all boils down to increasing muscle mass and reducing fat mass.
And that applies equally to men and women.
This is no surprise to most guys, but if you’re a woman that’s afraid to do anything that involves “gaining,” I understand.
Unfortunately, the mainstream channels of fitness advice have brainwashed women into believing the endgame is weighing as little as possible.
This is why so many women fall prey to starvation diets, “detox” cleanses, grueling cardio routines, and other non-optimum methods of losing weight.
The reality, though, is your weight doesn’t matter nearly as much as your body composition.
“Weight” isn’t a good metric for assessing the gap between your current physique and your goal. It’s hard to guess what your ideal weight will be.
Much better metrics are body fat percentage and total lean mass.
Let me show you want I mean. Check out the following pictures.
Can you guess her weight in each of these pictures?
Well, if you guessed “the same,” you win the Internet.
That’s the power of losing fat and adding muscle, not just “losing weight.”
And just to put this transformation in perspective, it required losing about 15 pounds of fat and “replacing” it with about 15 pounds of muscle.
So, with all that in mind, what workouts do you think you should be doing?
Ones that help you build muscle and lose fat as quickly as possible, right?
And what kinds of workouts are those?
They emphasize heavy, compound weightlifting.
Many people think that weightlifting–and heavy weightlifting in particular–is for gaining size, not losing fat, but they’re wrong.
In fact, the opposite is true–this style of training can not only help you lose fat faster but preserve (or even build) muscle as well.
Many people also think that low-weight, high-rep training is optimal for muscle gain or at least equally effective as high-weight, low-rep training.
This too is wrong, and I break down why here.
They are relatively short (45 to 65 minutes).
There’s no need to spend a couple of hours in the gym every day.
This isn’t just hugely impractical–it can even be counter-productive and hinder your progress.
They are programmed intelligently.
There are many workable ways to program workout routines, but there are certain non-negotiable principles that must be observed.
For example, there’s currently a lot of debate about how frequently you should train a muscle group.
Some people think it’s black and white:
If you’re not training major muscle groups 2 to 3 times per week, they say, you’re not going to get very far, they say.
This type of simplistic one-liner is good for snaps but misses a vital realty:
How frequently you can and should train each muscle group depends on the intensity (weight used in terms of % of 1RM) and volume (total number of reps performed) of your individual workouts.
You see, the higher the volume and intensity of your individual workouts, the less frequently you can do them.
So sure, you can squat or bench press three times per week…but you can’t do 10 heavy sets per workout.
This is why popular strength programs look so austere compared to the nonsense you find in most bodybuilding magazines.
This brings us to the next point:
A well-designed workout program not only emphasizes heavy, compound weightlifting for each major muscle group; it puts you in a “sweet spot” in terms of total weekly volume as well.
How you reach that volume in terms of number of workouts–one, two, three, etc.–is of secondary importance.
What is that sweet spot, though?
Well, there aren’t any studies that give a definitive, one-size-fits-all answer as to how hard and how much you can train to maximize your results, and there many never be.
Optimal volume is modified by intensity, as you know, but there are many other factors that come into play as well including diet, training experience, sleep hygiene, genetics, and more.
That said, there is enough clinical and anecdotal evidence available to derive some sensible guidelines.
Let’s first look at a large and extensive review of weightlifting studies conducted by scientists at Goteborg University.
Their research found that, when using weights in the 60 to 85% of 1RM range, optimal volume appears to be in the range of 30 to 60 reps per major muscle group per workout when 2 to 3 workouts were performed each week.
Thus, a total weekly volume of somewhere between 60 and 180 reps per major muscle group.
As you can guess, the heavier the training, the fewer reps you can and should do every week.
If you were training exclusively in the 80 to 85% of 1RM range, like you do on my Bigger Leaner Stronger program, you’d want to be around 60 to 80 total reps per major muscle group per week.
If you were doing a low-weight, high-volume type of program, however, you’d want your weekly volume for each major muscle group to be closer to 180 reps.
And if you were doing something in between, like my Thinner Leaner Stronger program for women, your total weekly reps would be somewhere in between as well.
These findings also agree with another large review conducted by researchers at Arizona State University, which found that when lighter weights are used, more sets per week is optimal. As the weights get heavier, however, total sets must come down.
So, when you ask what types of workouts the trainer would have you do, you want to hear something along the following lines:
- A focus on heavy, compound weightlifting.
- More free weights than machines.
- Relatively short workouts of about an hour.
- Moderate weekly volume of 60 to 120 heavy reps per week per major muscle group (as modified by intensity, and regardless of frequency).
4. What Should I Do For Cardio?
Years ago, I asked a trainer how to get below 10% body fat.
“Do a shitload of cardio” was his reply, and a shitload of cardio I did.
I walked, swam, biked, and ran…and still struggled to break into the “single-digit club.”
Well, I’ve since learned why.
First, I didn’t understand how to diet properly, which we’ve already discussed.
Second, I didn’t realize how little cardio impacts fat loss.
Simply doing cardio guarantees little in the way of weight loss (even when you do quite a bit).
In fact, research shows that you can just wind up fatter as a result, mainly by negating its already meager weight loss benefits by unconsciously eating too much and/or reducing other forms of physical activity.
Hence the throngs of overweight people in your gym crowding the treadmills, wondering why they’re still not losing weight.
This is why I suggest that you ask your prospective trainer for his cardio recommendations.
And the type of answer you want is a question: what are your goals?
When managed properly, cardio can improve your health, help you lose fat faster, and even help you build muscle.
But when it’s taken too far, it can do the opposite: impair health, make weight loss more of an ordeal, and negatively impact body composition.
- Research shows that endurance athletes are at a higher risk of heart dysfunction than the general, non-running public, and that the older they get and the more miles they log, the worse the problem gets.
- Research shows that marathoners develop more arterial plaque than sedentary non-runners, which increases the risk of stroke and dementia.
- The more cardio you do, the more you stress your body. If taken too far, you can wind up in a state wherein your body can’t adequately recover from your workouts.
- Hang around dyed-in-the-wool endurance athletes for a bit and you’ll quickly notice how many have serious joint problems.
While it’s sensationalistic to say doing too much cardio can kill you, it’s not completely untrue.
The reality is if your goal is to look and feel great, more cardio (and exercise in general) is not always better.
That’s why my general cardio recommendation is this:
You should do as much cardio as it takes to achieve your goals and no more, and it shouldn’t be so much that it significantly impairs your physical performance, recovery, or health.
For most people (myself included), that amounts to 1 to 2 hours of high-intensity interval training per week with maybe another hour or two of walking as well.
5. What Supplements Should I Take?
I’ve noticed that, for whatever reason, trainers tend to fall on opposite ends of the spectrum with supplementation.
They either gush about supplements and have a litany of suggestions or reject them as a waste of money to be avoided altogether.
Well, the truth is this:
Supplements don’t build great physiques. Dedication to proper training and nutrition does.
Unfortunately, the workout supplement industry is plagued by pseudoscience, ridiculous hype, misleading advertising and endorsements, products full of junk ingredients, underdosing key ingredients, and many other shenanigans.
Most supplement companies produce cheap, junk products and try to dazzle you with ridiculous marketing claims, high-profile (and very expensive) endorsements, pseudo-scientific babble, fancy-sounding proprietary blends, and flashy packaging.
So, while workout supplements don’t play a vital role in building muscle and losing fat, and many are a complete waste of money…the right ones can help.
There are safe, natural substances that have been scientifically proven to deliver benefits such as increased strength, muscle endurance and growth, fat loss, and more.
As a part of my work, it’s been my job to know what these substances are, and find products with them that I can use myself and recommend to others.
Finding high-quality, effective, and fairly priced products has always been a struggle, though.
That’s why I took matters into my own hands and decided to create my own supplements. And not just another line of “me too” supplements–the exact formulations I myself have always wanted and wished others would create.
I won’t go into a whole spiel here though. If you want to learn more about my supplement line, check this out.
Now, the type of answer that you want to get to this section’s question is familiar: what are your goals?
- If you want to optimize health, then you should consider a well-formulated multivitamin, greens supplement, and fish oil.
- If you want to maximize muscle growth, then you should consider a protein powder, pre-workout supplement, and post-workout supplement.
- If you want to lose fat faster, then you should consider a fat burner (and pre-workout fat burner in particular).
- Other notable mentions are a natural sleep supplement to improve the quality of your rest and a joint supplement to reduce inflammation and prevent cartilage loss.
And the final option of taking no supplements whatsoever is also completely acceptable. They don’t make or break your efforts.
If you want to dive into the details and learn more about the many types of supplements out there, check out this article.
The Bottom Line on Personal Trainers
I hope you don’t feel I’ve been too harsh on trainers in this article.
I’m not one for trying to gain attention through bullying or muckraking.
I would, however, like to see more people find their way to honest, knowledgeable trainers that get results. In this way, the entire profession can be elevated in time.
So, if you’re currently looking for a trainer or plan on starting your search soon, I hope this article will help you land in good hands.