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AustinCertified Personal TrainerHealthNutrition

Guiding Client Nutrition

There is a common misconception in the personal training industry around nutrition. We don’t know when it started, but for years, trainers and clients have been told it is illegal for certified personal trainers to provide nutritional advice and guidance to clients.

Guess what? That is not the case. In fact, the nutrition profession is regulated at the State level, meaning there aren’t any federal laws in place regarding the practice – so each State determines of practice requirements and scope. As a practitioner, it is then up to certified personal trainers to know and understand the laws in the State where they work. 

How to Know

The Center for Nutrition Advocacy has created a clickable map view describing the legalities of nutrition for each state. The four broad categories breakdown as follows:

  • Red: It is illegal to perform individualized nutrition counseling unless licensed or exempt. Effectively only registered dietitians (RDs) are eligible for licensure.
  • Orange: It is illegal to perform individualized nutrition counseling unless licensed or exempt. There is a non-RD pathway for licensure. Check for exemptions.
  • Yellow: It is legal for all to perform individualized nutrition counseling. Effectively, only RDs are eligible for state recognition.
  • Green: It is legal for all to perform individualized nutrition counseling; there may be restrictions on medical nutrition therapy.

What It All Means

In reality, the majority of the states indicate it is legal to perform nutrition counseling. Where health professionals – including certified personal trainers – must be careful is how they advertise and the phrasing used. For example, unless the certified personal trainer is also a licensed dietician, they cannot indicate they are licensed or certified to provide nutritional information. Certified personal trainers must also be careful when working with specific diets, especially for any client with disease or special conditions as many of these would fall out of scope. 
For more information, check the Commission on Dietetic Registration website for information about licensure and verbiage in your state.

How To Get Clients Healthier

Additional support for certified personal trainers and clients looking to eat better can be found at the website of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion for dietary guidelines. Chapter 3 within the guidelines is specifically titled Everyone Has a Role in Supporting Healthy Eating Patterns aimed at getting everyone more food and health aware. Immediately after this chapter is Appendix 1. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

How PFTA Austin Can Help

Following the National Council on Strength & Fitness CPT curriculum, we cover everything nutrition – from macros to micros as well as bioenergetics so you know what to eat, when to eat it, and what is going on inside your body when you do eat.

We are still taking enrollment for our Certified Personal Trainer Program. For more information about our programs, please reach out!

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Measuring for Success!

We have previously blogged about the importance of measuring your food for portion control. While food measuring is very important to keep diets and macros in check, measuring is important in other ways.

Client Goals

Every person at the gym has a goal or reason to be at the gym – especially if they are investing in a personal trainer or coach. For all clients and trainers gym goals are important because goals shape client programming. If clients do not provide a goal or reason for working with a trainer, they have no units of measure to work towards. Without units of measure, the tangibility of a trainers program is nonexistent.

Losing Weight

When it comes to establishing goals, the most common client goal is weight loss. This is probably the easiest goal to track – clients either lose weight or they don’t. Right? Not quite. Just because weight loss is the main reason many people workout, it doesn’t mean it’s the easiest to measure. While the majority of the US is morbidly obese, most of those people unfortunately are not at a gym. So how do you measure weight loss for a client with nominal weight loss goals? Take body measurements using calipers or a measuring tape. While the scale might not be extremely helpful for small weight loss goals, taking various body measurements will help. 

Leaning Out or Getting Toned

For clients indicating they want to lean out or get toned body measurements will help, but might not be enough. For clients only seeing subtle changes in body measurements, other methods of progress or improvements can be used. For example, tracking increases in weights or improvements in ranges of motion can be used. If a client is looking for improved cardiovascular or endurance, establish monthly exercises for the client to perform, such as a timed run or timed push ups. Document the results and share the changes with the client.

Making Gains

For clients simply wanting to lift more weight and gain muscle, progress or success will be reflected in the amount of weight they move in the various exercises. If clients feel as though they are plateauing or progressing too slowly, tracking their progress over time is most helpful.

When to Measure

Measuring client progress will vary depending on the client goal. For weight loss clients, monthly measurements (scale weight and body measurements) are recommended. This gives the clients enough time to show changes and also establishes a pattern for accountability.

For clients with less noticeable goals, such as leaning out or gaining muscle, monthly body measurements could be used. If body measurements are not the chosen unit of measure, progress reports every 2-3 months showing weight increases can help. Alternatively, using predetermined exercises, such as a timed run for endurance or joint measurements for flexibility changes can be used.

If you are interested in becoming a certified personal trainer or would like to partner with PFTA Austin to help educate personal trainers, we would love to hear from you!

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Creating Successful Personal Trainers Through Classroom and Gym Training

At PFTA Austin, our goal is to create successful personal trainers through classroom and gym training. This is more than just a tagline for us. We believe that anyone can become certified online, but without the hands on experience and practice, personal trainers fall short. Every single student that enrolls with PFTA Austin is guaranteed hands on practice in the gym.

If you follow us socially on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, you will see what we mean. We know that what we offer makes us different. We know that what we offer is extremely valuable to new trainers. We know this because we’ve researched and lived it.

Why You Should Care About Us

We love what we do and we practice exactly what we preach. In addition to instructing new certified personal trainers, we are certified personal trainers with active clients. When we aren’t helping students in the classroom or gym, we are hands on with our clients at the gym or in their homes. Amongst the instructor team at PFTA Austin, we have approximately 20 years gym experience, the bulk of which has been as certified personal trainers. We have successfully worked in commercial gyms and run our own practices. We have worked with people from early teens to approximately 80 years old. We have helped people lose weight, become more function, regain mobility, get back the pre-pregnancy curves, recover from surgeries, and gain muscle for competition. 

Why Gym Training Matters

Have you ever joined a gym and been offered a free personal training session? How was the experience? Did the trainer follow a script and feel distant? Did it seem like the trainers knew what they were doing? This is the experience we don’t want any gym client to have – regardless of where they workout. We want people to work with trainers. We want people to want to work with trainers. More importantly, we want people to work safely with competent and confident certified personal trainers.

What PFTA Austin Offers

Regardless of the Certified Personal Training session that you take, you experience a mix of classroom and gym time. If you join our Tuesday and Thursday session, which runs for 12 weeks, you enjoy Tuesday in the classroom and Thursday at Gym One. Our 15 week long Wednesday and Saturday groups spend every 3rd session at the gym. While it might seem like the Wednesday and Saturday groups are missing out with fewer gym sessions – trust us – they are not. We maximize every class – especially at the gym. Students experience a true learning environment, where the instructors demonstrate and explain, the students then perform the work on each other, and finally the students practice on the instructors. We take our time and we practice, practice, practice!!!

To keep our content solid and industry certified, we have proudly partnered with the National Council on Strength & Fitness. As a result of this partnership, you get:

  • NCSF student and lab guides; online access to an NCSF account containing review content, sample exercises, practice quizzes, and practice tests; and an NCSF exam voucher.
  • PFTA provided student guide with additional student content and notes.
  • Strength Training Anatomy and Stretching Anatomy books.
  • Over 60 hours of classroom and hands on gym training.
  • A gym membership at Gym One for the duration of the course.
  • End of course study groups to help prepare you for the national exam.

Additionally – we are here for you when class wraps up and you have completed your 12 or 15 weeks in the class. We not only want you to pass, we want you to be successful, so we make time to help you study and become comfortable with all the content. Did we mention that we also have a Spanish class? Hit us up for more information.

If you are interested in becoming a certified personal trainer or would like to partner with PFTA Austin to help educate personal trainers, we would love to hear from you!

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Learning New Things

As the summer wraps up and school resumes, PFTA Austin continues to provide several courses and workshops for the personal training community.

If you are looking to become newly certified as a personal trainer, we have our signature Certified Personal Trainer class as follows:

  • Tuesday (classroom) and Thursday (gym) – 10am – 2pm – 12 week duration
  • Wednesday (every 3rd class in the gym) – 6pm – 10pm – 15 week duration
  • Saturday (every 3rd class in the gym) – 10am – 2pm – 15 week duration

Included with your course tuition are the following items:

  • NCSF student and lab guides; online access to an NCSF account containing review content, sample exercises, practice quizzes, and practice tests; and an NCSF exam voucher.
  • PFTA provided student guide with additional student content and notes.
  • Strength Training Anatomy and Stretching Anatomy books.
  • Over 60 hours of classroom and hands on gym training.
  • A gym membership at Gym One for the duration of the course.
  • End of course study groups to help prepare you for the national exam.

If you are already certified and looking to augment your skills, we offer various workshops including:

NCSF Sport Nutrition
Client Assessment and Engagement
Program Design

Recently added to PFTA Austin are the American Heart Association Heartsaver courses. If you need to become certified or recertified in CPR AED or First Aid, reach out to Keli for more information!

For information about any of our courses or workshops, please reach out! If you are interested in becoming a certified personal trainer or would like to partner with PFTA Austin to help educate personal trainers, we would love to hear from you!

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Personal Training or Online Coaching

When students come through PFTA Austin, most of the time they have no idea what type of clients they want to train or even where or how they want to run their training business.

As previously mentioned, the health and wellness space has seen a significant increase in spending – with a mix of companies setting up programs or individuals taking control of their personal health. If you want to be a part of it, you simply need to find your way.

Personal Training

To become a personal trainer years ago, you simply needed to find a place to work and look the part. Over the past couple of decades however, gyms – private and commercial – have stepped up the requirements. The majority of gyms require personal trainers to have at least one industry certification. Additionally all personal trainers must be CPR AED certified and have insurance.

The reasons for industry certifications are plenty, with the main reasons being the educational background in:

  • Safe training practices
  • Relevant physical assessments
  • Adaptations for special populations including the elderly, children, and pregnant women
  • Proper programming techniques
  • The human body, including musculoskeletal and cardiovascular physiology; functional anatomy; and energy systems
  • Nutrition including carbohydrates, fats, and protein requirements; vitamins, minerals, and fluid requirements; and supplementation

Certified personal trainers must also complete continuing education to stay current and certified in the profession.

The Client Side

As a potential training client, if you join a gym and discover that the personal trainers might not be industry certified, find a gym with guaranteed certified trainers. If you are worried about the cost of a non-certified personal trainer to a certified one, think about the importance of your health. Should you get injured while working with an uncertified and unlicensed trainer, the costs will become more impactful to you. The best way to find a certified personal trainer at a cost that works for you is to shop around. The larger, commercial gyms will have certified personal trainers and proper insurance to protect you, the trainer, and the business. The cost to work with these trainers will more than likely be 50% or higher than working with a private personal trainer out of a smaller gym such as Gym One.

Online Coaching

The online coaching industry is still fairly new and going through a huge growth phase. Because of its rapid growth and unregulated industry, it tougher to know what you are getting. While manly online personas claim to have various credentials or certifications, unless they can prove it through a certification body such as the National Council on Strength & Fitness (NCSF) you might never know for sure.

There are many ways online coaches acquire new business – Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and websites seem to be the most common. How online coaching is conducted also varies. Unlike the personal training setting, online coaches rely on technology to work with their clients.

Some coaches provide basic programming using the shared capabilities of applications such as Google Sheets or training programming applications such as My PT Hub or PT Minder. Should the online coach want to be more hands on, applications such as Skype or Google Hangouts can be used so the trainer can watch and queue online.

The Client Side

When it comes to working out, you will need to find a workout space to support whatever your coach assigns. The costs for the actual online coaching services vary. To be competitive with in person training, you can find rates as low as $50 a consult. Most online coaches though charge a fee range. What all is included is difficult to tell unless you complete information and speak with the coach. Based on what is typically shared publicly, you get a program, nutritional support, and coaching as needed and based on your goals.

What to choose…

Personal Training might be best for you…

As a Trainer if…As a Client if…
You are a great motivator and like to push people in person
You prefer the hands on approach to training
Your personality is better experienced in person
You need someone physically present to help motivate you
You need hands on guidance to safely exercise
You need someone with you to comfortably move around the gym

Online Coaching might be best for you if…

As a Coach if…As a Client if…
You are ok being distant from your client
You are comfortable with clients working solo the majority of the time
You simply want to program and coach from wherever you are located
You can routinely workout, but lack a program
You are comfortable working solo in a gym
Are self motivated, but need occasional support or a check in

If you are interested in becoming a certified personal trainer or would like to partner with PFTA Austin to help educate personal trainers, we would love to hear from you!

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Working Safely in the Gym

When working out at the gym and approaching a piece of equipment, do you know how to set it up for your safety? In an exercise movement, do you know how get out of the movement to avoid injury?

Working Solo to Avoid Injury

While some exercise movements might have an obvious “out”, such as dropping the weights, many exercises do not. There are many variables to consider in exercise safety, including:

  • Type of weights used: Barbells and dumbbells are different. You cannot disengage your body with a barbell the same way you would a dumbbell. For example, bench press. Using a barbell on a bench press, you must have safety bars in place or not have clips securing the plates to tip the weights off. In a dumbbell bench, you simply need to release the dumbbell safely away from your body.
  • Machine used: Fixed weight machines move or they don’t. If you are able to get the weight up/moving, you better be ready to bring it back down safely. For a machine, such as a belt squat, you can use safety pins at the bottom to prevent the weights from pulling you to the ground, otherwise, you must be able to grab the handle bar and rack it. If using the rack, use the safety bars placed at an appropriate level for the exercise, such as knee height for squats and shoulder height for overhead presses.
  • Personal space: When performing free weight movements or mobility exercises, such as kettlebell swings or walking lunges, know what is going on around you. If you plan on doing weightlifting, such as a front squat or clean, make sure you have the surrounding space to safely drop the bar forward and move your body backwards.
  • Exercise movement: Similar to the issue of personal space, know the exact movement you need to execute the exercise properly. If you are in a small space, you might not be able to execute the exercise properly or safely. When setting up your space for the exercise, make sure you have safety features, such as a safety bar in the proper position if you must abort the movement.

Having a Spotter to Avoid Injury

As you work up in weights or become less comfortable moving in an exercise, you might ask someone to spot your movement. While most people are willing to help, not everyone knows how to do this safely. For example:

  • Bench press: Spotters should be overhead at the bar and ready to assist with a neutral grip on the bar. The neutral grip helps ensure the spotter doesn’t lose the bar backwards or forwards when trying to pull the bar up.
  • Front or Back Squats: If one spotter is in use, they should stand behind the lifter with arms ready to wrap around the torso under the arm pits to help the lift move up and not fall forward. Additional spotters can be at either side of the bar ready to grab the ends of the bar to help lift it up.
  • Dumbbell exercises: Depending on the exercise, it might be easiest for the lifter to simply drop the weights. If however, an assisted lift is requested, the spotter should be providing stability at the wrists.

If you are interested in becoming a certified personal trainer or would like to partner with PFTA Austin to help educate personal trainers, we would love to hear from you!

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Standing Upright

At PFTA Austin, in addition to teaching students hands on learning with equipment in the gym, we teach students how to fix or correct common conditions that can lead to pain, discomfort, and injury.

Previously, we discussed the importance of breathing and how without a proper tight core, you can create repetitive strains and injuries.

Are You a Sloucher or Do You Stand Tall?

When standing or walking, does your posture look more like left or right Justin?

Ninety percent of personal training clients we meet, have a variation of upper crossed syndrome because of their daily activities. The majority of these people experience this syndrome because of working with technology – sitting at a desk or with a device in hand – for extended periods of time.

The Sloucher

In the image of Justin slouching, you can see how disengaged the posterior, or backside, is and the resulting effect on the body. If we had another angle, you might also notice knees and ankles turning in.

What Does it Mean?

Depending on the person, the results of a slouched body could include:

  • Headaches
  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Core discomfort including the ribs
  • Back pain
  • Hip pain
  • Upper body weakness
  • Knee pain
  • Foot pain
  • Lower body weakness

In addition to the items above, a sloucher is simply going to be prone to injuries. Injuries will occur because their backside is dormant and their core is weak. Anyone with this posture, will have difficulties doing basic things, such as getting up and down, picking things up, reaching, walking, or assisting others.

Standing Tall

In the image of Justin standing tall, his shoulders are pulled back and his chest is up, helping straighten his neck. His glutes and core are also engaged pulling his hips into neutral.

By making these changes while standing, Justin has taken the pressure off his anterior, or frontside. This change in posture means that his entire body is engaged. If he were to trip or lose his balance, he is less likely to strain a muscle or hit the ground because his body is not anterior dominant or dealing with a forward momentum situation.

How Can You Stand Tall?

If you happen to have a desk job, get up! Get a standing desk to straighten your hips, but also get moving. Find ways to stretch your chest, activate your back, and loosen up.

The Effect at the Gym

If you don’t take the steps to fix the poor posture, you are guaranteed to experience problems in the gym. While it might not be obvious, in addition to the back-focused exercises of rows and pull downs, your back is extremely important for the following exercises:

  • Shoulder press
  • Shoulder raises
  • Front raises
  • Chest press
  • Push ups
  • Bicep curls
  • Hammer curls
  • Front squats
  • Back squats
  • Goblet squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Planks
  • Step ups

Does this surprise you? If you think about the focus of an exercise and how the body is used, a strong back is required. For example, if you don’t have a strong back, how can your shoulders support weight above your body? If you don’t have a strong back, how can your rotator cuff act safely as a stabilizer for anything chest, shoulders, or back?

Notice the inclusion of the lower body exercises? Many lower body exercises involve placing weight on the upper part of the body or lifting it off the ground. If you don’t activate your back and core for squats, then you are likely to tilt forward and get injured. When executing a deadlift, if you don’t engage your back/lats to get the weight posterior focused, you run the risk of anterior strain because your chest is bearing the weight of the bar, pulling your shoulders and everything else forward.

If you are interested in becoming a certified personal trainer or would like to partner with PFTA Austin to help educate personal trainers, we would love to hear from you!

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Offering First Aid/CPR AED Certification

Starting in August, PFTA Austin is proud to offer certification and testing for First Aid and CPR AED. Whether you are needing to certify for the first time or renew your existing certification, we can help!

To register for the skills assessment, at the American Heart Association website, click Locate a Training Center. To narrow down the options, provide 78757 as the zip code, filter the list for Heartsaver CPR AED Skills Session and Heartsaver First Aid CPR AED Skills Session and then click Submit.

If you have any questions, please contact Keli for more information – (512) 710-7773 | keli@pftaaustin.com

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Continuing Personal Trainer Education in Austin

When students complete their Certified Personal Training certification with PFTA Austin, we want to continue to help them succeed in their personal training careers.

As a result, we continue to improve ourselves and expand our educational offerings for the personal training community. We are excited to share that Keli Hay will become fully certified as a CPR/AED instructor next week with the American Heart Association. With this new certification, PFTA Austin will be adding monthly CPR workshops – stay tuned for the exact dates!

Provider for Continuing Education

In addition to the CPR courses, we are creating workshops to help personal trainers hone their skills in different areas. Where are these workshops coming from? We have created them based on our first hand experiences as personal trainers (working in corporate gyms and as private trainers) and from feedback in the field.

To make sure certified personal trainers receive credits for our workshops, we became an approved provider of continuing education with the National Council on Strength and Fitness. Our inaugural workshops are:

  • Client Assessments and Engagement
  • Program Design

If you are interested in becoming a certified personal trainer or are interested in our continuing education workshops, we would love to hear from you!

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Bracing and Breathing to Avoid Injuries When Lifting

Watching people lifting around the gym, it’s hard to tell how much time lifters spend thinking about and practicing the elements of creating a strong core which includes – bracing and breathing. Faces go deep red/purple because people hold their breath for too long or breathe at the wrong time resulting in body shifts – mainly hips and shoulders.

Poor Bracing and Breathing

As you continue to build strength in any exercise – especially the main three of bench, deadlifts, and back squats – you must continue to brace and keep your form. Without proper bracing and breathing, you can hurt yourself – especially as you increase weights. For example, you could:

In addition to injuries in the moment, you could cause repetitive stress on joints and muscles creating other issues, such as lower back or neck pain.

Tightening the Core

Buddha Belly Breathing

How do you practice core tightening and breathing? Lay flat on your back and breathe! If only it was that easy 🙂 To truly brace your core, practice breathing in through your nose to expand your belly and then exhale out your mouth.

To practice bracing your abdominal muscles:

  1. Lay on your back.
  2. Get your hips into neutral position.
  3. Breathe in through your nose.
  4. Lift and squeeze your pelvic floor muscles.
  5. Very gently contract or tense your abdominal wall.
  6. Keep your pelvic floor and lower abdominal muscles contracted.
  7. Relax your abdominal muscles after maintaining your abdominal contraction for 5-10 seconds at a time.
  8. Exhale out your mouth.

If you are interested in becoming a certified personal trainer or would like to partner with PFTA Austin to help educate personal trainers, we would love to hear from you!

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