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AustinCertified Personal TrainerCertified Personal TrainingCoachingPersonal TrainerPersonal TrainingPowerliftingWeight LossWeightlifting

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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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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Sharing A Passion for Training

Over the past few years, the health and wellness industry has continued to see an uptick in consumer spending. While the investing areas vary, the results are conclusive – people are starting to take better care of themselves.

With consumers investing $702.1 billion on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss and an additional $595.4 billion on fitness, personal trainers need to find their piece of the market.

Making Your Mark

On June 25th, PFTA Austin was proud to welcome Justin Mihaly and Megan Davis from Team Mihaly to the school to share their lessons learned with the upcoming graduates. If you haven’t heard of Justin and Megan, you might not be into body building or use online coaching. Since 2015, Justin has successfully built a very successful online coaching product and service. The company works with clients in 9 different countries and 50 states. 

Justin and Megan shared their previous life and work experiences contributing to their current successes. Additionally, Justin shared his beliefs around what makes a great trainer. Top of the list was passion. He believes, as we do at PFTA Austin, that you must love personal training. Whether that passion means helping create the perfect physique for competition, helping people lose weight, or simply helping people move better, you must have a passion for it. 

His second and third items on the list were knowledge and networking. In a previous post, we discussed how personal trainers must be self motivators and lifelong learners, so we were very happy to hear Justin reiterate the importance of continued learning. He also emphasized the importance of networks – whether it be in person contacts or networking groups.

Finding Partnerships

We really want to thank Justin and Megan for spending time with us at the school. As the health and wellness industry continues to evolve through technology and people continue to invest in their health, we want to make sure that all PFTA Austin graduates have the tools to succeed. 

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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