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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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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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Client Assessments and Engagement

PFTA Austin is proud to announce our inaugural workshop. On July 14th from 10am until 3pm we will be running the Client Assessments and Engagement workshop – split between the school on Shoal Creek Blvd and Gym One.

In this course, students will practice meeting with new clients and conducting fitness assessments. Starting in the classroom, students review and practice completion of client screening documents, including the informed consent, the Par-Q, the health risk appraisal, medical history questionnaire, the health status questionnaire, and the behavior questionnaire. With this collected information, students then discuss how to interpret the information and what to do with it.

After the screening documents are complete and the data analyzed, students move to the gym where they practice client fitness tests including resting tests – circumference and skinfold measurements, postural assessment, and flexibility tests. Upon completion of the resting tests, students then practice the other fitness assessments, including the strength and power tests (bench press and pull ups), endurance tests (push ups and modified pull ups), anaerobic tests (vertical jumps and power steps), and aerobic tests (1 mile walk and 12 minute run).

For information about the open enrollment for the July start of the Certified Personal Trainer course or any PFTA Austin workshops, contact:

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Nourishing Your Body Properly – Part 2: Carbohydrates

Of the three macronutrients – or macros – carbohydrates (carbs) are probably the least understood by most people. When trying to lose weight or cut calories most people immediately think they need to remove or reduce all carbs from their diet. Carbs are blamed for obesity and many health issues such as diabetes. In reality, when it comes to healthy eating and living, carbs are the most important part of the human diet.

The Importance of Carbs Not All Being Equal

Carbs are classified as simple (carbohydrate with less than 10 carbon/water units) or complex (carbohydrate with more than 10 carbon/water units).

Simple carbs are low in nutrients and fiber, making them quick digesting carbs. Because of the quick digestion, appetites aren’t satisfied for long so people want to eat again sooner, resulting in overeating. Simple carbs include: 

  • fructose – honey and fruit
  • galactose – part of lactose
  • glucose – blood sugar
  • lactose – dairy sugar
  • maltose – rare
  • sucrose – table sugar

Complex carbs contain more nutrients than simple carbs, are higher in fiber, and digest more slowly making them more filling, which is important in weight control. Complex carbs are also ideal for people with Type 2 diabetes because they help manage post meal blood sugar surges. Cellulose, glycogen, and starch (grains, wheat, and rice) are examples of complex carbs.

How Many Carbs Do You Need

NCSF recommends a daily carb intake of 55-60% of the diet, while NASM has a larger range of 45-65%. Most Americans average 40-50% carbs with half of those calories coming from simple carbs such as sugar. 

Diet Examples

When determining how many carbs you should be eating, there are many variables. If you know your daily caloric intake, then you simply need to work backwards and determine how many grams you should consume.

1600 Calorie Diet

Assuming a 50% carb-based diet, a person eating 1600 calories a day would consume 800 calories worth of carbs. There are 4 calories in 1 gram of a carb, so on a 1600 calorie diet, a person would consume 800 calories or 200 grams of carbs per day. A simplistic approach to breaking this down across the day would be splitting the carbs across 3 meals and 2 snacks, for 50g per meal and 25g per snack.

2500 Calorie Diet

Assuming a 60% carb-based diet, a person eating 2500 calories a day would consume 1500 calories worth of carbs. 1500 calories of carbs is equal to 375 grams of carbs per day.

Don’t Be Scared of Carbs

As previously mentioned, complex carbs are more nutritious and contain fiber helping slow digestion – helping in weight control. Carbs also help insulin levels for diabetics. If you want to be more active or already are active, carbs are the primary fuel source for intense work and are required for the formation of Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which is used by the central nervous system. Simply put, if you workout, you need carbs for energy. If you want to be healthy, you need carbs. You simply need to pick the right carbs.

For information about the open enrollment for the June start of the Certified Personal Trainer course or any PFTA Austin workshops, contact:

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Nourishing Your Body Properly – Part 1: Water

There are many claims indicating that 80% of your health is based on your eating habits, while the remaining 20% is exercise. Whether or not you believe in the 80/20 split is not important. What you choose to put in your stomach every day is very important.

Over the next four weeks we are going to examine the importance of nutrition on your health, broken down as follows:

  • Water
  • Carbohydrates
  • Fats
  • Protein


Ever been told to drink a glass of water when dealing with hunger pains or cravings? While a glass of water might help fill the hunger void, it actually serves a much greater purpose…it keeps you alive. Without water, your body can go into complete organ failure within 3 days.

How Your Body Uses Water

The human body is more than 50% water, most of which – 70% – is found in muscle tissue. Some of the key body functions that water is responsible for include:

  • transporting nutrients through the body
  • diffusing gases
  • helping the body dispose of waste
  • lubricating joints
  • cushioning vital organs
  • providing structure to the skin and body tissue

Through evaporation, water also helps to maintain body temperature. As the body sweats and releases water through the skin, the water evaporates to cool the body. When heat is generated through exercise and environmental conditions, water absorbs the heat to stabilize body temperature.

How Much Water Your Body Needs

An adequate amount of water varies per person based on weight, activity, and the environment. An average sedentary person in normal conditions should consume 2.5 liters per day. During exercise, 8-10 ounces should be consumed every 15 minutes.

Without sufficient water, you might experience dehydration exhibiting symptoms such as:

  • dry mouth
  • sleepiness
  • thirst
  • dry skin
  • headache
  • rapid heartbeat
  • rapid breathing
  • delirium

The following video shows how water is used by the fascia – which is the band or sheet of connective tissue beneath the skin that attaching and separating muscles and other internal organs.

For information about the open enrollment for the June start of the Certified Personal Trainer course or any PFTA Austin workshops, contact:

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Completing the Perfect Exercise

If you ever watch people in a gym setting you inevitably see the “same” exercise performed in many different ways. While some people need to make adjustments for injuries or body reasons – such as joint or skeletal issues – the reality is many people simply do exercises wrong.

Exercise Considerations

When performing an exercise, there are several things to consider, including the:

  • Purpose of the exercise. Without knowing why you should be doing an exercise, then don’t do it. Without knowing the purpose of an exercise, you will not know which muscles or joint actions are involved. You also won’t be able to distinguish poor form related pains from regular muscle fatigue.
  • Muscles involved. Similar to the purpose of the exercise, to make sure you perform an exercise properly, you should also know the primary, opposing, synergist, and stabilizer muscles involved. With an understanding of all exercise-specific muscles, you can properly warm up and cool down the proper muscles for your workouts.
  • Joint actions. With an understanding of the joint action for an exercise, you can properly execute an exercise for maximal results on the primary muscle and minimal chance of personal injury.
  • Weights involved. While not all exercises use weights, when using weights it is important to know the most appropriate amount of weight, the type of weight, and the grips involved to maximize the results and minimize injury.

Exercising Wrong

To best explain how exercises go wrong, here are three common exercises that people typically perform incorrectly.

Bicep Curls

The purpose of the bicep curl is to strengthen the front of the forearm. The primary muscles involved include the brachialis, biceps brachii, anterior deltoid, brachial, and brachioradialis. The joint actions include elbow flexion, meaning the elbow joints come together in the motion. You can use bars, dumbbells, cables, or bands to complete the bicep curl. Common mistakes include rounding backs, leaning forward, or elevating shoulders. These mistakes result in the lats (latissimus dorsi) and traps (trapezius) and neck muscles firing taking the focus off the biceps and causing posture issues over time.


The purpose of the lunge is to strengthen the butt and top part of each leg independently. The primary muscles involved include the gluteus maximus, rectus femoris, vastus medialis, vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius, sartorius, biceps femoris, semimembranosus, and semitendinosus. The joint actions include hip extension and knee extension meaning the hip and knee joints extend in the eccentric motion. While weights can be added to this exercise, unless you can keep your front leg at 90 degrees and your torso tight, focus on form before adding weight. Common mistakes include extending the knee beyond the toes or leaning too far forward resulting in patellar pain. 

Seated Row

The purpose of the seated row is to strengthen the back. The primary muscles involved include the rhomboids, trapezius, latissimus dorsi, teres major, brachialis, biceps brachii, and brachioradialis. The joint actions include shoulder extension, shoulder hyperextension, scapular retraction, elbow flexion. There are many fixed weight machine options involving weights, but bands and cables can also be used. Common mistakes include rounding backs and tightened core compromising the chest and resulting in the back muscles not being worked.

For information about the open enrollment for the June start of the Certified Personal Trainer course or any PFTA Austin workshops, contact:

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Finding and Working with a Personal Trainer

The following post was originally written by Keli Hay – one of the PFTA Instructors – a couple of years ago because she successfully lost over 100lbs in under a year while working with a personal trainer.

Back in 2017

Over the past few months, I have been asked about how to find a personal trainer because of how successful I have been with my health. While I have worked with various trainers over the years, I have been fortunate to be with the same trainer going on two years. There is obviously something very different about my relationship with my current trainer because I have never been this happy and healthy, and I never enjoyed working out at the gym before.

Where I Initially Went Wrong

When I joined the gym a couple of years ago, I simply knew that I wanted to lose weight and that I needed variety because I get bored in a routine. That was as much information as the membership advisor got from me.

The problem with this little information is that it doesn’t really help someone match you with a trainer. Why? It is too generic – anyone who is a certified personal trainer will get you moving to help you lose weight, but your success ultimately depends on you.

Know Which Personality Works Well for You

Here are my notes about why my trainer and I work very well together…

  • He’s a guy. Probably sounds funny to most, but I work best with men. I am guessing it is part of my competitive nature, but when I see a guy doing something, it gives me a mental challenge to not only do what he does, but push myself to do better. 
  • We talk. When I hurt – I tell him. When something isn’t working – I tell him. When I am frustrated with an exercise – he just knows. I have health issues – he knows them all.
  • He’s bringing the variety. We have completed over 200 training sessions together and every single one has been different. Other than one circuit we drop in occasionally as a test – he has never given me the same routine. Never! 
  • Personality. We are similar and have enough common interests that we can talk about different things in life – mainly sports, but also family and other interests.

Tips On What to Ask Yourself

  • If you are working with someone at the gym office, such as a membership advisor, to be paired with a trainer – be open, specific, and honest.
  • Think of your personal trainer as a business partner.
  • What type of person makes you happy? 
  • Do you want someone that is direct?
  • What do you not want?
  • What are you comfortable sharing with a personal trainer – and – would the gender of the trainer make a difference in your sharing comfort level?
  • Once you find a trainer, listen and talk to them. Seriously – do not be shy. Be honest with yourself – your diet, goals, and commitment. Share concerns so that the trainer can help you be successful in whatever your gym goals are.

Own Your Responsibilities

Personal trainers can only do so much. If you want to lose weight, they can get you moving. If you want to gain muscle, they can help you push and pull heavier weights. If you want to sustain general wellness, they can help keep you mobile, flexible, and stable. Personal trainers cannot follow you around or feed you. Anything you do outside of the gym, away from your trainer is on you – including eating, drinking, and anything else you put into your body. Regardless of your goals, nutrition is vitally important to your success. You must own this part of your business relationship with your trainer. As a team, when the trainer and client deliver, any goal is possible.

2018 and Onward

In September 2018, I moved from the Bay area of California to Austin, Texas. Before we even booked the movers, I went looking for a new gym and trainer. I seemed to have lucked out again and found a perfect match. While my city and fitness goals have changed, I have not. I know what I like and don’t – he’s getting to know that. I would say he knows my health issues, but thanks to my weight loss, they are few and far between. He’s delivering on the workouts, and I am owning my responsibilities to the collaborative fitness goals.

For information about the open enrollment for the June start of the Certified Personal Trainer course or any PFTA Austin workshops, contact:

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Certifying Personal Trainers In Austin

Last week, PFTA Austin was excited to announce the partnership with NCSF. We are still very pumped to bring this unique partnership to the Austin area and would like to tell you more about it.

Certified Personal Trainer

NCSF is now providing the backbone content to our Certified Personal Trainer course. In addition to the thorough content, students receive accounts with NCSF to the online education portal. Upon completion of the course, students also receive a voucher for the national exam.

To fully equip students for certification and success as personal trainers, PFTA Austin also provides students with copies of Strength Training Anatomy and Stretching Anatomy.

Finally, for the duration of the course, students also receive a gym membership at Gym One – the location for the hands on training portion of the class.

Sport Nutrition

NCSF is also the provider for the content to support a workshop on Sport Nutrition. Students attending this workshop also receive access to the online education portal and an exam voucher.

Strength Coach

NCSF is also the provider for the content to support a workshop on Strength Coach. Students attending this workshop also receive access to the online education portal and an exam voucher.

For more information about any of our upcoming courses, please contact:

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Calling All Personal Trainers!

PFTA is keeping busy in Austin! As previously announced, we are offering our updated, signature Certified Personal Trainer course starting in the month of April.

Also coming up in April, we have partnered with Brook Benton for Cardio Pump Kettlebell certification. If you are already a certified personal trainer looking for extra CEUs or simply want to know how to swing a kettlebell safely, this course is for you!

We are also pleased to announce that we are working on other courses for the month of May including:

  • Sports Nutrition Planning: In this course, students create nutrition plans to maximize the nutritional needs of various clients down to the fats, proteins, carbohydrate, and water macro level.
  • Program Design: In this course, students will split time between the classroom and the gym. Classroom time will be spent designing programs for different clients, while in the gym, students will have hands on practice leading clients through the designed programs.
  • Client Assessments and Engagement: In this course, students will be in the gym practicing face to face client interactions and initial assessments to help win clients and build a training business.

If any of these courses interest you or if you have any questions, we can be reached at:

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