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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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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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Working with Client Goals

When working as a personal trainer, the most important aspect of connecting with a client is understanding the client goal. While the most common goals include weight loss and muscle gain, you must let clients tell you their goals. Taking the time to listen and understand what the client is saying is the most important. For example, if a client is overweight, never assume their main goal is weight loss. 

As a personal trainer, it is very rare that you will encounter the “perfect” client. For example, a weight loss client might hit it hard at the gym, but struggle with food, so the weight loss is slow. It is not your job to tell someone what to do, but rather coach and encourage the client when progress and healthy choices are made.

Be Ready for Curve Balls

Most clients come to you with health conditions or variables making the achievements of the goals challenging. Your goal as a trainer is to work with whatever the client brings you. Weight loss programs, dieting trends/fads, workout programs, muscle disorders, medications…every single thing a client will tell you they have/are doing can be found online.


If a potential client is on a prescription, research the product to understand the impact of the drug. When researching the product, look up the side effects and impact on the body. Also research any potential conflicting medications or supplements incase something, such as caffeine – which is common in pre-workout – impacts the effects of the prescribed medication.

Injuries or Physical Limitations

The most common injury amongst athletes is a sprained ankle. The next 5 common injuries are all lower body. In addition to the common injuries, because of commuting and sitting the majority of the day, most office job people have visible anterior body movements. Be ready for this, but never make assumptions. Use your pre-exercise screening tools to help assess client movements. Also be ready for clients in a mental state of being disabled. What do I mean? Clients will indicate they were injured over 5 years ago and still mentally think the injury is a problem. Realistically, the injury is long gone, but the client is favoring the injured muscle/joint causing other problems.

Dietary Concerns or Beliefs

When a client comes to you wanting to lose weight, do you think they want you to tell them how to do it? Nope. Don’t even try for a couple of reasons.

  • Unless you have a specialized degree or certification, you are not a nutritionist, so be careful with what you say. Consult the Center for Nutrition Advocacy for the laws applicable to your employment state.
  • Clients need to figure out their diet on their own. You can coach and guide around good nutrition choices, but you cannot force or control what they eat.

If a client has a medical reason for not consuming a certain food, ask why and do some research. All dietary concerns can be accommodated to match a client goal at the gym.

If a client is following a particular diet program or fad, also do your research. While many diet fads can be tough on the body during exercise, they can also be accommodated. If you can tap into the true goal and understand the nutritional habits of your clients, you should be able to coach them mentally to a successful weight loss – regardless of the chosen method.

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 4: Proteins

OMG, I’m soooo fat, time to cut the carbs and up the protein! Everyone thinks that protein is the answer to everything and carbs are the enemy. As mentioned last week, carbs – when the right ones are consumed – are beneficial to overall health.

The Importance of Protein in the Body

Similar to carbohydrates and fats, proteins contain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, but proteins differ because they also contain nitrogen. Proteins are long chains of linked amino acids and most known for muscle growth and repair. However, protein also plays an important role in the development, maintenance, and repair of all tissues in the body.

Proteins are divided as follows:

  • Essential amino acids cannot be produced by the body and must be acquired by food.
  • Nonessential amino acids are produced by the body and do not need to be consumed in dietary sources.
  • In some disease conditions, nonessential amino acids cannot be made by the body, and they become conditionally essential amino acids.
EssentialNonessentialConditionally Essential
LysineAspartic acid
PhenylalanineGlutamic acid

Protein Food Sources

To get the proper protein – aka amino acid – consumption, you also need to know if what you are eating is considered:

  • Complete protein – which provides all the essential amino acids in the amount the body needs and is easy to digest and absorb.
  • Incomplete protein – which are foods not containing all the essential amino acids in the amount needed by the body.

Complete Proteins Include:

Whole eggYogurt and granola
Milk and milk productsOatmeal with milk
Meat and poultryLentils and bread
FishTortillas with beans or bean burritos
Rice and beansMacaroni and cheese
Peanut butter on whole-wheat breadHummus
Sunflower seeds and peanutsBean soup with whole-grain crackers

How Much Protein Do You Need

The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per daily. When expressed as a percentage of total calories, the recommendation is that 10–35% of an individual’s daily calories should come from protein.

Diet Examples

Using the same data from the Carbs and Fats articles, we will work backwards to determine the amount of proteins per day. 

1600 Calorie Diet

Assuming a 20% protein-based diet (50% carbs and 30% fats), a person eating 1600 calories a day would consume 320 calories worth of proteins. There are 4 calories in 1 gram of a protein, so on a 1600 calorie diet, a person would consume 320 calories or 80 grams of protein per day. A simplistic approach to breaking this down across the day would be splitting the protein across 3 meals and 2 snacks, for 20g per meal and 10g per snack.

2500 Calorie Diet

Assuming a 10% protein-based diet (60% carbs and 30% fats), a person eating 2500 calories a day would consume 250 calories worth of protein. 250 calories of protein is equal to 6.25 grams of protein per day.

Don’t Be Scared of Protein

Protein helps the body by providing:

  • fluid balance
  • blood clotting
  • enzyme production
  • acid-base balance
  • immune function
  • hormone regulation
  • carrier services for several nutrients

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 3: Fats

Already have too much fat on your body? Eat the leanest meats, cut the carbs and cut the fats! Right? Similar to carbohydrates – aka carbs, not all fats are equal. Because many people think that a fat, is a fat, is a fat, they make bad diet choices and are easily fooled by food labels and titles. 

The Importance of Fats

Fats, also known as lipids, are a primary source of fuel for the body. While fats and carbs have the same structural elements, fats are metabolized and stored differently in the body. 

Fats are divided as follows:

  • Simple lipids include oils that are liquid at room temperature and fats that are solid at room. These fats contain only one or two different compounds. Examples include triglycerides and triacylglycerols.
  • Compound lipids include phospholipids and glycol-lipids, which frequently contain three or more chemical identities.
  • Derived lipids include sterols and fatty acids. Examples include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids and saturated fats.

From a dietary perspective, fats are unsaturated and saturated. Unsaturated fats (mono-and poly-) are commonly found in plant sources, while saturated fats are found in higher amounts in animal sources. Diets high in saturated fats affect the blood lipid profile resulting in an increased chance of coronary heart disease risk.

Canola oil
Olive oil
Peanut and other nut oils
Corn oil
Cottonseed oil
Safflower oil
Sunflower oil
Cocoa butter
Coconut oil
Ice cream
Palm oil
Red meats
Whole milk

How Much Fat You Need

Unlike carbs, fats are 9 kcal per gram – meaning they contain 5 more calories per gram. NCSF recommends a daily fats intake of 30% or less of the diet coming from fats, with only 7-10% coming from saturated fats. 

Diet Examples

Using the same data from the Carbs article, we will work backwards to determine the amount of fats per day.

1600 Calorie Diet

Assuming a 30% fats-based diet, a person eating 1600 calories would consume 480 calories from fats. There are 9 calories in 1 gram of a fat, so on a 1600 calorie diet, a person would consume 480 calories or ~53 grams of fats per day. A simplistic approach to breaking this down across the day would be splitting the carbs across 3 meals and 2 snacks, for 13g per meal and 6.5g per snack. To keep the fats low in saturated fats, this breaks down further to a total of 112 calories (7%) or 12g of saturated fats in an entire day.

2500 Calorie Diet

Assuming a 30% fats-based diet, a person eating 2500 calories a day would consume no more than 750 calories worth of fats. 750 calories of fats is equal to 83 grams of fats per day with only 175 calories/19g of them coming from saturated fats.

Don’t Be Scared of Fats

Fats help the body by:

  • Providing energy to the body
  • Transporting molecules in the blood
  • Storing nutrients, including vitamins
  • Serving as conduction canals in the nervous system
  • Forming hormones
  • Protecting organs
  • Regulating body temperature
  • Communicating energy needs
  • Forming cell membranes

For information about the June 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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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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