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Personal Training 101

Happy MLK, Jr. Day! I hope you’re enjoying the first long weekend of 2012.

I’m feeling extremely lucky to have kicked off the New Year enjoying back-to-back productive and life-changing weekends. Last weekend was all about becoming licensed Zumba® instructor. This weekend, I kicked my personal training goals into high gear.

Prep materials & paperwork for training sessions

While I’ve written about guiding my friend Jared along his journey with a first-time gym membership, this weekend I conducted my first official personal training sessions at Hype gym here in New York City.  I’m grateful to my colleagues Rebecca, Colleen, Lea and Lauren for signing up for these first workouts, and I’m already looking forward to the next round!

Each of these women came to me with a similar goal of reducing body fat and increasing the appearance of muscle definition, but each had her own unique background based on several factors including medical history and daily activities (e.g. wearing heels or sitting for a good part of the day because of her occupation). This is why it’s crucial to understand why a “one-size-fits-all” approach to exercise isn’t the best course of action. Just because your best friend has gotten great results from taking a certain group exercise class or running through a specific high intensity circuit on the weight floor doesn’t mean the same routine will work for you – especially if you’re body isn’t properly prepared for that type of workout.

This is where a personal trainer can help. Along with collecting subjective information about your general and medical history, we analyze crucial objective information (measurable data), as well. This includes performance assessments, one of most important being the overhead squat assessment. As I learned through my NASM instruction, this dynamic postural assessment is key in creating a safe and effective exercise program. Observing a person’s feet, knees, lumbo- pelvic-hip complex and shoulder complex while he or she performs an overhead squat shows which overactive muscles need to be stretched and which underactive muscles need to be strengthened. For example, a couple of the women had knees that turned out when performing their overhead squats. That meant we had to stretch the adductors (inner thighs), bicep femoris (hamstring) and tensor fasciae latae (TFL) as part of a warm up before jumping into the rest of the workout.

As far as the workouts are concerned, each woman has begun the first phase of her training: stabilization endurance. This includes lots of fun exercises like dumbbell chest presses and shoulder presses on a stability ball as well as bicep curls standing on one leg instead of two. These exercises have an added bonus: since the body needs to work harder to stay stable, you can end up burning a lot of calories. Each woman will remain in this phase of training for the next four weeks.

In the weeks ahead, I’ll keep you posted on their progress (here’s hoping they come back for lots of sessions!) and also share some specific exercise programs that will hopefully help you with your routine so you can have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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