First, about personal trainers
An historical perspective
There used to be time – indeed, all of the time before the fitness boom
which began in the 1970s – when there were few gyms and not many personal
trainers. If you were a hardcore bodybuilder you probably went to Gold’s Gym,
and for everyone else, the local YMCA was the usual choice. The need for
personal trainers was small, so there weren’t many of them. And if you were a
trainer, you probably worked at the Y. Of course, there were other gyms and
other venues for personal trainers, but the Y and Gold’s Gym were the norms for
Fitness jobs at the Y were straightforward and qualifications were the
same everywhere: For personal trainers, you needed to be certified by ACE,
ACSM, or NASM, and had to have a minimum of two years’ experience. If you
didn’t have those qualifications, you might get hired as an “exercise
instructor” and were required to become certified as a personal trainer within
six months of employment. At the Y, exercise instructors wore blue shirts to
distinguish them from trainers, who wore black shirts, and their main job was
to show members how to operate different machines and equipment.
Personal trainers, on the other hand, designed exercise programs for
apparently healthy adult members based on their individual goals. Even so,
trainers were required to follow strict guidelines about pre-screening for risk
factors, and to obtain physician-clearance before proceeding with clients who
had any number of conditions defined under risk stratification guidelines.
That was then.
Personal training today
Now, fitness is an enormous industry. There are more than 30,000 gyms
in America, and some 275,000 people call themselves personal trainers. Most of the more than 30,000 gyms are parts of
large chains – some with annual revenues in excess of a billion dollars – and
too many of the trainers are products of weekend seminars. In effect, too many
“trainers” have bought a certification
by attending a seminar, rather than having earned one through a rigorous study
of anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, nutrition, special populations, program design, and
I am certified by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) as both a Personal Trainer and as a Health Coach. These certifications are
accredited by the National Commission on Certifying Agencies (NCCA), an
independent accrediting body that also evaluates programs for other health
professionals, like registered dietitians, nurse practitioners, and occupational therapists.
In addition, I hold the following specialty certifications:
- Weight Management Specialist (ACE)
- Orthopedic Exercise Specialist (ACE)
- Corrective Exercise Specialist (NASM)
- Senior Fitness Specialist (ACE, SFA)
As a weight management specialist, I specialize in helping people who, no matter what they try, find it impossible to lose a meaningful amount of weight. They try exercising more and eating less, but not much happens weight-loss-wise. They've tried every diet and gimmick, and regularly tune in to Dr. Oz et al to learn the latest magic solution.
Still, no luck.
But, it's not about luck.
Stubborn, seemingly impossible weight loss, is often not about gluttony and sloth. If it were, every obese person who has tried exercising and eating less would no longer be obese.
There is no one simple explanation for obesity. Just look around and you'll see that more people today are either noticeably overweight or are obese than are not. No one wants to be obese, and most people are aware of the serious health consequences of being so.
While gender, child birth, age, environmental factors, and ethnicity are important variables in each obese person's contributing causes, a metabolic disorder called insulin resistance is too often to blame.
The good news is that insulin resistance can be reversed. And reversing insulin resistance so that your body can become efficient at fat-burning has as much to do with what you eat as it does how much, and the kinds of exercise you do matters more than how hard you exercise.
My weight loss program is based on nutritional advice which is easy to follow, and doing the right kinds of exercise. It is not gimmicky and it's based on sound science.
As an orthopedic exercise
specialist, I work with clients who have spine, low-back, or joint problems, especially those who have
already been treated and released for exercise by their orthopedist and
physical therapist and who require a tailored exercise program once their
insurance has stopped covering physical therapy.
As a corrective exercise specialist, I work with clients who have postural deviations and muscle imbalances. More than ever before, people spend countless hours sitting at a desk working on computers. Prolonged sitting leads to shortened, tight hip flexors resulting in low back pain, and constant computer work leads to an imbalance in the muscles of the neck and shoulders, resulting in a forward head posture and rounded, forward-pitched shoulders.
As a senior fitness specialist,
I work with an older clientele, many of whom live with aches and pains,
especially osteoarthritis, as well
as myriad coronary, respiratory, metabolic, and other conditions. Indeed, many
of my clients have had joint
replacements and damaged rotator
cuffs, as well as diabetes, obesity, and other age-related health
While exercise benefits everyone, many of these conditions require
modifications in intensity and special attention to the clients’ self-assessed
rating of perceived exertion for each exercise. With respect to coronary, respiratory, and metabolic
disorders, I make certain that intensity levels and other programming variables
are consistent with appropriate levels for each person, and in compliance with
guidelines from each person’s personal physician, which I always request.
I also work with older adults to maintain, improve, or restore physical
fitness, while recognizing the special needs of many older clients with respect to
age-related loss of muscle mass
(sarcopenia), balance training, and
muscle strengthening to ease the burden on arthritic
A typical problem with respect to senior fitness is a lack of genuine
empathy from the trainer. This is surely not as intentional as it is
generational. When a trainer is in his or her 20s it’s hard to relate to
someone two, three, or even four times
Here’s a tip:
Most trainers have a website. Have a look. If what you see is pictures
of the trainer posing in a muscle shirt designed to show off their physique (or
no shirt at all), their message is: I may
not look like you, but you can look like me; they don’t use those words but
the message is clear.
What is also clear is that that
message is not true. An obese 60-year-old with diabetes and arthritic
joints is not going to be transformed into a 25-year-old look-alike.
What’s missing in their message is:
- I can help you have a body that moves without pain, or with less pain, and which can efficiently perform activities of daily living
- I can help you lose weight, which can ease the burden on arthritic knees and hips, and maybe even reverse Type 2 diabetes
- I can educate you about reversing insulin resistance, which is a leading reason why so many obese people find it near-impossible to lose a meaningful amount of weight, no matter what they do
- I can help you restore or improve lost muscle mass
- I can help you restore or improve joint range of motion(flexibility)
- I can help you improve your balance
- I can help you stand straighter and look and feel, better
- All of which leads to a happier, more fulfilling life
But, that is my message.