Personal Training

Why Your Trainer Should Be Online

When someone mentions personal training a few things come to mind. Being at a gym with an individual who walks around helping others perform workouts. Having someone with you to motivate you to do tasks that help you reach a goal. And hiring someone to help develop proper technique in certain movement patterns.

Do you need to have a face to face trainer?

Most people do not view personal trainers online as a very effective or sufficient way to achieve their health and fitness goals.

What if I told you that having an online personal trainer would be just as beneficial if not more than a personal trainer at a gym?

If you are pondering this question, then allow me to give you an insight as to why good online coaching could be useful for you. 

1) Scheduling
If you have ever had a personal trainer, then you would understand why scheduling can be a pain in the butt. When you have a personal trainer in the gym, you have to schedule a time slot in order to meet with them. What happens if the trainer does not have your preferred time? You essentially have to schedule around them and settle for a less desirable time slot. With online training, you do not have to settle for a time slot or stress about when to meet your trainer. You simply fit it into your own schedule.

2) Attention
Did you ever notice that no matter the gym, your time slot with a trainer is 30-55 minutes.  That means that you only have your trainer's attention for 30-55 minutes. Usually, the only time you see or hear from your trainer is within that period of time. You pay anywhere from $45-150 per session and only get 30-55 minutes of inspiration, education, and communication. 

With online training, your coach is with your every step of the way. Communication is the core of online coaching.  There are no time restraints or times that you cannot call on your coach to help you with any questions or concerns about an exercise, nutrition matter, or motivational pitfalls.

3) Crutch-less
Hmm. Crutch-less. What does that mean? Well, in order for me to tell you, I have to explain it.

Let's say you go to the gym to meet your trainer, Sue. Sue takes you through a warm up and progresses you through your workout. That is great but what happened? Sue most likely took you to the machine or through an exercise and showed you the right way to do it. She would in turn ask you to mimic what she demonstrated. Which is great. But did you think about doing the exercise correctly or did you rely on Sue to tell you how you did? Hmm.. most people probably would say that they relied on Sue.

During my time as a personal trainer at a gym, my clients relied on me to show the them machines, count for them, and perform the exercises even though we had done the exercise multiple times. That is what I call a crutch. Most clients rely on the personal trainer to be their crutch. 

Technology has progressed in such a manner that really aids online training. Online training has bridged the gap with ways to correct technique and form issues with the ability of sending video. A good online coach will ask you to video certain movements so they can help with form. It provides a good framework to correct technique but also provides you the ability to look back and make some self corrections and also see progress over time. Online coaches can't count for you or show you where certain machines are located but you will find your way with practice. Online coaching provides a crutch-less atmosphere where the client has to rely on memory, and over time develops a mind-muscle connection. Great virtual coaches provide clients with videos and descriptions of every exercise, and eventually you will remember the terms and cues on how to perform each exercise without having to look at the video reference. In time this will give you a great deal of confidence. 

4) Stress Free
When you have an online coach developing your weekly exercise routine and meal plan, it can alleviate a lot of unwanted stress out of your life. Taking the guess work out of achieving optimal health and fitness is half the battle. Great virtual coaches provide you with a plan so you are not left to wonder what do each day. They list out every thing for you to help ease your mind. You don't see a face to face trainer daily so often times you are left without a plan for the days that you do not see them.

You deserve to have a great coach who provides constant lines of communication, a personalized plan, and a positive environment to help guide you down a path to a healthier lifestyle.  

To Stretch Or Not To Stretch

Let's discuss another one of those topics that seem to linger around in fitness sector. Stretching.
Is it good? Is it bad?
Should I do it before I exercise? Should I do it after I exercise?
How long should I do it for?

This topic appears in tons of fitness related magazines, blogs, and articles. Some of them have good information but some of them suck.

Stretching does the body good in several ways but I want to clear up the biggest myth first.

Stretching will not improve your performance. Yes, you spent some time bending over and touching your toes, but that will not translate into you squatting more weight. You will often see a man stretch his chest out before he bench presses. That does not help power output. I'm sorry.

The majority of articles mention that stretching decreases the chance of injury. NOT TRUE. Being able to perform a movement through its entire range of motion is what decreases the chance of injury. Performing certain stretches can aide in that regard. But stretching isn't the only vehicle to get us there. Remembering that there are more than one way to chop a tree down is key.

When the goal is to embark on improving flexibility then a couple things need to be considered. Stretching is best performed after a good warm-up. This helps to reduce joint viscosity. Which is a fancy way of saying prepare your muscles and connective tissue before you start tugging on them. Some light aerobic activity performed for 5 or 10 minutes will accomplish this task well. Take home message: Don’t stretch a cold muscle if improving flexibility is the end goal.

Stretching is great for helping you to be more aware of posture, and stress relief. It can also be a good tool for helping the body get in and out of basic human shapes.

I personally love stretching for the mental aspect. It allows you to have 2 to 5 minutes of time where you can mentally prepare yourself for exercise. I find that to be beneficial for clients, and also in my own practice.

What does the research say?

There is some evidence showing that stretching before a workout isn't the best idea. It can have a negative benefit on performance output. Especially in high performance activities like low rep resistance training, sprinting, jumping or any other high output type exercise/activity. Let's take a T-shirt for example. If you have a fresh T-shirt out of the bag. It is nice and tight when you put it on. But if you start tugging on the sleeves, and stretching the bottom of it then it won't be so tight will it? Your muscles act the same way. If you are stretching a single muscle for an extended amount of time and asking that muscle to be nice and tight during maximum output, good luck.

In general, standard stretching protocols where you are holding a stretch for 10 - 30 seconds are safe. It actually shows great benefit to the individual that practices moderate to high repetition resistance training. It also has great carryover for the person performing sub maximal cardiovascular exercise.

Performing basic fundamental stretches are helpful because:
1. It will help your body realize that basic human functions are safe.
2. It will help give you access to moving through a full range of motion.
3. It could help you become more aware of some posture flaws.
4. It could be a great tool for stress relief since muscle tightness is often associated with stress.

Here is another example of a fitness related topic that isn't completely black and white. With most fitness topics like this the truth lies somewhere in the middle.