Fitness, Health, and Business Blog

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Debunking Physical Activity and Training Myths

This blog post is courtesy of our guest blogger, Dr. Sheri Colberg. 

How often have you heard certain things about physical activity and exercise training that you thought sounded correct, but found out later were totally wrong? If you hang out at a gym or even talk with training coaches, you’ll hear just about everything, including contradictory statements about the right ways to stay active.

Should you work out in a “fat burning” range? Will weight training make you bulk up? Will your muscles turn to fat if you stop working out? Do you need to eat a lot more protein to get bigger muscles? Confused? Here is the truth about some of the more common myths you’ll hear about being active.

Myth: Exercising regularly makes you more tired.

Although you may feel somewhat tired during a workout, once you’ve recovered, you usually feel more invigorated, not less. Doing any regular physical activity is guaranteed to raise your overall energy levels and make you better able to undertake life’s challenges. If you’re having trouble concentrating at work or getting too stressed, it helps to take a short walk or do any type of physical activity to clear your mind, bump up your energy levels, and decrease your mental stress. Doing regular physical activity also helps you sleep better at night, leaving you more refreshed and energetic during the day.

Myth: If you want to lose fat, you have to work out within a “fat burning” range.

Exactly what is the “fat-burning” range you see on a lot of aerobic exercise machines? You have to understand which fuels your body uses during rest and exercise. Typically, during rest 60% of your energy needs are supplied by fat (stored or eaten), with the other 40% coming from carbohydrates. As soon as you start to do any type of physical activity, though, carbs become a much higher percentage of your total energy supply. In fact, when you’re doing just moderate aerobic exercise like brisk walking, you’ll use very little fat, so you’re burning mostly carbs, even when you’re in a so-called “fat-burning” range. During more vigorous exercise, your body can’t use fat effectively, so almost all energy is supplied by carbs when you’re working out hard. You do use slightly more fat at a lower intensity, but fat is mostly used during your recovery from exercise, so just try to expend as many calories during exercise as possible without worrying about what types of fuels are supplying them.

Myth: When you don’t use your muscles, they turn into fat.

Have you ever looked at someone who used to be fit and thought that his or her muscles had really turned into flab? While there is no discounting the change in appearance, it is physically impossible for inactive muscles to turn into fat. What is really happening is this: when you work your muscles out regularly, they may increase in size or simply look more toned; if you stop using them, the muscle fibers will atrophy and disappear—similar to what happens to many people with aging. As your muscle mass decreases, your caloric needs also decrease, and if you don’t start eating less, you’ll gain fat weight that is stored under your skin (among other places). The reverse is true as well. If you drop body fat, your muscles will look more defined simply because there is less fat to cover them up. The bottom line is that it is never good to lose muscle mass, but if you don’t gain fat weight as you lose muscle, you’ll just look thinner without acquiring a flabby appearance.

Myth: Weight training will bulk you up.

This myth probably arose because you may look bigger as your muscles expand with heavy weight training. Women are especially worried about bulking up and getting bigger arms or legs. Remember how losing muscle can make you look thinner if you’re not gaining fat at the same time? Well, the same applies here, only in reverse. If you’re losing fat all over (including from under your skin) while you’re gaining muscle mass, you’ll stay about the same size. If you gain muscle without losing fat, you may look slightly bigger, or simply more toned. Either way, most people don’t gain enough muscle from weight training to ever look bulked up. More likely, you’ll just look more toned. When you first start exercising, your weight may go up slightly or just not come down as quickly as you think it should, simply because as you gain muscle while losing fat, the heavier of the two (muscle) will keep your scale weight higher. Focus less on your scale weight and more on your measurements and how well your clothes fit.

Myth: No pain, no gain.

If you’ve ever hung around a gym, you’re sure to have come across this myth. The “pain” part of exercise results from the build-up of acids in active muscles (like lactic acid), and acids drop the pH of your muscles and sensitize pain receptors. Usually, it’s just a sign that you’re working hard or that your muscle is fatiguing. However, you can certainly have gains in your strength and endurance without pushing yourself to the point of pain in the process. The more fit you become, the more easily your body can clear out those excess acids produced by physical activity. Too much pain can also signal that you’re likely to get injured.

Myth: Lifting weights slowly builds larger muscles.

Remember how we just debunked the “no pain, no gain” myth? If you try lifting weights more slowly, you’ll certainly feel the pain, but it absolutely doesn’t mean that your muscle or strength gains will be greater. On the contrary, lifting weights slowly when you could lift them faster will build more muscular endurance, while lifting the heaviest weight as quickly as possible will recruit extra muscle fibers and cause you to build bigger muscles. So, the rule of thumb should be that if you are lifting a weight slowly, but could lift it faster, you either need to move it faster or try a heavier weight for optimal results.

Myth: Working on your abdominal muscles will give you a flat belly.

You’ve probably always heard that if you want to get rid of that stomach flab, you have to do a lot of abdominal work, but don’t be fooled into believing that. As much as we’d all like to pick and choose where we lose our fat, it is not possible to spot reduce, and doing hundreds of crunches will not make you lose stomach fat any faster than you lose it from the rest of your body. If you want a flat belly, you can certainly work on toning up your abdominal region, but focus more on simply burning off excess calories. Doing harder workouts will also build more muscle, and having more muscle increases your daily caloric needs. One side benefit of including abdominal exercises, though, is that having toned abs makes it easier for you to pull in your stomach so it appears flatter, even if you can’t spot reduce there.

Myth: The more exercise you do, the better off you’ll be.

There is a limited benefit to anything, and that includes excessive exercise. When you do more than 60 to 90 minutes of aerobic exercise daily, you’re much more likely to develop overuse injuries—such as stress fractures, tendinitis, bursitis, and other joint issues. You don’t want to get injured because you will have to stop working out while you heal. You are better off doing slightly more intense exercise for a shorter period of time, which you can do with any type of interval training (including some of the latest crazes like HIIT and CrossFit). You can push yourself a bit harder from time to time during a workout, or do the whole thing at a higher intensity if you can, while cutting back on your duration—and you will gain the same benefits, or even more, from your workout. Most of us don’t have time to work out all day anyway, so it’s good to know that we really don’t need to.

Myth: If you want to gain muscle mass, eat more protein.

Ah, yes, the protein myth. It is true that you have to eat some protein to gain protein (muscles are made of amino acids, the building blocks of protein). And, yes, physically active people do need more protein that sedentary folks, but not that much more. In fact, no training athlete needs more than 1.6 to 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (~0.75 grams per pound), which is just twice that of a sedentary person. Does that mean you need to take protein supplements or up the protein in your diet? Not usually. Most Americans already eat well over 15% of their calories as protein: about 75 grams of daily protein in a 2,000 calorie diet (or 112 grams per 3,000 calories), more than enough to cover protein needs. Taking in some protein (especially whey) with carbs right after hard workouts may be beneficial, but make sure your protein is coming from good sources without a lot of extra saturated or trans fats. Instead of spending money on supplements, try eating more egg whites or drinking chocolate milk post-exercise.

Myth: If you’re not sweating, you’re not working hard enough.

Everyone equates sweating with working hard, but that isn’t always the case. People vary in their sweating rates. Being physically trained improves your ability to sweat more and to start sweating sooner, but men always tend to sweat more than women. Sweating is related not only to exercise intensity, but also to the environment. If it’s hot and humid, you’re going to sweat more, even if you’re not working hard. You will also sweat less if you’re dehydrated or lose too much fluid while you’re working out, as your body has mechanisms to limit fluid losses to keep enough in your blood. So, sweating is often not reflective of your effort level.

Sheri R. Colberg, PhD, is the author of The Athlete’s Guide to Diabetes: Expert Advice for 165 Sports and Activities(the newest edition of Diabetic Athlete’s Handbook), available through Human Kinetics (https://us.humankinetics.com/products/athlete-s-guide-to-diabetes-the), Amazon (https://amzn.to/2IkVpYx), Barnes & Noble, and elsewhere. She is also the author of Diabetes & Keeping Fit for Dummies. A professor emerita of exercise science from Old Dominion University and an internationally recognized diabetes motion expert, she is the author of 12 books, 28 book chapters, and over 415 articles. She was honored with the 2016 American Diabetes Association Outstanding Educator in Diabetes Award. Contact her via her websites (SheriColberg.com and DiabetesMotion.com).

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Why Fitness Certifications Matter, and how to get the most out of yours

Every year, thousands of college-bound high school seniors compete for a limited number of spots at prestigious schools, hoping to leverage that prestige to get a high-paying job upon graduation. Similarly, thousands of aspiring personal trainers and group exercise instructors become certified each year, hoping their credentials will open doors to a gratifying and lucrative fitness career. 

wits personal training

But in both cases, the name of your accredited institution only takes you so far. Once you land your dream job, you had better hope that your education prepared you to perform the day to day tasks your position requires. 

Bridging the Experience Gap

One of the biggest challenges to beginning a new fitness career is the experience gap. Employers are rarely willing to take a chance on a new hire who needs hours of training before they can step into their work role. In the case of fitness jobs like personal trainer or group exercise instructor, it is not enough to be passionate about fitness. You need to be able to translate that passion into useful skills that help your clients and students safely reach their goals. 

Most online certifications, even those whose reputations hold some clout, provide you with plenty of head knowledge, but when it comes to practical skills, you are on your own.

Practical skills needed to be an effective fitness professional include:

  • Experience conducting health history interviews and needs assessments
  • Experience conducting fitness assessments
  • Knowledge about fitness equipment and how to adjust it for each client
  • Ability to assess and correct alignment and exercise mechanics for a variety of fitness levels and body types
  • Knowledge of programming, to create effective balanced exercise sessions or group exercise classes
  • Communication skills for group exercise and personal training

If your fitness certification does not provide you with practical skills training, you will face a huge learning curve when it comes to job performance, and most fitness employers do not provide on-the-job training. They are looking for confident experienced employees who can step into the job on day one and perform like pros. 

What Gym Managers Say About Fitness Certifications

To get the employers’ perspective on hiring and certification, we spoke to some managers and business owners of local fitness clubs and studios. We asked them about what they look for in a new hire, and the importance of certification, Here is what they had to say:

“Certification in general is important, but we also look at the certifying body. There are certain certifications that demand in-depth knowledge, and others that are basically diploma mills. Even if you have an exercise science degree, your choice of certification says a lot about your commitment to your profession.”  -Tiffany, Fitness Director

“We have been hiring W.I.T.S. certified trainers for years, because they not only know about the science of fitness, but they have been trained to perform on the job. That saves us money in the long run, because the employee is more likely to succeed on the job and become a long-term staff member. Training and turnover are two big costs for any employer, so we are very selective when it comes to new hires.” -Scott, General Manager

“It’s one thing to be into fitness and know how to put together a workout for your friends. It’s another thing to be able to work with unfit clients of any age and any body type, and help them reach their goals. A lot of new trainers do okay with younger clients who just have a few pounds to lose, but they don’t know what to do with, say, an older person or someone with serious health issues or disabilities. We love W.I.T.S. trainers and instructors because they come from diverse backgrounds, and they know how to work with a broad range of clients.”-Stacey, Fitness Studio Owner

Getting the Most from Your Fitness Certification

If you are thinking about becoming a certified fitness professional, ask yourself these questions before selecting your certification program:

  • Does the certification program include lectures and workshops taught by qualified instructors, or is it all self-study?
  • What subjects does the certification course cover? Does it include foundational science, programming, injury prevention, special populations and communications skills?
  • Is there a hands-on practical skills element that teaches hard job skills?
  • Is the certification program accredited by educational bodies like NCCA, American Counsel on Education, IACET and other recognized organizations?
  • Does the certification program provide opportunities for internship and job placement?
  • Does the certification program offer relevant continuing education?

If you are already certified, think about how you can leverage your certification to make the most of your fitness career:

No More Excuses

Getting W.I.T.S. certified is one of the best career decisions you can make for a bright and lucrative future as a fitness professional. Our easy payment plans and options for live or online learning eliminate time and money constraints, and our friendly staff is here to support you every step of the way. So what are you waiting for? Stop making excuses and step into your future as a W.I.T.S. certified fitness professional TODAY! 

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10 Reasons You’re Not Making Enough Money as a Personal Trainer

When you first became certified as a personal fitness trainer, you were excited to share your passion for fitness and the benefits it brings, not just to your clients’ health, but to their overall quality of life. But for many newly certified trainers, getting career traction can be a challenge. Big box gyms often underpay, or can guarantee only part-time hours, and striking out on your own can make huge demands on your time and financial resources. 

Yet, the demand for personal training is high, and continues to grow. If you really want to pursue your dreams of success as a fitness professional, consider some of the common reasons trainers don’t make enough money to succeed. 

  1. You’re focused on the money: This one is tough, because it’s hard NOT to think about money when you are trying to establish your career. Nevertheless, many trainers scare away clients by focusing on the money instead of the benefits. Stay focused on analyzing and meeting your clients’ needs, deliver amazing results, and watch the money roll in!
  1. Your thoughts are self-limiting: When you decided on a fitness career, you may not have considered the business end of the equation. Many novice trainers are dismayed at the need to sell themselves to potential customers. Others fear they cannot make it as an independent contractor. The truth is, if you think you cannot do a thing, you are right. Take time to identify self-limiting thoughts and attitudes, and work to overcome them. 
  1. You’re not managing your business: This goes hand-in-hand with #2: as a personal trainer, it is imperative to keep accurate records, monitor your clients’ session packages, regularly re-evaluate their progress, and review their goals. To put it simply, there is a lot more to personal training than the actual training sessions. Step up your business game, and you will see your profits increase. 
  1. You lack self confidence: Let’s face it, the competition for personal training can be stiff. Colleges and universities turn out thousands of newly degreed job candidates each year with advanced degrees in exercise science. To build your own confidence, keep your certification current, take continuing education courses, and think about working toward more advanced credentials. Learn everything you can, and leave your competition in the dust. 
  1. You work for low wages: As mentioned earlier, big box gyms and smaller training studios often underpay their trainers. Basically, you do all the work, and they reap the rewards. In addition, many trainers who take on private clients grossly undercharge. This is largely driven by fear (see #4 above), but undercharging or undercutting the current market rate will hurt you in the long run. In the eyes of many clients, your session fees reflect your value as a trainer. Low-paying clients are more likely to skip sessions, meaning they don’t get results. Clients who invest in training have more skin in the game, and they are more likely to reach their goals and buy more sessions. 
  1. Your clients are not seeing results: At the end of the day, the fitness business is, and always has been, about results. Successful clients are your best advertising, and if your clients are not reaching their goals, that is negative advertising. Hold your clients’ feet to the fire, review goals regularly, change what’s not working, monitor food and activity logs, and use behavior contracts to keep your clients moving forward to remarkable results. 
  1. You lack professionalism: Personal training is considered a high-ticket luxury item by many clients, and they expect a lot of bang for their bucks. That includes professional conduct and appearance on the part of the trainer. Good grooming and hygiene are fundamental. Clean sharp-looking fitness wear, clean athletic shoes in new condition, and showing up for sessions on time, prepared and organized, are all elements of your professional image. Step up your professional game, and step up your income!
  1. You’re staying in your comfort zone: In case you haven’t heard, you cannot grow without facing and overcoming obstacles. In fact, “no pain, no gain” is the mantra of our profession. To make more money, you may need to take on challenges and obstacles that are over your head, take risks on opportunities that do not guarantee  success, and be willing to fall flat on your face. Take the advice you give to your clients every day, and push yourself beyond your comfort zone to get the results you desire. 
  1. You’re not seeing the big picture: It may be difficult to imagine yourself making large sums of money as a personal trainer, but you have to look at the big picture. Personal training opens doors to one of the hottest industries in history. Online training, group training, celebrity training, niche training, athletic training…the sky’s the limit! Use your imagination, keep your eyes open for opportunities, and create the career of your dreams!
  1. You need more education: Knowledge is power, and in the fitness business, it can mean the difference between success and failure. Lucky for you, W.I.T.S. has everything you need to succeed, right at your fingertips! Check out our current offerings:

Making more money as a personal trainer is completely up to you. Work hard, help your clients get results, keep your head in the game, and we’ll see you at the top!

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Why NOW is the Best Time Ever to Become a Personal Trainer!

The profession of Personal Trainer evolved out of the aerobics movement of the late 20th Century, and it quickly became one of the hottest career fields of the new Millennium. In the early 2000s, having a trainer was the epitome of coolness, and clients came in droves to ramp up their street cred. In its early years, personal training attracted mostly healthy young-to-middle aged adults who wanted to drop a few pounds and sculpt a fit physique. 

The Changing PT Market

Fast forward to today, where digital options have flooded the fitness market with online classes and “personal” training that can be done anytime and anywhere, at the client’s leisure. But digital fitness is not and cannot be truly personal, and there is a growing demand for trainers to work one-on-one with an ever-growing client base. 

Clients who need one-on-one personal training include;

  • Older adults seeking to maintain their independence and achieve a better quality of life
  • Prenatal and postpartum moms who want a healthy birth and recovery
  • Obese youth and adults who need personal attention and support to meet their goals
  • Adults who are new to exercise and need to learn the fundamentals
  • Niche populations with condition-specific needs including autism, Parkinson’s, dementia, and multiple other neurological disorders
  • Average people who want to improve their overall health
  • Athletes who want to gain a competitive edge
  • The list goes on and on!

No longer a trend for the well-heeled and beautiful, personal training has become a necessary health care option for people of all ages who want to increase strength and mobility, reduce their risk of metabolic disease, and achieve their best possible quality of life. 

Characteristics of Successful Personal Trainers

While personal trainers are a diverse group that encompasses all ages and ethnicities, most of us share certain attributes. 

You might be a successful personal trainer candidate if you:

  • love physical activity 
  • see fitness as a lifestyle choice
  • believe in the health benefits of fitness
  • empathize with other people and enjoy helping them
  • love learning about fitness and nutrition
  • enjoy a flexible work environment
  • want a gratifying career
  • enjoy being a role model
  • want a career that can open doors of opportunity

Qualifications and How to Become Certified

Personal training is one of the few health professions that does not require an undergraduate or higher degree. You can successfully pass the certification exam with a high school diploma, but you should be prepared for a challenge. Good study skills are a must, and you will have to learn core science principles and be able to apply them. 

While there are many certification programs out there, you should look for one that prepares you to enter the profession with little need for additional training.  W.I.T.S Certified Personal Trainers come from all walks of life, and range from teens to octogenarians. 

W.I.T.S. offers one of the most comprehensive certification programs in the field. Our key features include:

  • NCCA accredited
  • Detailed lectures with qualified instructors, live or online
  • Practical skills training that prepares you to work with clients
  • Internship programs for hands-on experience

When you become W.I.T.S. certified, clients and prospective employers alike know that you have the knowledge and experience to help clients reach their goals, safely and effectively. 

Get Started Today!

If you are ready to join one of the best and most in-demand health professions, look no further than W.I.T.S. Our top-notch instructors, friendly support staff and comprehensive curriculum will provide you with everything you need to succeed as a personal trainer. 

But it doesn’t stop there. We offer continuing education and a variety of supplemental certifications, to keep you growing and learning as you build your career. Apply for our easy payment terms and get started today. With W.I.T.S., your new career as a Certified Personal Trainer is only weeks away!

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Get In the Swing with Golf Personal Training

The game of golf is growing in popularity and becoming more mainstream as a sport. Consequently, more and more of your clients may be hitting the greens, or at least teeing off at your local Top Golf. To help them up their game and avoid injury, there are a number of exercises that can improve golf-specific skills and reduce the risk of common golf injuries.

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Going Solo as a Personal Trainer: 7 Steps to Take Before Striking Out on Your Own

The demand for personal trainers remains fairly steady, but working for someone else in a gym or studio will only take you so far. If you want your skills as a personal trainer to really pay off, you will eventually have to strike out on your own. But before giving notice at your job and hanging out your shingle, there are a few strategic steps to take to ensure a successful business launch. 

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Special Pops: Exercise and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

April is National Autism Awareness Month

The incidence of autism in American children has risen dramatically over the past two decades, increasing from one child out of 150 in the year 2000, to one in 59 in 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Those statistics exceed the global average of about one in 161, although the incidence in Western countries worldwide is also on the rise.

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Effective Efficient Recruiting For Long Term Success!

Over the last 25 years of helping fitness leaders and employers, recruiting stands out as the biggest business issue.  If 10 trainers are hired today, 8 are leaving the profession within a year due to poor performance.  Employers are then chasing to recruit some more trainers.  The majority of other certifications only qualify their students with a written exam.  This bad standard or cycle expands and makes your business plan worse by doing the same thing over and over.  You are W.I.T.S. alumni and you are best of the best when you came out with your certification.  If you have been training for a while then you have seen this scenario play out at your employers or maybe even your business.  Here are some things you can do. (more…)

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Sales Would be the Easiest Job in the World if Everyone Said “Yes”

Guest post by Suzanne Rich: Suzanne Rich is a fitness sales consultant and veteran health and fitness professional for 20 years.  Suzanne owned a fitness center for 10 years and holds a Bachelor’s degree from Rhode Island College.  Currently she is pursuing a Master’s degree with Rowan University in Wellness & Lifestyle Management.  Suzanne also holds various personal training certifications, group fitness certifications (including Les Mills’s programs) as well as other advanced credentials in the industry.

Sales would be the easiest job in the world, if everyone said “yes.”

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10 Tips for Setting Weight Loss Goals that Really Work

Despite the push for body positivity to combat body shaming, men and women of every age and persuasion are still in quest of the Holy Grail for weight loss and a lean physique, and weight loss continues to be a prime driver for personal training. But as we all know, helping our clients lose weight is one of the biggest challenges we face as fitness professionals. 

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