The U.S. Department of Labor defines a stackable credential as being “part of a sequence of credentials that can be accumulated over time to build up an individual’s qualifications and help them to move along a career pathway or up a career ladder to different and potentially higher-paying jobs.” More plainly, stackable credentials can be viewed as building blocks where each short-term credential that a person earns builds into a higher-level credential.
Where do you stand in your fitness career?
Many of us joined the W.I.T.S. educational approach because they wanted to do it right when working with people in changing lifestyles. Now what? Do I need to do more or stay in my lane and just work super hard to get to full time and maybe even management or run my own business? The answer is to work smart. Climb the ladder of what is a very substantial sophisticated industry. We deal with people’s lives. Doing the bare minimum will not get it done for our goal or the special populations that we work with along the way. The cream does rise above and goes to the top. Be the cream even though it can be fattening, LOL.
If you are wondering why your treading water then start swimming and start swimming with a purpose. Get certified in senior fitness, youth fitness, injury rehabilitation, group fitness, wellness coaching and administration management. Drill down even further for specialty topics in pregnancy fitness, cardiovascular, arthritis, cancer and dietary considerations. These areas, especially the certification stackable skills, will open up new markets that will help you climb that ladder of sustainable success in a brick or virtual platform. W.I.T.S. has added an alumni membership to allow you an affordable career pathway to earn our ultimate ADVANCED HEALTH & WELLNESS Certificate. This certificate is the combination of all 5 certifications which is the only one of its kind in the fitness industry.
As a personal trainer, you will hear all kinds of excuses from people as to why they can’t lose weight, gain muscle with weight training, or stick to a workout plan. And sometimes your response will be an internal eye roll along with the thought, “here we go again!” But hold on a second because sometimes their excuse is actually valid.
Ayurveda is the traditional Hindu system of medicine, which is based on the idea of balance in bodily systems and believes that energy systems called doshas govern physiological activity. There are three doshas – Kapha, Pitta, and Vata. We encompass all three systems but usually have one predominate system and sometimes a close secondary. For example, I am a Pitta with a Vata secondary.
The cool thing is that as trainers, we can use someone’s dosha to guide their nutrition and workout programs. As it relates to exercise, most trainers that love working out with weights are Pitta body types. It makes sense because a Pitta Dosha needs to pump some iron to be healthy. A Pitta is like a Mesomorph – they build muscle easily. However, if you are training a Vata body type (think Ectomorph) and you start overloading them too quickly (or in some cases, at all), they can start to feel sick, get injured, feel discouraged and quit.
Here is a breakdown of body types and the best type of exercise for them. A Vata needs more zen-like exercise to be healthy – yoga, tai chi, brisk walking, biking, martial arts, and dancing. A Pitta does well with weight training, circuit training, biking, hiking, swimming, tennis, climbing, and skiing. A Kapha (Endomorph) needs to work up a good sweat and does well with aerobic activity such as brisk walking, jogging, running (if their joints are healthy and they don’t have too much extra weight on them), spinning, dancing, circuit training, and rowing.
As I mentioned before, most people will have a primary and a secondary. You may think the primary is easy to discern based on their body type, but this may not always be accurate. You may think someone who is carrying a lot of extra weight is a Kapha, but if they were thin children and only gained the weight later in life, they could be a Vata or a Pitta who just needs to lose some weight. A true Kapha will be those people who say they have always had trouble with their weight, even as young children. You may think that someone extremely thin is a Vata but could possibly be someone with an eating disorder and that someone muscular is a Pitta but could possibly be taking steroids. It is always best to have them take a dosha quiz.
If you figure out your clients’ doshas, you can tailor a workout that will excite them, get them results without injury, and keep them motivated. Using myself as an example again, I love to be in the weight room, and I thrive with that style of workout. However, having a Vata secondary, I know that my Pitta can become imbalanced which leads me to being highly driven with an energy level that can sometimes be way out of balance. In order to balance that high energy, I need to add some Vata elements into my routine so I have a balance of Pittas. I do this by regularly taking slow, meditative nature walks and taking an occasional yoga or dance class.
Check out a video I did on this subject at www.rhondahuff.com, Videos, Chapter D and you can find a cool Dosha worksheet that you can use with your clients in my book, Healthy Living From A To Z: The Guide To Finding Who You Really Are & Feeding Who You Were Created To Be which can be purchased on the website or, along with my first book, The Addictive Personal Trainer: The Client-Centered Approach That Keeps Them Coming Back For More at www.Amazon.com/author/rhuff.
Rhonda is currently working on a Doctor of Chiropractic degree and is an Exercise Physiologist with a BS in Fitness-Wellness and an MEd in Education. She is a certified personal trainer, a board-certified holistic health and nutrition coach, a master neurolinguistic programming and hypnosis practitioner, an advanced Frequency Specific Microcurrent practitioner, a published author, a motivational speaker, and an entrepreneur. Rhonda currently resides in Atlanta, GA, but also calls NYC, NC and VA home. Learn more about Rhonda and her work at www.rhondahuff.com.
Among the numerous exercise modalities studied, practiced, and employed within the fitness industry, aquatic exercise / pool exercises and the cadre of benefits it boasts, is often overlooked by fitness professionals.
According to a 2013 report furnished by the Sports and Fitness Industry Association entitled “Sports, Fitness, and Leisure Activities Topline Participation”, 9,177 people out of 42,365 respondents or 22%, indicated participation within aquatic exercise at least one time in the past year. Per the IHRSA 2018 Health Club Consumer Report, a biennially conducted survey, showed an increased participation rate of 5% in aquatic exercise.
The utility of aquatic exercise and its far reaching health and performance boosting benefits, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to rage on in conjunction with the onset of flu season in geographic locales throughout the United States and the rest of the world, should be given closer consideration for acceptance within a comprehensive fitness program. (more…)
As of the date of writing this article, more than 3 million Americans have become infected with the novel coronavirus (“COVID-19”). Worldwide, that number has exceeded 12 million cases. Deaths from the virus have exceeded 137,000 in the United States (US), while deaths worldwide have climbed to over 550,000. These numbers are increasing.
Those who are most susceptible to contracting COVID-19 and/or dying from it include the elderly and/or obese and those suffering from auto-immune issues or heart disease, those that have preexisting lung conditions and/or other similar issues. While the virus has the capability of rapid community spread and contraction, the virus has a somewhat low mortality rate with more than 7 million people worldwide recovering from the virus to date (almost 1 million in the US). (more…)
Injuries of the groin muscles, or adductor muscles complex, are one of the most problematic issues in a number of sports. According to a 2007 report featured in the Sports Medicine Journal, groin injuries are most common in field sports such as rugby, soccer and ice hockey . Groin overuse injuries are also relatively common in other field sports such as football and lacrosse.
The report identified core weakness as a possible underlying cause in groin pain in athletes & groin injuries, as coactivation, or simultaneous firing of the core musculature and adductors must occur during the athletic movements the adductors generate.
The adductor complex is a composed of an assemblage of muscles layered on top of one another, cordoning the inner thighs. They balance the pelvis during gait and as mentioned earlier, contribute to athletic movements, which include twisting, turning, and pivoting, they are also key players in pelvic stability, such as activities of daily living which include climbing stairs and picking up objects. (more…)
As new trends emerge in fitness, sadly, we often forget about staple equipment. Strength Bands were made famous in rehabilitation settings and are often seen in group exercise classes, but they also deserve a prominent gym spot. With results much the same as traditional weight training, they are small and inexpensive yet mighty useful.
Off-hand, you might recall quickly some exercises that can be incorporated into a client’s training routine using bands. From squats to bicep curls, the band provides versatile options for clients of all ages and training levels. When we dig deeper, you will find they provide even more innovative ways to diversify your client’s routine. Including but not limited to: (more…)
Believe it or not, dumbbell training has been around since ancient Greece. They used stone or metal that was carved to include a handle and weighed between 4 and 20 lbs. They were called halteres. The term dumbbell, however, is believed to have originated in England (Hedrick, 2020). Various types of dumbbells can be used with a single or a pair of dumbbells in a bent over row, bench press and more.
These include adjustable, fixed, and selectorized. no matter what style you use, dumbbells have many benefits, and these include:
Can be used anywhere
Suited for explosive training
Little training space is required
Can train all muscle groups
Only need a relatively small number of dumbbells
Safer than barbells on specific exercises
Easier for individuals with injuries
Easier to learn than barbell exercises
A more complex motor activity
Opportunity to perform alternating movements
Opportunity to perform single-arm movements
Adds a balance requirement which works core muscles
Stabilizing muscles are more active
Reduces the potential for injury by enhancing joint stability
Increases potential range of motion
Adds variation to the training program (Hedrick, 2020)
Now that you know why using dumbbells is essential in a workout, let us look at how to incorporate them into your program. You can either incorporate dumbbells into an existing program or design a whole new program for your client. Either way, there are some necessary steps you will want to take.
Decide on your philosophy of training.
Establish your client’s goals.
Use scientifically sound information and concrete guidelines (Hint: You can find these in a W.I.T.S. course).
Use the concept of periodization: The practice of dividing training into specific cycles with each cycle targeting a specific physiological adaption.
Incorporate training variables.
Teach proper technique. Technique should always take precedence over intensity.
There are a plethora of dumbbell exercises out there. These dumbbell exercises can work all the major muscles for the full body effect. Those exercises can work the tricep muscles, upper arms, and develop full range of motion.
Almost any exercise your client is doing on a machine can be done with a set of dumbbells. Add in simple variations on each exercise, and you have just quadrupled the movements you can do. You can work on muscle isolating movements like bicep curls or compound movements that work multiple muscles at one time, like squats. You can even put the two together and have your client do a squat-bicep curl move.
“This is the interesting part of designing training programs because it is part science and part art—art in the sense that you can use your creativity to design what you believe is the best approach to improving athletic performance. Although the art aspect provides room for creativity, the vast majority of a training program should be based on science” (Hedrick, 2020)
So take a look at the programs you are designing and ask yourself where can I add in some dumbbell training? Want to know more about programming, various exercises for upper body, weight loss aspects and more? Sign up now for the Introduction to Dumbbell Training in the W.I.T.S. Store
Check out this great Infographic about guidelines of resistance training
Hedrick, Allen, (2020). Dumbbell training. (2nd ed.). Human Kinetics.
Martha Swirzinski, Ed.D.
Martha holds an Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction and a master’s degree in Kinesiology. She has over 25 years of experience in teaching exercise science, health education, and personal training. She teaches in higher education and develops courses worldwide for various organizations. She has been with W.I.T.S. in multiple roles, including mentoring online programs, course development, webinars, and teaching since 2009.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been, and continues to be, a struggle on virtually everyone across the globe. Economies are tanking, people are losing jobs, and prolonged isolation is driving record cases of depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders. Most attention during the pandemic has been on adults; after all, they are (generally speaking) more at risk of complications from this virus than children and, for the most part, have been the ones driving infections.
The start of the public school academic year, however, is right around the corner and many school districts are struggling with the learning environment and the decision whether or not to physically welcome students back in their buildings. While evidence suggests that children are less likely to have severe complications, we have seen the number of children contracting COVID-19 dramatically increase since schools and camps started re-opening. A recent report from the American Academy of Pediatrics reports that, in the last few weeks of July, 97,000 new cases of COVID-19 in children. As more states begin to re-open their schools, it’s anticipated that the number of cases will skyrocket. Online education is an option but this article is about being at home.
Why does this matter to personal trainers? Odds are, if numbers continue to climb, schools will close again. If schools close again, that means that most interscholastic athletic teams will also stop playing and practicing and children will not be physically active during physical education class. Simply put, this means that most children will not have any guided physical activity in their lives. This is a major public health concern! As a baseline, during normal times, fewer than 25% of children meet the recommended physical activity guidelines for their age. Even those children who are involved in sports fall victim to this. Have you ever thought about how much time is spent during practice simply standing around?
If you’ve read my previous blog post (The Hidden Benefits of Physical Activity in Youth), you’re already familiar with some of the lesser known benefits of physical activity in children. From a COVID-centric perspective, though, there are three major benefits to focus on:
Regular exercise boosts the immune system – Research has consistently shown that regular, moderate-intensity exercise has immune-boosting benefits that may help children and adults to fight off infections, including COVID-19.
Regular exercise may prevent weight gain – Energy balance and how it applies to body composition is well-known among personal trainers, but consider that kids are eating more fast-food than ever. That, coupled with childhood obesity rates being what they are, means this is a target demographic that desperately needs our help!
Regular exercise will reduce stress and anxiety – We know adults are stressed but kids are, too! One of the most important components of in-person schooling is the enhanced social dynamic it provides or a work online learning balance. Simply being around their peers is incredibly beneficial for most children and, since March, many have been isolated and have not had the opportunity to engage in regular age-appropriate conversation with friends.
This all may seem bleak but there is good news: we can help! There are strategies that personal trainers can utilize to help families stay active together and promote a healthy lifestyle for both their children and themselves. Join me in our upcoming BlogCast to learn more about these strategies and how you can help this unique demographic survive and thrive during this pandemic.
Want more specific ideas to excel with our youth and your children? Check out our Youth Fitness Foundations programs and others for direction to expand this market as a Personal Trainer and as a parent. Check these out!
By Abby Eastman MS Ed, Professional Fitness Trainer and Entrepreneur
A couple months into our newish normal during Corona Virus shutdowns I was missing the gym, my friends, the energy of teaching a classes and the encouragement of my gym family. I knew I needed to get into a better routine and figure out a way to navigate the roads ahead. In our area of the country we still have shutdowns and not everything is open. And although it has been tough not having my normal space, toys and connectivity with clients, adjusting to a new normal has had a lot of perks! I have more time to exercise on my own and experiment with new full body workouts and pop into my favorite group classes I can’t normally attend via zoom. I have even brushed up on my video training skills while gaining new clients virtually.
Even though heading to your favorite gym for a daily workout or train might not be a possibility right now, here are a few tips for setting up a home workout space.
First: When at all possible stick to your regular full body workout time and help your clients do the same. Are you a morning exerciser? Great – schedule yourself in at the time you would usually hit the gym! Work with clients to help them keep their regularly scheduled time even if it has to be a remote session. Having a sense of routine in this uncertain time can help us mentally and physically stay in shape.
Second: Trainers, explore what new options you can offer clients virtually. Reach out to current and past clients to share your new services. You can provide custom, home-based programs on the equipment they have available. Try scheduling a free 15-minute virtual session to give them a jumpstart. Boot camp, small groups, private sessions, outdoor sessions and pop up workouts are just a few options you can offer if you haven’t started already. Share with clients the benefits of booking additional check-in sessions the keep their momentum. It will keep them accountable and connected while building your business.
Additionally, this is a wonderful opportunity for us as personal trainers to break out a new fitness plan and get out of our own training rut. You could try a new workout routine app, hop in a fellow trainer’s virtual class, or breakout those old workout DVD’s. Have you been meaning to try kickboxing, martial arts, or yoga? Been eyeing a new certification or continuing education course? Now is a great time to experiment with activities you may not normally get the chance to from the comfort of your own home. Bonus: now you can have your AC adjusted just how you like it! Clients will enjoy the spice you bring to their sessions.
Third: Create your space! You do not need a lot of space but having dedicated area can help you stick to your routine. Great fitness at home workout equipment options include:
These items do not take up a lot of space and can make for a great total body routine whether building muscle, bodyweight exercises or anything with fitness at home.
If you have extra space, search through your local online yard sales and gym equipment sales. Many sell refurbished gym equipment for great prices. Grab your favorite cardio machine and pair it with a bench, corner cable unit and you will have a whole new area to look forward to. Challenge yourself to stick with your workouts and reward yourself with new toys.
Trainers create your virtual space for optimal training by:
Taping off a pre-determined space for filming. Place an “X” where your computer or camera stand goes and a square of tape around the perimeter that is within the viewing area you need to stay within while filming. Makes it easy to jump into a session quickly and ensures clients can see you!
Try an adjustable camera stand. You can easily adjust the viewing area so the client can see your form while standing, seated or reclined.
Be sure the lighting is pointing toward you. Lights shining in from the side or behind you make you look like a dark shadow. It also makes it hard for clients to see you.
Set the stage you created with all equipment clients will need so it is visible to them when they sign on.
Create a clean background behind you that is simple.
Wear bright colors! You will show up best on camera in bright, solid colors.
If you are filming at your facility, show off a familiar space to help clients feel at home.
Welcome clients just like you would at your facility and invite all types of strength training, body weight, cardio, HIIT exercise requests if possible.
While this may not be the way we are accustomed to working with clients there are plenty of ways we can continue to reach people virtually. Many clients are finding virtual workouts with a personal trainer easier to attend. Clients can stay in the comfort of their home or office, kids can be in the background and they can skip traffic!
Share with us what ways you are reaching clients; we’d love to hear what new tricks you’ve learned!
Abby holds a BS and Ms Ed in Exercises Science. She has over 20 years of experience teaching health education, group exercise, yoga, and personal training. She has taught at the university and community college levels and directed a variety of community fitness programs. She has been working with W.I.T.S. in various rolls including mentoring online programs, continuing education creation, leading webinars, and teaching in-person certifications since 2004. She believes everyone deserves to feel and live their best life and is passionate partnering with others to help them get there.
Abby Eastman MSEd, ACSM Exercise Physiologist/EIM II, CHWC, E-RYT200
As the COVID-19 pandemic transforms our society and a myriad of industries, including our own, concerns about safely continuing to pursue fitness goals have emerged as fitness instructors and the clients they support weigh the risks versus rewards during these unprecedented times.
Nationwide, cases have continued to surge in spite of attempts to temper the proliferation of the virus as government organizations at the federal, state, and local levels work to strike a delicate balance between curating the health of citizens and restoring the economy. Measures such as abridging capacity and hours of operation of multiple fitness and recreational facilities, including temporarily shuttering venues and suspending services, while disruptive, are intended to keep us healthy.
Long term held beliefs about exercise adversely impacting immune system is the functioning has been corroborated by a landmark review authored by Gleeson (2007). The review demonstrated that the inflammatory response of a singular bout of intense and prolonged exercise mirrors that of infection, sepsis, or trauma, triggering the release of inflammatory cytokines, including tumor necrosis factor, and interleukins 6 and 10, C-recreative protein, and interleukin-1-receptor antagonists that, in concert, influence the augmentation of circulating white blood cells, known as leukocytes.
Hormonal secretion following an intense bout of exercise induced activity, specifically epinephrine and cortisol blunt the secretion of leukocytes and impair cell mediated immunity and inflammation, thereby increasing the susceptibility of infection and modulating the morbidity and severity of illness. Previous research established a strong correlation between a exercise dose and upper respiratory tract infection among humans. Health fitness exercise bouts consisting of a stimuli that is too novel, too frequent, too intense, and too voluminous to which the subject is accustomed have been found to increase pathogen infection risk. There has been a considerable amount of studies that have demonstrated the temporary ergolytic effects of acute exercise on immune system functioning, ranging from three to 72 hours post-exercise. Researchers and health and exercise professionals have coined this period of time characterized by temporary suppression of the immune system as “the open window”.
To simultaneously curtail infection risk and facilitate the achievement of improved fitness industry qualities or biomotor skills, one must account for life stress, energy availability, sleep duration and quality, travel, and exposure to environmental or climate extremes beyond the exercise frequency, intensity, volume, and type, according to Professor Neil Walsh, a faculty member at Bangor University in the United Kingdom, who outlined recommendations for athletes to maintain immune health.
Key guidelines among the few dozen presented are summarized below for personal trainers in working with potential clients:
Undulating training stress throughout training cycles and weeks
Incorporating active recovery sessions
Incrementally increasing volume and intensity, but no more than 5-10% per week
Minimize unnecessary life stress
Monitor, manage, and quantify all forms of stress, both psychological and physical
Aim for more than seven hours of sleep each night; nap during the daytime, if able to, or necessary
Monitor sleep duration and quality; ensure darkness at bedtime
Be cognizant of reduced exercise capacity in hotter, more humid environments
Permit acclimatization to changes in, or extreme weather
Uphold optimal or recommended nutrition, hydration, and hygiene practices
Do not engage in extreme dieting; be sure to consume a well balanced diet
Discontinue training if experiencing symptoms “below the neck” as they could be indicative of an upper respiratory tract infection (URTI)
Avoid sick and/or symptomatic people
Practice good hand hygeine
Exercise evokes a hormetic effect, or dose-dependent response, meaning that moderate exposure can be beneficial, but amounts either too minimal or excessive can cause harm. This is precisely why exercise physiology scholars and health and medical professionals alike have embraced the mantra of “exercise is medicine” in recent years. Too little exercise results in greater cardiometabolic disease (aka conditions of “disuse”) risk, whereas too much exercise results in greater injury or illness (aka conditions of “overuse”). As mentioned in an earlier post, “acute singular bouts of exercise at or above lactate threshold (55% of VO2max among untrained individuals; 85% of VO2max among trained individuals) for periods of up to, or more than one hour, contributed to temporary immunosuppression. Regular exercise among individuals has shown to yield immunoprotective benefits. The takeaway here should be, exercise during this time should be regarded as a tool to reinvigorate and recover, not bury and deliberately fatigue. Sparingly perform sets to failure and limit volume at or beyond lactate threshold.”
In summary, immune system performance and overall health can be achieved through regular exercise. During times of greater illness transmission and infection risk, fitness professionals, athletes, and enthusiasts must practice both diligence and vigilance to ward off foreign pathogens. Fitness goals should be targeted and inputs, such as time and effort should be quantified to calculate training load. Rest and recovery should be as equally, if not greater prioritized.
Gleeson, M. (2007). Immune function in sport and exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology, 103 (2), 693-699.