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Introduction to Dumbbell Training

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:

Practical Advantages

  1. Low Cost
  2. Adaptability
  3. Can be used anywhere
  4. Suited for explosive training
  5. Little training space is required
  6. Can train all muscle groups
  7. Only need a relatively small number of dumbbells
  8. Safer than barbells on specific exercises
  9. Easier for individuals with injuries
  10. Easier to learn than barbell exercises

Physiological Advantages

  1. A more complex motor activity
  2. Opportunity to perform alternating movements
  3. Opportunity to perform single-arm movements
  4. Adds a balance requirement which works core muscles
  5. Stabilizing muscles are more active
  6. Reduces the potential for injury by enhancing joint stability
  7. Increases potential range of motion
  8. 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.

  1. Decide on your philosophy of training.
  2. Establish your client’s goals.
  3. Use scientifically sound information and concrete guidelines (Hint: You can find these in a W.I.T.S. course).
  4. Use the concept of periodization: The practice of dividing training into specific cycles with each cycle targeting a specific physiological adaption.
  5. Incorporate training variables.
  6. 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

Stop by the W.I.T.S. store to check out the Introduction to Dumbbell Training course and our other C.E.C. offerings. Check back in often as we are beginning to develop a new line of courses specific to trainers’ current needs.

References

Hedrick, Allen, (2020).  Dumbbell training. (2nd ed.). Human Kinetics.

Presenters Bio

Martha Swirzinski, Ed.D.Martha Swirzinski

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.

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Exercise Immunology 101: Considerations for the Fitness Professional

Outdoor Exercise

by Joseph Giandonato, MBA, MS, CSCS

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:

  1. Undulating training stress throughout training cycles and weeks
  2. Incorporating active recovery sessions
  3. Incrementally increasing volume and intensity, but no more than 5-10% per week
  4. Minimize unnecessary life stress
  5. Monitor, manage, and quantify all forms of stress, both psychological and physical
  6. Aim for more than seven hours of sleep each night; nap during the daytime, if able to, or necessary
  7. Monitor sleep duration and quality; ensure darkness at bedtime
  8. Be cognizant of reduced exercise capacity in hotter, more humid environments
  9. Permit acclimatization to changes in, or extreme weather
  10. Uphold optimal or recommended nutrition, hydration, and hygiene practices
  11. Do not engage in extreme dieting; be sure to consume a well balanced diet
  12. Discontinue training if experiencing symptoms “below the neck” as they could be indicative of an upper respiratory tract infection (URTI)
  13. Avoid sick and/or symptomatic people
  14. 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.

References

  • Gleeson, M. (2007). Immune function in sport and exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology, 103 (2), 693-699.
  • Kakanis, M.W., Peake, J., Brenu, E.W., Simmonds, M., Gray, B., Hooper, S.L., & Marshall-Gradisnik, S.M. (2010). Exercise Immunology Review, 16, 119-137.
  • Murphy, E.A., Davis, J.M., Carmichael, M.D., Gangemi, J.D., Ghaffar, A., & Mayer, E.P. (2008). Exercise stress increases susceptibility to influenza infection. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 22, (8), 1152-1155.
  • Nieman, D.C. (1994). Exercise, infection, and immunity. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 15, S131-S141
  • Walsh, N.P. (2018). Recommendations to maintain immune health in athletes. European Journal of Sport Science, 18 (6), 820-831.
  • Wong, C., Lai, H., Ou, C., Ho, S., Chan, K., Thach, T., Yang, L., Chau, Y., Lam, T., Hedley, A.J., & Peiris, J.S.M. (2008). Is exercise protective against influenza-associated mortality? PLoS One, 3 (5): e2108.

 

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Fitness Walking

By Dave Johnson

The landscape of the fitness industry has changed dramatically over the past few months. A staple of most communities, fitness facilities have been ordered to close, trainers have been furloughed, and people have openly stated that they aren’t sure if they’ll feel “safe” in facilities when (and if) they reopen.

This, of course, comes at a time where the need to live a healthy life has never been more important. COVID-19 has really raised the focus on public health and, as trainers, we play an integral role in helping people! Consider the co-morbidities most often associated with complications from COVID-19: obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. These are all things that we help people with on a daily basis. We’ve been talking about the importance of battling these conditions for decades but, now that the spotlight is on them, people are taking notice and want to improve. It’s important to note that this includes potential new clients, as well as those who may have suffered from the dreaded “Quarantine 15” weight gain.

The issue facing trainers, however, is clear – how do we train our clients when they are hesitant to come to our facility or, even worse, our facilities are closed? The answer lies in improving and diversify our offerings. Trainers must be innovative and look for ways to help people outside the normal confines of a fitness facility. Both social distancing and outdoor activity are proven ways to minimize the spread of COVID-19, so seeking activities that accomplish both are essential to our success.

Fitness WalkingOne exciting option for trainers is to encourage Fitness Walking. An underrated exercise activity, fitness walking can yield a multitude of benefits for your clients – both new and established. It’s low-impact, provides both physical and mental benefits and, most importantly, can be done virtually anywhere by anyone! W.I.T.S. Fitness Walking course covers proper techniques, skills, and content used in designing, implementing, and evaluating individualized and group programs in fitness walking for a variety of clients and their fitness levels. You’ll learn about nuances such as gait deviation (which can play a huge role in stride rate/length and injury prevention) and how the principles of physical fitness directly relate to fitness walking. You’ll learn about specific flexibility exercises that can benefit walkers and even some basics about proper clothing and footwear! In short, this course will give you the necessary skills to add this style of training to your offerings so you can continue to be profitable during these trying times.

As mentioned earlier, this pandemic has forced us to be innovative and there are some really fun new concepts that have emerged that would pair nicely with fitness walking, such as virtual races. Obviously, given the times, the idea of getting large groups of people together for a 5K, 10K, half- or full-marathon, is one that should remain just that: an idea. Instead, the market for virtual races has exploded since February! There are races of almost any length and many of them have fun (or customizable) themes that award medals and gear much like their physical counterparts. Think about how fun it would be for a new client to have the pride of accomplishing a goal without the usual nerves or hesitation associated with a live event. It could just be what they need to make this a lifelong activity and you’re the perfect trainer to help them get started.

Swing by the W.I.T.S. store to check this course out, as well as our other sport-based CEC offerings. Check back in often as we are beginning to develop a new line of courses specific to the current needs of trainers.

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Preparing for Basic Training in the Era of Social Distancing

By Mark S. Cassidy, MS and Joe Giandonato, MS, CSCS

Weeks ago, our lives and our society as we operate have indelibly changed.  In the months preceding widespread lockdowns, the insidious and highly transmissible pathogen COVID-19, stealthily coursed the globe. This virus has infected millions and contributed to an extremely high number of deaths worldwide.

Mark Cassidy - Certified Personal Trainer InstructorWhile the COVID-19 pandemic has paralyzed a continuum of industries and businesses, our nation’s great military charges on.  They have assisted in erecting temporary hospitals, bolstering our nation’s law enforcement and security functions, distributing rations to displaced and needy citizens, and joining healthcare professionals on the frontlines.

And for those who have recently enlisted or are contemplating enlistment, preparation cannot cease. Just because local gyms and athletic facilities have temporarily closed, that doesn’t mean one should abandon their physical preparedness.  Each recruit, irrespective of their branch, will be called upon to complete a physical fitness test.

One can adequately prepare by incorporating a full-body resistance training regimen along with high-intensity cardiovascular activities that can be performed at home with minimal to no equipment.  This will ensure increases in muscle strength, lean body mass, and cardiorespiratory fitness needed to meet the rigors of basic training.

Although there are some slight variations, all branches of the military have some form of physical fitness requirement for entrance into their respective community.  The following is a list of these requirements for each branch (as of January 2020).  The scoring for each test is determined by the particular branch; along with the order or substitutions of exercises.

Marine Corps

  • 2-minutes of abdominal crunches
  • Pull-ups for maximum repetitions
  • 3-mile run
  • Push-ups for maximum repetitions

Navy

  • 2-minutes of push-ups
  • 2-minutes of sit-ups
  • 5-mile run or 500yd/450m swim

Air Force

  • 1-minute of push-ups
  • 1-minute of sit-ups
  • 5-mile timed run

Coast Guard

  • 1-minute of push-ups
  • 1-minute of sit-ups
  • 5-mile timed run

Army

  • Standing Power / Medicine Ball Throw
  • Deadlift for a three-repetition maximum
  • Hand release push-ups for 2 minutes
  • 50-meter sprint (3 x), 50-meter drag of a 90 lbs. sled, 50-meter carry of two 40 lbs. kettlebells
  • Hanging leg tucks for 2 minutes
  • 2-mile timed run

 

Service Academy Fitness Assessment 

The Service Academies of the Air Force (USAFA), Navy (USNA), Army (USMA), and the Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) use the Candidate Fitness Assessment (CFA)

  • Kneeling basketball throw for distance
  • Cadence pull-ups for repetitions
  • 120 ft. shuttle-run for time
  • 1-minute of crunches
  • 1-minute of push-ups
  • 1-mile run

Although there is no direct substitute for performing any of the actual testing exercises, performing a holistic resistance training program will help with the preparation of the actual test.

The resistance / full-body workout, will hit each major muscle group.  The initial program will go for 30 days (4 weeks), with 5 workout days and 2 light/rest days per week.  If you do not have access to free-weight equipment, you can substitute in something else while performing the movements. (Example: therapy bands, kettlebells, medicine balls, or even bricks, jugs of water or buckets of sand could work)

It is up to each individual to determine the amount of intensity, resistance or repetitions they can handle on each day.  Keep in mind that the military is a physically and mentally demanding profession, so working until a point of fatigue (or failure) can be a good guideline.  However, never use a workout intensity or resistance load that causes you to become injured.

Taking into consideration any nutritional / meal requirements, staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water and attempting to get seven to nine hours of sleep a day, is also important during your training.

If necessary, contact a certified Athletic Trainer, Strength Coach, Fitness Professional or Health Care Provider for additional guidance.

Resistance Program

Monday:
(10 – 15 minute warm-up and stretch should be done to start the program)
(The rest time between sets can be 30 – 90 seconds)
Dumbbell Shoulder Squat: 4-5 sets 10-12 repetitions
Dumbbell Bench / Lat Rows: 3-4 sets 12-15 repetitions
Dumbbell Lifts / Back Extensions 4-sets 8-10 repetitions
Dumbbell Bench Press: 4-5 sets 10-12 repetitions
Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 3-4 sets 12-15 repetitions

Cardio Work: 15 – 20 minute light jog / walk

 

Tuesday:
(10 – 15 minute warm-up and stretch should be done to start the program)
(The rest time between sets can be 30-90 seconds)
Seated Knee Tucks: 4-5 sets 15-20 repetitions
Wide Hand Push-Ups: 3-4 sets 10-12 repetitions
Full Sit-Ups: 4-5 sets 15-20 repetitions
Pull-Ups: 3-4 sets 10-12 repetitions
Mountain Climbers: 4-5 sets 15-20 repetitions

Cardio Work: 10 – 15 Sprints for 40-50 yards

 

Wednesday:
Active Rest Day
15 – 30 minutes of stretchers for the entire body
15 – 30 minutes of cardiovascular work by a light-brisk walk

 

Thursday:
(10 – 15 minute warm-up and stretch should be done to start the program)
(The rest time between sets can be 30-90 seconds)
Barbell Bench Press: 4-5 sets 10-12 repetitions
Barbell Dead Lifts: 3-4 sets 12-15 repetitions
Barbell Up-Right Rows: 4-sets 8-10 repetitions
Dumbbell Bicep Curls: 4-5 sets 10-12 repetitions
Dumbbell Triceps Extensions: 3-4 sets 12-15 repetitions

Cardio Work: 15 – 20 minute light jog / walk

 

Friday:
(10 – 15 minute warm-up and stretch should be done to start the program)
(The rest time between sets can be 30-90 seconds)
Full Sit-Ups: 4-5 sets 15-20 repetitions
Narrow Hand Push-Ups: 3-4 sets 10-12 repetitions
Standing Oblique Twists: 4-5 sets 15-20 repetitions
Lying Supine Back Extensions: 3-4 sets 10-12 repetitions
Mountain Climbers: 4-5 sets 15-20 repetitions

Cardio Work: 10 – 15 Sprints for 40-50 yards

 

Saturday:
(10 – 15 minute warm-up and stretch should be done to start the program)
(The rest time between sets can be 60 – 120 seconds)
Jumping Jacks: 4-5 sets 15-20 repetitions
Walking Forward Lunges: 3-4 sets 10-12 repetitions
Jump Squats: 4-5 sets 8-10 repetitions
Side Steps: 3-4 sets 10-12 repetitions
Depth Jumps: 4-5 sets 8-10 repetitions

Cardio Work: 15 – 20 minute light jog / walk

 

Sunday:
Active Rest
30 – 60 minutes of Stretching / Yoga / Meditation

 

Substitute Exercises

In the event that you would not have access to the type of resistance exercise equipment necessary to perform the movement or for some reason you found the exercise too difficult, below is a list of substitution exercises that you can utilize in any of the program’s daily workouts:

Narrow Stance Body Weight Squats: 4-5 sets 12-15 repetitions
Single Leg Body Weight Squats: 4-5 sets 5-8 repetitions on each leg
Stationary Lateral Lunges: 3-4 sets 5-8 repetitions on each leg
Single Leg Standing Calf Raise: 3-4 sets 10-12 repetitions on each leg
Clapping Hands Push-Ups: 3-4 sets 8-10 repetitions
Non-Symmetrical Hand Placement Push-Ups: 3-4 sets 8-10 repetitions
Single Arm Push-Ups: 3-4 sets 5-8 repetitions on each arm
Side Plank: 3-4 sets hold 30-45 seconds on each side
Bicycle Abs / Knee to Elbow: 3-4 sets 10-12 repetitions on each side
Superman: 3-4 sets 10-12 repetitions
Chair Dips: 4-5 sets 10-12 repetitions

 

Summary

It will be best to begin training 3 to 4 months in advance of the actual fitness testing date.  This will allow time for a certified Athletic Trainer, Strength Coach or Fitness Professional to make recommendations on when to change intensity, time and exercise variations, to help the probability of your success.

To find out when a particular branch of the military is scheduling fitness tests, contact your local recruiting office for specific details.

Here are websites that can be used for reference:
https://amops.org/
https://www.military.com
https://www.todaysmilitary.com

 

Thank you in advance for your service to our country!

 

Mark S. Cassidy, MS has been an educational instructor with the W.I.T.S. organization since 2000. He has held professional positions with The Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Philadelphia 76ers, YMCA, Delaware Blue Coats, Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, and American Heart Association.  Mark has an Associate’s degree in Business from Delaware County Community College, a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology from Temple University and a Master’s degree in Organizational Development/Business Psychology from The Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.  He has professional experience as a Fitness Instructor, Strength Coach, Sports Coach-Counselor, Exercise Therapist, Sales Manager, College Professor, and Athletic Facility Director.

Joe Giandonato, MS, CSCS is an educational instructor with the World Instructor Training Schools, fitness and recreation specialist at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, and an adjunct faculty member at Eastern University and Chestnut Hill College where he teaches exercise science electives. Previously, Giandonato served as the Manager of Health Promotion and Wellness at Drexel University, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Germantown Academy, and Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at Saint Joseph’s University.

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Maintaining Your Cardiorespiratory Fitness while Maintaining Your Distance

by Joseph Giandonato, MBA, MS, CSCS

Disclaimer: The content disseminated in this article shall not be constituted as medical advice, nor should any of the suppositions set forth supersede the time-sensitive directives enacted by government organizations and public health agencies which are both empirically driven and continually evolving.

The decree of social distancing has now been embedded in our lives, influencing how we tackle mundane tasks we formerly took for granted.

COVID-19 and the resultant societal shutdown have grinded virtually every aspect of life to a screeching halt, but that doesn’t mean your workouts should be shelved. In fact, with a little introspection and a modicum of creativity, one can still maintain, or even elevate their game during these otherwise trying times.

Here’s some encouraging news, in the few weeks since your gym or fitness studio closed its doors, it’s doubtful that you’ve lost everything you worked so hard for.

Aerobic endurance can be maintained for a period of up to (30) days. Though, among highly trained endurance athletes, slight decrements in aerobic power and capacity are observed within three weeks of total inactivity. However, these losses can be attenuated by incorporating cross-training, or a combination of exercise modalities to develop fitness qualities, or in this case, maintain one’s fitness level.

For those unable to safely venture outside due to a dearth of running trails nearby or residing within an area with a high population density, these workouts should do the trick in keeping you in shape. Additionally, the inclusion of traditional strength exercises, involving your bodyweight, or household objects and fixtures, something most recreational runners already eschew, can improve your running economy, a term that describes the efficiency your body utilizes energy at a given velocity. Strength training adeptly strengthens muscles and tendons, enabling them to absorb, store, and redirect forces sustained during running gait.

Here’s a circuit that lengthens and strengthens muscles while keeping your heart rate at or near the pace you’re maintaining during your runs.

Circuit

Perform each numbered block (i.e. “1, 2, 3” for as many rounds as desired, or possible with little to no rest between exercises).

1a) Alternating Heel Grab with Overhead Reach 1 x 10 repetitions (each side)
1b) Alternating Reverse Lunge 1 x 10 repetitions (each side)
1c) Shuffle Steps 20 repetitions total
1d) High Knees x :15 seconds

2a) Alternating Groiner with Thoracic Rotation 1 x 5 (each side)
2b) Push-up 1 x 10 repetitions
2c) Prone Robbery Exercise (scapular retraction and shoulder external rotation) 1 x 15 repetitions
2d) Alternating Cook Hip Lift 1 x 10 repetitions (each side)

3a) Prisoner Squat 1 x 10 repetitions
3b) Side Plank with Hip Abduction (Leg Raise) 1 x 10 repetitions (each side)
3c) Prone Alternating Shoulder Touch 20 repetitions total
3d) Burpee 1 x 3 repetitions total

Try it out and if trekking outdoors, be sure to keep your distance as the most recent recommendation is maintaining 6 feet or more between you and others who may be sharing the same trail, sidewalk, or roadway.

Reference

Coyle, E.F., Martin, W.H., Sinacore, D.R., Joyner, M.J., Hagberg, J.M., & Holloszy, J.O. (1984). Time course loss of adaptations after stopping prolonged intense endurance training. Journal of Applied Physiology, Respiratory, Environmental Exercise Physiology, 57 (6), 1857-1864.

Joe GiandonatoJoseph Giandonato, MBA, MS, CSCS presently serves as a fitness specialist at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, where he assists with the oversight of recreational and college-wide wellness programming. Giandonato also serves as a part-time faculty member at Eastern University and Chestnut Hill College, where he teaches Exercise Science electives. Previously, Giandonato served as the manager of Health Promotion and Wellness at Drexel University where he initiated and implemented the award winning A HEALTHIER U campus wellness initiative. Additionally, Giandonato serves as an instructor for the World Instructor Training Schools, through which he’s helped certify hundreds of personal trainers since 2010.

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Staying Fit in the Age of Social Distancing

As we continue to practice social distancing and local fitness facilities remain closed, we’ve received a lot of inquiries regarding opportunities for exercising while remaining at home. We’re here to help! Here is a short list of free fitness options that you can either provide to your clients, use for yourselves, or both!

We hope you like this addition and please share what your club group or W.I.T.S. alumni business is providing for their clients and community virtually. Be safe and healthy as we do this together.

Planet Fitness – Planet Fitness is offering a way for everyone — members and non-members — to work on their fitness while at home. Every day at 7 p.m. Eastern, the gym will be live-streaming “Work-Ins” on Facebook.

ClassPass – ClassPass is offering free unlimited access to 2,000 video and audio workouts when you create an account and download the app.

305 Fitness – 305 Fitness is offering at-home dance classes that will help you work up a sweat. The studio is live-streaming cardio dance workouts on its YouTube channel twice a day that you can playback at any time.

Life Time – You can now get your favorite yoga, cardio and strength-training classes on demand! Life Time invites members and non-members to experience a good workout for free, and new classes get added every day.

OrangeTheory – Orangetheory is uploading new 30-minute workout videos to its Facebook page and website every day to help you achieve your health goals without leaving your living room. Be prepared to use just about anything you can find around the house for resistance!

Blink Fitness – Every weekday at 8 a.m. ET, log on to Facebook to get access to Blink Fitness’ live streams that will focus on a certain part of the body.

Gold’s Gym – Membership or not, Gold’s Gym is offering free access to its online collection of over 600 audio and video workouts until the end of May 2020.

Fit On – You can work out with celebrity trainers every day for free and get the superstar treatment when you try out the FitOn app. You will be able to customize your fitness plan according to your schedule and will have access to over 100 classes that focus on cardio, strength and even some exercises for pregnant women!

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Strength Training Tips For Young Athletes

Mark Cassidy - Certified Personal Trainer InstructorBy Mark S. Cassidy, MS

If you are involved for any length of time in the Health & Fitness Industry, the topic of strength training children is going to come up.  What age can they start? How often can they perform a routine?  What type of routine is best suited for them?  How long until they start to see results?  … are all part of the list of questions that will arise…  But there’s nothing wrong with these questions or a youngster trying to increase their strength or improve their body style.  They just need to do it properly.

Over the years there has been a misconception that kids shouldn’t lift weights until they were at least 16 or 17 years old.  If they attempted to perform weight lifting exercises at an age any younger, they could seriously damage themselves and potentially could stunt their growth. However the times have changed.  There are Health & Fitness Experts, Certified Athletic Coaches and Medical Doctors who can agree that children can start working with weights, as early as grade school.  But there has to be specific rules and guidelines followed to not only ensure the youth’s fitness success but help minimize any chance of injury.

PHYSICAL & PSYCHOLOGICAL BENEFITS

There is both a physical and psychological component / benefit for children who strength train.

  • Increase muscle strength
  • Increase muscle endurance
  • Increase in bone density
  • Increase in joint mobility & stability
  • Decrease in potential injuries
  • Improved performance in youth sports activities
  • Better social acceptance from piers
  • Improved self-image
  • More self confidence

Along with building muscle, when done correctly and using a full range of motion, it can also improve bone structure and density and help develop a youngster’s flexibility, exposing another old myth—that lifting weights makes a child stiff and ‘muscle bound’.

AGE & SKILL CONSIDERATIONS

Professionals in this field advocate a more functional approach to strength training for kids.  Introduce them first to basic exercises that have little or no weight.  The emphasis must be on using proper technique.  As they get older, the weights can gradually get heavier and the number or variety activities can increase.

PROGRAM DESIGN SUGGESTIONS

It is recommended that kids do at most 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions for each exercise. They shouldn’t lift more than 3 times per week, and they should never sacrifice technique for additional reps or weight.  For safety reasons, you should also discourage youngster’s from lifting any weights over their heads or faces or any other lifting that unnecessarily strains their spines (for example bench press, shoulder press, or back squats).

According to Dr. Cedric Bryant, the vice president of educational services at the American Council on Exercise, kids ages 11-13 can begin doing some of the traditional strength training exercises keeping the resistance light.  However, the instruction for these kids needs to be based on proven physical, phycological and biomechanical principles.  In addition to being coached by trained-certified health and fitness professionals.

And what can parents tell the skinny teenager who weight trains all summer but is disappointed in the fall when they don’t look like a “Superman”?

Just because you don’t always see results immediately, doesn’t mean the time and effort you are putting in, is not having a benefit.  Hormones and metabolism may not be fully activated yet to make those muscles develop.  A child’s height and limb-length may still be developing.  And dietary requirements and adaptability may be coming into play.  There are always mental and structural gains taking place with exercise movements – even if it’s not visually noticeable.  Keep working hard and putting in the time.  The Superhero will eventually arrive.

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You Finally Got Your Personal Trainer Certification: Now What?

Getting your personal trainer certification is a big step toward a bright future as a fitness professional. Studying for and passing your exam and getting CPR certified demand a lot of time and effort, but certification is just the beginning. To make the most of your personal trainer certification and turn it into a sustainable career, you need to take some additional steps toward professionalism. 

Lifestyle Fitness Coaching Certification Professional holding a clipboard

5 Steps Toward Becoming a Successful Certified Fitness Professional

The following five steps will get you started on the right path toward a successful career as a Certified Personal Trainer:

  1. Get hands-on experience: Some newly certified trainers already have a background in fitness. Some have academic degrees in exercise science and related fields, and others have backgrounds in athletics or bodybuilding. Whether you have a background in fitness or not, working with clients requires additional skills. Consider enrolling in the W.I.T.S. internship program. As an intern, you gain experience working one-on-one with clients, and you get a glimpse of the fitness business from the other side of the front desk. 
  1. Purchase Liability Insurance: Physical activities of any type come with inherent risks for injury. While the benefits of fitness activities outweigh the risks, there is always the chance that something can go wrong. Even if you work in a gym or studio that provides coverage for its employees, it is wise to protect yourself with additional insurance. The good news is that liability insurance for personal trainers is remarkably inexpensive. After all, an important part of your job is to protect your clients from injury, so the risk is relatively low. Follow this link to find affordable liability insurance.
  1. Form an LLC: A legal liability corporation (LLC) is a legal entity that protects business owners and their families from lawsuits, creditors and other business liabilities that may arise. Unlike a sole proprietorship, with an LLC, only the assets of your business are at risk — your personal assets and those of your family are protected, should your business fail or fall on hard times. An LLC is easy to form and inexpensive to register. There are many online resources to help you form an LLC. 
  1. Define your niche: There is nothing wrong with taking on a broad range of clients, but narrowing your niche can help you establish a solid reputation as a fitness expert. Certain clients may be outside your scope of expertise, while focusing on a specific population can enable you to grow professionally while having a positive impact on the lives of your clients. Youth, older adults, pregnant and postpartum women, body builders and figure competitors — the list goes on and on. Choose your niche and grow a robust clientele to promote your business. 
  1. Establish your brand: Once you establish yourself as a certified fitness professional,  expand your client base and cement your expertise by branding yourself online. Professional posts on social media, a professional website and Facebook page and maybe even a YouTube channel are great ways to reach an ever-growing audience and expand your business. Use your imagination to create a solid brand image that reaches the masses. 

Find Your Niche and Build Your Fitness Career

Build your skills and knowledge and become a top personal trainer. Choose from any of our professional fitness courses for skills training and certification:

Join the W.I.T.S. family of industry leaders today, and build your career as a fitness professional on a solid foundation.

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Lifecycle of a Personal Trainer: the high cost of low skills training

At one time, personal trainers had the coolest job around, and anyone who had their own personal trainer was ranked among the beautiful people. It was also a lucrative and viable career path for fitness professionals who had enough knowledge and charisma to attract well-heeled clients and help them reach their goals. 

That all changed when gyms began to put the hammer down on freelancers and hired their own trainers at low wages, keeping the lion’s share of revenues for themselves. Over time, that business model all but destroyed personal training as a sustainable career path and caused gym owners to shoot themselves in the foot with a costly cycle of employee training and turnover. 

The below infographic illustrates the typical Lifecycle of the average personal trainer:

Lifecycle of a Personal Trainer

The High Cost of Turnover

Low conversions, low client retention rates, dissatisfied customers and high trainer turnover all cost gym owners enormous amounts of money each year.

These important metrics should be applied to evaluate the performance of any gym’s personal training program:

  • The annual turnover rate for personal trainers runs between 80-90% on average: the optimal employee turnover rate is 10% or less.
  • The minimally acceptable sales conversion rate is 40%, and the optimal rate is 70%. To calculate this metric, divide the number of conversions by the number of prospects a trainer has pitched.
  • The optimal annual client retention rate is 80-90%. Divide the number of clients lost by the number retained.

Ironically, most gym owners don’t bother to track these metrics, and many are unaware of them. For trainers, having quantitative performance metrics would empower them to self-evaluate and monitor their own job performance. Yet in most cases, trainers have no idea what good job performance looks like. 

Factors Contributing to Trainer Turnover

Many people pursue a personal training career because they have a true passion for fitness and want to share it with others. Yet the actual demands of the job can quickly erode a new trainer’s enthusiasm, especially if they don’t feel valued or get the necessary training and support to succeed. 

Factors that contribute to high trainer turnover include:

  • Inadequate job training and poorly defined performance criteria
  • Erratic scheduling, with long hours and split shifts
  • Low pay, with minimal opportunities for advancement
  • Pressure to sell with inadequate sales training and support
  • Burnout from overtraining

The Importance of Skills Training

Most new trainers are hired based on academic credentials, or on a particular brand of certification. Yet during the screening and hiring process, critical skills training and experience is often overlooked. 

This problem partially stems from an antiquated business model that is still applied today. In the early days of fitness clubs, back in the 1970s, very few employees came to the table with any type of credentials or experience, and skills training took place on the job. In most cases, senior employees were responsible for training new hires. Then, as now, gym employee turnover was high.

The old-school model no longer works for several reasons: 

  • Personal training was not offered as a service by most gyms until the early 2000s, but the business model was never updated to include this new employee demographic
  • The job of Personal Trainer demands much higher levels of knowledge and skills than the fitness advisor of old
  • Personal training is a substantial revenue generator, and demands more attention from management to reach its potential
  • Asking a senior trainer to help on-board a new hire imposes an inherent conflict of interest, since trainers often compete for new clients

 

It makes sense to hire new trainers who already possess knowledge, skills and experience. Doing so will increase conversions, elevate client retention rates and reduce costly employee turnover, resulting in higher profits. 

Skills Training for Personal Trainers

If you are serious about building a successful and sustainable fitness career, don’t cut corners on your certification. Get the support, knowledge and hands-on experience you need to succeed with a fitness certification from W.I.T.S.

Advantages of a W.I.T.S. certification include: 

  • Fully NCCA accredited: The only practical skills competency exam in the industry, along with our written exam.
  • Recognized by employers nation-wide: Graduates that perform!
  • Available in colleges, universities and online.
  • Taught by qualified and experienced industry professionals.
  • Internship program available to cement your skills.
  • Friendly customer service and support.
  • Online continuing education at your fingertips.

Find Your Niche and Build Your Fitness Career

Build your skills and knowledge and become a top trainer. Choose from any of our professional fitness course for skills training and certification:

Join the W.I.T.S. family of industry leaders today, and build your fitness career on a solid foundation.