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!
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.
Let’s face it, the COVID-19 pandemic (in relation to a baseball analogy) has been a curveball that no one has been able to hit cleanly. That being said, we all still need to stand in the batter box and take our best swing.
As states across the country begin to allow fitness centers, health clubs, wellness centers and athletic facilities to open, there are still numerous precautions that have to be considered with coronavirus. For all of us who are actively involved with the Fitness Industry, we can’t simply think that it is going to be business as usual. Its not. All of us (members, clients, personal trainers) are going to have to be much more conscious and take a proactive approach to try and ensure the safety of everyone. This won’t necessarily be easy, but it is doable.
The following is a usable list of suggestions that should be considered when you prepare to reopen to start fitness sessions and training activities for your client base:
Fitness Facility Usage
Remove equipment (strength and cardio) from some areas and have it located in another part of your facility to help with physical distancing
Make some equipment (strength and cardio) unusable (maybe by posting sign on it), then changing which equipment is usable daily
Utilize multiple doors in the facility – One for “Entrance” – One for “Exit”
Temporarily remove all fitness accessories and portable recreational equipment (bands, balls, bars, etc.) from the fitness area
Supply additional cleaning supplies, then require all participants to clean up / wipe down fitness equipment after use
Require wearing a mask or cloth face shields be worn by everyone in the facility
Perform temperature checks for everyone entering the facility
Air flow is key so use your fans in the building and leave your fan setting for the A/C on.
Require all members or clients to sign a Liability Waver specific to COVID-19
Additional Hand Sanitizer units should be installed in facility
Limit that only 2 people may be in any rest room, at any time
Limit that only 2 people may use the elevator, at any time (if you have one)
Consider establishing a “fitness room capacity’, then require any interested participant to schedule an appointment time, in order to use the room / equipment
Consider to temporarily not allow access to the locker rooms / showers
Consider foot-plates or arm-bars to open the doors in the facility
Consider offering any live fitness-group classes virtually
Temporary suspend any recreational activities, games, and competitions on a basketball court, racquetball court, or turf field where intentional or inadvertent physical contact may occur
Eliminate the use of any room or area that cannot be monitored by a staff member
Rearrange Fitness Staff or Sales Staff offices, to help with social distancing and allow for immediate cleaning when their use is completed
Consider adjusting the operating scheduling of the facility (longer of shorter) to accommodate community members who have preexisting health conditions, along with controlling the flow of foot traffic in the facility
Staggered scheduling for Fitness Staff, so not all the staff members are in the facility at the same time
Allow Staff Member to work from home, on task and work assignments that do not require them to be in the facility
Scheduled workout sessions for specific participants, with a limit on the number of participants on the court, field or gym at a time
Once a group session is concluded, those participants will be required to leave the facility or field, so the next group can participate
Don’t allow friends or family members to wait in the facility during a session
Clients are to bring their own fitness or athletic equipment (balls, bands, clothes, etc.), to all fitness training sessions. The Staff will not be allowed give out equipment
Clients or members must bring their own water or snacks with them to all training sessions
Fitness Facility Rentals
Any group that wishes to rent or reserve any field or court in the facility must do so through a designated staff representative of the facility, do so 24 hours in advance, and supply a list of all participants who will be using the field or court
Inactive participants, reserves, or members serving in the capacity of a “coach”, “photographer”, or “referee” must maintain a distance of six feet or more from other persons at all times
Aforementioned persons must always wear a facial covering, mask, or shield while not participating
A designated staff member will determine what sports or activities will be permitted on any field or court in the facility, along with having direct and final input on any rules that are associated with predetermined sports or activities
Recreational and sporting activities with greater rates of contact, whether intentional or incidental, are prohibited
Participants are to follow self-screening measures prior to entering premises which include temperature and symptom checks. Those who have a body temperature of 100.4F or symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 are prohibited from entering the premises
Those who exhibit symptoms during play or while on premises, must vacate immediately and seek appropriate medical attention
Beverages with open containers and food and snacks, specifically gum, lozenges, and sunflower seeds are prohibited due to increased risk of transmission via saliva.
The sharing of beverages, including water and sports drinks, from the same container, is highly discouraged
Participants are strongly discouraged from high fiving, handshaking, fist bumping, hugging and sharing other forms of physical contact with one another. Additionally, participants are discouraged from touching their faces with their hands and fingers
Personal property is to be stored along the perimeter of the field or court, and more than six feet away from possessions belonging to other persons
I recognize that there are a lot of potential rules or restrictions on the list, along with other ones that could be included. However, because we all work at various locations, with different populations, with different requirements, my suggestion would be to apply as many of these as possible to your specific athletic, fitness, and wellness training situation.
Together, we can all make a positive impact on limiting the exposure of COVID-19. Then we can all get back to what it is we like to do – physically training and conditioning our clients, members and athletes… … and swinging for the fences …
Mark S. Cassidy, MS has been actively involved with the Fitness and Athletic Industry for over 25 years.
He has held professional positions with The Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, World Instructors Training Schools, 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, a Master’s degree in Organizational Development/Business Psychology from The Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, and certification through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He has professional experience as a Fitness Instructor, Strength Coach, Sports Coach-Counselor, Exercise Therapist, Sales Manager, College Professor, and Athletic Facility Director
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!
COVID-19 is now causing major health concerns throughout the United States along with the world. Close to 150 nations are being affected by this virus and (as of March 2020) there is no vaccine currently on the market. However, that doesn’t mean that people can’t take proactive measures to help slow the spread of the virus.
Limit social gatherings and keep approximately 6 feet of distance (Social Separation)
Avoid close contact with people who are sick
Stay at home if you are sick (Self Quarantine)
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth as much as possible
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
Clean objects and surfaces using a household cleaning spray or disinfected wipe
Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
All of these recommendations by the CDC are important. But we can all do more.
Viruses negative effects on the body are influenced by one’s own immune system. The stronger and healthier your immune system is, the more efficient you are to fighting back against bacteria and viruses. It is very important for us to maintain a healthy immune system. Therefore, a proper diet that is filled with the necessary vitamins is needed, to help against harmful germs.
The vitamins that should be taken to help maintain a healthy immune system are as follows:
Vitamins C takes aggressive action towards germs causing damage to your immune system. Vitamin C strengthens the cells that help in killing the germs, hence providing a boost to the immune system. In the body, Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, working to protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals. (Antioxidant – is a substance that inhibits oxidation, deterioration or reactions promoted by oxygen, peroxides, or free radicals). Vitamin C helps the body make collagen and helps improve the absorption of iron from plant-based foods.
Citrus fruits and green vegetables are all great sources of vitamin C.
Vitamin A is often associated with vision, but it also has a positive role in a strong immune system. Vitamin A is considered to be a defensive line for the immune system because it helps keep the germs and the viruses from entering the body. Vitamin A helps in keeping the mucous membrane moist and soft (which can be found in the nose, throat and mouth). The mucous membrane needs to be kept moist and soft because this helps it in trapping the germs and stopping them from infiltration into the body. Vitamin A also creates the enzymes that boost the immune system, along with playing a role in the maintenance of body linings and skin reproduction.
Vitamin A can be found in vegetables like broccoli, lettuce, carrots and squash, along with breakfast cereals, dairy products and some types of fish.
Vitamin B6 (chemically know as pyridoxine) is a critically important nutrient with a wide range of functions. Vitamin B6 is involved with more than a hundred enzyme reactions, within the body, involved in metabolism. (Metabolism – is the chemical processes that occur within a living organism in order to maintain life). Vitamin B6 plays a big role in protein metabolism, making hemoglobin (that is needed in blood – oxygen transportation) and boosts to proper immune function.
Vitamin B6 comes from a variety of foods such as chicken, fish, potatoes, starchy vegetables and non-citrus fruits.
Vitamin E is good in boosting the immune system to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Vitamin E helps in the production of the protein, interleukin-2, which is a protein that kills bacteria, viruses and germs when the body is infected. The protein (interleukin-2) that is produced by vitamin E is also used in the treatment of certain cancers.
Vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and green, leafy vegetables are all good sources of Vitamin E.
Vitamin D supports the immune system and is necessary for building and maintaining healthy bones. The reason for this is calcium, which is the primary component of bone, can only be absorbed by your body when adequate amounts of vitamin D are present. Your body is able to make vitamin D when direct sunlight converts a chemical in your skin into an active form of vitamin D (called calciferol).
Vitamin D isn’t found in many foods naturally, but you can get it from fortified milk, fortified cereal, and fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines.
Each of these vitamins can be obtained through food, eaten during a balanced diet. However, you could also choose to take any (or all) of these vitamins through supplementation. A multi-vitamin or a combination of vitamin tablets (once a day) will be sufficient to help your body’s immune system remain strong and healthy during these tough times.
Being proactive with your health, is a benefit to you and the people around you.
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.
Every aspect of our lives has been seized by ambiguity, uncertainty, and downright worry. Seemingly no societal stone has been left unturned as countless industries have been disrupted resulting in the cancellations of tens of thousands of commercial flights, countless commencement ceremonies, dozens of competitive seasons and respective postseason tournaments, prominently including March Madness, the NBA Finals, and NHL Stanley Cup, while shattering global tourism.
The coronavirus has begun to make its indelible footprint on life as we know it. However, through full adherence to evolving public health measures as a means to “flatten the curve” of growing cases while adopting a resolve of acceptance and adapting under a new set of circumstances, our society can surmount what mainstream media leads everyone to believe as an existential threat to civilization.
According to multiple media sources, this coronavirus strain, also known as COVID-19, initially emerged from the Wuhan region of the Hubei province located in southeastern China. Though conflicting reports prevail precisely from where and how this virus originated.
Coronaviruses are members of the subfamily Coronavirinae in the Coronviridae family under the order of Nidovirales and comprise four genera, or types of viruses, which have been shown to cause gastrointestinal and/or respiratory infections within mammals and birds. They have demonstrated the ability to transfect multiple species, jumping from one host to another through close contact. Additionally, they possess mutative abilities, meaning they can intensify into more virulent iterations of the virus, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2002 and 2003 and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome in 2012 and 2013.
Though persons with the coronavirus exhibit symptoms similar to the flu, both viruses differ in their genomic and virion structures, with the coronavirus bearing doubly greater rates of infection and transmissibility than the flu. The case fatality rate of coronavirus, or the percentage of cases resulting in mortality range from 1.0-3.4% versus 0.1% for the seasonal flu.
Concerningly, no vaccines exist, however, scores of pharmaceutical companies spanning the globe are scrambling to develop one. Within weeks of its emergence in southeastern China, the virus’ genome, or unique strand of genetic information, was culled from an infected subject, helping fast track vaccine development. As of Monday, March 16th, human trials are underway with a vaccine prototype in the Seattle area.
Globally, our access to healthcare and advancements in science are in stark contrast to 1917 when the first wave of the great influenza pandemic hit. A century ago, physicians and scientists only read about viruses and since the electron microscope didn’t make its way to laboratory benches until the early 1940s, there was no way to identify the culprit that claimed the lives of 50 million people.
Further, sanitary practices weren’t as stringent in healthcare settings as they are present day. Poor sanitation, in conjunction with suboptimal personal hygiene and lack of intensive care units and sterile isolation areas, lent themselves to secondary bacteria infections which many theorize, ultimately choked the final breaths from flu-stricken victims.
Chances are, history won’t be repeating itself. Though municipalities that enacted travel constraints and preventive quarantine measures, fared better than cities with lax or non-existent standards during the pandemic, so we can expect continued restrictions to reduce the likelihood of infection.
Pump down the volume and turn down the intensity.
If one has access to equipment during this time, it is recommended that restraint be employed pertaining to exercise intensity and volume as both have been implicated in temporarily suppressing immune system function as marked by increases in immune cell phenotypes, cortisol, and oxidative stress. Based on the review of the literature, 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. Do what is necessary to maintain muscular fitness, such as endurance or hypertrophy, but do not try to force adaptation through grueling training modalities as temporary inflammation and metabolic and oxidative stress may leave you more vulnerable to infection, if exposed to the virus. Alternatively, one can train to improve maximal, or limit strength, since development of this fitness quality is dependent upon neural, not metabolic pathways that elicit heightened metabolic and oxidative stress that can impede immune system functioning. Also, one may engage in submaximal lower intensity steady state cardiovascular exercise without much metabolic or oxidative stress inducing consequences.
Prioritize lagging fitness qualities or movement capacity.
This time can be better invested focusing on deficient fitness qualities, such as limit strength, if equipment avails, aerobic fitness, or soft tissue quality, muscular extensibility, flexibility, and stability and motor control, which in concert, can improve movement capacity. Aerobic fitness and movement capacity can be improved simultaneously through hybridized circuits such as the one outlined below:
Repeat 5 times with 1:30 rest between each sequence
Banded Pull Apart x 15 repetitions
Glute Bridge x 15 repetitions
Alternating Groiner with Thoracic Rotation x 6 repetitions (each side)
Alternating High Knee Hug to Forward Lunge x 6 repetitions (each side)
Yoga Push Up (High Plank to Downward Dog) x 6 repetitions
Squat to Overhead Reach x 15 repetitions
Burpee x 3 repetitions
Catch up on vitamin “S”…sleep!
Slow wave, or deep sleep, has shown to bolster immune system functioning (1), whereas, deprivation, even for as little as a week, impedes phagocytosis (2), the body’s process of engulfing, internalizing, and processing foreign particles, or antigens, such as viruses and bacteria. Many athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and fitness professionals are sleep deprived. Now is the chance to catch up and get a solid seven to eight per night.
Contemplate shifting to virtual mediums
With much of the country under lockdown and some jurisdictions, such as the state of California, restricting person over the 65 from leaving their homes, fitness professionals, especially those who are self-employed, should consider temporarily transitioning to virtual sessions conducted via Skype, Hangout, Blue Jeans, or FaceTime. Many of these applications are free and the majority of modern-day iPhones have FaceTime capabilities. If virtual training arrangements are not possible, fitness professionals should regularly check in with their clients to ensure they are staying on track, helping ease the transition when they will inevitably be meeting with you again.
Invest some time in professional development.
Investor magnate Warren Buffet has a reputation as a voracious reader, consuming newspapers, novels, and journals in upwards of five hours per day. He attributes much of his success as an investor to possessing a wide breadth of knowledge on a number of subjects and industries. Many fitness professionals fail to reach five hours of reading, or more broadly, professional development per week, let alone per month. Use this time to devour a subject or domain on which you know very little or an area that will help you better service your clients.
Joseph 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.
Besedovsky, L., Lange, T., & Born, J. (2012). Sleep and immune function. Pflugers Archive European Journal of Physiology, 463 (1), 121-137.
Said, E.A., Al-Abri, M.A., Al-Saidi, I., Al-Balushi, M.S., Al-Busaidi, J.Z., Al-Reesi, I., Koh, C.Y., Idris, M.A., Al-Jabri, A.A., & Habbal, O. (2019). Sleep deprivation alters neutrophil functions and levels of Th1-related chemokines and CD4⁺ T cells in the blood. Sleep and Breathing, 23 (4), 1331-1339.
First of all, let’s look at some high blood pressure facts from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM):
High blood pressure (also referred to as Hypertension) is defined as a chronically elevated blood pressure greater than 140/90 mmHg. Also stated as “one forty over ninety”.
Elevation in blood pressure increases chances of a heart attack or stroke
More than 75 million Americans have high blood pressure
Three out of every four people over age 60 has high blood pressure
Many men and women don’t even know they have high blood pressure
High blood pressure can be controlled
Death rates from heart attacks and strokes in the United States have decreased by 40-60 percent over the last 30 years
That’s good news. And those who are physically active tend to live longer, healthier lives. But let’s explore how you can lower your blood pressure with some simple exercise.
In 2011, the ACSM recommended for healthy adults at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (working hard enough to break a sweat, but still able to carry on a conversation) five days per week. Or 20 minutes of more vigorous activity three days per week. Combinations of moderate and vigorous intensity activity can be performed to meet this recommendation.
The ACSM also states that a well-rounded physical activity program includes Aerobic Exercise and strength training exercise, but not necessarily in the same session. Let’s focus on Aerobic Exercise:
According to the American Heart Association (AMA), with an average weight of either 150lbs or 200lbs, adults can expect to burn the following calories with the following exercises:
Most of us find it difficult to add exercise to our already busy day — even if it will improve our health. However, the physical activity required to lower blood pressure can be added without making major lifestyle changes. The ACSM suggests these simple measures to increase activity as a part of your existing daily activity:
Park your car further away so you can add some walk time to and from work
Take the stairs, instead of the elevator
Take a 10-15 minute walk during your lunch break
Choose a restaurant with low-fat, low-cholesterol options and walk to it for lunch
Take your children or grandchildren to the park
Take a 30-minute window-shopping walk around the mall when weather is bad
Wake up 30 minutes earlier in the morning to start your day with exercise (Most people find they look forward to their exercise time!)
You can vary all of these activities to make exercise interesting!
Before You Exercise
The ACSM recommends that, prior to beginning any exercise program, you should see your doctor and ask for an medical evaluation. It’s important for your doctor to clear you for strenuous activity. This keeps them in the loop as to your daily life and goals, but also allows them to provide critical, personal advice on how to go about your activities.
The ACSM warns, “Not all exercise programs are suitable for everyone, and some programs may result in injury. Activities should be carried out at a pace that is comfortable for the user. Users should discontinue participation in any exercise activity that causes pain or discomfort. In such event, medical consultation should be immediately obtained.”
By: Andrea Leonard, Founder and President Cancer Exercise Training Institute
Most of us know that every October symbolizes Breast Cancer Awareness Month around the globe. I witnessed my mother battling breast cancer three times since 1981. She is currently fighting the battle with widespread-metastatic breast cancer. Today she is winning!
According to Breastcancer.org:
About 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
In 2019, an estimated 268,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 62,930 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.
About 2,670 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in men in 2019. A man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 883.
Breast cancer incidence rates in the U.S. began decreasing in the year 2000, after increasing for the previous two decades. They dropped by 7% from 2002 to 2003 alone. One theory is that this decrease was partially due to the reduced use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) by women after the results of a large study called the Women’s Health Initiative were published in 2002. These results suggested a connection between HRT and increased breast cancer risk.
About 41,760 women in the U.S. are expected to die in 2019 from breast cancer, though death rates have been decreasing since 1989. Women under 50 have experienced larger decreases. These decreases are thought to be the result of treatment advances, earlier detection through screening, and increased awareness.
For women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, besides lung cancer.
Besides skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women. In 2019, it’s estimated that about 30% of newly diagnosed cancers in women will be breast cancers.
In women under 45, breast cancer is more common in African-American women than white women. Overall, African-American women are more likely to die of breast cancer. For Asian, Hispanic, and Native-American women, the risk of developing and dying from breast cancer is lower.
As of January 2019, there are more than 3.1 million women with a history of breast cancer in the U.S. This includes women currently being treated and women who have finished treatment.
A woman’s risk of breast cancer nearly doubles if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Less than 15% of women who get breast cancer have a family member diagnosed with it.
About 5-10% of breast cancers can be linked to gene mutations inherited from one’s mother or father. Mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are the most common. On average, women with a BRCA1 mutation have up to a 72% lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. For women with a BRCA2 mutation, the risk is 69%. Breast cancer that is positive for the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations tends to develop more often in younger women. An increased ovarian cancer risk is also associated with these genetic mutations. In men, BRCA2 mutations are associated with a lifetime breast cancer risk of about 6.8%; BRCA1 mutations are a less frequent cause of breast cancer in men.
About 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. These occur due to genetic mutations that happen as a result of the aging process and life in general, rather than inherited mutations.
The most significant risk factors for breast cancer are gender (being a woman) and age (growing older).
In 1995 my mother’s breast surgeon, Katherine Alley, was a personal training client of mine. After my mom’s second diagnosis she begged me to help her in her recovery to avoid all of the pain and debilitation she encountered the first time. I remember the day that I asked Dr. Alley what she thought of writing a book on exercises for breast cancer patients to help them in their recovery. Without hesitation she said “YES!” We solicited the help of the Chiefs of breast surgery at Georgetown George Washington, and Johns’ Hopkins University Hospitals, along with PT’s, OT’s, Patient Navigators, and exercise physiologists. In 2000, “Essential Exercises for Breast Cancer Survivors” was published by Harvard Common Press.
So began my journey into changing the lives of cancer patients worldwide. Since that time I have trained roughly 10,000 health and fitness professionals in 27 countries to become Cancer Exercise Specialists. It’s the most incredible feeling to know that each of these professionals is probably helping many cancer patients and survivors to fend off the debilitating side-effects of treatment as well as regain their pre-cancer level of strength and fitness, or better!
With a physician’s clearance, during cancer treatment, a Cancer Exercise Specialist can help patients determine the proper frequency, intensity, and duration or exercise to help minimize fatigue, increase stamina, improve sleep, decrease pain, prevent lymphedema, and manage stress and potentially counter-depression. During recovery a Cancer Exercise Specialist is trained to identify muscle imbalances and range of motion limitations and how they can be corrected through the proper combination of stretching and strengthening. This is of critical importance following mastectomy, radiation, and reconstruction which may all result in painful and functionally limiting scar tissue and adhesions. They also assess one’s core and balance and can help to manage the difficulties that arise with neuropathy while helping to prevent osteoporosis. Long-term side-effects of treatment may include damage to the heart and lungs, future cancers, diabetes, lymphedema, and osteoporosis; all of which can be minimized or prevented with the proper exercise “prescription.’
“So many people are needlessly suffering in the aftermath of cancer surgery and treatment. I want them to know that there is help! They do not have to accept this as their fate.” – Andrea Leonard
If you are a health or fitness professional that wants to make a difference in the lives of cancer survivors and are ready to begin your training as a Cancer Exercise Specialist, or Breast Cancer Recovery BOSU(R) Specialist, we want to help you. Throughout October you can save 30% off of either of the aforementioned courses and be on your way to helping those in need!
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:
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:
Not all personal trainer certification programs are alike.
Imagine needing emergency surgery to have your appendix removed. The hospital staff assures you that the attending surgeon has a degree from a prestigious Ivy League school, which happens to be the alma mater of the hospital’s surgical director. You feel at ease as the anesthesiologist prepares your IV. But just as you’re getting drowsy, the nurse comments that your procedure will be the doctor’s very first foray into the operating room, since he earned his degree online.
Of course, this scenario is unlikely — although not totally unheard of — in the medical arena. Surgeons go through years of study, practical skills training and supervised practice before they are allowed to take the lead in a major operation. Sadly, that is often not the case with personal training.
Personal Trainer Key Skills
Many people think that a personal trainer’s only job duties are to teach exercise, preach about nutrition and keep clients motivated. But a personal trainer’s key skills encompass much, much more.
Here are just a handful of important personal trainer skills that require hands-on learning:
Record keeping and business management: Personal trainers have a lot of information to keep track of: client records, progress charts, workouts, account history and much more! Most certification programs fail to touch on this.
Conducting and interpreting each client’s health history: Personal training clients come to us with a plethora of health conditions and a broad range of medications. It is essential that you are able to ask the right questions and know how to interpret and use this information to protect your client and yourself.
Measuring and monitoring vital statistics: It is impossible to accurately measure heart rate and blood pressure without hands-on experience, with a variety of different subjects. Online certification programs cannot help you with this.
Conducting standardized fitness assessments: Standardized fitness assessments for strength, endurance, flexibility and cardiovascular fitness give us a baseline against which we can measure our clients’ progress. This is another skill that requires hands-on practice and experience, which you cannot get online.
Personalized goal-specific client programming: The secret to becoming a successful personal trainer is being able to help your clients reach and exceed their goals. Learning the basics of goal-oriented programming is an essential skill that requires hands-on practice.
Teaching proper exercise form and execution: There is a lot more to an effective exercise program than picking up weights and putting them down again. As trainers, we need to cue our clients on correct alignment and perfect execution, to prevent injury and attain desired results.
Injury prevention and management: Any type of physical activity comes with inherent risks. As a trainer, it is your job to teach your clients to exercise safely, and to provide guidance and support throughout each session. These are hands-on skills that cannot be learned from a textbook or video.
Lifestyle counseling: Every client brings their own unique lifestyle history to the table. As trainers, we work with our clients to identify negative lifestyle behaviors and help them make better choices. Role playing gives you essential skills for communicating with your clients, in ways that help them evolve, without making them feel judged.
How to Get Skills Training
Sadly, the majority of certification programs do not equip you to apply practical skills as a trainer.Most are self-study programs that certify you once you pass a written online test. Imagine walking into your new personal trainer job, being assigned a client on your first day, and not having a clue about how to proceed.
Imagine walking into your new personal trainer job, being assigned a client on your first day, and not having a clue about how to proceed.
Busy studios and big box gyms provide minimal training for new hires. They most often throw you into the fray, and let you sink or swim. As you can imagine, this leads to high turnover and a lot of discouraged and disillusioned trainers who spent their hard-earned money to get certified. It also leads to dissatisfied clients, and hurts our industry as a whole.
World Instructor Training Schools is the only certification program that teaches and conducts research-based testing for personal trainer practical skills.
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 who 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 supportOnline continuing education at your fingertips
Join the W.I.T.S. family of industry leaders today, and build your fitness career on a solid foundation.