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Top 5 Myths — and Facts — About Fitness Training for Older Adults

The over-50 age group is the largest growing demographic in the fitness market, and the demand for personal training among older adults is high. Most older adults have the time and money to hire a trainer, and want the reassurance of safe and effective exercise to achieve and maintain optimal health. Yet many personal  trainers are reluctant to take on older clients, especially those in their 70s and beyond.

Following are five common myths about training older adults, and the surprising truth about the advantages of working with this very special population:

Myth 1: Older people are boring, and we won’t have anything in common.

Fact: Older adults who engage in fitness activities are anything but boring. Most are highly accomplished, with stellar careers and colorful life experiences that go back decades. Training older adults gives you a rich cultural experience that you will not experience with younger clients.

Myth 2: Older adults are fragile and pose a high liability risk for injury.

Fact: When working with a trainer, older adults pose no greater risk for injury than the general population. The same principles and guidelines that govern all adults also apply to older adults. Progressive overload, specificity, the FITT principle and consistency are all principles that apply to older adults. The ACSM exercise guidelines are nearly identical for adults of all ages.

Myth 3: Older adults have medical conditions and take drugs that make it difficult to train them.

Fact: Medical conditions and medications may impose certain challenges, but they can be overcome. The key is to know the client’s health history and physical limitations, and to educate yourself about how to work with those limitations and get results. Working with older adults is a great opportunity to expand your knowledge and expertise. Becoming certified as an Older Adult Fitness Specialist will give you additional tools and specific knowledge for training older adult clients with health issues.

Myth 4: Older adults cannot expect to get stronger or healthier through fitness.

Fact: Given the appropriate levels of overload, older adults can build bone and muscle, increase cardiovascular health, improve flexibility and generally improve overall health. Moreover, older adults benefit from the psycho-social aspects of fitness training, with reduced levels of depression and anxiety, and improved mood.

Myth 5: Older adults are frugal and won’t want to pay for personal training.

Fact: Older adults have a high appreciation for health and are willing to pay for training that enhances their overall quality of life. Most know that medical interventions are expensive and often ineffective. Older adults often have a surplus of discretionary income that they are willing to spend on their overall health and wellness. Family members are often supportive of their loved one who wants to improve their health through fitness, and appreciate the added safety provided by a certified trainer. Moreover, an older adult is more likely to become a long-term client, giving you greater financial stability in the long run.

W.I.T.S. Older Adult Fitness Certification

The older adult population has certain unique needs that do not appear in the general population, and there is growing demand for fitness professionals who understand those needs. Trainers are in high demand for in-home training, retirement communities, and gyms and studios. Enhance your credentials, increase your expertise and grow your career with the W.I.T.S. Older Adult Fitness Specialist certification, available live and online.

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5 Key Steps to Launching Your Personal Training Career

If you love to work out and admit to being a bit of a gym rat, you may have considered pursuing a career as a personal trainer. The idea of wearing comfy clothes to work, hanging out in the gym and talking to people all day while listening to upbeat music has enormous appeal. Not to mention the gratification of helping people improve their quality of life on a personal level.

Become a Personal Trainer

Every year, thousands of aspiring trainers become certified, with intentions of switching from a boring desk job or soul crushing sales position to the high energy world of fitness. Yet for many, launching a fitness career can be a daunting task. Where to begin? How to find clients? Will I be able to pay my bills?

Getting Off to a Successful Start

It goes without saying that completing your Personal Trainer Certification is an important first step to building you career and establishing yourself as a fitness professional. But once the ink dries on your certificate and it is framed and hanging on your ego wall, it will take a lot more effort on your part to get your business up and running.

Here are five important steps you should take to get your career as a personal trainer off to a successful start: 

  1. Define your goals: Certified personal trainers can be found in a broad range of venues, including fitness clubs, physical therapy clinics, schools, retirement communities, small studios, and as independent contractors working from home. Do you want the security of working for someone else in a gym or studio, or do you plan to start your own business? Will personal training be your full-time career, or just a side gig? Will you open your own studio, or take it on the road with in-home personal training? Clearly defined short-term and long-term goals are key to laying a successful foundation for your fitness career.
  1. Create a budget: Starting a new business or career can have short-term financial consequences. If you are accustomed to the steady paycheck provided by your 9-to-5 along with other perks like health care and a retirement account, launching a business or working for a company with fewer benefits is a tough decision. Begin with the minimum monthly income you need to make ends meet and work backward. How much will you need to charge per session, and how many sessions per week will you need to stay afloat? Be realistic, and don’t forget to deduct expenses.
  1. Identify your niche: Personal training clients are as diverse as the population at large, and some are easier to train than others. Defining your niche and becoming an expert in serving that population will help you market yourself and build a solid reputation. Your niche may be as general as women, men, or teens, or as narrow as older adults, bodybuilders or people with disabilities. You may choose to work with bariatric patients, or pregnant and postpartum moms. Specializing makes you special, and it is a great way to build your client base.
  1. Start strong: You chose a fitness career for a reason, and even if you have never trained a client before, your W.I.T.S. Personal Trainer Certification has equipped you with all the knowledge you need to help your first client reach their goals. One of the best ways to get the word out about your business and build your client base is to transform someone’s life through fitness and lifestyle changes. Word of mouth from a satisfied client is a powerful form of marketing and advertising that money cannot buy.
  1. Learn, learn, learn! Fitness is a rapidly evolving field, with volumes of new research emerging daily. Keep on top of the latest trends, stay informed about new studies and most of all, pursue continuing education on a consistent basis. Consider boosting your credentials with a second certification in your niche, like older adult or youth fitness. Learn to market yourself on social media, and add to your business toolbox with courses geared specifically to the fitness industry, like those offered through the W.I.T.S. Online Business Management Success Series.

Let W.I.T.S. Help Launch Your Fitness Career

If you are switching from another career field, W.I.T.S. gives you a leg up with our unique internship program. Work with real clients, make valuable industry connections, and gain important credentials and experience to flesh out your fitness resume. Many of our interns even get hired by the hosting internship site, making an easy transition from student to Certified Personal Trainer.

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Fitness Professional’s Toolbox: Intermittent Exercise by Joe Giandonato, MBA, MS, CSCS

When it comes to the design, prescription, and delivery of a comprehensive fitness program, the overarching edicts of safety, efficiency, and effectiveness should always be upheld. However, when life happens and clients’ discretionary spending capacity and available time both dry up, novice personal trainers are apt to throw in the towel.

By far and large, working professionals are not professional athletes and therefore should not be held to the same standards. Working professionals log 40 hours or more per week in their respective industries, whereas professional athletes have a plethora of resources at their disposal, which include state of the art facilities that are staffed by teams of sports medicine, strength and conditioning, and nutrition professionals. These gifted individuals have all they need to exercise and ascribe to a healthy diet, since their priority is achieving and maintaining a body that is healthy and capable of high performance.

 

Working professionals often have a family to support and an assortment of bills to juggle impacting their ability to meet with you regularly and frequently.

 

As such, they may not be able to adhere to a textbook exercise program — which is ironic, since no textbooks prepare you to support your clients when life interferes with exercise programming.

 

Say your client needs to pare down their sessions from three times per week to once per week.

 

Do you write them off? Do you chalk it up to laziness? Do you attribute it to a lack of dedication?

 

If you answered “yes” to any of those, you may want to re-evaluate your career choice.

 

Instead, take a deeper dive into their everyday life. If things are growing hectic on the work- or home- fronts, or if their wallet is getting thinner, consider hybridizing their program.

 

If they can only meet with you once per week, cover the basics in each session: introduce, coach, and perfect fundamental movement patterns. If time and their current level of fitness permit, push them through anaerobic capacity work in the form of traditional strength training, metabolic conditioning, or functional training with a 1:1 work to rest ratio.

 

If they are only meeting with you once per week and have weight loss or general health goals and are unable to dedicate hours in the gym each week, consider complimenting their session(s) or gym visits with intermittent exercise.

 

Research has shown that the inclusion of three short bouts of 10 minutes of physical activity via walking was capable of improving cardiorespiratory fitness over two and six week spans (1).

 

Encourage your client to park to engage in active commuting. Active commuting involves augmenting or completing typically achieved with traditional forms of transportation, such as motor vehicles and trains, with walking or bicycling. And an added bonus is that it’s eco-friendly!

 

Also, you can encourage your client to take “movement breaks” when allotted a 15 minute break at their workplace as mandated by labor regulations. These movement breaks can consist of walking around the workplace, climbing stairwells, or taking a stroll outside while others mull over unhealthy options at the breakroom vending machine or commiserate with others over tobacco coffin nails.

 

Additionally, for clients dealing with musculoskeletal pain and begetting muscular imbalances, the workstation can serve as the new “workplace gym”.

 

In 2016, a Midwestern corporation did just that. Pursuant to having numerous health insurance claims for work-related musculoskeletal disorders, the corporation devised, developed, availed, and promoted an 8-minute stretching program that was based off of the Mayo Clinic’s office stretching program. Over a 60-day period, significant reductions in injuries and missed days of work were noted as was a cost savings in aggregate healthcare spend (2). And though no flexibility measurements were recorded, based off the data, one can easily infer that study participants felt better and likely began moving better during and following their workday.

 

A sample desk-based program can be found below:

 

Lengthen and Strengthen

 

Phase One: Lengthen

 

Seated Upper Trapezius / Neck Extensor Stretch (1 set x 10 full breaths each side)

 

– With open palm, gently grasp crown of head and draw elbow downward

– Hold for prescribed number of breaths and alternate sides

 

Interlocking Hands Pectoralis Minor Stretch (1 set x 10 full breaths)

 

– Place hands behind head and interlace fingers

– Gently cup crown of head with interlocked hands

– Gingerly tilt head back and drive elbows back

– Think external cue of “getting big chest and driving breastbone (sternum) away from chest”

– Hold for prescribed number of breaths

 

Reaching Latissimus Dorsi Stretch (1 set x 10 full breaths)

 

– From seated position, lean forward and grasp edge of desk

– “Pull” torso away from desk and try to achieve a “long spine” (or flat back)

– Hold for prescribed number of breaths

 

Cross Body Shoulder Stretch (1 set x 10 full breaths)

 

– Clench one arm within another and draw it across your body

– Maintain erect torso and “big chest”

– Hold for prescribed number of breaths

 

Torso Supported Calf Stretch (1 set x 10 full breaths)

 

– Stand up and lean forward onto desk, wall, or other stationary object

– Place one foot near the object and other foot behind you, maintaining flat feet

– Keep a “long spine” and extended hips

– Hold for prescribed number of breaths

 

Half Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch (1 set x 10 full breaths)

 

– Assume half kneeling position, keep shin of front leg and thigh of back leg upright

– Achieve a long spine by keeping core tight and shoulders open and loose

– “Dig” toes of foot of back leg into floor

– Hold for prescribed number of breaths

 

Deep Squat with Belly Breathing (1 set x 10 full breaths)

 

Grasp desk, door frame, cubicle divider or other stationary object

– Descend into deep squat position, with feet at shoulder to hip width and fully on floor

– Drive knees outwardly and keep spine long via tight and activated core

– Hold for prescribed number of breaths

 

Phase Two: Strengthen:

 

Chin Tuck with Deep Cervical Flexor Activation (1 set x 10 repetitions)

 

– Position crown of head against wall

– Keep neck straight and neutral

– Drive chin rearward into throat and try to make a “double chin”

– Hold briefly and return to starting position

– Repeat for prescribed number of repetitions

 

Bent Prone Trap Raise (1 set x 10 repetitions)

 

– Assume prone position with bodyweight supported via one arm on desk or another stationary object

– Dangle other arm down to the floor

– Pull shoulder blade of free arm back and down, and raise arm with thumb side up

– Raises with left hand will be performed with arm at “10 o’clock” angle and right hand will be performed with arm at “2 o’clock” angle a

– Please do not “shrug” shoulders when performing exercise

– Repeat for prescribed number of repetitions

 

Desktop Sliding Shoulder Retraction (1 set x 10 repetitions)

 

– Sitting upright in desk chair, place hands and forearms at shoulder width atop surface of desk

– Keep thumb side up

– Initiate movement by drawing shoulder blades back and down and slide forearms back to torso to complete movement

– Repeat for prescribed number of repetitions

 

Sit to Stand with Overhead Reach (1 set x 10 repetitions)

 

– Secure an immovable chair or object that is roughly knee to mid-thigh height and is capable of supporting entire body weight

– Descend into seated position

– Place your hands across your chest

– Rise from seated position, by driving off your heels, extending your hips and rocking onto forefoot (front of foot)

– Raise your arms with your hands overhead and reach for the ceiling

– Put your arms down and slowly descend into seated position

– Repeat for prescribed number of repetitions

 

References

 

  1. Murphy, M., Nevill, A., Neville, C., Biddle, S. & Hardman, A. (2002). Accumulating brisk walking

for fitness, cardiovascular, and psychological health. Medicine and Science in Sports and

Exercise, 34, 1468-1474.

 

  1. Aje, O.O., Smith-Campbell, B., & Bett, C. (2018). Preventing musculoskeletal disorders in factory workers: evaluating a new eight minute stretching program. Workplace Health & Safety, 66, 343-347.
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Top 5 Secrets to Weight Loss Success in 2019

A decade or so ago, we all believed that most of our calories should come from whole grains and other carbs, and that eggs and other saturated fats gave us heart disease. We were also sure that longer bouts of cardio would yield greater reductions in body fat. But times have changed, and the jury is in. New research shoots holes in just about everything we thought to be true about successful healthy weight loss. 

Here are five weight loss secrets, backed by clinical evidence, to help you succeed in 2019:

  1. Close the window: We once believed that eating small meals and snacks several times throughout the day was a great way to stabilize blood sugar and silence hunger pangs, thereby facilitating weight loss. Not surprisingly, few people who followed that advice actually lost weight. Giving your body a steady supply of energy negates the need to tap into fat stores. Instead of eating around the clock, practice intermittent fasting by eating all your calories within a six to eight hour window, and stop eating at least three hours before bedtime. Watch your energy soar as your fat melts away. Study
  1. Burst out of your plateau: Long bouts of moderate-intensity cardio lasting 60 to 90 minutes will help you burn fat, but it is a huge time commitment that most people cannot sustain. Burst training, aka interval training, speeds up fat loss while giving your metabolism a boost that lasts for hours. To begin, try walking for two minutes, then running all out for 30 seconds; repeat that cycle for a total of 20 minutes, three to five times per week, and watch your body shed its fat layer. You can adjust the walking to running ratio as your fitness level improves, spending more time in sprint mode. Study
  1. Lift heavy objects: There is no doubt about it, resistance training is one of the fastest ways to whip your body into shape and shed unwanted pounds. Use good form, and push yourself beyond your comfort zone. You will be amazed at the transformative results. Study
  1. Manage stress and sleep: Sleep deprivation and stress make a double-edged sword that elevates cortisol levels, encouraging your body to hang onto fat. Your body needs sleep to maintain a healthy immune system and refresh your brain. Chronic stress leads to metabolic disease and weight gain. It is nearly impossible to lose weight when you are always stressed and sleep deprived. Study
  1. Fatten up your diet: A diet low in carbs and processed foods, with moderate amounts of protein and high in healthy fats encourages your body to use fat for fuel, all day long. Avocados, coconut oil, nuts, eggs, salmon, sardines, olives, cheese and other foods high in fat will cut your hunger pangs and give you plenty of energy for your workouts. Study

Losing excess body weight can be a positive step toward better health. However, the scale should not be your only tool for measuring your progress. A well designed fitness program will help you reduce your body fat percentage, lose inches, and increase your overall strength and endurance. Obsessing about the numbers on the scale can undermine your progress and kill your motivation. Instead of zeroing in on a specific body weight, think about your energy level and how well your clothes fit. Looking and feeling your best spells success!

Resources

W.I.T.S. has all the tools you need to keep pace with the fitness industry and stay informed about the latest research. Increase your value and tap into a growing market with an Older Adult Fitness Certification. Help your clients manage stress and lose weight with Lifestyle Fitness Coaching. Hone your business skills with our Online Business Management continuing education courses. Stay on top of the latest industry trends and watch your business grow with W.I.T.S.!

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Fitness Tech-Knowledge-Y: Smart Fashion for Informed Performance

 

Just when you thought you knew it all, technology for fitness tracking raises the bar with smarter and better wearables. Following are just a few of the more notable options now trending for smart fitness fashion.

MBody Smart Shorts by Myontec: These 3D elastic compression shorts read and report information on muscle load, heart rate data, cadence, speed and distance. Designed for cyclists, duathletes and triathletes, MCell smart measuring tech delivers stats via bluetooth to the MBody Live app on your iOs or Android smart device. Priced at $885 a pair, let’s hope they are washable, because you probably won’t want to buy a spare pair.

LINX Smart Bicycle Helmet by Coros: Wirelessly connect your helmet to your smartphone to listen to music, make and accept phone calls, talk to fellow riders, and keep abreast of navigation and ride data through open-ear Bone Conduction Technology. The helmet is equipped with a precision wind-resistant microphone for clear communication, perfect for commuters who need to stay in touch. At only $200, this helmet may be well worth the investment.

Apple iWatch (Series 4): Probably the best fitness tracker on the market, especially when you consider its many other functions, the Series 4 Apple Watch is a worthwhile investment at just $399. The device is completely waterproof up to 50 m, perfect for swimmers. With a built in GPS, brighter display and a plethora of fitness tracking tools, Apple leaves its competitors in the dust with this iteration of the iWatch.

Zepp Digital Sports Training Device: OK, so this is not technically a wearable, but it does attach to your sports equipment (tennis racquet, baseball bat, golf club or soccer calf sleeve) to give you stats and feedback on your performance, along with video of each kick or swing. At only $99.99, this device may be worth it for anyone working to step up their game.

TUNE Smart Insoles by Kinematix: Place these high-tech insoles beneath your regular running shoe insoles, and embedded sensors will transmit data on your running technique and performance to your smart device. In addition to working with your GPS to track speed, pace and distance, TUNE monitors both feet, measuring ground contact time and heel contact time, helping you to improve running efficiency and reduce injury risk. Available for $199, devoted runners may find the device well worth the price.

Whether quantifying your workouts correlates with improved health, performance or weight loss remains to be seen, but wearable fitness tech will be on the scene for years to come, for those willing to pay the price.

Resources

Whether you are training the next American Ninja Warrior or doing balance training with older adults, the fundamental principle of fitness are foundational to safety and results. Staying abreast of trends and new research in sports and exercise is your responsibility as a fitness professional. Get certified with Personal Fitness Trainer, Older Adult Fitness Specialist, Lifestyle Fitness Coach, or Youth Fitness. Then back up your knowledge with continuing education. Extreme training calls for extreme knowledge, and W.I.T.S. has the courses you need to stay informed.

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Balancing Act: Preventing Falls and Injury in Older Adults

Fear of Falling

oa crutches

One of the signs of aging is slower, less coordinated movement and greater instability when standing and walking. Consequently, one of the greatest fears among older adults is taking a tumble that leads to injury. According to the National Council on Aging, falling is the leading cause of fatal injuries among older adults, and the most common cause of trauma-related hospital admissions. However, the NCOA believes that the incidence of falls can be markedly reduced by lifestyle interventions.

Things that Make You Go Boom

Many factors contribute to increased fall risk in older adults. High on the list are medications that interfere with balance and mental acuity. A sedentary lifestyle and excessive sitting bring on postural changes that affect movement mechanics and predispose older adults to falling. Bifocals and trifocals can distort vision, and loss of hearing can interfere with judgement. Loss of muscle mass, called sarcopenia, leads to joint instability and poor balance recovery. Low bone mineral density, or osteoporosis, leads to frail bones that break easily in a fall. If an injury from a fall results in bleeding, blood thinner medications can prevent blood from clotting and can lead to death from blood loss.

Falling and Fitness

wits oa dumbbells

An active lifestyle that includes fitness activities to promote balance is key to reducing the risk of falls among the elderly. Resistance training programs designed to promote optimal muscle tension at the joints can improve posture and boost the ability to recover disrupted balance. Flexibility training can likewise restore healthy posture and increase fluid movement. Water exercise provides a safe workout environment that limits the risk of falling while promoting strength and range of motion. Regular aerobic exercise can reduce disease risk and lower dependency on medications.

Balance Training

Deliberate balance training is another strategy for reducing the risk of falls. Slow deliberate movements like those done in tai chi or qui gong require balance and mental focus. There are a number of balance training exercises geared to older adults that can be easily found on the Internet. There are also many programs that offer certifications for fitness professionals who work with older adults. In addition to balance training, practicing how to get up after a fall can be life-saving.

Resources

Educating yourself about older adult health is key to successfully working with this diverse population. W.I.T.S. has got you covered with certification and continuing education courses including Certified Older Adult Fitness Specialist, Able Bodies Balance Training, Certified Personal Trainer, Older Adult Fitness Foundations, and Exercise Program Design for Special Populations.

References

National Council on Aging: Falls Prevention Facts
https://www.ncoa.org/news/resources-for-reporters/get-the-facts/falls-prevention-facts/

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Not-So-Hot Yoga: Beware the Perils of Preposterous Postures!

Over the last several decades, thanks in large part to the personal fitness movement, yoga has emerged from the dark and mysterious realm of spiritual ritual to become a mainstream and universally embraced mode of exercise. The age-old practice of mindful stretching, while it has had its variations, remained virtually untampered with for centuries, but yoga as many know it today has morphed into less of a spiritual practice and more of a challenge to practitioners who want to take personal fitness to a new level.

The Myth of Harmlessness

Many assume that because yoga postures lack velocity and momentum, they pose no risk to practitioners. While it may be true that momentum and velocity do add an extra element of risk to any physical activity, their absence does not necessarily make the practice of yoga risk-free. In fact, injuries are as common in yoga as they are in any other sport or fitness activity. Some common yoga injuries include:

  • Injuries to the cervical spine from headstands and shoulder stands.
  • Spinal injuries from back-bending postures like lotus, bridge, cobra, updog and camel.
  • Sciatic nerve pressure from heel-sitting postures.
  • Various injuries to the hips, ribs, ankles and wrists and hamstrings.

Why the Upswing in Injuries?

The upswing in yoga-related injuries no doubt correlates with its rising popularity. As yoga becomes more mainstream, it is attracting more students of low to average fitness levels who are drawn to it because they think it will be easier and less risky than cardio or weight training. People with low fitness levels face a variety of obstacles when it comes to doing yoga:

  • Core muscles that protect the spine and provide stability are weak, putting the vertebra at risk for injury.
  • Overweight students are often top-heavy, adding extra strain to the body’s structures and raising the center of gravity.
  • Sedentary lifestyle behaviors that involve long hours of sitting create imbalances in muscle tension throughout the body, with some muscles too flaccid and weak, and others too tight, setting participants up for strains and sprains.
  • Unfit populations often have metabolic disorders like hypertension and diabetes, putting them at risk for falls and dizziness during yoga.

In addition to attracting less fit participants, group yoga classes are often taught by unqualified or under-qualified instructors who do not have a sound grasp of human anatomy and biomechanics. The group class environment can also be highly competitive, encouraging participants to push themselves to the point of injury.

Tips for Avoiding Yoga Injuries

Before enrolling in a yoga class, there are a few things you should do to prepare yourself:

  • Begin a general fitness program of cardio and resistance training to build endurance and correct muscle deficits. A simple routine of 20 to 30 minutes of walking followed by a basic machine circuit and gentle stretching, performed three times per week, is a good place to start.
  • Focus on core strengthening exercises to stabilize your trunk and protect your spine.
  • Begin the practice of yoga with a non-competitive mindset. Yoga is all about self improvement. Tune into your body and listen to its messages, and tune out other students.
  • Shop around for instructors. Find someone who understands your needs as a beginner and does not promote competition among students.
  • Do not force yourself into postures that cause pain or extreme discomfort. Ask your instructor to show modifications for challenging poses.

If you do sustain a yoga injury, seek professional intervention with a physical therapist. PT can help you heal, and can teach you to move in ways that prevent injuries. With effective and educational treatment, you can begin to improve your personal fitness in ways that pose no risk for injury.

Resources

As sports and fitness become more competitive and demanding, W.I.T.S. is keeping pace with continuing education that keeps you in the know. As a fitness professional, you need to stay a step ahead of your clients and competitors if you want to be recognized as a top fitness service provider. Lay the foundation with a certification, like Personal Fitness Trainer or Older Adult Fitness Specialist. Then, get valuable renewal credits while you hone your skills with courses like Conditioning for Football or Fundamentals of Sport and Exercise Nutrition. Don’t let your competitors leave you in the dust. Take the lead by staying in step with the latest trends and research in fitness with W.I.T.S.

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How Stress and Sleep Deprivation Keep Your Client From Losing Weight

In most cases, helping our personal training clients achieve their weight loss goals is a simple matter of math and science. If they make the recommended lifestyle changes and put in the time and effort, change is inevitable. However, for some clients, adhering to your program and following your advice may not be enough to get them to their goals. When you run across a client who just can’t lose weight, you need to dig deeper to identify their obstacles.

The Chemistry of Stress

While studying to become a certified fitness professional, you learned about homeostasis, the state of balance that the body strives to achieve and maintain. Homeostasis is governed by chemical reactions within your cells, and driven by hormones. As long as you are physically and mentally in a state of relative rest, you are able to maintain a state of optimal homeostasis. 

Homeostasis becomes disrupted when you are physically active, as your body strives to meet imposed demands for oxygen and energy substrates. However, once the activity subsides and you return to a resting state, resting homeostasis is quickly reestablished. 

Homeostasis is also disrupted when your Central Nervous System (CNS) perceives a threat to your safety. In this case, your inbred “fight or flight” response kicks in, causing a dump of protective hormones that heighten your senses and prepare you to do battle or flee. Once the threat abates, your body restores its chemical balance and returns to homeostasis. 

Sleep deprivation correlates highly with stress, and its negative effects are driven by the same chemical mechanisms. When you are stressed, elevated adrenaline levels prevent your body from relaxing, and your over-active mind cannot succumb to sleep. Once stress is resolved, productive sleep patterns are restored, and you are able to get the rest you need to perform at your best, both physically and mentally. 

Ongoing Stress and Weight Loss

The problem arises when stress is ongoing, as is common in our culture. Personal training clients are often successful driven people who set high standards for themselves, and whose lifestyles are perpetually stressful. They often skimp on sleep, work long hours, and take little time for recreation. Many even plan their vacations with a grueling schedule of sightseeing and activities, trying to get the most bang for their bucks.

When stress is ongoing, hormonal levels of cortisol and adrenaline, the stress hormones, remain high. In an effort to produce more serotonin to restore homeostasis, the body begins to crave carbohydrate foods, causing blood sugar to rise and fat metabolism to shut down. A vicious cycle of food cravings, elevated blood sugar, and sleep deprivation eventually lead to weight gain, metabolic disease and depression. 

Helping Your Clients Deal with Stress and Sleep Deprivation

Sometimes people are not aware of their stress levels. In many cases, stress is such a common part of your client’s lifestyle that it begins to feel normal. A simple test, called the Perceived Stress Scale, can give you insight into your clients’ stress levels. Once you identify your high stress clients, you can begin to talk to them about how stress affects their health and interferes with weight loss. You can then work with them to devise strategies to help them manage stress and improve sleep. 

Resources

Diet and exercise are the cornerstones of fitness, but many other factors come into play when it comes to achieving weight loss and other goals. A certification in Lifestyle Fitness Coaching can help you bridge the gap between fitness and lifestyle. Plus, adding a new certification to your credentials can be a great career move for building and expanding your client base. 

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Jay’s Corner of the Industry – Time to Cast a Large Shadow.

Jay’s Corner of the Industry – Time to Cast a Large Shadow.

By Jay Del Vecchio W.I.T.S. President & CEO

 

Next month we will share even more to help you share all of this valuable info with your local media, clients and employers.  It is time to engage and increase your value so you are appreciated even more!!

 

You are a superior fitness professional by all accounts do to your collegiate training, education and NCCA Accredited testing in knowledge and practical skills.  Your fitness service will reflect it in an industry of minimalized certifications.  What do I mean by minimalized?  Unfortunately or fortunately for you as a W.I.T.S. CPT, the other certifications have not built out the infrastructure like other legitimate health occupations.  The other certifications only have prospective fitness professional candidate’s complete written exams.  There is no direct responsibility to perfecting the hands on skills nor testing it.  Why do other certifications groups that have been around twice as long as W.I.T.S. not do more for the public and the trainer’s success?  You can attend an internship with senior trainers to extend employment opportunities.  Your reward is an additional Level 2 Certified Personal Trainer certification.  So what are you going to do about it?  How are you going to increase your value in the market with clients, employers and educate the media?

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Jay’s Corner of the Industry – How We Stepped Out Of The Shadows

By Jay Del Vecchio W.I.T.S. President & CEO

A little bit of history:

25 years ago at the urging of CEO’s at a Club Industry Conference we went national.  This came about after I revealed in a roundtable that we had a regional certification with these very same titans in the industry.  The problem was simple to these CEO’s.  The other certification groups were not bringing them good overall solid employees to build their businesses.  In 1993 we set up our first site with the Virginia Beach Adult Learning Center in Virginia,  we then added Mercer County Community College in New Jersey.  Our national certification was launched  and we were ready to improve the industry.  I knew we could do better than just having candidates for this profession read a book or take a weekend review course followed by a written exam to be a “qualified” Certified Personal  Trainer.

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