Health and Wellness – Personal Trainers

“Personal training is really for the unfit,” says Maryellen Grogan, Owner of Positively Fit in Maumee. “It might be counterintuitive, but a personal trainer can have the greatest impact on those who have little or no fitness experience.” Most of us would think otherwise. When it comes to fitness the last thing we want to do is have someone watch us struggle through a sit-up. “People come to me all the time embarrassed about their fitness level. It is important to remember that we are here to help them with whatever their fitness goals are.” Most can benefit from the attention of a personal trainer despite misconceptions about the concept of one on one fitness work. Worries of being pushed too hard, affordability, or general concerns about how to select a trainer prevent many of us from seeking out a fitness trainer. “People equate personal trainers with celebrities and sports stars,” says Gregg Schwartz, owner of American Mobile Fitness. “Trainers are actually for the average person, regardless of age. I worked with a lady who was 89 when we started and she trained with me for 5 years. Fitness training,” says Schwartz, “is for everyone.”

Chemistry, Commitment, and Certification

“There is a whole word salad of trainers today,” says Dr. Pat Buchanan, a Movement Improvement Expert from 3D Wellness in Toledo. “It is important to clearly understand what a trainer is certified or trained to do. First and foremost, recognize that personal trainers are not health care providers. They have great skills in helping people lead more active lives and prevent lifestyle complications that come from obesity and being sedentary. They can also provide great continuity in physical activities and fitness after a client has been discharged or cleared by a health care provider.” Dr. Buchanan, who has over 40 years of experience as an athletic trainer, physical therapist, and movement science researcher, recommends having an honest and open conversation with a potential trainer. “There is nothing wrong with asking questions. Most trainers are more than happy to tell you about their certifications, experience, and recent or continuing education. Most will have certifications you can check on. An initial consultation can be something as simple as asking about their personal philosophy, how long they have been a training professional, and what type of clients they work with. Those types of questions will begin a process of getting comfortable with the trainer and their work.” Jake Westhoven, co-owner of Embody Wellness agrees. “It is important to match both the personal training philosophy and the personal chemistry between trainer and client. To start, a trainer must be qualified. They must have experience and be professional, working and keeping up in the field regularly. But we can’t discount chemistry either. Fitness should be enjoyable as well as a learning experience. If you don’t like your trainer it is a good bet you will stop seeing them.” Any initial meeting with a trainer should be a two-way conversation. “It is important that any trainer do a thorough health assessment with a new client,” says Schwartz. “A trainer should ask good, solid questions about general health, previous injuries or problems, current level of fitness, and any medications. Depending on the client, a trainer should be fully prepared to recommend a client get a medical screening or a go ahead from a doctor prior to starting. The whole point of a personal trainer is to meet the client where they are at when they come through the door, not just plug someone into a predefined program.”

Exercise Videos Are Not Trainers

“Most people I see who trained with videos have poor form,” says Maryellen Grogan. “Exercise, especially for those over 50, is as much about quality of movement as it is about achieving a specific result. Everybody has a unique physiology. A tailored, thought out fitness routine that matches your age, physical limitations, and goals cannot be achieved with a video.” Dr. Buchanan sees both physical and motivational problems with generic training programs. “Many people will start an activity program with great intentions and they quickly drop out after a couple of months. One reason is that they get hurt. Another is they simply find the activity too difficult, usually because they are not doing the activity properly. By connecting with a training professional, they can learn good, healthy movement, without injury, and make progress at a reasonable rate. This is vital to those over 50, beginners, or those with existing health issues.” Schwartz sees the issue often. “People get fitness motivated in January then drop off about March. They don’t know how to progress and change their routine so will continue to see benefits. Motivation and constant evaluation are two of the primary benefits of having a personal trainer. If you are doing a fitness routine properly then you are getting more fit and becoming healthier. A trainer will help you see that and adjust your workout to keep you pushing forward. That interaction is vital in a holistic approach to health and fitness.”

Costly or Cost Effective?

“Fitness is an investment in your health,” says Westhoven. “Being physically fit pays huge dividends. Although there are class settings that may seem more affordable, people over 50 have individual needs that probably will not be effectively met in a class setting. Plus a trainer can adjust the time to the needs of the individual. Our sessions last between 30 and 60 minutes, depending on the client. Beginners don’t need a full hour. A personal trainer can and should make those adjustments as the need of the client changes.” Schwartz agrees. “When it comes to cost we have to look at what we spend money on. My job as a trainer is to develop a program that can meet a budget. Obviously the more you meet with a trainer the more improvement you will see. I have clients that only work out when they see me. Others find motivation and workout in between sessions. Regardless, fitness is an investment. It is an investment of money and time. That investment has a great payoff and I see clients reaping the benefits every day.” According to Grogan, investment goes both ways. “We are professionals, dedicated to helping our clients improve their health. I spend thousands of dollars each year to continue my education and stay at the forefront of exercise science. My clients benefit not only from my experience but from my continuing knowledge of the field. Certainly, a trainer should help you evaluate what is inside of your budget and help find affordable solutions. However, by investing in personal training you get not only the benefits of training one on one but that training is backed by education and experience.”

Just Do It

“Many people have spent very little time inside an exercise facility,” claims Dr. Buchanan. “If they do have experience it may be seriously outdated. This can be a genuine barrier to starting and maintaining a fitness routine. A good, qualified personal trainer will quickly adapt to that level of experience and help make exercising more palatable to the inexperienced.” Westhoven understands the hesitation. “People are scared to get into fitness in general. They are intimidated by the action itself. For those over 50 generalized health is a great goal including simple things like balance training, strength conditioning, and flexibility. These are crucial to living healthy, active, and happy lives. With my clients I don’t look for them to run a marathon. I want them to feel stronger and healthier. A trainer, one on one, is the best way of establishing and maintaining a training schedule that achieves those goals.” “We’re not 20 anymore,” says Grogan playfully. “We have unique needs that simply don’t fit into off the rack exercise routines. Women in particular have certain hormonal, adrenal, and nutritional needs that need to be worked into a training schedule. Plus, at our age a personal trainer can reduce the anxiety and pressure of a big gym setting. Above all, there is nothing like a personal trainer to help with motivation and accountability. Both are vital to success from a long term, holistic, fitness routine.” Schwartz is more direct. “If you are thinking about improving your fitness you really just need to check out a personal trainer. Just try it. The only way to get over the hesitation is to experience personal training first hand. Most trainers offer initial consultations and discussions without cost. Pick their brains, tour their studio if they have one. If nothing else, you will probably learn something about yourself.” He adds drolly, “I know it sounds cliché but it is never, ever too late to start being more physically fit.” Dr. Pat Buchanan 3D Wellness 4035 W. Central Ave Toledo, OH 419.367.1417 Jake Westhoven Embody Wellness 2245 S. Reynolds Rd Toledo, OH 419.419.9928 Maryellen Grogan Positively Fit 108 E. Dudley Rd Maumee, OH 419.893.5105 Gregg Schwartz American Mobile Fitness 2727 N. Holland Sylvania Rd Ste H Toledo, OH 419.351.1381


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