Hello everybody! Welcome back to my blog. The purpose of this blog is to help people find their way to a healthier lifestyle. I mostly talk about exercise and its science, which is my area of expertise, but I also talk about nutrition, sleeping habits and many other subjects related to wellbeing and healthy lifestyle.
Thanks to my broad experience as a Personal Trainer, I have realised how important the key principle my professors at University always talked about: individualisation. I used to train for athletics with my group of friends and the majority of the time we were doing the same training. This was great at the beginning, because I could share time with them and we motivated each other. Once we all specialised in one specific event, we started doing different things, because our goals were not the same. But even when I started training with people from the same specialty as mine, I could see very different profiles, situations, levels, etcetera. These differences are more obvious when the target population is much less specific.
The truth is, not everything works for everybody. Someone like me, a dedicated PT with a lot of time and enthusiasm for outdoors activities cannot be compared to a full-time working mum who hasn’t found an enjoyable physical activity yet. The importance of getting to know each individual and their situation is vital as a Personal Trainer to give them the best fitness advice possible. And this is what this project is about!
Part of my job as a personal trainer is to do just that. If you want to learn more about how I can help you personally click here.
If you’re wondering if it’s worth the money and want more information on hiring a Personal Trainer check out my blog post on it:
5 REASONS WHY IT’S WORTH IT TO HIRE A PERSONAL TRAINER.
These are some of the factors your PT must take into consideration when they prepare a training program made for you!
- Your starting level.
One of the first questions you must be asked by your PT is your current level of physical activity. We need to know if you’re doing any other type of exercise, and this includes some masked exercises people are not normally aware of or don’t consider exercising at all (walking to work or other places instead of using car or public transport, spending time with kids running around, running some type of errands, among others). I used to have many construction workers as clients. All of them were pretty fit and strong already because of the type of work they do. After spending 8 hours in the sun lifting sandbags, running from forklifts to excavators, the last thing these guys need is lifting more weights. Sometimes they would come to the gym as a get away, to share some time with friends and have fun, more than building their muscles. At the same time, they might need to work on their lifting technique to avoid injuries at work and build up their strength in order to be able to work efficiently.
Depending on what your gym offers, or if you choose to hire a PT, the first session will be an interview followed by an assessment. Your PT will do some tests on you to assess your level. There are many different tests. For example, finding your max number of reps in some exercises, such as push-ups. Remember to check what your gym offers. If you join a group class, don’t expect the PT to assess you. It takes time, and there are other people around.
- Your injuries, current and past.
If your trainer does not ask you about any injury or health condition, in the present and in the past, run! It’s of great importance for us to know it in order to give you a program that will not interfere with your condition. If you have information from your physiotherapist, surgeon, GP or any other medical experts, you should share it with your PT. You can also share your fitness program with your specialist, so they can stay in the loop and be aware of what you’re doing.
As well as your medical conditions, your PT will ask you about your close family medical condition. There’s a higher chance of having heart issues if one of your parents has had a heart condition, especially if it happened at a young age (we’ll also ask you, in case they do have a medical condition, how old where them when it happened).
There’s a risk of heart condition associated with age, and women during and after menopause suffer a decrease of bone density, so when you’re asked, tell your PT your real age.
- Your goals.
As trainers, we need to help you make your own fitness wishes come true. That’s why we must ask what’s your goal. You also need to listen to your PT’s opinion about it. Many clients have come to me with a picture of a famous body builder found on TikTok or Instagram saying that they want to become them and do the things they do. Don’t be fooled by this. These people have been training for a long time, or they take supplements, or if they magically became so fit in 6 months as lots of them claim, they’d probably have other conditions that helped them (DNA, free time, among others). A proper PT will let you know honestly if it’s not going to happen. If your PT promises that you’ll lose 10 kg for a wedding that is happening in 2 weeks, don’t believe them. If you do so it’s because you’ve done crazy things you’ll regret after a couple of weeks following the wedding. A great PT will help you become your healthier self, and they’ll do it in a safe way.
- Your current lifestyle.
Here is where most people fail. The good resolution of going to the gym and seek help is a great starting point, but get ready for more changes. We are not wizards. We can help change your life, but a session or two with a PT can be nothing if the rest of the time you’re not making an effort.
In these three posts, I tell you the three must do’s to start being healthier. The first one is eating well. Without appropriate eating habits, it’s very difficult to get your fitness goals.
The second must do is sleeping well. If we don’t sleep well, we won’t be rested for the day and therefore, the training session, resulting on giving up on it.
The third must do is exercise.
Yes, I consider this one the least important of the three. Why? Because going to the gym twice a week for one hour leaves you with 166 hours that you’re not doing the right thing. By saying this I don’t mean you cannot enjoy your junk food every now and then, or say no to a piece of cake on a birthday party, but this should be just a treat. I always tell my sweet tooth clients “if you’re offered cake at a party, eat the cake, but do not buy a cake and put it in your fridge”.
Even if we did the 30 minutes of medium to high intensity daily exercise recommended, we would be doing about 3-4 hours of exercise per week. What are you doing with the resting 164-165 hours? Are you sitting down the whole day? Are you spending hours and hours on your phone or the TV? Are you ordering online every night? Are you using your phone before going to sleep?
Loosing weight, increasing muscle mass, creating new habits are amazing goals, but all fo them require time and effort. Your PT will be supporting you while they’re watching, but most of the time you’ll be on your own.
- Your personal situation.
Very important to complete the previous point with this one, as I can imagine the parents thinking: “yes, sure sounds good 10 years ago”. As I said at the beginning of the post, every person has their own situation. It’s not the same a person with few responsibilities and all the time of the world on their hands than someone that has a family to take care of. There is this positive, sensacionalist propaganda that says that anyone can get their exercise done every day, but the truth is that sometimes, we can’t. We all have those days in which we just don’t get to do everything, and this also happens to people without major responsibilities. But I do think that we all have time to do some sort of exercise.
The problem is, we tend to believe that the only way to do exercise is going to the gym or going for a run, even worse, some people are convinced that if they don’t spend 2 hours at the gym, they’re not exercising properly. No wonder why we all say that we don’t have time! I feel like I wouldn’t have time to do that, and I work in a gym! Please forget about these ideas. Going for a brisk walk in the morning before your kids wake up, doing a little gym session at home with your own weight while your partner or someone else is watching the kids, forgetting about the laundry for a couple of hours (it can wait, it won’t move) and giving yourself time to do exercise will make a difference. You do not need to do the crazy things you see on Instagram. Change the “I don’t have time” for “I am going to put my phone away for a while” or “tonight I’m watching just one episode”.
On the other hand, we all have those days in which we just don’t feel it. That’s fine if it happens occasionally. I don’t believe in those Nike ads that claim “there are no excuses”. I agree, sometimes we are just a bit lazy, and we need to fight against that, but some other times we do feel unwell, overtrained or unrested. If this happened often, talk to your GP. There might be something else going on, and they’ll recommend you the best specialist.
- Your past experiences.
Have you ever been in a class you have absolutely hated? Have you ever been told to do an exercise and you had a terrible experience? Has a trainer ever bullied you and you’ve thought that all of us are the same? Past experiences go a long way. I remember a client who came to me and the first thing she said was: “I do NOT want to do burpees”. I started laughing and told her that I am not a big fun of burpees either. Apparently, she had a really bad experience with a trainer when she was younger. This trainer used to tell her off, he got frustrated when she couldn’t do an exercise or do the number of reps he asked for. He even got very mad at her if she was 5′ late, not even asking her what had happened for her to be late. This guy didn’t event ask her how she was every day (trainers of the world, we’re treating human beings, we must ask them how they’re doing). The result was that this client got so traumatised she didn’t want to train anymore, until she decided to overcome her fears, after more than 10 years.
Some people do need this kind of trainer to push them, they like to be yelled at and they find motivation in this, but some people need more patience and sympathy. A good trainer will figure out what every person needs, and it’ll be key to build a relationship with each client. If you’ve had a negative experience in the past, or you’ve seen this behaviour from a PT on media, make an effort and find the best fit for you. It might change your perspective.
- Your likes and dislikes.
Every time I get a new client I ask them which exercises they like and which exercises they don’t. This is extremely important, and even though burpees might be good in terms of building muscle strength, they might be a nightmare for some people. If your PT has given you a training program full of exercises you absolutely hate, how likely are you to do them? A fitness program needs to be appealing, the client needs to feel like doing it.
I used to have a client that didn’t like lifting weights. He went to the gym because he “had to”. One day, I told him that I was sore from my rock climbing the previous day. We started talking about it, and he seemed very interested. He gave it a go and a couple of weeks later, he told me that he was going to leave the gym and join a rock climbing gym with his friends. It was fantastic! As I said before, doing weights and running are not the only types of exercise.
Once your PT knows you this well and you feel comfortable with them, you can start training for your desired goals. In my opinion, this is the big difference between a class full of people and a one-on-one session. It might be more expensive, but it’s good to invest money and time on a PT now, instead of spending that money and time in future treatments.
That’s it for today! I really hope that you enjoyed this post and it encouraged you to find a professional to help you out. If you like what I do and you want to support this project, follow me on Instagram and Facebook, like the post and comment! Thank you!