May 16, 2011

A Look Behind the "Iron" Curtain

Most of you know that fitness training involves, well, a good deal of exercise.  When you arrive to a training session, you are ready to run, "pump iron," cycle, crunch, jump, or simply do whatever your trainer asks of you in the effort of reaching your health and fitness goals.

That said, there is another crucial service that fitness trainers provide that you might not be so aware of: motivation.  bene-fit trainers specialize in personalizing each workout not only to tone your body, but also to retrain your mind.  Many of our clients come to us because they've never been able to establish - or stick to - a regular exercise program.  We perceive one of our most important jobs to be helping you stay on track - and we don't just mean counting reps within your set.

So what's the secret?  What makes a professional trainer different from a workout buddy or friend?

This week, I want to give you a bit of insight into what - and why - bene-fit trains the way we do.  We start every relationship with an Initial Wellness Consultation to make sure we're both on the same page about what you  want and how to get there.  We then design your sessions in 6-week increments, making sure to review each program with you after the workouts to make sure they're working for you and your lifestyle.  Finally, we reassess your progress at regular intervals to demonstrate to you that fitness works.

Throughout the process, we try to enhance "self-regulatory strategies" - that is, ways of making exercise seem appealing and the individual feel capable of mastery.  We do so through a combination of positive reinforcement, support, and positive feedback.  These are all strategies you can use when you're working out on your own, too - when's the last time you paid your hardworking muscles a compliment as you worked them out at the gym, or asked a friend or colleague to accompany you on your lunchtime walk?

Next, we try to enforce the belief that exercise will improve your self-image.  So many clients come to us focused on a number on the scale, and continue with us because we aren't so hung up on that number (even as it starts to fall!).  Moving more, getting stronger, and having more energy are all side effects of exercise - and all bound to help you feel better about yourself each day.

Third, we emphasize SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely) goals so that each training session feels like a piece of your larger wellness puzzle - not some random series of exercises with no structure or purpose.  All bene-fit clients are asked to articulate at least one fitness, food, and frame-of-mind goal to focus on during their sessions so that each time we meet, we can stay accountable and on-track for greater success.

Finally, we suggest creating specific actions plans for exercise.  Whether it means scheduling sessions with a bene-fit trainer or putting your daily run into your Google Calendar, the only way to establish a habit is to actually participate in that behavior regularly - and with accountability.  Make a schedule for yourself at the lowest-stress part of your week - Sunday, for lots of folks - and stick to it, no matter what crises "pop up" during the day.  Treat your workouts as you would any other meeting or class at school - non-optional.

If you are doing all of these things on your own, you might ask yourself: why do I need a trainer?  Well, in bene-fit's humble opinion, everyone needs a trainer - even the trainers!  Certified personal trainers ensure that you are working out safely, progressing at the correct level, changing up your routine and keeping your muscles active and engaged, and - remember this from above? - keeping you accountable and motivated.

Moreover, a good trainer will promote your enhanced quality of life with exercise, help you overcome your fears and barriers to exercise, acknowledge and celebrate your triumphs, provide alternatives in the case of regression or injury, demonstrate sincere care and concern for your well-being, motivate you to attain your goals, create an enjoyable and stress-free training environment, and give positive and specific feedback.  If your trainer isn't giving you the service you deserve, it might be time to try bene-fit personal training for a positive change.

Now that you've had a look behind the "iron" curtain of personal training strategies and tips, we hope that you are inspired to seek professional support for your fitness journey and make a real investment in your most important asset - your health.

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