Continuing on my path of observations I have to include the male presence in the fitness facility. The last blog post was about the girls, but this one is geared toward the men who are regular exercisers in the gym. Although there are some similar things that both the male and female do, there are definitely some unique traits many men possess when they workout.
I should also mention, that there are some very well-rounded exercisers (both male and female) that have excellent workout programs and continue to make progress, change things up and are still seeing success with their goals. These blogposts are more just my keen observation on the more common reasons gym sessions are less than optimal for both sexes.
If you are a male who regularly exercises (3 or more times per week) do you take part in any of the following mistake activities when you workout at the gym or elsewhere?
1. Doing too much too soon- jumping into a two hour workout session that includes high intensity activities and large volumes of weight training is going to leave you sore as hell! While some delayed muscle soreness is expected it is important that men understand gradual progression by slowly adding more to the mix. Going from no exercise in 6 months to 2 hours of exercise in the first session is extreme and beyond most high end guidelines. Tone it down a bit!
2. Using less than optimal form or movement speed- more often than not too much weight is the cause of poor exercise performance. There tends to be a hang-up on “how much weight” one can lift, rather than how well the performance is. Injury risk is dramatically increased when poor technique or too fast of speed is executed. Ask a certified pro to help you gauge a proper starting weight and use correct form ALWAYS.
3. Not warming-up properly or at all- a proper warm-up is crucial to preparing the body for more vigorous activity, for lubrication of joints, for gradually increasing heart rate and improving the body’s ability to neurologically connect to muscles and movements. Jumping in at full speed or lifting heavy without warming up is also an excellent way to pull and/or strain a muscle, plus decrease activity potential as the body has not gradually worked into the higher intensity levels.
4. Ignoring the lower half and the trunk- Similar to how women will do tons of exercises for their problem areas in hopes to dissolve away fat, men seem to spend more time and energy building their upper body, arms and shoulders, but barely touching those highly important lower body muscles and their core. Neglecting any of the major muscles groups leads to imbalance, potential for injury and disproportion of the muscles in the body. Besides, you don’t want to be called “chicken legs” now do you?
5. Practically running away from the stretching area- very rarely do I see men finishing their workouts with appropriate stretching. Over the years this will take a toll and decrease joint range of motion, may lead to back pain, stiffness and a decreased ability to perform day to day functions like taking off your T-shirt. All the major muscle groups should be stretched at the end of the workouts and held for 15-30 seconds each.
Of course all of these mistakes have proper guidelines, activities and opportunities for repair. Seeking the advice a certified fitness professional or just making a conscious effort to heed some of the tidbits of advice I have offered will be beneficial. Do your best to make adjustments, work efficiently and enjoy your workouts mistake free!
I’ll be watching!
In health and fitness- Amy
AAHHHH bikini season. It’s here already and I’m sure some people are thinking they should have been doing a little bit more to prepare for baring the flesh for all the world to see. It’s OK, you’re not alone! Although the sun is up and shining bright, you can still get yourself beach body ready if you take the following suggestions to heart:
1. Move your body- like yesterday!
Seriously- everyone should be doing something that gets their heart rate up at least *30 minutes per day to a point you can tell your exercising. If you begin doing this today, you can expect to see weight loss with each passing week. *Can break this up into 10 minutes bouts throughout the day
2. Cut it out- all white sugars, flours and artificial ingredients.
Not only do they offer little to no nutritional value, but they lead to inflammatory responses in the gut, on the skin and in other bodily systems. They contain empty, less than optimal calories and most people eat more than they should; which leads to extra weight in unwelcome places. Instead choose whole grain, organic (whenever possible) and pure ingredients that haven’t been hydrogenated, refined or processed. These foods contain optimal nutrition for your body, plus more fiber to keep you fuller longer and less likely to fill up on junk foods. Pay attention to what you eat and READ your food labels!
3. Get some iron- lifts weights.
Strength training all your major muscle groups is a critical element to building lean tissue and keeping the body revved up and burning more calories at rest. Think of this: a pound of muscle can burn 50 calories per hour, while a pound of fat is 2-3 calories per hour. HMMM? Not too hard to figure out is it. More muscle is brought to you by strength training!!!
4. Watch the liquids- they have calories
Yes, juice, lattes, iced teas and alcoholic beverages contain calories. They add up quickly, too. Two beers can easily add up to an extra 300 calories, and you can double that if your indulging in one of those fancy umbrella drinks that include fruits juices and a few shots of liquor. If you’re trying to lose weight then watch those liquid calories and stick to plain water to quench your thirst.
5. Spray it on- self tanner
I’ve heard this quote over and over again from my client’s, friends and family members, “Tan fat looks better than white fat!” I don’t necessarily agree with them, but I do support the use of self tanners. They are a safe way to build a bronzed body -minus the sun exposure- and if it makes somebody feel more comfortable in their skin and willing to come out and play in the summer, then so be it. Spray, rub or dust it on!
Summer ready? Maybe not, but you still have time to get there. Get moving, watch what you eat and drink, lift some weights by joining a fitness boot camp or class this summer and spray on some self tanner.
Let’s all embrace what we got and enjoy the long, summer nights, bountiful fruit season, family, friends, sprinklers at the occasional smore. Now get out there and move it!
Here’s to a healthy, happy summer-
Inspiration comes in many forms for me. Mostly from my students, clients and fellow fitness friends. I observe, listen, make mental notes in my head and of course will share my opinion at the drop of a hat if I’m allowed. I realize people don’t agree on everything, but I do know that if you don’t speak your mind and let people know how you feel about issues you really lose the option to be argumentative about it later.
Today’s inspiration came from a couple of sources: a regular student who takes classes from many yoga instructors at the gym and the lovely (all rules of sarcasm apply in the word lovely) gentleman who works out regularly in the weight room. Both of these circumstances had me frustrated and compelled to yell at the top of my lungs. Of course, I didn’t. I observed, listened and decided to blog my thoughts and share a few inside tips regarding fitness industry professionalism.
Inspiration one-The Yoga Participant
Chatting up class today one of the participants shared her recent visit to a well-known San Fransisco yoga studio (which I will never speak highly of again after hearing her story). The instructor referred to her in the middle of class as the “person who needed more yoga training.” These are actually nicer words than she described to me. Additionally, this yoga teacher asked where the student was taking classes back home, then laughed when he found out! So yoga-like, too don’t you think? Pompous, rude, snotty, arrogant all come to mind when I even conceive the thought of this dear person being treated so unprofessionally by a so-called certified instructor. The thought of being so inconsiderate to a guest in my class is mind-numbing. This is absolutely not acceptable by any means! This just screams DIVA to me.
Inspiration two- The Weight Room Patron
I call him, “I wear my sunglasses man” because he wears his shades to work out in. Ridiculous because we don’t have a retractable roof, nor is the lighting all that bright. He has obviously dabbled in bodybuilding as he is built like one: shorter, packed on muscle, little body fat. Genetics, sport specific training and his diet keep him this way. Because he looks muscular people assume he has some knowledge about fitness and many will try to work out with him so they can look like him. He is not a certified fitness professional, he does not give proper advice and he practices OLD school training protocols. Nothing I’ve seen him do or offer to people remotely represents the fitness industry today. I won’t even go into detail about his narcissistic behaviors when it comes to utilizing the equipment and sharing space with others. Mr. “I wear my sunglasses at..” is a far cry from a trained professional, rather he plays one on TV with poor scripting.
So wear does all this inspiration lead me? Guidelines and tips of course on how to choose a properly trained fitness professional whether it be a group exercise instructor (yoga, pilates, cycling, kickboxing or whatever) or professional trainer. How does the consumer know they are getting the real deal or the make believe version. Let me enlighten you with the following:
A professional instructor should always:
1. Facilitate- be able to accommodate class members with enough equipment and space
2. Anticipate- be aware of class participants at all times and offer modifications to movements, suggestions or other options for all levels irregardless of format.
3. Motivate- keep the class moving with appropriate movements for the format, speak with a positive tone without ridiculing or pointing out participants, encourage everyone to work at their own level, and offer plenty of positive feedback
4. Educate- stay informed by attending continuing education sessions, implement the information into their curriculum and be aware of current fitness guidelines and research.
5. Be professional and courteous to all participants, regulars, visitors and newcomers alike
6. Hold a certification from an accredited organization such as ACE, AFAA or ACSM
All professional fitness trainers should:
1. Hold a certification from an accredited organization such as ACE, ASCM, NSCA, NASM or other. *Important mention-although bodybuilding & sport experience is great it does not relate to all the job responsibilities of personal training. We do more than teach exercises to clients!
2. Have a minimum of 200 hours of training and/or practicum and/or degree in exercise science or related field
3. Hold specialty certifications and training for formats such as yoga, pilates, cycling or other specialties *same goes for instructors
4. Maintain their certifications by attending continuing education workshops
5. Be not only a physical role model, but also a health and fitness educational resource for clients
6. A professional trainer is not your workout buddy, but your coach, confidant and butt-kicker!!
These guidelines and tips are essential traits and qualities that every fitness professional should possess. Although each trainer or instructor will have their own individual personality traits, it is critical that they are able to support their clients and participants with not only a sound background of training, education and experience, but also compassion, dedication, enthusiasm and patience. Really, would you want it any differently?
If nothing else, just remember to stay away from the snotty instructors and second guess any information you get from somebody who needs to wear sunglasses into the weight room. Just because somebody can lift a whole bunch of weight doesn’t make them a personal trainer!!
Always observing and listening..
Happy Cinco De Mayo! I thought it was only appropriate to serve up a healthy blog post in honor of this special holiday. I find most of my friends, colleagues (myself included), and family like to indulge in the celebration of the 5th of May with some extra cheese, chips, salsa and of course something that contains lime and tequila.
Having a good time hanging with friends, joining others for a social celebration, eating fine authentic food and a little cocktail can just make it a great day don’t you think?
Because it is the 5th of May I thought it would be clever to share my 5 secrets to staying fit and hopefully inspire some of you to enjoy them, too.
1. I break a sweat every day (through exercise) for at least 30 minutes, but mostly longer
2. I strength train more than I do cardio; very important to maintain lean mass
3. I change my workouts continuously so I’m never bored and always challenged
4. 90% of the time I eat balanced, regular meals that include proper portions and calories for my level of daily activity and exercise routines. You won’t see me skipping meals!
5. I stay happy, positive and look for the best in negative situations. Being flexible and adaptable makes it easier to handle a crisis and go with the flow when things change or don’t go as planned.
These 5 little beauties have kept me fit, happy, healthy and allowed me the ability to do many physical/mental things other can’t. I think it’s important that we understand it’s not just exercise that matters, but also what you eat and how you handle life. It’s a package deal really.
Here’s to a happy, healthy and fun filled Cinco De Mayo. Indulge a little and embrace every moment.
OK- I admit it, exercise is hard sometimes and doesn’t always feel good. BUT- it beats the alternative of feeling lethargic, lackluster and carrying around extra weight that is not only unnecessary (unless your pregnant), but unhealthy. Besides making most people feel less than attractive, extra weight contributes to heart disease, metabolic disorders like type II diabetes and orthopedic issues. Enough said!
As a fitness professional I create, deliver and administer dozens of programs every month for my clients, classes and camps, which will and do deliver results. These results vary based off of each participant’s abilities, commitment and willingness to participate and stay engaged with their programming and/or group activities. I can lead them to the water hole, show them the way, but ultimately it is up to them to drink in my advice and reap the benefits.
Being brutally honest I often find that individuals are layered with excuses for not doing something, or they use their current state of health/wellness as one BIG excuse for not being able to comply to actions necessary to find results. Professionally speaking, I would never ask anybody to do more than what they are physically capably of doing- that would be irresponsible and disrespectful. However, it can become frustrating when people do not let go of their current state of health and use is as a crutch to keep from making progress.
We have the power to let go and we have the power to hang on. The question is why are people still hanging on to unhealthy habits and throwing up their hands so easily when results don’t show up after one week of effort? It takes weeks of effort to see results, and the effort put forth will show vast differences in those results. Not giving in to old habits and staying focused on what you can do and doing it well is what needs to happen.
By far, I think my best and most in your face piece of fitness advice is this, “Get over yourself!” You don’t like where you are, then change it and stop making excuses for why you can’t. Exercise can be modified and created for anybody regardless of age, gender, health or physical ability. It just plain works! No BS!!
It is ultimately everyone’s choice to do something or to not do something. Look forward and focus on the things that can happen if you take action, rather than what has happened. If your happy where you are, keep at it, but if you want more from your health, fitness and appearance then take my advice..Get over it and make a change!
Not the best production I’ve done, but still good content. This is a completely spontaneous idea spawned from a conversation I had with my spouse. He had a conception and I ran with it..first take, bare bones fitness education coming your way:
Well the list goes on. Working down my list of top 10 questions and/or statements I get from clients and participants brings me to numbers 4, 5, and 6. Numbers 4 and 5 have a couple of similarities so I will wrap these two together in my response.
Trainer Top 10:
4/5- “I don’t want to look like Arnold so I don’t lift heavy, I just do muscle toning.” “I want a body like yours, what do you do?”
First of all, I should address the issue of looking like somebody else because you perform the same exercises they do. This is a common misconception amongst enthusiasts and unfortunately prevents many people from doing or not doing an exercise. Most people, OK women, think that lifting heavy will result in large muscles and a less than womanly presence. NOPE..you have to have certain genetics, loads of testosterone surging through your bloodstream and let’s not forget to mention the training time in the gym to get those great big muscles. Your genetics will grant you the ability to gain muscle or not gain muscle, and in my 17 years on the job I have yet to see any of my female clients turn into a hulky, muscle bound man with their training protocols. Most woman just don’t possess the genes to be Arnold.
By the way, calisthenic exercises, high repetition/low resistance exercises claiming to tone your muscles instead of build your muscles are just tapping into muscle endurance and the ability to do something a whole bunch of times until it burns. Nothing wrong with that, but it is inefficient strength conditioning and in the long run will not yield the results most people are looking for. A well rounded, effective training protocol should include strength based exercises that challenge the muscles to fatigue anywhere between 1-15 reps depending on your goals, needs and current fitness levels. As a matter of fact, the best results are seen when individuals change up their weekly strength sessions and include endurance, strength and power workouts. *A certified personal trainer can help you design a proper workout program.
Back to the genetic thing and working out like somebody so you can look like them. Here this: unless you are that person you probably won’t look like that person when you do the same exercises. Exercise will target specific muscles, joints and tissues, but the results will be individually based off of genetics, performance, motivation levels, consistency and dedication. Not to mention the often overlooked category of nutrition..too much food = too much waistline!
So go ahead, pump some iron and watch your genetic potential shine. I can’t change what God gave you, but I can show you the way to make it your best body ever if your willing to put forth the effort.
6. What can I do to improve my butt? (I summarized this from many comments)
OK..here are my 3 suggestions to help improve your butt:
1. Lift weights to build it up via wide-legged squats, lunges, deadlifts and hip extensions (best butt exercises). Perform 2-3 sessions per week on non-consecutive days and aim for 3 sets of 12 reps resting about 45-60 seconds between sets.
2. Cardio activities to help the backside include walking hills, running stairs, and sprinting so try to include a few of these moves as intervals in your current cardio programming a few days per week.
3. Put down your fork and push back from the table. Eating more than you move leads to weight gain and in some cases a bigger butt. If your goal is a smaller butt, then your portions and intake should be smaller, too! BONUS: if you combine exercise with better eating habits you will see the greatest results in your butt.
Now you know you can lift and not be Arnold, you can’t look like me when you do my workouts and you’ve grasped the concepts on how to make your butt a fabulous object to look at. Here’s to all of your muscles, butts and genetics.
Be healthy and stay informed!
PS- questions 7 & 8 are heading your way this weekend via video blog