Fitness is FUN: How A Bad Trainer Can Make You Think Otherwise

I had an experience the other day that gave me a total “aha!” moment. It was one of those moments where I literally stopped in my tracks and said to myself “oh my gosh…I get it.”

Part of my job as the manager of a high end gym is to ensure that we have highly talented and knowledgeable personal trainers on staff. This is a big deal in any gym, but especially in this area of town and in this gym. Our clientele is mostly fit people that are serious about their fitness. Many have worked with a personal trainer before and will immediately know if someone doesn’t know what they’re doing. As such, part of our interview process involves a 30 minute practical, where the potential personal trainer puts me through a training session, while our Personal Training manager observes. This is helpful because we both get to put our heads together at the end of the training session to talk about what was good vs. what was not good. It’s changed our entire staff for the better and is a really great practice.

Last week, we were interviewing two potential new trainers to hire. We had set up a practical with both of them. One no-showed (well, there’s your answer!), and the other showed up right on time. He was well-groomed, looked the part, and was extremely nice. That’s about all the good I have to say.

We started our training session with some static stretching. I equate static stretching before a workout to the low-fat diets of the 80’s. Irrelevant and not smart. Strike 1.

From there he took me to the Smith machine to do front squats and back squats. Now, knowing my background and my current training, this wasn’t a very bright idea. I have a good working knowledge of front squats and back squats, and this application wasn’t useful, in my opinion.  I use the Smith Machine for the following 3 reasons:

1. Someone is new to squatting and/or very weak

2. Someone has injuries or has other limitations

3. Things I’m unable to do with a standard barbell (certain glute/quad exercises)

(This doesn’t mean other applications are incorrect, but if you’re able to properly do front and back squats using a barbell and plates on your own, no use downgrading to the Smith Machine!)

Smith Machine

Smith Machine

Anyways, I asked this trainer why he was having me do front squats and back squats on the Smith machine rather than using a barbell. Had he given me a decent response to this, I could have accepted it. I am constantly learning new tricks of the trade and was hoping he would have something cool to tell me. But no. The response I got was that it was to “up the intensity.” Really? I can show you 500 ways to “up the intensity” using a barbell. Not a very good answer. Strike 2.

I gave it a shot anyways to give the guy a chance to see what he would have me do. He explained the front squat and back squat and told me to start. The result? It felt awkward. My range of motion was limited. The movement was uncomfortable. I felt the movement in all the wrong places. The experience was not fun. Moreover, the trainer didn’t help me get into the proper position, he didn’t make sure my form was proper, he just stood by and told me what to do. (There’s always a chance my form wasn’t right, making the movement feel awkward. After all, I don’t use the Smith Machine for squats. Ever.)

It was then that I had this realization. I am someone who LOVES working out. I love to sweat and work hard in the gym. For the most part, you can put me in any situation at the gym, and I’m game! Not everyone feels this way, and that is perfectly okay.

But had this been my first time in the gym and that been my first time with a personal trainer???? I would have walked out that door and never come back. I would have thought working out was not fun, uncomfortable, and didn’t feel good. I would have thought “well, that’s not worth it!”

I wonder how many times that has happened to someone who claims they “hate working out”…..when really they just haven’t had a good experience? I’m sure it’s very common and that bums me out!

With that said, I challenge all of you that have tried working out and deemed it as something you hate, to try again. Try something new, try something that look fun to you. Working out does not have to be barbells in a gym. The whole point is to do something that makes you feel good, requires your body to work hard, empowers you, makes you strong, and makes you sweat it out! For some, that might be rock climbing, for others, that’s lifting weights, for the next person, it’s taking an adult gymnastics class. DO WHAT YOU LIKE. And if you have a shitty experience either on your own or with a trainer? TRY AGAIN.

Fitness should be FUN, and inevitably will make you feel like you’re on top of the world. You can’t buy that feeling! I promise, there is something for EVERYONE.

1. What new fitness adventures have you been on lately?

2. Have you ever worked with a trainer that made you think fitness sucked?

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Valentine’s Day Partner Workout

Happy Valentine’s Day!! Whether you’re celebrating big or hating on the holiday, just enjoy some time with your partner, friend, relative, or pet!

Hearts-in-Unity-Logo-LG

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I put together a partner workout that you can do with any of the above people (although your dog might just make you do all the work!).

Sweat it out with someone you love today!

Valentine’s Day Partner Workout

(This is best done at a park or somewhere that you will have a little bit of room)

Warm Up: Between the two of you, complete 100 squats. You can break it up however you’d like, but you can’t both squat at the same time!

#1. Fast Jacks

Partner 1: 50 Jumping Jacks

Partner 2: Push Ups until Partner 1 finishes

Switch roles and then repeat!

#2. Burpee Challenge!!

Partner 1 does 1 burpee, Partner 2 does 1 burpee, Partner 1 does 2 burpees, Partner 2 does 2 burpees….

Keep going up the ladder until someone can’t finish a set!

Pro Tip: I highly suggest making a bet for this one…massage for the winner?! 😀

#3. Run it Out!

Find about a 15-20 yard space and mark it.

Partner 1: Sprint to the marker and do: 5 push ups, 10 squats, 10 sit ups, sprint back and tag Partner 2 to do the same thing.

Complete 5 rounds of this!!!

Happy Sweaty Valentine’s Day!!!

sweaty workout

Question of the day:

Are you a lover or hater of the holiday?

I’m indifferent. I like spending time with my man, but hanging out at home with a movie is fine by me.

HIIT It!

It’s only Tuesday?! Monday was crazzzzzzy. I feel like I say that every day actually, but it’s true! I wear many, many hats and sometimes I start losing my mind. 😀

This cracked me up!

This cracked me up!

Yesterday I hit up the gym for some HIIT action before my climbing action. I had a few questions as to what I do for HIIT. Maybe you’re even wondering, “Lizzy, why do you keep talking about beating people up?!”. Let me dispel….

HIIT is short for High Intensity Interval Training. It sounds just like it is. The intensity is high, and you’re doing intervals. (Thank you Captain Obvious)

The idea behind it is that you are working at 90-100% for, say, a minute or two, and then giving yourself ample rest (walking, jogging, doing nothing for another minute or two before doing it all over again…and again…and againandagainandagain.

Here are some of the reasons I love HIIT:

1. It is anaerobic, which means that your fast-twitch muscles are recruited, engaging strength and speed. I could get extremely technical on this, but I’ll let you do some googling if you’re really curious (or feel free to e-mail me fitlizzio (at) gmail (dot) com). Your body response with anaerobic work is different than that of aerobic work (such as jogging, walking, etc.). In addition, the “after-burn” as they call it can last up to 8 hours after exercises (sometimes more or less depending on how hard your body worked). This means that your metabolic rate (calorie burning furnace that lives inside your body) will be higher long after your workout finishes.

2. My favorite: It’s quick! While it can be much tougher than just jogging steadily for 30 minutes, it is done in about half the time. You can pick and choose how long you want to do it, but if it’s more than 20 minutes, odds are you aren’t working hard enough during your “working” intervals.

3. It makes me feel strong and keeps me focused. While a nice jog makes me feel refreshed, a hard HIIT session makes me feel like a badass. I like feeling like a badass 🙂

The beauty of HIIT is that it is different for everyone. My “working” interval may be your rest interval and vice versa. The point is to work to YOUR potential, not mine or anyone else’s.

Here’s a HIIT workout I’ve been doing before my workouts a few days per week. This can be done on a treadmill, or outside. It can be done on a bicycle, elliptical machine, or swimming laps too. The point is simple: Work hard for 1-2 minutes, rest 1-2 minutes, and repeat until you’ve completed about 15-20 minutes.

HIIT IT AND QUIT IT (:-o)

Minutes 0-2: Jog at a leisurely pace (for me, this is 6.5-7.0 mph)

Minutes 2-3: Sprint! 90-100% intensity..go go go!!

Minutes 3-4: Either jog or walk, depending on what you want to do. I like to jog for my “rest” intervals, but walking is completely acceptable. It’s your REST so rest as you see fit.

Repeat minutes 2-4 five more times

This workout will be done in 15 minutes, and if you’re truthfully working to your full potential, I guarantee you will be a sweaty mess by the end!

Happy HIITing!

Okay, not this kind of hitting...

Okay, not this kind of hitting…

Do you prefer HIIT or steady-state cardio?

Proper Squat Form

Happy Monday! I thought I’d start this fabulous week off by talking about our booty’s best friend: the squat. 

(Please note, I am not a doctor and this is not a prescription. Please check with your doctor before making any exercise changes or trying anything new if you’re not comfortable with it.) 

I love squats for SOOOO many reasons: 

1. They are a GREAT exercise for the legs, butt, and core. 

2. They are something you can do anywhere.

3. They help build the booty and keep it perky!

4. The squat is a practical movement. By this, I mean that it is used in our everyday lives. A non-practical movement? The tricep-kickback. Tell me when you do that in daily life…

5. Versatility! They can be used as an isometric movement (static squat), a heavy movement (heavy barbell squats), a plyometric (jump squats), and more!

I created a quick video of me squatting so that you can see what proper form looks like. Of course, it can take practice and patience, so keep working on it if you’re not there yet!

My three tips for performing a proper squat are: 

1. Sit back first. Many people start to bend at the knees first, but this puts you in the position to squat with your knees bending past your toes and your weight to be put in your toes, rather than your heels. Sit back and THEN drop down. This will keep your weight in your heels, utilizing your glutes and hamstrings more. 

2. Squat Down with your chest up. A good way to practice this is to wear a shirt with a logo on the chest and face a mirror while doing the movement. You should be able to see that logo in the same position for the entire movement. 

3. Push through your heels. When you get to the bottom of your squat (which ideally will be butt below the knees, or as we like to call it “ass to grass”) you obviously have to come back up! Push through your heels in order to promote the body to stay in it’s upright form and not put your weight back into your knees. 

I hope these tips help you to perform your best squat yet! Start with just body weight and move up to weights as you begin to get more comfortable with the movement. You can also practice Wall Squats to train your body to keep your chest upright during the movement. (Start as close to the wall as possible in order for you to perform the squat. Do 3 sets of 15 reps 3-4 times per week, working towards moving closer and closer to the wall). 

Wall Squat

Wall Squat

Happy squatting everyone!

Questions for the day:

1. What is your favorite exercise?

Mine is the deadlift, but squats are a close 2nd.

2. Did you watch the Superbowl?

Let’s put it this way, I fell asleep in the 4th quarter. No joke.