Although personal trainers focus on fitness year-round, May is National Physical Fitness and Sports month. National Physical Fitness and Sports month is a government initiative offered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and promoted by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. With obesity rates steadily rising, the push to get America moving is growing stronger.
This initiative is designed to remind and encourage children, adults and seniors to get adequate exercise each week and include it as part of a balanced life. National Physical Fitness and Sports month emphasizes the importance of exercise as a means of disease prevention, wellness and overall optimal health. With past faced lives and numerous commitments, Americans often forget that integrating small changes can easily increase weekly exercise.
Trainers can seize this opportunity to remind clients of the importance of regular strength training and cardiovascular conditioning and “celebrate” National Physical Fitness and Sports month with the following ideas:
· Switch up your training sessions for something new. Incorporate a new piece of equipment or a new method of training like cardio intervals, drop sets or Tabata intervals. Find new ideas on the internet or learn a new modality through a continuing personal training education course.
· Teach your clients how to “play.” Hold your session at a playground and remind them how much fun it is to climb in, around and through playground equipment. This is an excellent opportunity to remind clients that exercise doesn’t have to be scheduled and organized. Spontaneous play is excellent for the mind and body!
· Get the whole family involved – invite them to your client’s next session and make exercise a family affair.
· Contact a senior center to see about offering an exercise-positive seminar or class. You’ll positively influence the senior segment and increase your training visibility. In a similar vein, contact local schools or after school programs and offer to host an exercise clinic.
· Offer your clients a “bonus” group exercise activity like a nature hike or a circuit course in a local hike. Group exercise is an excellent means of trying something new and creating morale.
· Incorporate a five-minute segment into each session to teach clients about a specific muscle group or joint. Increasing client anatomical awareness aids in client understanding of joint functionality and overall safety.
· Use your social media accounts to offer a daily inspiration, exercise or short cardio circuit.
· Challenge your clients using ChallengeLoop to commit to specific amount of exercise per day or per week. Offer a free session or a prize for the winning client. Alternatively, find an appropriate challenge and participate alongside your client(s).
· Use May as the kick-off point for client assessments. Conduct a full battery on client abilities including cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength and flexibility. Retest in three months to track progress and improvements.
Use this month to invigorate client programming and spark interest in new ways to incorporate fitness into daily life. Clients are often bombarded with information about health and fitness but you can use your expertise to separate the sensation from reality. Get moving!
The term “personal trainer” has long been associated with a burly muscled guy yelling “Drop and give me 20!” While that still holds true, more and more trainers are seeing the benefit of training niches. Special populations and sporting specialties demand more skill and often yield more money. Continuing education courses give trainers an excellent avenue to explore niches that increase desirability and bottom lines.
Consider the following training niches to add a little pizazz to your repertoire:
Seniors - Studies are consistently showing more and more seniors hitting the gym. Whether they’re looking to get in better shape or are rehabilitating from an injury or surgery, seniors are a hot market right now. Trainers interested in this population need to be aware of older adult population issues and associated conditions such as arthritis, hypertension and osteoporosis. Because older adults often have complex medical issues, trainers should consider coordinating with a client’s medical team to design a safe and appropriate exercise program.
Golfers – Golf continues to be a popular option for working and retired adults alike. Whether you’re looking to help someone improve a swing or start coaching professionals, you’ll want to learn the game and the biomechanics that go along with standard golf movements. The heart of the best golf swing lies in core strength and hip rotation. Check out this course to get started.
Injury/Surgery Rehab – Clients finishing up with physical therapy often want to continue their hard work once therapy is completed. Working with rehab clients often requires a deep understanding of injuries, the healing process and various therapeutic modalities. Rehab clients need specialized programs to pick up were physical therapy has left off and with gradual progression. Again, working with the client’s physical therapist or doctor is a good idea to avoid contraindicated movements and to design a safe program. This course offers great fundamentals about working with biomechanical issues.
Runners – As more and more folks use races as motivations to train, the need for running trainers is increasing. Running is a specialty requiring knowledge about safely increasing mileage, the best way to train for races and nutrition for optimal recovery. If you’re already a passionate runner, this is a great bonus to add to your skill set.
Pre- and Post Natal Fitness Specialist – Seasoned exercisers know how to work out but the game changes dramatically when there is a pregnancy involved. Pregnancies can be simple or complex and as a specialist, it’s up to you to keep your client safe. Liaise with the client’s obstetrician to understand any restrictions and recommendations.
The best way to find the right niche is to follow your own training. What types of activities draw you in? What’s your favorite method of training or sport? Chances are, if you’re already passionate about a specific activity, that niche is a natural choice for you.
Even though it’s mid-January and many of your clients have long abandoned their resolutions to eat better and work out more, your commitment to your industry and clientele should be revving up. The New Year can be a new start for personal trainers whether it’s amping up your current client base or taking the leap to train independently. Here are a few ideas to keep your business fit as a fiddle:
· Create fun and interesting challenges for clients. Use your imagination and let motivation be your guide. In group environments, offer a reward to the client who can do the most push-ups in the next 30 days. For solo clients, use their own progress to motivate them – encourage them to do one more rep of a compound exercise (like a squat or lunge) every time you meet. Use a low cost fitness item like a physio ball or pack of resistance bands as the prize. Or, give away passes to the local movie theater or roller skating rink.
· Take an honest look at your long-term clients. Are you in a rut? Are you doing the same workouts over and over? Has progress stalled? It’s easy to become comfortable with long-term clients and slack a bit. If you’re slacking, they’re probably slacking too. Reevaluate goals, set some new ones and start fresh.
· If you train independently, are you waiting for the new clients to call you? Simply putting up a website and waiting for the phone to ring isn’t going to cut it. Mine your current clients for potential referrals and offer a free session or two if they bring you a new client. Use internet search technology like Google Adwords to improve your search result ranking (but do not spend thousands of dollars on search engine optimization). Make contact with local health care professionals like massage therapists, chiropractors and dieticians. Ask if you can leave business cards or handouts and offer to refer back to them.
· When was the last time you got a personal training session or took a group fitness class? Take off your “trainer” hat and be someone else’s student. You’ll likely pick up a few tips and tricks along the way.
· When it’s time to buy materials for your continuing education courses, pick a subject that is completely unfamiliar to you. It’s easy to gravitate towards comfortable material but learning new subjects is an excellent way to breathe life back into client routines. Check out the excellent options available from Milestone Continuing Education.
· Buy a new piece of equipment and learn to use it. Unfamiliar with kettlebells? Take a class. Interested in learning a few Pilates moves? There are countless videos online. You may just find a critical component has been missing in your programming.
· Go digital! Find a piece of software to maintain client files and ditch the paper. Many of these software options have methods to make client communication easier. Use your smartphone or a tablet to keep track of workouts, progress and goals.
Use some of these ideas to inspire your clients in addition to adding a little more muscle to your bank account. Business is much like exercise – move it or lose it!
The holidays are fast approaching and the onslaught of work parties, block parties, happy hours and gifts from well-meaning neighbors are enough to derail the best-laid plans. Is it possible to get through the holidays without that much hyped 5 to 7 pound gain? Yes. With a few strategies, your clients can end the holidays on a healthy note. Advise them to do the following:
Do not choose November or December to start a liquid diet, low carb cleanse, or protein plan. They’re setting themselves up for failure if they do. Extreme plans of any sort do not have good track records but if they are dead set on a particular program, strongly advise them to wait until January. Suggest making a workout schedule and sticking to it. Prioritize workouts above shopping, gift wrapping or cooking. Keep them accountable for session attendance. Holidays are often the season of “tough love” for personal trainers.
Remind them not to go to parties hungry. Advise them have a healthy meal beforehand. Pair a large salad with a lean protein, like chicken or turkey, for a volume-heavy meal that should keep them full for a few hours. Suggest they offer to be the designated driver. Cocktails tend to be extremely high in calories and since they’re usually consumed at night, there is less likelihood of burning them off before bed. If driving isn’t an issue, suggest they decide beforehand how much they’re going to drink and stick to that limit. Remember lower calorie options such as wine spritzers or straight spirits. Remind them to keep drinking water! Cold weather makes water consumption less appealing but dehydration is still possible. Unless it’s something that’s worth it, avoid drinking calories.
Get enough sleep. Late night soirees wreak havoc on sleep schedules. Turn in early when possible. Advocate not eating heavy meals or drinking alcohol right before bed, as this will adversely affect sleep patterns. Recommend that they work in extra exercise when possible. Parking far away from the store entrance and taking the stairs instead of the elevator are excellent methods to sneak in extra cardio.
They must manage stress. Whiny children, obnoxious in-laws and annoying co-workers can grate on the nerves and send any well-intentioned person straight to the cookie jar. Focus on healthy ways to decompress. Schedule a massage. Take a walk. Get lost in a non-holiday themed book. During extra time off, encourage them try a new fitness class or video. They may discover a new sport they love and it will be that much easier to stay on track.
If your clients can work these tips into their schedules, they’ll be ahead of the game when the New Year begins.
You wouldn’t take a chemistry test without preparing for it, nor would you learn to drive while taking your driving test. Participating in sports without the conditioning, training and nutrition to back it up is much the same way. The human body utilizes muscularity and coordination in various ways to achieve sport-specific movements and power. Incredible core strength is necessary for golf, quick reflexes are necessary for soccer and lower body conditioning is crucial for cycling.
Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a sport devotee, sport-specific training is essential to prevent injuries, solidify your skills and maintain muscular balance. Some certified personal trainers specialize in sport-specific training. Prior to beginning this type of specialized training, your personal trainer should conduct a fitness assessment to determine areas of weakness and strength in addition to postural, biomechanical and alignment issues.
Golfing requires an immense amount of core rotation. Exercises like the medicine ball twist strengthen the lumbar spinal region, obliques and hips. A strong core is critical to maintain stabilization through the golf swing. Upper back and shoulder strength is required in order control the swing and dictate swing speed. Performing exercises such as a single armed dumbbell row and shoulder press strengthen the entire rotator cuff area. Because golf games can run long, golfers need to come prepared with snacks and adequate hydration to keep energy levels up.
In order to propel the ball downfield, soccer plays need explosive power in addition to muscular endurance. Plyometric exercises improve reflex time and explosive power necessary to perform. The nature of the game often means players have overdeveloped quadriceps in relation to their hamstrings. A soccer-specific training program would focus on building hamstring strength in order to balance out the lower body. Protein plays a key role in the development and maintenance of muscles and players will need to tweak their diets to ensure appropriate protein consumption.
For cyclists, strength training in the off-season will yield better results in the on season. Utilizing training techniques such a periodization, hypertrophy and flexibility training assists cyclists with necessary strength and muscular cohesion for training rides and races. Cyclists using an aggressive riding position may experience lower back pain. Core work is especially important for cyclists in order to strength the gluteal muscles, abdominals and smaller muscles surrounding the pelvic girdle. Because cycling is a sustained exercise, cyclists must learn to nutritionally prepare for longer bouts of exercise.
Sport enthusiasts must keep in mind the exercise and nutritional programming specific to their preferred sport. Training and appropriate nutrition away from the sport has a massive impact on performance during the sport. Certified personal trainers can assist with the development and upkeep of complementary strength training and nutrition programming.
Our last extended article for CSCSs and CPTs was published all the way back in January and began with the opener, “[t]hink it’s too soon to start thinking about to start thinking about December 31st? Think again!” Now here we are all the way in November, and just shy of two months away from your renewal deadline. If you doubted it before, then now we can officially say that it isn’t too soon to start thinking about your yearend deadline, and the CE requirements that go along with it.
By now you probably know how many hours you need to meet the continuing education aspect of the license renewal process, but just in case you need a little refresher (who doesn’t from time to time?) the number of hours you need is dependent on the date of certification. If you earned your certification prior to 2012, your required to complete 6.0 CEUs or 60 hours; if you became certified during 2012, you're required to complete 4.0 CEUs or 40 hours; and if you’ve recently become certified (between January 1, 2014 through June 30, 2014), then you're required to complete 1.0 CEUs or 10 hours of continuing education. If you earned your certification after June 30, 2014, then you are not required to complete any CEUs this year, and your biennial renewal period will begin after December 31, 2014.
There’s more than one way to complete your CE requirement. You can opt to retake the certification exam and knock out the requirement with one test, or you can opt for continuing education units like those offered at Milestone. If you’ve chosen to go the CEU route of completion, then your date of licensure will determine how many hours out of the four categories you’ll need to complete in order to qualify for renewal. For example, if you were certified before 2012, then you can only complete 3.5 CEUs (or 35 hours) from Category D, which includes home study courses.
Always be sure to keep up with the source of this information, the NSCA Website, to review their handy Continuing Education Pamphlet that will provide you with the specifics of each category's approved activities and limitations. Once you’ve chosen which two of the four CE categories you’re going to complete, then you can get started. If you’ve chosen Category D among your options, then that’s where Milestone comes in!
Milestone Continuing Education is an NSCA Approved Provider (L1272) and CSCSs and NSCA CPTs can expect high quality downloadable content based on relevant topics that will enhance professional knowledge and improve impact with their clients. Designed to fit into your life seamlessly, without the travel, hotel, or conference registration costs. Milestone is also a BOC Approved Provider (P8382), so duly certified CSCS and CPTs can obtain CE titles with one easy purchase.
Learn more about Milestone on our website or contact one of our friendly CE Specialists at 1-800-709-8820. For all the specifics on you renewal process, visit the National Strength & Conditioning Association website.
While Certified Personal Trainers do design fitness plans and encourage clients to “Drop and give me 20” they also work in concert with a client’s other medical professionals. These professionals may include physicians, chiropractors, physical therapists, massage therapists and athletic trainers. Collaborating in tandem gives a client the most complete circle of care.
If a client is experiencing serious health issues such as heart disease or extreme obesity, Certified Personal Trainers can work with the client’s primary physician to develop programming, avoid contraindicated activity and cooperatively assess the best course of action for the client. Physicians can provide trainers with a complete list of prescribed medications and discuss activities that should be encouraged or avoided.
Clients with postural alignment or impingement issues may have an ongoing relationship with a chiropractor. Throughout their careers, Chiropractors are required to complete PACE approved continuing education courses. Similar to a collaboration with a physician, Certified Personal Trainers and Chiropractors can work together to design a program that complements (rather than impedes) the chiropractic plan.
Massage Therapists specialize in relieving muscle tension and alleviating discomfort. A client may have a predisposition for a posture or behavior that causes tight muscles. Certified Personal trainers and Massage Therapists can join forces to provide an even higher level of care for the client. Trainers can integrate corrective exercises into the workout program and massage therapists can concentrate on keeping muscles loose.
Post injury or surgery, rehabilitation or physical therapy is usually necessary. Out of all the collaborations discussed, this is possibly the most critical. Physical therapists will design a comprehensive recovery plan for their patient and Certified Personal Trainers must intimately understand that program in order to further the progress rather than hinder it. The nature of the recovery will dictate how much exercise as well as what type of exercise is permissible. A complete training program will include all major muscle groups but based on the client’s issues and current physical therapy plan, the trainer may need to skip certain muscle groups. Once physical therapy is finished, the personal trainer may implement therapy-specific exercises or stretches into the training program to further benefit the client.
Guided by physicians, athletic trainers work with a large variety of clients in hospitals, schools and industrial environments. Serving as an intermediary between a physician and physical therapist, athletic trainers administer medicine/first aid, conduct injury appraisals and teach preventative care. Athletic trainers must complete continuing education courses in order to stay current in their fields. Often, athletic trainers work with sports teams to provide on-site care, assessments and nutritional direction. Athletic trainers and Certified Personal Trainers can team up to either integrate sport-specific exercises into a training program or avoid over-training of specific muscles.
Clearly, cooperative medical relationships can significantly elevate the level of client care. However, do not initiate medical relationships without the consent of the client and a signed Release of Information form. The Release of Information form protects you in the event the client decides to pursue legal action.
While gyms are one-stop-shopping for just about any type of workout, there isn’t always enough time in the day to make it there. If you find yourself short on time for exercise or if you prefer to exercise at home, here are the best at-home workout items.
1. Yoga or exercise mat – Sometimes the carpet isn’t clean but that shouldn’t be a reason to miss a little core work. Slippery floors can make certain exercises (like lunges) dangerous because of sliding. Alternatively, you may need a little extra padding during supine abdominal exercises or stretching.
2. Exercise ball – Fitness balls have declined in popularity but they’re still a great inexpensive item to have at home. Choose a ball that is appropriate for your height. You should be able to sit on the ball with your knees at a 90-degree angle. Use your exercise ball for lunges against a wall, lower back support during crunches or overhead reaches.
3. Balance Trainer – While these are a bit on the expensive side, they’re relatively small and easy to store. The purpose of a balance trainer to add instability to exercise in order to recruit more muscles. Hands down, the most versatile balance trainer is the BOSU ball. You can use it ball side up or down. If you have knee or ankle stability issues, the Step 360 may be a better choice. The flat surface of the Step 360 prevents torqueing of the knee or ankle. Either can increase instability during upper or lower body exercises.
4. Resistance Bands – Light weight and easy to store, resistance bands are an excellent choice for an at-home strength training workout. Typically, different colors indicate different levels of resistance. Color codes may vary between brands. Use them for both upper body and lower body workouts. Never miss a workout when you’re traveling!
5. Hula Hoops – When your child is at school, take her hula-hoop for a spin. Although they are technically a toy, they’re actually great exercise. Hula hooping gets the heart rate up and is an excellent way to strengthen the core and hips flexors. Don’t fret if it’s not as easy as it once was – it does take a little practice. Search online for videos and how-to’s.
6. A Step – Steps are another relatively inexpensive piece of equipment and they’re multi-functional. Depending on the length of your step, it can double as a weight bench. Use them to add different levels to lunges and squats. Step aerobics are also a fantastic cardio workout.
7. Gliding Discs – Gliding discs add another dimension of instability to leg work and core work. Use them to up the ante and challenge yourself. Pro tip: Instead of splurging on “official” discs, opt for the furniture moving discs – they have the same purpose, work just as well and usually cost less. Additionally, you can use folded towels on tile or wood floors.
8. Foam Rollers – Unless you live with your massage therapist, there will be days when your muscles need intervention and a massage isn’t possible. A foam roller is the next best thing. Utilizing a similar technique as a massage therapist, foam rolling involves myofascial release. You use your own body weight to find the knots and roll them out. Foam rollers differ in hardness and if you’re new to foam rolling, start with a softer version.
Fitness equipment doesn’t have to be expensive or bulky to be effective. With just a few items, you can have an arsenal of items for home workouts. Don’t forget DVD or online exercise videos too!
Newly certified personal trainers may wonder how and where to get started. With a bevy of options including gyms, private studios, health clubs and private training, you have much to consider when applying for jobs.
After receiving my ACE certification, I applied for a job at my gym and I was hired almost immediately. The upside was that because I’d been a member there for a few years, I knew a lot of the staff, trainers and instructors. That alone made starting there much less intimidating (and I was grateful because this was a significant career change).
Starting your new career as a certified personal trainer in a gym environment is an excellent way to get your feet wet. Supervisors and trainers can mentor you about designing programs, interacting with clients and problem solving. If you run into issues with a client, you have access to support and ideas. You also have the advantage of observing other trainers and group fitness instructors. It’s helpful to see how different fitness professionals teach classes, maintain files and connect with clients and members.
You also have the option of trading sessions with other trainers or other gym employees who offer related services. You will be required to complete CPT continuing education and your facility may offer continuing education for CPTs in the form of training or conferences that count for your requirements.
My personal experience working at a gym taught me the ins and outs of personal training. I shadowed other trainers to see how they worked with their clients, kept records and created programming. I used that knowledge to develop my own system and I continually revised it to meet changing needs. I regularly traded sessions with other trainers because A) it was a nice treat to let someone tell me what to do and B) I learned new techniques in terms of exercise and communicating with clients. Good trainers are always on the lookout for new ideas and ways to inspire clients. Training with other trainers and attending group fitness classes are excellent ways to freshen up one’s exercise repertoire. I had a supervisor who encouraged gym employees to trade services with in-house spa employees and it turned out to be a fantastic method for cross-promotion. I traded with an aesthetician and when my clients asked me about our spa services, I was able to tell them first hand.
Support is critical for new trainers. Whether this is your first foray into the working world or if this is a career change for you, it’s essential to have the ear of others in your business. Personal training in a gym offers the opportunity to meet other trainers and fitness professionals. Collaborating with others may save you time and energy in terms of client relationships, paperwork, etc.
Even if you work at a gym, always be open to private training. In most cases, it pays significantly better and there is little overhead. However, you must legally protect yourself with appropriate paperwork and insurance. Most certifications offer liability insurance at a discounted rate. Your insurance provider or certifying agent will likely have boilerplate consent and liability forms. Review these documents with a qualified lawyer to make sure they meet your needs.
Because I had a couple of private clients while I worked at the gym, I was already set up to continue independently. I had already put together a medical history packet and legal documentation. I trained the majority of clients in their homes but a few trained in my home.
Private training is definitely more lucrative than working in a gym but it has its own issues as well. You’ll need to factor in travel time for appointments. You’ll also want to decide how far you’re willing to drive. When setting your prices, keep in mind fuel prices, wear-and-tear on your vehicle and any other operating costs. Invest in the kinds of equipment you can reasonably bring with you. Establish days and times you are not available. Don’t spend a lot of money on a fancy website. You need a website that is easy to read, easy to understand and depicts you as a qualified professional. Remember that you’ll still be responsible for completing certified personal trainer continuing education courses. Choose CE courses for personal trainers about unfamiliar topics to give you a well-rounded knowledge base. Keep any continuing education for CPTs coursework or textbooks for future reference.
I often have contact with clients in between our meetings. If a workout was particularly tough, I’ll send a follow-up email the next day to check on them. During sessions, I always make it a point to ask them how they felt after the last session and follow up on things we discussed in the previous session. I find this practice adds a continuity to the client-trainer relationship.
Getting clients is one of the most challenging aspects of working independently. Referrals are the best way to get new clients. Offer your clients a free session or two if they refer someone who decides to train with you. In terms of advertising, you can try print or online advertising, connecting with local health professionals and leaving your cards with them or putting up flyers in your neighborhood.
I got creative with advertising. I put together a stretching handout for a local chiropractor and in exchange, he kept my business cards on his front desk. I paired with a registered dietician and we offered a joint nutrition and training package. I advertised in a local magazine. Ultimately, my Google AdWords campaign proved to be the most fruitful. I have been contacted many times by search engine optimization companies offering to increase my ranking. Generally, these services are very overpriced and you’ll get similar results using Google AdWords.
As a whole, I prefer private training to working for a gym because it is devoid of politics, pointless meetings and urging from management to be salespeople in addition to being personal trainers. I also enjoy being able to set my own hours, decline clients who are not a good fit and manage my business in ways I feel are most beneficial to my clients and myself. However, starting my career in a gym was irreplaceable groundwork for working privately. I learned so much about myself, how I wanted to conduct myself as a trainer and invaluable information about working with diverse populations. It gave me the confidence to forge out on my own and create a successful business.