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Don’t Let A Fitness Coach Coddle You


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You have decided to invest in a personal trainer, or you are considering it. Finding the right personality, style, location, and rates that meet what you are looking for is important.

S/he or they should listen to you about what your goals are. There should be a bit of digging to unearth what you really mean. The reason they should do some digging is –  let’s be honest you may be saying something you have read, someone has told you or you don’t want to look dumb. Usually, there is a bigger reason why you chose this moment in time to move your body more or differently. That is part of the psychology of working with someone as their personal trainer. We as fitness professionals have to listen with more than our ears and ask some probing questions.

After the initial meeting especially during the first couple of sessions your trainer should be paying attention to things like how you move, your range of motion, body awareness and what your actual fitness level is (compared to what you may have said…because sometimes people overshoot or undershoot). During that time it is understandable if your trainer is cautious or wants to focus on creating things like stability before moving to a heavier weight. You should “earn” the right to add more weight or do an advanced movement if you have not mastered a foundational movement. 

Side note…if your coach is not listening to you and your goals or instead of paying attention to how you move they just give you a cookie-cutter workout that is not tailored to you…that is another reason to move on and find someone else to work with!

But is your trainer coddling you? Are they so focused on your age, gender or other factors that they are not really “listening” to your current fitness level? They should be meeting you where you are at…not making assumptions about who you are. 

Two examples of this coddling are: a 75-year-old client walks into the gym without any serious issues walking or balance. That client asked to sit down for the majority of the exercises, always physically “helped” across the gym? At least from those few facts, I would argue – that client is being coddled.

Another example is if a female client is told to stick to the lighter weights after showing that she has the strength and stability to do more than 5lb. Again, she is physically strong enough to do an exercise with a heavier weight. She can do heavier. She wants to go a bit heavier. She enjoys getting and feeling stronger.  Why is that trainer holding her back? It is not about trying to do some dangerous amount of weight when a client is put in an unsafe place. It is about helping someone get stronger. 

A fitness professional should meet you where you are at and introduce some challenge into your sessions over time. The challenges don’t have to be ridiculous.  Subtle changes or options to an exercise can provide the opportunity for a client to have a goal to practice something so they can perform better at it. You don’t need to be (and honestly should not be) crawling out of the gym after a session. 

What should not be happening is a trainer that is “protecting” you in ways that are only holding you back. This coddling can be one of those if-I-see-it-I-know-what-it-is things. It is not about comparing your workouts to other clients in the gym or asking your friends what you did with their trainer. This is about an individual giving you enough respect to see potential in you. 

A fitness professional regardless of how accomplished they are or how many letters after their name should find that sweet spot of safely working with you and at the same time challenging you. It may be a bit out of your comfort zone but nothing unsafe. Obviously, they keep in mind any restrictions you may have when working with you and creating your program. However, treating you as if you are fragile, not strong or capable is only doing you and your body a disservice. 

If you feel this is the case give that professional a chance to explain their process of your sessions. Perhaps there is a rhyme to their reason and progressions are around the corner. Maybe they are working on improving an aspect of your movement and strengthening a foundational movement is a priority. After that conversation, you feel as if that lack of respect is continuing it is time to start shopping around. That relationship needs to end regardless of how much you may like them.  At this point, there is no value to you personally of the services they are providing to you. Clients’ goals and aspirations can differ as much as the next person’s. However, goals of different shapes and sizes all intersect with the idea of progress. Even if you want to maintain your current physical abilities, challenges will facilitate that, coddling will not. 

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How Fit Can You Be Over 50?


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This question may come to mind when fitness and healthcare professionals strongly encourage various forms of exercise. How much “in shape” or “fit” do I need to be?  Many articles and studies highlight the numerous physical, neurological and cellular benefits to exercise.

The best answer is to turn the question back on you…how fit do you need to be to carry out the physical demands of your everyday life? What can that entail?

  • Sitting down.
  • Getting up.
  • Stepping to the side and reaching for something.
  • Reaching up to get something.
  • Carrying heavy items on one side while walking.
  • Turning to see what is around you.
  • Walking up stairs or on uneven ground.
  • Conditioned enough not to be winded at the top of the stairs.
  • Clothing and bathing yourself.

The list goes on…

This physical ability to carry out everyday tasks is also called your functional capacity.

Another way of phrasing this is – what do you enjoy doing and what do you need to do physically to be able to do it? Vacations? Visiting and playing with grandkids? Hiking trips? Running marathons? Enjoying the sites at a national park? Everything that brings you joy incorporates some sort of movement, regardless if that just means walking across the floor to open the door for a family member.

To answer the question one way: You should be as fit as your life demands.

This idea means you should not structure your life around your bodies limitations especially if they include your functional capacity. Instead, you should practice, exercise, and “train” to be able to do what you want to do easier and with less thought about how your body is moving.

Another way to answer the question is: Be as fit as you can possibly be.

Striving to be fit is a lifelong journey. As we age we may have to adapt and change the ways that we do exercise, but that does not mean we stop challenging ourselves. The more you move better every day you are rewarded with independence, confidence, and peace of mind that you don’t let your age determine what you can or cannot do.

To be clear, being “fit” is more than strength (although it is important, as especially leg strength is associated with morality).

It is also the power to move quickly if necessary.

It is also the agility to be able to walk over and around objects.

It is also the balance to be able to walk, bend, carry things and do things simultaneously.

It is also the mobility and flexibility to move your ankles, knees, hips, wrists, neck, and shoulders.

It is also the ability to be able to get to the ground and stand back up.

 

You CAN be fit over 50. You deserve to live the life you want to live!

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Squashing The Myths About Exercise for Older Adults-Part 3


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Despite our cultural depictions of aging, we all have the ability to age well with the strength, agility and balance to maintain our quality of life and the activities we enjoy. Traditional exercise programs, and even many fitness professionals, often disregard the ability of mature adults and seniors to maintain and gain qualities like strength and agility.
Regardless of age, we should all make the time to move, exercise, or play. Let’s squash one of the myths that hold mature adults and seniors back from moving better:

#3 Okay…exercise, but just take it easy…
To counter this myth, Fred Devito summed it up with his quote “If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.”
Progress in fitness will only occur over time when you are challenged. Sure, it is important to start off light when you begin a new fitness program, but soon your body will become used to the exercise and a plateau will happen. Progressions should be incorporated that continue to challenge you to move forward. My clients trust that I will push them just enough so they continue to see the results of their hard work, but not to a point of injury or exhaustion. The key to maintaining the right balance of challenge versus safe progression does not require a steep incline, instead the magic word is variability.
For example, if you enjoy walking on the treadmill, instead of going at the same pace for an hour – do intervals. Try 5 minutes at a comfortable pace then 2 minutes at a challenging pace. Keep coming back to the comfortable pace to recover, then ramp up again to stay challenged. Another simple variation to stay challenged is to vary your foot pattern if you enjoy working with dumbbells. Instead of standing neutral (i.e. feet hip-width distance apart) try a staggered stance as thought you’re midway through a walking step with one foot ahead of the other. Not only are you doing your curls but also you are testing your balance and core strength.

We move throughout life engaging multiple body parts simultaneously – so why isolate just one when we are exercising? Train for life!
Don’t let these myths hold you back from living with the quality of life you want! There’s no such thing as too old to exercise. Especially as we age, exercise may become but more about what you can DO rather than just how you look. A healthy fitness program means being able to play with the kids/grandkids, enjoy a good golf game, take that trip of a lifetime, or maybe just get around easily.
It is never too late to train to move better in your everyday life!

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Squashing the Myths About Exercise for Older Adults – Part 1


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Despite our cultural depictions of aging, we all have the ability to age well with the strength, agility and balance to maintain our quality of life and the activities we enjoy. Traditional exercise programs, and even many fitness professionals, often disregard the ability of mature adults and seniors to maintain and gain qualities like strength and agility.

Regardless of age, we should all make the time to move, exercise, or play. Let’s squash one of the myths that hold mature adults and seniors back from moving better:

  1. You will hurt yourself

This myth implies that mature adults and seniors are too frail and weak to exercise and moving will just lead to injury.

That is a just plain wrong. Yes, anyone starting a new exercise program should start off slow and set a foundation based on their current fitness level. Yes, consulting your doctor, getting your eyesight checked, being aware of the effects of medicines, etc. are important considerations. Lastly, yes, it is important to recognize any physical restrictions based on past injuries or current mobility challenges. These are factors to be considered at any age when changing lifestyle or starting a new fitness program.

The key is to recognize these factors and develop exercise options based on this awareness. For example, if walking places too much strain on joints, Nordic walking (i.e. with walking/hiking poles) is an excellent option. These poles actually facilitate an increase in oxygen consumption and energy expenditure by engaging the upper body instead of just the legs.

Contrary to this myth, improved fitness levels actually reduce the chance of injury. People with reduced mobility, tend to modify their movement based on fear or discomfort. Imagine walking on a narrow bridge over a swamp of alligators. How are you walking? Probably with shuffling steps in a hunched position. In this position you have a narrow base of support, walking is difficult and uncomfortable, and catching yourself if you trip will be difficult. Now, imagine a beautiful walk on the beach. You are relaxed with a more comfortable and confident gait. With a better range of motion, posture, and gait there is less of chance of injury or falls. Gait and balance issues are a major cause of injury in older adults.

One of the key contributing factors to reducing falls is exercise. Everyday life takes mobility, flexibility, balance, coordination, agility and power. Testing and training those functions in a proper fashion will lead to more confidence and ability to move throughout life with more ease.