Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Becoming A Personal Trainer: What You Need To Know

 You go to the gym, you love it, and you've achieved some excellent results! You're dedicated to your workouts/nutrition, and while you're at work all you think about is your next workout. You enjoy your training ... and work sucks, so it makes sense that you're thinking about that while you're at work. Just then it hits you ... why don't you quit this job you hate and start making a living through fitness! Why don't you become a personal trainer? After all, you're spending most of your time Instagramming your food/training, spending your cash on kick ass workout clothes, and you spend more time in the gym than at home. It just makes sense ... right?

Slam on the breaks right there champ!

 Look, I know you love your workouts. I know you're throwing butter into your coffee and eating clean. I know you're spending your day Googling new HIIT workouts ... BUT, that's simply not enough to warrant getting into the fitness industry.

 Now, before you write me off as total dick or think I'm just trying to discourage others from getting into the fitness industry ... hear me out.

 Being a personal trainer or fitness coach requires a lot more than just enjoying your own workouts. It's way more than being a motivator or glorified cheer leader. It's about more than counting someones reps or adding weight to a bar. The fitness industry is jam packed with too many sub-par personal trainers, fitness "experts", and gurus. The last thing it needs is one more on the list.

 You don't be a sub par, mediocre, run of the mill, track pants wearing, clip board carrying, perma smiling, basic, generic personal trainer! You don't want that, and I don't want that either. BUT, you really have been considering becoming a fitness coach/personal trainer. You actually want to be a good one and not just make some quick cash.  How do you know if you're cut from the right cloth? How do you know if you'll be the kind of fitness coach that your peers will respect or dismiss?

 Fear not my possible future trainer! Let's discuss what the life of a fitness coach actually involves. These are just a few things you may not have considered or thought about.

1.) You'll work very strange hours that are never guaranteed

 If you think you make your own schedule as a personal trainer, you're wrong. Your days will always be run by your clients schedules. This means you'll be setting up training sessions with people with all different work and life schedules, and this gets confusing and random. You'll have clients at 5-6am in the morning, hope you don't like to sleep in too late. Strings of clients linked back to back during the day, no lunch for you! You'll also have clients who book late due to shift work or family life. This means early mornings, late nights, and little time to do much for yourself. It can make travel plans, weekend social outings, family obligations, and general life quite tedious some times. Your life and time is run by your clients. You might be your "own boss" but you sure as hell don't make your own schedule.

 On that note, this is assuming you have a full client schedule. Your hours and clients are never guaranteed. You may be full of clients on month, and down to half of them the next month. This is a reality of this industry! Lack of clients means tight living until that client load boosts up again. If you're the kind of person who needs absolute certainty with their financials, this could be a real problem for you. Especially when you first start training! When you first start, you'll have to build your client base from the ground up and you'll need to be prepared to live a frugal life.

2.) You need to be a great teacher

Enjoying your own workouts and getting yourself results is just not enough to be a great trainer. What you can do doesn't matter as much as what you can do with your clients. You need to be able to reproduce consistent results in your clients or your training isn't worth shit ... period. You need to be able to communicate your points, technique break downs, philosophy, and much more, to all different kinds of people. You'll have busy clients, lazy clients, young clients, old clients, male/female ... and they'll all learn in their own unique way. You're going to need to be able to have the patience and communication skills required help them learn. Most of all, you need to have your clients (student) best interest in mind, you need to put them before you.  I could go on and on about how to be a great teacher, how to find a great teacher, and what makes a great teacher ... which is why I wrote a separate blog post about it. If you're thinking of becoming a fitness coach or any other teacher you need to read that post. DO IT!

3. You need to be an obsessive, open minded, and never ending student of your craft

I spend a minimum of around 2 hours a day (broken up and combined) researching theories, reading books/blogs, studying video, and listening to pod casts all on the subject of fitness/nutrition. That's just the free/cheap stuff! I also spend a lot of money every single year on attending workshops, purchasing online courses, and countless hours of my time putting this knowledge into practice. I mentioned above, when you're training full time you don't have much time for yourself. This means when I do have a break during the day, you'll most likely find me eating in front of my computer while I'm reading, studying, and trying to grow my knowledge base. YOU NEED TO BE OBSESSED with becoming the best damn fitness coach you can be. You need to spend your free time researching constantly. You need to be on top of your game or you're doing your clients a disservice. This process is never ending, you'll always need to do this in order to be the best you can be. If you stop, your information gets stagnant, methods become dated, and you my friend ... become obsolete! The industry is full of way too many personal trainers who got their "Personal Trainer Certification" and stopped there. Don't be that guy/girl.

 BUT WAIT there's more! This doesn't just mean researching the aspects of fitness that you enjoy. You also need to read up on other training methods/aspects of the fitness industry that you may not enjoy or agree with. Yes, I love bodyweight training and I think the paleo method of eating just makes sense for most people, but that DOES NOT mean I spend all my time with my nose buried in those two subjects. I've studied and researched bodybuilding programs, supplements, and nutrition ... I basically grew up with a Musclemag glued to my hand. I love animals ... but their delicious and good for you! However, I've done my fare share of research on vegan and vegetarian diets. I've tried all different kinds of fitness classes and methods regardless of my preconceived notions about them. You know why?

 You'll never be able to form an educated opinion or stance against a subject if you don't know a ton about that subject. How can you tell me you think the paleo diet is stupid if you've only read books on becoming a vegan? How can you tell me you can't build muscle using body weight if you're only researching power lifting. Also, what happens if you're working with a vegetarian client and you've only researched the paleo diet? You need to know enough about it all in order to form your own methods.

4.) Just because you love working out, doesn't mean you like training others

It's just that simple. I've known a lot of people who became trainers only to find out that it just wasn't for them. Being a personal trainer (as I've said above) is not about you and your training, it's all about your clients training. Except for some exceptions you're not working out with your client, you're instructing them, correcting form, and keeping track of their progress. You're a teacher, not a workout buddy! If you're a full time trainer/coach your own workouts come second to your clients. This means you might be so busy with clients that you have to workout late at night, early in the morning, at times you hate, or not at all for that day.  This is a big problem for workout addicts! That along with the random hours, lack of personal time, humble pay, constant research and dealing with different client personalities can be a lot for a person to handle. A lot of new trainers find out pretty quick that being a personal trainer isn't glamorous, fast paced, or all that exciting some times. It's rewarding if you're passionate about being a teacher and enriching your clients lives, but if that's not your core goal ... you might find out that it's just not for you.

This all being said, being a fitness coach is a very rewarding profession. I can't think of anything else I would rather be doing for a living. I would (seriously) do this even if I didn't get paid ... I would much rather get paid obviously! I would still blog, train people, and rant online. I enjoy seeing my clients move with ease, attain a much healthier body weight, gain monster strength, and in general change their lives. When a client isn't improving for some reason, it keeps me up a night. I work endlessly to improve that issue and I'm filled with unexplainable joy when they break through that plateau! The majority of my time is spent trying to learn new ways to improve my clients training, my training, and working towards becoming a better fitness coach. I LOVE THIS SHIT!  It's what gets me hype every single day. But, you have to be a little crazy to do this job. I've had times with little to no money and was still training. I've had times with an overwhelming client load where I trained from sun up to sun down and had maaaaaaybe one afternoon a week to myself. I've faced adversity in many forms, set backs in both my personal and professional lives. I've had success and failures, ups and downs but through it all I continued to improve my training and my clients training. This is my passion, I love teaching, learning, and improving. I'm obsessed with it!  If you want to be a fitness coach or trainer, you should be too.

- Tim



Friday, October 3, 2014

Hollow Body Progressions


  The hollow body is a position found in gymnastics strength training. It's an excellent tool for improving your midline stability, core strength, and abdominal function. It's a great addition to other midline and core work such as planks, side planks, supermans, and table tops etc. It also helps develop the strength and stability required to perform such movements as chin ups/pull ups, front support on rings or bars, levers and handstands ... just to name a few. "Hollowing out" is a must if you're intending on being able to hold a straight handstand!

The clip above shows you a few different progressions of the hollow body position (or Banana Holds as one of my clients has named them!). Try adding them into your workouts by choosing a progression that is challenging to hold for 10-15 seconds, then build up to a 1min hold and move onto the next progression.

 A few tips when performing your hollow body hold are as follows ... 

- Your lower back must, at all times, be pressed firmly into the ground. DO NOT allow your back to lift from the ground. If it does, you're most likely using a progression that's fat too advanced for you at the moment.

- Squeeze your legs together hard, with the exception of the straddle holds. This will help create more tension and stimulate core muscles.

- Point your toes! This creates more tension, it doesn't just look pretty!

- The shoulder blades do not touche the ground, but don't crunch yourself up too much.

- When the legs are extended the knees are locked out.

- The whole body it tight.

- When your arms are over head and extended, be sure to "hug the ears" and fully open the shoulders. DO NOT relax the lower back by arching while trying to open the shoulders. This is a sign of tight shoulders and lack of mobility, allow them to open up as full as possible without allowing your back to lift.

- Tim