Now, that’s personal

My friend and former client Greg Hodak passed away Saturday night surrounded by family and friends. To say God broke the mold when he made Greg would be an understatement.

greg
The gun show.

He was one of a kind. Larger than life, generous to a fault, loving father and you felt special when you were around him. He was a great client and friend who’s grace while he was suffering inspired this article.

This is why I have decided to re post this again because the personal/professional boundaries get cloudy sometimes. Please enjoy.

Since being a personal trainer I’ve had

  • Three clients pass away
  • Three who have beaten cancer
  • One who’s got dementia
  • Several clients who have had their joints replaced

When studying to become a trainer, these situations never came up in any of my textbooks because nothing prepares you for things like that. Only life can.

When dealing one-on-one with these clients while they’re suffering, the professional boundaries that trainers should have with their clients gets blurry.

How can it not? Trainers are not robots.

robot

Although my (and most) personal training clients come to the gym to forget their problems, sometimes the burden they carry is too heavy and they need someone to talk to. All a trainer can do is lend a sympathetic ear.

And for most personal trainers (myself included), personal training is much more than a pay check or a business transaction. It’s a real opportunity to make a difference in the lives of their clients whether they’re fighting fit or not.

Trainers share in their clients’ successes, failures and heart aches. Often exercise is the easy part of the equation during a session but the mindset or ‘getting into the mood’ can be more difficult.

Trying to get clients into the right frame of mind when they are in pain takes this mindset thing to a different level. Because let’s face it, exercise can be hard enough even when we’re healthy, let alone sick.

Almost two years ago now I was hired to work privately with an elderly couple in their home. Both had their share of health problems but the male was in really bad shape. He was unable to perform simple self-care duties and found walking extremely difficult.

He and his wife performed simple balance and mobility exercises and fundamental human movements once or twice a week. Even at their advanced age, they were looking to improve their quality of life.

Both were so sweet to me that it was difficult not to get close to them. I would often stay after our sessions to hear their stories and join them for lunch. They welcomed me into their home like I was family.

However, the male’s health took a turn for the worst a few months into our time together and a few weeks later he passed away peacefully.

It was one of the saddest situations I’ve ever witnessed and made me feel very fortunate that I got to spend time sometime with him and his wife before his number was up. I’ll cherish the stories they told me forever.

Recently, I was rocked by the news of a former client who’s been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. When we worked together, over a year ago now, he had turned his life and health around.

He was fit, strong and full of life and now he’s fighting for his life this with every ounce of his being. When he needs a hand, I’ll be there to provide it, professional boundaries dammed.

Unfortunately, he lost his battle.

Both of these situations provide a challenging conundrum for one who’s business is personal. When does professional become personal? When is it ever okay for professional/personal boundaries to be crossed?

Most of us know it’s not okay for a trainer to sleep with their client and for a teacher to getting sexually involved with a student. That’s clearly crossing the line.

line

However, on the other hand, is it okay to visit a client who’s on life support in hospital and to be there for support? Is it crossing the line to go out to lunch with a client and share personal stories?

Like some laws are meant to be broken, some boundaries (I think) need to be crossed, especially when it’s a matter of life and death. However, there is some inherent risk involved here.

When putting yourself out there and crossing boundaries your feelings or the client’s feelings may get hurt. Your wallet may suffer, and if you ever witness sickness or death it’s going to be painful for all involved.

I made a judgement call (and will continue to make it) that I’m going to be there for clients when it comes to life, death and sickness. Am I crossing the line? You can be the judge.

However, I feel in matters of the heart, you should follow the heart more often than not and the boundaries that exist between a service provider/client should be tossed away.

Wrapping up

 Personal and professional boundaries exist for a reason. It can stop laws and feelings from being broken. However, when suffering and death happens and you’re in the middle of it, lines will get crossed.

After all, we’re only human.

The best exercise you’re not doing…..

This is a weekly series on exercise that will give you the biggest bang for your exercise buck in and out of the gym. Today’s exercise is spinal rotation
.
You should do this because– if you don’t use it, you lose it. The upper spine is built for rotation
Makes your everyday life easier because– When your spine moves like it should,this means less pain and better movement for your body
 Form tip – Keep an upright posture and use a pain free range of motion . Do 5 reps on both sides daily. Great work by Tim Anderson at Original Strength. 

A women’s guide to getting stronger……

Women have been told for far too long that less is more when it comes to their bodies.  Words like ‘slim,’ ‘toned’ and ‘skinny’ permeate through most women’s fitness magazines.

Celebrity trainers have a dazzling array of bodyweight and pink dumbbell moves that target the hips, waist and thighs so women can have their best spring body ever.

What are those heavy dumbbells or that barbells on the floor? If I touch one of them, I might turn into the Hulk.

hulk-2

Don’t worry, ladies, this will not happen to you because of a little thing called testosterone and your lack of it in comparison to men. (1) Besides, testosterone makes men do silly things and we need you to help clean up our messes.

Wishful thinking, right?

maid

Strength training has tremendous health benefits for both men and women, including but not limited to

  • Injury prevention
  • Plays a role in disease prevention (2)
  • Protects bone and muscle mass
  • Helps turn you into a calorie burning machine
  • Helps with better movement and less pain

Should women deny themselves the benefits of strength training because of a few myths that never seem to die?  The short answer is no, you shouldn’t because strong is the new sexy.

However, if you’re new to all of this, where do you start?

Start right here. Let’s look at the movements you’ll be doing to get stronger and why you’re doing them.  Then I’ll outline a program for you, so you too can get strong.

1. SQUATS

This is a movement we’ve been doing since we were babies. Yet somehow between childhood and adulthood, some of us lose the ability to execute this fundamental human movement correctly.

Why it’s important to train 

  • It’s a full body exercise
  • Gives you great looking legs
  • Develops core strength
  • It’s a movement you perform every day.
  • Builds lean muscle and burns a ton of calories.

This is what a squat should look like

Baby-squat
I rest my case
2. BENCH PRESS

The bench press is not only for the guys. A lot of women I know get a huge sense of empowerment hoisting weights above their chest. It’s a great upper body strength builder that helps build lean muscle on your chest, shoulders and arms.

Why it’s important to train

  • Helps build upper body strength, a weak point for a lot of women
  • A great compound exercise that works multiple muscle groups
  • Gives you a great looking upper body
  • To show the guys up

 

3. Row 

We tend to forget about the muscles that we cannot see. That’s not a good idea because we live in a society that sits too much while slouching forward. Overtime this can lead to upper back muscles that are weak and overstretched.

A weak upper back contributes to poor posture and back/shoulder pain.  The row helps strengthen the upper back, grip and gives you better looking arms.

Why it’s important to train 

  • Strengthens your upper back
  • Improves your posture
  • Helps give you a better-looking arms, shoulders and back

 

4. FARMER’S CARRY

How often do you find yourself carrying around heavy stuff? Once a day or a couple of times per week?  It’s something that we do on a regular basis when you think about it.  For example, when we carry shopping bags.

So why not train this in the gym? There’s nothing complicated about the farmer’s carry. Pick up some heavy weights and walk. However, it’s not easy and it’s a challenge you’re sure to enjoy. Or not.

Why it’s important to train

  • Works on your core, strength and cardio simultaneously
  • Has significant carryover to real life.
  • Gives you a vice like grip
  • Develops great looking shoulders and upper back.

YOUR PROGRAM

This 6 week, 3 day a week program below will concentrate on the movements described above with a few exercises sprinkled in to work on the thighs, triceps and core.

The trainings are divided into heavy, light and moderate to help you build strength and lean muscle.

If you unsure on how to warm up before you train, do this.

 

Training A – Heavy (Monday or Tuesday)

Instructions- Do the exercises one after the other, resting 2 minutes between each exercise. Try to go up 2.5 – 5 pounds each week while maintain good form. Click on exercises for video demonstrations.

1A. Squats (Sumo OR Goblet) 3 sets 5 reps

1B. Single arm row (Dumbbell OR Cable) 3 sets 5 reps on each arm

1C. Single leg (Split squats OR Reverse lunge) 3 sets of 5 reps on each leg

1D. Dumbbell bench press 3 sets 5 reps

 

1E. Farmer’s carry (20-25% of your bodyweight in each hand) 3 sets 40 yards

 

 

Training B- Light (Wednesday or Thursday)

Instructions- Use a lighter weight than training A because you’re doing more reps. Exercises 1 and 3 will be done as superset (back to back). Rest as little as possible between exercises and rest 60-90 sec at the end of each superset. Exercise 2 do both sets with as little rest as possible in between sets.

1A. Squats (Sumo or Goblet) 2 sets 15 reps

1B. Single arm cable row 2 sets 15 reps on each arm

2. X band crossover 2 sets 15 reps

 

3A. Overhead triceps extensions 2 sets 15 reps

 

 

3B. Push up plank 2 sets to failure

 

 

Training C Moderate (Friday or Saturday)

Instructions- Use a heavier weight than training B because you’re doing less reps. Exercises 1 and 3 will be done as a superset (back to back). Rest as little as possible between exercises and rest 60-90 sec at the end of each superset. For the Suitcase carry, rest as much as needed.

1A. Squats (Sumo or Goblet) 3 sets of 10 reps

1B. Single arm dumbbell bench press 3 sets 10 reps

 

2. Suitcase carry (25% of body weight in one hand) 3 sets 40 yards in each hand

 

 

3A. Single leg (Split squats or Reverse Lunge) 3 sets 10 on each leg

3B. Inverted or TRX row 3 sets 10 reps

Wrapping up

After this 6-week program, you’ll be stronger and more confident in and out of the gym because strong is the new sexy.

Do you need any more help getting started? Then I have the program for you, a 12-week online program that will help you get stronger and more confident in the gym.

This program includes

  • A through fitness assessment. This assessment lets me know where you stand and is the baseline against which we can measure your progress.
  • A Skype consultation to discuss your short-term and long-term goals. This will allow me to write a customized program and to answer any questions you may have.
  • 12 weeks of customized programming, broken into 3 4-week blocks
  • Regular Skype and email check-ins to see how your progressing and to address any concerns you may have.

Hurry, spaces are limited. Find out more and grab your spot right here.

 

 

 

 

The best exercise you’re not doing

This is a weekly series on exercise that will give you the biggest bang for your exercise buck in and out of the gym. Today’s exercise is back to wall shoulder flexion.
You should do this because– It reinforces good posture and works on the mobility of your shoulders. Which is important if you sit all day or have achy/stiff shoulders.
Makes your everyday life easier because– Having adequate  mobility of your shoulder region can lead to less shoulder and lower back pain.
 Form tip – Breathe out as you’re raising your thumbs to the wall. Do this daily for 10 repetitions.

Upper body workout for women

Who doesn’t want lean sexy arms and a slim midsection in no time? You can achieve both in just 15 minutes using just the cable machine. Just kick the men off and have some fun ladies.

Working your entire upper body in standing position is highly effective for activating all your core muscles. Using heavier weights combined with working one arm at a time, takes this to entirely different level.

Who said you couldn’t do more in less time?

INSTRUCTIONS

Do these exercises in order, doing six repetitions on each arm. Choose a weight that allows you to complete each exercise with perfect form. Rest for a little as possible between exercises and  for 60 seconds at the end of each circuit. Repeat the circuit twice for a total of three rounds.

Exercise One- Straight Arm Pull down

Stand, facing the weight stack and adjust the height of the handle so your right hand is waist height, with your arm straight.  Take a step back with your right leg. Pull the handle to your right hip and return to starting position.  That’s one rep. Do 6 repetitions and repeat on the other side.

 

 

Exercise two- High Chest Press Punch

Set the cable to just over your shoulder height. Facing away from the weight, right elbow bent at 90 degrees and at shoulder height with right leg back. Punch the weight by extending your elbow and return to the starting position. That’s one rep. Repeat sequence on the other arm.

 

 

Exercise three- High Back Row

Using the same cable height as exercise two or a little higher if you wish, face towards the weight. Right arm extended and right leg back “pull” until your elbow is at 90 degrees with the elbow at shoulder height.  Slowly return to the start. That’s one rep. Repeat on other side.

 

 

Exercise four- Low Chest punch

Setting handle above waist height, face away from the weight right elbow bent at 90 degrees, upper arm by your side with right leg back.  “Punch “by extending your elbow and slowly reverse to starting position.

 

(Low the handle to around waist height and punch out. Have the cable underneath your arm)

Exercise 5- Low Back Row

Have the cable handle on the lowest setting and face towards the weight stack with right arm extended and right leg back. Pull until you upper arm is by your side (at 90 degrees) and right elbow not going past your torso. Slowly reverse to starting position.

 

 

Wrapping up

Do you need help getting stronger ladies? Then I have the program for you. A 12-week online program that will help you get stronger and more confident in the gym.

This program includes

  • A through fitness assessment. This assessment lets me know where you stand and is the baseline against which we can measure your progress.
  • A Skype consultation to discuss your short-term and long-term goals. This will allow me to write a customized program and to answer any questions you may have.
  • 12 weeks of customized programming, broken into 3 4 week blocks
  • Regular Skype and email check ins to see how your progressing and to answer any questions you may have.

Hurry, spaces are limited. Find out more and grab your spot right here.

 

Why you need a coach

It was the middle of July in the sweltering, unforgiving Texas heat and my football coach was making the team run 200 meter sprint repeats at the END of practice. As you can imagine, we were all thrilled and no one complained at all.

Cooper
If looks could kill

After a few intervals, most of the team was gassed and we still had a few more to go. When my turn came around, I took off sluggishly and the coach was none too pleased. He started to scream a few choice words in my direction.

It was nothing that bears repeating here because what’s said on the field stays on the field, just like what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

However, among the expletives, he dropped a pearl of wisdom.

“Practice should be harder than the game, so the game is easy.”

That was all the motivation I needed. I sucked it up, dug deep and ran out my final intervals without compliant.

That’s the beauty of having a coach. The coach picks you up when you’re feeling down and makes you dig deep when you’re spent and can still see the good in you when nothing is going your way.

Being a personal trainer, I see the value of coaching from both sides of the fence. I coach clients in a one-on-one setting and I occasionally reach out to fellow professionals for advice when I’m struggling with a client or a new exercise concept.

Because there are times when coaches need coaches.

We can all benefit from having a coach in our corner at some time in our lives, whether you’re already a coach or you’re looking for something bigger and better in your life.

A little of Drill Sergeant Lou can be just what you need.

Officer
Come on, you can give me one more

If Sgt. Lou can’t convince you, here are a few more reasons why you should consider hiring a coach.

1. Coaches bring out your best

 I’m a believer that you already the tools inside of you to be a success. You weren’t put on this Earth to be ordinary, you’re put here to be extraordinary. You may feel like this is new age mumbo jumbo but bear with me for a moment.

Like a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client, you fail to look at yourself objectively. You’re either too hard on yourself or fail to see the good inside of you. You cannot see the forest through the trees. (This is all true for me, too.)

This just makes us human and not Sheldon Cooper.

However, do you know who can help you access those tools and bring out the best in you? A good coach, that’s who.

For example, after coaching my client Ellen for a few months in the art of deadlifting she became capable of this.

Not bad for a grandmother coming off three knee surgeries, If Ellen didn’t hire a coach, she would’ve never have realized what she was capable of. Now, she does. That’s one advantage of having a coach in your ear.

2. Accountability

 One of the reasons why people hire personal trainers is to provide them with accountability because they’ve made an investment of money and time in the pursuit of better health and fitness.  It always helps to have some skin in the game.

However, if they don’t show up, they’re wasting their money and the trainer’s time. This can result in one pissed off trainer. Trust me, you don’t want to upset the person who writes exercise programs for a living. Just saying.

Recently, I was struggling with my own training. I had no program and zero direction. If I didn’t feel like training, I didn’t. I had the dreaded case of do as I say, not as I do. I was accountable to no one and I realized I needed assistance because the mirror and the scale were looking dire.

In a moment of clarity, I reached out to coach extraordinaire Tony Gentilcore to write my strength and conditioning program. Now I feel accountable to Mr. Gentilcore because he has eyes everywhere (like a ninja) and I also report in every week.

A good coach will help keep you on the straight and narrow.

3. Distill information

 New information comes at us thick and fast in this 24/7 world. There always seems to be a bigger and better way of doing things and you may feel like you’re getting left behind.

Do you remember when this came out? I wish I could forget.

In the health and fitness universe, the crap, the lies and half-truths come from every direction.  What’s good or bad for you changes daily. However, rather than panic and make a radical change that you don’t need, consult a coach instead.

A good coach should always have your best interests at heart.

Wrapping up

 You cannot go through this life alone. At some stage, you’re going to need some help.  That’s what a good coach will do, help you be more awesome than you already are.

And who doesn’t want that?

Do you need help getting stronger, ladies? Then I have the program for you, a 12-week online program that will help you get stronger and more confident in the gym.

This program includes

  • A through fitness assessment. This assessment lets me know where you stand and is the baseline against which we can measure your progress.
  • A Skype consultation to discuss your short-term and long-term goals. This will allow me to write a customized program and to answer any questions you may have.
  • 12 weeks of customized programming, broken into 3 4-week blocks
  • Regular Skype and email check-ins to see how your progressing and to address concerns you may have.

Hurry, spaces are limited. Find out more and grab your spot right here.