Rescue from men of steel

Posted on 23 Feb 2006 at 11:42pm
By Steven Lindsey Contributing Writer

Hiring a professional trainer can assist you in losing weight and stayng in shape. How do you find the one that’s rigthf or you? Here’s how



SEE SPOT: Personal trainer J.R. Brown of Flex Fitness spots one of his clients during a workout routine.

For many people, New Year’s resolutions have been made, broken and all but forgotten. The initial motivation that causes Americans to put “get in shape” at the top of their lists year after year can be hard to maintain. Even with warmer weather, it’s still easy to hide behind bulky sweaters and jackets and put off the reality of one’s physical conditions. Then it hits: Swimsuit season is close. Very close.

Most people know what we need to do to lose weight and improve their overall health. But for those without extreme will power, the discipline to eat right and get to the gym, it can seem like a more arduous task than the actual process of working out.

Enter a personal trainer. Whether self-motivated or not, the support and encouragement of another person can aid tremendously in achieving personal fitness goals. And because a trainer can push his or her clients hard, it’s key that both jibe on a personal level.

“It is important that you get along with your trainer and that you have confidence in them,” says J.R. Brown, managing partner of Flex Fitness and a certified personal trainer for more than eight years. “After all, they will be coaching you, inspiring you and motivating you to become the person you want to be.”

There is a process to follow when picking someone to help out. Brown stresses the importance of determining a trainer’s qualifications.
“Ask about certifications, first aid and continuing education,” he says.
Simon Rajwani with Fitness Evolution has been a personal trainer for five years. He also emphasizes the need for checking certifications, which run out after one or two years and have to be maintained through continuing education courses.

“A good trainer is one who has continued learning and who can assess your fitness level and design a program for your specific goals, whether that’s gaining muscle, flexibility or overall fitness,” Rajwani says.

Next, someone in training should make sure to inform his trainer about his personal health history and make sure he customizes a workout based on individual abilities and goals.

“If you have back problems, for example, make sure to ask the trainer if they have experience working with that,” Rajwani says.

“A good trainer is a person who is willing to commit themselves to their client. Share in the responsibility with clients as far as reaching and exceeding goals, providing answers to all nutrition and supplement questions,” Brown adds. “Doing some behind-the-scenes research on any special conditions that a client may have such as blood sugar disorders, HIV, pre-existing injuries, fibromyalgia” and the like are signs of a good trainer.
There may not be specialized certifications in most of these areas. However, doing some research and talking with doctors “will go along way to help your client achieve their goals,” Brown says.

A varied routine is also beneficial to maintaining motivation and targeting different muscle groups.

“A top-quality fitness professional does more than just “‘take you through a workout.’ Anyone can count to 15 by themselves and hold a clipboard,” Brown says. “Look for a coach who will educate you about all the components necessary to achieve optimal health and a fitness result.”


A personal trainer should be expected to review nutrition education with his client, educate the client about proper supplementation and employ a variety of exercise options.

“He should review resistance training, whether that be balance training, core work, stability balls, medicine balls, cardiovascular exercise to maximize fat burning, flexibility to avoid injury and speed recovery, and really walk you through all the steps that encompass the mental development side,” Brown says. “Goal-setting, putting together a plan of action and then holding you accountable and supporting you through the entire process is absolutely critical to the success.”

There are also specific things to avoid in a trainer, and there are a few key signs to look out for.

“Don’t judge a book by its cover. Just because a trainer has a great body doesn’t mean he’s a great trainer, ” Rajwani says.

Avoid trainers who are unwilling to provide references or who do not explain themselves well when demonstrating an exercise.

“A good trainer can motivate and educate you but let’s face it, using the big medical terms is not impressive if you don’t know what they are, too,” Brown says.

There are enough professional trainers in the market that no one should stick with one who doesn’t train for a living, Rajwani and Brown counsel.
“Avoid part-time trainers. They may be doing this only long enough until something better comes along. Do not always assume that a great physique on a guy makes him an expert. He may have lost weight with recreational drugs or unhealthy eating disorders,” Brown cautions.

Selecting a gym is also an important part of a successful training program. Sometimes, it’s possible to find a trainer who can work among multiple gyms. If that doesn’t work out, though, select a gym first and then look for the best trainer at the facility. Rajwani and Brown have tips on this, too.

“A great gym depends on the person’s idea of “‘great.’ If you like to take classes, look for a gym with a well-rounded schedule,” Rajwani says. “Some people enjoy a lot of cardio equipment variety, but everyone likes a clean gym.”

Brown advises finding a gym with convenient hours and a good location, such as on the way to or from work, but make sure to try out the gym before signing any papers.

“Most places will allow non-members to work out for a couple of days before making any commitments. Take note of things such as cleanliness, working condition of equipment and floor staff standing by to assist with any machines. Working condition of the wet area such as sauna, spa and showers is important, too,” Brown says.When shopping a gym, there’s more to the experience than just assessing the staff and facilities.

“It has to be said, check out the other members. These are going to be the people you will be seeing every time you go in to work out, so if you think they bug you now wait until you work with a cell-phone queen with an attitude,” Brown says.

No matter what, there is not an “all-things-to-all-people” gym or trainer. Research your options carefully for both, and try before you buy. Then with a lot of hard work, putting on that Speedo in a few months won’t be a traumatic experience.

J.R. Brown, Flex Fitness at South Side on Lamar. 214-428-FLEX. Flefitness.biz.
Simon Rajwani, Fitness Evolution, 3102 Oak Lawn Ave. 214-219-2167.

A BETTER BODY IN TWO WEEKS
With reports of American obesity at significant levels and fast food readily available, sticking to a weight-loss or exercise regimen can be like fighting the serpent’s temptation. With busy schedules and empty calories everywhere, it can be challenging to stick to weight-loss or workout plans.
David Kirsch, celebrity trainer and author of the book “The Ultimate New York Body Plan,” offers an intense nutrition and fitness system to improve the body in as little as two weeks.

As the trainer on ABC’s “Extreme Makeover” reality show, Kirsch had to turn hopeless into hopeful in 14 to 21 days. To get results, he “modified the traditional nutrition and fitness program that I generally prescribe to be much more intense,” he says.

The program generates fast results, but is also hard work. Here are three steps to getting started.

1. Motivate yourself. It takes commitment and stamina to transform your body in two weeks. The trick is to find and identify a challenge something that evokes passion and meaning in your life. To find your true source of motivation, ask yourself these questions: (a) Why am I taking this two-week challenge? (b) What do I hope to accomplish in 14 days? (c) What do I hope to discover about myself in the next 14 days? (d) What mental and spiritual strengths do I hope to build upon during the next 14 days?

2. Stay in touch with yourself. Keeping track of your thoughts, feelings and progress throughout the 14 days in a journal will help keep you honest. It may also help you get through the toughest days, as expressing your
thoughts and feelings on paper is often the best way to correct a problem.

3. Schedule your exercise time. Kirsch advises to get your day planner out now and for each of the next 14 days, schedule your exercise time. Writing in your exercise appointments will help keep you from backsliding. “Once you’ve written in your appointments and they’re staring you in the face, you are less likely to stand yourself up,” he says.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, February 24, 2006.

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