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Professional Q&A: Answers from a Personal Trainer

  • March 16, 2016
  • By Brittany
Professional Q&A: Answers from a Personal Trainer

Hello!  I’m so excited to be back today with my second installment of Professional Q&A!  In case you missed the first installment, this series features a health or fitness professional to answer some of your most burning questions related to their field.  In our first installment we heard from a health coach, who answered our questions about a holistic approach to healthy living.  For our second installment, we are going to hear from a personal trainer all about starting a fitness routine, taking your fitness routine to the next level and motivation.

Join me in welcoming Carly from Fine Fit Day to the blog!  Carly is a former New Yorker, a mom of two boys, a runner and a personal trainer.  She actually grew up only 30 minutes from where my husband grew up in Australia and then we met at a blogger event in NYC.  Small world!!  Carly is an amazing person and she has some fantastic answers to your fitness questions.

I often meet people who are unhappy with their current fitness level but are having trouble improving because of injuries.  What advice can you give to people who want to get fit but are struggling with chronic injuries or conditions that hold them back?

Injuries are not only hard to deal with because of the physical limitations they impose, but there is always, always a huge emotional toll as well, especially for anyone who was active prior to injury. It’s so important to recognize the emotions that will come up as a result of having limitations on what you can do and work through them.
There are several things I suggest to clients in this situation. First, focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t. Having a mindset of gratitude can help you think more positively overall, even when all you want to do is curl up and have a pity party.
If it’s an acute injury or something that will heal with time, you need to let go of where you ‘used to be’. Comparing your current fitness and ability to the past you is just as soul-sucking as comparing yourself to others. Where you are now may not be your ideal, but you’re definitely limiting your own improvement when you’re stuck in the past rather than thinking about where you are and where you can get to. 
If you have an opportunity to work on improvement with a healthcare professional, whether it’s a physical therapist, a trainer, a doctor or whomever, do it! 
Finally, one of my favorite things to tell any client is, “Any ONE thing you do for your health is worth it.” Someone who is injured or in pain may feel like what they can do is so insignificant, but there is always a positive impact of anything you do to improve your health, whether it’s visible or not. Don’t lose hope!
[bctt tweet=”Your health & fitness questions answered! Personal trainer @carlypizzani tells you what you need to know! #fitfluential #sweatpink”]
For someone who is trying to lose weight, what do you recommend: more cardio or more strength or a mix of both and why?
I recommend more strength training for weight loss clients. Weight loss is never just about seeing the number on your scale go down (or it shouldn’t be). What you ideally want to do is change your body composition so you have a lower body fat percentage and higher lean mass. Strength training builds lean muscle. Muscle is metabolically more active than fat, meaning the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest. You are setting yourself up for fat-burning success when you gain muscle mass.
Of course, cardio is essential for any balanced fitness program as well. The beautiful thing about strength training and building muscle is that when you do your cardio, you’re getting more bang for your buck as a result of your increased strength and metabolic efficiency.
I’ve met a lot of people who are “really fit” but are feeling a little burned out with their training.  What are some ways you challenge clients who have reached their ideal level of fitness to keep them motivated and interested?
Well, first you should work out if you’re just feeling bored and unchallenged, or if it’s actually a symptom of overtraining. Overtraining can lead to feeling burned out, not as excited about your workout, and even depression. Keep a training log of your workouts and take it to a personal trainer for advice on whether you’re overtraining if you’re feeling this way.
Sometimes though, you can just get a little bored! I suggest to clients to try something totally different with their workout. They’ll either find something new they love and can get passionate about; enjoy the challenge of feeling like ‘the new kid’ again when they’ve mastered their current form of exercise; OR if they hate it, it can mean they suddenly remember what it is about their current form of workout that they love.
Also, just be aware of not falling into the “should” trap. Reevaluate what you do and be honest with yourself about whether you do it because you love it, or it’s something you think is expected. Not all runners need to race. People who swim, ride and run don’t have to become triathletes. Loving a Pilates mat class doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll dig one on one reformer lessons. You get the idea.
We all hear the excuse “If I had more time, I would work out.”  In fact, this is a topic you’ve written about before.  Do you ever advise clients that their daily activities can count as exercise and, if so, what guidelines to you give them to help count these activities as exercise?
I am all for the idea of incremental exercise through daily activities. It definitely all counts toward a healthy lifestyle. However, no matter how much daily activity you’re getting, if it’s just part of your routine then you’re probably no longer getting much benefit from it when it comes to heart health, fitness level or calorie burn. Our bodies are incredibly adaptable and will find a way to become efficient at whatever you do regularly (by efficient, I mean will be able to perform with as little energy expenditure as possible). 
I’d suggest taking daily activities up a notch – already take the stairs? Run them instead. Get up from your desk and stretch every hour? Do some squats and lunges instead.
And nothing beats exercising on purpose for the best benefits. If you’re truly short on time, forget long workouts. You’d be surprised what an effective workout you can get done in 15 or 20 minutes.
You have written before that you can’t motivate your clients to workout, instead they have to have their own motivation and want it themselves.  But how do you encourage clients to take responsibility to this motivation and really do it for themselves?
It’s true. I can attempt to motivate until I’m blue in the face, but until someone is seriously ready to make a positive change, it won’t work. But I will never stop encouraging, teaching, explaining and suggesting, because you just never know who, or what, or when someone is going to have that lightbulb moment of, “Now I’m serious. Now I’m ready.”
All I can do is help by offering the tools and resources to truly make a change and take control of your own health, as well as constantly cheerleader and encourage.
[bctt tweet=”Ever wanted to pick the brain of a personal trainer? Here’s your chance! PT @Carlypizzani answers your questions! #fitness #health”] 
Thanks Carly!  Those are some great answers and really revealing stuff.  I never considered my body becoming efficient at my daily routines or that really strength training is the best for weight loss.  Thanks for sharing with us today!
For more of Carly, catch her on her blog Fine Fit Day or on these social channels:
Twitter: @CarlyPizzani

Readers, what are some of your questions you would ask a PT?  Who do you want to see next on the Professional Q&A?  

By Brittany, March 16, 2016
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