What Clients are Saying #16

"I started working out at Kelly Personal Training in October 2007 and hardly ever miss a week. I was able to keep it going because their method - one intense half-hour of exercise per week - is just so easy to integrate into your life, plus it’s so affordable. You might not think you would see results from just 30 minutes a week but I experienced a greater increase in strength in the first year than from any workout style I had ever done.

The method itself is effective, but it's the trainers that really make the difference. I worked with Amy Hard and I couldn't have asked for better. Amy guided my workout from start to finish. She kept track of all of the details, and paid attention to all movements, thus knowing when she could push me and when I was at my limit. Personal training is tricky because different people like different forms of motivation. Amy paid attention to what worked best for me, keeping me right up to my most productive zone.

The intensity of the workout is enough to where my mind would go completely blank of extraneous thought. I was fully focused on the task at hand. And the clarity stays with you. This workout is not just a body thing. After each session, I always felt better on all levels. I highly recommend Kelly Personal Training and especially Amy. Give it a try!"

David Tangredi

At Austin Strength Training and at New Orleans Strength Training the goal of our personal trainers is the give the client a workout they could not get on their own. Without guidance, most people will exercise to a level below their optimal capability. A good trainer like Amy will safely guide the client to the next level, the level where ongoing improvement occurs.

Heavy Weights with Minimal Force Can Be Safer than Light Resistance with a Lot of Force

Care should be taken to minimize the likelyhood of injury when exercising. At New Orleans Personal Trainers and Austin Personal Trainers we use smooth controlled movement that minimize the ballistic forces that can cause injuries.  We also will use MedX medical rehab equipment that can be used by both athletes and those recovering from injury.

Why they stay

It helps to have good trainers. In a recent blog post it was estimated that between our two Kelly Personal Training facilities, Austin Fitness Trainingand at New Orleans Personal Training, we had surpassed a quarter million training sessions. In another reoccurring blog post titled What Clients Are Saying we highlight the progress that our clients have made. Trainers made that happen.

The fitness business is a revolving door for trainers and clients as well. Only the good trainers manage keep a longstanding clientele and make a permanent go of it in the fitness industry.

We are fortunate to have so many exceptional trainers with many years of experience.  One of those trainers is Harmon Dash. He is dedicated, knowledgeable, and professional, and he is loved by his clients. He reflects positively on our entire enterprise, and we are grateful to have him. The job is fun and rewarding when you help people change their lives. Below are three testimonials of three of those people whose lives Harmon helped change:

"I’ve found the fountain of youth, and it’s at Kelly Personal Training! I’m 79 years old, and haven’t felt this good in decades. Most exciting is my new found ability to keep up with the physical demands of having fun with my grandson. Thanks to my trainer, Harmon Dash, for making me look and feel better, AND for improving my quality of life."

Stuart Phillips, retired orthopedic surgeon (Age 79)

"After working with Harmon for only five weeks, I improved my military reserve fitness scores by two levels, achieving one of my best scores ever at age 50. I knew then, this was an exercise routine I could commit to, long term. It's been 5 years now, and the workout I get at Kelly Personal Training still bests any other exercise program out there, both in terms of efficiency and results.

Plus, the mental discipline that comes with continued visits carries over to day to day life. Anyone who has not experienced the results they wanted from a gym membership or home training owes it to themselves to give Kelly Personal Training a try. You won’t regret it."

David Savoie, CPA (Age 55) CPO, U.S. Navy Reserve

 "I used to work out 3 times a week: it dominated my schedule, but wasn't giving me the results I desired. Since coming to see Harmon, once a week at Kelly Personal Training, I've seen dramatic improvements in strength and energy, but now I have time to be with my family. Plus, my workouts have triggered better eating habits, deeper sleep and an overall feeling of well-being."

 Dr. Shammander Gupta, MD (age 41)

 Previous blog entries in the series What Clients Are Saying:

1. Seems too good to be true, but it actually is that good
2. After each session, I always felt better on all levels.
3. This would not have happened to me if I had a personal trainer
4. I love this workout
6. I saw a remarkable change in my body
7. A Radical Transformation
8. I don’t think I would be alive today
9. Amazing and remarkable
10.My doctor said it would not be necessary to start taking drugs to preserve my bone density
11. I was in tears walking on the Great Wall of China
12. Under no circumstances stop exercising because that is what is keeping you going

Improving quality of life

Quite a few years back I got a call from Laurence, one of my clients. He informed me that he had just got out of Lake Pontchartrain after his weekly swim. I didn't even know you're allowed to swim in Lake Pontchartrain, but that's another story. He told me that his times had been trending lower, and that he had just swum his best time in years. We had another client namedMarcus who was 72 years old when he had his knee replaced.  After that for the next few years he could play nine holes of golf. The next day was too washed out from the heat to play again.  He was nearing the end of his golf playing days or so he thought.  At age 75 he started strength training. After a year of strength training he could play 18 holes of golf, and the very next day he would play eighteen more holes. The strength training improved his fitness, so did the 27 extra holes golf he regularly played. Same goes for another client who liked to play tennis.  After 22 weeks of working out he upped the amount of tennis he played.  He began playing tennis three out of four days, and he played better than he had in a very long time. Those extra days of tennis contributed positively to his health along with that strength training.
Strength training enables you to do activities longer, with greater ease, with less chance of injury, and with better performance.  Best of all it contributes positively to your quality-of-life.

At New Orleans Personal Trainers and Austin Personal Trainers our strength training program is designed for efficiency, to get the most out of minimal time in the gym, so you can enjoy other activities that also contribute positively to your health and well-being.

Exercise Intensity

What is exercise intensity and why is it important?

In simplest terms it is how hard an exercise is at a point in time.  It is the level of momentary exertion during exercise.  This can be quantified by measures such as a person's heart rate expressed as percentage of one's maximum heart rate or pounds of weight lifted expressed as a perecentage of one's one-rep maximum lift. Exercise of sufficient intensity is necessary to stimulate the body to make a change.  When the body is worked beyond what it is equipped to handle the body adapts as a form of self-protection.   The body will make a positive adaptation only if given enough time to recover from the exercise.  

How high should the level of exercise intensity be?

That depends on what you want to accomplish. The body will adapt to the nature of the demands placed on it.  If one engages in lower intensity activities such as running the body adapts by increasing endurance for that activity with little or no increase in muscle strength.  If one engages in higher intensity exercise such as weight lifting the body adapts by getting stronger but with less improvement in the way of endurance. 

If one’s goal is to get stronger how much high intensity exercise is necessary?

The higher the intensity the less exercise you will be able to withstand, but this high intensity exercise produces a bigger stimulus for strength gains. The larger stimulus for strength gains requires a longer recovery period.   For the elite athlete the required intensity level will be quite high, but for those who do little physical activity that intensity level will be lower and manageable.  Whether you are 18 or 80 there will be a level that you can manage.  

There is a wide range of individual differences in response to high intensity exercise and how much each person can withstand.   Some will show great results and some people will be low responders.   An experienced trainer will see the difference and change the workout accordingly.

Try performing squats with adequate weight such that you cannot possibly continue with good form after ninety seconds.  Try doing it again the next week with more weight or for more reps.  You will find that most everybody will improve, and in fact, the improvement at first will come easily as your body will be well rested.  If you improve doing just one set an additional set is unnecessary and only serves to dilute intensity.  By doing fewer leg exercises you will be able to devote more energy and effort for rest of the muscles of your body.   If you work sufficiently hard on every exercise your workout will be less that half an hour.  For those who have been inactive and not accustomed to this method one can slowly build up the intensity at their own pace.

How much time is needed to recover from high intensity exercise? 

If you start from the premise of how much exercise can you withstand this will lead to drudgery, insufficient recovery, lower intensity, less results, and eventually quitting and injury.  Some spend several hours a week in the gym just to maintain their present level of fitness or they claim they have hit a plateau.  It does not have to be that way.  If they worked out a little less often the quality of their workouts would improve and they might begin to see improvement again.

If you start from the premise of how little the amount of intense exercise you can get away with and still achieve positive results you will find you are willing to workout at a much higher level of intensity, have more time to recovery, and have better results.  How often you need to workout will depend on a number of factors; most important are level of intensity, duration of exercise, and frequency of certain exercises. You can discover the right formula through trial and error.  If you can find a trainer who knows how to manipulate these variables, and most importantly, knows how to do this safely you will find your continued improvement will be measured in years instead of months.  With the right supervision this is a strength training program that people of any age or fitness level can stick to -  a 30 minute workout, usually once or twice a week with continuing positive results.  

Can trying to get one extra rep result in the set being less safe and less intense at the same time?

You got nine repetitions the last workout session. You sure would like to get that tenth rep.  As a result of getting the extra rep, and as a form of self-protection, the body will make a positive adaptation (become stronger). This is a protocol that works if it's done correctly.
The trouble is, in the process, corners are often cut, and the exercise can become less safe and less intense. If the work is not of a sufficient intensity there is no reason for the body to become stronger.  High-intensity work places place demands on the system that require the system to adapt positively to survive.

When there is a bias toward more reps there will be a bias away from intensity. In order to get that tenth rep the subject will often make those preceding nine reps as easy as she can possibly make them. The only way to get the tenth rep is to save yourself on the first nine.
There are many ways of saving yourself. One way is to blast off at the beginning of the rep so you can ride momentum through the sticking point. Another way is to lock out at the completion of the rep and get a short reprieve.  Another way is to cut the range of the reps short to do less of the demanding work.  While the preceding reps may be easier that last rep will be a bear. That should be enough to stimulate a change. 
Another way of doing it is to have a bias towards intensity. Make every repetition as difficult as possible. Instead of blasting off at the beginning of the repetition such as the overhead press, lift the weight slowly with uniform speed. About halfway up on the overhead press you will experience serious difficulty. That is the sticking point. Instead of rushing through the sticking point move slowly - like walking through Hell wearing a gasoline suit.

If you do it that way you'll not likely get 10 reps. “Yeah, but I want to go fast”. Towards the end of the set much of your strength will have been dissipated and you cannot create the force necessary to cause injury, plus your muscles are very warmed up by this point. Try going fast then and you might get past that sticking point and just barely achieve another rep. The end result is a safe set and one of very high intensity through the entire set.  

Doing a set in such manner you won't be able to lift quite as much weight. What's a deeper state of fatigue, if you can't budge hundred pounds or if you can't budge 150 pounds? I contend it is the former. 
“Yeah, but I want to lift heavy weights”. There is another protocol called the rest pause. You might want to do a warm-up set before this. You lift a very heavy weight as intensely as you can and complete one repetition and rest and then repeat the sequence for as many reps as you can.  
There are many protocols, and all can produce results if performed correctly.  Whatever the protocol at Austin Personal Training and at New Orleans Fitness Trainers we can help you do it safely and productively.

The trainer said, "Just one more" six times

In 34 my years in the fitness industry, I have worked at lots of health clubs and have seen a lot of things. Some things are amazing, some bizarre, and some just stick in my mind as a teachable moment for me. This is one of those memories.

The trainer said to her “Just one more" six times. By the third extra rep the client’s form was shot, and she was almost standing up in the machine. By the fourth rep she was clearly panicked. By the fifth rep she looked over at me as if to say WFT! I just shrugged my shoulders. The trainer had no idea what the client was capable of or how fatigued she was on that particular set. If he did know he would not have had to say “Just one more” six times.

He wasn't aware. A trainers should do more that set the weights, count the reps, and say “Just one more’ redundantly until the client can't move anymore.

A knowledgeable trainer very quickly will come to know exactly what you're capable of, what your weaknesses are, and how to motivate you to get safely to the next level. In order to do that the trainer has to be in the same moment as a client. By that I mean he must understand where the client is fatigue-wise and how close she is to breaking form. He will anticipate those form brakes and talk her through it.

When we exercise we are focused on achieving our goal of completed the movement, but often times we are not aware of how we often cheat to obtain that goal. We reposition our bodies to get a leverage advantage. We cut the rep short. We do dangerously explosive moves in order to get past a sticking point. We instinctively look for the easy way out. Compromised form is not as productive and can be dangerous.

A good trainer will be aware of what is happening and what is going to happen, so he can talk you though the set safely to completion. At Austin Personal Training and at New Orleans Fitness Trainers we have knowledgable trainers who can help you gradually build up to a strength training program that is safe, effective, and efficient for your age and condition.

The Role of a Personal Trainer

I once asked a trainer what he was trying to accomplish with his clients. He said, “I'm there to get them stronger and to improve their health.” I told him I didn't need him for that. I can buy running shoes and head out the door. I can go to gym and pick up weights. He countered that he was there to teach clients how to exercise correctly. I came back with the fact that anyone can go to the bookstore and buy any number of books on how to do it correctly.

I don't know what the role of a trainer is in other systems or gyms. There are several ways of approaching it. My thoughts on the subject have been shaped by my interactions with clients. A client once told me I come here to get a workout I could not get on my own. She said, “If I can do it on my own I don't need you anymore”. That really stuck with me.

I had another client whom I told, “You know you could figure this out on your own”. She replied, “I have two businesses and three kids. I pay you to figure it out for me”.

I think both are correct.

We have about hundred thousand dollars worth of equipment at each of ourAustin Personal Trainers and New Orleans Fitness Training locations. It is mostly medical rehab equipment. You're unlikely to find it in most gyms. It is difficult to set up properly compared to others types of equipment.

Our new trainers intern as long as six months on this equipment and practice on their friends and family. When they are ready hopefully they offer something that is valuable to the client.

Their goal is to safely put the client through a workout that produces positive results. How is that done? To produce change one must exercise beyond the point of what one is used to handling. A skillful trainer will get the client to go beyond where they would normally stop, get them there safely, and get them there without any undo panic.

That is easier said than done. A trainer must be in the same moment as a client. The trainer must know what the client is going through in order to get them to go to the next level, and again let me stress, without panic. To do that the client must totally trust the trainer not to make excessive unreasonable demands but sufficient demands that will produce positive change. Once the trainer and the trainee have that connection the client looks forward to coming in even for a difficult workout. If one is expected torun the gauntlet there will be panic even before the session starts.

Giving them a workout they could not get on their own is one part of it, but what about the ongoing week-to-week proposition? A good trainer will have an intimate understanding of the client’s recovery ability, what their physical limitations are, and what their pain thresholds are, and how to work them through it. They will adjust the workout each week to produce ongoing improvement that will go on for at least couple of years. Doing this on one's own would likely take years of trial and error, injury, and most of all inconsistency. Very few consistently stick with an exercise program.

A note on panic: I am often pressed for time and workout when I have the time. When I do exercise by myself I pre-set all the machines, write up the workout even recording the times and amount of reps I will get before I begin. I place the bar high. I also put tremendous pressure on myself not to cut corners. Man, I hate my solo workouts.

With a trainer I totally trust I don’t worry about what is coming next. I have no concern for times, weights, reps number of exercises, or the order of those exercises. I close my eyes, and execute every instruction. He makes me aware of proper breathing and breaks in form. He throws me curves to get a little more out of me; I don’t know what to expect next. He guides me to a difficult finish without all the panic.

Am I getting a better workout? I have an objective measure that shows that I am. After a good HIIT workout your blood pressure will remain lower for several hours. I take my blood pressure a few hours after each workout, and as a rule it is lower. After a workout with a knowledgable trainer my blood pressure will be much lower. I know systemically my body took a bigger hit. I am definitely getting a much better workout and without the panic – that is the thing that makes me look forward to the next session.

That special quality of a good personal trainer

You can have all the qualities common to professionals (honesty, reliability, etc.) and all the qualities particular to the field of exercise (knowledge and experience in the field). That is often sufficient to be successful, but it might not be enough for the more advanced client or those who want to go to the “next level”. The really good trainers possess the quality of being able to be “in the moment"; this special quality will enable a trainer to take the client to the next level.

The next level? Someone exercising is willing to exercise at a certain level by themselves. That level is less than the absolute maximum they are capable of. A good fitness trainer who is in the moment will get the subject to go to the next level - somewhere above what they are willing to do and closer to what they are truly capable of. As one of my clients once told me, “I pay you to give me a workout I could not possibly get by myself”.

What is being in the moment? The trainer will know what the client is experiencing every repetition of every exercise. To do so the personal trainer will pay close attention to cues –breathing, breaks in form, facial expressions, and what the client tells them. By paying close attention to the client the trainer will be able to anticipate the breaks in form and be able to talk them through it without an interruption in the flow of the exercise. As the set becomes difficult the trainer will be able to help the client with breathing and help the client avoid the panic that can happen when doing demanding work. Each client will respond differently on each exercise. A personal trainer should intimately know how each client will respond on each exercise or each exercise sequence. A personal trainer might ask for “one more” when the client is about to throw in the towel. The client is thinking, “OK just one more, I don’t want to quit so close to the end”.

Years ago at a health club during one set I heard a trainer tell the client “one more” six times. He had no idea what that client was capable of. He had no idea where that client was in the particular set. The trainer was constantly looking at his watch. His body language shouted out boredom. That personal trainer was not in the moment as the client was going through a difficult workout.

The trainer who is in the moment will be totally consumed with what is going on with a client during those most difficult repetitions. There is great satisfaction in taking the client to a level the client could not possibly achieve by herself. The trainer will draw upon all her knowledge of that individual client and all her past experience working with that client. She will use whatever psychological ploys she knows that had worked in the past. The client will really appreciates it, and it is anything but boring for the trainer.

At Austin Fitness Trainers and at New Orleans Personal Trainers our workout program involves high intensity interval training. It is a challenging workout, but the trainers slowly build the clients up to that workout. Our trainers have been through the same process. Our New Orleans fitness trainers and Austin fitness trainers often spend months working out and interning before they take on clients for one simple reason: Before being able to be in the moment with a client the personal trainer must first have been there themselves.