What to Look for in a Personal Trainer

Recently, Fitibie had a great article on 5 Things to Look For in A Personal Trainer and then one of my favorite bloggers, StrongFitBeautiful, expanded on the topic even more. Both did a fantastic job capturing all the things to consider when looking for a personal trainer- so I’ve summarized all the tips below!

1. Your personalities click
Trainer tip: Don’t be afraid to shop around
Personality is paramount when it comes to considering working with a trainer. A trainer can have all the qualifications and experience in the world, but if you don’t connect, then it will be difficult to develop a relationship that leads to commitment and success. I always encourage potential clients to interview me during our initial assessment to make sure our personalities match.

2. They put their clients before the program

Trainer tip: The first session will say it all
Going through a workout at the first session can be a sign of a bad trainer. It is impossible to receive personal training until the trainer knows the person behind the program they are creating. Your trainer should become familiar with your goals, history, likes and dislikes, schedule, current movement abilities, and areas of pain.

3. They’re all ears and a lot of heart
Trainer tip: Make sure you do most of the talking
A good trainer has good listening skills, a compassionate disposition, and generally feels like someone with whom you connect personally.

4. They never stop learning
Trainer tip: They are committed to their own ongoing education
Make sure your trainer has a NCCA-accredited personal training certification and also has committed to ongoing learning by attending workshops and conferences. The fitness industry changes at warp-speed, so it’s important for all fitness pros to stay up with the latest trends, knowledge, and practical ways to deliver results.

5. They know why it’s called personal training
Trainer tip: Be sure the workout is about  your specific goals
When you pay top dollar for one-on-one workouts, you deserve more than a canned workout. While every trainer has some favorite moves that they may use for multiple clients, your workout should be very specific to your goals, your shortcomings, and your level. Be sure that your trainer focuses on your individualized needs–and doesn’t just give you the same workout she gives every client.

6. They have references
Trainer Tip: If you know people who are like you who love their trainer- it’s a good bet you might too!
Do a background check. No, I’m not talking do they pay their bills on time – but rather their experience.  Which professional certifications do they hold? How long have they been training? All of these are great questions to ask to make sure you are working with a qualified professional – not just somebody who looks like they work out a lot. You can look up most trainers on IDEAFit or other sites. Here is an example (yep it’s mine) of a trainer profile!

7. It Needs to Be the RIGHT FIT for Both of YOU!
Trainer Tip: You will be spending a lot of time with this person so make sure it works for you both.
Your training should fit your life – and your schedule. If you know you aren’t going to be out of bed and to the gym by 8 a.m. on Saturday morning, find another time (and if necessary, another trainer). Many trainers will still charge your hourly fee if you don’t keep your appointment time – and you aren’t going to make any gains (or losses) if you aren’t committed to putting the work in! Also, be clear about what you want to accomplish in training. A trainer can only help you achieve your goals if he or she is clear on what they are. Are you trying to lose weight? Bulk up? Feel healthier? Different goals require different strategies – and just like people are not one size fits all, neither is training.

Perhaps above all, your trainer should be upbeat, motivational, and committed to helping you become a better version of yourself.what-doesn-t-kill-you-makes-you-stronger-p-source


The Run Down on Food Labels!


Start here and read the text to understand what you are looking for in a food label! Click on image to enlarge!

Tips for getting as much health information as possible from the Nutrition Facts label:

  • Remember that the information shown in these panels is based on 2,000 calories a day. You may need to consume less or more than 2,000 calories depending upon your age, gender, activity level, and whether you’re trying to lose, gain or maintain your weight. Find out your personal daily limits on My Fats Translator.
  • In general, as you think about the amount of calories in a food per serving, remember that for a 2,000-calorie diet:
    • 40 calories per serving is considered low;
    • 100 calories per serving is considered moderate (why do you think they put everything into 100 calorie packs…?!); and
    • 400 calories or more per serving is considered high.
  • There is no % DV shown for trans fat on the panel because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not have enough scientific information to set this value. Eat less than 20 calories or (less than two grams of trans fat) a day – that’s less than 1 percent of your total daily calories (for a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet).
  • When the Nutrition Facts panel says the food contains “0 g” of trans fat, it means the food contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving.
  • When the Nutrition Facts label says a food contains “0 g” of trans fat, but includes “partially hydrogenated oil” in the ingredient list, it means the food contains trans fat, but less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. So, if you eat more than one serving, you could quickly reach your daily limit of trans fat.

In addition to the Nutrition Facts label, a lot of foods today also come with nutrient content claims provided by the manufacturer. These claims are typically featured in ads for the foods or in the promotional copy on the food packages themselves. They are strictly defined by the FDA. The chart below provides some of the most commonly used nutrient content claims, along with a detailed description of what the claim means.

If a food claims to be… It means that one serving of the product contains…
Calorie free Less than 5 calories
Sugar free Less than 0.5 grams of sugar
Fat free Less than 0.5 grams of fat
Low fat 3 grams of fat or less
Reduced fat or less fat At least 25 percent less fat than the regular product
Low in saturated fat 1 gram of saturated fat or less, with not more than 15 percent of the calories coming from saturated fat
Lean Less than 10 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat and 95 milligrams of cholesterol
Extra lean Less than 5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat and 95 milligrams of cholesterol
Light (lite) At least one-third fewer calories or no more than half the fat of the regular product, or no more than half the sodium of the regular product
Cholesterol free Less than 2 milligrams of cholesterol and 2 grams (or less) of saturated fat
Low cholesterol 20 or fewer milligrams of cholesterol and 2 grams or less of saturated fat
Reduced cholesterol At least 25 percent less cholesterol than the regular product and 2 grams or less of saturated fat
Sodium free or no sodium Less than 5 milligrams of sodium and no sodium chloride in ingredients
Very low sodium 35 milligrams or less of sodium
Low sodium 140 milligrams or less of sodium
Reduced or less sodium At least 25 percent less sodium than the regular product
High fiber 5 grams or more of fiber
Good source of fiber 2.5 to 4.9 grams of fiber

If you can’t remember the definitions of all of the terms, don’t worry. You can use these general guidelines instead:

  • “Free” means a food has the least possible amount of the specified nutrient.
  • “Very Low” and “Low” means the food has a little more than foods labeled “Free.”
  • “Reduced” or “Less” mean the food has 25 percent less of a specific nutrient than the regular version of the food.

Success in Weight Loss… Do the Math and Get Results!

Keeping a Food Diary Can Double Your Weight Loss



If you are taking in more calories, fats, sugars, and carbs than you are burning, weight loss will be a challenge. Period. You can workout 5 times a day, but if you are eating more calories than you are burning, you will not see the scale move (except for maybe up). There are several online apps and programs that can help you record your meals.

My favorite 100% free app & website is MyFitnessPal. It will work on your laptop, iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, Android, or Windows phone. It has over 2 million foods in the database, provides you with a support community and the ability to “friend” your workout buddies to help each other stay on track. You can also enter your workouts into the system to track input vs. output each day.

Since we are on the topic of the additional importance of tracking your activity and workouts… let’s talk about that for a moment. There are a TON of apps and websites that will track your activities and caloric output like MyFitnessPal, but not all allow you to track nutrition. Here is a list of just a few that I have experience with:

Nike+: This is the program I started with years ago simply because they were sort of the only game in town. Nike+ works both with GPS on your phone or Nike+ watch or you can go old school and use the pod in your Nike shoes (if you don’t have Nike shoes, you can purchase a little pouch for your laces). Nike has improved their Nike+ system quite a bit and their website is interactive with lots of challenges and colorful graphics. The biggest drawback I think for Nike+ is if you are running it off your iPhone or other device it will drain power very quickly as my friend found while training for Grandma’s Marathon. It also can be quirky if you live in a rural area with a lot of dead cellular spots.

Endomondo: This is a website/ app that has both a free and paid version. It acts as a personal trainer and social fitness partner. Endomondo is ideal for running, cycling, walking and any other distance-based activity for which you want GPS. This program too has the ability to participate in challenges with your friends or strangers and tracks your caloric output as well as mileage etc. The paid version is not worth the money as far as I am concerned. The best feature of Endomondo is that it will sync with Garmin and Polar devices and also will connect to your MyFitnessPal account which eliminates duplicate entry!

MapMyRun (or MapMyRide / MapMyWalk): Powered by MapMyFitness, Inc. these apps have been selected as About.com 2012 Readers’ Choice Awards Best Running App and Best App for Walkers, respectively. Bonus part of these applications are that they allow you to seek out new routes if you are in an unfamilar area. Again it has a community, nutrition component called the Nutrition Dashboard to understand your recommended calorie and nutrient intake and track your eating habits. One stop shopping! The mobile app has the same issues as Endomondo and Nike+ however if you live in an area where your workouts may take you in and out of cell service which will affect the GPS. You can also use this on your laptop, iPhone, Blackberry, and Android.

Garmin / Polar: These are the most expensive option as you will need to have the GPS watch in order to use their sites. There are a number of huge benefits in investing in a satellite based watch and tracking system in a rural area. Garmin Connect and Polarpersonaltrainer.com both allow users access to a community-based website for runners, cyclists and outdoor enthusiasts who track their activities with Garmin devices.

I truly cannot stress enough the importance of tracking your food consumption. Every person I have ever worked with who struggles with weight loss is taking in more than they are burning. It is easy to become deluded about the food that you are eating. Something seems healthy because it is whole grains? Or lots of fruit is good for you right? Wrong. A few cookies is no big deal… etc. You will be shocked when you start tracking everything- how quickly it adds up. Oh and don’t forget what you DRINK. Alcohol packs a ridiculously huge punch in terms of calories and sugars. Soft drinks and fancy coffees also count for your daily calories. I have known people who don’t count their drinks at all or who drastically underestimate how much alcohol they have consumed because they don’t want to admit they just slugged back two days worth of calories in beer. DON’T DO THIS. You are only cheating yourself and will become quickly frustrated as to why you don’t see the results that you want. Please don’t set yourself up to fail- you deserve better than that.

I am a huge proponent of WeightWatchers since it is the program I started with and had success on. Whatever website/app/watch you choose – the main goal is to find one that works for you! Find a software or method that works for you – even if it is a plain old notebook. And do not get me wrong… I am the first person to agree that skinny does not mean fit & strong. However, most individuals have fitness and weight loss goals that go hand-in-hand. So get going and start tracking! And stick with it for at least a month… I bet that you will be surprised how the results begin to change!


Piloxing: Do You Love It?!


I am currently obsessed with Piloxing. If you haven’t yet heard about Piloxing (can that be possible?) it is a fun and intense core based workout that combines Pilates and boxing. The high intensity of the workout and moves have made this a favorite of celebrities like Hillary Duff and Vanessa Hudgens.

I would LOVE to bring these classes to my town and am planning to take their certification class. What I want to know is if YOU love Piloxing as much as I do? Do any of you all attend Piloxing classes at a local gym? Are they well attended?