August 6, 2018

Have you ever struggled to really connect with a client?

Chances are, even if you are known for being ‘the last 5lb’ guy, the one that really helps clients get to their goal weight, that’s only part of why they are training with you?

We are all emotional beings and our motivation for action is often complex.  There are the surface goals which we are great at recognizing and realizing for clients, but how good are you at helping them realize their unspoken goals? Truly great trainers can really bring out the best in people because they help them find the best parts of themselves. It’s helping them become better inside and outside. If you can do that, you have loyal clients for life that will sing your praises all day long.

My clients’ wives and husbands often joke that I’m cheaper than a therapist.  I’m not saying that we sit down and talk about our feelings sort of thing, that’s not it at all. Type A’s just don’t do that.  It’s just that as trainers we see such a broad slice of the human condition across different populations which give us a chance to gain some unique insight. Good trainers are able to apply that knowledge to get results. Every client is unique, so what motivates one person will invariably be different in another.

….as trainers we see such a broad slice of the human condition across different populations which give us a chance to gain some unique insight.

If you do everything by the training book, every exercise, every diet tip, but you can’t listen or aren’t there for them emotionally, or able to steer the client into positive action, you likely aren’t going to get the results or keep them around for very long.

We are all more than what appears on the surface.

If a goal is image-based they could be wrestling with some insecurities, searching for some value within themselves that they have attached to their outside image.

Sure that 6 pack is a great goal, but what is that saying about them? I need to feel validated, I want to be appreciated for my hard work, I want to find love, all those things they unconsciously attach to reaching that goal.  And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But if you can support the verbalized goals, and the unconscious needs you will both win.



Just a couple of examples so you get what I’m talking about, but it’s way more complex in real life.

If you have a client that is having problems with weight and is constantly beating themselves up about their lack of will power or always focusing on how fat they are, pointing out they they are making poor choices and not losing weight isn’t going to help them. If you can steer them to looking to what is good in their life, and celebrate the good choices you are are helping them change their thought patterns. Positive reinforcement begets more positive behavior. Talk about what they enjoy, find out what makes them light up and move them towards more of that, and away from negative self-talk. If it’s a pattern they repeat over and over, asking how they think they can solve those problems can switch their thoughts form a
poor-me mind set and over to problem solving mode.

If you have a client that is always late, unprepared, under slept, under fed, find out more about their lives. Is it stress? Are they overworked, how can you offer some ways to simplify their life. Are they depressed? How can you make their day just a little brighter, maybe they just need a little genuine exchange?  Or to be noticed. If they get a haircut, let them know you noticed, and how sharp it looks.   I’m not saying be fake or insincere, just be part of their conversation, show them you care. If you aren’t comfortable with the complements, tell them a joke or a funny story to shift the mood.

If they show up angry, you don’t need to know why, just let them know you noticed they are struggling today, so let’s work on that with some exercise that lets them vent off a little aggression. I have a couple of exercises in my repertoire I affectionately call anger management.

We don’t really want to unpack any one’s bags but our own, we aren’t qualified to deal with that, and frankly we don’t really want to take that on. This is all unspoken action. But if you pay attention to body language, like how they walk into the gym, or how they stand; and listen to what they say and how they say it. You’ll find out more than you need to know to help inspire and motivate them to feel stronger and more able.  Even if it’s only 6o minutes at a time.
In the process just might just learn a little bit about yourself!





August 5, 2018

Great Ass(ets)

Butts have never been bigger; I mean that in a good way. I mean we all have them, but there has never been more focus on them. It used to be just biceps and pecs were enough for the guys and if the girls had a nice rack they had the world at their feet. We have such a high visual image consumption and our over obsession about things makes us look for what we don’t’ have.  Lets face it, Instagram is all about T&A, if you weren’t born Brazilian, chances are you may need a little help with proportioning your posterior.  Like batter on a hot griddle, if you sit around on your caboose it’s going to end up like a pancake. Those of us that spend all day seated at a desk might just quite literally be working our butts off!

Lets talk a little about what we can do to get that high and tight look, and fill out them jeans a bit better.  But first a little background… (this is the sciencey’ bit..)

The gluteal complex is composed of the largest and strongest muscle group in the body. They not only round out our appeal and keep our jeans from hitting the floor; they are essential in allowing us to stand upright, something we have earned as a bipedal sapiens. They anchor the hips as we walk, and provide the power we need to run or climb stairs. The gluteus maximus, as well as the gluteus medius and minimus make up the bulk of the buttock region along with other hip stabilizing, and rotating muscles.

When glutes are not functioning efficiently, it can put more pressure on our lower backs, as other muscles try and take over to extend and stabilize.  Use it or lose it applies to function, not just size and shape. Standing up should be pretty natural, but you’d be surprised how hard it is to get up off the couch if you can’t use your glutes.

All front no back.

If you are still not convinced you need to focus on your seat, think on this; gravity is constant and can be so cruel! A lifetime of sitting, and your cheeks will have more chins than Jabba the Hutt.  If you’ve ever been in a public change room, say at the pool, you know what happens to butts as we age.  With a little effort, these exercises should help keep the cakes from falling and have you twerkin’ to the oldies no time.



They are not meant to replace your regular leg workout, but if you are behind in your behind try adding these exercises in with your regular presses, and squats.  Do these two exercise complexes each as a super set without much rest between the heavier weighted exercise and the movement/bodyweight portion.   As with any exercise program, if you are unsure of the proper form seek out assistance with a qualified trainer to prevent injury.

1) Weighted Bar Rear Lunge

Load the bar on your back like you are doing a squat.  With control, start by letting the hips drop backwards keeping the weight in the front heel and don’t let the upper body drift – (not leaning over forwards).  To stand up push thru to the front heel and extend all the way up, while bringing the back leg all the way up and forward at a 90º angle. It should be glutes and hamstrings doing the work. Do not let the knees fall inwards, or hips twist.

Follow each set immediately with a set of the Weighted Bridge.

1a) Weighted Glute bridge

Sit with your back to the bench and place the bar across your lap (aware you aren’t crushing the goods, or resting on anything fragile.  (You may want to pad things if you are pushing a lot of weight) Place your upper back and shoulders on one bench, with knees bent and your heel(s) on the floor. Push into the heel and raise your body up to horizontal. Do not push your hips high (hyperextend) your lower back. Let the glutes determine the range of motion you have to work with.    Let your butt drop towards the floor and then repeat to bring your hips up even with torso squeezing your glute(s) at the top, hold for a count of three and lower with control. Complete 10-15 reps.


2) Weighted Bar Step –ups

This exercise is like a lunge but onto a step to increase glute activation. Load the bar on your back like you are doing a squat.   Step up with your right leg onto a bench or platform that allows a 90º angle in the high leg. Shin straight up and down, weight on heel. Push into the step with the right foot and raise your left knee to hip level, (do not push off of the back (left) foot as you stand upright. Left thigh, should be parallel to the ground at the top, hold for 1 second, and return your left foot with control don’t’ be letting gravity have all the fun. Your goal is to keep most of the weight on the right. Complete 10 to 12 reps on one side, and then repeat on the other side.

Follow immediately with Stationary lunge


2a) Stationary lunge


Put the back foot onto a high bench, or stable bar, (Actually I like to get it onto a TRX band to really get the stretch and add some nice instability to challenge those hip and ankle stabilizers at the same time). Let the hip sink down and back like a rear lunge and push into the front heel to get back upright. Stand straight and don’t half ass the effort, you should feel a good glute contraction at the top.

These exercises will not turn you into a Nikki Minaj over night, (actually to be honest, I don’t really know how that happens without a balloon and a bicycle pump), but regardless.. Once you spend some time really focusing on your butt muscles, you become aware just how hard they work. It’s no wonder they are the largest muscle complex in the body, they have a lot to look after. Trust me you will be thankful to have a trunk full of thunder when you need to move, run, push or power thru anything.

August 5, 2018

So you finally decided to hire a personal trainer.

Congrats! Here’s a little idea of what to expect in you first personal training session, and a little insight into what’s really going on in a trainer’s mind. (Or should be at least.)

Wondering how it’s going to go down?  Have you ever been on a blind date? It’s kinda like that, but much much less likely you are going to get laid.   But it is a time of discovery for both of you. After all, if we are going to be sharing the same air and we may be physically touching you,  so we both need to find out what our comfort level together is.

As a trainer when I’m meeting a client for the first time I’m always a little nervous, talk a little too fast, but mostly I’m trying to really assess what you actually need as well and determine if your goals are realistic, and  as trying to  figure out a way to do both.

A lot depends on how you got connected in the first place. If it’s a referral from a close friend of yours, then it’s much easier to just relax and listen because you have an idea of who that trainer already is. Your friend has a relationship with the trainer already so there is a trust already established, and you have likely heard all the good stuff they can do and even seen the results in your friend.

If you are connected through a gym then you only the information the sales manager gave you, and you have to decide if you will take them on their word or draw your own conclusions.

If you met thru the trainers’ website or thru an app, then you only have as much information as you had available at the time.

So like all first dates, it starts off slow… If the trainer wants to move you into the sweaty parts right away, and that’s not what you had in mind, you are going to feel a little uncomfortable.

Every trainer has a different way of starting out, but when I have a cold client, (one from an outside source) I usually offer a free consultation, or at the very least a phone call before we actually get to the workout part. I need to meet you to know what it is that you actually need. Trainers may have an intake protocol that includes general health and diet questionnaire,  that covers any health or injury concerns that we have to take into account. As well as finding out why you are there, what are your goals, why are you seeking a personal trainer?

Intake forms helps us design your program and track your progress.

Depending on your goals, trainers may do measurements, body fat analysis, gait analysis and probably  some movement screens to see how your body is moving and functioning.

We will discuss the business part. How do you want this to work?  Once a week, twice a week? How we are structuring our sessions?   How you are paying? Different package offerings etc.


So first workout- Any trainer worth their salt won’t be giving you the toughest workout of your life just after they meet you.  That’s a recipe for disaster. The worst thing that could ever happen to me is for a client to get injured on my watch. Do no harm should be foremost in a trainer’s mind.


I’m not gonna lie, we are judging you.

I don’t mean that in a negative way but as a trainer we want you to get the most out of our time together; our reputation depends on it.  We are not just assessing your physical state, but your emotional one as well.

First workouts like first dates usually progress with a little sharing and testing boundaries. After my initial assessment I will have an idea of what you will need to get to your goals, but we have to take you out for a spin to see how things work. Giving you the hardest workout of your life might be what you say you want, but if you can’t walk for 5 days after, it’s just going to impede our progress.

Personally I like to go through all the movements I had initially anticipated for your training moving forward.  The weights will be lighter and I will be studying you intensely for your reactions to the challenges I give you. The best plan on paper can fall apart quickly if you aren’t yet up to the challenges your trainer had initially laid out. From there I can figure out how to micro-progress exercises to get you the best results while avoiding any injuries.

It’s all about stability when we assess your movements.

While you are executing the movements we prescribed, we are looking for imbalances in your body, what’s working and what isn’t. Most clients aren’t aware they have certain postures, or move a certain way. We shouldn’t be putting a load on a body  if it can’t safely stabilize it, that’s how people get injured. Not everyone can or should be doing the same workout. So don’t be comparing yourself to others.




Not everyone can or should be doing the same workout. So don’t be comparing yourself to others.

We are also considering your emotional state, how present are you? Can you focus? Are you actually understanding the exercise? How can we cue you better to explain what movement we want you to do safely?  How do you take in information, what’s your retention like?

About half way thru the first workout I generally have a sense of how you need to be lead. Do you need more encouragement, do you need things explained in a different way, do you perform better if I demonstrate or can you pick up cues from watching yourself in the mirror?  How much rest do you need? In a sense, what makes you tic?

Really great personal trainers have a great source of empathy. We are all emotional beings. There are lots of reasons people seek out personal trainers.  I mean, reasons you maybe haven’t even identified to yourself.  We understand the unspoken cues clients give us. You might say “I just need to lose weight” but maybe what you really are seeking is friend, to feel confident, or to feel supported. If I meet a client in a negative state of mind I think, what can I do to change that so that you leave feeling better after your workout?

I know it sounds a little courtesan-ish, but when a trainer gets a sense of what type of person you are on that day, we can tailor the workouts to get the most out of you. We become the person you need us to be for that hour.

Lets just aim for like and take it from there…

I’m not saying it’s going to be a love fest the first day out, I mean, we only get 60 minutes to do all of that, and there is a whole lot of getting-to-know-you that has to happen to get you maximum results.  Like any worthwhile relationship it takes a little time and a little work on both the client and the trainers behalf.  As a client you will get the most out of your time if you are open and honest, present and available to do the work you’ve agreed to do in our capable hands.  But if you don’t have all that on that specific day, that’s ok, with a great trainer, you will still get exactly what you need.