Hello everyone. Today’s guest post comes from Nicola Tordoff-Sohne, a London based personal trainer and health and fitness writer who publishes her work at The Daily Calorie.
The health and fitness industry is big business. Gym memberships, exercise classes, personal training, home fitness equipment, online subscriptions, DVD’s, not to mention the vast array of sports wear and training gadgets to record every beat, step and calorie. Everywhere you turn there are potential opportunities to spend money on getting fit. Some of it is worth it, some of it isn’t.
Being a personal trainer myself I believe the one to one attention delivered by a professional trainer with experience and expertise ensures results, which is why it’s costly. The point is, however, that whether you chose to buy into the products and services of the professionals or not, creating and maintaining a fit and healthy body is free for the taking, not a special club that you have to buy into. What you do need is the right knowledge, lots of motivation and some accountability.
In this article I’d like to teach you how to become your own personal trainer by taking you through some of the stages that my clients go through in order to get results.
1) You’ve decided that you want to do some exercise. Why? Write down your reasons.
2) Find out your starting point. Firstly, take your weight and then take your own measurements. Best way to do this is to wear as little clothing as possible and make sure you’re not sucking in! Breath out, relax and pull the tape snug but not tight and measure the circumference around:
– Chest (measure at nipple line).
– Largest point around waist (usually the muffin top area below navel).
– Narrowest point around waist (above navel).
– Hips (Stand with feet together).
– Thighs and upper arms (widest point).
3) Time for some fitness testing. Do the following tests after 5 minutes of warming up so your body is prepared for exercise, you’re taking in more oxygen and feeling alert:
– Cover a distance of 1.5 miles as fast as you can (doesn’t matter if you walk, jog, run or sprint, work hard at your level). Record your time and perceived level of exertion out of 10.
– Count the number of sit-ups you can do in 1 minute to test abdominal strength. Click here to see sit up guidelines on how to do the correct sit up.
– Count how many push-ups you can do in 1 minute. Make sure you’re lowering your chest all the way down and your body remains in a rigid plank throughout.
– Hold a wall sit position for as long as you can to test your lower body strength and record the time. (Have your back against a wall with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle, straight out in front of you and feet directly under the knees).
Fitness testing is a great motivational boost when you go back after a few week to re-test. I always prefer my clients to compare themselves on their own previous results but if you’re competitive by nature and want to know how you fare compared to the average Joe then click here when you have your results to compare your scores.
4) Now translate all of this information (fitness test results, body composition measurements and your reasons for exercise) into some objective goals and make them SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely). It’s essential that you write these goals down and remind yourself of them often. I know my clients goals and I refer to them all the time during training sessions.
5) Attach meaning to your goals by visualizing the end result and imagining in as much detail as possible how the situation will look and feel once your arrive there.
Work Out Your Fitness Style
Do you work out better in a social environment or alone?
Are you quiet and reflective or intense and competitive?
Are you motivated by music or do you prefer a Zen like focus?
Asking the right questions will allow you to find a type of training that you will enjoy and therefore stick with and get results from. Be aware that you are identifying your fitness style and not just your personality type or current attitude towards exercise. Don’t identify yourself as laid back and relaxed and create a fitness regime around that. The type of training you do is dependent on your goals but if you fit into what the majority of people want from their exercise – to become fitter and leaner – then intensity is key.
Your work-out should always challenge you but also be suited to what you find most enjoyable. This way you’re more likely to push yourself to work harder and stick it out. If you have tried and been unsuccessful at an exercise regime before, don’t let that experience cloud your perspective of what you would otherwise find enjoyable. There are lots of different training methods to try and it’s important that you find one which works for you. Exercise should lift your mood, confidence and overall energy levels, not produce a negative effect, which is what some exercise psychologists have found to be true of exercise that you don’t enjoy.
What Motivates You?
It’s important to work out your personal motivational trigger. Whether it’s the thought of you on the beach with friends, a fitness challenge or attending a school re-union, find it and think about it. This will provide the motivation for you to kick-start a program of exercise and healthy eating. In my experience it’s the initial push that is important. After that, finding your motivation becomes easier as you track the progress you’re making, start to fulfill your short term goals and see results in terms of fitness levels, weight and body shape. Once you get the ball rolling, those three things provide all the extra motivation and confidence you need to carry on.
Embarking on a training plan is never just about the exercise. Other factors that you need to take into consideration are:
– Alcohol Intake.
– Sleep Patterns.
– Water Intake
We all have our vices and people are often scared off at the prospect of having to make big changes to their daily routine and lifestyle habits. That is why it’s better to start off making small changes and writing these into your objectives. For the first week or two, I always find it more effective to add healthy elements into my client’s lifestyles rather than start taking things away. For example, week 1 lifestyle objectives may look like this:
– Drink 1.5-2 litres of water.
– Eat 6 portions of non-starchy vegetables.
– Be in bed by 11pm.
It’s already enough that you are taking the necessary steps to get fitter. Trying to change too much too soon usually results with a crash and burn. It’s too difficult to try a complete overhaul right from the beginning. Soon the seemingly small week 1 objectives will turn into habits, you’ll start to feel the benefits of these small and manageable changes and then want to do more. Add in new lifestyle objectives slowly, building these in to your daily routines one by one without really noticing big changes and always add healthy changes before attempting to take out the unhealthy ones.
Accountability is an important driving factor, and another big reason why personal training is so successful but there are other people who you can be accountable to. Get a friend or family member on board to support you with your fitness goals and make yourself accountable to them by sharing with them your goals and asking them to check up on you every week. You could even go as far as to email them your weekly progress tracking sheets which might be something as simple as this:
|40 min strength||✔||✗||✔||✗||✔||✗||✗|
|30 min cardio||✗||✔||✗||✔||✗||✔||✗|
|1.5 liters water||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|6 portions of veggies||✗||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Bed by 11pm||✔||✔||✔||✔||✗||✗||✔|
Support from your family and friends is the best bet but if you don’t want to get your loved ones involved then there are some great forums out there that can provide the accountability you need. Spark People is a really popular one.
I always ask my clients to approach their fitness objectives as they would their work objectives. You’ve got to have a plan. You know by now where you’re heading, now you just need to figure out how to get there. Prepare yourself a periodised exercise plan based upon the goals you’ve set and stick to it. In this plan include long, medium and short-term goals and take it step by step. The first short-term goal might be to try out new exercise techniques to find out what you enjoy the most.
The more detailed the plan, the better. For example, if your goal is to lose 20lbs then break that down into months, weeks and days. Work out how long you have to lose the weight, how many times a week you are going to train and how many calories you’ll need to expend in each exercise session to create the right calorie deficit. The method for calculating this can be found here. Same applies if you’re planning to run a marathon or swim the channel – you need to periodise your training and stick with a plan, scheduling exercise into your diary as you would business meetings. Set monthly markers so that track your fitness levels gradually, this will spur you on to keep going and ensure that you’re on the right track. Refer back to your plan often to remind yourself of your original goals in order to stay on track.
The Right Technique
There is a wealth of knowledge available to anyone who wants to learn more about getting fit. The website you’re at is a great starting point and there are a whole host of others (some of which do want to sell you a subscription to a specialized program but will also offer up some freebies). Some useful ones include:
www.thedailycalorie.com (my own site)
Having a rifle through some of these will spark your interest further, provide you with some useful tools and teach you some effective training methods that you can do on your own. YouTube is another excellent resource for free work-outs and one search will bring up more than enough results in a matter of seconds.
All there is left to do now is sweat! Good luck!
About the Author:
London based Personal Trainer and Health and Fitness Writer.