I consider myself to be a health and fitness influencer, but I still wanted to begin seeing a personal trainer. Does this make me a fraud?
I love working out. I love lifting weights, doing high intensity workout circuits, creating workouts, and seeing the changes and progression my body can make. With all of this being said, I completely recognize that I am in no way shape or form a professional, and I don’t know all the answers.
Recently, I was doing some research into personal trainers in the Boston area. I am very hesitant when it comes to personal trainers, because what comes to mind is some ripped jerk yelling: “FIVE MORE!!!” “DONT BE WEAK” “DONT STOP!!!” Then after the workout, this person will recommend some crap protein shake that has dairy, and a bunch of other chemicals I do not want in my body. I really despise the idea of someone yelling at me and telling me what to do. That doesn’t make me feel inspired or motivated at all.
It turns out that yes, there is such thing as a holistic personal trainer. I stumbled across a fitness center called: Stephen Cabral Studio and was intrigued. I knew about Steve Cabral beforehand because I listen to his podcast. He is a naturopathic doctor, interested in many facets of holistic health and wellness. He is trained in functional and integrative medicine, Ayurvedic medicine and Chinese physiotherapy. I’m a big fan of his stuff and what he promotes on the podcast. He is very intelligent, and knows so much good information about the body, and how it works. The fact that he has a personal training studio interested me, knowing he has a background in holistic health. I decided to sign up for a free consultation session.
My First Session
For my first session, I came in and met my trainer, Jared. He was really nice and friendly. We sat down in a room and he began to ask me questions about what I do for my current fitness regimen, what I eat, and things like that. He also took a few measurements to analyze my body fat percentage. He measured my arms, thighs, hips etc. After he gave me my results, he recorded them and told me it was possible to lose body fat percentage if I followed the regimen. I was at around 20 percent body fat, which is completely normal for a female who is my age and height. However, dropping that body fat percentage would enable me to see the results I was going for. Here is an important distinction. LOSING WEIGHT IS NOT THE SAME AS LOSING BODY FAT. Lowering your body fat will give you a more strong, toned and lean look (which is what I am going for). Lowering your weight, without putting on any muscle, may make you look skinnier and more small, but you won’t have any muscular definition. Jared and I discussed this important distinction for a few minutes, because it is important for me to maintain my muscle if I were going to lose any weight. He reassured me that I would not lose muscle at all in this process, if anything, dropping extra body fat will allow more muscle to show. Anyways, after all of that, we did a physical assessment where I performed some basic movements for him to see where I’m at (such as squats, crunches, lunges). At the end of our session, Jared said he would develop workouts and an eating plan for me to follow the next time I came in.
Second Session and Nutrition
My second session could be considered my first actual training session. It was weird having someone tell me what exercises to do, how many reps, how many sets and so on because I usually just do it all by myself and mentally track myself. It was nice in a way, not having to count my own reps and sets, or worry about the next exercise. Jared is a Russian kettlebell instructor, so he corrected my kettlebell swing the second time we trained. Turns out, I was using too much of my arm strength to drive the kettlebell up, when your not actually trying to use your arm strength. It is intended to target the lower body. I was also squatting too low in my swing which is another error. He also helped me correct my squat, lunges, cable rows and everything else I was doing that was slightly off. At the end of our session, Jared gave me a nutrition plan that is in three phases. It is very similar to the diet I am currently following (no dairy, no added sugar, no grains, no processed carbohydrates, no fun…just kidding). But the difference is that you’re supposed to cut out fruit for 21 days. I immediately looked shocked, because I am a big advocate for fruit and eat a good amount of it everyday. Jared explained to me that the nutrition program is more so meant for someone who is not already in decent shape like I am, and needs to lose a significant amount of weight. Still, he told me to look it over and see if there are any tweaks I can make throughout my day. I am currently implementing a diet similar to the one I was following, but I am trying to cut down on my higher sugar fruits, and try to finish up eating before 8pm (I’m still following an intermittent fasting eating style).
What are the benefits of having a personal trainer?
One of the main reasons I decided to become involved with a personal trainer is to correct my form. I’ve learned about good form through watching videos, and spying on other people in the gym, but I’ve never had someone watch me and correct my mistakes. One example is I performed a basic squat, and he told me that I was dropping a little too low (I have a lot of flexibility in my hamstrings, which can cause this to happen) and this was making my knees cave in a bit. This may not seem like a big deal, but over time, when you constantly perform an exercise wrong, it can lead to injury and pain.
2. Overcome a Fitness Plateau
The other reason is that I felt like I was sort of reaching a plateau with my fitness. I was still working out often, but I felt like my body wasn’t changing at all. This actually can happen quite frequently, particularly when you are not challenging your body enough or keeping your workouts dynamic. I knew seeing a personal trainer would help me get over the plateau because I would learn different exercises, and different ways to do the exercises I was already doing (one example is doing a chest press on a cable machine rather than on a bench). There are so many variations when it comes to exercise, that getting advice from someone who knows about these variations can be very helpful.
3. Helps You Set Realistic Goals
Jared didn’t tell me I was going to look like Jenna Dewan in two weeks, but he DID tell me it would be possible to drop my body fat percentage in a matter of weeks, and look way more lean. I really appreciate being able to talk to someone who is realistic, and understands that achieving goals when it comes to fitness and health does not happen over night, but instead takes hard work, dedication, and patience. Fat burners, pills, workout DVDs, and expensive equipment will not get you the results you want. It’s never a quick fix, and Jared was very transparent about this.
4. Holds You Accountable for Those Goals
Since I’m back at school now, I will be Skyping with my trainer twice a week and checking in with him often so he can monitor my process, how I’m feeling, what I’m liking about the workouts, what is challenging, and so on and so forth. Sometimes setting a goal and forcing ourselves to reach it on our own is very difficult. Having someone who is rooting you on, there to answer any questions, and genuinely wants to see you succeed can make a big difference. I also feel like I’m being held accountable for putting in the work. I don’t want to waste Jared’s time, and all the effort he is putting in to help me. All of this makes me want to smash out my workouts, eat really well and show myself and him that I can do this.
I’m back at college now for the semester, so I am not able to head into the studio unfortunately, but with a few sessions under my belt, I have much more confidence with my form. With better form, comes better results. Here is one example of the workout Jared just sent me for this week:
As you can see, there is a bit of everything in this workout. You’re hitting legs and butt with the deadlifts, abs with the side plank, arms with the chest press and pulldowns.
It has only been a few weeks, but since my form has been better and my diet has been very clean, I am already seeing good results. This isn’t a race for me; I’m not trying to get to x body fat by a certain date or anything like that. I’m simply changing the way I’m working out and eating to see what my body is capable of and try something new. Variety is the spice of life, am I right?
But, as I mentioned before, for those of you who do not want to invest in a personal trainer (which I completely understand…they are super costly) the “secret” ultimately comes down to consuming real, unprocessed whole foods from Mother nature, eating ENOUGH of those foods, reducing stress, getting enough sleep and working out SMART. I can go into detail of any of those components I just mentioned in a future post, but I’m going to wrap this one up here. I hope you guys found some of this information useful for your own fitness journey!
Bye for now!