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Apr
25

Pros and Cons of Owning a Fitness Studio

The Benefits and Pitfalls of Owning Your Own Studio

Starting your own business can be one of the scariest or most rewarding things that you can (or will ever) do in your life. Just like most BIG decisions, there are several pros and cons, peaks and valleys, and ups and downs that accompany the journey.

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“Fortune favors the brave”

Think about all of the times in your life where you needed to make a big decision and you probably either scared yourself out of making it (or nearly did) because of fear.  There is the old quote that says, “fortune favors the brave,” and if you combine that kind of courage with strategic planning, laser like focus, extreme determination, careful team-building and a little bit of luck, you can achieve anything you want in life.

So, if your goal is to start up the best fitness facility in your community, then that is definitely within your reach. But just as any smart business person would do, you should definitely do your homework and identify the benefits, pitfalls and risk-reward ratio, before you take the leap of faith.

Let’s first take a look at the associated benefits of owning your own fitness studio.

1344033Benefits

  • You control your own destiny.
  • You make your own schedule.
  • You and your hard work determine your income.
  • You create the vision and brand for your business.
  • You make every decision from hiring staff to choosing decorations at your studio.
  • You create your own legacy.
  • You are viewed as a leader.
  • You create jobs in your community.
  • You get to lead a team.
  • You create impact in your community.
  • You get to be creative.
  • You get the opportunity to challenge not only your team but also challenge yourself.
  • You experience a sense of pride and accomplishment for starting, maintaining, and owning your own business.

Now let’s take a look at the associated pitfalls of owning your own fitness studio.

1956602Pitfalls

  • You are taking a HUGE risk financially where you can end up risking your house, savings, and/or even your livelihood.
  • You work a lot of hours especially in the beginning.
  • You could end up spending less time seeing your family and/or even taking care of yourself properly.
  • You never really “turn off” mentally, your mind is always on your business.
  • You may hire someone who doesn’t bring value to your team.
  • You can get hit with potential lawsuits.
  • You can have disgruntled customers and/or employees.
  • You have increased competition in your community.
  • You have increased costs with payroll, workers compensation, liability insurance, marketing, etc.
  • You will experience a certain level of stress.
  • You will ultimately decide the fate of your business.

Finally – now that we have gone over the benefits and the pitfalls of owning a fitness studio, let’s discuss the rewards of taking such a huge leap of faith.

Rewards

  • You help countless people get healthier, leaner, feel better, look better, have more energy, increase their confidence, live better quality lives and even save their lives.
  • You create several jobs in your community and you employ people who are raising families.
  • You increase your income and provide more for your own family and for yourself.
  • You have more time for your family and for yourself.
  • You live out your dream job and enjoy every day that you walk into your own business.
  • You inspire a number of individuals through your hard work, dedication and commitment, to bringing the best fitness facility to your community.
  • You leave a lasting mark in your area.

1631952Decisions, decisions?

So, is taking the leap of faith to open your own studio worth it?

Only YOU can make that decision!

Starting and growing a business is hard work and it takes a lot out of people to get their businesses to the next level. Not everyone is meant to own their own business. If you look at the statistics of failed businesses in their first year, it can be scary even if you have done all of the proper homework before starting your business.

Yes, there is definitely a huge risk involved when going into the private sector – and if you think that you can handle that, then by all means go for it with as much ferocity as you can. But if you find that it’s not for you after doing some homework and exploring your options, then that’s okay too. You just have to figure out what you’re happy doing in the long term.

Do you want to take those risks to maximize your life OR do you want to play it safe and not risk anything and have more time?

Again, that depends on YOU and only YOU can truthfully answer that question.

So, in exploring whether or not to start your business, just remember that it’s critical to address your risk-reward ratio, plan very carefully and get ready to work your butt off – good luck on your decision!

About the Author

Mike Z. RobinsonMike Z. Robinson is the owner of the highly successful personal training facility, MZR Fitness as well as Mike Z. Robinson Enterprises which features & highlights a myriad of options to help fitness professionals grow their businesses and careers. Mike was the 2015 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, is the author of the E-Book: “Fitness Up, Everything Up”, and he is also a Media Spokesperson for both the American Council on Exercise & IDEA Health & Fitness Association.

Mar
29

Re-imagining Total Gym at IHRSA 2017

ELEVATE Circuit - IHRSA 2017

Watch the video!

Total Gym debuted a new look and feel at IHRSA 2017 in March. It was the perfect time to launch the re-imagined ELEVATE Circuit and so with new graphics around a yellow center stage and sleek new matte black range of products, Total Gym master trainers rocked attendees with some killer workouts!  Watch the video above to see the highlights and if you are a winner of the brand new Elevate Circuit, or if you won a unit of your choice, or a Leg Trainer.

Total Gym Booth - IHRSA 2017

Total Gym Booth – IHRSA 2017

What is ELEVATE?

ELEVATE is the only adjustable functional bodyweight resistance circuit on the market that works against gravity on an incline.

Consisting of five single station units, each focusing on different muscle groups, ELEVATE is ideal as a self-serve circuit or for personal and small group training providing a full body workout in 30-minutes.  Joining the Jump, Press and Pull-Up are the updated Core and Row Trainers which now provide seven adjustment levels to challenge any seasoned athlete and really work that core!

By using gravity on an adjustable incline members use a percentage of their own bodyweight as resistance. This means that someone who could not previously do a Pull-up on their own, for example, will be able to safely and successfully progress to complete one.   All Total Gym products work in this way and so each machine can accommodate the most highly-spirited athlete and the de-conditioned person alike which ultimately provides driven results for all.

Group Rowing at IHRSA 2017

Group Rowing at IHRSA 2017

The circuit facilitates over 90 exercises, from basic to challenging, including plyometric exercises, so the member is fully engaged time after time and not only is it a fun workout that takes up only 220 square foot of floor space, it’s a challenging and innovative way to keep your members coming back.

And for the personal trainer? There is a huge advantage in being able to accommodate all fitness levels in the same session and take the guess-work out of complicated scheduling.

Did you say Group Rowing?

At IHRSA, people were almost lining up to take a Group Rowing workout on the new adjustable Row Trainer.  Just take several Row Trainers and you have yourself a small group rowing class! Why might that benefit your facility? Group Rowing is fast trending. At the XYZ (Xtreme YMCA Zone) over 500 Y members have tried out the Row Trainer since its inception about a month ago. In such a short time, it has become the most popular program with an average of 22 participants per session.

Total Gym Group Rowing at XYZ

Group Rowing at XYZ

Rowing on an incline is a fun workout that emulates a rowing pattern but with the added ability to incorporate multi-planar movement such as an alternating side-to-side row or a bicep curl.  It provides a full body cardio workout and who doesn’t want to be burning at least 600 calories an hour?

More small group training options

GRAVITY is the program that partners with your GTS machine for small group training (soon to also be sold in matte black too).  Designed to invigorate, motivate and get results, GRAVITY boasts a full body workout in 45-minutes allowing the member the opportunity for a studio-quality workout without the typical high studio membership fees.

GRAVITY at IHRSA 2017

Black GTS at IHRSA

GRAVITY introduces total body transformation through dynamic, high intensity training for mind and body. The entire culture of GRAVITY is different and dynamic. The movement variables on the GTS change regularly so that clients are always motivated, challenged and surprised as they achieve more agility, balance, confidence and strength.

For more information on any of these products, contact Ralph at ralph@totalgym.com | 858 764 0078 | learn.totalgym.com/getelevate

Watch below to see more of Total Gym at IHRSA.

Total Gym Interview - IHRSA 2017

Total Gym ELEVATE Circuit

Mar
16

Exercises For Athletic Performance

Capture

Watch the Video

5 Simple Exercises that Increase Athletic Performance

As as fitness professionals, we all know that being an athlete requires many elements that include speed, body control, power, strength, core, mental toughness, conditioning, endurance, awareness, focus, determination, commitment and a strong desire to win. And that’s just a very partial list of what it takes!

Imagine what it takes to be an elite and/or pro athlete. Those athletes take all of the above and multiply it by a million. However, the one common denominator in every athlete (no matter what level they are) is that they need and want to be better EVERY DAY!

Every athlete has different strengths and weaknesses, every athlete has a set of exercises that they love and certain ones that they hate, and every athlete is always looking for an edge. Every athlete wants to win and every athlete wants to be better mentally, emotionally, and of course physically. Coaching athletes requires us to preach the gospels of “loving the daily grind” and the “love of exercise,” and we need to constantly be on the lookout for ways to push our athletes outside of their comfort zone so that they can excel to the next level.

Here are 5 basic exercises that are staples in each of my sessions for all my athletes at MZR Fitness that help maximize results and improve athletic performance.

Dumbbell Step Ups: Stand up straight while holding a dumbbell in each hand (palms facing the side of your legs). Place the right foot on the elevated platform. Step on the platform by extending the hip and the knee of your right leg. Use the heel mainly to lift the rest of your body up and place the foot of the left leg on the platform as well. Breathe out as you come up. Step down by flexing the hip and knee of the other leg as you inhale. Return to the original standing position to complete the repetition. (2 Sets of 12 Reps on each leg.)

Calf Raises (in place): Rest your hands against a wall or a sturdy object for balance. Raise your heels a few inches above the edge of the step so that you’re on your tiptoes. Hold the position for a moment, and then lower your heels below the platform, feeling a stretch in your calf muscles. (2 Sets of 25 Reps.)

Lateral Jumps: Start standing with your feet hip-width apart and sit back into a shallow squat position. Dip your knees, then hop off both feet and move to your right and then quickly hop back to the other side. Continue jumping back and forth to complete the set. (2 Sets of 8 Reps in each direction.)

Pull-Ups: Grab a bar shoulder width with your palms facing down. Hang and then raise your feet off the floor by bending your knees. Hang with straight arms. Pull yourself up by pulling your elbows down to the floor. Keep your elbows close. Pull yourself all the way up until your chin passes the bar. Lower yourself all the way down until your arms are straight. Breathe and repeat the sequence. (2 Sets of 5 Reps.)

Backpedal, Turn and Sprint (Using Cones): Place three cones, five to 10 yards apart in a straight line. Facing away from cone one. Backpedal to cone two. Pivot 180 degrees on left foot to face cone three. Sprint to cone three. Perform set in opposite direction. (3 Sets of 5.)

About the Author

Mike Z. RobinsonMike Z. Robinson is the owner of the highly successful personal training facility, MZR Fitness as well as Mike Z. Robinson Enterprises which features & highlights a myriad of options to help fitness professionals grow their businesses and careers. Mike was the 2015 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, is the author of the E-Book: “Fitness Up, Everything Up”, and he is also a Media Spokesperson for both the American Council on Exercise & IDEA Health & Fitness Association.

Mar
2

Member Retention Strategies To Grow Your Gym

Keep Your Members – 3 Tips That Really Work

1936304If you’re like most business owners, then you’re always on the lookout for ways to grow your business, lower overhead, boost productivity, acquire more clients and increase revenue.

That is what building a business is all about!

As fitness professionals looking to make more money, I think that the natural mindset is to acquire more clients and more members at our facilities or in our group training programs.

But is it really?

Consider that our biggest assets may be right under our noses and we need look no further than our current clientele to help our business grow.

You have happy clients already working out with you, why not focus your marketing plan on them, versus spending lots of money on new and untested methods to try to attract a new ones?  The old adage in business is that, “it is easier and more affordable to keep a customer than it is to find a new one,” couldn’t be more true. If you keep a client happy with great results, not only will THEY reward you with years of loyalty (and income), THEY will also reward you with countless referrals.  And that, my friends, is the dichotomy that many business owners just don’t get!  It is amazing how overlooked that concept is to a lot of fitness professionals but it happens every day.

1934375Not to you though!  You will be ahead of the curve after reading this blog. And here is how you do it …

Create Relationships

It is extremely important to foster relationships with your Clients and even your staff.   For example, from day one in a “Customer Service 101”  we tend to focus on making a new client as comfortable as possible.   We extend this “service” for the first few times they visit the facility. We introduce them to a few people but then extra effort wears off.  What we need to do is introduce them to everyone they may come in contact with and everyone that makes our business successful.  That is not only staff and other clients but volunteers, interns, community partners and even your mascot, if you have one.  Let them know that they are apart of something SPECIAL and they’ll soon see that they don’t get this anywhere else.

And you don’t stop there…

You need to focus on finding what makes this person tick, what do they do for a living, who they are married to, what’s their pet’s name, when is their birthday, etc. It truly is almost like dating where you are acquiring a lot of information about this person (particularly in the beginning). This attention makes the person feel special by remembering and recognizing the exact things that actually does make them special. Then, once you learn these things, you can customize your invitations to them for events or outings that you think that they may enjoy, with other like-minded individuals because they love to be part of the team.

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Referral Initiative

We all know by now that word of mouth is the best marketing and truth be told, most clients who love you and your services will naturally already be talking about you to their network of people. However, you could always incentivize them via a competition with other clients for free personal or group training sessions, gift certificates to local restaurants, or even offering a nominal amount of money per referral to get the referrals coming in. Like I said above, clients will want to talk about you anyways, but will do so even more when you go the extra mile of sweetening the pot for them.

Provide An Unique Experience

Nowadays, there are no shortages of Gyms, Studios, Personal Trainers, Coaches, and Group Fitness Programs in our communities. So with that said, how are YOU going to stand out among locals as an authority and credible source? How are you going to happily get clients to stay with you for years and years moving forward? I’ll tell you how, you need to consistently provide an unique experience to your clientele from the moment they walk into the door, until the moment that they leave, and every day in between until you see them again for their next session. Remember that you’re competing with a lot of fitness options in your town, so you need to make your gym standout to create loyalty.

Treat your clients right!  Show empathy, show sympathy, challenge them in every workout, be sincere, show them that you care, and provide over-the-top-customer service. Create several touch points to impact their lives such as phone calls, texts, emails, social media connections, and even a monthly newsletter.

Be constant in their lives and become a part of their daily awareness.

About the Author

Mike Z. RobinsonMike Z. Robinson is the owner of the highly successful personal training facility, MZR Fitness as well as Mike Z. Robinson Enterprises which features & highlights a myriad of options to help fitness professionals grow their businesses and careers. Mike was the 2015 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, is the author of the E-Book: “Fitness Up, Everything Up”, and he is also a Media Spokesperson for both the American Council on Exercise & IDEA Health & Fitness Association.

Feb
8

Training for Snowboarding on a Total Gym GTS

Standing Squat and Side Stretch on a Total Gym GTS

(Watch the video)

Strengthen Your Snowboarding and Skiing Clients with these 7 Total Gym GTS Exercises.

It’s that time of the year again when our clients are looking at their calendars to find weekends where they can escape to remote locations to enjoy hours and hours of uninterrupted skiing and snowboarding on snow-laden mountain sides.

Although skiing and snowboarding are a blast, they are also very tough activities that can push you to the limit physically and mentally and we need to make sure that our clients know that and are prepared for what is coming. Oftentimes when clients think of preparing for activities such as snowboarding, it is natural for them to think that they just need to focus on their lower bodies as they start to train for their trip. However, as qualified fitness professionals, we know that the entire body needs to be trained throughout training program to help avoid injuries and deficiencies in other areas of the body. Remind your client (especially if they are new to snowboarding) that they will be pushed hard in various ways on their trip and that preparation is key to a fun and safe experience in the snow.

So let’s make sure that your clients have a wonderful and safe time on their trip by helping them master the following exercises on the GTS, so that their bodies and minds are ready for action.  Watch the video to see a demonstration of all these exercises.

Jump Squats

Disconnect the pulley from the glideboard and stow handles.  Have them push the glideboard half-way up the rails, straddle the rails and sit at the bottom edge facing away from the tower.  Place the feet toward the top of the squat stand positioned shoulder-width-apart.  Normally you would have them lie back on the glideboard to do a plyometric squat but we’re going to engage the core more with them sitting upright.  Hands can be by their side, stretched out in front, or beneath the butt.  Have them start in a deep squat and from this position, explosively jump up as high as they can with both feet and be sure that they land with both feet simultaneously on the squat stand. Repeat this sequence to complete the first rep and then repeat the exercise to complete the set. (2 Sets of 15 Reps).

Seated Two-Point Leg Swings

In the same starting position as above and with core engaged and sitting up nice and straight on the GTS, have them place the left foot on the squat stand. Perform a one legged squat on the left leg and as they come back up from the squat, they gently kick the right leg up as high as they can. Then repeat, but this time on their way back up from the squat, they kick the right leg out to the right side as wide as they can. After performing both kicks on one leg, that is considered one rep. Repeat this sequence as fluidly as possible by alternating the two directions on the leg for the desired number of total reps. Be sure to perform all reps on one side before switching and repeating with the opposite leg. (2 Sets of 10 Reps in Each Direction Per Leg).

Dips (Using Squat Stand)

From a standing position in front of the squat stand, facing away from the tower have them position hands behind them shoulder-width apart on the squat stand. Have them slightly walk away from the squat stand to incline legs out in front at a 45-degree angle. Straighten arms, keeping a little bend in the elbows to keep tension on the triceps and off elbow joints. Slowly bend elbows to lower the body toward the floor until elbows are at about a 90-degree angle. Be sure to keep the back close to the foot platform. Once they reach the bottom of the movement, have them press down to straighten elbows, returning to the starting position. This completes one rep. Keep the shoulders down as they lower and raise the body. Please note that legs can be slightly bent to modify this exercise. (2 Sets of 10 Reps).

Incline Push-Up (Using Squat Stand)

From a standing position in front of the squat stand, face towards the tower.  Place hands on the edge the foot platform, slightly wider than shoulder width and walk feet back so that the body is at a 45-degree angle. Have them stand on their tip-toes with arms and body straight. Then they will slowly lower their torso down in a controlled manner and push torso up until arms are extended to complete the first rep. (2 Sets of 15 reps).

Standing Squat & Side Stretch

Raise the rails to the highest level.  Have them begin in a standing position turned sideways from the tower and place right foot on the glideboard and left foot on the ground. Then they will need to slowly squat on the left foot so that the right foot is raising the board up towards the top of the GTS. As they come back up from the squat position the glideboard will lower into the start position. Repeat this sequence to complete the first rep and then repeat the exercise to complete the set. (2 Sets of 15 Reps with Each Leg).

Inverted Walking Plank

Remove the squat stand and with the glideboard closed have them come to a kneeling position on the glideboard, facing away from the tower. From there they place both hands on the floor below the lower rail base and get into a plank position.  Then they walk hands back towards the tower and as they do so, the glideboard should be sliding towards the tower. Once they walk in so far that they cannot go up anymore, then they slowly walk back down until they cannot go down any further. Repeat this sequence to complete the first rep and then repeat the exercise to complete the set. (2 Sets of 10 Reps).

Inverted Pike

Replace the squat stand and with the glideboard closed have them come to a kneeling position on the glideboard, facing away from the tower. Then have them place both hands on the squat stand with their head facing towards the ground. Place feet onto the bottom of glideboard, on tippy toes, with heels in the air. Their body should resemble an upside down letter “V” while in the starting position. While in this starting position, extend the full body outward so that they are completely straight, then bring the glideboard back in with feet to go back to the upside down letter “V”. Repeat this sequence to complete the first rep and then you repeat the exercise to complete the set. (2 Sets of 15 Reps).

About the Author

Mike Z. RobinsonMike Z. Robinson is the owner of the highly successful personal training facility, MZR Fitness as well as Mike Z. Robinson Enterprises which features & highlights a myriad of options to help fitness professionals grow their businesses and careers. Mike was the 2015 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, is the author of the E-Book: “Fitness Up, Everything Up”, and he is also a Media Spokesperson for both the American Council on Exercise & IDEA Health & Fitness Association.

Dec
13

5 Ways to Strengthen Legs with a Bad Back

How to Strengthen Legs on a Total Gym with a Bad Back

Modern technology can be a total paradox. On one hand technology makes life easier, on the other hand it has caused us to become more sedentary by allowing us to push buttons for work instead of performing manual labor. The human body was made to move, not remain seated all day. In another paradox, too much time spent NOT moving could be a possible cause of low back pain.

Low back pain is no fun and can have a negative impact on the quality of life. If one experiences pain for more than a couple of days in a row it could be a sign of a serious injury and it is important to see a medical professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment. However, like many people, instead of ongoing low back pain one may experience occasional periods of discomfort. When these flare-ups do occur don’t let them interrupt a normal exercise program.

It can be difficult to identify the specific cause of lower back pain; it could be related to a lack of mobility in the hips, or overall strength in the legs. The structure of the lower back, the lumbar and sacral segments of the spine, where they meet the bones of the pelvis, is designed to provide stability. The hips, on the other hand, are designed to be mobile. One possible cause of low back pain is that sitting for too long can cause muscle imbalances in the hips which can significantly restrict the range-of-motion of the joints, changing how they move.

When the hips lose mobility, the muscles and joints of the lower back which sit above the hips, will try to create the necessary motion for many movements. Since the lower back is not designed to have an excessive amount of motion this can be a potential mechanism of injury. If leg muscles aren’t that strong when lifting an object off of the floor, one is more likely to use the back muscles. Improving mobility of the hips and strengthening the legs can help improve overall function and possibly reduce the risk of damaging the lower back.

If your Client’s back is bothersome it may be a little uncomfortable to strengthen the legs (NOTE: discomfort is okay–it means the muscles are working. STOP immediately if a feel sharp pain is felt) but strengthening the lower body could reduce the amount of discomfort. In an effort to help reduce the risk of developing lower back pain and improve the ability to enjoy one’s favorite activities here are 6 ways to use a Total Gym to strengthen legs and improve hip mobility.

When standing upright gravity pulls the upper body into the hips which can help reduce motion in the joints. To strengthen legs without harming the back or making any existing discomfort worse, it is important to remove the effects of gravity. We can’t just turn gravity off, although that might be fun if we could, but we can place our body in different positions to significantly reduce and minimize the impact of gravity. A primary benefit of the Total Gym is that moving on an inclined plane reduces the effects of gravity which can immediately help improve hip mobility.

Total Gym Squat

Squat

NOTE:  Total Gym helps keep the lumbar spine stable when lying on the back.  This allows your client to focus on the muscles responsible for moving the hips, knees and feet. The closer the Total Gym is to the ground, the less gravity will effect the body. If the back is currently bothering them, have them start with the glideboard as low as possible and increase the height of the glideboard as they feel stronger and more comfortable.

Stationary Squats: Have them lie on their back with their feet hip-to-shoulder width apart, so that their toes are close to the top edge of the squat stand. Have them lower their bottom down until their knees are about 90 degrees. They hold that for 30 seconds or until they fatigue. They then rest for 30 seconds and repeat 2-to-3 times.TIP: As they hold the squat, have them press their feet into the board and squeeze those thighs to engage the muscles.

Outer Thigh Lifts. Have them lie on their right side with their right leg straight and their right foot pressed into the squat stand.  Have them lift their left leg up in the air so that both legs are about 6-to-8 inches apart and hold for 3-to-5 seconds before slowly lowering  back down. Repeat for 10-to-12 reps and switch sides, rest 45 sec. after both sides, complete

Total Gym Sprinter Start

Sprinter Start

2-to-3 sets.

Sprinter Start. Have them kneel on the glideboard on their hands and knees so that they are facing the top of the Total Gym and their feet are close to the squat stand.  Have them place their right foot on the squat stand and keep their left knee under their hip.  Have them tighten their abs as they push their right foot into the board to move you closer to the top and return to the bottom slowly.  10-to-12 reps and switch legs, rest 45 seconds and repeat 2-to-3 times.

Step-ups. Set the rails on the lowest level.  Have them stand facing the bottom of the Total Gym so that their one foot can step up on to the glideboard pressing their foot down to move the glildeboard closer to the bottom, which will help it remain stable during the exercise.  They can pause for 2-to-3 seconds before slowly lowering themselves down.  Repeat for 8-to-10 reps, switch sides to alternate legs, rest for 45 seconds after both legs and repeat for 2-to-3 sets.

Step Up

Step Up

Squats. Have them lie on the glideboard with their feet on the squat stand so that their toes are close to the top.  Have them squat down for a 3-count, pause for 1 sec. then push back to the top. Repeat for 12-to-15 reps, rest for 1 min. and complete 2-to-3 sets

If these exercises are done at least 2-to-3 times a week there is a good chance that you will see improvement in the strength of the legs and reduce risk of low back pain.

Here’s a final paradox; yes, exercising when the back is bothersome can be uncomfortable but not exercising can actually make the discomfort worse which can turn a minor problem into a major one. Even after almost twenty years of being a personal trainer and group fitness instructor I may not know what causes low-back pain, but I do know that improving strength and flexibility in the lower body can help reduce the risk of letting it impact quality of life.

About the Author

Pete McCallPete McCall is an educator, performance coach, personal trainer, author, consultant and host of the All About Fitness podcast. Based in San Diego, CA, Pete holds a master’s degree in exercise science and health promotion, completed a Fellowship in Applied Functional Science with the Gray Institute, is a Certified Personal Trainer and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. Currently Pete is an adjunct faculty in exercise science at Mesa College, a master trainer for Core Health and Fitness, a blogger and content contributor for the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and online instructor for the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).

Consulting with organizations like the World Bank, Reebok, 24-Hour Fitness, Core Health & Fitness, the Institute of Motion and Fit Pro, Pete has experience identifying needs and delivering solutions. Frequently quoted as a fitness expert in publications such as The New York Times, Washington Post, U-T San Diego, SELF, Glamour, and Shape Magazine and featured as a fitness expert for TV news outlets including WRC-NBC (DC), Fox News, Fox 5 San Diego, and NBC7 San Diego, Pete is a sought-after media resource for accurate, in-depth insight on how to get results from exercise. www.petemccallfitness.com

 

Nov
1

Trainers – How to Cue for Breathing

Cuing for breathing

Top Tips on Teaching When and How to Breathe.

Teaching class participants how and when to breathe during exercise can be one of the most challenging areas of our training sessions. I find that as a trainer myself, most people are very shallow breathers and sometimes if they focus too much on their technique they forget to breathe completely!

Effective ways to keep breathing

The one exception where the breathing pattern may change in weight lifting would be in the overhead press. Here it makes more sense to inhale: expand the diaphragm as you press the bar up.  Otherwise, try these breathing tips.

1. Breathing along WITH your clients/members helps tremendously.  They can hear your breath and follow along easily.

2. I do hear some trainers telling their clients to “blow out the candle” as they are forcing a movement which also works well.

3. It is standard with resistance training or weight lifting to exhale during the exertion phase. I always remind my clients to think of the letter “E” for Exertion and Exhalation.

4. In a functional setting (higher than 15 reps), it is best to just breathe naturally but I find that when a client has too much to focus on ie., breathing, technique and form etc., it can be overwhelming. I watch their lips and when I see them clamped shut, I literally say, “please open your mouth and B-R-E-A-T-H-E.”

Importance of the diaphragm

If we want to truly help our class participants achieve overall health and function, we must take a look at the importance of the diaphragm. Most people, being shallow breathers, have never learned how to breathe effectively. Breathing with efficient oxygen saturation with full diaphragmatic involvement is the cornerstone of health and well-being. Whatever muscles we are strengthening, the ideal breathing motor patterns is crucial. The diaphragm must be the prime mover in the breathing process. Because of the lumbar spinal attachments of the diaphragm, stability and mobility in and around the thoracic and lumbar spine is vital.

Through naturopathy, I am able to help my clients understand the importance of breathing even more. I explain that the more oxygen you get into the body, the more carbon dioxide poison you will eliminate from the body. When oxygen replaces carbon dioxide, there will be greater purification of the blood, cells and organs of the body, for better health and stronger results from training efforts.

Have you ever experienced suffering from “a stitch” when warming up in a jog or a run? What a stitch really is, is a sign of unused lung air sacs trying to open and receive fresh air that you are pumping in. The sharp pain is due to the air forcing these cells apart. Continuing to breathe deeply will help and the distress will pass. At this point, the unused lung cells become reactivated. Teaching our older and beginner exercisers how to use their diaphragm to breathe deeply will help them avoid these discomforts and faulty movement patterns while training.

Diaphragmatic breathing has a tranquilizing rhythm, stimulates your circulation and helps rejuvenate the body. This type of breathing is a natural method designed for the body, yet if not taught how to use the diaphragm properly, many people have trouble. We commonly see too much chest breathing as opposed to breathing deep into the diaphragm.  I use the following exercise to help my clients use their diaphragm more efficiently.

Try this warm up breathing exercise

> Have your clients stand and locate their diaphragm by placing one hand at their waistline and the other hand up with their palm facing their mouth.

> Ask them to blow imaginary dust off their palm, feeling a strong muscular contraction at their waist when they blow. This helps locate the diaphragm.

> Then to warm up and direct the focus to the breath, I often start a workout with them walking around the room on their toes while reaching high over their head.

> I ask them to raise their diaphragm as high as their strength will allow while still breathing deeply. I ask them to feel the chest and stomach muscles as they breathe deeply.

> After this, we bend over, drop the head below the heart, arms reaching towards the floor, compressing out every bit of old toxic, carbon dioxide-laden air.

This is a great way to set the tone for breathing during the workout and is a super lung cleanser. I find it also helps to rid their mind of stress they may be bringing to the workout.

On the other hand, Yoga breathing is very different. It is nose breathing and there are different types.  On of them, the Ujjayi breathing technique is best explained here.

Focusing on the breath is the best way to connect with your body before a workout. As trainers, we all have our own unique way of getting our clients to connect with the breath. Whatever your preference is, my best advice is to include some breathing exercises in a warm up.

“Just by paying attention to breathing, you can access a level of relaxation and health that will benefit every area of your life.” Deepak Chopra 

About the Author

Frances Michaelson

Frances Michaelson is President of exercise equipment company Muscle Up Inc., a licensed Naturopath and a Personal Trainer. She is passionate about helping people attain optimal health through proper diet and exercise. A self-described health-o-holic, she motivates others to move well and eat well to keep their bodies’ cells dancing and singing.

Based in the West Island of Montreal, Frances is a frequent conference presenter, author of BYOB: Bring Your Own Band and Replenish, Regenerate and Rebuild Your Cells. She blogs for Total Gym and is a regular contributor to IHRSA’s “Ask an Industry Leader.” With her broad knowledge base and over three decades of experience, she is widely recognized as a leader in the health and fitness field. Frances is committed to helping others make positive lifestyle choices that create stronger bodies, healthier minds and more fulfilling lives.

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