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5 Solutions For Gyms to Help Kids Stay Fit

Childhood Obesity, Exergaming and 5 Fitness Solutions For Gyms

When some of us were children, we may recall our parents telling us to eat everything on our plate since there were “starving children in Africa” and other places around the world. On the contrary, while childhood hunger is still a serious problem, both here and abroad, the number of overweight and obese kids are growing globally.

According to the most recent figures from WHO (World Health Organization), gleaned from a report by the Commission For Ending Childhood Obesity, an estimated 41 million kids around the world, under the age of five, are considered overweight or obese. Their study also found within this same group of children:

  • Overweight and obese Asian children make up 48% of that population
  • 25% of African children are either overweight or obese
  • The total number of obese children in Africa has doubled over the last 24 years

The United States seems to be fairing better in comparison since we’ve able to reduce our younger obesity rates from 13.9% in 2004 to 8.4% in 2012, down by more than 5%.

Sugary CerealStarted With Sugar

For many years, childhood cavities and expanding waistlines were blamed on too many sweets, especially those found in sugary breakfast cereals. Although processed, ready-to-eat cereal has been around since the Civil War, the taste and trend didn’t pick up until sugar was added along with colorful cartoon characters, enticing youngsters to gobble up their new favorite flavors.

Due to declining sales and negative publicity, in 2006, food and beverage companies established the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative. It was promoting it as “part of the solution to the complex problem of childhood obesity by using advertising to help promote healthier dietary choices and lifestyles for children.”

But apparently they aren’t listening to their own advice or following the guidelines they put into place since little progress has been made with added sugar and salt. Many of us may be noticing less advertising directly geared towards children, so instead manufacturers are offering statements about how healthy their cereals are instead. But not much has changed over the years, for example, from 2009 to 2012, salt and sugar in children’s cereal was reduced by only 3% on average.

Let's MoveLet’s Move Dietary Stats

Proponents aimed at ending childhood obesity have offered another solution, get our kids moving! First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” initiative may come to mind. On their website, they also point to additional dietary problems:

  • An increase in the number of snacks children eat per day, up from one per day to an average of three or more from a few decades previously
  • An overall rise in caloric intake, around 31% on average compared to decades ago
  • Larger sweetened beverage serving sizes, up from around 13 ounces in the seventies, to 20 ounces at a time today
  • Most Americans eat 15 pounds more sugar per year than they did in 1970 and 56% more fat and oils
  • Portion sizes overall have risen two-and-a-half times in this period

Little Movement

While First Lady Michelle Obama’s dietary stats shows many unpleasant increases in our food intake, other numbers show a disappointing amount of exercise and activity with today’s young people. Older children and adolescents spend on average 7.5 hours each day on some type of media, whether it’s television, computers, video games or smartphones. It’s reported that only one-third of teens get the recommended amount of daily exercise.

The let’s move site also refers to a time when kids ran around at school during recess, came home and played outside until dark. When dinnertime came, we sat down around the table and ate healthier, smaller portions of food that included a serving of vegetables and a glass of milk. Fast food, pizza and eating out were rare treats, sweets and snacks were also seldom, rather than the norm.

So clearly we’ve gone from a generation of movers-and-shakers, to a majority of millennials who are lamers and gamers. We’re all clearly eating more red meat, fats and carbs while consuming less healthy greens, vegetables and fruits.

Less Lame and More Game

Given all of today’s technology, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to steer kids away from their omnipresent handheld devices, especially smartphones and game consoles. Thankfully there’s a solution that combines exercise with gaming, also known as exergaming.

Reminiscent of Nintendo’s Wii system, launched almost a decade ago, this controversial game system came with a new type of controller, complete with a wrist strap, meant to be used in a more physical manner. The compilation of games included with the initial purchase included interactive sports like baseball, bowling, boxing, golf and tennis.

ExergamingGrowing Results

Since its release, sales of Wii products have skyrocketed and according to statistics, it’s not backing down anytime soon. Figures have shown since Wii was released onto the fitness platform, annual sales have gone on a steady uphill climb of almost 6 billion in 2007 to a whopping 70 billion in 2010 and topping off at over 100 billion at the end of 2015.

Since not all games played on Wii are physically interactive, it’s difficult to gauge the overall success of the programs that require participation that’s happening off the couch. Information from the ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) helps to shed some light on this topic – the popularity of exergaming with children and adolescents.

Exergaming Stats and Info

Exergaming (sometimes called active gaming) is being dubbed “the future of fitness,” and is being touted as a practical solution to children spending the equivalent of a work day being sedentary with technology. Definitively speaking, exergaming is a technologically driven, game or routine that requires the participants to be physically active or exercise in some way in order to play the game or complete a task.

Just to be clear, the game based physical activities are more than simple hand and finger movements as the primary interface with the device. They require the user to apply full body motions in order to participate in virtual sports, play group fitness games, perform exercises or other interactive physical activities.

Studies have shown that different types of exergaming venues can provide moderate to vigorous physical activity levels and also give users positive physiological results. As with any exercise regimen, the results from the activities are dependent upon on how much the individual participates in the actual program or routine.

How Children React

In a survey, ACSM reported that over eighty-four percent of adolescents stated that having fun was the single most important element in life. Kids and teens are embracing these newer games and activities on a mostly positive level because they’re both fun and interactive.

When it comes to fitness routines, take into account these games are ever changing, with more titles containing different types of sports, other activities, and even varying plotlines, are emerging regularly. Apparently one of the biggest reasons the majority of people quit their exercise program or fitness regime is because of boredom so these choices should help to sustain their longevity.

Technology and Interaction67cc4a583497c449d9a3cdd5110ddb2b

Given the overwhelming growth and popularity of social media, today’s youngsters are interacting with each other on a different level. Compared to a few decades ago, when connections were made mostly on a face-to-face level rather than screen-to-screen interactions. Exergames are keeping up with this trend by allowing multiple players to participate and peers are able to play alongside of each other on a virtual level.

They’re also communicating about the activity, discussing results, posting scores, competing with one another and are even assisting their peers on continued improvement, better methods and strategies. This allows young people to play their favorite games with their friends and become healthier and more active at the same time.

Choices and Options

Exergames gives participants the ability to make individual choices during game play since they’re self-paced. Users can choose their own difficulty level, mode of play and whom to play against. They may choose to play against the computer, compete with friends, family, a group of their peers or other online competitors.

Using an avatar allows for at least some anonymity so there’s less chance of being bullied at school or in other social and public situations. It also h59346f43ebdb3da375faeae8f4d4f490elps participants from becoming discouraged if they’re not doing well and motives them to become more active and stick with the program in order to advance.

Gym Solutions

To reach this important younger audience, gyms, fitness clubs and other workout venues are looking more closely at today’s technology and also following current trends. As with the majority of other public places nowadays, access to free Wi Fi is omnipresent. Here’s five other ways that gyms are helping get kids fit, stay active and current with today’s technological times:

#1 – Online Competition and Participation

Most people, children and teens alike, are competitive by nature and in many gyms, members are mostly competing with themselves in order to reach a specific goal or surpass a “personal best.” Using social media or other online venues such as the company’s website, gyms and their members are reaching out to participants to share their progress, invite others to join them, compare results with each other and discuss the entire process.

#2 – One, Two, Three – Dodgeball!

Whether it was the cult movie classic,Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story,” or even recent nods on current family programs like “The Real O’Neils,” this playground favorite from days gone by  has been given a recent rebirth. When space allows or those fortunate enough to have a basketball court or other large arena, these are providing the perfect venue for this popular platform as a teen-friendly team sport.

#3 – Soul and Spinning Inspired Cycling

Similar to venues that offer Spin classes and reminiscent of Soul Cycle, gyms are attracting  youngsters, especially teens, by offering cycling sessions geared towards their interests. With a time set aside for spinning, participants are listening to their favorite pop radio channel, checking out a new album hitting the shelves or highlighting singles from Billboard’s Hot 100 list.

#4 – YMCA’s Gamification Program

The YMCA of Greater New York has been engaging their tweens with a gamification program that applies game theory to engage young people in fitness activities through the use of points, badges, a leaderboard and timeline to inspire them to increase their daily workout levels. At a kiosk, kids browse through activities and can create “fitness playlists” to share with friends online. Their program encourages kids to create an online community of more active peers and they’re  discussing their healthier lifestyle choices.

#5 – Institute Exergaming

Some gyms and health clubs are making a moderate investment in exergaming equipment to get young and old alike into using this newer technology. With an average cost of around $250 for a Wii system, $25 for a non-slip dance (dance revolution) pad and around $15 for each game, this is an affordable alternative to traditional gym equipment that can easily run into thousands of dollars.

These trends seem to be working since reports from the NY Daily News are indicating that obesity rates are leveling off among teens. More importantly, activity and exercise are on the rise with today’s youth, along with eating more healthier, fruits and vegetables. While there’s still room for improvement, things are looking up for today’s young people when it comes to health and physical fitness.

About the Author

Mark KirkpatrickMark Kirkpatrick is a journalist for health and fitness enthusiasts.  He lives in the Los Angeles are with his wife and two energetic daughters. As a former enlisted Marine with over 8 years of service, he has found that productivity starts with healthy habits and hopes to help others achieve their goals through positive reinforcement.  His goals as a graduate journalist is to send a message to those that need just a little more guidance in following their ambition and enjoying the path it takes them to.


Total Gym Jump Trainer FAQs

Total Gym Jump Trainer FAQs

What is the Total Gym Jump Trainer?

Total Gym has been developing functional incline training equipment that has set the standard for physical rehabilitation and  athletic and sports performance since 1974.  Innovative in its design, the Total Gym Jump Trainer provides a dedicated machine for lower body strengthening through squats, squat jumps and plyometric jumping.  What is unique about the Jump Trainer is that it ensures a safe environment that allows the user to train their lower body at a percentage of their own bodyweight because they are at an incline.  As proficiency increases, the incline can be adjusted to increase the intensity and the resistance.

What is the difference between the Jump Trainer and the MVP Shuttle?

Brett Fischer, PT, ATC, CSCS, DN, Cert. ASTYM, Fischer Institute of Physical Therapy & Performance explains the differences in this video below.

Brett Fischer speaks about Jump Trainer

Jump Trainer MVP Shuttle Comparison


What are the benefits to the user?

The Jump Trainer has different benefits for different user needs:

For post-surgical recovery – The Jump Trainer allows for a faster recovery rate accommodating for a wide variety of therapeutic exercise options.  Progression can be gradual through all the phases of recovery by regulating range of lower body flexion – everything from micro-movements of the ankle, knee and hip joints to explosive plyometrics that produce both concentric and eccentric loading of the muscles. 

Returning back to sports – With the addition of variable band resistance, the Jump Trainer allows the athlete to “unload” their weight, letting them perform movements without the full force of gravity working against them while also providing the ability to create an accelerated eccentric force to improve muscle deceleration which helps strengthen and protect ligaments and joints while developing fast-twitch muscle fibers and explosive power.

Lower Body Strengthening – The Jump Trainer is efficient, effective and FUN way to work the legs performing a variety of squat movements and plyometric exercises that strengthen and tone the glutes, quads, calves and hamstrings while also burning more calories and contributing to fat loss.  Plyometric movements provide a great cardio workout.

Injury Prevention – The Jump Trainer improves vertical leap, enhances balances and agility while improving reflexes and acceleration time as well as training muscles for deceleration for injury prevention.  Eccentric contractions result in a protective adaptation in the muscles protecting them from damage.  The pneumatic brake reduces airborne height in turn reducing landing impact to protect the joints.

Patient Safety –  Because the extra-wide glideboard and the mount/dismount lock ensure users begin exercising from a safe and comfortable position, the Clinician is able to focus on the patient’s core stabilization response while improving spinal alignment. Patients can be safely transferred on or off the unit at a wheelchair transfer height of 16″.  In addition, the Slide Distance Regulator reduces the motion of the glideboard in the downward direction to prevent excessive knee flexion.

I am a Club Owner – why would my members enjoy this machine?

Accommodating all fitness levels, the Total Gym Jump Trainer is intuitive and easy to use.  Members can easily train on their own and are guided by an illustrative placard on the unit clearly showing how to perform an exercise.  The Jump Trainer  allows  members to engage all the largest muscles – the glutes, quads, calves and hamstrings with a variety of squat movements and plyometric exercises while maintaining proper form on one efficient and FUN machine! Your members will get a great strength and cardio workout and with the added option of variable band resistance (from 10-70lbs) they WILL feel the burn!

Do you have other machines like this?

Yes, the Jump Trainer is part of a 6-piece circuit called the Total Gym Elevate Circuit that bridges the gap between selectorized equipment and functional cages – meaning gym goers now have something to help them transition from one to the other.  Each unit in the Elevate Circuit can stand alone on the gym floor or be part of the circuit which is ideal solution for small group/team training or personal training.  The Elevate Circuit consists of the Core TrainerLeg TrainerRow TrainerPress Trainer, Pull-up Trainer and the Jump Trainer.

How many exercises can you do on the Jump Trainer?

The Total Gym Jump Trainer offers over 30 basic exercises, many of which can be viewed here.  4-leg stretches are particularly good on the Jump Trainer.

What is the user weight capacity for the Jump Trainer?

The maximum user weight on the Jump Trainer is 400 lbs.

Jump Trainer Parts Identifier

I am a Physical Therapist.  Does the Jump Trainer have any other tools to help me progress my patients more quickly?

Yes.  The Total Gym Jump Trainer is designed to follow the anatomic curve of the hip to foot ratio, the large curved squat stand ensures that when the knee is extended the ankle is approximately at 90 degrees irrespective of where the foot lands so there is less planar flexion when landing.

In addition, the  pneumatic reduces airborne height to reveal a colored Jump-O-Meter (see inset above) so that progress can be tracked and lower body strength can be assessed.

What installation setting should I choose for my facility?

The Jump Trainer is available in two factory installation settings so you should decide on which before you purchase, as it is not easy to change the settings afterwards, although not impossible.  There are seven incline adjustments on each both installation settings. 

  • Physical Therapy Setting: 30% of a user’s own bodyweight up to 65%
  • Fitness Setting: 50% of a user’s own bodyweight up to 80%

Here is a snapshot taken from page 13 of the Jump Trainer Owner’s Guide, showing the different resistance percentages of bodyweight for each of the settings.

Jump Trainer Resistance Chart

How can I stop my Jump Trainer from moving?

The Total Gym Jump Trainer must be bolted to the floor or it will move. Please refer to page 11 of your Jump Trainer Owner’s Guide for instructions on how to bolt it down. NOTE: Installation must be carried out by a professional installer. The Jump Trainer Owner’s Guide can also be downloaded here.

How do I care for the Jump Trainer?

With periodic cleaning and maintenance, the moving parts and rolling surfaces will maintain their smooth function.   Simply wipe down padded surfaces after use with an antibacterial cleanser.  Check all surfaces areas for aesthetics weekly and monthly perform a deeper inspection of rollers, rails, stoppers and screws.  Do not use lubricants or silicone based products on the rails or wheels.  Do not use Armor All or like substances as this will make the glideboard very slippery.

How much room does the Jump Trainer take up?
The Total Gym Jump Trainer takes up 22 square feet of floor space and weights 230 lbs.

If you would like for a Total Gym representative to contact you regarding the Jump Trainer please click here.


5 Tips to Invest in Your Staff Over Summer

Summer Is Slow – How To Get Your Trainers’ Education Up-To-Date

If your training business is like most clubs, studios, gyms, and facilities, then during the summer months you will most likely experience a slight decrease in new clients. You will also see the attendance of even your most loyal clients go up and down as they are traveling the world to vacation and recharge their own mental batteries…which is great by the way but where does that leave you and your business?

I’ll tell you where it usually leaves you – that’s in one of three places:

1) You have to cut back the hours of some of your training staff to offset the loss of income because you have nothing for them to do and don’t want them just sitting around and collecting a paycheck without any clients to train.

2) You decide not to cut back the hours of your staff but face the likelihood of losing money if you can’t find something to keep them busy.

3) You’re savvy enough to use this “extra” time to invest in your staff, empower your team, and create continued success for your club year around.

Hopefully as you read the 3 options above, you quickly identified yourself with the 3rd option but in case you didn’t, the good news is that I’m going to share with you 5 ways to get you into the 3rd group option:

student_xing1. Invest in Your Team – Just as in any SMART investment – the more you put into it, monitor it closely, and don’t panic at the first sign of danger, the more likely you are to get a huge return on it, and with your staff, it’s no different. View investing in your team the same way that you would view a financial investment. When I say to invest in them, I mean to do so in whatever way you believe to be the most impactful to the growth of their careers. One of the most popular ways to do that is by sending your team to learn and grow at a fitness conference such as at IHRSA, IDEA World, Can Fit Pro World Fitness, ACSM Summit, SCW Mania, NSCA National Conference, and various other learning conference and seminar opportunities. The experience will be well worth it, for not only you but also your training staff. Speaking as someone who has been to conferences all over the world and knows the value of that face to face learning experience, I can tell you that the investment in sending your team to these events is well worth it. Yes it does cost a lot of money but as I just said, you should view it as an investment and an opportunity to strengthen your team so that they can become better fitness professionals, increase their knowledge, help more clients, represent your brand better, and essentially increase profits for the business.

happy-computer2. In House Library – Maybe your budget is smaller and it’s completely understandable if you are financially unable to send all or even some of your training staff to one of the conferences that was just mentioned above or maybe it just doesn’t work for some of your staff to leave town for a few days. However, with the power of the internet, the good news is that you can now bring education directly to your facility for your team via books, podcasts, teleseminars, webinars, articles, CDs, DVDs, and more. Having an in-house library with extensive resources that your team can tap into at any given time will prove to be tremendous to their growth and keep them ahead of the curve. Your trainers will be better equipped as they are constantly in the know and surrounded with cutting edge information that will help them not only keep their individual knowledge up, but it will also help to keep their CECs & CEUs current so that they can maintain their training certification. Your training staff will thank you and so will their clients.

3. Live Workshops at your Facility – Nowadays, you can bring in top experts from the fitness industry from all over the world to come speak to you and your team at your place of business. This is a great way to really motivate your team and get the opportunity to bring in someone that they most likely have heard of before and maybe even have looked up to. For your entire team but more specifically your younger staff, they will really respond well to having a well known influencer, in person to deliver some amazing content for professional growth. By doing this, you are basically challenging and encouraging your team to get better and you are letting them know that you want them to be the best that they can be!

Education-clip-art-free4. Incentivize Education – There are a lot of businesses that reward their staff for acquiring more degrees or certifications or by taking a particular class. This is an amazing way to really motivate your team to keep learning because most people are motivated by money, recognition, and competition. Yes, I said “competition” – you can create some kind of in-house challenge that encourages obtaining more continuing education units such as, “Whomever gets the most CECs or CEUs between June 15 – August 30 will receive an additional $500 in their paycheck.” That’s just one idea but you can certainly play around with this concept and talk to your team to create some buzz and of course, some friendly competition among them.

5. Let Your Staff Be Creative – Everyone likes to be empowered, including your team. Use these slower months to create a plan to execute for the rest of the current year as well as even the next year for everything for the business; including the educational process, the marketing, the growth plan, customer service, etc. Don’t allow your facility, your services, your culture, or your marketing to get stale and what better way to do that than to collaborate with your team. Get them involved in other areas of the business so that they feel like a larger piece of the puzzle. You want them to have a strong interest in seeing profits soar, enrollment increase, improved brand recognition, and better client results and the best way for them to feel that connection is to involve them.

By doing all of above, you are showing your team that you care and that you appreciate them being apart of your work environment. Loyalty plays a huge part in business and statistics show that investing in your team will drastically improve your chances to create the massive results that you want for not only the profits of your business but also for the longevity of your business.

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.


Open and Closed Chain Exercises on Total Gym

When to Use Open or Closed Chain on Total Gym?

Simply put, open chain exercise is where one end is fixed while the other end is free. Raising the arm up overhead or knee extension are open chain exercises. A closed chain exercise is when both ends are fixed. For example, push-ups and squats are closed chain exercises. Open chain exercise is easier to implement when isolating a single joint. For example, the elbow joint is isolated with biceps curl and the knee is isolated with hamstring curls. In rehabilitation, when weight bearing, strength and range of motion are impaired or injury is acute, open chain exercises may be easier to implement. With that said, open chain exercises can place greater shear, stress, on a joint, making closed chain exercise more desirable.

Wide Rear Fly - Open Chain

Wide Rear Fly – Open Chain

Closed chain exercises increase joint stability, decrease acceleration forces, and increase muscular activity to help resist large forces. Due to nature of the exercise, closed chain exercises tend to incorporate more joints. For example, a squat involves movement at the ankle, knee and hip. A push up involves movements at the wrist, elbow and shoulder girdle. Due to increased muscular and joint activity in closed chain exercises, stability in a joint may be enhanced. Thus, in rehabilitation, closed chain exercise may be a more ideal exercise in clients with instability. Note instability may be present with swelling or post injury as in the case of a knee ligament tear.

If weight bearing is not restricted, squats may be an optimal way to help with stability and increase range of motion. In a fitness training, closed chain exercises are a great way to address a multitude of muscles in a small amount of time.

Lunge - Closed Chain

Basic Lunge – Closed Chain

Closed chain exercises can also provide a great way to increase weight bearing on to bones, which is important in the prevention of osteoporosis.

Understanding the Rationale

So when constructing your workout or rehab routine, what should you do more of…open chain exercise or closed chain exercise? Unfortunately, it is client dependent. However, if you can understand the why behind a philosophy then you can decide what exercises work for you. Note that most routines have a combination of open and closed chain exercise.  Here are some examples of exercises, general rationale and open or closed chain in nature.  To watch the exercises, click here.

Open.Closed Chain Exercises on Total Gym

About the Author

Elizabeth Leeds, DPTElizabeth Leeds, DPT, owner of Seaside Fitness and Wellness, combines her background in physical therapy, personal training and Pilates in her practice and teaching. As a pelvic floor physical therapist working at Comprehensive Therapy Services in San Diego, her passion for pregnancy and postpartum is seen in her mission to empower women with knowledge and understanding of their physical changes, and how to address them to prevent future issues. Additionally, Elizabeth is a Master Trainer and developer for Total Gym’s GRAVITY education.


Avoid Personal Trainer Turnover / Total Gym

Top 3 Ways To Keep Your Trainers Happy

Total Gym Personal TrainingNowadays there are Personal Trainers EVERYWHERE you look and finding one for your club should not be a hard task at all. Assuming that you find a great Personal Trainer to work for you at your facility, the real task comes with keeping them happy and employed at your club.

Of course you are not going to make everyone happy all the time and losing a Personal Trainer here and there is just part of the game, but as an Owner, Director, or Manager of a club, your job is to make sure that you do your best to keep the turnover to a minimum and retaining your best employees.

Retaining your Personal Trainers especially the “Superstar” ones will help you to create a winning culture in your facility and will also help you to recruit other high quality individuals to come and work for you.  Chances are that whatever YOU would want out of a job, your employee wants too, so starting there should be your first choice. Put yourself in the shoes of your employee(s) and think about what it would take for you to stay at a job long term.  Is it money? Security? Culture? Opportunities? Treatment? Benefits? Some of those? All of those? None of those but something different?

With everyone being different and having different needs in life, there are a variety of ways to retain your Personal Training team and keep them motivated but below you will find the Top 3 ways to help you to retain them, keep them happy, and avoid the Personal Trainer turnover.

Top 3 Ways To Help You To How To Avoid The Personal Trainer Turnover

1.  Treat Them Well – This is probably the most basic yet the most overlooked piece of advice to help you to avoid Personal Personal Training on Total GymTrainer turnover. Just like any other relationship in your life, you should respect your employees at all times and provide them with the kind of experience that creates loyalty equally between you, them, and the club. Treating your employee’s well can consists of a myriad of factors such as strong communication, unparalleled listening skills, being empathetic, being a strong leader for them, and leading by example. By demonstrating the above qualities, you show your staff that you care and when your employees know that you care about them, they reciprocate their actions & effort with loyalty to your brand.

2. Provide Them With Opportunity – YOU don’t want to be stuck in a job where you do the same thing on a day to day basis for multiple years to come, do you? Yeah – I didn’t think so and most likely neither do your employees. Show them that you want them to grow professionally by them helping to grow your brand by providing them with more responsibilities and challenges that stimulate them and their careers. Some Personal Trainers solely want to just train clients and if that works for them and works for you, then that’s great. However, most Personal Trainers start to burn out from training clients after so many years of training. So to help them to avoid the burn out, it would be worth it to you to be proactive and provide additional opportunities to your trainer NOW to help them to mix things up. Additional opportunities that you can offer your team can include assistance in operations, managerial duties, creating corporate fitness & fitness retreats, becoming a Head Trainer, speaking and representing your brand at fitness conferences, and many more. Get creative and show your team that you trust them to perform on a day to day basis, even outside of their training session. Who knows? You may even be surprised what kind of talent that you end up unlocking within your employee by providing them with additional responsibilities and opportunities.

gpt_cheerleader_18733. Pay Them Well – This is another one of those “DUH” moments and it also connects with the number one way listed above to avoid the Personal Trainer turnover which is to “Treat Them Well” everyday. Paying your employees well does not mean that you have to break the bank to pay them, give them equity in the company, or pay them more than you personally make but it does mean paying them fairly. Finding a fair compensation to pay your Personal Trainers can be as simple as networking and communicating with other clubs in your area and their management staff, a good google search, and/or even checking out a Fitness Industry guide published from the likes of the IDEA Health & Fitness Association or the American Council on Exercise where they put out annual reports consisting of researched data and showing the median income for Personal Trainer salaries and hourly wages in various demographic locations.

When determining how much to you pay your team, you also have to look at how much your club can afford to pay, operational overhead, the cost of living in your area, the education & experience of the trainer, will you offer benefits, are there any incentives or bonuses that you can offer, and what quality of Personal Trainer do you want to have at your club as well as what kind of clientele frequents your club? It is also very important to ask yourself the following questions when creating the pay scale for your personal training employees:

Total Gym Row Trainer Small Group Class“(1) Is the wage that I’m offering to my team enough to live comfortably in this area?; (2) If I had a family to support, would the income and benefits be enough to support them?; (3) What other duties can I include in the job description to possibly justify a little bump in salary for your staff?”

These are all honest questions that you have to ask yourself because it will give you a great edge when hiring your team because if you can successfully switch your mindset to match theirs, you will make the best choice possible with your hire and create a high quality training staff for your club that KNOWS that you value them!

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.



Cuing for Postural Alignment on Total Gym

Postural Considerations For Total Gym Exercises

Total Gym Physical Therapy

Elizabeth Leeds, DPT

As a PT, I am always concerned how bad posture can be the catalyst to musculoskeletal, neural, digestive, urogenital and cardiovascular issues.  If posture was an easy correction, then we would see more ideal postures with our clients. Achieving a more ideal posture encompasses education on lifestyle habits, biomechanics, and exercise to strengthen postural muscles. Using a mirror to provide visual feedback on postural faults, and how to correct them, can be the first step to build awareness; however, most people are not in front of a mirror with every day activities. Thus teaching the person to feel a more ideal posture becomes the next step. From there, education on sitting, standing and moving can take place. Inform patients that achieving ideal posture is a  journey. Taking the initial steps may seem insurmountable and overwhelming, but commitment and consistency will pay off.

Within the journey, you may find ideal posture, then sickness, pain, travel, work, pregnancy, etc. can have our posture veering into poor pattern. To help counteract these sidetracks, enhance one’s flexibility, strength and stability within the body.

There are multiple exercise techniques such as Yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, and Feldenkrais which help improve posture. Regardless of the exercise style, there is a common theme, cuing for postural alignment.  Which is the best method? The method that the client finds him/herself most attracted to and likely to adhere to. The essence of the Total Gym is that you can transfer many of your favorite exercises onto it.  Below are some postural considerations when implementing some of your favorite exercises.(Please refer to your Foundation Manual for exercises OR you can view here:

  • Squats: Allow pelvis to drop off the edge of the glideboard to facilitate anterior pelvic tilt.
  • Seated Forward: Tendency is for people to lean backward increasing thoracic kyphosis and/or posterior pelvic tilt.
  • Seated Backward: Due to the incline of the board, it can be more challenging to sit in a neutral position. Thus inclining the board can facilitate a more neutral position and impede posterior pelvic tilting.
  • Seated Lateral: The glideboard inclined can encourage unwanted side bending of the trunk and irritability for those with postural faults.

As mentioned previously, cuing is essential. Here are some cues to facilitate alignment.

Group Physical Therapy on Total Gym

Cuing on Total Gym PowerTower

Forward Head

  • Drop the chin slightly and push the back of the head backward.
  • Fingertip on the nose and one on the back of the head at the occiput. Draw an imaginary line between the fingers with an arrow toward the nose. You want the line to be parallel to the ground.

Elevated Shoulders

  • Slide shoulders away from ears.
  • Feel the shoulder blades glide into back pockets.

Thoracic Kyphosis

  • Keep the chest lifted.
  • Imagine the collarbones widening.
  • Visualize showing off a favorite necklace.

Posterior Pelvic Tilt

  • Stick buttocks backward.
  • Feel a string lifting buttocks.
  • Imagine guy wires attached to the inner thighs, pulling the inner thighs back.

Anterior Pelvic Tilt

  • Gently tuck the hips under.

Lastly here are my favorite postural strengthening exercises. They lengthen the front of the chest, strengthen the back, and challenge the core.

1. Diagonal Pull

  • Elevate glideboard to help prevent posterior pelvic tilting.
  • Watch for excessive shoulder elevation.

2. Reverse Fly

  • Focus on shoulder blades gliding together versus shoulder elevation.
Total Gym PowerTower

Wellness Session on Total Gym

3. Offering

  • Focus on keeping the width in the chest with forward flexion and with shoulder horizontal abduction allow the chest to open. Use the feet on the ground while the arms move outward to avoid excessive stretch and to assist from moving from an over-stretched position.

4. Prone or Low Kneeling Upper Back Extension

  • The cables here are used for feedback as to when to stop moving.
  •  Low kneeling can position the low back into a posterior pelvic tilt, which can assist clients whose tendency is to move from their low back.
  •  Prone is also a nice way to provide spinal support and feedback for those who need greater awareness.

5. Supine Pilates Midback Series (Pullovers; Shoulder Adduction; Triceps Press)

  • Like prone provides a greater spinal support and awareness.
  • If needed, use a pillow and/or wedge under the head and/or rib cage to assist with alignment.
  • Note reaching the arms overhead can be a great way to stretch the LATs, however, to exit this position, bend the elbows and pull the elbows to the ribs and hands to the shoulders (pulldown).

6. Alternating Shoulder Extension and Hip Extension.

  • Incline glideboard can decreased resistance to weight bearing upper extremity.
  • A parallel glideboard may mimic the floor, but stability requirements are higher with a moving glideboard.

About the Author

Elizabeth Leeds, DPTElizabeth Leeds, DPT, owner of Seaside Fitness and Wellness, combines her background in physical therapy, personal training and Pilates in her practice and teaching. As a pelvic floor physical therapist working at Comprehensive Therapy Services in San Diego, her passion for pregnancy and postpartum is seen in her mission to empower women with knowledge and understanding of their physical changes, and how to address them to prevent future issues. Additionally, Elizabeth is a Master Trainer and developer for Total Gym’s GRAVITY education.


Why is Circuit Training Great for Your Gym?

Bridging the Gap Between Selectorized Equipment and Functional Cages. 

In a market where, since 2008, gyms are competing for the attention of 41 million American health club members, every gym owner needs to understand how to attract new members. Why do people go to the gym instead of working out at home and how do you keep them once they walk in the gym doors?

Total Gym Elevate Circuit

Total Gym Elevate Circuit

The primary reason people leave the comfort of home is the availability of exercise equipment. Another reason is that it’s lonely at home. The gym provides a social atmosphere that helps with motivation. Since all gym franchises offer exercise equipment, from free weights to machines, sharp marketing is especially important to attract potential clients.  And awareness of trends in this business helps. For example, the age demographic for gym members has shifted from 18-34 year olds to include both children (due to the childhood obesity epidemic) and those over 50 (the Baby Boomer generation). The ideal gym needs to invite people of all ages to exercise within their abilities in a safe, enjoyable environment with useful equipment to improve physical health.

Press Trainer

Explosive Plyometrics


Chris Stevenson, owner of Stevenson Fitness, faculty member of the California Health and Longevity Institute and founder of Stay Strong Consulting, looks for fairly simple-to-operate equipment that members can use by themselves. He weighs the benefits of a piece of equipment against its features. Does it provide social interaction? Does it use body weight, weight plates or weight stacks? “It’s important to engage your members, while asking the question ‘How is this going to increase my revenue?’” Small group training has evolved to be a perfect fit for utilizing personal trainer staff while providing customer satisfaction. Trainers can even help shape customer loyalty to particular pieces of equipment in which you have invested by consistently using these machines in small group sessions.

As a fitness provider, Stevenson also believes it’s essential to offer education and motivation. And the key to motivation lies insocial interaction with both the gym staff and other gym members. “It’s important to create a welcoming atmosphere where members feel like they’re part of a gym family and where they can bring their families.”


The Total Gym Elevate Circuit, targeting both group and individual training in the functional fitness trend, is the first line of functional bodyweight resistance single-station machines. Simple in design, each piece is intuitive to use and offers workouts for all levels of fitness. There are six pieces: the Core Trainer, Leg Trainer, Pull-up Trainer, Press Trainer, Jump Trainer and Row Trainer, which can be used individually or together in a circuit to perform over 80 exercises, from basic to challenging.

Total Gym Row Trainer on the cardio deck

Total Gym Row Trainer


Circuit training has gone through a number of iterations, from 30-minute light-weight, high rep sets, to 4-minute high intensity interval training (HIIT), such as Tabata. The most basic circuits involve selectorized equipment because of the necessity for speed and ease of changing weights between users. Selectorized equipment using weight stacks has always been touted as a “great way to do circuit training” because it targets beginner and intermediate gym-goers.  The load is controlled and the body is positioned ergonomically. Plate loaded machines are the next step up in resistance training for those who max out the weight limits on the selectorized weight stack.  The workouts are generally anaerobic though, which means users need to do cardio exercises separately to get a complete workout.

Total Gym addresses this dichotomy by incorporating full body motion in every Elevate Circuit machine using body weight, gravity and (at times) bungee-type bands as resistance. In particular, the Jump Trainer provides low and high impact, highly effective plyometric movement that’s accessible to all.  Plyometric exercises can also be performed by using explosive pushing action on the Press Trainer, forceful pulling action on the Pull-up Trainer and explosive jumping on the Jump Trainer. These actions allow the user to get an airborne feeling by releasing the hand grips as they move up and down the rails. The body stays safely anchored on the glideboard, with no chance for falling or landing too hard. More importantly by using only a percentage of bodyweight, a user, who may not have previously been able to perform certain exercises, can now jump, or a do press up, or a pull-up. 

Row Trainer small group class

Row Trainer small group class

The Total Gym Row Trainer, emulating a rowing pattern, integrates an upper and lower body component into a traditional cardio machine and is the latest addition to the Elevate Circuit.  It enables a smooth consistent load through the entire range of motion due to loaded concentric and eccentric phases of the exercise while providing low impact on the joints, especially the lower spine.  And it is built for multi-planar movement including exercises such as biceps curl and an alternating side to side row.


On the other end of the spectrum of gym trends is CrossFit, which tends to appeal to competitive athletic types who enjoy variety and challenge. Gyms that focus on this type of workout use a cage or “power” cage with performance station set-ups in small group training, which, as mentioned before, is a great way to encourage members to buy sessions.

The cage footprint can be from 4′ by 4′ to 24′ or larger, and there’s a lot of equipment that is normally used with it—barbells, dumbbells, weight benches, resistance bands, rings, medicine balls, TRX bands, etc. To first-time gym goers it can be intimidating. Deconditioned people, older members, and injured members have a difficult time using functional cage setups on their own.

Total Gym Elevate Circuit - Core Trainer & Pull-up Trainer

Core Trainer & Pull-up Trainer

Total Gym bridges the gap between the novice equipment user and advanced athletes who like to circuit train. In fact, the Elevate line also saves money in the equipment budget while capitalizing on space, and it allows for greater revenue by providing a way to offer small group training with personal trainers. This bodyweight circuit is for every body. And, as such, it should be positioned as a transitional circuit.


Each of the six pieces in the Elevate Circuit can be used as part of a circuit or individually. The exercises can be progressed from beginner to advanced fitness levels by increasing the incline at which the work is done and incorporating plyometric variations. The Jump Trainer and Row Trainer also have bungee cables to add more resistance than gravity and body weight alone.

The equipment can be grouped together or by body part, intermixed with traditional selectorized equipment. Note that if you put the Core Trainer with an ab-crunch machine, clients will quickly see which one offers more diversity and quicker full-core results. The same goes for the Leg Trainer, which can take the place of the glute machine, the quad machine and the hamstring machine.

Total Gym Elevate Circuit - Certainly Feels Like Fun

What Does Fun Feel Like?


Exercises are intuitive and the equipment is user-friendly with placards illustrating exercises on how to perform the circuit. A quick scan of the QR code opens numerous videos demonstrating even more options. All the machines are more fun to use than selectorized or plate loaded equipment because you’re actually moving your body up and down incline rails with your physical efforts. “Riding the rails,” so to speak, is a great way to build body awareness. Research has shown that exercising one limb at a time can allow for heavier weights to be lifted by the single limb compared to when both are used at the same time. This can increase the stress placed on the muscle and help exercisers get better results*.  Each Elevate unit can isolate one limb or body part for effective strength gains. What client doesn’t like fast results and efficient workouts that are fun?

Another positive experience factor involves the circuit part of exercising with the Elevate Circuit – it brings people together, allowing them to be more social in the gym setting, or a small training program setting.  It bridges the gap between selectorized and functional cages. Selectorized machines are very isolating; and though people work out with others in the cage, it tends to get extremely competitive. There’s nothing in the middle—until now.  The Elevate Circuit, when used as a circuit, is designed to be followed by number. Six exercises for six machines. A trainer can lead six clients at a time for a full-body cardiovascular and strength workout. Every participant does exercise number one on each unit until they’ve cycled through the six machines. Returning back to the first machine they started on, every participant starts on exercise number two, and so on, until the group has completed six exercise on each unit. For some clients, this is a way to engage in effective body weight training for the first time.

Cardio and sculpting needs are both addressed in the Elevate Circuit. Plyometric and low impact options are easily interchanged. And you can even stretch on the machines—no separate space or equipment necessary for a special “stretching machine.”

The exercises can be regressed when a client is injured. The fully-supported body position options are useful for therapeutic exercise programs. This helps retain members who would otherwise quit due to injury, boredom and being unsuccessful.

MONEY TALKSTotal Gym Elevate Circuit

According to IHRSA, every gym owner wants equipment that is cost effective, requires low maintenance, is visually pleasing, and helps members see great results. Gym owners capitalize on the ease of use and appeal to non-athletic or inexperienced people (think Curves or Orange Theory) who are intimidated by free weights or plate-loaded equipment. The Total Gym Elevate Circuit is aligned with what gym owners are looking for. They are simple to lift and move since they are on wheels, which means you can change the configuration of your gym as you see fit. And they only take up just over 200 square feet of space. The machines are modern with sleek lines, which attract the eye of discerning clients. Total Gym Elevate Circuit is revolutionary:  for less than $11,000, you can update your gym with the latest equipment design in fitness that is guaranteed to drive sales and member retention while satisfying the clients’ needs for functional training and that’s fun and engaging.

*(Cresswell AG, Ovendal AH.,2002, Hakkinen K,,1997)

For more information email or contact 858-764-0034.

About the Author

Jodai SaremiJodai Saremi, DPM, BS , is a freelance writer, AFAA certified trainer, and fitness model. She has written for American Fitness, SPIN fitness,  Your Health Connection magazines, and other online publications. Her articles have also been featured in textbooks. She enjoys an active lifestyle and lives in Ventura County, Calif. with her husband and two children.

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