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Personal Training 

Personal Training: Not Just For Hollywood Celebrities
by Michael J. Merlino, BBA, ACE, BSMI (CPFT, RES, SCS), Cooper Institute
Owner, Merlino Fitness, MerlinoFitness.com

This months feature article was originally published in the July, 1998 issue of Houston Sports News magazine.

The first time you heard about someone working with a personal trainer it was probably a celebrity such as Sly Stallone training for the next Rocky sequel, Madonna getting in shape for her latest world tour, or Oprah realizing the benefits of hard work and exercise after years of yoyo dieting. Well, move over Hollywood! Personal training is no longer only for the rich and famous. Many everyday people from all walks of life are discovering the benefits of hiring a personal fitness trainer to help attain their fitness goals.

How Personal Training Can Benefit You
I asked some personal training clients who are currently working with trainers in Houston why they decided to hire a trainer, and how they have benefited from the experience. Other than the obvious "lose weight, gain muscle" answer, most state they feel personal training helps them stay motivated and focused, as well as increase their fitness knowledge. Lack of motivation and inadequate fitness and nutrition knowledge can easily derail even the most carefully crafted workout program. "If I didn' t set an appointment, I would not make my workouts," said Robert Michael, who works out with trainer Russell Castillo at 24 Hour Fitness. " I was also looking for knowledge, to learn how to work out. I was never really taught how to lift weights." Another client, who trains at the downtown YMCA, cited motivation and knowledge as two of the major benefits received from personal training. "Now that I have been using a personal trainer for a year, I am hooked, " said Karen Kehr. "I find it keeps me motivated and on target, and I can rely on my trainer for the most current information on fitness." Personal training and lots of hard work on her part have paid off for Karen with over 65 pounds of weight loss within the past year.

Other clients interviewed had already been working out on their own but did not feel they were getting the results they desired from their workouts. Learning proper form, technique and how to safely work each muscle group and avoid recurring injuries was an important selling point for the avid exercisers. Time management was also mentioned as another benefit of working with a trainer. These clients stated they felt committing to an appointment made them more accountable for staying on track with their program. Having a trainer plan each workout session also saves time and allows the client to concentrate more on performing each exercise correctly. The bottom line for most of the personal training clients seemed to focus on results and reaching goals. These clients hired a trainer because they were ready and committed to making a change; now that they are paying a professional for coaching and guidance, their expectations and likelihood of reaching their goals are much higher.

Post rehabilitation from injuries is quickly becoming another very popular reason for people to retain the services of a qualified trainer. Physical Rehabilitation following an injury is sometimes just the beginning of a conditioning program to improve strength and functionality. Many therapists and physicians are referring their clients to an experienced personal trainer once they have completed their rehabilitation program. With the limitations that many insurance companies set on the amount of rehab visits they will pay, the next step may be to continue strengthening and joint range of motion improvement with a fitness professional. This transition has been a very natural one according to Bob Strozier, who works with freelance trainer, Birgitt Haderlein. "I recently started chiropractic treatment for lower back pain and my doctor strongly suggested that I start working out with the assistance of a trainer. I have noticed a marked improvement in my posture and muscle tone and can lift objects that previously would have caused my back to hurt for days with pain or discomfort."

Personal Training Rates
Hiring a trainer is not cheap, but Houston' s personal training rates are still affordable compared to most major cities in the country. Most one hour sessions range from $25.00 to $70.00 an hour with the average hourly rate around $45.00. Some trainers and private studios also offer hour sessions which can make personal training even more affordable. Expect rates to be higher for sessions held in your home, office or a private personal training studio. Just like any profession, personal training rates may be higher for a more experienced trainer with many credentials. In Houston' s competitive personal training market, many trainers have become much more flexible on their rate structure and services. Most trainers offer discounts for purchasing sessions in bulk, sell mini packages for those who just want to learn how to improve their own workouts, or simply allow the purchase of sessions as the client sees fit without making a huge investment.

A Healthy Investment
Investing in your health now and consistently building fitness into your lifestyle is nothing more than preventative medicine. Every day, more undisputed research is pouring in to reinforce the benefits of consistent, life long exercise. There is nothing more important than your health. If hiring a trained professional to get you started or improve your workout program can help you reach your fitness goals and promote a more healthy lifestyle, it is an investment that will pay you big dividends for the rest of your life.

Michael Merlino is a Certified Professional Fitness Trainer and owner of Merlino Fitness and MerlinoFitness.com. He trains his clients at the Houston Downtown YMCA and his private fitness studio. Michael can be reached at 713.523.2577 or e-mail him at michael@merlinofitness.com. Click on one of the links below for more information on Michael and his fitness services.

View Michael's Bio
View Merlino Fitness Services




Weight Training
Lat Pulldowns
Pulldowns are a great exercise for the back muscles but avoid pulling the bar behind the head. Pull the bar down in front of the body toward the collar bone and with the bar just below your chin. Pulling the bar behind the head puts undue stress on the shoulders and rotator cuff.
Running
Avoiding Shin Splints
Do you have lower leg pain or shin splints from running? Running on hard surfaces, worn out running shoes and weak calf muscles could be the culprit. Try running on soft trails, buying a new pair of running shoes or adding calf exercises to your weight training routine.
Walking
The Talk Test
A great way to make sure you are staying in your aerobic fat-burning range is the talk test. If you cannot comfortably carry on a conversation with your walking partner you probably need to bring down the intensity to assure yourself that you are burning fat.
Fat Burning
Your Anaerobic Threshold
A great way to make sure you are burning fat during cardio sessions is knowing your anaerobic threshold or where your heart rate zone needs to be to burn fat stores. Find a gym or fitness center that offers anaerobic/VO2 testing. Merlino Fitness offers anaerobic threshold testing every month. Check out the link below for more details.
Merlino Fitness Metabolic Testing
Nutrition
Keys to Weight Loss
If you are trying to drop weight make sure you incorporate the following to get you on your way. Drink lots of water, don't skip meals (especially breakfast), do not eat late night meals or snacks after 7 or 8 pm and build as much activity into your everyday life as you can. Michael also recommends joining weight watchers to anyone trying to lose weight and keep it off long term.
Nutritional Supplements
Stay Away From Ephedra!
The weight loss/energy supplement is in the news again. Supplement companies that market this controversial supplement claim it is safe although many have died from this dangerous supplement. Make sure you check the labels of your nutritional supplements as many are laced with ephedra, also known as ephedrine or ma huang (the actual herbal).
Quick Tip Archives
Our archived collection of fitness and nutrition tips to help you stay focused and fit.
Tip Archives

Soy Dream
Ice Cream Sandwiches
Take the edge off those sweet cravings with this healthy soy alternative to an ice cream sandwich without the unwanted calories and guilt.
Product Website
Eggology Egg Whites
Take the edge off those sweet cravings with this healthy soy alternative to an ice cream sandwich without the unwanted calories and guilt.
Product Website
Grocery Store Archives
Our latest collection of on-line articles to help you stay focuses and fit.
Grocery Archives
 
Fitness
Pamela from Chihuahua, MexicoI work out 5 days a week and can't loose weight. I do spinning, tae bo and many types of cardio. Where am I going wrong?
Answer
Nutrition
Ross from Sidney, AustraliaI am currently trying to eat six small meals per day. Apart from breakfast and dinner, I always seem to forget or skip my meals during the day. I also need some simple, easy meals (snacks) that do not require refrigeration or preparation, apart from the obvious fruits.
Answer
Running
Amanda from Manitoba, CanadaWhat should I eat the morning of my track meet?
Answer
 


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