10 Ways to Make the Most of Personal Training


10 Ways to Make the Most of Personal Training

1. Show up.

The number one thing you need to do to take full advantage of your training is to actually be there. If your schedule allows it, set consistent times that you meet with your trainer each week and stick to them. We know that life can get hectic, but your training should be as consistent as possible as we know it takes consistency to attain any fitness goal. There are plenty of gyms out there that’ll take your membership dues and not care if you actually come in. If you’re making the investment of hiring a trainer, we want you to be there and we want the best for you.

2. Do your homework.

Not everyone will have homework assigned to them by their trainer because everyone’s exercise program is different. However, If you do have homework from us, take the time to do it. You only see your trainer for a few hours per week, so homework can help you continue to improve even when you’re not in the gym. There may be similarities, but each athlete’s homework will likely be different: for some, it’ll be a stretching routine; for others, cardio; and for certain people, a full exercise routine. Though they may be different, they all have one thing in common and that’s to make you better at something. Homework will go along with whatever goals you’re working towards at the time, but all homework is important. Work with your trainer to figure out times you can do it, and I suggest putting it in your schedule like a training session.

3. Communicate.

Let us know! Not everything is for sharing with your trainer, but when in doubt, let them know what’s going on. This could mean letting us know about any pain you may be feeling from time to time, a type of exercise you really enjoy, or even a when you’re having an especially good or bad day. With pain, if you let your trainer know early that a certain pain keeps coming back, then they can adjust the program or perhaps even fix it. A small pain ignored for a long period of time could turn into an injury that has you out for months. Next, let’s say you really enjoyed the boxing class you took the other day - let your trainer know and they can work some boxing into your program. It’s important to enjoy your time at the gym, so if there are ways we can make that happen, we will!

4. Review your goals after each reassessment.

You had a goal in mind when you hired your trainer, whether it be to just get into better shape, to lift as heavy as you had before, or even to run a marathon. First off, be sure that you have something being measured that relates to that goal, then make sure you’re working towards it. Each time you get measured is a time for you to think about (or rethink) what you want to accomplish. I’ve had athletes who came in looking for weight loss who, after losing weight, decided they wanted bigger arms. I’ve also had athletes initially come in to correct movement issues, then progress to training for a sport they used to play or a new race/competition after we corrected them. If your trainer still thinks you want to work on one thing but you’re thinking about another, tell us! If you don’t, your training won’t align with your goals and you won’t be getting what you want out of the experience.

5. Make good choices outside of the gym.

One “bad” weekend of going out, drinking, eating, etc. does not ruin a workout program, but doing so consistently will make achieving goals much harder. Not all trainers have a nutrition component to their training, but they should all know how to eat well themselves. Ask us questions or see if we can point you in the right direction on a certain subject, as the internet will give you a million different answers for the same question. A complete healthy lifestyle includes working out, good nutrition, and adequate recovery. If you’re serious about attaining your fitness goals, you have to live it outside the gym as well, which means putting down the burger every once in a while and getting your 6-8 hours of sleep as often as possible.

6. Give it time.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and fitness goals don’t come in a month. That is all.

7. Make sure to plan around travel when possible.

The holiday season is when a lot of athletes start to fall off of their programs. Yes, this has to do with the parties that come along with the holidays, but it also has to do with athletes being out of town and missing their workouts. At Perform for Life, we do our best to make sure our athletes get all of their workouts in each month to stay on track with their goals. One strategy we use for this is to load the weeks before and/or after travel with the extra sessions that would’ve been used the week the athlete is traveling. This, along with travel exercise plans that are appropriate for the athlete to do alone, means the progress gained doesn’t have to take a hit. Be sure to communicate beforehand with your trainer so that they can do their best to accommodate the extra sessions and to get travel workouts prepared.

8. Give good effort during the session.

Coaches should motivate, but if the athlete needs 100% of the energy to come from them, it won’t happen. Remember that you’re most likely not the only person your trainer is seeing that day, and to provide all of the energy for every session is too much to ask from them. The gym is a place for you to work on you, a sanctuary from the outside world. One of the best things I learned from my college baseball coaches was the term “separate.” From the time it took you to walk down to the field from the locker room, it was your job to separate from that disappointing grade on a test (*cough* not me *cough*) or that argument with your roommate and to be in the moment, ready to do what was asked of you. They were there to help me be the best baseball player I could be, and we’re here to help you be the best that you can be.

9. Use their network.

Trainers should have at least a small network of health and wellness professionals around them that they can refer their clients to. If you have aches or pains and want to see someone, ask your trainer if they know a good acupuncturist, chiropractor, or whatever method you prefer. I’ve even helped an athlete pick a new gym in the city he was moving to by checking out it’s trainers and making sure they specialized in what he needed. The fitness world is relatively small, so see if your trainer can help form a fitness team you can trust.

10. Ask questions.

Coaches are full of knowledge and want you to learn! I’m not saying that you should take up half of the session asking why each exercise was chosen or what it does for you, but if you’re confused about something, just ask. Trainers appreciate athletes who want to know about their bodies and about the training so we’ll do our best to educate them on what’s going on. Sometimes exercises don’t quite make sense, so ask where you should be feeling it or if you’re set up correctly. One of my athletes asked me why I always gave them a certain cue during an exercise, and this sparked a small show-and-tell of how the cue I gave them during that exercise put their back in a safe position to do the lift. It allowed me to have more confidence in that athlete when she does her homework or if she ever goes back to training on her own. No trainer wants an athlete to come to them and leave having just had some good workouts - we want to show you the right way to do things, and have you continue that wherever it may be.


How P-DTR Can Help You


How P-DTR Can Help You

What is P-DTR?

P-DTR stands for Proprioceptive Deep Tendon Reflex. The technique of P-DTR optimizes the functioning of the human nervous system, resulting in increased performance and decreased pain and dysfunction. P-DTR is different from many other techniques because it deals directly with the nervous system and allows us to make right a multitude of possible dysfunctions in the nervous system.  Most techniques work indirectly on the nervous system, whereas P-DTR is much more targeted.

What is a Proprioceptor?

A proprioceptor is a sensory receptor (part of the nervous system) that receives stimuli from within the body. We have many different types of proprioceptors – some that sense pressure and touch, others that sense temperature changes, some monitor the body’s position in space, and others communicate potentially hazardous or painful stimulus. The brain then interprets this information and organizes the nervous system response accordingly. This is great when there is no negative proprioceptive information present, but when the proprioceptors communicate that there is an injury or excess stimulus, it will start organizing movement sub-optimally. Doing so can negatively affect movement quality - at best making it inefficient, and at worst causing someone to experience substantial discomfort and weakness.

Nearly every time the body is injured, there is a proprioceptive component to the injury.  For instance, if you cut your hand, tissue damage obviously occurred - we’ll refer to this tissue as the “hardware” of the human body. However, there will also be trauma to the proprioceptors - we’ll call these the “software” of the human body. In this case, the proprioceptors that transmit noxious stimuli will be aggravated when the cut occurs. Fast forward three weeks: the cut is healed, but the strength in the hand is not quite where it used to be.  In this case, the hardware issue has healed, but there is still the software component of the dysfunctional proprioceptors.  Despite the fact that the laceration has healed, the proprioceptors are still communicating to the brain that there is an injury. The result of this proprioceptive feedback is impaired function of the hand. Prior to my training in P-DTR, I would view this issue as a strength problem - “the hand is still weak, so let’s strengthen it back up!” But strength isn’t the problem in this instance, the information the proprioceptors send to the brain is. By using P-DTR, we can directly address the issues in the software - that is, the proprioceptors - and in doing so, normalize the function of the hand, or any given dysfunctional muscle.

The technique is fast, efficient and very effective.  Whether it’s a client looking to recover from an injury or a client looking to optimize their performance, P-DTR has been a game changer in my practice. Here at Perform for Life, we have 3 clinical bodyworkers that are trained in P-DTR techniques - Austin Villamil, Bob Gazso, and myself. If you would like to experience the benefits, we'd love to schedule an appointment with you.


WTF is Manual Muscle Testing?!

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WTF is Manual Muscle Testing?!

When you’re sweating through your workout at P4L, or if you’ve ever just walked by the gym and peered through the windows, you may have noticed a few coaches standing around and weirdly pushing on their client’s limbs and muscles. A client may be standing or sitting or even lying on a massage table as a coach pushes or pulls at an arm or leg from a multitude of awkward angles. What’s going on at P4L? It may look a bit strange, but what’s actually being done is a very cool tool called manual muscle testing.

Manual muscle testing is a diagnostic tool that comes from Applied Kinesiology with which a practitioner can evaluate whether or not a muscle is neurologically functional. It works by having a patient or client perform a muscle movement that the practitioner manually challenges so as to see whether or not the client can appropriately meet the resistance. Maybe it’s best to use an example to explain what I mean.

Let’s say I want to muscle test my client’s latissimus dorsi, or lat (a muscle located on the back side of the body). The client may be standing, seated, or even lying down and I’d begin by having her internally rotate her shoulder (so that their palm is facing away from their body, below).

Then, I’d instruct her to meet my resistance as I pull her arm away from her body into flexion and abduction (in front of and away from the body), thereby challenging her to adduct (pull toward the body), extend (pull behind the body), and internally rotate the shoulder in one motion, which are all the muscle actions of the latissimus dorsi.

This is why I have my client maneuver in such a specific way - so that I can target one specific muscle and challenge it to perform its main action by trying to pull it in the opposite direction of said action.

This is just one example, but we have muscle tests for all the major muscles of the body, so now that you know how it works, you might be able to see how manual muscle testing is a handy tool for thoroughly assessing a variety of movements from head to toe. We can test whether muscles can contract and relax properly, which is very important from a neurological standpoint. Clients can tell us if activating a specific muscle causes pain, which can lead us to the right steps for resolving and preventing that pain. We can look for areas of weakness or for weakness in specific muscles that may correlate to dysfunctions in exercise, which can then help us to correct movement.

Manual muscle testing is one of the many tools some of us use alongside our exercise programming and bodywork, and it has definitely been a useful one. It's helped some of my clients improve muscle activation, reduce or prevent pain, and achieve their goals. So the next time you notice a training session on the floor that looks a little different, just know that our clients and patients are (literally) in good hands. Maybe even give it a try yourself!

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Why the Key to Success is Failure


Why the Key to Success is Failure

I grew up on The Fresh Prince and I’ve always admired Will Smith for the way he’s able to be real with his audience. Through his TV shows and films, I was able to connect and relate to the underlying messages in his work. Hard work and determination were always the key to his success. Of course, with success comes failure. In the video above, Smith explains that failure isn't always a bad thing. Failures and mistakes are what make us stronger. It’s okay to fail but not okay to quit.

When it comes to training...

Fail early.

When we first start exercising, whether it’s our first time or were coming back after being out of the game for a while, there will be failure. We may feel weak, feel timid, and be gasping for air, but if we don't fail at this stage, we won't have a starting point to improve upon.

Fail Often.

If we fail during our last rep or set, it’s okay - it means we’re pushing ourselves to be stronger and better than before. It’s important to push our limits and test our abilities. Failing over and over again shouldn’t and doesn’t determine our weakness, but shows where improvements can be made.

Fail Forward.

Use failure as forward momentum. Our job as movement specialists is to plan ahead, program for a goal you’ve set, and help you reach those goals. If you don’t reach those goals, remember a few things. First, you’re probably closer to your goals than you were before, so progress is being made. Second, use any anger and frustration you may feel as motivation to achieve them in the future. Finally, keep up the hard work, determination, and work ethic, just like Will Smith - who knows, maybe you’ll be the next Fresh Prince (or Princess).

Like Michael Jordan said, "I've failed over and over and over again in life, and that is why I succeed."


How "Why Not Now" Started


How "Why Not Now" Started

When it comes to making fitness a priority, we've told ourselves, "We'll start on Monday," or "It'll be my New Year's resolution."  Well, why not now?  Empower yourself in the present and make it your lifestyle!


How many of us are in love with fitness, training, rehabilitation, or anything related to the word I try to avoid using: exercise? Okay, I like to call any of the previous terms “movement” because it’s more intentional and it’s something we all need to do not only to survive, but thrive. You don’t need to love to move, but you do need to commit to movement in one form or another. For some of us, it’s because we’re training to perform our best at something. For others, movement may be used to recover from injuries. For most of us, exercise is not natural or enjoyable but we know we need to do it in order to look, feel, and be the best versions of ourselves. Believe it or not, I don’t personally enjoy fitness unless I’m training for a sport or an event. There are a few unique specimens who are passionate and sometimes obsessed with resistance training, running, plyometrics, etc. because it’s fun for them and allows them to reach a state of flow. Flow, aka “the zone”, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. We can discuss that next time as it’s a subject that I’m particularly interested in. For now, let’s stay on task - I’m here to talk about: commitment.


“A commitment is falling in love with something and then building a structure of behavior around it for those moments when love falters” - David Brooks’ lecture “The Next Big Challenge In Your Life”

I’m currently falling in love with the idea that I will be a parent soon, but I refuse to have a “dad bod”. My love and commitment has evolved, changed, and failed me several times - and that’s fine. I don’t have sporting events to train for, and I have no interest in training for a recreational event at the moment. In 2016, my commitment was to avoid having surgery to repair my ACL (yes, not having the surgery is an option). My focus was training hard to build the strength and body awareness necessary to have a fully functioning knee without a fully functioning ACL. Life is full of twists and turns and you don’t always have time to prepare for them, and that’s where motivation comes in. Your motivation is dictated by the current challenges you face. Motivation will keep you committed, and most importantly, keep you disciplined enough to keep you moving forward.

A Winning Mindset

Prior to the 2013 season, Russell Wilson inspired the the Seattle Seahawks with the phase “why not us”. In February of 2014, they won their first Super Bowl. Inspired by Russell Wilson, Justine and I came up with P4L’s slogan of “Why Not Now?” Why wait until tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year to focus on your fitness? Or better yet, why wait to commit to something you love? We all have a love for something, and that love will motivate us to stay committed to reaching our goals.