Tag Archives: Workout

How Do I Pick A Personal Trainer?


You often hear that it’s a good idea to work with a fitness professional. Someone who can help you reach your goals. Someone that can teach you how to do the exercises that would benefit you. Someone to help you wade through the sometimes overwhelming world of fitness information. But how do you know if a fitness professional is good? What qualifies someone as “good”? If they are in better shape than you, is that enough? I realized that I often suggest FM readers connect with a  fitness professional. I also realized, without giving at least a little direction as to how to go about looking for a fitness professional, I may be sending folks on a wild goose chase.

Well, reader, look no further. Actually, you may need to look a little further, but this will be a good start.

I reached out to my pal Keith Gacrama. He is a Strength Coach and Personal Trainer, as well as the owner of keithgacrama.com. The man knows his way around a fitness facility. He gets people strong, fast, and looking good. You name it. We chatted about the topic of what to look for in a fitness professional.

“Why should I work with fitness professional, anyway? I’ll just watch YouTube videos or follow a DVD!” You might say to yourself. Well, friend. Yes, you are right. There are lots of videos out there. The problem with watching a video and trying to copy it, is that it’s difficult to know if you’re doing the movement correctly. Even if you think you’re doing exactly what you are seeing, without a trained eye helping out, that’s rarely the case. Without knowing faults in your movement, you won’t be able to correct them. If you aren’t moving in a way that you should, you’re not being efficient with your movement. Also, without doing movements correctly, you risk injury. A fitness professional can help lower your risk of injury, while you progress towards your goals. “We’re only given one body. We need to make sure it’s running properly” explains Keith.

It’s important to note that simply because it seems that someone knows more about fitness than you do, doesn’t necessarily mean they are the best choice for a trainer or coach. Finding a professional who is certified is a great start. However, there are so many certifications, and so many ways to apply the information, there’s more to it. Keith suggests looking out for fitness professionals who can break explanations down into simple terms and movements. It’s not simply about using technical terms. It’s important for a trainer/coach to help you understand why you are doing what they have you doing. The more involved you are in what you’re doing; the more you understand WHY you’re doing it, the more likely you are to stay motivated and work hard to reach your goals.

A good conversation to have with a potential trainer/coach, is how they progress their client. Now, the goal that a person has, will determine the type of progression/program a trainer will choose. However, it’s still an important question. It’s not as simple as making each workout harder than the last one. Keith explains “there’s more to it than running yourself into the ground or beating yourself up each and every workout.” He explains that pain or soreness are not indicators of an effective training session. You hear many people referring to how good their workout was, because they are in so much pain. Now, this is different than people sharing their experience. It’s true, sometimes we get super sore, and it can be funny when a day or two after doing squats, it can be tough to stand up off of a chair. What we want to be careful with is the idea that one only knows they had an effective workout, if they are in pain.

When first working with a fitness professional, make sure they plan to put you through some sort of screen or assessment. These are important as they point out dysfunction in our movement. If a trainer doesn’t do this, they wouldn’t know what to correct or build on. Jumping right into an exercise program without knowing what movement dysfunction needs attention can be dangerous. “If they don’t do that (screening/assessment), I’d look elsewhere” suggests Keith. In addition to having a client go through a movement screen, keep an eye out for the trainer to have a plan as to how to address what they found. It’s important to know what needs work and how to improve it. “Even elite athletes need screenings done. It’s how we lower the probability of injury during their season” explains Keith.

It’s also important to see how well you get along with your potential fitness professional. Do you enjoy conversation with them? Do you feel they care about your well being” Do you feel that they listen to you? These things seem obvious, but it’s important to feel comfortable with your trainer/coach. Think about it. If you don’t enjoy your time with your trainer, or if you just don’t get along, you won’t be likely to stay consistent with the plan you both set. Some trainers are more firm in their delivery than others. That’s okay. Different people respond to different approaches. It’s all about what you feel comfortable with, and what you feel is a healthy connection that will keep you consistent with your game plan.

In the end, it’s about being your own biggest advocate. Whether or not you are able to work with a fitness professional in the near future, you should still educate yourself. See what seems to make sense. See what doesn’t make sense. See what information clashes with other information you read. What have you learned from your experiences? How do those experience coincide with what you have read or heard. There are many fitness personalities/authors/trainers. The more you learn about what folks have to say, and the approach they have, the more you’ll start to learn about what direction you may want to try.

Granted, all trainers/coaches need to start somewhere. I don’t mean to sound like if a trainer doesn’t know everything in the world, go somewhere else. Learning never stops. Maybe the rates of a more experienced coach or trainer are a bit higher than you can do right now. Maybe a trainer that you are working with doesn’t have prestigious certifications yet. We all have to start somewhere. These are simply ideas to think about when on your search for a fitness professional. If who you speak with doesn’t have all of the answers right away, but is clearly actively working to improve their body of knowledge and ability to deliver that knowledge, that’s a good sign. See how you feel about who you are working with, be smart, and take it one step at a time.

I want to thank Keith Gacrama for taking the time to share his thoughts. For more on him and how to get in contact, check out www.keithgacrama.com as well as his professional page on Facebook.

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What Is A Heart Rate Monitor?


The wireless heart rate monitor for fitness training was invented in 1977, in order to help the Finnish National Cross Country Ski team train. This type of  technology has recently gained lots of attention from the fitness community. Because of this, I decided to write a bit about what a heart rate monitor is, what it used for, and what to look for when looking to make a purchase.

Fitness isn’t just about quantity. It’s also about the level of intensity at which you conduct your activity. Different levels of intensity, for different amounts of time, may make reaching certain fitness goals more likely. For example, instead of picking an arbitrary amount of time to  do a sprint interval, and pre determined rest period, you would use your heart rate monitor to specifically tell you when you are in the target heart rate zone you are looking for. Therefore, instead of resting or lowering the intensity of exercise based on time, you would use the information feedback from your heart rate monitor to guide you. If you have a heart rate range you would like to stay in, your heart rate monitor would tell you when to raise or lower your intensity based off of your current heart rate. This makes your workout more efficient, because you are able to better personalize your program, and not just go by periods of time or intensity that are based off of general programs.

To simplify this concept: the HRM goes “Hey, step your game up, you wuss!!!” or “Yo, ease up, so you don’t die. Thanks.” This is done by giving you visual feedback, audio feedback, or both. Many people like this.  You tell your device what your goal is, and just go for it. It’ll tell you what you need to know. Granted, you still need a well put together program, hopefully created by a qualified fitness professional. But this type of device can be a great asset.

You’re convinced this is cool technology that you may want to look into. But, how does it work?

Heart rate monitors work by measuring electrical signals from the heart, and displaying that information on your device.

There are generally two type of heart rate monitors. Chest strap, and finger sensor models.


Chest Strap Models: This type of HRM continuously wirelessly sends heart rate information from a fastened chest strap, to a watch (or other device). As with any technology, there are different models that vary with different functionality, and therefore, price. The more advanced models have GPS capabilities, as well as send a coded signal so as to not get interference from other HRMs in your surrounding area. The accuracy of this model is generally regarded as better than the finger sensor models.

Finger Sensor Models: This is usually a watch style device. You place your finger on its touch pad, for feedback. Since there is no chest strap, this is an easier model to use. It may be more comfortable, since it doesn’t require putting anything else on your body. These models are usually cheaper, as well. Though the data is generally regarded as pretty accurate, finger sensor models can still be less accurate than chest strap models. Finger sensor models often require one to stop exercise, in order to get a reading. There are different models for this type of device as well, which carry with them different capabilities.


Target heart rate zones. The more advanced models will offer more target heart rate zones, therefore, theoretically, giving one more specific options for their fitness goals.

Sport watch type features. Stop watch type features, lap/split times, etc.

Recovery heart rate. This feature tells you how long it took for your heart rate to return to normal.

Time in target zone. This can be helpful, as different goals require different amounts of time in different target heart rate goals.

Calorie counter. Estimation of calories burned during exercise. Keep in mind this is just that, an estimation. However, this can help with certain goals, such as weight loss.

Distance and speed. This would generally be tracked by way of GPS and or foot/shoe sensor.

Battery replacement. Some devices have removable batteries one can easily change. Other models require one to recharge the specific unit.

Since I haven’t personally tried these types of devices in the fitness realm, I can’t give advice as to what one specific models to pick up. However, toptenreviews.com has ranked a few models that you may want to look at. They list what features are available on what models, as well as the price for each model. This can help in your decision. http://heart-rate-monitor-watches-review.toptenreviews.com

On Counting Calories Burned:

These devices may have the option of counting calories burned through exercise. The best they can give is an estimate. It’s tough to know the actual accuracy of these readings, as many factors play a role in the science of calorie burning . In my opinion, the information about calories being burned should be used as a rough idea, not to be taken too literally. We should still focus on eating good quality food, and making adjustments for our specific goals, regardless what the device may say one burned during a workout. If need be, one would want to meet with a nutrition professional, to get better personalized help.

I want to reiterate that using technology to aid in fitness, is great. However, I caution one to not worry more about what the best kind of equipment is out there, than making sure that one has a sound fitness program. Tweaks and adjustments are awesome, and should be looked at, but only when one is already following some sort of program. It is all too easy to get caught up in a million options, without actually starting a program.

You may be thinking, “I wanted you to tell me what to buy, and you didn’t!!” Well, sorry to disappoint, my friend. The better you understand a product or type of technology, the better you are able to find what works best for you. That is how I wanted to help in this capacity.

Which HRMs have you tried? What did you like? What didn’t you like? Let us know in the comment field!!!

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I am so thankful



Before every workout I do the sign of the cross. Every time I finish a work out, before I walk out of the place I am exercising, again, I do the sign of the cross.


No, this isn’t about me pushing religion on the reader.


My reason for explaining this is to share how appreciative I am of the gift of being able to participate in fitness. I am thankful that I get to do these things. I am so thankful that I get to push weight around, or jump up and down off the floor, or push as hard as I can through an intense interval workout.


One of the first posts for this website is called “I Love This”, and it’s all about how much I love fitness. Part of what makes me feel that anyone who is lucky enough to have the ability to be active should, in their own way, take advantage of that, is because I know what it’s like to not be able to be active. There was a period in college where I was sick for an extended period of time. It was a very difficult period. Also, during the begining of my master’s program, I had some heart problems that lasted for an extended period of time as well. These situations took the gift of fitness and being active, away from me. As I sat and tried the best I could to recover, I would daydream about being able to have the strength to exercise again. There was a point where I wondered for how long, or if I would ever be able to be as active as I was before. It sounds dramatic, but it was a very real concern. These two events, along with my already strong passion for fitness, made me all the more appreciative of this gift. As I slowly started to get better, I couldn’t have been more thankful. When I run, lift, dance, climb, walk up stairs, I am reminded of how important it is to not take it all for granted.


We are lucky we get to do this.


The feeling of knowing you left everything out on the floor or gym, is priceless. The self esteem and confidence that is reinforced through a tough workout is priceless because you know you just accomplished something very difficult. That feeling that you can take on any task, that you get after a workout, is translated into the rest of your life. When you know you can set yourself to consistently push yourself through fitness (whatever fitness plan that works for you), you take that self confidence with you into performing well at work, or in school, or other projects you are a part of. I mean, shoot, if you can push through an exercise while sweating and barely being able to breath, then surely you can give a few minutes presentation. Surely you can ace that test you have been studying for. Compared to the effort you put in during a tough workout, the rest of it all is easy peasy!


Woops, got a bit excited and went there with the easy peasy. You’ll have to excuse the cute analogy.


This applies to everyone. Everyone who gets up off the couch or from behind the desk, and gets out and gets moving. I don’t want the reader to think that since I talk about “workouts” or “lifting” that I’m ignoring other activities. Definitely not! Whether your form of exercise is cycling or hiking or running or swimming or playing sports or walking. It all applies!


Basically, all of life gets better when we consistently move our bodies around. This, my friends, is what it’s allllll about.


I’ve been sitting too long as I write this. I’m gonna’ go be active somewhere!


Errr, it’s late and I should go to sleep. But later tomorrow, THEN, I’ll go run around and enjoy the wellness!

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Don’t like doing push ups?



Think about how T-Rex feels!  : /





I am not the owner of this picture. If you are, and would like me to take it down, refer to the contact page.


He couldn’t even do push ups if he wanted to!!!


I think we all owe it to T-rex’s everywhere, to master the push up. If not for ourselves, for them.


You might be thinking to yourself: Why would I want to do push ups? Those aren’t for me.


I’ll explain why Push Ups are so awesome.

  • They can be done anywhere. ANYWHERE!!! Even in the shower. If you do try that, don’t hold me responsible for booboos that may follow.
  • They don’t require any special equipment.
  • They can be adjusted to someone who is working out for the first time all the way to an experienced athlete or fitness professional.


Push ups work your chest, back, shoulders, arms and core (consisting of more than just your abs), all with just one exercise! Now that is a whole bunch of birds with one stone. That’s kind of a violent metaphor. How about, multiple birds with a rubber bouncy ball that slightly felt like a discomfort to the birds, but didn’t hurt them like a ROCK would. This exercise is known as a compound exercise. Meaning it works multiple muscle groups at the same time. This requires you to work harder, which is a good thing, because these types of exercises make your body more efficient at burning calories. Just 15 minutes of strength training can help you burn more calories while resting for up to 3 days !!! (according to a study in the European Journal of Physiology). Push ups can play an important role in this.


For an example of how to do a proper push up, here is  a video example. The legs are a bit wider in this example, but you can keep them closer together as well, like we are used to seeing them during this exercise. Don’t judge the dude in the video, he just doesn’t have any skin. Skin was so 2000’s.



If you don’t already do push ups, try em out! If you have forgotten about them, this is a nice reminder to work them back into your routine.


For more variations on push ups, stay tuned….tun tun TUNNNN!!!! (scary/mysterious/curious movie sound!!!!)))) Maybe even lightning sounds toooo!!! Man this post ending is getting hype.


Wait, let me try again.


For more variations on push ups, stay tunedddddd…(click on the video below as soon as you read the previous sentence for the full effect).


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