Recently I was contacted to do an interview with Regency Publishing for their upcoming book “Your Fitness & Nutrition Questions
Answered – by America’s Expert Personal Trainers”.
I posted the interview below in hopes that it might answer some of your questions as well.
Hope you enjoy!
Please tell us about your company here:
I run a personal training business in Los Angeles, CA. As well as a micro-green nutritional supplement company called KJ SuperFoods. I also blog about health and well-being at www.justin-training.com
Please answer each interview question directly below each question.
What should people look out for when hiring a personal trainer?
There’s no shortage of personal trainers out there charging $80-100/hr who have very little understanding of exercise other than maybe playing sports in high school. Since the law doesn’t require us to have a certification in order to train people, anyone can call them self a personal trainer with hardly any understanding of the body or how to train it. Also, be careful of the “it’s my way or the highway” trainers. A person seeking a trainer should absolutely be willing and open to a good trainers approach, but a good trainer needs to consider every clients specific needs and predisposition before designing a program. As well as be able to adjust on the fly if something isn’t working.
If someone has a friend who is in good shape, who is willing to give them
exercise advice, why is it still a good idea to hire a personal trainer?
First of all; anything is better than nothing, and if that’s what it takes in order get a person moving then I’m all for it. There’s no sense in waiting until you can afford a trainer to start exercising. However, depending on the person, genetics play a huge role in how a person’s body responds to different types of exercise. What works for someone may not work for their friend. So, unless that person’s friend understands how to work with different body types, they’ll probably just end up doing the same routine. Which I’m sure would be fine for a little while, but eventually he or she will need to seek out other avenues of fitness in order to keep it fresh and avoid any plateaus.
Is it true that people should take periods of time off from working out?
If so, how long should these “workout vacations” last and how frequently
should they occur?
Absolutely. A couple times a year I like to take a solid two weeks off from training. This allows my muscles to loosen up and my tendons and ligaments to fully recover since circulation isn’t as good there as it is in muscles. On a smaller scale I like have at least two off days a week, but I’m a big fan of listening to your body. If you’re feeling achy and tired then don’t feel like you’re gonna drop the ball by taking an extra day or two to recover. You’ll be much better served and be able to perform greater than if you were to keep pushing yourself too hard.
What are some tips to help people stick with an exercise program and not
Small, achievable and, measurable goals. I know when a person comes in a little too excited to get starting that their probably not going last very long. The clients who come at it with patients and consistency are the ones who reap the benefits and enjoy great results. It is a marathon not a sprint, so be realistic. It might take a year to get where you want to be, but times going by whether you train or not, so enjoy the journey and don’t look back. Anything worth doing in life takes time and effort. I always shoot for a pound a week goal with my clients. That seems to be a good number that doesn’t put too much pressure on people. Most of the time they’re pleasantly surprised.
What is a “drop set”?
Once you’ve done as many repetitions as possible of a given exercise you drop the amount of weight in order to keep going. Using up every last strength reserve in that muscle or muscle group.
If someone likes to listen to music, on a personal music player with
headphones, when they workout, is this considered rude by most personal
Haha, well I could see it being a little awkward. I’ve never personally experienced it but I have seen it done. I think its important that the client and trainer are engaged in the session. That doesn’t mean they have to be chatting the whole time but good training definitely has a flow to it, and if the trainer doesn’t feel like he/she is connecting then that could interfere with quality of the session. On the other hand if the trainer and client have a rapport and a mutual understanding then why not? Bottom line, it depends on the people involved.
Which types of people can benefit the most from a personal trainer?
All types. Anyone from collegiate athlete to fitness novice has something to gain from the right trainer. There’s just something about having somebody waiting for you at the gym. You can’t cheat yourself, and when someone is standing over you encouraging you to do one more rep because they know that you can, you’re gonna do it. For those who have never touched a weight in their life, or those who have spent countless hours exercising to no avail, the right trainer can give you the tools you need to bring your conditioning to the next level. A good trainer is more than just someone who works you out. They’re your coach. Think about the amount of time you spend with this person. A lot of trust and disclosure is needed to keep you going in the right direction. No matter what your fitness is level the right trainer can help you find that missing piece that is keeping you from your potential. And that may very well be just doing one more rep!
What are “boot camps” and why are they so popular?
Bootcamps are basically just fitness classes. A group of people meet a few times a week and a trainer runs them through a series of exercises for about an hour. I think the reason they’re so popular is because you get a great workout for about $20 and there’s usually no commitment. There are a couple here in Los Angeles that have a very real “military bootcamp” feel. The trainers wear fatigues and bark orders at you like drill Sergeants.. I don’t know. I guess some people like that. The bootcamp I run is kept relatively small (6 person max). I like it that way so that I can keep quality control. You wont catch me yelling orders in camo either… Gym shorts work just fine.
How can people overcome junk food cravings?
Stop making it into something so forbidden. It’s human nature to want what you can’t have. So the more you try and deny yourself the stronger the cravings will be. The best approach is to just give yourself that free day once or twice a week. Enjoy your life. It’s all about balance. Trust me that desert is going to taste 100% better after 5 straight days of dieting and exercise. Life is more enjoyable guilt free.
Do most personal trainers yell at people, like drill sergeants, to keep
them motivated? What if someone wants to hire a personal trainer without
being screamed at?
Haha, I certainly don’t yell at anyone. I am honest with people though. In my experience most trainers do not yell at people. Maybe in the movies, but generally speaking we’d like our clients to come back. How does someone know if they’re “over-training”?
Common signs of over-training are elevated resting heart rate, fatigue, sore joints, bones and muscles. If you’re not getting at least a couple rest days a week and chances are you’re probably over training to some degree. Basically whats happening is that your body just can’t repair it’s self as fast as it’s being broken down and therefor goes in the opposite direction. For example you might actually start gaining weight or stop loosing it no matter how hard you train, or a person might actually start deteriorating muscle no matter how heavy they lift. Bottom line, You need adequate recovery time in order for your body to make the changes you seek. 2 days on 1 day off is a good ratio.
How will a trainer know what program is right for their client?
Experience. After you’ve seen enough people you start to notice patterns. This goes back to what I was saying earlier about a good trainer understanding the subtle differences between body types and how to adjust their approach according to each clients specific needs. Taking into account things like past injuries and other medical conditions is a very important and often over looked aspect of programming. I feel that it’s the trainers job to research diseases and injury protocol in order to successfully progress their client and assure them that their in good hands.
Can someone still lose weight if they split their workouts throughout the
Absolutely. A person burns roughly about 2000 calories a day by just staying busy and moving around. If it better fits your schedule to do three 10 minute workouts a day then more power to you. Sedentary behavior is what we want to avoid. Now, there is a certain degree of hormonal response you might miss out on by splitting up your workouts, but as long as you keep the intensity up you can absolutely drop weight that way.
How should the diet of someone who’s looking to build muscle differ from
the diet of someone who’s looking to lose weight?
The biggest difference is the amount of calories you need to eat. The exact amount will vary from person to person depending on their body type, but If a “hard gainer” is looking to put on 10 pounds of muscle then he/she is going to need to eat like it’s their job. I would consider myself a hard gainer. For the first 3 years I lifted weights I didn’t gain a pound. It wasn’t until I literally doubled the amount of food I was eating that I started building muscle. Some have it easier, some have it harder, but the general consensus is that you need to lift heavy and feast often on high protein meals to build muscle.
What is the customary procedure, with regard to payment, if someone has to
cancel an appointment with their personal trainer?
We love 24 hours. That gives us enough time to find someone to fill your spot. With that said, sometimes things pop up out of nowhere and you can’t give a full 24 hour notice. In that case most trainers appreciate a cancellation fee for the session. Especially if it’s last minute because at that point there’s no way for the trainer to find someone to fill the spot and they lose out on the hour. Since I live in LA and things always seem to pop up last minute here, I only ask my clients to give me a 12 hour notice. With texts and email these days its a little easier to move people around. Most clients understand and are more than happy to oblige.
How long, after eating, should be people wait to workout?
Depending on the size of the meal you’re going to want to wait at least an hour. Maybe even two if its a large meal.
What should someone bring with them to a personal training session?
Unless previously discussed, general workout attire is all you need.
How should people with asthma approach their workouts?
With asthma, progression is very important. I’ve seen clients with asthma become incredibly fit in a relatively short amount of time. You just have to walk the edge with out going over so to speak, and allow enough time for their bodies to acclimate to new levels of intensity before increasing it again.