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Entries in training (6)


New Training for Working with Senior Citizens

With more and more American adults hitting senior citizen status, the need for proper techniques for personal trainers working with them is greater.

The Geri-Fit Company recently announced a new online instructor program for fitness instructors, personal fitness trainers, healthcare professionals and other geriatric healthcare providers.

“Instructors teaching fitness to the elderly at senior centers, senior living communities, physical therapy clinics or in-home will find the training extremely beneficial especially since it’s designed for ages 75 and over,” said Geri-Fit’s Continuing Education Director Jane Rauscher.

Visit the Geri-Fit website for more on Advanced Strength Training Techniques for Older Adults.


Tips to keep training during summer

Summer is a busy time for everyone. In many areas, it is short and weekends and nights after work fill up quickly. That shouldn't mean you should forget your workouts, though.

Stephanie Mansour, CEO of Step It Up with Steph, is a nationally known health and fitness expert and body image and confidence coach, has laid out five tips to follow in order to not slip during the summer ... or any season, really.

Click here to see the tips.


Employment Outlook report now available

IHRSA's latest report,The Future is Bright: U.S. Health Club Employment Outlook, is now available online. One of the biggest findings is that health clubs could be employing up to 20% more trainers and group instructors.

Also in the report will be trends, compensation, case studies, and more. 

For more on the report, click here.

To purchase the report, click here.


Cultivating New Trainers

By Jean Suffin

It seems like everyone is vying to be the next Jillian Michaels or Tony Horton these days. With the rising (we hope) interest in fitness in our country, it follows that there’s an influx of people looking to work as fitness instructors, and there are a plethora of training and certification options for them to obtain. So how does a club weed out the really good ones? As we are about to learn, it’s not about weeding out, but nurturing and growing the good ones. So how can a fitness director determine who is going to be best for the job, the members, and the club?

Shannon Fable—whom you’ve seen on this blog before and in various issues of CBI as a source for invaluable information—is the Group Fitness Director at the Colorado Athletic Club - Boulder, and she brings years of experience running her own consulting business and working with hundreds of group exercise instructors to the table. I asked her about her interview process for hiring trainers and learned that it’s quite intensive. It takes more than your typical résumé solicitation and interview process to find the really good ones.

Here’s what Shannon had to say on the topic:

“Hiring good people starts with finding them, so I put the word out in as many venues as possible—craigslist, Gym Jobs, But word-of-mouth and networking are often the most effective ways of finding people. My business, Sunshine Fitness Resources, maintains a database of instructors all over the world, and I can refer to them for people in the area.

Once I find potential candidates, guess what? I don’t even look at their résumés. It’s easy to put together a seemingly impressive résumé but, surprisingly, sometimes the very best instructors do not have the best résumés, and sometimes the best résumés don’t reflect the best instructors. You never know until you see them move. So I hold open auditions every three months at the club and allow anyone to participate. The initial audition process—3-5 minutes is all you get—is to gauge stage presence, professionalism, and preparedness only.

Certifications and credentials are very important, but they can also be obtained and maintained pretty easily these days. I do look for NCCA-accredited certifications, such as ACE and an IDEA affiliation. However, I’m also looking for real-world experience, professionalism, loyalty, and the desire for ongoing education. I look for good people who are willing to continually evolve.

Once I find my initial picks during the preliminary audition, the interview process takes over and it’s fairly long and intensive. 

The following are the interview steps:

  1. Candidate completes paper application.
  2. Candidate participates in an “All Call” three-minute audition. During these auditions, I’m looking for the “it” factor; i.e. that special something that makes a class engaging, fun, and effective. Some of that comes naturally and can’t be taught, and we all know it when we see it and participate in one of those classes.
  3. If the candidate makes it through the audition stage, I conduct a phone interview during which I review their application, résumé, references, and experience.
  4. If they make it through the phone interview, I conduct a live interview. Now that I already know their background, I begin digging deeper to find out how they would handle dealing in our particular environment. I question them regarding ethics, leadership, and teamwork based on previous experiences leading a group. I also give them a real view of what’s to come to see if they’re up for the rest of the challenge!  
  5. If they make it through the interview, they’re invited to ‘play with our team.’ That is, they come in for a month to take classes and review classes. They are essentially trying the job on for size: assessing me and if they’d like to work with me, assessing our current team and seeing if they’d fit in, and getting to know the members and the culture of the club to see if it would be a good experience. Basically, we’re interviewing each other. In their review of classes they take, I’m evaluating what kind of team player they would be. Is their review all glowing? Do they recognize places where they can learn and grow or are they competing with my current team? This is probably the most crucial part of my process.
  6. When all of this is complete and they have finished their “assignments,” they participate in a formal audition lasting 20 minutes or more. Now, I can really see how they would perform. They’ve had enough time to see the format they wish to teach in action, and to get to know how we do it at our club and adapt. This audition allows me to see if they would be able to jump in and teach on our team.

I’m looking for the right person, with the right talent at the right time, with a willingness to learn. We’re not interested in ego; we want instructors who are there to help people.

Those selected are placed in waiting for a position in the future if there is none available at that time. But the key is, I don’t collect résumés and hold auditions only when a position is available; I hold them on an ongoing basis so I’m sure to have talent available when we need it. I think this is the best way to “catch” the good ones and not miss out on new people coming into the area who might be terrific. I actually create an ongoing pool of people who will be available when there’s an opening to increase my network. 

It works well as a test of commitment to put people through a long interview process with several phases. If they stick around to make it through, chances are they really want to work for you and they’ll put their best foot forward (figuratively speaking). I have been so blessed to build up such a talented network of instructors whom I can call upon at a moment’s notice.

Once someone is hired, there’s very little training that needs to take place because they’ve already experienced, in a way, working in the club. They’re pretty much ready to go. I have them shadow and team-teach prior to taking over formats/classes so they can get familiar with the team and vice versa. It’s a good three- to six-month process—even though I know this is unheard of in the business—before an instructor is out there on their own teaching a class.

I’ve been using this method for years and we keep refining it, but the basic premise has worked extremely well. CAC has some of the best instructors in the Colorado area. Beyond that, we have a true team of instructors versus several individuals who come in, do their thing, and then take their ‘thing’ to another location down the street. When you use a process such as this one, the current instructors have more pride in what they do and respect for the new folks who make it through the process. It cuts down on folks feeling threatened, keeps them from competing with one another, and allows them to focus on the task at hand: making people fit! The process I described takes time, tons of time. But, what it does for you in the future cuts down on wasted time elsewhere.” 


Help for a Healthy Holiday Season

By Patricia Amend

Concerned about adding extra pounds this holiday season?

Many of us are. Seasonal munchies and mega meals are tempting. And a full calendar of festivities to attend can make it harder to get to the gym to work out.

Still, if you want to wake up on New Year’s Day happy and optimistic, without an extra load on your belly or your bottom, get thee to the gym you must—even if it’s for a 30-minute workout.

And I suggest that you make the best use of the precious minutes you do have—by “surprising” your body while you’re there.

Now is the time to choose a different exercise to which your body has not already adapted. Now is the time to turn up the intensity, if only for brief periods.

Are you a treadmill user? Then, go for the elliptical. If the elliptical has been your thing, then go for the stepper. So, you’re a step fanatic? Try spinning—even if you have to do it solo because you can’t make a scheduled class right now. And what about the rowing machine that you’ve watched others use? Give it a try!

Using a new machine will engage an entirely different set of muscles—and boost your heart rate, which will burn more calories. And you’ll have the added advantage of toning those muscles that you haven’t been exercising.

The ultimate holiday test

I know, from personal experience, how well this works. In May, I took a month-long, food-soaked vacation. I returned the same weight as when I left. 

On May 8, I boarded the Italian ocean liner Costa Atlantica in Boston, which stopped in Bar Harbor, Maine, and Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia, before crossing the Atlantic, disembarking in Dover, England, 12 days later. After touring the beautiful country for 12 days, I again boarded ship in Southampton, this time on the Queen Mary 2, for the seven-day voyage back, returning on June 7.

The trip included 19 days on board the two ships where the food was virtually unlimited and available nearly 24 hours. 

Every day, I had the choice of a full breakfast, or a massive buffet that encompassed four dining rooms. For lunch and dinner, I could hit the buffet again, or sit down to a four-course meal. If that wasn’t enough, tea and sandwiches were served at 3 p.m., and even more food was available at the buffet until 11 p.m.

Oh, I forgot! During the day, there was usually a barbeque on the Lido deck, next to the pool and whirlpool. Of course, there were plenty of calorie-laden drinks with umbrellas, as well as wine and beer for those who chose to imbibe.

This was pretty much the drill on both cruise lines, as I suspect it is on most ships. I heard from the hotel manager on one ship that the average weight gain for passengers taking a seven-day cruise is between seven and 14 pounds!

I arrived home “even.” Yet I indulged! I hadn’t taken much of a vacation in about a decade, and I reveled in the opportunity. While I ate a light breakfast, I enjoyed many multi-course meals, and usually ice cream for dessert—something I love, but rarely allow myself more than once or twice a year. With such a food marathon during the day, I skipped the snacks at night. And I slept well—which helped to moderate my appetite a bit.

30 minutes on a new machine

I also hit the ship’s fully equipped fitness center for a daily workout, choosing a Technogym step machine because I liked the feel of it.

Since I hadn’t used a stepper in many years, I started with 20 minutes the first day, increasing that to 30 on most days, with an occasional 45-minute session. I did this like clockwork—at 4 p.m., just before returning to my room to shower and dress for dinner, which helped me feel relaxed and refreshed.

I also tried some “intervals” during my workout—brief segments of higher intensity, followed by “recovery” segments of lower intensity. It was my way of making the most of my limited time, and a way to get used to the machine both mentally and physically.

During the intense bouts, my heart rate rose to the cardiovascular training range—120 beats or more—as illustrated on a handy chart on the machine. I closely monitored this vital stat using the machine’s heart-rate monitor, and it sometimes hit 150. I knew that I was in shape for this—it was only for intervals—and I closely monitored how I felt to make sure that I wasn’t overdoing it. I knew that my doctor would applaud, and not object.

As the American Council on Exercise (ACE) points out, we have the Swedes to thank for the name for this type of training—Fartlek, or “speed play.” Which means that interval spans don’t have to be precise; five minutes, three minutes, 10 minutes—you can respond to how your body feels. Playing around like this is also a great way to engage your mind and keep your workout different day after day.

Trying the step machine also helped me realize that I had been in a workout rut back home. I had been walking and running on the treadmill for 45 minutes or so. My body had become more efficient at doing that workout day after day, so I was using less energy with each workout.

Gearing up for the New Year

With no weight gain to worry about, I came home to Boston in June, truly thrilled with my vacation and with more enthusiasm for my workouts.

So, this holiday season, I’m sticking with the step machine—a Precor at my Boston Sports Club. I’ve also added the Cybex Arc Trainer to my repertoire, as cross-training will prevent both training ruts and overuse injuries. And the treadmill is still a friend that I can turn to—when I feel the need for a good run.

Before I know it, the holidays will be over, and the New Year will chime in. And I’ll have a new workout to boot—and a booty with an improving bottom line.

Mix it up with a new machine and some intervals, and you will, too!


Truly Personal Training

By Mia Coen

Mike Z. Robinson opened his gym in the small town of San Luis Obispo, California, with a remarkably different approach. MZR Fitness is dedicated to the member who doesn’t want to feel like just another number. He is able to do this by offering truly personal training by means of using equipment you wouldn’t normally see in a gym, but above all, by creating an intimate, friendly, personalized atmosphere where the client’s goal is the main objective.

For Robinson, money and sales goals are not a priority. Helping his clients achieve success is the most important thing.

“With my type of facility, we don’t need 1,000-plus members to get by, so our focus is on the member and their results—not just increasing our membership totals,” says Robinson.

Different from traditional personal training studios, MZR Fitness has a large facility with a staff of seven, who dedicate their hours to customizing fitness programs to clients to help them reach their goals. Whether they’re training for triathlons or high school sports, attempting weight loss or a lifestyle change, members of MZR get their money’s worth out of their experience.

Sessions range anywhere between $79 per month to $599 per month, depending on the training package.

“Sure it’s more expensive for people to come to my facility, versus going right up the road to a commercial gym where they’ll pay only $39 per month. But here at MZR Fitness, people know that they will get more for their buck. They get personalized attention, more motivation, and increased accountability.” Robinson says his members are very results-oriented and will rarely blow off a session.

Due to the different levels of training that go on within MZR, Robinson equips his facility with a variety of pieces to ensure he is able to accommodate his clientele. He uses TRX suspension-training equipment, ropes, power slides, drive sleds, tires with ropes, rebounders, boxing equipment, power bands, medicine balls, and so much more. This type of equipment allows Robinson and his trainers to engage their members in functional training. “In my opinion, it’s the best way to train, along with various dynamic drills that include bodyweight exercises, plyometrics, calisthenics, free-weight training, and, of course, cardio,” says Robinson. In fact, it’s exactly this form of training that’s helped many of his clients succeed.

Suzanne Hiltbrand from San Luis Obispo wrote a heartfelt letter of recommendation about Robinson, lending credit to his personal training methods after he helped her lose over 100 pounds. “Mike has a passion for healthy living and sets the standards to follow. He has become a credible and valued friend,” she wrote. “Even on days when I don’t train with him, I think about him when faced with daily challenges and temptations. Consistently, I pull strength from all that he has taught me. I will never be able to thank him enough for his inspiration, faith, and tolerance.”

Being part of a small community also helps Robinson connect with potential members on a daily basis. “Our membership base is around 200 people, which is much easier to manage,” he says. “We work with individuals from all walks of life. Most of our personal training/semi-private clients are baby boomers, mostly between the ages of 45-60, and happen to be mostly female. However, our group programs are specialized. We have a program for seniors, high school athletes, collegiate athletes, bikini body training for women, etc. We try to cover as many niches as possible and have successfully reached a lot of people with this model.”

The success of MZR came from Robinson’s unique approach to fitness and his passion for sharing it with others. His first experience with personal training was at the age of 15, when his parents hired a personal trainer to give him an edge over the competition in high school. He played basketball, football, and ran track. It was at this time that Robinson realized what he wanted to be when he grew up. “Almost immediately, I fell in love with all that my personal trainer stood for and just the uniqueness of his job. He obviously loved it, was helping people, and it was profitable. Those are three traits that I think most people seek out when choosing a career.”

After graduating from high school, he became certified in personal training and began working at several local gyms while pursuing a business degree. In 2009, MZR Fitness became a reality. “The idea of my business came from my dream of opening my own facility,” Robinson explains. “I knew that I wanted something more intimate and personalized because I felt that it best matched my personality and I wanted to help people reach their goals. Having a personal trainer in my life years ago was incredibly significant and I just wanted to share that experience with the world. I truly feel as if I was born to do this.”

Robinson is not just active at work, though—he’s active in all sorts of events and charities in his area. Cindy Jones, a member at MZR, testifies to Robinson’s outreach. “Mike incorporates a philosophy of giving back to the community with participation from his many clients and friends,” she says. “Some of these local events include: Miracle Mile for Kids, Hunger Walk 5/10K, Central Coast Cancer Challenge, and hosting blood drives at his fitness center. He also offered free Saturday community fitness classes this past summer. He generously gives of his time doing volunteer work and is an advocate for children and individual fitness, and promoting healthy lifestyles.”

She also adds, “Everyone who knows Mike really likes him. Couple this with his great fitness program and you get success!”

For Robinson, the success of MZR is not just about one-on-one personal training—it’s about being involved with community, people, and lives in order to make a difference.