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Fitness & the internet!

Let's be honest, there is a multitude of free workouts and advice online for pre-packaged one size fits all training programs. But one size doesn't fit all and in all honesty is unlikely to fit you! 

Do a quick google search and you'll soon be overwhelmed by the number of workouts available that it can be hard to guessing where to begin. The fact is you shouldn't be guessing! An incorrect workout for your personal fitness level and experience can have serious consequences on your long term health. You might make it through a workout but the damage done with poor form can take time to manifest. I have had many clients  come to me after injuring themselves in the gym that wished they'd started with a trainer, learned the correct form, technique and how to structure a workout to begin with and then gone on to train separately afterwards. It was the sole reason why I became certified with the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a Corrective Exercise Specialist. It's simply not good enough to know how to train a client and teach good form/technique any more. You have to know where a client is at in relation to any injury they currently have or had and how to set them up to recover and grow from there. We're all individuals and our workouts should be individually tailored to our needs and experiences, something the internet doesn't offer for free.  

Before beginning any fitness program you find on line you should ask yourself the following questions:  

  • What if I have an old injury I have to be careful with or a medical condition? Will this workout be ok for someone who has low-back pain, a shoulder that hurts, or knee that acts up?
  • What if I’m just not sure if I’m doing something correctly and no one else seems to know the right way? What if the guy next to me in the gym I'm copying is doing it wrong too, who do I trust?
  • What if the exercise hurts, do I continue with it? Is there an alternative way of doing the exercise that won't hurt?
  • If something I do hurts what does that mean? Is there a way that I can treat the issue so that in the future the same exercise won't hurt? 
  • How will I know when to make the weight heavier or light or even what weight to use? Can I make the exercise more challenging without increasing the weight and how will this effect the results I want?
  • Will I really see results with this program? Does it fit my goals?
  • How do I know if this celebrity or expert isn’t just trying to sell more supplements, accessories, or DVDs? 

If you don't know the answer to all the questions above then you simple aren't ready to go it alone so what are the alternatives?
Your history, experience, abilities, and goals are completely different than your friends, fellow gym goers, or the expert at XYZ web site. And your body has wear and tear and biomechanics that are vastly different than anyone else’s. It’s important to know you’re following a safe, appropriate program so the answer is simple, find a personal trainer. 

An In-person, One on One Personal Trainer can be found at your local gym, a private training studio or available in-home. He/she should be Degree educated in a sports/exercise related field and certified with a top training company such as NASM, ACE or ACSM. A personal trainer you hire asks you detailed questions that reveal exactly what will impact your success. They perform assessments to find out more about your uniqueness, including your body composition, your strengths and weaknesses, and your biomechanics. They also identify thinking or lifestyle patterns that might be sabotaging you and help you learn healthier habits. Here are a few other things a trainer can do:
  • Give you a customized, progressive program based on your own distinct characteristics and goals.
  • Monitor your progress and adjust your program along the way, helping you work through plateaus and keep you motivated.
  • Keep you accountable to your goals.
  • Help you set realistic goals and reach them in a safe, timely way.
  • Take into account your own unique health concerns.
  • Teach you about nutrition and calorie tracking, how to use equipment properly and the correct form/technique for an exercise.
  • Ultimately, help you become responsible for your own health for your entire lifetime.
An alternative option is a live virtual trainer. How does a live virtual differ from in-person training? Maybe you’ve heard of online training but have no idea how it works. Here are a few reasons why live virtual training can be a good idea:

  • Lower cost. You’ll still get many of the benefits of in-person training but at a much lower cost. In-person training usually involves meeting at least twice a week at a gym or with a trainer traveling to you which increase cost. Since you’re not physically meeting with a trainer, virtual training obviously costs less per hour. 
  • Program only plans. A Virtual trainer can provide programs designed specifically for you, based on your goals. You then may then only need to see that virtual trainer online to reassess the program and technique every 4-6 weeks. Program only plans are vastly less expensive than in-person training but still customized for you.
  • More flexibility. You can train whenever and wherever you want. If you travel frequently, train at home, or live in a remote location, virtual training is much more accessible than in-person training. An online trainer can give you a workout to accommodate the exact equipment you have available at the time.
  • No intimidation factor. If being around a lot of fit and muscular people intimidates you, then having a trainer online via skype may feel more comfortable for you. 
  • Personalized service using technology. You can both give and receive immediate feedback online with a virtual trainer. You can communicate, ask questions about an exercise, it's relevance, get your form corrected and adapt a workout in live real time. You are not waiting for a pre-made program that can't assess how well you are doing to tell you when to progress to the next level.
  • Same level of service. Clients still get the same guidance, accountability, and motivation but on their own schedule. They’re still accountable to the trainer even if they never see them in person. 
In summary, the internet can be full of some helpful hints and tips but ultimately your body and health should be worth more than a free workout you found online. Injuring yourself with a workout designed by someone unqualified or with a program designed for someone else can actually cost you thousands more in treatments for injuries either related directly to a workout or not. Remember, the bad form used during a workout can cross over into everyday life and effect you in ways you may not even realize. Just because you were not in the gym when you hurt yourself doesn't mean that it wasn't indirectly related to your workout and form in the gym. The best advice I can give you is to find a well qualified and experienced trainer. Spend the money now and save the thousands in medical bills and pain later. It really isn't as expensive as you may think with live online and in-home trainers and will do way more good for you than whatever else you may decide to waste the money on. 

If this article hits home and you've worked out with a trainer after an injury or simple just wish you'd followed some of the advice in it before hurting yourself, please comment on, like and share the article. Hopefully we can then help others from making the same mistakes.

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