Monthly Archives: August 2016

(N)online Personal Training

An interesting observation I’ve made recently is the rising number of trainers attempting to enter the online trainer business. Personally I think it can be a great thing financially, geographically and as a service option.

I’ve done some online training myself both as a coach and as a client.  In my coaching capacity all my online work was done with clients that were fellow trainers or athletic types with decent physical autonomy. None were beginners.

During my observations I’ve noted a number of issues. Some of these online trainers have never trained a person in real life, some only recently became certified, others are without a certification of any sort and a percentage appear to have no background in screening methods.

That by itself doesn’t mean they’re outright incapable, but it does give one pause.

I believe movement screens to a degree can be done online, but actual teaching and coaching is a different matter. The higher physical talents the client possesses makes some matters easier but direct observation under a competent coach is still the best in my opinion.

Personal Thoughts.
Performance video can be recorded in the gym of particular exercises that the online coach can judge and issue corrections. I’ve made great use of video as a tool when working with my athletic clients and as a teaching tool for my students.

Communication these days is at your fingertips. There’s more options out there than I could name.

Online training allows the client to somewhat go at it alone. This in turn develops confidence. Not all clients however are a good fit for online training.

Since the training in cyber based, the cost per session could be less than live instruction under the same coach. I said could, not always.

The savvy trainer could offer a blended instruction method, where some instruction is in person and some is online. This would offer the client the best of both worlds, but does have geographic limitations.


How to fail as a Personal Trainer.

Three trainers lasted only two months at my gym. Two failed to gain or retain a minimum number of clients and the other got into a series of arguments with the owner. I didn’t bother introducing myself or making small talk with them as I was that sure they would gone within a month or two.

I based my prediction simply by watching how they conducted business, and that they lacked any particular talent for the job. Essentially they were relying on good looking physiques. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again. Getting someones attention is easy, Keeping their attention is another matter.

Do the following and I can nearly guarantee you will fail as a trainer.


Routinely show up late to your clients appointments. The “I’m stuck in traffic text, be there a few minutes late” five minutes before you are supposed to meet with the client will work only so many times, even if it was the truth. 10-15 minutes early is on time., or at least ON TIME IS ON TIME

Boldly advertise dubious claims of results that could be achieved in an hour. Ideally do it in a gym full of strong people, it gives us something to laugh about.

Eat in front of your client DURING the clients paid for time.


Constantly make/take calls or texts phones during the clients session.  Don’t use your phone for something actually relevant to the client.

Sidenote on eating and phone using: None of the trainers schedules were SO packed that this could even be a consideration. Remember, two of them failed to maintain a minimum client load.

Spend more time talking to the client than actually training them, especially on topics that have nothing to do with their training/goals.


Use uninspired cookie cutter workouts. Back to back clients do the same workout in the same manner. Don’t adjust any exercise to the client,make the client fit the exercise.

Give no corrections to the clients form (if incorrect) or tweak things to optimize it. Literally just go through the motions.

Don’t write (or have the client write) anything down to record the session.


Do not use a PARQ/Health History questionnaire or conduct any form of a movement screen.


The Experience

The word experience in the context of personal training takes on several meanings.  The immediate ones that come to mind are (a) How relatively experienced is the trainer or (b) How relatively experienced is the client.

I’ve decided to head in a different direction and write about the “other” experiences.

The Experience the Gym provides.  This is based on what is contained within the gym walls and surrounding useable areas around the gym.  It is the energy that the gym itself provides based on layout and design.  Gyms exist on an entire spectrum from Dungeon types filled with iron,rust,dust and the smell of sweat and sound heavy things being dropped to family friendly non-threatning commercial properties, to luxury properties to those serving sports performance clients. Some clients, and trainers for that matter, can work within any environment, others cannot.

The lifting of weights can occur in any of the above type gyms, although each has some particular limitations. The gym vibes  will differ.

The Experience of the Exercise.  It has been said by brighter trainers that ANYONE can make an exercise harder. Literally, it takes zero skill.  Can the trainer tailor an exercise to an individual based on the client defined range of motion, relative skill and tolerance level?  Can the trainer communicate the feel of an exercise throughout the range of the movement, including the parts of the body NOT moving?


The Barbell Curl is a basic exercise that almost everyone has a rough idea of how to perform and was likely one of the first few lifts a person ever attempts.  As simple as it appears, it is not initially as simple as “Grab-Curl-Repeat”  Although considered an isolation movement for the biceps, there are 8 muscles directly involved in the movement and others that serve to brace the body, thereby preventing movement in unwanted ways.  Isolation lifting is a full-body effort.  Once skill is developed, you can grab-curl-repeat.

“Before I studied the art, a punch to me was just like a punch, a kick just like a kick. After I learned the art, a punch was no longer a punch, a kick no longer a kick. Now that I’ve understood the art, a punch is just like a punch, a kick just like a kick. The height of cultivation is really nothing special. It is merely simplicity; the ability to express the utmost with the minimum.”                 Bruce Lee

The Trainer Experience.  Not to be confused with the Experience of the Trainer. This is an industry where someone still in their 20’s could have 8-10 years of practical experience, a person in their 40’s be a year one trainer with limited experience or, interestingly enough, a person holding a Master’s Degree in an Exercise Science and a string of letters behind their name that doesnt have a clue on how to coach a live person.

Using a machine comparison, which in one line of thinking would require less coaching than a comparable free-weight exercise. The machine itself dictates the path and stabilization is removed from the lifting requirements.

There is a difference between a “trainer” that simply counts reps and sets a pin without further regard compared to an actual trainer that sets up the same machine and trains the particular range of motion the client needs with attention to the details in the lift.  The former is easily replaced by YouTube, the latter no so much.


Then there is the Dunning-Kruger effect. I believe there are degrees of the Dunning Kruger Effect where a person believes themselves more competent than they are, but DONT consider themselves better than others, more of on equal footing than anything else.  It pays to know ones strengths and limitations.  That said, there are trainers that load more than they can lift.

But I digress…the Trainer experience can be summed up as  “The feeling the client has when interacting with you based on the vibe that you put out.”  Are you professional in your service? are your personalizing the training for the client, or putting someone through the exercises you like to do?, Do you select the PROPER EXERCISES FOR THE CLIENT based on what they give you to work with?   Do you apply a prudent amount of pressure, or back off when needed? Do you motivate?

Diet and Exercise while traveling

A challenge faced by working adults is the occasional, or frequent need to travel. This can affect a persons consistency with their diet and exercise plans and cause some mental havoc.  I’ll be the first to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way.

I reached out to my professional colleagues to see what advice they are providing their frequent flier clients with the following questions;

“What are your best healthy eating habits or tips for the frequent traveler?”

“Do you have any additional advice for clients on weight loss or weight management diets?”

“I went on vacation and brought back 5lbs of unwanted weight, what can I do?”

“Will a five day trip seriously affect the progress I’ve made in the gym?” (I.E loss of strength,mobility or cardio endurance)

Let’s meet your Fitness Professionals….

ANDY FRISCH is the owner of, a growing community where he maintains an active blog and video database. He helps members to engineer their weight loss and improve their health and happiness.

Andy has also worked as a trainer with Sports Village Fitness in Lebanon,TN USA since 2011. Andy’s lengthy list of credentials include Precision Nutrition Level 1 (finishing up Level 2) Coaching, Corrective Exercise, Weight Loss Specialist, and several other specialization courses from National Academy of Sports Medicine and National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association (NESTA)

He is an expert in the fields of nutritional coaching and lifestyle design. He sees living a healthy and happy life from the macro perspective, while understanding how to adjust the micro level for clients to achieve their goals.

Andy’s Advice…
When it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle while traveling often, a few familiar key factors come to mind. I’ve used these ideas successfully with a handful of type-A executives who are on hectic schedules. The biggest thing to consider is how to prepare best for the individual.

For example, some clients know they’ll be going out to eat, so they Google healthy restaurants within the area they’ll be staying. This allows them to know where they’ll be able to go without having to take time to decide when blood sugar is low and will power may be non-existent.

Also, asking restaurants or hotels if they offer low-glycemic, diabetic, or simply a healthy options menu can be a life-saver. Many establishments have them, though they often don’t advertise the fact.

Other clients may not have time or care to go out to eat, so they need to prepare foods that travel well. This can usually include items like different raw, unsalted nuts or dried fruits for energy (depending on their dietary habits), as well as healthy types of jerky or even protein powders prepacked into ziploc baggies.

If you’re in a pinch and don’t feel comfortable hitting an unfamiliar restaurant, find a local grocery store. You’ll be able to make healthier choices that you’re more familiar with, provided your hotel room has a mini-fridge and a microwave, if needed.

In addition, the closer you can keep your travel lifestyle to match your home healthy lifestyle, the better off you’ll be. Sneaking in even 15 minutes of a quick workout can help rev up energy levels and prepare you for big meetings or presentations. I’ve even had clients who had me design a 10 minute, bodyweight workout they could do in their hotel room before a convention each morning.

Remember, your body likes a routine. While breaking it on occasion is critical to growth, being in a high stress situation, like traveling for work, is often a good time for keeping things comfortable and familiar. If you work out at home, try to work out on the road. Dial back the intensity according to your schedule, but stay active.

If you stick to these, you should be able to keep from adding any unwanted weight. However, if a few additional pounds happen to sneak onto your carry-on and you don’t notice them until you’re home in front of the mirror, it’s important not to panic.

If you’ve been doing the right things prior to leaving to lose weight, go back to those things to lose it back. The biggest mistake someone can make is to freak out about a few extra pounds, completely change up their exercise and nutrition, and get out of the healthy habits they’ve created. Stay the course, have faith, and get right back into the fight. Those pounds will disappear.

Often times, clients worry about going on vacation or business trips. They think the time away from the gym will derail all their progress. In fact, the opposite is often the case. I spend time with my clients to make sure they enjoy their vacations or trips without abandoning all their healthy habits. Sure, we alter them, but we don’t disown them.

This works wonders, as most clients return to hop on the scale and see that the break actually helped them lose a few extra pounds. They’ll also notice feeling refreshed, renewed and reinvigorated. Even my clients who “misbehave” the worst, hitting the bar and having whatever desserts they want, will only come back with 3-5 extra pounds. They don’t panic, they realize the importance of getting right back into the ring, and within a 1-3 weeks those additional pounds are sent packing.


EMMA SKELTON currently based at Proehlific Park in Greensboro, NC. A sports and fitness center like no other, spanning 84,000 sq ft and owned and operated by ex-NFL wide receiver Ricky Proehl. Originally designed to provide coaching and sporting opportunities for children, it now offers something for all ages.

Emma is a Certified Personal Trainer, Corrective Exercise Specialist, Fitness Nutritionist and Weight Loss Specialist through NASM and can be reached through her Facebook Page The Healthy Life. Among Emma’s current clientele are a number of frequent flyers, including her husband who travels 2 weeks out of 5 across the United States and abroad.

She primarily works with the older populations and will soon be launching a Seniors class to go alongside the higher intensity classes she also teaches.

Emma’s Advice…                                                                                              CHOOSE HOTELS WITH FREE FACILITIES IF POSSIBLE. Even at its most basic, a hotel gym will offer some sort of workout opportunity – use them!!

INVEST IN SOME RESISTANCE BANDS. These items are completely lightweight and portable and are very inexpensive. Even if you are a ‘hand-luggage only’ these will not take up any room. You can easily get a full body workout from these items and is an easy fix to keep you active even in the confines of a small hotel room. If you wanted to crank it up a notch, buy a TRX suspension kit. Again relatively small & light to pack and gives you a powerful, all over body cardio/strength workout if used correctly.

LITTLE & OFTEN. Don’t think whilst you are away you need to cram in your usual 1-2hr workouts. Even 20 – 30 minutes is better than nothing and if you are working hard enough, this is a good time to get your heart rate up and burn some serious fat! Its often hard to find time whilst traveling, especially if you are on someone else timeframe at a conference or such but just by getting up 30 minutes earlier you are guaranteed to get it done and feel better for the rest of your day!

BODYWEIGHT WORKOUTS WORK! Plan a 20 minutes high-intensity workout before you leave. I always offer my clients a few Tabata style workouts that are easy to complete whilst they travel. With a 5 minutes warm up to begin and a 5 minutes cool down at the end, 20 minutes of hard work is all you need to kick start your day. I suggest they download the ‘GYMBOSS’ app and set it a 20 second on, 10 second off intervals x8 with a 1 minute rest in between each ‘round’. That way you are getting a variety of exercises to elevate boredom and getting a kick-ass workout in at the same time! This is a short, sharp workout that requires nothing more than a pair of sneakers, their own bodyweight and some banging music helps too!!

MAKE GOOD FOOD CHOICES. This is always possibly the biggest challenge for most people. A delicious buffet cart, long, fun boozy lunches and tempting continental breakfasts all are hard to resist. I always ask my clients to remind themselves why they are doing this before eating and succumbing to temptations…. always have a little pep talk with yourself before making any bad food decisions. Just being mindful as to what your goals are and how hard you’ve worked thus far, are often all people need to stay focused. Make the best choices you possibly can… grilled proteins, no sauces (or at the very least ask for sauces to be on the side), no heavy carbs and lots and lots of green salads/veggies. Fill up on veggies is a good tip that people always seem to remember. Finally alcohol…. IF YOU HAVE TO indulge, again make good choices – try and avoid heavy beers, calorific wines and alcoholic sodas and cocktails. Chose clear liquors such as vodka and gin and pair them with diet tonics or seltzer waters flavoured with fruits such as lemons or limes. This change will cut your calorie content by half and still leaves you feeling like you have had a good night out!

“FAIL TO PREPARE, PREPARE TO FAIL” This is my go to mantra for all my clients… if you are not planning ahead you are going to fail. I suggest to all my travelers (and people who work in busy jobs too) buy a good shaker/blender cup and take it with you wherever you go. You can buy individual protein powder sachets (which avoids any awkward questions at customs!) and are a quick and easy way to keep on track and on top of your snacks and protein intakes. Quest do a good selection of flavors in individual packs. Other ‘quick fixes’ I suggest include Protein Bars (but they have to be the good quality kind, BPI do a good one as well as Pro-Bar which are delicious but are slightly denser with carbs content). My husband also packs Ostrim bars and Turkey Jerky too for a quick protein pick me up. Finally, this is so important and even more so if you are flying regularly – HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE. Water needs to be your best friend, your body will thank you for it!


RENAE BOHALL ROCHON is a Certified Nutritionist and personal trainer with Four Directions Integrative Wellness located in Tempe,AZ.

Renae’s lifelong lover of fitness and twenty year professional dancer which included performing, teaching, and choreographing,led to her next passion of introducing exercise and wellness to people around her.  Renae has helped countless clients get into fitness for the first time in their lives, return to fitness after taking a break for various reasons including injuries, personal setbacks or complexities of living in a busy world. This has created the need to think outside the box to support her clients reach their goals. She strongly believes if you really want something, you will find a way.

Renae’s advice…
Have a plan! When you have a plan you will be more successful staying on track because you will be controlling your environment as opposed to letting your environment control you.  Pack nuts, protein bars, protein powder, beef jerky or fruit to keep you satiated. This keeps you from being a slave to the vending machine or binge eating when food is available. Stay hydrated.  Many travelers limit water consumption due to long flights, or seminars.  This can make you confuse hunger for thirst.  Choose flat water instead of soda or carbonation which can cause a build up of air and can irritate the stomach and intestinal lining.  Check out the menu at a restaurant before you get there, and plan what you will order.  This eliminates the temptation that can cause you to sabotage your healthy lifestyle.

Improvise. When there is no hotel gym that is no excuse to skip the workouts.  You can do pushups, planks, squats, dips, lunges, and burpees in a small space.  Travel with a jump rope!  It takes up little space, doesn’t weigh anything, and you can increase your heart rate within 30 seconds.  When you don’t have a choice about what is being served you do the best you can.  Skip the bread and butter, peel off breading, skip dessert, and curb alcohol consumption.  Focus on the things that are in your control.

Relax! Most likely the weight you gained with be principally water weight due to consuming more sodium and carbs than you usually have at home.  Get back to your normal eating and exercise regimen and your body should return to its pre vacation status in a few days.

You will not likely lose many of your gains. People tend to be more active on vacation than they realize. They are often walking more while at the beach, shopping, or sightseeing.  In general, research has shown that one or two weeks of inactivity won’t affect your overall fitness level. It usually takes a month to see significant decreases in strength and endurance unless you are an elite athlete. That being said, taking off 1-2 weeks can compromise your momentum.  If you have struggled with creating and maintaining consistency with your workouts, taking a break will challenge your commitment to restart.  If you have health goals, are rehabbing from an injury, have been seeing results, sleep better when you exercise, or have high performance aspirations then do not take a break.  Become solution oriented and keep moving forward.  There are plenty of difficult obstacles in life, don’t allow yourself to be one of them.