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Showing posts with label Personal Trainers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Personal Trainers. Show all posts

What to Look for in a Personal Trainer in Toronto

Anyone who is looking to hire their own personal trainer needs to understand what needs to be found in a personal trainer so you can get the biggest "bang for your buck", but also needs to understand that not every trainer is suitable for them on a personality level. Some people need a personal trainer who is more bossy (like a drill sergeant), while many others need a personal trainer who is more like a mentor who can teach them and motivate them in a friendly manner.

Knowing what you are looking for - and what to look for in a personal trainer will make your experience working with a trainer safe, effective, and more fun. If you are looking for a personal trainer it is important that they have all qualities listed below so you have the best resource in helping you reach your health and fitness goals.

Below are some of the qualities you should be looking for in a personal trainer:

Education - Make sure that your trainer has at minimum a certification from reputable organizations such as Elite Trainers, CanFitPro or similar organization. (Note: There is no legal requirement that personal trainers have a certification, but it is nice to know they have been trained and passed the appropriate tests.)

Experience - You need to know how much practical experience your trainer has and how successful they have been with their past clients. Ask the trainer about their past trainees, how much they workout themselves, have they worked for any gyms, have they worked with any other trainers to better understand this profession to provide you with the best experience.

Compassionate / Goal Oriented - A good trainer should be like a mentor / sidekick during your health and fitness journey, but a great and caring trainer will be with you beyond that and should always be your resource for health and fitness exercises even after you stop going to them regularly.

Excellent Communication Skills - The trainer must be able to communicate his/her knowledge about health and fitness with their clients for them to understand and implement into their daily life. If the trainer has a website read what things they have written and see how easy it is to understand them. Even better if they have demonstration videos. Also the trainer must allow the client to feel comfortable and confident to speak about his/her goals or what the client is feeling before, during and after the sessions.

Understanding the Clients Limitations - A great trainer knows and understands their clients limitations while exercising and the trainer should be able to respect his/her clients limitations. eg. To prevent possible exercise injuries a good trainer should also know when NOT to push the trainee so hard.

Appearances and Practicing What They Preach - Your personal trainer needs to be putting his/her self through the fitness and nutrition that they put their clients through. The trainer must be passionate about the way they look and feel. It is okay if they break their own rules once in awhile (nobody is perfect), but they should not be a complete couch potato when it comes to their own exercise routine.

Motivation, Encouragement and Enjoyment - A good trainer can make fun, safe and effective exercises - and should encourage the client to try new things. The client should look forward to each workout instead of it being something they dread. A great trainer will find and use motivation to propel their client towards their goal.

Over time you will develop a long term relationship with your trainer, becoming confident that you are getting excellent and insightful fitness advice from your trainer. There are many personal trainers in Toronto and the GTA. Find the one which is right for you!

Scheduling a Personal Trainer


I am so busy sometimes I don't know how I manage to fit in personal training clients half the time. It makes me tempted to raise my rates again.

Case in point. Most of my evenings and weekends are booked pretty solid. If someone wants a training sessions they need to book in advance, sometimes weeks in advance if they want a specific time slot.

The times I am most available are weekday mornings and afternoons - and even those are filling up on specific days.

So if a client asks me for a session on an evening or weekend, I look at my schedule, I look at their location, and I go "Hmm. Yes I can make it." or "Hmm. Nope, can't fit it in." And there is a lot more nopes lately.

But I am not planning to raise my rates any time soon. Maybe in the Spring I will raise my personal training rate to $40 per hour. But for now I will leave it as is.

Five Steps Toward A Beach Perfect Body

If your goal is to lose weight and attain a "Beach Perfect Body" then you need to get your fitness program off to an effective start, or make modifications to your existing exercise regimen and diet, to achieve the body you want with these five steps:

#1. Know Your Goals

The first question you really should ask yourself is, "Do I want to lose weight, or build muscle?"

Because if you don't know the answer to that you won't be able to go after that goal properly. It's best to focus on just one goal at a time because if you try to do both at once you will feel demotivated when you don't see immediate results in terms of weight loss (plus muscle weighs more than fat, so you will actually gain weight as you put on muscle). Muscle gain takes time, but in the beginning you can actually gain muscle faster than the speed you lose fat. So in an one month period you could actually gain 10 lbs - from gaining say 15 lbs of muscle and losing 5 lbs of fat. This speed of muscle gain is mostly due to muscle memory and the fact you are just starting. It will slow down dramatically within the first year. To avoid all the confusing aspects of trying to gain muscle and lose weight simultaneously you are better off focusing on your weight loss goal FIRST, and then adding the muscle later when your body has become a more effective machine. Your ultimate goal will depend on factors such as food consumption, time spent doing cardio exercises, time spent in the gym weightlifting, and your workout intensity will effect how quickly you reach your primary goal. Then once your primary goal is reached then you can focus on secondary goals. It is simply more efficient to focus on one goal at a time.

#2. Don't Focus on Losing a Specific Weight

This goes double for trying to gain "10 lbs of muscle". Stop thinking about measuring things that way. Instead just focus on doing your exercises and the feeling you get during and after the exercise when you know you've had a good workout. Don't worry about lifting a specific weight either or trying to beat your record time for jogging around the block. Muscle fibers are most effectively stimulated for growth at fatigue around 8-10 reps. That means that sprinting for 10 seconds or lifting a single weight 10 times will cause muscle growth. Additional sets of reps is to ensure that you rip extra muscles so you can bulk up a bit faster and jogging further than a 10 second sprint is so you can burn additional calories. Focus on your goals and the positive feelings you get from exercising / having fun, and stop worrying about how quickly you can bulk up or how quickly you can lose weight.

#3. Exercise according to your Schedule

Don't go on a program that requires five days in the gym, if you know you're only good for two days per week. It's great to be ambitious but without being realistic your dreams are just a fantasy. If you're short on time plan for an intense 30 or 45 minute workout - even if it is at home. If you only have a pair of dumbbells, plan to use exercises that only focus on what you have available to you and explore different ways to use those dumbbells to get better results and use different muscles.

#4. Remember that Good Nutrition is over 70% of Results

The attitude that "I can eat whatever I want because I work out!" isn't helping you. Sure, it will help you maintain your current weight - but if your goal is weight loss you are really shooting yourself in the foot by binging on junk food after you workout. Eat healthy, eat smart and you will see much faster results. You won't just see physical changes like more toned muscles and shiny hair but you will also notice mental results such as more energy, feeling more clear headed, and being happier.

#5. Hire a Personal Trainer in Toronto

What do athletes do when they train for a competition? They hire a coach. If you know you are making mistakes with your exercise routine and need to correct your bad habits, your form, etc then you really need a coach who can tell you what to do, how to do it properly, and stay motivated so you keep doing it.

With safe and efficiently organized workouts, accountability and privacy, a personal trainer is the way to go for fast, long lasting results. If you live in Toronto hire me as your personal trainer. I offer custom exercise programs for every client based on their individual needs.

The Exercise Regimen of a Personal Trainer in Toronto



I am looking to make my own exercise regimen. I am curious as to what you do for your own physical regimen?

Lisa P."


Hello Lisa!

Honestly, I exercise as often as I have time and energy to do so. Which is a lot since I am often exercising with clients.

However there are days when I am not meeting clients and I do have a regimen that I do at home that mixes cardio with weightlifting, stretching and yoga.

My Personal Exercise Regimen

Music - While exercising I turn my special exercising playlist so I can exercise while listening to music. My musical tastes for exercising is a mix of the 70s, 80s and 90s... and includes songs like "Eye of the Tiger" and "Gonna Fly Now", two songs from the Rocky films. I deliberately choose songs that make me feel energetic.

#1. Stretches and yoga - Varies between 1 minute to 10 minutes, depending on what I feel like doing that day. Sometimes I skip the yoga entirely.

#2. Pushups. 100 of them. Typically I divide them up into 20 pushups at a time, 5 sets of 20. If I am feeling particularly energetic I may do more than that, but always in sets of 20.

#3. Jumping Jacks. I used to do 100 jumping jacks at a time, and aimed to do 5 sets of 100. But these days I am often doing 150 to 200 jumping jacks instead - and 4 or 5 sets of them. My endurance for jumping jacks has grown over time.

#4. Headstand Pushups. I do this upside down with my feet against the wall. Typically I do 20 at a time. They're very difficult and not for beginners. Sometimes I will do 2 or 3 sets of 20.

#5. Bicep Curls - How much weight I use varies. My lightest dumbbell is 15 lbs and the heaviest is 30. If I am lifting the 15s I will sometime do 50 reps or more. If I am using the 20s / 25s then I might do 30 reps. With the 30 lb dumbbells it is 20 to 25 reps. How many sets of reps also varies, depending on how tired I am, how energetic I feel. But usually I will aim to do at least 2 reps of each different type of dumbbell.

#6. Shoulder Lifts - Using the 15 lb dumbbells I lift up my arms sideways to a 90 degree angle and hold. Then I lower my arms slowly. I do this 20 times for 5 sets.

#7. Situps - I used to do a lot of situps but these days I have grown bored of them. When I do do situps it is 100 situps at a time, usually once in the morning and once in the evening before 8 PM.

#8. Tricep Lifts - Using the heavier dumbbells I start with my arms in a raised L position and then lift both dumbbells above my head and hold for a second. Lower them down slowly back to the L position and then repeat. 30 times, both arms at once. I aim to do this for 5 sets.

#9. Behind Head Tricep Holds - Using 1 dumbbell and holding the weights at both ends I lift it over my head and then lower it behind my head. When doing this you should feel the muscles in the backs of your arms (the triceps) straining. Repeat 10 to 15 times. Do 2 to 5 sets of this, or until you feel you've strained those muscles enough.

#10. Football Twists - Holding a football between both hands I twist left and then right 100 times (50 each side), twisting as far as my obliques will let me. This is more of a cardio / stretching exercise for the obliques, but I find it also increases muscle tone.

During the Winter I often increase how often I do my exercise routine because I know I don't go outside as often in the Winter. The intensity of my workout likewise goes up in the Winter.

After I complete all of the sets and reps I usually take a multi-vitamin and chase it down with a whey protein shake.

Now I should also note that during the day I also do a lot of other random things for exercise. Some of these random things include:

  • Fixing bicycles (restoring old bicycles is my hobby).
  • Woodworking and Sculpture (another hobby)
  • Boxing
  • Cycling
  • Rollerblading (in the Summer)
  • Swimming and Snorkeling (in the Summer)
  • Ice Skating (in the Winter)
  • Archery (Spring to Autumn)
  • Rock Climbing (Spring to Autumn)

I hope all of this has been helpful!

Charles Moffat
Toronto Personal Trainer

The Free Gym Business Model + Investment Opportunity

This is somewhat off topic.

I have an idea for a Free Gym Business Model that I think has merit. Let me explain how it came about.

Yesterday while I was shopping in Canadian Tire I overheard this woman talking to customers from a display table where she was showing off a new product that got investment from the good folks on Dragons Den.

Meanwhile I have been playing with idea for years of a place similar to a gym called "The Workshop" where people could go to use power tools, welding equipment, etc - things that are too big to fit in their apartment or condo because they live in Downtown Toronto. For all intents and purposes it would be a workshop for people who like woodworking, sculpture, carpentry, welding, etc. It would follow the same basic business model as a gym - technicians instead of personal trainers, welding and carpentry classes instead of yoga and pilates, and people would pay a monthly fee to use the facilities just like you would at a gym.

Listening to the woman at Canadian Tire (who kept mentioning Dragons Den every so often, to the point it was annoying) I continued my shopping... meanwhile my brain was starting to work overtime as I thought of ways people could expand on the investment model. I must admit my thoughts were influenced by the recent Rob Ford Crackstarter campaign.

Amongst my ideas I came up with the concept of what I call "The Gym" - but unlike The Workshop idea, the focus of "The Gym" would be to make a workout place that is FREE to use.

Let me explain this concept.

#1. Don't hire any personal trainers. If personal trainers want to work there, fine. They are free to use the facilities just like they are free to use public parks.

#2. Use crowdfunding / crowdsourcing websites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter to raise the needed money to buy the building location, renovate it and buy all the exercise equipment.

#3. Part of the location is a protein bar - with 1 staff person who mixes protein shakes and sells them during peak hours of the day. The profits from the protein shake bar go towards buying new equipment, repairs, etc.

#4. Lots of natural lighting from skylights and windows. Cuts down on energy costs for lights.

#5. Equipment is designed to be durable and is basically bolted / welded to the ground so they cannot be stolen.

#6. Donation supported.

#7. Minimal janitorial staff.

#8. Energy drink machines. Powerade, Gatorade, etc.

#9. Showers and lockers are all coin operated.

#10. Buy stationary bicycle equipment and other resistance based exercise equipment that uses generators which feeds into a battery supply for the lights and air conditioning (which is set on low so it uses less energy).

Essentially you follow the premise of "less is more" to create a gym that is essentially free to use, but is donation supported and offers extra services like lockers, showers, protein shake bar, etc for a fee. Similar to how some libraries now have cafes in them so people can read a book while drinking a cappuccino.

When you think about that many gyms out there are charging people $70 to $100 per month (roughly $2.33 to $3.33 per day) and have hundreds of customers who are basically getting ripped off because gyms are overcharging for their services (and stealing from customer bank accounts / credit cards even when you cancel your membership) then the concept of a free gym starts to become a lot more appealing.

Even the YMCA in Toronto has a minimum fee of $47 per month depending on the location and the type of membership.

I should note that some recreation centres do have gyms already - but their hours are weird and not very convenient. And they do charge a fee for using their facilities. See for more details.

Now you might think "Hey, you said this was a business model?!"

Yes, I did call it that. The reason why is because I think a so-called free gym still has the potential to turn a profit. Especially if you are the personal trainer who gets the ball rolling, starts a Kickstarter campaign, buys the building, gets all the equipment, etc... and then the gym is just there. And you are the personal trainer who is there all the time, offering your services.

If worse comes to worse you start charging a $2 daily fee for people to use the building - It would still be better than the gyms who are overcharging people and making millions in profits because then people are only paying for the days they actually use the facilities.

Speaking for myself I am busy expanding my personal training business right now, so I am not going to be opening a free gym any time soon. But I wanted to write this idea down for the future in the case I ever want to open my "dojo". (I don't want to open a normal gym for the general public. I want a private dojo for personal training sessions where I can also teach archery, boxing, etc. The reason is because some clients feel more comfortable working out in a setting where other people cannot watch them exercising.)


Earlier today I created a new page on asking for investors in my personal training business. You can read about the details of how I am intending to do it, as I am using an unusual crowdfunding approach to getting investors. If you are familiar with Indiegogo or Kickstarter you might think this idea has merit.

You can read about my crowdfunding or "crowd shares" approach to investments by clicking investment opportunity. Feel free to post comments on the idea.

So far I already have three friends who have agreed to become my first investors. My goal is to reach $50,000 so I can expand my business.

Are personal trainers worth the expense?

Do I need a personal trainer? Are personal trainers worth the expense?

These are two commonly asked questions by people contemplating whether they should get a personal trainer - and whether it is worth the cost.

Well, ask yourself the following questions...

#1. Am I making definite progress at a speed I find satisfactory?

#2. Am I struggling to find the motivation to stick with my exercise and dietary goals?

#3. Do I need an external push to make more of an effort?

When in doubt talk to some people who have previously hired a personal trainer to help them make accelerated progress and ask about their impressions, whether they felt it was worth it, etc.

Why is first hand references better? Well, first of all they cannot be faked, whereas client testimonials on a website could be faked and misleading. You are asking someone you already know to give their honest opinion - and they will either say it was a waste of time and/or money, or they will talk about how awesome it was having a personal trainer.

And to be fair, some people don't need a personal trainer. So there is always going to be some people who say personal training is a waste of time and money - because for them, it is.

But for the people who difficulty finding the right rhythm with their exercise routine, are not challenging themselves enough, don't feel motivated, and need an extra push then hiring a personal trainer is totally worth the expense.

Thus even if you don't hire me as your personal trainer in Toronto, I still fully endorse hiring someone else if you are the type of person who needs to be challenged and motivated to try harder.

Keep trying as hard as you can. Every little bit helps!

Lawyer suing NY personal trainer

A lawyer in Manhattan New York is suing a celebrity personal trainer in NYC.

What is interesting is WHY he is suing the personal trainer.

Manhattan attorney Neil Squillante signed up for some personal training sessions 3 years ago, the workouts were too intense for him and he is still in pain 3 years later.

Why? Because the workouts were so intense it ripped ligaments in his joints. The scrawny lawyer was apparently so skinny and underweight that his ligaments weren't used to the intensity of the muscle strain he underwent during the workouts that it ripped the ligaments.

Now I should note that for weightlifting, ripping muscle tissue is normal (“no pain, no gain”) and even desired because it builds new muscles tissue in-between the ripped tissue. However, ripping ligaments is not something you want to happen, because the damage is much more severe, painful, and crippling.

People who get into professional weightlifting and power-lifting are warned about the dangers of ripping ligaments. You have to know your limits and not take risks. Like muscle tissue, ligaments need time to grow and become stronger.

What the personal trainer in New York did was take a workout that they normally do with celebrity's like Beyoncé (Beyoncé is one of their former clients) and then give the same workout to a skinny lawyer who has been sitting at a desk almost every day for the last 10 years.

So I agree with the lawyer. The personal trainer who was training him should have known better to force such an intense workout on someone who's body wasn't ready for it.

What he needed was a more gradual workout program designed to toughen him up first, emphasizing endurance first and strength secondary. Smaller weights, less intensity, longer time period. That is what the personal trainer SHOULD have done.

Instead here is what happened...

#1. Prior to signing up for sessions Neil Squillante “lived a sedentary life with minimal physical activity, lacked physical strength and fitness . . . and had no experience with vigorous physical exercise or strength training.” As such the trainer should have known that in order to prevent injuries that this person would have to be introduced to intense workouts and weightlifting gradually.

#2. In April 2010 Neil Squillante signed up for personal training sessions with a Chelsea personal trainer, who is the Focus co-founder Gabriel Valencia, whose clients include the singer Beyoncé.

#3. He should have been started off gradually with mild workouts, small weights, low intensity and a focus on endurance first. Instead the workouts ended up being a series of intense sessions of squats and thrusts with a heavy medicine ball in what Squillante describes as "a torture session".

“Within a few days after his first physical training session, Squillante told Valencia by telephone that his arms were so sore from the workout that he could not lift them,” the lawsuit says. “Valencia chuckled and said that Squillante’s soreness was normal and nothing to worry about.”

Soreness in the arms, okay. But soreness in the joints so that he can't even lift his arms? That is a warning sign of damage to the ligaments. The personal trainer Gabriel Valencia SHOULD have halted the sessions immediately and counseled that he seek the attention of a doctor who specializes in sports injuries.

Instead Squillante went to two more sessions and ripped his ligaments even more. He ended up having severe damage to his knee, hip and pelvis due to multiple torn ligaments.

#4. Three years after several Neil Squillante still suffers “pain and weakness when he stands,” has trouble sitting “for reasonable periods,” and is in constant pain even when he is not standing or sitting. He rarely travels, has few work meetings, is unable to recruit staff (he runs a legal information service company), and has a diminished social life. He is basically a cripple.

#5. Neil Squillante filed a lawsuit on May 15th 2013 against the personal trainer Gabriel Valencia, his boss and the company.

I believe Neil Squillante absolutely deserves to win his lawsuit because that was gross incompetence on the part of the personal trainer who evidently wasn't used to training people who were that thin / unused to exercise and furthermore ignored the warning signs of a serious sports injury.

How to Hire an In Home Personal Trainer

Its Spring. April. The time of year when many young people want to start losing weight so they can get that "Beach Perfect Body" for the summer.

Chances are likely you spent the winter hibernating indoors (because lets face it, even Toronto gets cold in the winter despite being one of the warmer places in Canada). You might still even have some extra weight from Christmas, which is no big deal.

And if you are like me, you probably just ate a chocolate bunny or multiple chocolate eggs during Easter long weekend. Unlike me, you might not be so active that you burn off the extra sugar from the chocolate bunny so quickly.

So in an effort to stay on top of your personal fitness regimen, or get started on a program, since you've never really taken exercise seriously before, you start thinking about hiring a personal trainer. A personal trainer who will not only design a custom program to address your individual goals, strengths and limitations, but will also provide accountability, consistency and constant motivation to help achieve your goals more quickly, and in a healthy manner.

Now when it comes to in-home training services all you really need to do is find a personal trainer you like. Some people prefer more of a drill sergeant routine and some people prefer a personal trainer who is more like their best friend / coach. I am the latter, I am extremely talkative. Once you do find a trainer who suits your needs then you just need to workout a schedule, a location, a payment plan... and that is it! You're done.

The personal trainer comes to your house or condo or local park (some people prefer to train outdoors when the weather is nice) and you do your workout with privacy and without silly onlookers gawking at the person doing jumping jacks, punching a boxing pad, etc. Or maybe you are more confident and just don't care that people gawk at you.
The convenience of completing workouts in the comfort of your own home or condo gym helps make sure you stick to workouts because its part of a schedule and people crave regular schedules. Having a personal trainer who is punctual, extremely reliable, and results driven also means that you keep coming back for more (although maybe not until next year, when its that time to get ready for summer again).

The best part is once you get into the rhythm of regular exercise it becomes a lifestyle change and begin to feel younger, stronger, faster, fitter and more confident about yourself.

Don't just get in shape for Summer. Get in shape for LIFE!

St Patricks Sale - 43% Off

Get 10 1-Hour Sessions with a Personal Trainer in Toronto for $200 - Offer valid until St Patricks Day (March 17th 2013).

Regular rate is $350 for 10 sessions.

How to Save Money on Personal Trainers

Want to save money when hiring a personal trainer?

Here is some tips:

#1. Sign up for multiple months and pay in advance

You can sign up for auto-debit via PayPal or your bank, or pay the whole amount at once (for a bigger discount). The regular sessions with a Personal Trainer will keep you motivated to keep exercising and will teach you new things along the way.

Why? Because personal trainers (including myself) will give you a discount if you sign up for bulk lessons in advance.

eg. Paying in advance.
Sign up for 6 sessions over a 6-month period, get a 10% discount. ($35 x 6 x 0.9 = $189.00)
Sign up for 12 sessions over a 6-month period, get a 15% discount. ($35 x 12 x 0.85 = $357.00)
Sign up for 12 sessions over at a 12-month period, get a 15% discount. ($35 x 12 x 0.85 = $357.00)
Sign up for 24 session over at a 12-month period, get a 20% discount. ($35 x 24 x 0.8 = $672.00)

#2. Group Training Costs Less

Sign up for yourself and a friend (or a group of friends) and you can pay a group rate instead.

Lets say for example the Personal Trainer charges $35 per hour. But if you sign up for a 2-person rate of $50 per hour then you and your friend are only paying $25 each. Assuming both of you have similar exercise goals (eg. to lose weight, tone those abs, etc) then it will work out really well for you.

Organizing larger groups can be trickier, but it can be done if everyone has matching schedules and are willing to make the commitment. Plus its more fun / competitive with larger groups, and you save more money.

eg. A group of 5 people for $100 per hour is very reasonable. Its only $20 per person. The key therefore is to try and negotiate a better rate for you and your group, while still offering the personal trainer the opportunity to make more $$$ per hour.

#3. Try booking 90 Minute Sessions

Typically personal trainers do 1 hour sessions, but you can get more bang for your buck if you think you have the endurance to do 90 minute sessions. The trainer will give you a better discount and you get a heavier workout as a result. Plus you won't feel rushed.

To schedule a workout email me at

Now Certified by ELITE Trainers

I am now Certified as a Level One Personal Trainer by ELITE Trainers. The ELITE test is really freaking hard. It took me 4 days just to finish the test.

I am not kidding. It has 100 essay questions and you're expected to write a lot on each question. Its like running a marathon, except they're testing your knowledge of various exercises, body types, cardio, weightlifting, stretching, vitamins, supplements, how to make small talk, how to motivate clients, everything... it is a freaking grueling test.

But at least now I am "certified". That is the really stupid thing about the whole certification nonsense. There is no legal requirement to be a certified personal trainer. Its purely a social protocol. Anyone can become a personal trainer, but being certified really helps when it comes to advertising and getting new clients.

I am also thinking of getting my certification to become a Nutritional Consultant - which again, there is no requirement to do that, it is just handy to have because it looks good when trying to attract new clients. Which means I would have to write another test... another 100 essay questions on nutrition. And then the waiting to see if I failed.

That is the really tricky part with ELITE Trainers. You have to score 86 to 100% to pass the test. If you score 85% then you failed. They set their standards really high. I scored 88% on the Personal Trainer test, so I managed to pass, but I am not sure if I want to repeat that process because it was so incredibly difficult.

ELITE uses a ranking system whereby you can become a Level Two, Level Three, etc in various fields including Nutritional Consultant, Personal Trainer, Sports Instructor, Weightlifting / Bodybuilding Instructor, Yoga Teacher. The ranking system goes all the way up to Level Ten and you can only take the next level if you wait 6 months. So in six months I may go back and take the Level Two Test... but for now I shall just wait and see.

I might also get the Sports Instructor certification, seeing as I currently teach archery, boxing, ice skating and swimming, but its kind of unnecessary. I shall think about it. I am not certain I need another certification just for attracting clients.

The Path of Most Resistance

Do you dread going to the gym or exercising?

Do you have more negative memories about exercising than positive?

Do you treat your body poorly?

Do you talk about how miserable exercising makes you because you feel you aren't accomplishing anything?

Do you exercise less and less on a monthly basis?

Do you have fewer positive experiences with exercise every year?

If you answered yes to most of the questions above then you need to change the way you think about exercise and becoming a fitter, healthier, stronger, faster, more youthful you.

First of all consider the following formula:


Talent is your natural talent to do something. If we were to rank your Strength for example on a scale of 1 to 20, with 10 being the average, how well would you rank? High? Low? And how high would you want that number to be? 14? 16? 18? 20 evidently would be amongst the strongest people on the planet and very rare. But a 14 isn't anything to sneeze at either.

Investment is the amount of time and effort you want to spend on a task. In this case the task might be losing weight, building strength, improving flexibility, or even just feeling better about your health.

Now lets pretend for a moment you are below average in your Strength. A mere 7. The local wimp who wants to be the next Charles Atlas (bodybuilder from the 1920s to 1970s). Is the young Mr Wimp going to accomplish anything special if he is only working on it 5 minutes per day? No, he won't, not when you consider there is 1,440 minutes in a day.

Now lets pretend for a moment young Mr Wimp decides he wants to really practice hard and aims higher, perhaps going for 1 hour per day. Well its better. But is 7 hours per week really enough to turn Mr Wimp into Charles Atlas? No, probably not. It will improve some of his muscle tone, but its not going to be anything spectacular. It might boost him up to an 8 or a couple more points higher given time.

No, what Mr Wimp really needs is a CHALLENGE. And its going to become a huge time commitment.

Think 3 hours per day, 5 days per week. Approx. 15 hours per week. If his goal is to be building muscle then he needs to lifting weights during those hours. He will be tired and sore afterwards, but if he has the mental fortitude to keep doing it then he will start to see results. Over time he will continue to challenge himself and build up his strength. If his final goal is a 16 Strength then it will take him years to accomplish, but it can be done if he invests the time.

He isn't going to accomplish this goal by being lazy and taking the path of least resistance. No. He has to take the Path of Most Resistance if he is going to accomplish this goal.

Now I am not suggesting you go out and buy Charles Atlas' book. Certainly not. You can do so if you really want to, but its really like any other bodybuilding book you might find. (According to Arnold Schwarzenegger, Charles Atlas is the reason Arnold became a bodybuilder in the first place.)

That and the whole "15 minutes per day" slogan from Charles Atlas just isn't enough time investment to be truly effective.

What I trying to convey here is that it is really more a matter of will power if you want to succeed in a particular goal.

Yes, natural talent is good. But it will only take you so far if you don't have the will power to spend the investment of time in attaining your goal.

You can learn to self-motivate, you can hire a personal trainer, you can get yourself an exercise buddy... but the end result is you need to find the will power and the motivation to make that investment of time in taking the Path of Most Resistance towards getting your goal.

Because doing nothing or almost nothing will get you this far: Nowhere.

Lets pretend you are Mr Average with a 10 Strength. You only exercise 10 minutes per day. About an hour per week. Using our formula from further above how far will that get Mr Average?

10 Strength X 1 Hour per Week = "10 Strength-Hours" (sorta of like measuring Torque in "foot-pounds").

In contrast Mr Wimp's new exercise routine is...

7 Strength X 15 Hours per Week = "105 Strength-Hours".

Now who do you think will be growing muscle mass faster? Someone doing 10 Strength-Hours or 105 Strength-Hours? The answer is obvious. Before you know it Mr Wimp will have a 10 Strength or higher. He may eventually reach a point where he decides to change his name to "Mr Strong" (kudos to the children's book).

So how do you know where you rank on the Strength Scale of 1 to 20?

Well, there are several ways to try and figure that out for yourself. You could use the previous post I made titled "How to Test your Muscle Tone", but that won't give you a detailed result because its only 2 exercises.

What you really need is a comprehensive test for a variety of different exercises and a ranking / points system for each of the exercises. In theory you could ask your personal trainer (if you have one) to come with some kind of system for testing you and then giving you a ranking. Or if you live in Toronto you could hire me as your personal trainer and I could do it for you.

You could try and come up with a system yourself, but it will be tricky to judge since you're not the most unbiased person when it comes to your own fitness. What you really need is an objective judge.

Then once you know where you are you can say where you'd like to be. Go after that goal. Invest the time and every month do the test again to see how close to your goal you are. If you are start off at 9 Strength and your goal is 14 and you're up to 10 after only a month then in theory you only have 4 more months to go before you reach your desired level of fitness.

And there is nothing more motivating than knowing you're making progress and succeeding at your goals.

What should I look for in a personal trainer?

For many, the general thought is that personal trainers, are all the same. They are not. Each of them has their philosophy, and each has their own strengths and weaknesses.

Some personal trainers favour cardio, some favour weight lifting, some a balance between the two, and some (like myself) like to balance cardio with sports activities to make things more fun and interesting. After all, do you really need a personal trainer to watch you while you lift weights? Not really. What you do need is someone who can motivate you.

The primary role of personal trainers is to provide encouragement, motivation, and to give a client "a good push" whenever they need it. Some people have difficulty giving themselves motivation and they wouldn’t be able to give themselves the encouragement on their own.

But it goes beyond that. Some personal trainers also like to measure things. It takes a more scientific approach. Every personal trainers has the potential to design effective, personalized programming using the correct balance of science and lifestyle anecdotes in an effort to help the trainee maximize their goals and be able to see the actual differences.

But how do you find a good trainer?

To find a good trainer, it goes beyond mere credentials. Any one get some bogus personal training credentials to stick on their wall. They can go through training programs or they might simply have life experience. If they're in the business of personal training they know what their doing in their respective fields. Some of them may even have had weight problems in the past and have gone on their own personal journey of "zero to hero".

Granted, an university degree / background in exercise science, kinesiology, or human kinetics can be beneficial, but the amount of independent research the trainer does is what really matters. For all you know they might be a bonafide university graduate of kinesiology, but they also might have slacked off and rarely attended classes... graduated with a really low grade point average.

Obviously what you really want is someone who is about being proactive, and making strides to deliver the best service to clients – and that takes time and hard work. You’ll be able to notice the differences between good trainers and fluffy ones if you pay attention to this checklist:

1. Take note of how often a trainer references a cosmetic advantage specific to an exercise. eg. “This exercise will help shape the chest, while this one will help widen it”. Humans aren’t made of moulding clay, and this kind of talk reflects a lack of true theoretical knowledge.

2. Look for the difference between strict ‘rep counters’ versus 'tip trainers' constantly giving cues and feedback during sets of work. The latter group are more engaged, and vigilant with the client’s safety in mind. A rep counter will just tell you to do 100 of this, 100 of that, blah blah blah... That isn't motivation and they're not paying attention to whether you are doing it correctly. Its just someone telling you the numbers and then standing back while you do all the work. Counting reps is handy, because you should keep track and measure these things, but the tip trainer will make sure you are doing those 100 pushups properly and will give you tips on how to do it properly. There is also a third type: Drill Sergeants. Those are really a matter of personal taste and they're not for everyone.

3. Ask your prospective trainer about programming. Does he or she follow any protocols that would encourage a consistent, disciplined client to reach set goals? You should be able to judge from their response how well organized they are.

4. Pay attention to “fads” and fitness trends. Does the trainer in question often implement the most popular and commercialized methods of training with clients? Good examples would be overuse of the BOSU ball, CrossFit training, or TRX Suspension training. Or anything with a trademarked name or acronym. Chances are likely they are getting a commission every time a client buys the item in question. Also all of these systems are usable for certain purposes and populations, but should be used with discretion and people should not feel 'forced to buy' whatever product the personal trainer is pushing.

5. Note whether the trainer addresses weak links in his or her clients. It’s a safe move for a coach to go through some form of screening process to determine a client’s muscular and skeletal balance. This can be done through muscle testing, specific exercises, and mobility drills. It would be unsafe to simply jump into full workouts right off the mark without first assessing the client.

6. Above all, pay attention and look for the equipment and methods that are most commonly used with that trainer. Does he or she stay away from key equipment like barbells and dumbbells, to replace them with machines, cables, and bands? Are major primal movement patterns like squats, deadlifts, rows, and presses avoided for instability training, or arm dominant or “core” dominant exercises?

7. Remember what your core purpose is for getting a personal trainer. Lose weight? Strap on more muscle? General athleticism? Training for a specific sport? Find a trainer which suits the reason why you are training in the first place.

At the present time, it’s relatively simple to achieve certification to be a “personal trainer”. You can even do it online (do a Google search and you can find them being sold as an online test for $69.99). So really anyone can get certification, even little kids. That doesn't mean they actually have the skills to train you.

You may have extra requirements that you are looking for in a personal trainer. You might prefer someone older, more experienced, or you might prefer to have a female instructor because you feel uncomfortable around male trainers. There certainly are more things to add to the list, but the message is clear. Finding a good personal trainer goes beyond finding someone who can make you sweat, breathe heavy, and get sore the next day. Exercise is a science, and choosing the right “scientist” can make the difference between reaching your goals or getting owned by a plateau.
Looking to sign up for archery lessons, boxing lessons, swimming lessons, ice skating lessons or personal training sessions? Start by emailing and lets talk fitness!


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