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Expanding my toolbox

October 27th, 2012

I am going to spend my Saturday in continuing education seminars today.  When I mentioned this in passing to a co-worker at my “day job” yesterday, she said “You have to be licensed to do that?”  Well, no. 

I explained that in Massachusetts, one does not have to be “licensed” to be a personal trainer.  But I am certified by a national organization and in order to keep that certifcation – and to be a good trainer – I have to participate in continuing education activities.  This includes keeping my CPR/AED certifications up-to-date, but it also means that I make it a point to stay current on the latest exercise, health, and nutrition research.    I learn new techniques or refresh my knowledge of tried-and-true methods so that I can more effectively help my clients. 

I choose to focus my continuing education in specific areas during each 2-year period when I must accumulate ”credits” to report to my certifying organization.  In the past I’ve focused on sports nutrition, pre- and post- natal exercise, strength training for women, and strenghtening (and rehabbing) specific injury-prone joints (e.g., knees, shoulders).   I’m looking forward to learning more today about diet, exercise, and weight loss for clients over 50 and adding to my tool box for balance and fall prevention.   

So, no I don’t have to be licensed, but I do need to be knowledgeable and qualified to “do that.”  I’m not just someone who like to work out.  I want to help my clients learn how their bodies work so that they can confidently use their bodies.

The gift that keeps on giving

October 17th, 2012

A gift is something that is thoughtful and given with intention for the recipient.

Fitness is a gift.

This thought crossed my mind several months ago as I lay in savasana at the end of a challenging power yoga work out.  I felt good.   Feeling good, in and of itself, is a gift these days.  I had challenged my body, though, and knew it would pay dividends.    Being fit means I feel confident about how I look and what my body is capable of doing.  Fitness is a gift I give myself.

Fitness is a gift I give to those I love.

One beautiful day this past summer I was hiking with my partner, Paul.  We chose the most challenging trail up a New England mountain.  Both of us are in good shape.  We were breathing hard and sweating as we reached the summit but we felt good.  We felt the satisfaction of challenging our bodies; of accomplishing a goal.   As we looked out at the beautiful vistas, I was reminded of my thought on the yoga mat a few months earlier.   This was a gift.   Had I not been in good shape, I would not have been able to complete the hike.  I would have missed the beauty of the landscape from this vantage point, and I wouldn’t have been able to share it with Paul.   He might not have done the hike by himself if I had not been physically able to do it, so he would have missed out on the experience, too.  Being able to go on that hike – to enjoy the physical challenge and the beauty waiting for us at the top – was a gift to both of us.

Fitness is a gift we can all give to our society.

I am reminded of this as I work with a client who is suffering from an acute illness.    This person was in excellent shape prior to the diagnosis and has remained as active as possible during treatment.    This client is able to maintain activities of daily living, continue to work as a productive employee, and be a contributing family member.   A less fit person might not have had as strong an immune system or a body strong enough to withstand the ravages of chemotherapy.    True, this person has an amazing attitude and strong will.  I believe that at least some of that that positive outlook – that “mental fitness” – stems from the gift of physical fitness one gives to oneself.

Unlike my client’s acute illness, many of the health issues burdening our health care system, driving up health insurance premiums, and decreasing productivity in the workforce are avoidable.  The effects of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure – even depression – can be decreased or eliminated with regular exercise and good nutrition.   As we look at spiraling health costs and universal health care, it’s easy to blame big insurance companies or government.  But stop to consider your part in the process.  What can you do to help yourself?  To help your community?

Give yourself – and others – the gift of your fitness.  Unwrap it, enjoy it, and share it.

 

Feelin’ hot, hot, hot…

July 11th, 2011

All across the country today temperatures are scorching hot and the humidity is high in many places.  Here is Boston, we’re set to hit 90 humid degrees.  As much as I love to exercise outside in the summer, this weather calls for caution at the very least, and getting indoors to workout at best.  I made sure to get my outdoors run before 8AM but the sun already felt hot and the air wasn’t moving.

A few things to keep in mind if (like me) you stubbornly want to be outside when the sun is shining, there is no snow on the ground, and the temperature is above 50 degrees:

  • Don’t be so stubborn that you insist on sticking to your lunch-time run.  Be active outside in the early morning hours (before 9AM) or after the sun has dipped lower in the sky (at this time of year, that could mean 6PM or 7PM).  Exercising during the hottest time of day doesn’t do your body any favors and you are less likely to feel good afterward.
  • Water. Water.  More water.  Before, during, and after exercise.  Skip the high sugar electrolyte replacement drinks unless you are going to be outside and sweating for a prolonged period of time.  If you are, drink the electrolyte replacement drinks periodically during exercise but don’t skip the water.  For most of us,  simple water (and more of it than usual) is what our bodies need to keep everything in balance in the heat.
  • Cool down.  Don’t just stop exercising and drop to the ground in a sweaty heap.  Walk for a few minutes after a run, ride slower on a flat service, do some active stretching.  You body needs time to regulate your heart rate, pulmonary rate, circulation, etc.
  • If you feel short of breath or the beginnings of a cramp, slow down or stop (walk if you had been running so you don’t cramp up).  High heat conditions are not the time to “push through” breathing or cramping issues.  Your body is telling you something (in the case of cramping, it could be dehydration).  Listen.  Know the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.    http://www.medicinenet.com/heat_exhaustion/article.htm
  • Wear sunscreen and re-apply if you are going to be outside for more than 2 hours.  Don’t believe the “sweat-proof” label.   There is no reason to play Russian roulette with skin cancer.

If you can’t get outside during a cooler time of day, take your workout inside.  Sweat like mad in an air-conditioned gym where you are less likely to overheat.  You’ll feel better and your body will recover more quickly.  And that means you’ll be able to workout tomorrow…outside, weather-permitting.