IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date:  Novmeber 1, 2002

Workout or Work Off

Should you concentrate on fat-loss or cardio performance? We all gain a few pounds around here over the holidays. In many cultures, eating during the holidays is a social event to be happily shared with the ones you love, hate or just work with. We know that the most efficient heart rate for fat burning is around 50% to 60% of maximum. This, however, doesn't provide much cardiovascular challenge. Look at it in this perspective. If your cardio performance is deteriorating, then you'll easily become fatigued and won't have much energy. Hence, your metabolism will slow down and you'll have even less energy and subsequently gain more body fat. So the goal should be to get the cardio performance up and then work on the fat-loss. It should help keep it off even after the second helping of turkey stuffing. There are no guarantees on third helpings though.

Dinner and a Stretch

A couple were having a disagreement over stretching between sets. They wrote in to settle the argument. I don't believe that we are the definitive source. However, the very act of stretching tears muscle fibers. Since you are trying to tear fibers anyway in order to build, this should not be a problem. However, you may only be weakening the strength of the muscle while you are trying to overload it with heavy weights in order to gain the tears conducive to massive building. I would wait until the sets are over before stretching. Besides, stretching should be held for at least 20 seconds. Further, you should wait 60 seconds between sets. If you were to occupy this time with stretching, you would lengthen your rest periods before the next set to a point of allowing the muscle to cool down. This is why we use stretching during a cool down period in aerobics, to allow the muscles a chance to get back to normal temperature.

Winner pays for dinner!

Getting Started as a PT

I am constantly asked how one can get started as an independent Personal Trainer. Obviously, the first step is to get certified and then get insurance (K & K Insurance 800-426-2889). Secondly, approach some of the gyms or clubs in your area.

1 - Tell them you can bring client to their facilities. Whatever amount you charge your clients, 30% normally goes to the fitness club for allowing you to use their gym.

2 - Clubs can hire you as a freelance personal trainer and recommending client to you. The club will pay you for your services. Let's say they charge member $100 per session for personal training and then they pay you only $60 per session. For either 1 or 2, you should be allowed to use the club facilities for free. Probably just the gym and not the spa area.

Independent Contractor Status varies by location and size of gym. Smaller gyms are usually more willing to negotiate in order to bring in clients. Some of the larger gyms pay by the number of certifications the trainer holds. Ask your local gyms what they offer. Also talk to local trainers, they should be happy to help. All the forms that you will need for client training are in IFA's Fitness Training Manual. There are also various software packages listed on our Fitness Links page as well under the Software category.

Group Fitness Instructor - Getting Started

Many new instructors write us and share their apprehension before their first class. This is very normal for new instructors. It takes practice. Try not to change moves on counts of 4, it's too fast to keep up. Combine words with hand gestures; i.e. pointing to the intended direction. When you are ready to switch a move, be sure to count down from 4. Never say "one" that will be when you give the command to switch. You can practice at home on cueing. Remember to count down ... 4, 3, 2 switch. Don't cue yourself; it doesn't work. You already know what you are going to do. Work with a friend. No one's first class even comes close to being good. If we were judged by our first class, there would be no instructors. It comes with being relaxed and confident. If you have to think too much, then it won't be fun and it will be mostly work. You can switch on counts of 8 and even 16 if you need to.

I always recommend that you work with another instructor at first. Ask them if you can take over their abs part of the class. This will help you get into that instructor mode. Besides nobody is looking at you so it won't be as critical as being up in front of the class for the first time. When I do step, I find it easier to keep the choreography simple and not to complicated. If your students have to think too much they will not be able to keep up with you and they will not get a good workout. Causing them to not return. Remember, most instructors come from a dance background, however, most students do not. Set up your class in blocks.

For example:

When doing basic step automatically change it into a knee raise to the front then move the knee raises to the sides then back to the center then back to basic step. This would be considered a block. You can add variations to the sides like a kick or three knee raises to each side. An alternating V-step can automatically turn it into a turn step followed by a return to the alternating V-step. Add L-step variations to this as well. You can add a kick or a knee to the corners. Emphasize to your students that they can make the class as difficult or as easy as they seem fit. To increase the difficulty of the class advise them to raise the knee higher, swing your arms higher. This will increase your movement making each move more difficult.

So when you are teaching the class, do it in blocks. It's easier to recover from a mistake just move on to the next block. If you make a mistake, go back to basic step and start the block over. The class won't recognize whether it was not part of the routine or not. Add variety to your class by moving the blocks around each day so the class seems different. One more thought, try to keep each move to a count of 8 not more. It makes it easier to choregraph. And finally, take it to 4 counts if you need to get someone's attention but don't keep it there for long.

Q & A

Q: A member at a club I teach Indoor Cycling can not seem to lower his heart rate below 150 after a sufficient cool down a minimum of two songs one on the bike and an additional 3-4 min stretching. He is 59 years old and has a resting heart rate of 64. He wears a heart rate monitor during class and is exercising in the high end of his maximum heart rate. I am considered, he has asked me why his heart rate doesn't lower quicker and I asked him all the obvious question regarding medications and caffefine. He works out regularly 4-5 times a week and appears to be very physically fit. Is there any thoughts you might share with me or possible answer me as to whether or not I should suggest he consult a doctor. I don't want to be an alarmest, but I am very concerned, I have read that the recovery heart rate is directly tied to ones fitness level and to their mortality rate.

A: Considering the age, it's not a bad idea to seek a doctor's advice. There are subtleties in EKG readings that only a doctor can interpret even though everything appears to be fine. It will at least put everyone's mind at ease if it is normal. Just the stress of not knowing can be detrimental.


Q: After a five mile run yesterday, my son (14 y.o.) stretched in a way that seemed to PULL his gluteus maximus... his pain originates laterally and posterior to the right hip bone. Can you suggest any exercises or advice to help in overcoming this "pull"???

A: It is most likely a strain. However, it could be either a sprain or strain. Just a quick review:

Tendons are made up of fibrous tissue and connect muscle to bone. Tendonitis is an inflammation of the tendon due to overuse. A stretching or tearing of the tendon is referred to as a strain. A Strain is a muscle or tendon injury.

Ligaments are also fibrous tissue and connect bone to bone. There are less flexible than tendons. The function of ligaments is to restrict the joint movement within normal parameters. When a ligament is over stretched or torn it is called a sprain. Since ligaments don't have a vascular system, they may take a very long time to repair or may never return to their original length. This can cause abnormal joint movement and even cartilage and bone wear due to this unrestricted movement.

Since it was caused by stretching, any additional stretches can add to the injury. The best action would be rest and non-use of the muscle. This may be difficult since the gluteals are used in walking. Minimization of activity would be recommended for a couple of days. I'm not a medical person and therefore cannot advise you to take medication. However, I prefer to take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory. If pain persists for more than 2 or 3 days or there is swelling or redness, then the injury may be more severe and a doctor should be consulted. Over-stretching or ballistic stretching can result in injury. Never bounce a stretch, which can cause over-stretching.