Category Archives: Fitness

News The Real Reasons Why People Join a Gym

People join a fitness facility to get fit, lose weight and stay in shape. Right? Yes, but there are other reasons driving the purchase of a gym membership or personal training package. Know what your customers need and want, and make it your mission to serve them.

Education, Expertise and Trust

Why do people give up after contemplating a healthy lifestyle change? Confusion–it’s that simple. There’s so much information, advice and opinion available to the consumer—it’s easy to see why it can be so overwhelming. When potential exercisers meet with information overload, oftentimes the result is that they don’t take action at all. It’s just easier.

It’s clear that many people are still not exercising, so there’s a high probability that your next member will be a nonexerciser. Why does this person step through your front door? Primarily for the expertise your facility offers. It seems simplistic, but trust is essential when people perceive that they’re taking risks. Customers no longer want to be sold to; rather, they want to know that your service is a good fit and that you have their best interests at heart.

This may seem obvious, but it may not be your customers’ perception when they’re making a buying decision. If frontline staff are mainly motivated and/or directed to sell instead ofeducating potential members, your approach could appear inauthentic and hollow. Here’s an alternative plan, and it may not be easy to organize: Make your personal trainersavailable to answer the questions and concerns of new members and prospects. The more you educate and empower your customers, the more you get back.

Strengthen Community Ties

The next issue that’s becoming increasingly important, especially as our population ages, iscommunity. Social isolation is a serious issue, and can lead to many health-related problems that have a wide-reaching effect. One reason people join a fitness facility is to feel they are part of a social network. In addition to having a fun place to meet people, members are engaging in healthy activities. Make sure your facility creates an inclusive environment where all people feel welcome. Take a look around and analyze what’s working to create a sense of community and what’s not. For example, do you have a nice office space with a comfortable couch where staff and members can sit and chat? Are there opportunities for members and staff to interact outside of the gym? I used to take my staff to art gallery openings and book readings. This helped create interesting conversations, and we saw each other as a community, not just staff and customers.

The relationship between personal trainers and clients becomes even more important as clients enter their golden years. Mix young, energetic trainers with older clients; it is good for both parties. It’s equally important to have older people on staff to reflect how everyone at every age contributes to a sense of belonging. An older workforce brings wisdom and fosters mentorship, which strengthens community.

The Happiness Quotient

Ultimately, people want to be happy. In most cases, a buying decision is rooted in the desire for happiness, whether the purchase is a vacation, a new car, a better house or new shoes; the underlying motivation for spending money is happiness. When someone is considering buying a membership or personal training package, she is imagining a healthier body. Why have a healthier body? To be happier and more satisfied with life. A healthy body is important to overall happiness and peace of mind. It’s hard to be happy when the thought of clothes shopping causes despair or when you’re in constant pain and discomfort. Some people even fear pursuing happiness because they believe the pursuit is selfish, impossible or both.

When you understand this fear and the desire for happiness, it’s easier to have empathy for customers and support them on their journeys to health and happiness. This desire for happiness is not only a possibility; it’s a necessity for a fulfilling life! Happy people create more happiness. Examine the need for happiness closely, and bring it up at staff meetings. Ask employees for ideas about how to make members happier, and also ask them what would make them happier. Recognize and acknowledge the many ways your staff is creating a healthier, happier world.

Creative Ideas That Inspire For Fitness

Shaka Fitness® in Cleveland puts a new twist on an old favorite with SUP Pool Yoga.While yoga on a standup paddleboard is not a new idea—especially in locations where people have access to ocean or lakes—this offering utilizes an indoor pool. This allows participants to experience the core-strengthening and balance-training benefits of yoga on the water year-round. Even better, the predictability of indoor weather conditions allows the facility to maintain a consistent schedule.

DDMIX (Diverse Dance Mix) was created by Darcy Bussell, former principal ballerina with The Royal Ballet, and Nathan Clarke, and is offered at multiple locations in England. The concept provides an accessible experience without the intimidation that can often accompany the word “dance.” DDMIX blends dance styles from around the world, and fun is the top priority. The instructors incorporate a noncorrectional style of instruction, so participants can meet their fitness goals without feeling excluded.

At New York Jedi in New York City, participants work up a sweat while also honing their Jedi skills in the Lightsaber Class . According to the website, this choreographed combat fitness session is taught by “experienced dancers, martial artists and cosplayers.” Participants learn the three types of hits—rebound, follow-through and lock—that will serve as a foundation for Lightsaber Stage Combat classes.

NuFit® , at Pura Vida Fitness & Spa in Denver, “merges music and movement in an unconventional way,” according to the instructor’s website. Created by Natalie Uhling, the high-energy class is an opportunity for people to connect to their “true, athletic selves” through a fusion of cardio and strengthening movements. Participants of all fitness levels are encouraged to discover the depths of their strength.

Holy Roller, at Wanderlust Hollywood, in Hollywood, California, combines the yang of vinyasa yoga with the yin of self myofascial release. It begins with an hour of vigorous yoga flow so participants can sweat and get warmed up. Everyone is then given a bag of self-bodywork tools, which are used to aid in deep-tissue release. As explained on the studio’s website, the technique “assists in releasing pain, opening locked muscles and facilitating proper posture and quality sleep.”

Bellyfit® , provided at locations nationwide, is a holistic fitness system that inspires women to love and nurture their bodies. To encourage stress release and calorie burn, the first half of class is dedicated to cardio moves inspired by belly dance, Bollywood and African dance. The second half blends key elements of Pilates core work and yoga stretches to sculpt, tone and open the body, and ends with a mindful meditation practice.

Workout With Cardio & Plyo

If you’re looking for a new way to add interest to your cardio classes, double the fun with partner drills. In this intense interval workout, drills consist of a 1-minute work effort, a 30-second recovery, and then a second 1-minute work effort. However, there’s a twist: The recovery isn’t a true recovery. Instead, you use the 30 seconds to do a quick series of “sculpting” moves designed to bring down the intensity while strengthening the body.

During the challenge rounds, one partner tries to meet or beat the other’s reps to win the round. This unique class encourages interaction, competition and cooperation.

Class Details: It Takes Two

Total time: 1 hour

Format: partner-based, high-intensity cardio andplyometrics

Goal/emphasis: to challenge anaerobic capacity and train for sports conditioning

Equipment needed: interval timer or stopwatch; agility dots or cones

Music: high-energy music with a driving beat—tunes that will make participants work and compete with their partners; 140–145 beats per minute

Injury prevention tips:

  • Make sure the partner competition is friendly and takes place in a spirit of fun.
  • Check that you have adequate space for each set of partners to work. Place agility cones or dots carefully.
  • This is a high-intensity class, so encourage participants to utilize the recovery phase and to pace themselves.
  • Provide cues for all levels, to ensure that everyone feels successful.
  • Offer low-impact options for all plyometric drills.

Warm-Up (5–8 minutes)

Keep warm-up exercises simple and athletic. Goal is to prepare participants to run, jump and shuffle. Partners do the following:

  • Run large circles around diameter of studio, side by side.
  • Face each other and perform set of squats and reverse lunges.
  • Face each other and do lateral lunges.
  • Face each other and perform plank pushups.
  • Repeat above, as needed.

Work Phase (40 minutes)

Partners in each pair perform drills simultaneously and work as a team. Each cardio drill is performed twice. Cardio drills last 1 minute, with 30-second strength move between them. Each round is 3 minutes, total.

  • Cardio drill: 1 minute
  • Recovery “break”/Strength drill: 30 seconds
  • Repeat cardio drill: 1 minute
  • Rest: 30 seconds (Set up and preview next drill.)


Instructions apply to each set of partners.

Shuffle Slide

Place cones 6 feet apart. Begin in low athletic stance at opposite cones and perform lateral shuffle to touch partner’s cone. Goal is to never be at same cone at same time. Each partner must push the pace.

Strength drill: squats

Cone Connection

Place cones approximately 6 feet apart. First cone is starting point; second cone is finish line. Partners run forward to second cone, touch floor beside it and then backpedal to start. Goal is to meet at second cone at same time.

Strength drill: lunges

The Square

Create 4-foot square on floor with four cones or agility dots. One partner starts at bottom left-hand corner, and other partner starts at top right-hand corner. Both do lateral shuffle to next cone or dot and then run forward or backpedal to next cone or dot. Maintain space during lateral shuffle so one partner never overtakes the other.

Strength drill: pushups

Figure-Eight Chase

Place two cones or dots 5 feet apart. One partner stands directly behind the other. First person begins to run figure-eight pattern through cones. Back partner chases front partner around cones to push the pace and accelerate intensity.

Strength drill: lateral lunges


Place two cones on floor approximately 3 feet apart. Each partner stands behind a cone and performs plyo squat jumps, touching tip of cone between reps.

Strength drill: triceps dips on floor

Cross the Line

Place two cones on floor approximately 10 feet apart. Stand on either side of first cone and sprint as fast as possible to second cone; touch it and sprint back.

Strength drill: side plank; switch sides at halfway mark

Breaking It Down

Place stack of cones (10-12) or stack of step risers on floor. Back up approximately 10 feet from stack; this is starting line. When signaled, one partner runs to stack, grabs one cone or riser and returns to starting point. When first person returns, second person goes. Goal is to clear stack as quickly as possible while working as a team.

The Knowledge of Squats Out of Date

“Deep squats are bad for the knees!”

Chances are you’ve heard this advice and maybe even given it to your clients. I know that for many years in my career I’ve been guilty of making similar recommendations to clients in all walks of life. The problem is, where did this advice come from? Is it valid and who is it valid for? What principles should we follow when doing or teaching one of the most popular exercises on the planet?

This article will share much of the latest research about the science and application of squats and help separate fact from myth.

Are Deep Squats Bad for the Knees?

It is understandable to assume that the deeper the knee flexes, the more pressure this puts on the soft-tissue structures surrounding the knee. However, is this true? And is more “pressure” or force a bad thing?

Interestingly enough, force applied to the anterior cruciate ligament and the posterior cruciate ligament during a squat actually diminishes during the deeper portions of the squat. In a study analyzing load on the knee at various squat heights, Hartmann, Wirth & Klusemann (2013) say that concerns over the apparent higher risk for chondromalacia,osteoarthritis and osteochondritis in deep squats are unfounded. In fact, shallower squats actually expose the knee to greater compressive forces.

If you’re looking to explore a deep squat, recognize these three basic squatting principles:

  1. Load and joint freedom of motion have an inverse relationship. This means as load increases, freedom of motion through the joints decreases and vice versa. In other words, the heavier the load, the stricter we want to be about enforcing ideal form.
  2. Rhythm and timing (joint synchronization) are things to look for. Joint synchronization is the ability for multiple joints to move in concert to promote rhythmical motion and force dispersion during multijoint movements such as squats. Ideally, the ankles, knees and hips will all flex and extend congruently. Limitations in ankle and hip mobility can alter joint synchronization and inhibit a deep squat. Therefore, a great place to start conditioning a deep range is to elevate the heels or hold onto a TRX®: Suspension Trainer™ to counterbalance the hips. Combine this with mobility strategies and clients will be on their way.
  3. Pain is a signal to modify the squat. If squatting causes pain, modify the exercise by altering the footprint, range of motion, speed or direction in which the pelvis is being driven. If pain persists, then refer to a specialist.

Variable Squats

You probably already know a lot about traditional squats, but what about variable ones? Webster’s Dictionary defines variability from a biological perspective as “the power possessed by living organisms, both animal and vegetable, of adapting themselves to modifications or changes in their environment, thus possibly giving rise to ultimate variation of structure or function.” From a mechanical standpoint, reduced variability is known to cause repetitive stress injuries, while an optimal movement system has the capacity to perform a given task in a variety of ways (Harbourne & Stergiou 2009). This enhances our entire being, from our heart and nervous system to our connective tissues and bones. And for bodybuilders, there may be benefits to including variable movement strategies for increased strength and hypertrophy (Fonseca et al. 2014).

A standard personal training certification covers most of the training principles for traditional, sagittal-plane, heavy-loaded squats. What’s missing in certification texts are the benefits and rules of incorporating variable squats.

Variable squats offer a host of potential benefits when performed in the right environment:

  • Exploring new positions through different planes of motion enhances the nervous system’s motor control. Simply put, learning how to squat in a variety of ways encourages the nervous system to find the optimal way to disperse forces through the system in multiple directions and positions.
  • Bone density may increase to tolerate variable directional force (see mechanotransduction).
  • Variable forces enhance the connective tissue matrix, improving shape stability, tissue resiliency and joint integrity (Myers 2011).
  • Withstanding different lines of force requires greater intra- and inter-muscular coordination, potentially enhancing strength gains and hypertrophy (Fonseca et al. 2014).

Info Cancer and Exercise

Cancer can be deadly. However, research is showing promising data on how physical activity helps the body and mind heal—and prevent—this disease. A paper published in theJournal of the American Medical Association (Moore et al. 2016) indicates that physical activity lowers the risk of 13 types of cancer.

There’s more positive news about exercise and cancer. A report from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center states, “Multiple studies show that regular physical activity is linked to increased life expectancy after a diagnosis of cancer, in many cases by decreasing the risk of cancer recurrence” (Grisham 2014). The American Cancer Society, World Cancer Research Fund, American Institute for Cancer Research, American College of Sports Medicine, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are just some of the organizations that advocate physical activity for cancer patients and survivors (Grisham 2014). Thus, it is not a question of whether exercise helps, but rather of how much works—based on dosage, quality, conditioning and cancer type.

There are three ways to look at battling cancer. For those who don’t have it, lowering risk is the primary goal. For those who’ve had it, successfully recovering and of course reducing the chances of recurrence are of utmost importance. For those who currently have it, the priorities are getting rid of it and minimizing the harmful effects that both the disease and the treatment have on the body. Exercise has been shown to help with all three.

Cancer and Exercise Research: An Overview

Cancer is simply a collection of abnormal cells that are dividing without stopping; in other words, their growth is out of control. Most often (not always), the result is a tumor. Some tumors are benign and will stay localized, but cancerous tumors are malignant and may spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body.

The immune system houses the forces that keep cancer at bay. In fact, we have a potent inflammatory agent called tumor necrosis factor that can be friend or foe, depending on the situation (Wang & Lin 2008). When our immune system is strong, we battle cancer successfully. When immunity is not strong, or if the cancer is potent, we may lose the battle and develop noticeable symptoms of cancerous growth.

Taking an “active approach” to fighting cancer is indeed the best choice. In a 2005 Harvard study, breast cancer patients who exercised at moderate intensities 3–5 hours per week (high volume) lowered the odds of dying from cancer by about half, compared with sedentary patients (Holmes et al. 2005). Even a little exercise improved patients’ odds, regardless of stage or diagnosis timing.

Studies have also shown that those who exercise early in life have a lower chance of breast cancer later in life. Chinese women who exercised an average of 70 minutes per week during their teens reduced their chances of dying from cancer by 16%, and those who kept exercising as adults had a 20% lower risk of premature death from all causes, compared with other women (Nechuta et al. 2015).

The amount of exercise to aim for, particularly during or just after dealing with a bout of cancer, is a delicate balance of getting enough to make a difference and not getting too much—an amount that could suppress immune function. The reason for this yin-yang relationship is linked to the endocrine system and the body’s perception of exercise asstress.

Epinephrine—released during exercise—helps to circulate natural killer cells in tumors. The NK cells move into the bloodstream and infiltrate tumor cells, causing them to shrink. Researchers confirmed this theory using several different methods, including using mice with no NK cells, blocking epinephrine flow and injecting mice with epinephrine. All studies led to the same conclusion: Epinephrine caused NK cell infiltration (Neiman et al. 1995). Further studies found that it was Interleukin-6 (IL-6), a known inflammatory marker, that served as the immune cell signal. Only IL-6 sensitive NK cells showed this response, and IL-6 helped guide NK cells to the tumors.

Other hormonal effects of exercise include insulin reduction, an increase in insulin–like growth factor 1 (IGF–1) and a decrease in leptin levels (Dutta et al. 2012). When leptin levels are high, various cancers survive better, grow faster and spread more (Dutta et al. 2012). Additionally, leptin causes the release of inflammatory agents that can complicate cancer risk. Sex hormones, cortisol and prostaglandins are currently being researched for their roles in cancer progression and prevention. Exercise has also been shown to minimize the negative effects of conventional cancer therapy. A meta-analysis of 16 studies found that cancer patients who exercised had consistently better quality of life, compared with their nonexercising counterparts (McTiernan 2006). The benefits were both physical and mental and included less fatigue, more energy, fewer hospital stays and doctor visits, and higher self-esteem.

For Total-Body Strength

To see results from exercise, it’s important to switch things up from time to time and push your students to a safe edge. This workout does that with circuit training principles that focus on compound strength exercises and unique HIIT drills. Dazzle your participants with fresh, intense moves that will challenge them in new ways. Have fun with a variety of equipment in this fast-paced, nonstop exercise experience. Students will love this social approach to fitness.

Here are some tips to make this class a success:

  • Select compound moves that use multiple muscle groups requiring core activation.
  • Maximize equipment usage by designing strategic stations.
  • Increase challenge by providing less rest between exercises.
  • Offer endless options for variety.
  • For each cycle, use different exercises and adjust the timing.
  • Provide options for increasing or decreasing intensity, depending on participant needs.

Fit Frenzy Details

Time: 60 minutes

Format: circuits mixed with high-intensity interval training

Goal/Emphasis: total-body strength and cardio

Equipment needed: steps with platforms, Gliding™ discs or paper plates, small weighted balls, dumbbells, stability balls and BOSU® Balance Trainers

Music: 130 beats per minute


  • Set up six stations around the periphery of the room.
  • Have participants travel in small groups from one station to the next.
  • Offer different timing at each station, to keep students interested.
  • Set up two to five sets of equipment at each station, depending on class size.
  • Offer a 2-minute rest between cycles, and use this time to review exercises for the next round.

Introduction and Warm-Up (8–10 minutes)

Briefly review all exercises for the first cycle. Label each station so that participants have a visual cue to use as a reference. Preview the movements, going over alignment and safety. Select exercises for all planes of motion, beginning with simple movements and gradually increasing range of motion and intensity.

Gather students in the middle of the room and lead the following (16 repetitions, 2x):

  • March in place, then jog in place.
  • Squat and add lateral movement (right, then left).
  • Do alternating front lunges, followed by alternating rear lunges.
  • Do plank with an alternating knee-in. Reach knee to opposite elbow (rotate).
  • Alternate push-ups with side planks.

Work Phase (45 minutes)

Cycle One

Do each exercise for 60 seconds, taking 15 seconds to transition. Move in a clockwise direction.

  • box jump off high bench
  • mountain climber with discs
  • squat, swinging small weighted ball overhead when standing
  • renegade row with dumbbells
  • elbow plank with forearms on stability ball, bringing knee to ball, alternating sides
  • alternating front lunge to top of BOSU ball dome

Cycle Two

Do each exercise for 60 seconds, and take 15 seconds to transition. Move in acounterclockwise direction. Have participants meet in the middle of the room for a 60-second cardio drill between stations.

  • step-up on high bench, with alternating lead leg
  • jumping jack (cardio)
  • plank on discs (progression: bring knees in and out)
  • squat jump (cardio)
  • squat, tossing weighted ball overhead
  • jumping jack (cardio)
  • overhead press
  • squat jump (cardio)
  • incline supine crunch on stability ball
  • jumping jack (cardio)
  • alternating rear lunge from top of BOSU dome
  • squat jump
  • squat on top of BOSU dome
  • plyometric jumping jack

The Three Systems for Improving Client Adherence

It can be a challenge to make sure all of your clients arrive for sessions consistently—and on time. Inevitably in your career, you will deal with clients who frequently reschedule, show up late or don’t show at all.

Many trainers I know are quick to point the finger at disobedient clients and blame transgressions on clients’ lack of motivation.

At some point, however, you need to take a step back and accept that you might be partly to blame in these scenarios—especially if several of your clients display similar behaviors. If this is something you experience in your business, it’s time to assess what you can do to prevent it from happening in the future.

The first step to improving client adherence is to evaluate why it happens. In most cases—barring true emergencies, of course—the simple answer is that your clients don’t perceive their sessions with you to be as important as their other commitments. This means it’s up to you to create enough value in your services that your clients make their time with you a priority.

In this article I share three systems that will supercharge your value and ensure that your clients put their appointments with you first.

Offer a Coaching Report

Request feedback from your clients at the end of each workout, so that you can understand how to keep them engaged. Based on what you learn, you can offer a coaching report that details what to work on and how that will affect what you have planned for the coming weeks. This is a bit like a teaser trailer for the next episode of your favorite show. A sneak peek into the future keeps clients interested in coming back for more.

Here are a few questions you can ask clients to elicit useful feedback:

  • “How did you feel during today’s workout?”
  • “Which exercises did you feel the most or enjoy the most?”
  • “Which exercises were the most difficult, and did you enjoy them?”
  • “Were there any exercises that you disliked or that made you feel uncomfortable?”

It’s up to you to ask these types of questions, because some clients won’t be forthcoming with their thoughts about your programs. And if your sessions make clients feel uncomfortable, or if you ask clients to complete exercises they dislike or they don’t understand, they may become discouraged and cancel on you more often. Requesting regular feedback can help you facilitate sessions that mesh with client sensibilities and circumvent cancellations.

In your report and “conclusion” to each session, include details like these:

  • Compliment your clients on something they did well.
  • Point out something they need to work on.
  • Give them some sort of homework.
  • Remind them of their goal/vision.
  • Give them a teaser of what you have planned for the future.

Here’s an example:

“Great workout today. You really surprised me on the walking lunges—those were amazing. How did they feel? I’m really excited that we’ve come this far. With all of this hard work, though, you’ve got to get in the gym those extra two days per week to bring all of this together. One day between now and our next session, get to the gym and complete these three arm exercises that I know you enjoy, along with 20 minutes of intervals. Can you make that happen? I really think if you can do that consistently you will begin to see progress soon, and get the body you want before summer is here. Also, after today’s session I have some really great ideas for a new lower-body/core workout that I think you’ll like. Let’s plan on doing that in our next session this Thursday! Are you excited? I am! See you then.”

Build a Strong Foundation

Newer clients are usually the most “fragile.” They may feel nervous or self-conscious, and they may have significant challenges to overcome before they’re comfortable with training. It’s important to foster a community of people and a culture of support that will put newbies at ease and motivate them to put in the work to reach their goals. It is also important for you to be prepared with personalized messages, especially for your newer clients. The more you reach out, the more likely your clients are to show up to your sessions and see results.

Suggested Repetition Ranges for The Strength With Hypertrophy

Improving strength and increasing muscle mass are two prominent goals for exercisers. According to recent research, both goals require significantly different training protocols.

Published in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine (2016; 15, 715–22), the small study involved 19 men (~23 years old) with experience in resistance training. They were assigned to one of two protocols—one aimed at building strength (heavy resistance), the other designed to build muscle (hypertrophy).

Prior to the intervention, each subject underwent tests to establish baseline 1-repetition maximum (1-RM) in the bench press and squat; upper-body muscle endurance; and muscle thickness of the upper arm and lateral thigh. Participants were asked to avoid nutrition supplementation and make no changes to their current diet. However, they were given a protein supplement to consume within 1 hour after their exercise bouts.

Both groups completed 3 sets of seven exercises for major muscle groups 3 days per week for 8 weeks. Target repetition range for the heavy-resistance group was 2–4 reps, with load set by a baseline 3-RM test. The hypertrophy group performed 8–12 reps, with load determined by a 10-RM baseline test.

Both groups experienced improvements in 1-RM for both test exercises. However, improvements were superior for the heavy-resistance group, especially in the squat, where the increase was nearly double what it was for the hypertrophy group. All men yielded similar improvements in muscle endurance—a point that raised questions for the researchers, as it seemed counterintuitive that the few repetitions completed by the heavy-resistance group would produce such results. Last, improvements in muscle thickness were greater among the hypertrophy group, most evidently in the quadriceps femoris.

“Our findings provide evidence that training in different loading zones elicits differential muscular adaptations in resistance-trained men when an equal number of sets are performed,” the authors said. “Although the mechanisms remain undetermined, we can infer that strength-related adaptations are maximized by training closer to one’s 1RM. Alternatively, increases in muscle size seem to be driven more by higher training volumes, at least up to a certain threshold. It is conceivable that combining loading strategies may have a synergistic effect on strength and hypertrophic improvements. This hypothesis warrants further investigation.”

Cardio-Core Combo Can Be Sample Workout

Help participants work their core with a miniroutine that approaches muscles from different angles while elevating heart rates. Mix 30-second cardio intervals with athletic, integrated core exercises that load the upper body and lower body simultaneously. Here’s how you do it: Teach continuous movement as you alternate between 30 seconds of “cardio-core” and 2 minutes of recovery-pace core work (which includes the transition time from one move to the next). Use dumbbells for added load in every plane of motion as you bend, stand, reach, rotate, catch and brace.

A Sample Menu

Following are some teaching suggestions with examples of both elements:

Cardio: Demonstrate the exercise, and cue students to do as many reps as they can safely do in 30 seconds. Encourage them to go breathless. All moves include dumbbells but can be done without them if necessary.

  • forward jump with snatch
  • lateral hop lunge with overhead arch
  • standing broad jump with chest press
  • lateral jump to vertical jump
  • sumo jump-squat with snatch
  • split-lunge hold while holding dumbbells overhead
  • power skater with reach
  • tuck jump with 180-degree hop

Recovery-pace core work: Self-select reps, and cycle through for 2 minutes:

  • lateral walking plank with superman reach
  • static crab with alternating elbow and knee pulls, then reverse plank
  • plank variations (choose two): ski jumps, donkey kicks, frog jumps, jacks
  • alternating forward lunges while passing dumbbell between legs
  • side plank with three hip pulses, low front hover and alternating hip-taps
  • halo with lateral lunge, forward lunge or reverse lunge
  • squats with knee-lift oblique crunch, alternating crossover crunch or sumo prisoner oblique crunch

Put It Together

Below are two examples of how the concept works in action.

Interval One

Jumping dumbbell snatch (cardio):

  • Start with feet in narrow position, holding dumbbell with both hands (at thighs).
  • Jump or step forward and catch dumbbell overhead in a snatch (brace core).
  • Land in wide squat to absorb landing.
  • Jump or step back to narrow feet.
  • Return dumbbell to thigh, and repeat.
  • Lateral walking plank with superman reach (recovery pace, 4 reps each; 2 minutes):
  • Begin in standard plank position.
  • Add superman: Extend opposite arm and leg (alternate).
  • Add walking plank, moving to side.
  • Repeat superman reach.
  • Repeat walking plank, opposite direction.

News Be a Better Fitness Pro With Mindset Training

Michael Mantell, PhD, has spent the past 40 years urging people to change their minds to improve their bodies. Mantell, director of behavior science coaching at Premier Fitness Camp in San Diego, shares this story:

“I worked with an obese, gay male client, who finally came to realize that he’d been [too] humiliated to go to a gym because his mindset was, ‘People will laugh at me. I look horrible naked. I can’t ever have a lover because I can’t stand how I look, so how will anyone else? I can’t ever lose weight, because deep down I know I’m a failure.’”

Mindset training helped turn things around, Mantell said.

“By confronting each of these negative guiding thoughts, this client was able to see how unfactual they were, and he could replace them with more accurate and logical thoughts. He’s now well on his way to achieving a healthier weight, sees a trainer three times a week and is currently engaged to a gentleman he met at the gym!

“It all began by recognizing, rejecting and replacing his negative mindset with the help of a simple question: ‘Is what you are believing true?’”

That’s the power of mindset. Mindset is more than a popular gym buzzword. It is a long-studied concept in the fields of cognitive and positive psychology that provides a foundation for a scientific understanding of how beliefs influence behavior.

Mindset matters for fitness professionals because it can help trainers and clients overcome the frustrations that arise as a result of people seeing the world in different ways. Think about it: Clients hire trainers and other fitness pros for help in achieving fitness and weight goals. But no matter how good we are at fitness assessment, program design and exercise instruction, some people do not respond to our efforts. Why does this happen? It may be because we haven’t addressed the clients’ mindset.

Let’s examine the meaning of mindset and review current scientific understanding of how beliefs affect certain behaviors. You may find that these insights hold the key to unlocking barriers to behavioral change and helping clients achieve better health and well-being.

What Are Mindsets?

“Mindsets can be thought of as psychological orientations that shape how we view the world around us,” says Derek D. Rucker, PhD, professor of entrepreneurial studies in marketing at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Rucker points to the popular analogy of people seeing a glass of water as either half-empty or half-full. Mindset is why two people look at the same facts and draw opposite conclusions.

Mantell adds: “Mindsets describe a collection of thoughts or beliefs that guide all behavior.” More specifically, he says, mindsets “comprise inclinations and tendencies toward behaviors and attitudes that drive how we react to daily events, conditions, circumstances, people and situations.”

For study purposes, mindset researchers have identified different constructs or “frames of mind” in which contrasting views of an identical situation can directly influence perception. This explains why two otherwise similar people in similar circumstances (like two different clients) can reach opposing conclusions about the right way to respond to those circumstances. This is significant because a trainer may use the same coaching techniqueand achieve great success with one client, yet be unable to help another and be unable to identify the reason.

Promotion vs. Prevention Mindsets

Science has identified two distinct mindsets—promotion and prevention—that have a direct impact on setting and achieving goals. “In the promotion versus prevention model, a promotion-focused person might exercise with a focus on ideals and gains associated with living a healthier lifestyle,” says Rucker. “Another person might exercise with a prevention-focused mindset. This person might focus on avoiding becoming fat and [on the] means to prevent this from happening. Both individuals are pursuing the same behavior, but via distinct approaches.”

Rucker and a colleague conducted a research review of mindset studies to examine how mindsets might affect portion control (Rucker & He 2016). Some researchers have concluded that a prevention mindset may help more with portion control, since prevention-minded people are better at resisting temptations when pursuing a goal. People with a promotion mindset appear more sensitive to making gains and more responsive to success feedback. In contrast, people with a prevention mindset are motivated by failure feedback, which intensifies their determination not to lose ground and strengthens their commitment to their goals.

Study authors noted, however, that mindsets are not fixed: The same person may have a different mindset depending on the situation. And one mindset is not necessarily better than another. For example, a promotion mindset may be helpful in initiating a goal of changing a behavior (e.g., eating healthier foods), while a prevention mindset may be more effective in maintaining the behavior once the goal has been achieved (e.g., avoidingjunk foods) (Rucker & He 2016).

University of Minnesota researchers compared how well people with promotion and prevention mindsets succeeded at sticking with their decision to quit smoking or to lose weight. At the 6-month follow-up, promotion-minded people proved to be more successful at quitting smoking and losing weight. But a 1-year follow-up found that people with a prevention focus were more likely to be smoke-free and maintaining their weight loss. The researchers concluded that encouraging the more helpful mindset for the specific task—i.e., changing behavior or maintaining behavior—might produce the greatest success over time (Fuglestad, Rothman & Jeffery 2008).

Fixed vs. Growth Mindsets

Scientists have also learned a lot about the difference between fixed and growth mindsets—particularly in the context of education. People with a growth mindset see the world as changeable, while people with a fixed mindset see it as unchangeable.