My Personal Trainer Once Bit Me: Part 1 Of 2

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By: Raul J. Rodriguez MD, DABPN, DABAM, MRO Special to the Boca and Delray newspapers
Ok not really, but she did get me in really good shape and made me a believer in personal training. Professionally facilitated fitness involves working with fitness and nutrition specialists to achieve “professional grade” results. Professional grade refers to achieving results and performance levels that are usually seen in elite level athletes. The common misconception is that you need to be an aspiring Olympian to justify taking your fitness this seriously. If your health and global state of wellness are important to you, then that is justification enough.
I had always taken my fitness seriously, but had also always thought that personal trainers and nutritionists were only for professional athletes and celebrities. I had worked out on my own since high school, picking up basic exercises from other people in the gym and a few books. I worked hard at it and enjoyed pretty good results. When I was in my 20’s it all came easy and I really thought I knew it all. After medical school I was convinced that I knew more than any trainer or nutritionist could not imagine ever wanting or needing one. Reality set in after reaching my later 30’s.
When the effects of age started to work against my human physiology, I finally accepted that maybe, just maybe, some trainer somewhere would have something to offer me. If you are in your 30’s or older, then you know exactly what I mean. Our ability to train, heal and recover is greatly affected by age. Exercise practices that worked in our 20’s can outright injure us when we are older. I found this out the hard way, even though I had never let up on my training and tried hard to maintain fitness since the age of 13. I started to experience injuries and they seemed to take so long to heal. If I stubbornly tried to do things the old way, I would injure myself even more. Soon the time lost to injury caught up to me and I started to lose fitness because I could not train often enough. I finally broke down and got my first personal trainer.
Finding the right personal trainer is very important. I went through three of them before I found the right one. The first one was just not competent and simply misrepresented his degree of expertise. The second one pushed me way too hard, which led to overtraining and even more injuries than before. The third one could have been a fitness model but was also not that effective at helping me get results for myself. The “right” trainer for me, which is the one I still train with to this day, was the one that was able to get the injuries to stop and the results to return.
The results that I achieved with my trainer were results that I had never achieved before, even in my 20’s. It was then that I realized that there was much that I did not know, even being a physician. I also came to understand the other benefits of working out under the guidance of a trainer. An extra set of attentive eyes helps watch and correct your form. Advanced knowledge of exercises and growing familiarity with your abilities facilitates appropriate weight and repetition selections. Careful observation helps determine when to push harder as well as when to pull back. The best trainer is the one that knows you and the science of fitness training well enough to push you to your very limit, but never past it to the point where you actually injure yourself. The best trainer also mixes it up and keeps it interesting. Monotony is one of the worst things that could happen your training regimen. The personal relationship with your trainer also helps boost your motivation and adds accountability to keep you from slacking off. The overall quality, efficiency and consistency of trainer directed workouts are so much greater than most self-led workouts.
Part 2 of 2 coming in February
Dr. Rodriguez is the founder of the Delray Center for Healing and the PFN-Speedlab National Training Center. PFN-Speedlab NTC is a professional fitness facility that focuses on progressive training regimens for both professional athletes and non-professionals of all fitness levels seeking optimal results.