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Maximizing Your Cold Weather Workouts

During the colder months, many people can warm up to these four simple tips from celebrity fitness expert Jennifer Cohen to help keep up with their workouts:

• Incorporate Exercise Throughout Your Day: Put free weights at the doorway of your bedroom and move them from room to room as you go about the day, doing a few arm curls each time. At the end of the day, you’ll have a great upper body workout.

• Double Your Trips Up and Down the Stairs: Have to move laundry? Do it in two trips with small baskets instead of one, to burn extra calories and work your hamstrings and glutes.

• Take Advantage of TV Time: Keep a stretch band in the living room and do lunges to work on your arms, thighs and butt while you watch TV. Put the band under your foot and pull up with your arms.

• Outdoor Chores Count, Too: Taxing yard work such as raking leaves and cleaning gutters, chopping wood, scraping the windshield or shoveling snow can count toward fitness and weight loss. Rake leaves for an hour to burn 250 calories and shovel snow for an hour to burn up to 400 calories.

Cohen says cool fitness gadgets can be great for motivation. By using a heart rate monitor, for example, you can track your intensity level, calories burned and duration-regardless of whether it’s yard work or an intense workout session. At the gym, heart rate monitors can track your progress on whatever equipment you’re using-exercise bikes, stair-steppers-or during a group exercise class.

Heart rate is a convenient, accurate, personalized indicator of the intensity of your exercise. Using a heart rate monitor lets you set your goal, create a training program and use your exercise data to adjust the intensity of your workout accordingly. A Polar heart rate monitor can help bring your workouts to the next level by optimizing time spent at the gym, exercising at home or doing outdoor chores.

It’s also important to exercise with a goal in mind, whether that goal is weight loss, improving your general fitness or maximizing your performance for a sporting event. Create a training program to help you meet your goal that includes both cardio and strength training. You can devise a customized workout plan via free sites such as www.polarpersonaltrainer.com.

For more on heart rate training, visit www.polarusa.com/whyHR.

*Article and image courtesy of NAPS.*

Yoga for Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is an illness that causes widespread pain in the muscles and soft tissue of the body. Its symptoms, in addition to pain throughout the body, can include specific tender points on the body, extreme fatigue, stiffness when waking, sleep problems, depression and memory problems. Doctors have not been able to pinpoint any specific trigger for the disease.

In the past, some doctors told patients that the symptoms they were experiencing were imaginary, while others used the illness as a diagnosis when they could not find a cause for a patient’s symptoms. Research has now shown that both of these ideas were wrong.

Recent studies have shown that many of those diagnosed with fibromyalgia have lower than normal levels of the hormone cortisol in their bodies. Scientists believe that the processes that cause fibromyalgia, including the lower levels of cortisol, affect the way that the brain receives and perceives pain signals. In those with this illness, the sensation of pain is greatly increased from what is considered normal. Current treatments for fibromyalgia include pain medications, management of stress and, if needed, lifestyle changes. However, doctors are starting to include alternative treatments such as yoga, tai chi and acupuncture. Many doctors now advise their patients to incorporate yoga as a part of their overall treatment plan.

Those new to yoga will find that it is a purposely slow form of exercise consisting of three main components. The first of these components are the poses or postures (asanas in Sanskrit). There are many poses used in yoga, making its use appropriate for many different reasons. These postures help the body by allowing it to stretch gently while relieving stress and helping to strengthen the muscles. Using these postures also increases blood flow throughout the body.

The next vital part of yoga is breathing. The practitioner is encouraged to use deep breathing techniques in order to get the greatest amount of oxygen to his/her body and brain. Deep breathing is also used to relieve stress and aid in the release of tension throughout the body.

The final component of yoga is meditation. Those taking part in meditation typically report a sense of calm and awareness. This soothing energy aids the body in its natural healing process. The practitioner is usually reminded to concentrate on their breathing and to let thoughts come and go without any particular attachment to them. Meditation provides a great opportunity to become aware of the mind and body connection, to listen to the needs of the body and respond with love and healing energy.

Most fibromyalgia patients are encouraged to take part in some type of exercise, but many find that just a small amount of exercise leaves them in a great amount of pain. Unlike regular exercise, such as running on a treadmill, a stepper or using weights, yoga allows the patient to perform slow stretches and gradually develop more complex routines if desired. Most practitioners advise those with fibromyalgia to begin with basic styles of yoga such as Hatha yoga.

No matter which way a patient decides to practice yoga, through yoga videos or with an instructor in a class setting, it should become part of the daily routine. Once yoga becomes habitual fibromyalgia patients may notice changes in their pain levels, their sleep and their fatigue. When used in conjunction with a treatment plan set up by their doctor, the fibromyalgia patient may find that yoga makes that plan more effective, allowing them to gain control over their life again, without the severe pain they had previously endured.

Green Health and Fitness Tips

Attending to your health and fitness needs can be a difficult undertaking, especially if you’ve never really worried about it in the past. There’s definitely a learning curve associated with adopting healthy eating habits and working an exercise regimen into your daily routine. You’ll have a lot of frustrations and setbacks to contend with throughout the process and it’s all too easy to lose motivation and return to your old ways, even if you have health reasons for wanting to make a change. But the process can be even harder when you bring green sensibilities into the equation.

Luckily, the market for eco-friendly products that suit the active lifestyle has expanded in recent years, so that there are now many options to help you see to your health and fitness needs without doing more harm to the environment. You can start by choosing organic clothing options for your workout gear, and you might be surprised to find that some come with the same options as the regular fare (wick-away features and so on), but sans the chemicals, waste, and pollution that normally accompany textiles. You may also want to opt for a shoe brand that embraces eco-friendly practices, such as Nike, which offers their Reuse-a-Shoe recycling program to turn your old trainers into playground turf (amongst other things).

When it comes to equipment, you might be at something of a loss as to how to proceed, but even here there are green options. You’ll have no trouble finding items like yoga mats and Pilates balls that are made from recycled or less harmful materials, since these types of exercise are associated with a holistic kind of lifestyle. But what about weights and workout machines? Is there any way to make these items greener? As a matter of fact, there are improvements already out there (and more on the way).

You can actually find hand weights made from partially recycled materials, and if you want 100% recycled, buy them used! As for the machines at the gym that suck up power day and night, you may be surprised to learn that there are now machines that run on kinetic energy. In short, they are powered by your movement. And there are even green gym facilities (more are opening every day) that do less harm to the environment on every level by incorporating these machines, conserving energy, and using eco-friendly building materials.

As for dieting to go along with your new fitness routine, you may want to look into organic food options. Certainly it can be a bit more expensive than your average shopping trip, but if you decide to go this route there’s nothing to stop you from growing your own organic fruit and vegetable garden to help reduce costs. You may also want to include vitamins, weight loss supplements, and the like in order to meet certain health and fitness goals. This is fine as long as you consult with your doctor first and try to avoid any supplements that are chemical in nature or could have adverse effects on your overall health.

About the Author

Sarah Danielson writes for www.getprograde.com where you can find great products and advice to help you lose weight.

Tips for Busy Moms on How to Lose Weight

By Rachel Hubbard

The word “diet” has such negative connotations that it is time to ditch it forever; but, with school starting, most moms cannot wait to develop some healthy new habits which might help them to lose a few pounds as well. Let the school year mark a new beginning and use these creative ideas to shape up and feel better in just a few weeks.

Make the Most of Movements

Movement burns calories whether it is called exercise or not. Through making the most of ordinary activities, we can ramp up our calorie burn rate without adding additional time to our days. The following suggestions may not seem like much when taken individually, but they can make a huge difference in the amount of calories burned in a week’s time.

• Lift weights or heavy cans or do deep knee bends while talking on the phone.

• Use resistance bands or weights when playing the waiting game in doctor’s offices, while on the phone, or when watching a child’s soccer practice.

• Always take the stairs, whether at home or while running errands; and, if time permits, run up and down two or three times.

• Use the weight of groceries as a means of building muscles by lifting them up and down as they are transported from the vehicle to the cabinet. Do the same with the laundry basket on the way to the utility room.

• Make a game of trying to increase the heartbeat when sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, or dusting by doing some speed cleaning – listening to some upbeat music will make this more fun!

• While playing with babies or younger children, use their weight to strengthen arms and legs by lifting and lowering them slowly from one position to another.

• Stretch for five minutes before even getting out of bed in the morning.

• Work in a visit with a friend by meeting at a local park to walk and talk, rather than meeting for a coffee.

Become a Food Fanatic

Food is not the enemy, but controlling food choices is sometimes difficult. It is important for moms wishing to lose weight to have healthy food available in a short period of time. The house should be cleared of snacks that are loaded with sugar, fat and calories to make food decisions easier. The following ideas will also help those trying to get their food consumption under control.

• Eat out of smaller bowls and plates to make portions appear larger.

• Portion out snacks of fruits and vegetables in plastic bags and keep readily available at all times.

• Try at least one new low calorie recipe out on the family each week.

• Buy no oil for cooking, and use only olive oil in small amounts for flavor.

• Slowly add more foods with high fiber content to the diet, especially whole grains.

By using a free weight loss calculator to set your personal targets, and setting a goal to work on these healthy habits during the next few weeks, the effects will be noticeable to everyone. Higher energy, a trimmer figure, and glowing skin will reward moms who make the effort to incorporate these small changes into their daily routines.

Personal Trainers Fighting Childhood Obesity – A Call to Action

As a personal trainer, you have the expertise and the chance to change lives by helping to reduce the childhood obesity rate. Too many children suffer the consequences of being overweight, from being teased in school to being less physically fit. It doesn’t have to be this way. If several trainers in each community would give just one day each week to this cause, it could have a significant impact on this generation and the children in their own futures.

In this article, you’ll learn about some of the facts of childhood obesity and why you might want to take action, how to organize fitness events, work with parents, and motivate kids to sign up for fitness programs. This kind of involvement will always come full circle as you become better known in the community.

The Facts

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 2% of all high schools “required daily PE or its equivalent for students in all grades…for the entire year.” With statistics like these, it’s no wonder that there is an obesity epidemic in this country. Also, over half of these schools made fried foods available as a choice for the school lunch program. With the lack of exercise that children are receiving, combined with unhealthy food choices due to peer pressure or economic factors, kids just don’t have a fighting chance.

Taking Action

What was your reason for becoming a personal trainer? Do you have a love of fitness? Did you feel that it would be fun and rewarding? Are you trying to make a difference in people’s lives? What if you now have the opportunity to take your knowledge and donate a few hours each week toward helping those who need it the most: children who are 20 to 200 pounds overweight, as early as 8 years old. Kids need role models and information mixed up with enough imagination to hold their interest; you can show them the way. Your guidance can play a vital part in reversing this heartbreaking epidemic.

School Events

A good way to get started is by holding an event at a local school. If you’re worried about the logistics, then don’t be. Any school would be thrilled to help you organize an event that promoted children’s health, and parents will be happy to jump in as well.

When it comes to planning activities, make sure that they are geared towards children. “Games” are fun, whereas “exercise programs” will make any kid want to run the other direction. You could design a simple obstacle course or hold track and field events, like the 100-meter dash. Be sure to include events for physically challenged kids as well. Boot camps for kids not only sound exciting but also promote healthy competition as well as group involvement.

Working with Parents

Whether you’ve never worked with children before or have years of experience, you’ll have to sell yourself and your qualifications to their parents. Make some postcards or flyers spelling out your credentials, certifications, continuing education requirements and experience. Parents are the key to your success and if they believe you are sincere and committed, they will take your cause “to the mattresses.”

Also, be sure to let them know that you are trained in CPR and first aid and are insurable (the school or PTA or event organizer may want to take out insurance, which is a win-win for you both). Anything that you can do to prove to parents that you’re qualified, dependable, and trustworthy will help to get them on your side.

More than a One-Time Event

Holding special fitness events for children is a great thing on its own, but you should strive to get kids signed up for ongoing classes. In fact, those classes could be held by you! Not only will you benefit financially, but you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you’re getting kids to lead healthier lifestyles.

You can make a huge difference in children’s lives by using your knowledge and skills to help them make lifestyle changes. Tell others about your plans, and you’ll be surprised to see how many people will be supportive and help to make your idea a reality.

About the Author

Anthony Jefferies is fitness instructor who also works with parents’ groups and contributes content for playground equipment companies providing imaginative structures for kids, so they can spend more time outdoors in active play.

*Image: Go Play, Get Fit Youth Day by Port of San Diego/flickr*

Whether you are a surfing mama or a hiking mama, you will adore Teresa Delfin’s eco-fabulous line of activewear for the mom-to-be who wants to stay comfortable while enjoying her favorite sports or activities while pregnant. Created in 2009, this top-quality line is quickly gathering quite a following!

An Interview with Teresa Delfin, Founder of Mountain Mama

1. Tell us about your eco-inspired company!

I created Mountain Mama to provide high quality outdoor apparel for maternity and beyond. Because a healthy outdoor lifestyle is at the heart of Mountain Mama’s mission, we’re committed to producing our garments using the smallest possible footprint. We source fabrics that comply with strict environmental standards, including Blueline, the highest eco-standard in the textile industry. Beginning Fall 2011 we’ll be offering garments made with bamboo and wood pulp fabrics as well as organic cotton. 100% of our products are made in the USA and many travel only 30 miles from fabric mill to factory to fulfillment!

How do you choose to go green in your own life?

My favorite ways to go green in my own life are to live outdoors as much as possible. For me, this means everything from enjoying regular hiking, skiing, paddling, backpacking, cycling and camping outings to growing as many organic fruits and vegetables as my yard can handle! Little things like having to carry your garbage on a backpacking trip can be excellent training for working toward a “leave no trace” lifestyle everyday.

Guilty green pleasure?

As an outdoor athlete, I’m also a gear freak! You should see my garage: skis, kayak, bikes, tents…! I justify my gear purchases because they make my time outdoors more enjoyable, but I research like crazy before investing in new toys so that I don’t consume more resources than I need.

Can you offer any encouraging words for those with a small sustainable business?

Committing to running a green business means also committing to fewer profits – in the short term. Stay connected with like-minded organizations such as B Corp and 1% for the Planet and find inspiration by reading success stories like Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard’s, Let My People Go Surfing.

*Image provided by Mountain Mama.*

Fun and Fit: Top 5 Water Sports for Keeping Fit

On a hot summer day, everyone loves to jump into the pool to relax and have fun. There’s nothing like a little vitamin D that can help your health, but water sports outdoors have other benefits as well. Swimming and water sports are one of the most beneficial exercises for your body. All the different water sports that you can participate in drastically improve your health by:

• increasing cardiovascular endurance

• improving general strength

• increases endurance

One of the biggest advantages of water sports for exercise is the lack of impact on your joints. Individuals that are older or those who have knee injuries may not be able to compete in running sports, but swimming does not put stress on joints. Water sports also have a lot of variety. There are sports under water such as diving and snorkeling, sports on the water such as surfing and rafting, and indoor water sports like water polo and swimming laps. Here’s a list below of some of the most popular water sports out there that are fun and good for your health!

1. Swimming Laps

Swimming has been a Summer Olympics sport for more than a century. This could be the sport for you if you are interested in gaining overall strength and cardiovascular health. Swimming laps can exercise your entire body with the different types of strokes. Swimming is great because it is appropriate for all fitness and experience levels. Here are some reasons that swimming helps you keep fit:

• Burning calories – One hour of swimming can burn 500 calories or more!

• Strengthens muscle – Since swimming is a full body workout and water is more dense than air, many muscles in your body will be strengthened by swimming often.

• Low impact – People with joint and back injuries will be glad that they can still stay healthy and fit by swimming.

2. Rowing

Contrary to popular belief, rowing is actually a full body sport although it looks like a lot of the upper body is involved. Rowing has become popular as a sport as well as a form of fitness training. Rowing is about as intense as any running activity, and it can burn as many calories and build a lot of strength. Rowing can keep you fit because:

• Total body workout – Rowing involves your entire body, not just your upper body.

• Improves flexibility – Since rowing will put your body through unique ranges of motion, your body will become more flexible as well.

• Strength and cardiovascular training – Rowing is an intense aerobic activity that helps you strengthen your muscles too.

• Burns calories – Rowing can burn more calories with the same amount of effort as biking or running.

3. Water Polo

Water polo is also another unique water sport that has become popular over the years. Water polo is a sport that is played in teams and can tax the body in unique ways while having fun. With players on teams trying to score goals against an opposing team, your body will become more toned and your flexibility will increase as well. You can also increase your endurance because in each game, water polo players swim an average of four miles.

4. Surfing

One of the most fun water sports is surfing. Although surfing the internet all day is just lazy, surfing on water is entirely different. Your body will be trained to become more flexible to swim and catch waves. Your muscles will also be toned to be able to paddle, swim, and spring onto a surfboard. Surfing is also unique because it helps with motor skills and balance. By surfing, you can increase balance, strength, and cardiovascular health as well.

5. Rafting

Rafting is an extremely fun sport that pumps adrenaline through your body. Not only can you cross it off your bucket list, you can put it down as a fun water sport as well. With time spent in nature, your stress levels can be reduced from rafting. Like rowing, it can increase your cardiovascular strength and muscle strength as well. Most importantly, rafting can improve your mental health as well.

The Importance of Water Sports for your Health

When summer time comes, it’s very easy for one to become lazy and stay outside the sun. However, joining a water sport can be a fun activity that can increase your physical and mental health drastically. Whether it be swimming in a pool, rafting, or surfing outdoors, your body will thank you for the change in your life. You can keep fit all summer and have fun at the same time!

About the Author

Ashley is a freelance writer for a fitness website. She is always on the go and looking for the next activity to keep her busy. One of her favorite things to do is going to the pool with her husband and two daughters.

*Image: Paul Martin Eldridge / FreeDigitalPhotos.net*

Tai Chi – An Amazing Gift For Your Children

Tai Chi Chuan, also known simply as Tai Chi, is a relaxing and meditative form of movement that can focus energy and provide a feeling of calm. By teaching the intricate relationship of opposites through physical motion, Tai Chi’s exploration of “yin” and “yang” can help provide both physical and mental balance.

One of the greatest benefits that Tai Chi students often achieve is the ability to effectively monitor external and internal feedback provided by their bodies and minds. While adults often turn to Tai Chi to cope with the stressors of work and family life, this ancient Chinese discipline is an activity you can share with children of all ages and abilities to help them cope with the mounting pressures of school and peer pressure. Here are a few ways that Tai Chi can benefit families with young children, “tweeners” and teens alike.

Improved concentration: A study at the University of Miami’s Touch Research Institute demonstrated that 10 sessions of Tai Chi helped adolescents with ADHD. Teens showed improved behavior, decreased hyperactivity and less daydreaming.

Improved Balance: In 2008, U.S. News and World Report published the article “For Better Balance, Pilates and Tai Chi Beat Out Yoga.” According to quotes from the University of California’s Fall Prevention Center for Excellence, Tai Chi is more effective at improving coordination and motor control while walking, which is when most falls tend to occur.

Lung Function Benefits: A Taiwanese study published in the 200 Journal of Microbiology, Immunology, and Infection revealed that asthmatic children who studied Tai Chi had improved pulmonary function.

Tai Chi Provides Insight: When children practice some forms of martial art like karate and judo they sometimes lose sight of their goals in their quest to win competitions or race each other to the next level or belt color. In contrast, Tai Chi is a noncompetitive activity where kids can move at their own pace without having to compete or constantly strive to attain belts or rankings.

A Tai Chi Style for Everyone: Families new to Tai Chi often don’t realize that there are several styles of Tai Chi. Some focus on fast-paced, high-energy movements while others are more slow and meditative. Do some research to figure out which one might be most suitable for your family or better yet, mix and match several forms for variety and benefits diversity.

No Fancy Equipment Necessary: While competitive sports have many benefits, one of the biggest drawbacks is the cost of equipment. If you are tired of running out to the sporting goods store to load up on baseball equipment, soccer uniforms or an expensive set of children’s golf clubs, consider Tai Chi as an inexpensive yet healthful activity that can be practiced as a group or alone.

Tai Chi Attunes Kids to Nature: Tai Chi has over 100 positions that are often named and based on movements displayed by animals, with a few being imaginary. When practicing Tai Chi, children are asked to envision moving like the animal that the position is named after. “Elephant drinks water,” “Bird stretches neck,” and “Dragon plays in the clouds” all work to develop flexibility. The “Tiger charges” and the “Lion sleeps” movements improve muscle tone while the “White crane flies” works on enhancing balance.

Tai Chi is Family-Friendly: If you’re struggling to recall a time when you all did something together, perhaps taking some Tai Chi classes and practicing as a family would be a great opportunity to reconnect.

The World is Your Tai Chi Studio: One of the greatest joys of Tai Chi is that you can practice it almost anywhere. Whether you are looking to visit a local park, have a lengthy layover at the airport or want to spend time at home minus the distractions of video games, television and computers, Tai Chi can transport you and your children to a peaceful, more centered place.

While many Tai Chi books and DVDs are readily available, consider initially working with an instructor who can provide guidance to both you and your children. Set aside some time for instruction and practice regularly so that you and your children can enjoy the many benefits of this ancient form of “meditation in motion.”

About the Author

Jennifer Sullivan is an avid follower of Eastern disciplines and also recommends martial arts and boxing for older teens for self-defense and self discipline. She is also a content contributor for Boxfituk, an online retailer of <a Boxfituk boxing gloves and other boxing equipment.

*Photo by Ben Burkland and Carolyn Cook*

The Right Kind of Vices

People tend to engage in vices as a means of coping with the everyday stress of the modern world. Whether it be a cigarette, a beer or a bet we often succumb to temptation. Well, it’s time to throw out those comfort vices and try something that will bring all manner of benefits whilst beating stress; healthy living!

Engaging in regular physical exercise

There are many benefits to regular physical exercise. The simple act walking can be a great stress buster for it allows you to take your mind off your troubles and attain new perspective from clearer thinking.

Regular exercise like this is good for your body as it regulates the oxygen in your blood. This is important as getting oxygenated blood pumped to important organs such as the brain and the heart help to prevent the likes of chronic heart disease, strokes and osteoporosis. Studies also show that regular physical exercise will help to improve your sex life which is a nice added bonus in itself.

Eating a healthy breakfast

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, for it is the fuel that sustains us for most of the working day. A healthy breakfast means eating low cholesterol, high fiber diet. Fibre helps cleanse the body by absorbing excess cholesterol from the intestines. A menu containing oats, bran, flax seeds, almonds, nuts and/or dried fruits will bring the greatest benefits.

Hydrate yourself by drinking at least eight 8 oz. glasses of water a day

This doesn’t mean drinking plain water; you can also get water from fruits and other food, although plain water is easiest to digest. Different bodily functions such as circulation, digestion, absorption, transmission of impulses and excretion will not be regulated well without water.

Get enough sleep

Many people have sleeping problems and resort to taking medication to improve their sleeping habits. Sleeping difficulty may be due to physical, mental, medical or environmental factors. For adults the recommended time for sleep is about 7-9 hours.

The easiest solution to this kind of predicament is having a regular sleeping and waking up time schedule and sticking to it. Regular sleep is an important element of a fit and healthy lifestyle.

Express and channel your emotions correctly

Whatever your current emotional state, whether sad, fearful or happy, it is important to keep a check on this element of your wellbeing for emotions play a key role in your general health. Emotions generate certain imbalances in the body which can result in chronic illnesses like depression.

Some people eat more or less when depressed and can rely on the wrong kind of vices like drinking and drugs to cope. As such it’s true that in the end depression can kill. So you should always keep in touch with your emotions and discuss them with friends and family to help channel them in the right way.

Being addicted to a vice is not easy to stop or prevent whilst an attachment to something which greatly benefits your own wellbeing can be hugely rewarding. It’s ok to be hooked to health, start today, a little at a time.

About The Author

Josh Aggars writes about beach life, surfing, travel and more. His passion for surfing takes him to amazing places around the World and comes through in his regular articles as he explores all aspects of the sport. He sells men’s flip flops including havaianas to help fund his travels.

Do I Really Need a Personal Trainer?

The buff and the beautiful parade across the big screen, the TV screen, and the computer screen—those celebrities with not a spare ounce of fat–trim-waisted and perfectly toned. Now, that’s what I want to look like, you think. And when you hear or read an interview with one or another of those whose flawless bodies you covet, all the credit goes to the personal trainers who spend endless hours putting them through their paces, driving them toward the Hollywood ideal of physical perfection, keeping current their membership in World’s Most Beautiful People Club.

So, you think, all you need to do is hire yourself a personal trainer. After all, trainers aren’t just for the rich and famous any more. That’s exactly right—they aren’t. But before you pick up the phone to book a trainer, stop and ask yourself if this is something you really need. After all, couldn’t you just join a gym chock full of state-of-the-art fitness equipment and go at it on your own?

Know Thyself

There are different routes to personal fitness, and the best one for you is going to depend on a number of factors.

Consider:

Your financial situation: While it’s true that personal trainers have come down from Olympus and are no longer only for the rich and famous, training is still an expense. According to Dr. Sal Arria, president of the National Board of Fitness Examiners, the average trainer charges $60-$70 per session. That said, it is possible to find a trainer who charges as little as $25 per hour in some geographical areas. These may be new to the field and less experienced.

Your needs: What do you want to achieve through your exercise program? Are you trying to improve your overall health and fitness? Are you training for a specific sport or athletic event? Looking to sculpt your body for competition? Have you ever been injured, or do you have health conditions that need to be considered.

Your personality: Are you a person who performs better with a buddy? Or are you a more independent type who prefers to focus on individual goals without the need for face-to-face interaction with other people?

Your motivation: Are you self-motivated, a self-starter, or to you function better with an external source of motivation?

Your experience: Have you exercised much in the past, or are you a rank beginner? How familiar are you with fitness equipment and how it is used?

Making a Decision

Now let’s look at how these considerations will affect your decision as to whether you need a personal trainer.

Finances: You may decide, after careful consideration of your finances, that you can’t fit the hourly rates available in your area into your weekly budget. If you can’t, there are still options available to you. You can try to go it alone, develop a fitness plan from books, and try to follow the diagrams for proper form and adhere to the fitness charts the books provide. You can watch how others in the gym use the fitness equipment, but be warned: many of these exercisers probably learned from watching, too, and might have been observing incorrect form.

You have several options if finances are an issue:

• Hire a trainer for several sessions, to set up a fitness program for you and coach you in proper form. Once you feel confidant, go it alone, adding distance, reps, or whatever at intervals.

• You might consider foregoing one-on-one training and sign up for a series of small-group training sessions at your gym. You will get personal attention, albeit less, and have your group members as well as your trainer for motivation.

• Sign on with an online personal trainer. You will get individualized one-on-one advice at a much lower price.

Needs: If you mainly want to improve your general health and fitness with a combination of cardio and uncomplicated weight training, you might be able to swing it without the professional input a trainer can provide. On the other hand, if you have special needs, such as training for a specific activity, event, or competition, or if you need a program tailored to your physical limitations or health conditions, you will benefit from the expertise of a trained professional

Personality: If you consider yourself a self-contained person and don’t see socializing or personal interaction as a big part of your fitness program, you may feel inclined to go it alone. But be aware that you may be missing out on many of the benefits a knowledgeable and experienced trainer can provide. If you don’t want a person breathing down your neck, you may be a person who can benefit from the services on online personal trainer. You will have the advantages of a trainer’s expert advice while not feeling compelled to maintain social interaction while you focus on meeting your exercise goals

Motivation: If motivation is an issue, you may benefit from hiring a trainer. For some people, paying out that fee is a powerful motivator to show up and get to work. (Do you clean that last bite off your plate when you eat in a restaurant, even when you’re uncomfortably full, because you paid for the meal?)

Other ways to become motivated are:

• Committing to work out with a friend for mutual encouragement.

• Working with an online trainer who can provide the encouragement and motivation that will help you stay focused.

Experience: If you are new at the fitness game, you will benefit from one-on-one training and advice—at least until you have a program that works for you, and know that you are performing the correct exercises and performing them properly. Again, if finances are an issue, you can opt for short-term start-up, small group training, or online training.

Personal trainers are excellent sources of inspiration, motivation, knowledge and advice. The good news is that today there are many training options available to choose from. Whether you decide on one-on-one personal training, small group training, or online training, there is a fitness training solution for everyone who really wants to make it happen.

About the Author

Carol is a freelance writer for a fitness website. She enjoys helping others stay fit and live healthy lives. She can be found at the gym or park if she is not busy writing.