As you probably already know if you read my first post (about me), I recently passed a fitness course. Since I can see most of the mistakes now, visits to the gym will never be the same. Witnessing all the enthusiastic gym-goers hurting themselves made me think about the importance of a trainer. I mean, they’re not alone, I’d been making the same basic mistakes, either in posture or not employing the core accurately. Luckily, the course gave me quite a deep insight into the human body and the way it works, so I can correct myself and work on my deficiencies and what’s more, I’m going to share all this with you.
I’ll draw upon some current problems, such as paying for a trainer, unqualified people training themselves or others, joining a group fitness class and wrong exercising. Lastly, I will mention core strength (esp. deep abdominal muscles) and its significance in our lives and while searching for a trainer.
We all have friends or know people who try really hard. They usually experiment with diets and formulas that even Einstein couldn’t come up with. They do insane workouts, yet don’t lose weight. As a consequence, they lose their motivation. They’re so called “forever beginners”. They always start, see no results, give up and after a few weeks, months or years they repeat it. Why does this happen? Well, it’s because they need a professional help – a trainer, advisor or a specialist to explain to them what and how to do it. I’m not saying it’s a requirement for everyone. There are people who are capable of learning anything on their own. Nevertheless, the vast majority of us are helpless without experts. Whether it’s a doctor, teacher, lawyer, or a plumber, we don’t hesitate to ask them for help and there’s no shame in that. Why not do the same when it comes to a trainer then?
“Trainers are too expensive, I can spend the money more wisely.”
True, paying a trainer can be tough. You pay for their know-how, experience, effort and time, so it’s not the cheapest. Though you don’t need to pay for the trainer every single time you do some sport, it’s nice if you can and have the money, but it’s certainly unnecessary. You don’t need an enormous amount of professional supervision unless you’re a professional athlete. It’s like learning to read. Normally, you need someone to teach you the letters, words, sentences and show you the right path. Nonetheless, you don’t need them to read the books out loud for you when you can already do it yourself.
Note: Some people don’t mind buying expensive alcohol, getting new haircuts, nails, clothes, liposuctions or iProducts, but they do mind paying for a few hours with a trainer. They mind paying for their health and prevention. Eh, I can’t really see the logic there.
“I don’t need a trainer. I can train myself.”
Nowadays, since fitness has become so popular, a massive problem has appeared. People who have never trained, train themselves. Would you undergo a surgery led by someone who hasn’t studied to be a doctor? Hopefully not. I don’t want to discourage you from working out or doing sports if you’re a novice. On the contrary, I want you all to go out, run, play squash or go to the gym. My only aim is that you do it right. A guy goes to the gym, works out biceps, triceps and chest, gets home and feels back pain. He doesn’t mind though. He doesn’t care till the pain is unbearable. So huge, he seeks a doctor, who tells him that he needs a surgery. Aye, I don’t want to scare you, but that can happen. Not now when you’ve just started, not even after a year or two. What about ten or twenty years of faulty exercising though? How will you feel?
I know you probably don’t want to read this. I mean, why would someone need a trainer for running? Anyone can run, right? It’s natural. Yes, indeed. But are you sure what surfaces to run on? Do you know how long a distance? What shoes to wear? Is it good to run barefoot? How often? How should your back look while running? Should you run on your toes or heels? Have you seen yourself in a mirror when you run so that you can fix all the mistakes? What to eat before running? What to eat afterwards? What should you drink? I assume most people’s answers won’t be correct.
Not all “trainers” are trainers
Sadly, watching a youtube trainer won’t make you one. He might have done it for 30 years and know exactly what he’s doing, whereas you probably don’t. It’s highly improbable that you’ll become one by sitting at your laptop. Another “great way” is watching an “Instagram trainer”. Are you sure the person you’re following is an experienced qualified trainer or is it just another girl who lost fifty lbs in a month? She knows the right techniques, what to eat and calls herself a trainer, offering individual training plans and nutritional consultations out of the blue.
Joining a class
Looking back, I think the worst thing I’ve ever done (with regards to exercising correctly) was joining a fitness class. Actually, I joined more than one. Why am I saying it’s bad? It’s run by a trainer, isn’t it? I mean, am I not telling you to have professional supervision? Sure, I am. A different kind though. The problem with fitness classes is that it’s meant for people who already excel at all those individual exercises. In other words, unless you’re a qualified trainer or an expert at those particular exercises, you should never do them in such classes.
However, due to commercial and financial purposes, gyms advertise and claim that anyone, even a beginner can join. Although the fitness class coach usually goes around and tries to check on each person, it’s absurd to be able to correct each client during every single exercise. Imagine a tabata class (meaning twenty seconds of workout, ten seconds rest) of eight people and a single trainer. How can the trainer possibly manage to correct everyone in twenty seconds? These classes are possible with beginners if we show them all the exercises and adjust the level of difficulty before the session starts. How many trainers do this though?
If you wish to join a class and you’ve never trained before, I’d advise you to see a personal trainer firstly, who will teach you all the necessary basics, including the correct posture.
If we attempt exercises beyond our current level or which we have not been sufficiently taught, we will execute them incorrectly. It gets even worse when we are under time pressure, a favourite technique nowadays. This leads to some muscles overloading (along with joints, ligaments, spinal discs etc.). We do not employ the desired muscles, therefore harming ourselves.
Using TRX, bosu, or any other balance tool is exclusively meant for EXPERTS, who are already able to stabilise their own body (e.g. one leg squat, plank) and therefore can add on difficulty using the already mentioned balance tools. Exercising with such tools is called “core exercises”, signifying the demand for “core strength”, so it is unquestionably not meant for beginners. Sadly, even many “experts” fail to use it properly.
The core strength and why it is so important
What is core strength? Basically most of the deep muscles which hold the body together and help your balance – diaphragm, pelvic floor, core back, abdominal and neck muscles. It’s not the six pack. Those are superficial muscles and despite their usefulness and beauty, they’re not the core. The core muscles connect your body together and work when you stand, walk, run, sit, squat… nearly always (or at least should).
Although the stabilisation of the body relies on coordination of all muscles together, I’ll focus on the core abdominal muscles. These muscles create intra-abdominal pressure, stabilise our body, support the spine and relieve our back muscles in the lower back area. It acts as a natural corset – the belly seems tighter and thinner. So, when people don’t know how to activate it, the back muscles have to do all the work to stabilise the body and support the spine. It is vital that we use our core abdominal muscles, since the weight of the whole body mostly relies on the lumbus, making it one of the most overwhelmed parts of the body. Overload of back muscles in the loins area (esp. quadratus lumborum muscle and spinal erectors) causes their shortening, resulting in hyperlordosis (extra spinal curvature). Because of the poor body posture, there is an uneven load on our spinal discs, which in the worst case, can end up herniated and cause problems that may even require a surgery.
You can spot a person who doesn’t know how to use it quite easily, as they have their glutes arched out, their lower ribs protrude and their belly is kind of bulging. Be careful when looking for a trainer. Someone might be muscular and fit, but still overarched in the loins area, meaning he has probably no clue something like core exists.
Left – correct posture, Right – incorrect posture.
Note: Core muscles are not crucial only while working out, we use them (or should) in everyday life too. Remember when you were picking up the heavy box from the floor? I hope you used your core.
- It’s better to pay for a few hours with a specialist now, than to pay for the physiotherapist, inevitable surgery and recovery after 20 years. Having health problems and stressful pain complicating our lives. Not to mention the time, money and effort you’ll have to devote to recover “fully” from the injuries.
- When choosing a trainer do it carefully. Pay special attention to whether they teach you the exercises fully before the training itself starts. A satisfactory trainer should definitely know the main muscles of the human body, the core and its function, the correct posture, the right execution of exercises and at least a bit of nutrition.
- Still want to join fitness classes? I’d recommend seeing the trainer individually for a few lectures before joining the class, so that you learn all the required exercises properly.
If you still don’t wish to get a trainer, another option is to become one. I’d say it’s the harder option, because you actually have to study for it and it’s way costlier than paying someone who’s already qualified. Nonetheless, you learn something new, improve yourself….and eventually will be self-sufficient while working out. There’s always pros and cons, it just depends on your preferences.
Anyway, I didn’t want the post to sound like I’m the best and most experienced trainer ever. No, I wish I was but I’m not. I’ve only wanted to give you some pieces of advice which I consider useful.
More about core and how to make it work next time!