Personal trainers… We love them and we hate them. They get us in the best shape of our lives but they make us work our asses off to get there. There should be an easier way right?
Most of us imagine our trainers heading home after a day working with their clients to cook themselves a meal of skinless chicken breasts with rice and veg and drinking a protein shake. Then they do a few hundred burpees combined with a 10k run. They are all about fitness and wellness after all.
This past month, we caught up with some of Edmonton’s top trainers to see what they think true fitness is all about (and even got them to admit to some of their own personal vices) to show how human they are.
Shara Vigeant -SVPT Fitness & Athletics
Fitness means being a better version of myself through physical expression by challenging my body, and mind. It’s not just about looking better, but feeling better so I can have an improved quality of life and more adventures!
Often people think trainers live and breathe the gym and training. While yes, it is our passion and we definitely walk the talk, we also are human. We enjoy pizza, wine, vacations, and yes, sometimes we skip training. This is LIFE. And living a lifestyle that has fitness in it should be balanced. We try to get our clients to understand that fitness is BALANCE – it should ADD to your life, not take away.
It is not going to be a perfect journey and this journey should be a commitment to become part of your lifestyle. Find a fitness practice that you ENJOY and can stick to long term that creates BALANCE in your life. It shouldn’t consume your life, or become obsessive. Strive for progress, not perfection. The journey is going to have ups and downs. Some weeks better than others; that is reality. If you are constantly trying to be perfect, you will find yourself exhausted and unfulfilled from your fitness lifestyle.
Unfortunately the fitness industry has people believing that fitness is about how you look, and has people striving for unrealistic body ideals and obsessing about body image. This is unhealthy and not what the focus on fitness should be about. Make your goals be performance based (stronger, faster, fitter) because a 6 pack and bikini body doesn’t always equate to physical fitness. Chasing a body ideal that is unrealistic can really be defeating and exhausting, and will not result in long-term commitment to fitness.
Shane Kokas - TNP FITNESS
Personal Fitness Trainer Diploma
Corrective Exercise Specialist
Nutrition Coaching Certification
To me, fitness means constantly striving to be the healthiest and happiest version of yourself. I come from a family background with a lot of heart and stroke issues and diabetes. I am predisposed to certain health conditions and I owe it to myself to ensure that I can stay in the best physical condition I can.
The blanket statement that all personal trainers eat only chicken and broccoli, they don’t drink alcohol, they workout every day and come from athletic backgrounds is such a myth.
Yes, those trainers are out there and if that works for them, that’s great! But for myself, I do not come from an athletic background (unless we count the 2 years of Hip Hop dance class I took in Junior High). Also, like myself, I know several personal trainers who do not live a life eating out of plastic containers. They enjoy drinking alcohol and they workout most days, not every day.
There is also an authentic power when a client can freely state, "I'm glad I have a trainer whom I know won't make me feel guilty for having a couple glasses of wine." Because really, I would be lying if I told them I didn't have a few drinks the night I watched Beyoncé’s “Lemonade”.
Avoid the “all or nothing” mindset. We’ve all done it. Day one, you decide to cut out all sugars, processed foods and other junk. You decide to workout 5, no 6 days a week. Heck, what’s one more day? Let’s hit the gym 7 days a week! What happens?
Life happens. Work, you catch a cold, or go out for dinner. You indulge and miss workouts. Rightfully so, you feel like you’ve failed and lost motivation to continue. When dealing in the “all or nothing” mindset, in my personal experience and client’s experience, it will eventually lead to doing nothing.
When starting out, start small. Make one change. Just one. Continue to practice this change everyday. Until this habit seems effortless. Once this seems effortless, you can move onto the next habit.
New habits take practice. How do you get great at hockey, painting, singing or biking? You practice. Everyday. Making lifestyle changes are no different.
When it comes to food, I follow a moderation365 approach. An eating strategy I learned from Jill Coleman a few years back. I eat everything in moderation, 365 days per year. I know, it sounds boring right? But it’s very effective for me and it doesn’t give me any sense of deprivation.
But if I were to narrow in on my favorite indulgences, it’s dark chocolate almonds or a white wine variation.
Stacey Hogbin - Wevive Fitness, Owner
NAIT PFT/canfitpro PTS Pro Trainer
Fitness to me means celebrating the amazing things my body can do. My body allows me to lift heavy amounts of weight, run long distances, and jump all over the place. Far too often we take for granted what our bodies are capable of doing and fitness allows us to recognize and celebrate all of those things.
Fitness is not defined by having a 6 pack. You don't have to be shredded to be in amazing shape. I wish the world would stop making people think that their fitness is defined by how their body looks in the mirror. Fitness comes in all shapes and has nothing at all to do with the reflection in mirror.
Don't expect results over night. Everyone's fitness journey towards reaching his or her goal is different, but no one's happens instantly. Be proud of every little accomplishment along the way, because every single one counts. Wake up everyday knowing that you have started one of the most amazing journeys of your life and appreciate every workout.
My favourite treat hands down is movie theater popcorn. I don’t even have words for how much I love that stuff! I know it is terrible for you, but it is so worth it. Half the time I don’t even want to see the movie, I just want to eat the popcorn. And there is no sharing; I will eat the whole bag to myself!
Dana Perkin - The Base by RVH
NAIT PFT, AFLCA
The word fitness on it’s own can be misleading. Is fitness muscular strength, speed and endurance, or high cardiovascular function? Does it incorporate coordination and agility?
In my opinion fitness is not one-dimensional. A truly fit body should be an athletic body. The most fit individuals are strong, have the highest aerobic function possible for their specific activity, posses speed and display coordinated movement. Simply put who is more fit; the person who can deadlift 225 pounds 10 times with full rest in between sets, or the person who can deadlift the same weight 10 times with cardio intervals, or core work as their rest between sets?
Athleticism requires a combination of efficient movement, coordination, aerobic fitness, strength, speed, power and agility. While fitness does not require that someone be the best at all of these elements, it does demand competency in all elements and the ability to consistently repeat performance.
The biggest fitness myth I hear is that running, squats and dead lifts are bad for your knees and back. The human body was designed for movement and the most fundamental movement is a hinge, or squat pattern. Squats and deadlifts are ways of loading the hinge. Running is simply a series of single leg hinges. The “danger” to the back and knees involved in these exercises is due to improper movement patterns and muscle recruitment. By incorporating proper mechanics and foundational core training anybody can incorporate squats and deadlifts and running as mainstays of their fitness regime.
If you have decided to embark on a fitness journey take a few important steps n order to stay motivated and healthy. First: choose an activity that you enjoy, or experiment with several activities until you find your niche. People are always more likely to stay motivated if they enjoy what they are doing. Next: set a goal. Nothing too extreme here, choose something specific and challenging, but attainable. Take care of the little things and big things will happen, setting a series of small goals will help keep you motivated and lead to the realization of a larger goal. Third: find knowledgeable help and take care of your body. Invest in your health by finding the right help. Everyone has limitations, by working with a good trainer you can identify and devise a plan to target those limitations, design an effective training program and safely push the boundaries of your fitness.
Jordan Law - Owner of Spinunity Cycle Studio.
Group fitness with the Alberta Fitness Leaders Association (AFLCA).
Fitness to me means putting yourself first. I truly believe that without feeding our bodies with movement, and feeding our minds the stress relieving benefits of exercise we can’t fully invest in ourselves.
The biggest fitness myth for me is that you only need to invest into an hours’ worth of work a day and that will be enough. We need to invest in our eating habits and we should move all day. If we’re sedentary for 16 hours and sleeping for 7, 1 hour of exercise isn’t enough.
You hear it all the time, but if you’re starting out with a fitness program, start slow and perfect it step by step. One pushup done perfectly will benefit you better than 10 pushups done poorly. I instruct my riders to focus on what their body is feeling before trying to keep up with everyone else. We all started somewhere once, and it’s a constant investment, but we will always finish successfully together when we focus on our own abilities.
Be honest with your weaknesses, because we all have them - a glass of wine turns into a bottle, just a spoonful of your husbands DQ Blizzard turns into 7, just ONE Jacek Chocolate a day???... You get the point.
Don't forget to enjoy life through your fitness journey. It takes a lot of work to maintain control so we need a little bit of risk and release to balance it all out and make it fun.
Kaylor Betts - TNP Fitness
Fitness is a form of meditation for me. It's something that when I enter my workout, it's just me, and the movements. I am fully present with each and every rep or stride and all my thoughts, all my stressors eventually dissipate. I maintain aware that much of the purpose behind my workouts is to strengthen me physically, but a good portion of what fitness brings to my life is mental. I focus on having the mindset that maintaining a fitness regime is something that is just simply necessary to prepare me and give me the strength for the challenges life brings me.
The biggest fitness myth to me is hat more means better. This is not necessarily always true when it comes to fitness. I believe that the majority of people who are trying to take their body and health to the next level, workout too much. I see it all the time. Me personally, I focus on 30-45 min workouts 3-5 x per week, some of which is moderate intensity, and then try to simply "move" as much as I can outside of my workouts. I focus on consistency throughout the year, not ups and downs. Intense workouts are a stressor on the body. It can pose great benefits for us in the right amount, so I definitely promote it. However, if you don't take enough time to recover and rest, these workouts now start to be damaging for our health and can actually hinder your ability to lose body fat and slow your metabolism.
Don't worry about getting in a ton of high intensity workouts in every day of the week, especially if you don't sleep enough and are stressed. Focus first on sleep, hydration, stress reduction and eating good whole food. If you can master these, then you can go give your body a good ass kicking.
If you have a fitness goal, and your mindset is to get to that goal as fast as possible, you are setting yourself up for failure. Focus on changing your lifestyle. Start slow, be consistent, and find a professional coach who can be there for you and provide you with the knowledge you need to get to your goal. Fitness is like brushing your teeth - the goal is to get to the point where you do it everyday because if you don't, you know how bad it feels. Get to the point where it's just part of your weekly routine! That's what I call success in fitness.