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Why Suffer in Silence?

In America today, 40% of females, including women, children and teens, suffer in silence with either primary or secondary dysmenorrhea every month. Primary dysmenorrhea accompanies the monthly menstrual cycle without any underlying medical conditions. Secondary dysmenorrhea means that there is another medical issue present, such as endometriosis. This condition makes it hard to function, with most women being bedridden for three to five days or longer. Dysmenorrhea is not a weakness, but a real medical issue.

Generally, the female client will have severe throbbing pain from the waist down. They can feel it in their stomach, low back, legs and feet, making it hard to move. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, anxiety, stress, depression, lightheadedness, fatigue, headache, fever, and depression, weakness and fainting. Risk factors are smoking, obesity, being underweight, strong family history, high levels of stress, anxiety and/or depression. Women can still have painful stomach cramping well after menopause if they have Endometriosis.

This is a silent stressor for many women because they rarely choose to speak about it. Some have been living with the pain for twenty years or more and think there is nothing they can do. If a client comes to you and mentions that they have a lot of pain, urge them to see their doctor. This conversation is more likely to happen with a female personal trainer. The good news is that fitness professionals can help their clients to feel better during this painful time of the month.

It is important to acknowledge this painful condition because of the physical and mental implications that come along with it. As the trainer you, may be working with a therapist as well as an OB/GYN. You are trying to help your client feel better overall. We recommend scheduling an assessment first to understand the client’s medical history. As a fitness professional, you may want to refer your clients to other professionals as well. Acupuncture, for example, is well known for helping women to ease and reduce anxiety. When you network with other professionals, you form a referral system to obtain more clients for yourself, too.

After completing your assessment, you will develop a wellness program for your client. The program will include: exercise, meditation (specific to this condition), and aromatherapy, as well as other components. Try to have your client establish a regular daily wellness routine. Journaling is also important as it helps to connect your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Support groups can also help as women share their experiences with others.

If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, The Stress Management Institute will be launching a new program called “Living Well” in January 2019. Fitness professionals can learn how to enhance the lives of women who live with this condition.


Robyn Caruso is the Founder of The Stress Management Institute for Health and Fitness Professionals. She has 18 years of experience in medical based fitness.

References:

Stress Management Exercise Programming

As fitness professionals, we know that exercise helps our clients to cope with stress. We are told that any type of exercise will help them to reduce stress levels. The problem with this way of thinking is that we do not look at stress from the same point of view as a chronic illness. In turn, you could be putting your clients at risk of developing illness’s. We know that stress can wreak havoc on the body but what can we do as fitness professionals?

When we have clients diagnosed with diabetes, cancer and heart disease, for example, we follow a certain protocol or guideline. Not everyone is the same so you may have to deviate and think outside the box. Why should there be a difference with stress management exercise programming? There are specific guidelines that you should be following.

Many fitness professionals take into consideration the mental piece of stress but not what is actually going on inside the body as a direct correlation. Or fitness professionals may think that the client is better because they feel less stressed mentally after their session. When we do any type of exercise, endorphins will be released throughout the body. This will make you feel better mentally but it is a quick fix for what is really going on inside.

If a client is highly stressed and you have them do an intense workout they may become physically worse. Exercise is a stressor on the body itself and will increase cortisol levels. This  in turn, can make blood sugars and blood pressure higher. If someone does not have either of these conditions it could become their new norm over time. When pushed to hard, a client may develop conditions like Alzheimer’s Disease earlier due to high cortisol levels.

We need to look at stress management from a physiological standpoint when prescribing exercise. Many fitness professionals do not make this important connection during their sessions. We may advise clients to do meditation, yoga and exercise as a “one size fits all approach” Our clients’ bodies are different and therefore need a customized exercise and health education plan. If you have a client who cannot lose weight when exercising and eating properly have them see their doctor. The Physician may want their patient to take a cortisol level test to make sure their body is functioning normally.

Fitness professionals should follow the FITT Principle for stress when working with this population. Knowing the appropriate frequency, intensity, time and type of exercise is very important. You must assess your client and know their stress levels before you can customize a program. It is also important to look at their health history and what medications they are taking.

One way of effectively training clients is by using the Aria Method™. Open and flowing movements are important for training individuals who are stressed. Posture and stress play an integral part of movement and should be taken into consideration. For instance, Stress can make people hunch over or adapt to a kyphotic posture. By opening the chest and strengthening the muscles you are correcting this motion. Take a moment and really look at your clients before deciding how to train them.

Educating clients about stress and healthy coping techniques is also important and can make a big difference. It may be hard for some individuals to make positive lifestyle changes. Remember to praise clients for any changes they make no matter how small.


Robyn Caruso is the Founder of The Stress Management Institute for Health and Fitness Professionals. She has 18 years of experience in medical based fitness.

References:

Personal Trainer At The Gym

Body Language, Self-Awareness and The Client Experience

As a trainer, you wear many different hats during a typical work week. In turn, you are pulled in many different directions among family, friends and clients.  If you are focusing on too many topics at once you cannot be in the moment, which can lead to a lack of client retention.

Being in the moment.

There is a lot of competition in the studio market and potential members/clients like to belong to a gym – and stay with a gym – where they feel comfortable.  That puts the limelight on personal trainers to generate the positive client experience that is so important to retention.

This is why being in the moment is vital to gaining new clients and retaining current ones. If trainers are distracted this may be apparent through body language. Members may perceive being distracted as receiving bad customer service.

Members decipher up to 93% of what is said through body language.

When you think of excellent customer service, which companies come to mind? What makes them stand out from their competition? The employees that work for these companies are mindful and in the moment. They anticipate the needs of the client and help them accordingly.  Being in the moment means that your body language and what you say conveys the same message. This is important to note for customer service and member retention.

The importance of not ‘zoning out.’

Members are constantly making decisions on how they want to spend their money. When trainers work with clients they should be mentally and physically present for each session. If a trainer zones out the trainer leaves their client wondering if the session is important to them. Trainers also miss out on potential new clients who may have wanted their services.

Clients will typically get your attention first by asking if there is “something else you need to do”. This should be a clue that they know you are not in the moment.  You want to fix this quickly before the client stops training at your facility. Potential clients also watch to see how focused and attentive you are.  I once had a member watch my training sessions for 5 months before deciding that he wanted to hire me. He said that he was looking at my training style, personality and attentiveness. He passed up two other trainers because they seemed uninterested.

When you and/or your staff have better self-awareness you are able to anticipate the needs of your members easier.  You will also notice that more clients would like to train with you. By being in the moment every day your clients feel like they had an experience that they want to share with friends and family.

Do you know what message you’re conveying?

Nonverbal communication involves facial expressions, gestures, eye contact, posture, voice, and touch -and is actually more important then what is said verbally. Trainers are communicating non–verbally with clients and members all of the time and when mixed signals are sent, clients have to try to figure out how you actually feel.  You may be speaking to your client and sound present and in the moment but is your body language  communicating otherwise?


Robyn Caruso is the Founder of The Stress Management Institute for Health and Fitness Professionals. She has 18 years of experience in medical based fitness.

References

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/relationships/nonverbal-communication.htm

http://www.statisticbrain.com/gym-membership-statistics/

 

STRESS pencil

A Stress Management Plan for an Aging Population

April is National Stress Awareness Month!

Fortunately today, there are many tools to help individuals cope with stress. The first step is to acknowledge that you are stressed and to know what is stressing you. Once you are aware of your stressors, you need to make a stress management plan to follow. The journey may not be perfect but it is a work in progress. Most individuals aren’t going to know how to develop a plan or where to start. A trained individual such as a certified personal trainer can help to formulate the best plan for each client and make changes as the client achieves each milestone in the process.

As many as 20% of people experience depression in their later years

A stress management prescription is also needed for aging adults since the mind and body become slower to adaptations. The stress response lasts longer and seniors experience different symptoms then younger adults. Some key symptoms can be: crying, overeating, wounds taking longer to heal, heart palpitations, anxiety and depression. As a trainer, you will most likely be working with the client’s doctor who is treating them for these symptoms. There is a myriad of modalities that you can use to help your client drastically reduce their stress levels while they heal. As a fitness professional, incorporating meditation, exercise, yoga, Pilates, and many other techniques can help your client’s symptoms improve mentally and physically. The question is can we do more than telling clients to take a class? The answer to this question is an emphatic yes!

The causes of stress for this population are also different and depend on which decade in life they are in. Some examples are: loneliness, being institutionalized, fear of having enough money for retirement, loss of independence and many other causes. The problem is that many people can’t asses their own stress level and don’t know where to turn for answers. Chronic stress is harmful in many ways, but can be minimized once the individual becomes aware of their stress level and knows there are stress management professionals who can help.

Today, 53% of Baby Boomers are using complementary approaches to try and relieve stress and help with other conditions such as: anxiety, depression, chronic pain, stress, and hypertension. Complementary approaches are not limited to but include; exercise, nutrition, yoga, Pilates and Tai-Chi. Research conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health shows that meditation can help to relieve symptoms for example chronic pain. As a fitness professional it is important to realize that these modalities must be used in conjunction with conventional medicine.

When training clients, it is important to see them as a whole person through the dimensions of wellness. As people, we have many things going on mentally and physically that are very complex. A stress management plan helps to streamline what can work best for your client and their current needs. The plan can evolve and most likely will depending on what is going on in your client’s life at the time. When you can assess and classify your clients you then know which complimentary approaches will work better for them. This will in turn, will help to keep your client engaged and on track with their goals.


Robyn Caruso is the Founder of The Stress Management Institute for Health and Fitness Professionals. She has 18 years of experience in medical based fitness. Become a Stress Management Exercise Specialist today!

 

Sources:

https://consumer.healthday.com/encyclopedia/aging-1/age-health-news-7/aging-and-stress-645997.html

https://www.slideshare.net/soniya302/stress-among-elderly

http://www.elderly.gov.hk/english/healthy_ageing/mental_health/stress.html

https://www.stress.org/seniors/

http://www.providencecare.com

http://www.health.harvard.edu/aging

 

senior-and-trainer

Tips for Exercising With Multiple Sclerosis

Exercise and stretching are very important for someone who has Multiple Sclerosis. Each individual, however, is different and exercises need to be tailored specifically to that person. The exercises that are chosen depend on the progression of the disease, what the individual is capable of doing, and even the day. Exercises may have to be changed if the client is too tired or is feeling stronger and has more energy.

What exactly causes Multiple Sclerosis is not known but there are symptoms to look out for. The symptoms are fatigue, walking difficulties, vision problems, spasticity or stiffness, weakness, bladder problems, depression, dizziness or vertigo, emotional changes, cognitive changes, pain, headaches, tremors and breathing problems. Exercise prescriptions need to be planned according to the symptoms that are being presented. Each time you work with your trainer talk to them about how you feel that day. This will help to ensure that you don’t overdo a workout.

Many times, we hear the saying no pain, no gain. Please keep in mind that this is not true for individuals with Multiple Sclerosis. You want the workout to feel challenging but it is important not to overheat. If you feel warm, simply take a break and continue when you feel that you have cooled down. Individuals in wheelchairs benefit from exercise as well. I would like to share an example of a client of mine.

My client, Sally, (the name has been changed) was a client of mine for 4 years. She is in a wheelchair and had no leg movement and minimal arm movement. Through exercise she is almost able to feed herself and I have her doing simple leg movements. I cannot see any leg movement but she can feel it. She reports that her muscles are sore when we are finished. The important thing is to just move.

It is important to start an exercise program slowly and to set goals. If you would like to get to 20 minutes of activity maybe start with 10. Do not assess how well you are doing by comparing yourself to others. Look for progress in yourself through reaching personal goals as in the example of my client.

As an individual with Multiple Sclerosis starts exercising they may have less depression, improved strength, better bladder and bowel function, a positive attitude and be better able to participate in social activities. Please remember that it is important to share any symptom changes with your trainer. The exercises may have to be adjusted frequently for a safe and effective workout.


Robyn Caruso is the Founder of The Stress Management Institute for Health and Fitness Professionals. She has 15 years of experience in medical based fitness.

Sources
http://www.nationalmssociety.org/Living-Well-With-MS/Health-Wellness/Exercise
http://www.webmd.com/multiple-sclerosis/guide/multiple-sclerosis-symptoms-types

yoga-woman

Meditation for Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a condition where there is muscle pain, fatigue, and tender spots on the body. While there is no cure for this condition meditation may help you to cope with the symptoms. There are many benefits of meditation for Fibromyalgia including: decreased stress, feeling more at ease, decreased blood pressure and heart rate, decreased anxiety, increased energy and pain tolerance.

new year

Fitness New Year’s Resolution Tips

The holidays were here and there was plenty of running around and parties to attend. As we said goodbye to 2017 and hello to 2018, we are ready to take on the new year. Many individuals have decided to make fitness a resolution and made the commitment with themselves to get into better shape.

Many individuals do not plan for this transition and end up stopping within three months. There are some things you can do to be successful if fitness is on your list of resolutions.

The first thing you want to do is to choose a fitness facility where you feel comfortable. By comfortable I mean, do you like the atmosphere? Is the gym to big or small for you? When you look into fitness facilities, make sure they’re not too far from your home. If the gym is too far, you’re less likely to go consistently. Try to plan for when the best time would be to go. Decide if morning, afternoon or evening works better for you and your schedule.

When you find your gym and figure out a time, make an appointment for an assessment and consultation. There are some people who decide to do this after a couple months of joining. Try to see a fitness professional within the first two weeks. We are able to help you figure out a plan for your workout and keep you on track. Some fitness centers call new members after the first week to see how everything is going.

It’s also important to not have an “all or nothing” mentality. If you decide to go to the gym three days a week, but sometimes fall short, it’s OK! Just get back to your schedule the following week. It will take about three months to adapt to your new transition.

Another tip is to have fun! Look at class schedules and try new classes. If you are new to classes, don’t worry about keeping up with everyone else. I always suggest that clients show up to class ten minutes early. This enables you to speak with the instructor about any injuries or concerns you may have. You can also leave class early if you need to. Some new students may only be able to do a warm up and have to leave. Remember that everyone in the class was in the same boat as you at some point.

It may seem tough to add fitness to your life at first, but it will get easier. You will start to feel better overall. Many people are able to sleep much better, bring down their blood pressure and cholesterol, reduce stress, and prevent osteoporosis. The benefits are really endless! The best thing is that you are setting the stage for a healthy lifestyle as you get older. You will be able to do more and live independently longer.

Good luck to everyone this year who has fitness as one of their resolutions. You will be able succeed if you keep positive and plan for success. Have a happy and healthy new year!


Robyn Caruso is the Founder of The Stress Management Institute for Health and Fitness Professionals. She has 15 years of experience in medical based fitness.

gellert-osteoarthritis

Exercise and Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a painful condition in the joints of the hands, knees, hips and spine.  It affects millions of people throughout the world and is caused when the cartilage that cushions the joints wears down. There is no cure for this condition but there are some things you can do to strengthen your muscles around the joints. In turn, you may feel better overall.

It is important to consult your doctor before starting any exercise program. Your physician may have specific instructions for you to follow. These guidelines are important for helping to keep you safe. There are many different exercise programs that are safe for individuals with Osteoarthritis.

Locating a gym and setting goals

When looking for a gym choose one close to home, as it will be easier to go on a regular basis. You should also think about when you would like to workout. Individuals with arthritis usually feel better in the afternoon. Getting to the gym in the morning may be harder.

Depositphotos_11402918_xsWater exercise

Water exercise is easy on the joints and may help with pain. Being in the pool will take weight off of your joints and make movement easier. When exercising in the water you can either have a trainer, take a class, or work on your own. If you choose to work on your own having an initial assessment and a training session is beneficial. Initial assessments and training sessions are usually included in a membership.  You should also ask which classes would be suitable for you.

Land Exercise

Individuals can benefit from land exercise as well. Some gyms have land arthritis classes or light classes. Again, having an assessment can help you to figure out which classes are right for you. Like water exercise you can choose to take a class, work on your own, or hire a trainer. Either way, talk to the fitness staff and ask for guidance.  On land, warm up is important. Try to do a 10 to 15 minute warm up on a recumbent bike. It will be easier for you to move after a proper warm up. It is also important not to run, jump, or lift too heavy.

Mind/Body Exercise

Mind/Body exercise is a nice compliment to any workout. It usually incorporates a balance and stress management component. There are many classes to choose from such as Yoga, Pilates, and Tai Chi. Most gyms today, have many variations of these classes. For instance, Gentle Yoga, and Chair Yoga are popular among individuals with arthritis. When searching for a gym ask what types of classes are offered.


Robyn Caruso is the Founder of The Stress Management Institute for Health and Fitness Professionals. She has 15 years of experience in medical based fitness.

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/arthritis/in-depth/arthritis/art-20047971?pg=1

yoga-lake

Stress Management and Diabetes

Diabetes, is left uncontrolled, can cause a whole host of health complications such as vision impairment and neuropathy. It is important to adhere to any instructions your doctor has given you to keep blood sugars controlled. Your physician may also educate you on exercise, diet and stress management to keep a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

Anyone who suffers from chronic stress may have many health issues later in life. One condition that may arise is diabetes.  Prolonged stress can either cause diabetes or make it tough to obtain normal blood sugars. Blood sugar numbers usually go up and down depending on what you do throughout the day. If you are fasting your numbers should be less than 100 but could be 180 two hours after eating a meal. Most diabetics must monitor their glucose levels on a regular basis.

People who have diabetes may also feel stressed because of their treatment plan. This is also called, “Diabetic Distress”.  Individuals with diabetes have many things they must do to take care of themselves such as: check glucose levels, exercise, cook and eat healthy meals, maintain a certain diet and take medications as prescribed. This new lifestyle can be very stressful for many people who have diabetes.

Along with Diabetic Distress there are the usual stressors that are a part of life. It is important to find ways to control stress throughout your lifespan. If you are newly diagnosed, the first step to reducing stress is to talk to your physician. Your medical team is on your side and can help you find a Diabetes Educator. These individuals host classes to go over any new information and questions you may have.

When controlling stress, you need to find out what works for you personally. Some individuals like to take a walk in the park, others choose to practice meditation or use a combination of many techniques. When you start to try new practices remember that you may have to try each a few times. The body has to get used to approaches. A qualified stress management consultant can help you to create a stress management plan specifically for you.

A great way to incorporate stress management into your daily routine is through meditation. Choose a certain time of day that you know will work for you. Some individuals find it helpful to meditate before getting out of bed in the morning. Others find it works best at the end of the day when they have finished working. Taking a break at work during lunch can be helpful as well. Once you find the time of day that works best choose your space. You want to find a room in your house that is free from distraction. It will also help to turn off all electronics and the television.

When practicing meditation, remember that there is no right or wrong way to meditate. Some individuals choose to meditate laying on a mat while others sit or stand. Choose a position that is comfortable for you. When sitting for meditation your knees should be lower than your hips to help sustain the position.

Guided meditation is also a great choice for meditation. A trained instructor will guide you through the meditation to help you reduce stress. Please check out this free guided meditation that you can try at home. Our Soothing Garden meditation may be shared with friends and family as well.


Robyn Caruso is the Founder of The Stress Management Institute for Health and Fitness Professionals. She has 15 years of experience in medical based fitness.