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Helping Athletes with Eating Disorders

An estimated 30% to 60% of female athletes struggle with food, as do 10% to 33% of male athletes. Many of these athletes believe they are not “sick enough” to seek treatment. Others are too ashamed to ask for help. And some believe getting treatment will hinder them from reaching athletic goals. They fear:

1) they will gain weight, and any added weight will impair their performance.
2) they will not be able to participate in training or competitions during treatment, hence will lose status with their team; and
3) they might displease their coaches and teammates.

But the questions they want to ponder are:

What do you think your future will look like with the eating disorder?
Are you satisfied with your current quality of life?

At the October 2022 Food and Nutrition Expo and Conference of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (the nation’s largest group of nutrition professionals), sports nutritionist Page Love MS RD CSSD (nutrifitga.com) of Atlanta and psychologist Ron Thompson PhD of Bloomington IN (rthomps2@att.net) addressed the topic of Athletes with Eating Disorders. They shared insights from their years of professional experience. This article passes along some of their words of wisdom and offers insights into why some athletes struggle with food, body image, and weight issues. and hopefully will nudge athletes’ friends, family, and loved ones to encourage these athletes to seek help.

• When dieting goes awry and eating disorders take hold, relationships and quality of life suffer, to say nothing of longevity as an athlete. Athletes with eating disorders (ED) can easily believe they have more reasons to keep the eating disorder than they do to give it up. Eating disorders can distract from difficult emotions; offer a source of power and control; give a sense of security; provide an excuse for anything and everything; sustain an identity; offer a way to be angry, self-abusive, special, rebellious, and competitive inside and outside of sport.

• Given many athletes with EDs are in denial of the seriousness of this mental health disease, Dr. Thompson has asked his clients, “Do you realize that people with your disorder sometimes die?” Indeed, athletes can—and have—died from eating disorders, often via suicide. Looking from the inside out, an athlete’s life can feel very stress-filled, despite the athlete appearing happy, bubbly, and “just fine” on the outside.

• Ideally, food should be one of life’s pleasures, as well as an enjoyable source of energizing fuel that enhances performance. If you stop eating at mealtimes just because you think you should, or because your allotted portion of food is all gone (but you are still hungry), you might want to ask yourself a few probing questions:

–What are your food rules and nutrition beliefs that restrict your food choices and portions?

For example, do you forbid yourself to eat second helpings?

–What percent of your time do you spend thinking about food and weight?

Thinking about food includes shopping for food, preparing food for yourself and others, reading cookbooks or other food- and diet-related publications, binge-eating, purging, and thinking about how much you ate at your last meal. When the answer is “I spend way too much time thinking about food; it dominates my thoughts”, you likely have a problematic relationship with food and are living in a state of hunger. That’s no fun, and also limits your ability to fully recover after a hard workout, heal the micro-injuries that occur during hard workouts, and perform optimally. “Normal eaters” think about food as they appropriately get hungry before a meal or snack.

–Do you enjoy eating socially with friends and teammates?

Or do you avoid such situations?

–Are your food allergies and intolerances real?

Or are they convenient excuses to avoid certain foods?

–Ladies, do you currently have regular menstrual periods?

Amenorrhea—loss of menses—can be a sign of under-eating, to the point of disrupting normal body functions.

–Gentlemen, are you experiencing reduced sex drive?

Loss of morning erections can be a sign of under-eating, to the point of disrupting normal body functions.

–Does your family have a history of eating issues, dieting practices, and/or mental health concerns?

If yes, how have those issues influenced your food habits?

• Chronically underfed bodies can end up “hibernating,” with slowed metabolic processes. Symptoms related to inadequate fueling include fatigue, lack of energy, dehydration, anemia, frequent injuries, amenorrhea, stress fractures, and “weird” eating habits. These are all good reasons to seek help from a registered dietitian who specializes in sports nutrition (RD CSSD). The referral network at eatright.org can help you find a local RD CSSD).

• Most of my clients report, “I know what I should eat. I just don’t do it.” Given today’s confusing food environment, any athlete with nutrition questions and weight concerns would be wise to meet with a sports RD to learn how to overcome barriers that limit optimal fueling. Don’t let (self-imposed) shame or embarrassment stop you. Eating “right” is not as simple as it once used to be.

• All food can fit into a balanced sports diet—even fatty foods. Athletes should consume at least half of their calories from (preferably nutrient-rich) carbohydrate, and at least 20% of calories from (preferably health-promoting) fat. A fat intake less than that increases the risk of inadequate energy intake.

• If you live in Food Jail and consume a very repetitive but “safe” diet, a sports RD can help you expand your menu so you can consume a wider variety of nutrients. If you want to try to do this on your own, start by making a list of your fear-foods (foods you are afraid to eat because they lack nutrient-density or because you deem them to be “fattening”). Challenge yourself to include at least one food each day into your meals and snacks, starting with the easiest and ending with the hardest foods. With time, you’ll be able to enjoy social eating with your friends and teammates.

• Notice that other athletes look forward to, let’s say, a special holiday gathering like a New Year’s Brunch—but you don’t because the foods will be way too fattening or you’re afraid you’ll end up eating way too much. Other athletes can eat holiday treats; why can’t you? Your body is not different from everyone else’s and will not “get fat on you.” The problem isn’t the food or your body, but more likely your self-imposed food rules.

• Few athletes will ever achieve a perfect body. Please don’t measure your self-worth as an athlete by your body weight or size. You may be an athletic person, but you are also a human, like the rest of us, and are excellent the way you are.


Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD counsels both fitness exercisers and competitive athletes in the Boston-area (Newton; 617-795-1875). Her best-selling Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook is a popular resource, as is her online workshop. Visit NancyClarkRD.com for info.

couple biking

How Fear Can Sabotage Your Fitness Goals: Programming for Success

Fear can do many things to us and they are almost never positive in their outcome. Being dominated by our fears is no way to live – especially when it comes to our efforts to become healthy and fit. I have sabotaged many goals and choices over the years because of my fears. Most of the time I have never been clear on just what “it” was I was afraid of but somehow fear took hold of me and I did not step boldly into a successful outcome.

I believe we are inherently capable of being great and doing great things but we can – and do – sabotage our greater “yet to be” by letting our fears control our behavior – and our choices. This is no way to live! In this article I would like to highlight of the 4 keys to overcoming our fears and become bold and tied to our successes – not our failures!

The 4 Keys To Successfully Overcoming Our Fears

VISUALIZATION

I find that when we have a clear picture in mind when setting our goals we can more easily identify with a successful outcome because we can “out-picture” not only a positive process – but a successful conclusion as well. Fear is often described as “false evidence appearing real” and it is this “reality” that our minds and hearts can be “tricked” into giving up before we can experience a result that we desire. I have felt the power of visualization when it came to many aspects of my life – especially when it concerned my running – and weightlifting – program.

Prior to beginning my training sessions I spend time in my mind “picturing” myself doing what it is I want to accomplish during that session. If I want to run a specific time I put myself in this “mental place” by running at a particular pace at a specific speed. I attach my feelings of joy to this picture and visualize me smiling and happy enjoying the process of running free and without fear. It is in my mind that I create success and I do this before I take any action in the “real world”. How long you choose to visualize your own session is up to you.

It is a discipline well worth creating and employing every time you start to address your health and fitness needs. The feeling in conjunction with the “picture” is crucial for a successful outcome. Remember to give yourself a break and start slowly. I tend to spend 10-15 minutes in support of my visual “cues” so that the session  goes as smoothly as I envisioned it. Walt Disney is one of my idols when it comes to visualization (and imagination of course) because he did not see orange groves in Anaheim – he saw Disneyland! Look how that turned out!

IMAGINATION

It is said that the true measure of intelligence is not intellect but imagination. Steve Jobs imagined a world connected by phone and in his mind he set in motion the development of the “smart phone” and he changed the world as we know it. He passed away from cancer but before he died he had the opportunity to see his vision come to life. Walt Disney died in 1966 before many of his most creative ideas were born but he did live long enough to know that his vision of a family oriented adventure and experience would eventually be fully realized. The company that bears his name is still creating in the manner he began some 80 years ago!

I believe in the power of the imagination to aid us in all manner of accomplishment in life. I imagine myself speaking and teaching all over the world as an advocate of the principles of healthy aging and living a life of purpose – on purpose – every day. I know at 70 my time is not unlimited but I do have faith in the principle “that the mind of man is unlimited in its potential – and DOES respond to specific demands made upon it”. This principle works every time we use IF we also BELIEVE not only in ourselves – but our potential to accomplish great things as well.

What is it that you want to accomplish and can this be the key to your success in developing and maintaining an active and complete fitness program? I believe the main reason we need to engage in an active and ongoing fitness program is because we are each here to accomplish something unique that only we can accomplish. I see me speaking and excited about my message because I am filled with the energy of excellent health and also because I am strong mentally and physically as a result of my successful training program. You too can do this! Just believe and do it!

AFFIRMATION

What we say – and think – we become. Never allow yourself to use “defeatist” language that signifies you are NOT capable of achieving whatever it is you have set out to do. Words have power – choose yours wisely. NEVER say what you DON’T want in your life – always affirm what you DO want in your life! If you want to increase your strength affirm: “I am strong and powerful – and grateful for every muscle in my body”. Here is another affirmation:”I am dynamic, energized, open and receptive right here and now and act in support of this instruction”.

Always place your affirmation in the present tense and never allow for anything but a positive outcome. Give yourself credit for being who you ARE and always look forward to becoming your BEST version of yourself. I say everyday: “I powerful, successful and excited to be who I am today and I KNOW I am becoming more of what I want to be with each thought I think and every action I take.

Affirmations give us the opportunity to “re-program” our subconscious minds by replacing outworn beliefs about ourselves with new and powerful thoughts and ideas that help us create the new person we want to become – mentally, physically, and spiritually. NEVER allow your words to create what you DON”T want in your life – always use them to help you become who you want to BE!

ACTIONS – BEHAVIOR

“Actions speak louder than words”. If you want someone to know you value them – even love them – it through your actions and NOT your words that the truth will eventually come out. When it comes to fitness and developing your program – actions are everything! You can’t burn calories or create muscle without taking action – you MUST move first! Everyday I KNOW I will be training because my mind and body EXPECT to do this for my health and well being. I am always aware of the idea that tomorrow is NEVER guaranteed and that TODAY is all I have so I never want to waste even one day of training.

Being FIT is a habit with me that I cultivated over decades of my life. I act in support of my fitness goals every day because I never wanted to grow old – just older. It is not the number of years we are alive that matters – it is the life in our years that counts the most. I work on speed, power, strength, balance, endurance, flexibility and strength because I want my body to be able to hold up for whatever years I have left in my life. I also want to be able to accomplish my mission by contributing my message and voice to life before it ends. I need a fit body to serve as an example of what is possible through hard work and dedication to my purpose.

Conclusion

Take time to reflect on your journey to date and ask yourself one simple question: “Have I come close to reaching my potential or am I letting fear sabotage my ability to create a life of meaning and purpose?” Take time to answer this question and address the needs you need to fulfill physically, mentally and spiritually in order to set in motion your journey to success – and fulfillment. Life is always lived from the “inner to the outer” – not the other way around. We can never access our “greater good” by FOLLOWING others. We CAN serve as examples of what is possible but each of us must find our own path to pursue and this path is not mine – it is YOURS.

Love your uniqueness and praise your gifts and never allow yourself to stay in negative thinking. “Get over yourself” and remember we are here to accomplish something great for others. We are here to SERVE and we cannot do our part if we are weak and scared. I can say I am 70 but I am 30 in my mind – and in body and spirit as well – because I have trained without failure. I started running in 1964 at Syracuse University as a freshman and am in my 53rd year – and counting, Over that time I have accumulated over 60,000 miles and am going to run as long as I can maintain my current level of fitness. When it comes to being fit I will ALWAYS want to serve as an example of what is possible because it is all that matters to me! It should also matter to you too!

Originally printed on HealthyNewAge.com. Reprinted with permission from Nicholas Prukop.


Nicholas Prukop is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer & a Health Coach, a fitness professional with over 25 years of experience whose passion for health and fitness comes from his boyhood in Hawaii where he grew up a swimmer on Maui. He found his calling in writing his first book “Healthy Aging & You: Your Journey to Becoming Happy, Healthy & Fit” and since then he has dedicated himself to empowering, inspiring and enabling people of all ages to reach for the best that is within them and become who they are meant to be – happy, healthy and fit – and be a part of a world where each person can contribute their own unique gifts to life.

diet-calorie-counter-weight-loss-health

Restrictive Diets vs. Informed Dieting

Dieting has become so popular that it seems like I know someone who is on a diet of some sorts. While allergies can play a role in what choices you make in regards to your food intake, most of us make decisions based on clever sales tactics from the social media platforms, enthusiasts that claim it’s worked for them and some misinformed medical professionals who assert they have it all together.

The truth is there isn’t a one size fits all “diet” out there. Not everyone will receive the benefits of a keto, paleo, vegetarian, low carb, low fat, sugar free, intermittent fasting, detox, gluten free, dairy free, etc. diet. Listening to what others are promoting has little effect on it working for you. This is called restrictive eating.

Restrictive Eating

Restrictive eating is telling yourself you “can’t” have this or “shouldn’t ” eat that based on what everyone else is selling you. Restrictive eating messes with the cortisol and growth hormones in your body that ultimately make you want that food even more because you “can’t” have it. I’m not talking about allergies, I’m talking about the choices that we make because the most popular celebrities are promoting it, or your best friend from high school is improving her health and sharing it with the world on every social media platform. Restrictive eating often leaves your body depleted of important nutrients and minerals. Restrictive eating creates an unhealthy relationship with food, which is essential to our existence. Restrictive eating can also create social barriers as you refuse to eat others offerings or become judgmental towards what others are choosing to eat.

Informed Eating

Informed eating is a journey of listening to your body. It’s not listening to your brain, but your body. Let me share the difference. Your brain thrives on increasing the “feel good” hormones, even if it doesn’t make the best choice in doing so. For example, the brain loves addiction of any kind and it’s harmful to your health simply because you aren’t displaying command of your brain. Listening to your body takes time and skill, of which a lot of people aren’t willing to commit to for THEIR own good! Let me give you an example from my life…

My DREAM!

I love bread! I mean LOVE it! I could literally sit on the couch with a whole loaf of French bread and eat it without thinking twice, UNTIL I learned to listen to my body. I wasn’t willing to listen to the discomfort that followed, nor was I willing to make any changes. I want to help you understand what I did about it. I HAVE NOT taken bread out of my diet, however, I have made informed decisions about the consequences that could result if I ate the whole loaf. Now instead of questioning, I know exactly why I feel rotten or why I feel great when given the opportunity to indulge.

My point is, EVERYONE’S body is different BUT there is a diet that fits everyone. Wait for it…

No More “Dieting”

It’s called the informed diet! Not intuitive eating, not restrictive diets, not overloading or cutting out. It’s listening to your body and knowing how to care for it. BUT IT’S NOT EASY!

MODERATION is key to nutritional success. With an informed eating diet, it becomes your lifestyle and your choices are more congruent with how you feel, not how you look to others. Your emotions are regulated better, not suffering from indulging in some “bad” food that others have deemed “bad”. You learn to appreciate how food works for you in increasing your energy.

My charge to YOU

Clean up the habit of restrictive dieting. Clean up the habit of eating too much food. Clean up the habit of calling food “good” or bad”. Stand up and be a healthier YOU by truly listening to what your body needs and how it reacts to those foods. Be honest with yourself!

We should be seeking a way of life that will increase our ability to perform all that we desire with energy and health.


Diana Smithson is Owner of Stronger Today Fitness, a Small Group/Personal Training Studio in Surprise, AZ. Her passion for Fitness and Health creates excitement and encouragement to all she trains with. She enjoys being in the mountains, hanging with her family and sleeping.

Originally printed on strongertodayfitness.com. Reprinted with permission.

holiday-treats

New-Trition: Cleaning Up Your Act

The winter holidays are often a barrage of non-stop feasting that spans from Thanksgiving to the Super Bowl. Week after week, you indulge yourself with goodies, justifying your poor food choices in the name of holiday cheer. You promise yourself to mend your ways as soon as the excitement dies down, but meanwhile the pounds creep on and bad nutrition becomes the new normal. Cleaning up your act is a process, but you can speed it up by taking some proactive steps.

Let It Go

Gifts of food abound during the holidays, and if you are like me, you still have plenty of sweets, snacks and junk food in your fridge and cupboards. To get your diet back on track, begin by banishing the bad stuff. If you cannot bear to throw perfectly good food in the trash, donate to your local food bank or homeless shelter. Or throw one final bash, featuring your holiday stash of goodies as the main course. Clean and organize your refrigerator to make room for fresh produce, filtered water and whole foods. Rearrange your cupboards so that healthy food options are at eye level.

Clean Routine

Sugary foods and carbohydrate-laden snacks and meals are holiday mainstays that can wreak havoc with your insulin balance. Going cold turkey on the simple carbs can cause discomfort and cravings that last for two or three days, but it is one of the quickest ways to normalize your blood sugar and reset your metabolism. Adding high intensity exercise can speed up the process. Create a menu plan for your week that includes fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy proteins, and stock your fridge with ingredients. Planning and preparing healthy snacks and meals ahead of time will keep you from being tempted to grab fast food.

Self-Defense

The end of the Holiday Season does not necessarily mark the end of the eating season. Valentine’s Day and Girl Scout Cookies loom on the horizon. Prepare for the onslaught by making committed decisions in advance. Instead of preparing special foods for Valentine’s Day, plan a romantic getaway or a movie date night. Ask your sweetie for flowers or jewelry instead of candy. Decide ahead of time to purchase only one box of Girl Scout cookies, and ration them out at the rate of one cookie per day. If you want to help out the Scouts, they accept donations in lieu of a cookie purchase.


Jay Del Vecchio is the Founder and CEO of the World Instructor Training Schools (W.I.T.S.). Jay is an advocate for establishing national standards for the health and fitness training industry. 

 

teen tennis

What’s Really Fueling Teenage Athletic Performance?

Who doesn’t want to win?

Since the beginning of mankind, the drive to survive and thrive in an often hostile environment has been second nature. And while one may no longer need to outrun a tiger or fight a bear with their bare hands, the drive to gain an edge over opponents is still very much alive, especially at the high school and collegiate levels. Performance enhancing drugs and supplements are on the rise, and the pressure to win, overcome training plateaus, keep up with body images portrayed on social media, or earn a college scholarship is tougher than ever.

As a result, teens are becoming desperate “to increase muscle strength, keep the body alert and boost athletic performance.” (Types, 2016) Unfortunately, what teens don’t know is that many performance enhancing drugs and supplements are not approved by the FDA and may cause long-term side-effects.

In a recent double-blind social media poll, one hundred teenagers  between the ages of thirteen and nineteen were surveyed about drug and supplement use. Out of the 92 teens that described themselves as avid “athletes,” 65% percent of ALL teens reported using at least one or more forms of supplements in order to enhance athletic performance. In fact, close to 50% of teen athletes reported taking supplements daily or even multiple times throughout the day, but only half of the teens were aware of any possible long-term side-effects. (Ellis, 2022)

In addition, 75% percent of teens said that they would NOT use performance enhancing drugs or supplements if they knew they caused irreversible damage to their body. However, the most shocking finding is that over 80% surveyed reported that a teacher, coach, or trainer had NEVER spoken to them about any dangers associated with using performance enhancing drugs or supplements. (Ellis, 2022)

It’s time to take action!

As fitness professionals and coaches, it is your responsibility to learn  about the possible side-effects of the most commonly used performance enhancing drugs and supplements. Only then can you open-the-dialogue about the hidden dangers of supplementation and the negative effects they can have on both the mind and the body.

So, what are teenagers really doing to fuel their athletic performance?

According to “Operation Supplement Safety,” an up-to-date website developed by the Department of Defense, teen athletes are overusing creatine, caffeine, and protein/amino acid supplements at an alarming level. (Operation, 2022) Not surprisingly, recent marketing that appeals to teens in the form of shakes, bars, drinks, and pills seem harmless, but misusing any supplement has consequences. Below are some of the most popular types of supplements used by teens and effects of misuse. It’s time to open the dialogue on the dangers of supplements, and it begins with you!

Facts and Resources

Creatine Supplements:

  1. “The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Sports Medicine advise against using performance-enhancing supplements, including creatine, among teenagers.” (Pros, 2022)
  2. Misusing creatine by taking more than the recommended amount can lead to heart, kidney and liver damage.
  3. Creatine disrupts water levels in the body leading to dehydration and poor kidney function, interrupts sleep patterns, increases mood swings and causes bloating and stomach discomfort. (Pros, 2022)

Pros and Cons of Creatine – Side Effects of Creatine (myayan.com)

Caffeine Supplements:

  1. Teens shouldn’t have more than about 100mg of caffeine a day, which is equivalent to 1 cup of coffee or about 2 cans of soda.
  2. Caffeine is very similar in structure to another chemical in our body called adenosine, responsible for dilating blood vessels in the head. Caffeine blocks this dilation…your body becomes overly sensitive to adenosine-blood vessels dilate, creating pounding headaches. (England, 2021)
  3. Misuse of caffeine causes a racing heartbeat, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, anxiety, mood swings, insomnia, increased appetite, and more.

How Much Caffeine Should A Teenager Be Drinking? (thelist.com)

Protein Supplements:

  1. Protein Requirement for Teenagers ages 14-18:
    1. Boys 52 grams of protein
    2. Girls 46 grams of protein
  2. Too much protein causes:
    1. Excess calories-stored as fat if not burned off
    2. Organ damage such as kidney stones, dehydration, diarrhea, constipation, poor digestion, bad breath and more.
  3. Long-term effects:
    1. Kidney damage, certain cancers, heart disease, calcium loss and more.

What Teen Athletes Need To Know About Sports Supplements and Performance – stack


Written by Christine Conti with contributor Makenna Ellis.

Christine M. Conti, M.Ed, BA is and international fitness educator and presenter. She currently sits on the MedFit Education Advisory Board and has been nominated to be the 2020 MedFit Network Professional of the Year. She is the author of the MedFit Classroom Arthritis Fitness Specialist Course and is the CEO and founder of ContiFit.com and Let’s FACE It Together™ Facial Fitness & Rehabilitation. Christine is also the co-host of Two Fit Crazies & A Microphone Podcast and the co-owner of TFC Podcast Production Co. She is also the best-selling author of SPLIT-SECOND COURAGE.

Resources

Woman Sitting On Pilates Ball Using Computer

Do You Slouch? Improve Your Health with Better Posture

When babies learn to sit, they elongate their spine, which is naturally efficient and comfortable. Moreover, it provides the most skeletal support without requiring a lot of muscle strength. Despite this, around 4-years old, most of us began to slump. Why? Well, significantly, it’s probably because we started school and began spending more time sitting.

Poor posture often results from weak core muscles, and weak core muscles contribute to slouching. Also, most neck pain not caused by trauma is usually the result of poor posture and weak muscles supporting our head. For example, sitting at our computers, or hunching over our phone for several hours can strain our neck, and shoulders.

More importantly, strong core muscles lessen wear and tear on the spine. And that prevents falls and injuries. Strengthening your abdominal muscles improves your posture and enhances balance and stability.

You might not notice these actions: putting on shoes, picking up a package, or turning to look behind you, until they become difficult or painful. Core-centric activities include acts that spring from, or pass through, the core: lifting, twisting, carrying, hammering, reaching overhead — even vacuuming, mopping, and dusting.

What is Good Posture?

Good posture doesn’t mean standing like a stiff piece of board. Many people overcompensate for bad posture by standing up too straight. When our posture is correct, our ears, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles align naturally. Good posture looks natural and relaxed.

Don’t Slouch! There is Power in Good Posture

Maintaining good posture is not easy. And despite the importance of good posture, most of us don’t do anything to improve it. As a result, we go about our lives uncomfortably hunching our backs and slouching. Practicing good posture strengthens our abdominal muscles and builds low back stability. If these muscles are weak, we’re more apt to slouch. For example, we may start the day sitting upright, but soon we’re lost in our work and slouching once again.

Good posture has many benefits. It aligns your body, and makes you look taller (you can lose 2 inches by slouching). Good posture even speeds up your metabolism (burn up to 350 calories a day). At the same time, having good posture reduces pain by using your muscles to support your skeleton) and improves your mood. (Don’tSlouch)

How to Improve Your Posture

Proper posture includes alignment, balance, and alignment. You’ll see immediate improvements in your posture by practicing the following two exercises. All you need is a wall. These two, quick and easy exercises realign and strengthen your muscles and ease pain and achiness that results from poor posture.

Exercise 1: The Chin Tuck is an exercise to strengthen your neck muscles. Start standing with your back to a wall. Extend your neck, keeping your gaze forward, and lean back so the back of your head touches the wall. You can also place a pillow behind your head if you can’t move all the way back. Keep your gaze forward, so that your chin is parallel with the floor. Retract your chin towards the wall until you you’re your neck muscles contract, then release the contraction. Repeat this movement 10 times.

Exercise 2: Wall Angels stretch your chest muscles, improve shoulder range of motion, and strengthen your upper back. Start standing with your back and head against a wall and your feet about 6 inches from the wall. With your arms at your side, face your palms forward. Slide your arms out to the side along the wall, bending your elbows at a 90-degree angle. Continue sliding your arms up along the wall to about 45 degrees above your shoulder. Stop when you feel your shoulders elevate or if you feel pain. Return your arms back down to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.


Jacqueline Gikow, is the owner of Audacious Living NYC™.  Her holistic, health and wellness practice centers on pain relief through better movement. She is certified through the National Association of Sports Medicine (NASM), the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBCHWC), the Functional Aging Institute (FAI), Medfit (MFN), and the Arthritis Foundation (AFAP/AFEP). Her fitness practice includes in-home and remote, one-on-one fitness training and coaching in New York City. Jacqueline Gikow can be reached at: https://audaciouslivingnyc.com, or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/audaciouslivingnyc

References

https://www.madisondias.com/posture/dont-slouch-the-power-of-good-posture/

http://lifehacker.com/fix-your-posture-with-these-three-simple-exercises-1754621367

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 Kade 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/