I Am Not A Personal Trainer

Edited by: Lisa Herbert


I had the pleasure of attending the IdeaFit Conference this weekend in Alexandria, Va. I could write for hours on all of the things I took away from this extraordinary experience.  I decided to focus on one main point. It was a resounding theme throughout all the presentations. It was almost like they were trying to subconsciously pound a message into our heads. Eventually the light went on and now I want to share it with you.



There I said it. I know that sounds foreign because for years all I’ve done is call myself a personal trainer. These days if you peruse the internet, and you jump on any social media platform, you will find thousands of personal trainers advertising their business. I learned an interesting statistic while at the conference. There are over 300,000 personal trainers in the United States alone. To become a personal trainer, you simply have to say you’re a personal trainer. We have certifications in our field, but you don’t NEED one in order to train clients.

woman doing push ups on sit up benches
Is this the correct exercise for YOU and YOUR goals?

Simply take a look at Youtube, Instagram, or Facebook pages and you will see tons of people having clients do things that are unsafe or not conducive to the goal they are trying to obtain. All that is really required in this day and age is that you “look” the part. The danger in that is that looks can be deceiving. Genetics can play a role in what people look like, and you can’t out train genetics. This is why some people are 6″7 and go to the NBA and some of us are just good at basketball but will never touch a professional hard-wood floor. You can’t train yourself to be 6″7. I don’t care what you do.

Our eyes manipulate us into thinking our bodies can do something that someone else may have done without factoring in all of the variables. This isn’t to say you should place limitations on yourself. It is, however, to suggest that we should be realistic in our goals and factor in more than what someone else looks like when seeking personal training. What they look like is important, which is why I take good care of myself. It just isn’t the end all be all. When you leave out what they actually know, it does you a disservice. You can actually toss tons of money down the drain from wasted training session or even worst, injury.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

So, what do I call myself if I’m not a Personal Trainer? I am a professional. Better stated, I am a Fitness Professional. I lead people to their goals using my extensive background and training. What separates me and other Fitness Professionals? Continued Education. This doesn’t have to happen in the form of school (although I suggest doing that too). Does your trainer read? The next time you’re in the market for a trainer ask them, “what’s the last book you’ve read on fitness and what was your biggest take-away from that reading?” If they stutter or can’t produce an answer, you’re probably dealing with a glorified rep counter.

Our industry changes every day. New research is done and ideas morph. Certifications are great, but they can become a crutch. A lot of trainers think the learning is done once you obtain a certification. I always say, “that’s where the real learning begins.” Think about it, once a doctor graduates medical school, technically they are certified to work on patients. Does that doctor know more than a doctor who has been practicing for 20 years? Probably not! There really is no ONE tangible measurement of a good Fitness Professional. It is cumulative. You must assess the “ALL” of the trainer, to include the training experience itself. You could have all the knowledge in the world, but if you deliver a boring session, who would come back? Would you?

woman punching the hand of man wearing training gloves
Is your trainer skilled in more than just counting reps?

So, for these reasons I have retired the title of “Personal Trainer”. I am a Fitness Professional. I have studies movement for years and offer a specialized set of skills to my clients. I am able to train practically any client, no matter their skill set or injuries. This is what I attribute my success to in this field. I study and deliver an awesome training experience to my client backed with knowledge of what we are doing, why we are doing it, and how we should do it. I pride myself on being able to answer any questions my clients may have and if I can’t, I go to work to figure out the answer. I am NOT a rep counter or a workout babysitter. I am NOT an app that just shoots out timed stops. I AM a Fitness Professional. GO HARD, TRAIN SAFE!


For Better of For Worse

Dope testimony!

Living and loving in Utopia....

I will admit I am an absolute brat. When I got married, I actually had the notion that those words only if anything happened to me. I’ve always been pretty sickly so I knew I would be the one having the “for worse” moments. Until two weeks ago when my husband got sick.

He is a very strong worker and always work through pain, sorrow, sickness, unfair hours, anything and everything. I’v never had to worry about him calling out of work because he had a headache or the sniffles. I fact the first day he didn’t feel well he got off went straight to the doctor and was back at work the next day. He worked the rest of the week until that Monday when things changed. He came home and he literally laid out in the floor in pain and couldn’t move. We went back to the doctor…

View original post 625 more words

Protein- Are You Properly Informed?


Protein everywhere right?


As a recently transitioned vegan, the number one question I received was, “Where are you going to get your protein from?” I think I was asked this question at least 3 times a day the first week after deciding to become a vegan. Ironically, everyone I spoke with had different advice as to how I should incorporate protein into my diet now. I get it, I really do. I might have had the same thoughts at some point in my jounrney. With so many diets fads making their way into mainstream America, sometimes they can overpower logic and facts. After hours and hours of research online and in the kitchen into what would work best for me, I’ve decided to address the issue of protein. This blog post will mainly deal with scientific facts. From that information, you can draw your own conclusions as to what is the best approach for you.


A little reminder of how chemistry works.


The human body is remarkable! There are many chemical processes taking place 24 hours a day. Starting with basic knowledge, it should be remembered that three of the most important elements necessary for life are Oxygen (O), Hydrogen (H), and Carbon (C). This is an easy realization when considering that we breathe air, Hydrogen is obviously in water (H2O), and the body is composed of carbon. When these 3 elements come together they produce a Carbohydrate. So it is ironic when people go on a low carbohydrate diet and have no knowledge as to why they are doing this because they are limiting life supporting elements. Researching further, things become even more interesting. I discovered that all we have to do is add Nitrogen (ions) to the equation and a protein is produced. So if a healthy body is receiving “good” carbohydrates, you can convert them into proteins just by eating plant based foods high in Nitrogen. Too much nitrogen in the diet will cause the production of Ammonia, so balance is always necessary. In America we are known as a carbohydrate consuming society. Unfortunately, many of us consume more “bad” carbohydrates, which usually come with a host of other problems to harm our health.


Fruit and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are a great carbohydrate.


I am going to limit this section to what western philosophy considers the two main types of carbohydrates, “whole” carbs and “refined”. (I’ll do another blog post on this but for now consider “whole” or unprocessed carbs foods like veggies and legumes and “refined” or processed carbs foods like white bread, pasta, and pastries.) Whole carbs are what the body needs to operate at optimal performance. Plant based foods are designed to be used by your body more efficiently than meat allows. Your body is electric. Everything you do is powered by electrical signals running throughout the body. You must power it with electric food in order to get a better flow of electrons (hence the term electricity). Since I don’t eat meat, I think it’s safe to assume that I get an abundance of whole carbohydrates. Between the foods I choose to eat which are high in nitrogen (i.e. spinach, broccoli, cauliflower…etc) and the carbs that I regularly intake, I know that I will have more than enough protein. Protein is not as difficult as people make it. The key is to eat what’s right, and you won’t have any issues.



You don’t need meat to be a super hero!

So remember no matter which way you decide to eat, protein intake is nothing but a chemical equation. Whether you are vegan, vegetarian, or an everyday meat lover, there is more than one source of protein available to you. I won’t waste your time showing you pictures of all the “buff” natural body builders that are vegan. You can Google that when you are bored. I do find it wise to know all of your options and consider them from every angle, before you commit to a decision. Eventually you will settle into what’s comfortable for you. Train hard, eat well, and be safe.





Are you counting reps? Why?


Counting reps might not be the most beneficial thing for you…


“How many do you want me to do?” During a session I hear this question so much. I understand that the human brain is looking for a goal to achieve. So a number sets the standard. Its kind of built into our psychology to approach challenges in this manner. I would like to rock the boat and challenge conventional wisdom a bit. Lets take a look at a few reasons why you might want to change how you establish those rep goals in the gym.

1. You are only as good as your last rep.

Often times we misuse the word “training”. Some people go to the gym to socialize. Some go to “get a sweat”. If you are training, you are practicing a skill with intent to improve the performance of that skill as time goes on. If you are training your body to complete a task you don’t want to compromise form for completion. For example, during a bench press you might be trying to accomplish 10 reps at 135. If you get to 7 reps and your form on the last 3 are horrible. What do you think your body will remember? Of course, the last 3 horrible reps. So you are building a bad movement pattern. Better to stop at 6-7, rest and then continue.

2. Training to failure. 

This is one I see often and actually used to partake in myself. Conventional wisdom would tell you to push the muscle to failure so that way it can grow back stronger and handle more of a load. Tried this method of training for almost 2 years with minimal result. Then I learned the crucial point made above. The body is in training! If you are training to failure, essentially you are training your body to fail. You are developing a bad movement pattern through fatigue. Remember tension is strength, but its work. Relaxation is weakness, but its rest. You want use BOTH at the right times for perfect performance.

  3. Most rep ranges are wrong anyway.

This isn’t a one size fits all fact. Just something I have noticed the more I train people. If I walk in on a session and see someone doing 15 deadlifts, I instantly ask them what are they training for? If its a continuous deadlift competition or something, then I encourage them to keep going. Otherwise, I offer the magical number of 5. Once I can do something 5 times I either need to raise the weight or make the movement more challenging. Almost any exercise performed 5 times with strict form would be sufficient. This is more for grinds and strict lifts. Ballistic movements can have a higher rep range. Again, what your training for has a lot to do with this, but the average human in the gym could use the rule of 5 and be very successful.

All in all I never proclaim that there is a wrong way. If you are moving in a safe manner, ultimately I’m happy. I will say there are more efficient ways to get where you may desire to go. I have found that shifting a clients focus from “how many” to “how correct” is monumental! It can take your training from 0-100! Train smart and train safe.


Setting Your Fitness Goals 101

FullSizeRender (1)

Are you setting realistic expectations?

You went through a life changing event. You saw someone who motivated you. You read an article that has changed your mind state. No matter the situation that brought you to this place, you are here! You’re ready to change your life and that is a great thing. Stop right here though. Take a deep breath and lets examine a few things before you make those tough choices.

What I find that happens most often to clients is that they use the adrenaline rush from the desired outcome to “over shoot” their expectations of themselves. For instance, lets say you opened a Men’s Health magazine and saw someone in an article that motivated you. You instantly decide that you would like to look like this individual and based off that outcome you design a plan. You’re going to wake up at 5:00 am Monday-Friday and workout for 1 hour each session. Great! It’s Sunday night and you are ready for the morning. Bag packed and meals for the day prepared. The alarm goes off Monday morning at 4:15 am and you hit the snooze button 5 times in a row. You wake up at your normal time of 7:30 and feel like a failure. You have lost that adrenaline rush and have completely forgotten about the Men’s Health Magazine. Where did it all go wrong? What could you have done differently?


Make a list and check it twice…

My first suggestion is to write EVERYTHING down. I never understood the importance of this until I realized how big accountability is. You’d be surprised how much information we forget. Having a list gives you visual accountability. It also validates your promise to yourself. Create a list that will specifically outline what you will do to obtain the goals you set.

The Snowball Effect

There is a method of change called the “Snowball Effect”. You gain long term confidence using small victories. So aim for something that doesn’t inconvenience you a lot in the beginning. Don’t aim to quit drinking all sodas today. Instead aim to drink 30% less each week. Those little victories will give you the confidence needed to jump the hurdle of cutting sodas altogether by week 4. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Your body is no different from Rome.

Color Within The Lines With Time

Stay close to your comfort zone and venture out as much as you see fit. The goal each day is to push the envelope further. At this rate, it is impossible to fail. If you are better each day, then every day is the best version of you. When selecting a time to workout, be realistic. If you aren’t a morning person, WHY would you schedule a workout session in the morning (unless you have NO other time to do it). That will be adding a hurdle into an already segment your life. Plan your workout for after work and go then. You are more likely to get it done that way. If you are naturally beat in the evening, reverse the process and plan your workout in the morning.

Be smart with your choices and make the goals realistic. Always aiming to improve each day in a minor way. Train smart and train safe.

Why my favorite Ab exercise doesn’t exist…


Work hard the right way and get the right result.

Let’s toss in a disclaimer for all the muscle heads in the beginning. I understand that those who lift for a living (they actually receive an income for their performance) will need to focus on key body parts and lift for that specific purpose. This article is targeted towards the average individual who just wants to stay fit, STRONG, and healthy. With that being said, lets dive in.

If I were asked what question do I hear most often, it would have to be “what are some good core exercises I can do”? My answer always shocks the person asking because its goes against conventional wisdom. I always respond, “Squats, Deadlifts, Push-ups, and Pull-ups”! I know that this sounds ridiculous because squats and deadlifts are lower body exercises right? Push-ups and Pull-ups are upper body exercises right? Wrong. If done correctly they are TOTAL body exercises. A push-up performed correctly involves every muscle in your body working together to produce force. The less involved one part of the body is, the harder another part has to work. This effects the overall efficiency of the individual.

A better approach?

I suggest not approaching your training in this manner. Ditch the Ab day, leg day, arm day routine. Focus on a movement pattern and develop that. Get a strength goal and actively train toward that. Pick exercises to do around that primary lift that will help make your performance better. Doing 300 Sit-ups every night is much better than doing nothing, but its nothing compared to a 20-30 yard heavy farmers carry. A properly executed rack walk. A front lever on a set of rings. These are better (less stressful) ways to develop core strength. They also teach the body to operate as a “unit”. One muscle never works alone.

Tension and relaxation

Once these two things are mastered, you will be able to work on your abs ANYWHERE. You must learn the proper execution of tension in order to get the most out of any movement. This will make you engage your core, glutes, lats, etc. at the proper time. Making the movement smooth while targeting all muscle groups to help assist in the completion of the exercise. This is where you want to be. Relaxation must be done at the proper time to ensure the muscle has enough time to recover as well as keep your “chi” (energy) in balance. There are several books on this subject. I suggest reading up further and exploring this topic. Tension is a display of strength, but will fatigue you quickly. Relaxation is a display of weakness, but it is also recovery. Find balance.

More bang for your buck.

Conventional wisdom tells us to get on the floor and do 100 crunches for washboard abs. I actually worked out this way before. I would do “500 rep days” on one muscle. Crazy, I know! I personally think you will get much more out of a compound movement that incorporates not just strength but mobility as well. The 1/4 “Get up” is a perfect example of this.


Want abs? Do “Get Ups”!

This movement promotes great shoulder stability with a over head load. You have to keep the core engaged and “braced” to move throughout the “Get Up”. It even involves a crunch in the beginning. Also, you are working on hip and thoracic spine mobility. This is more rewarding than 100 crunches, and lets be honest, its more fun!

No matter what you do, do something! I suggest you do it with the greatest reward you can obtain from your training. Having arm days just doesn’t do it for me. You are training your body to move independently and it just doesn’t work that way in my opinion. Train safe and train smart!

Picking A Personal Trainer

General view of Personal Trainers 7/7/2013

What should you look for?

You haven’t spent hours learning about the body and how it works, moves, and functions in different planes of space. All YOU really want to do is look and feel the best you possibly can. So you decide to hire a personal trainer to help guide you toward your fitness goals. What do you look for? How do you know if what you are about to pay for is worth it? Lets explore some things you should consider before you make your decision.


Before a ship leaves it has a destination. Otherwise, it will stay at the dock. You need to know where you want to go BEFORE you can get there. Once you have a goal in mind, my advice would be to look for a trainer who has done what you are trying to accomplish. So if your only goal is to get strong, look for a trainer who specializes in that area. You may find this to be a more comfortable environment to train in because you will “buy into” the trainers instructions because you have witnessed the result.


The best trainers that I have ever had the privilege of working with have all taken very complicated movements and made them simple to understand. This is where you will get the most bang for your buck. After all your “trainer” is really a “teacher”. You are relying on their knowledge of a skill to bypass all the study and work that goes into learning the information. If your trainer can’t clearly explain to you what you’re expected to do and how to effectively do it, then you might want to find another trainer.


Really dude?


So many “fainers” (fake trainers) give us a bad name. This is not the job you need to get into just to hit on hot men or women. We live in a society where sex sells and I have watched fitness be used as a disguise to sell sex visually. Your trainer should never make you feel weird by staring at you, making inappropriate comments, or placing you in compromising positions. This is the number one sign of a weirdo and I would head for the hills. You should always be more impressed with your trainers mind than their body. Professionalism works both ways of course. So don’t pick a trainer because you think he/ she is attractive. It usually ends bad. Just approach that situation outside of the gym.

One dimensional trainers

 Having deep knowledge of a skill and being one dimensional are two different things. I’m referencing those individuals who will try and tell you there is only ONE way to accomplish a goal. This usually isn’t true. There is a “best way for you”, but there are several paths to the same destination. Never believe this “magic” as my buddy Max Shank calls it.  Look for a trainer who can combine several styles of training to keep your workouts fun, exciting, and challenging.

You should leave the gym with a good sense of direction. A trainer isn’t just a person to yell out reps and directions. They should be providing direction to a goal! Track your progress and stay consistent. Train safe and train smart.