Personal Training 101
January 28, 2009
As a content couch potato, I was shocked to hear my doctor tell me that I was now “pre-diabetic” and that they had put me on a high blood pressure and high cholesterol watch. If I made no changes in my routine, ten years were off my life expectancy.
I was strongly motivated to change my diet. I discovered vegetables, fruit, and the dangers of high fructose corn syrup, fish (especially wild salmon) and things like kale, dandelion greens, swiss chard, healthy steamed cabbage, garbanzo beans and sea salt. I learned how to cook without oil and I said good-be to refined sugar and hello to organic food. I lost 55 pounds, going from 285 to 230 over the course of 30 months.
But, I was stuck at 230. It wouldn’t budge. I asked the experts, “What do I need?” I needed exercise. A healthy life requires a combination of nutritious foods and exercise. I had one, but not the other.
That’s when Suzie Cooney, owner of Suzie Trains Maui, came into the picture. I had seen her ads and a friend was going to her and was happy. Based on that, I called her up at 283-2121 and she agreed to see me.
Cooney comes with her sports reputation well established as a professional athlete, having been sponsored by several major companies first as a champion teenage dirt bike racer (usually the only girl on the track) and then as a windsurfer. She is a Certified Personal Trainer and Sports Fitness Specialist through the internationally recognized National Academy of Sports Medicine, which was established in 1987.
Finally the big day arrived. I had purchased new tennis shoes, a quick drying sleeveless work out shirt and dark blue shorts. To my surprise, we spent much of that first session going over a two-page personal assessment and physical activity readiness questionnaire that she had given me earlier to fill out. Then, I signed a release form and reviewed her personal training policies and contract provisions, all the while talking about my physical fitness goals. Why such a long interview?
Suzie told me that she wanted to have all the health information on me that she could gather and that if I was working with a doctor on any specific conditions, she would even consult with him or her before making a decision about my training program. She was also making a decision about taking me on as a client and our ability to work together to achieve my goals.
This was bigger than I thought. Like many, I had seen personal training as something slightly mysterious and above my pay grade. I was wrong. In fact, fitness professionals are in high demand and short supply. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, “The employment of fitness workers is expected to increase much faster than the average for all occupations through 2014.” Much of this demand is being driven by aging baby boomers (that’s me) and increasing public awareness of the need for regular exercise to maintain good health and a high quality of life.
After the forms were completed, Suzie took photographs of me without my shirt on. Ever helpful and positive, Suzie complemented my posture while I contemplated my navel. We also did stretches and then some exercises to gauge my flexibility, balance and core strength levels. Finally, I was on the treadmill to walk one mile at a rate that challenged me, but still allowed me to carry-on a conversation while walking. This exercise was designed to estimate my peak aerobic capacity and provide a fitness assessment based on my rate of oxygen consumption.
After that first week, I came back for a second visit and Suzie ran me through a series of stretches and exercises. Some of these I had done in the first visit and this time I actually did them better. She never pushed or criticized, leading by example and gentle but firm persuasion. Like, “O.K. that’s 6, now 4 more.”
On my third visit, along with my fitness assessment, I received my own custom designed personal training program. It included 12 warm-ups, 5 exercises for core stabilization, balance and balance reaction training (important as one ages to prevent falls), and 18 exercises to develop strength. I also received a scientifically designed “Weight-Loss Equation” that calculated the number of calories I could consume and still lose weight. My magic number was 2,300. About 510 less than I was estimated to be currently burning.
Personal training is here to stay. It’s growing and excellent personal training on Maui is also available at REPS at Wailea Town Center, owned by Hannu and Marjo Selin, award winning internationally recognized body building competitors and at Fit to a T, in Wailuku, owned by personal trainer Theresa Felgate.
You are never too old to start. Hannu Selin has two clients in their early 90′s that did not begin with him until they were 87. In addition to seniors, Felgate notes that a wide variety of people can benefit from personal training including young athletes, weekend warriors and those who have been sedentary.
I’m going back to Suzie in a couple of weeks and adding regular gym visits to my schedule. It’s like my mother always said, “If you don’t have your health you have nothing.”
Thanks mom, I finally heard you.