Focusing on Progess, Not Perfection

by Ryan Halvorson on Sep 08, 2009

Client Success Story

Jonathan Ross helps his client relish the fitness journey.

Client: Paige
Personal Trainer: Jonathan Ross,
owner of Aion Fitness and 2006 ACE
Personal Trainer of the Year
Location: Bowie, Maryland

Superwoman. Paige wanted to do everything, and she wanted to do it with perfection. As a mother of two and a business executive with a hectic travel schedule, she had time for cardiovascular exercise and various popular-magazine workouts. “I was working out consistently, but mainly doing a lot of running with some weights thrown in,” says Paige. Frustrated with minimal improvements, she decided to hire a personal trainer. “I wanted someone who was very knowledgeable and could create workouts for my goals that would fit into my crazy schedule,” she adds. Paige researched and observed a number of trainers and finally settled on 2006 ACE Personal Trainer of the Year, Jonathan Ross.

Renegotiating Priorities. Paige approached Ross hoping that he would develop time-efficient programs to help her lose weight and improve strength. But before program design began, Ross focused on Paige’s approach toward her goals. “First, I got her to de-emphasize the weight loss,” he recalls. “At her weight and height (139 pounds, 5' 7"), there was simply no reason to emphasize weight loss.” Instead, Ross helped her shift her goals toward fat loss and a more thoughtful approach to exercise. “She was jumping from one workout to the next from popular fitness magazines without much [physical] change.” Once Paige agreed to a shift in priorities, it was time to go to work on the most challenging aspect of program development: timing.

Appealing to the Individual. One of the biggest challenges facing Paige involved finding ways to fit fitness into her hectic lifestyle. “Developing the program was the easiest part,” says Ross. “The most important factor was a workout program that delivered the results she wanted and fit into her time-pressed, hectic work- and family-time commitments.” This is often the point when many trainers make mistakes, says Ross. He finds that trainers often create the program and then expect the client to adopt it. The client then begins to worry about how to fit the program into her life, which sometimes leads to lackluster results. “Discovering the rest of the factors in a client’s life is one of the most useful tools to ensure program adherence.”

Programming for Progress. To help Paige achieve her goals, Ross decided that big muscle movements offered the most time-efficient solution. “As I like to say, ‘I choose exercises that chew calories,’” he remarks. “Everything involved moving something in between the hips and shoulders.” Ross also created a sort of circuit, or “giant sets” of three or four exercises designed to keep her moving throughout the workout. “And I varied her repetitions almost every workout. This approach has been shown to be particularly effective for women.” As for the travel program, Ross kept things simple. “I gave her a very time-efficient body weight–only exercise routine that she could do in the hotel room (she’s since added the TRX). Whenever she was about to leave on a trip that would not allow for any exercise time, I had to train her extra hard—intentionally overtrain—and then use the downtime as extra recovery time, which she needed due to the extra volume.” Ross also urged her to decrease the amount of running she performed while simultaneously increasing the intensity.

The Outcome. Paige didn’t have tremendously lofty goals, such as significant weight loss or competition preparation. As she was already in great shape, her biggest obstacle was to stay fit on the road. “She lost just under 5 pounds of body fat and added some lean muscle in about 3 months,” states Ross. “She didn’t get everything she wanted, but she’s happy with what she got. She is no longer as concerned with what the scale says, and that’s always a good thing.” “I’m in better physical shape now at 40 than I was in my 20s,” adds Paige. “At the end of the day, working out makes me a better and healthier mother, wife and employee. People often ask me what I’m training for and my answer? A long, healthy life.”

© 2009 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited

Calling All Trainers

Do you have a client who has overcome the odds to achieve new heights in health and fitness? Send your story to and you and your client may be featured in an upcoming issue of IDEA Fitness Journal.

IDEA Fitness Journal , Volume 6, Issue 9

© 2009 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson IDEA Author/Presenter

Ryan Halvorson is the publications assistant for IDEA Health & Fitness Association. He is a speaker and regular contributor to health and fitness publications and a certified personal trainer.


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