Fitness Forum

Jul 01, 2008

Fitness Forum

Your feedback, concerns and insights.

“Always Better”

I have had over a dozen e-mails and telephone calls about the excellent article, “Siempre Mejor,” that appeared in the March issue of IDEA Fitness Journal (Icons & Innovators column, p. 92). It proves that your magazine is very successful. I wanted not only to thank you but also to let you know how well read your magazine is.

Deborah Szekely
Founder, Rancho La Puerta Spa
San Diego, California

Pilates and Breast Cancer

I was very excited to see an article on Pilates and breast cancer (April issue, pp. 82–84). Pilates is a great introduction or reintroduction to exercise for survivors. However, I must add some precautions to working with this population. Lymphe­dema is a very real concern. Although the Pilates emphasis upon deep breathing helps lymphatic fluid to return, women who have had any type of lymph node removal and/or radiation are at risk for the rest of their lives. It is wise to proceed very cautiously, especially when using weights, and compression sleeves should be worn when weight training.

In addition, as author PJ O’Clair mentioned, these women are at osteoporosis risk. Therefore, many of the Pilates exercises that emphasize neck and thoracic flexion (such as the hundred or neck pulls), and lateral trunk flexion (such as the mermaid), may need to be modified. Complications such as axillary web syndrome (AWS), pain and shoulder im­pingements should be referred to medical professionals who can then recommend occupational or physical therapy. Thus, one should know when to refer out if the client is expressing concerns beyond an instructor’s scope of practice.

Naomi Aaronson, MA
Bayside, New York

The author responds:

Thank you for your feedback; your comments are all valid. The phase one exercises detailed in this program do follow all the necessary guidelines. I believe it’s very important that fitness professionals are educated in postrehabilitation of breast cancer patients before working with this population, as there are many factors to consider. We are not dealing with an injury, but a disease.

PJ O’Clair

Compliance Jump-Start

Creating a 6-week, soul-searching program in a group setting has been the key to having our clients put themselves first and stay committed to their health and fitness journey. Our program includes group lectures, a workbook and weekly homework, cardiovascular programming, strength training, stretching, yoga postures and meditative breathing. We bring in a [nutrition expert] and a [psychology and counseling expert] to get to the core of bad eating issues and to set clients on course by introducing family health and nutrition guidelines. Additionally, clients have a private [space] to discuss goal setting and follow-up, weekly weigh-ins, biweekly measuring, and individual and group online support. We also created an ongoing group workout program that has flexibility as needed. Results have been amazing: we’ve seen cholesterol reduction without medication, weight loss, muscle building, flexibility and balance. The accountability in the group has been outstanding!

Ann Rockeman
Integration Fitness, Center
for L.I.F.E. Training
San Diego, California

Wake Up, Personal Trainers!

The media are portraying what we do as a form of ethical and physical mayhem!

Yes, I am an older trainer; I have been in this business since 1978. Maybe I am not cool or hip enough. I recently saw for the first time the television show on Bravo called Workout. It takes place in a gym in Los Angeles and portrays trainers who spend more time touching and flirting with each other than personal training! I am sure they train, but that isn’t the focus of the program.

The last straw came for me while watching the season finale of the The Biggest Loser. It came down to three finalists—one of whom was Kelly. Kelly had lost a lot of weight and should be commended for her amazing efforts. How­ever, the final segment of the show featured footage of Kelly going to an orthopedist and being diagnosed with a herniated disk in her spine. Shortly after this segment, they showed previous clips of Kelly doing plyometrics. Certainly, plyometrics can be appropriate for the very fit and for many of our athletes. How­ever, it’s hard to watch someone who is over 250 pounds repeatedly jumping in the air and off a platform, especially if that person is relatively new to fitness! We then see Kelly’s trainer screaming at her as she slows down in other physical activities. Finally, we see Kelly doing high kicks. Again, not an exercise to give someone at her level of fitness.

We have seen the headlines about trainers giving athletes steroids, and some even becoming sexually involved with their clients. We all need to speak out; we need to let the media know that these shows do not represent what the majority of personal trainers are actually doing. I want to be recognized as an integral part of the growing integrative healthcare field, not as Hollywood’s interpretation of a fitness trainer. We want to give our clients safe workouts; not regimes that will damage their joints and general well-being. I realize that I am probably preaching to the choir. The vast majority of trainers I have met are certified, qualified and conscientious; however, we need to let the public know that what they see on these television shows is not what we do!

Diane Buchta
Del Mar, California

Becoming a Great Instructor

I just read Fred Hoffman’s article “How to Be a Great Instructor” (April issue, pp. 68–70). I think it was the best article I have ever read about teaching fitness. I try to teach like that in all my fitness classes, no matter who attends, and I know it works. Congratulations on a super article!

Tom Petro
Reading, Pennsylvania

Personal Training Business Mantra

I just finished reading the article “Professionalizing In-Home Personal Trainers” (March 2008, pp. 30–31). While Kay Cross’s article was informative, I found myself disagreeing with some of the points she wrote about “upgrading your business practices.” I have been in the fitness business industry for over 26 years wearing many hats (trainer, educator, gym owner and private in-home trainer) on both the East and West Coasts. I am presently living and training on the West Side of Los Angeles in a very competitive market. While [physical location] in the country can determine what will matter most in terms of your service, what tops the list for me is giving clients 100% of my undivided attention during every single session.

While I certainly agree that it is more professional to run a business like a business rather than as a hobby, what will gain a trainer the utmost respect is how she connects with her clients in the delivery of training services. As a personal trainer, if you are passionate about what you do, and [if you] have the knowledge, experience, creativity and safety education that enable your clients to feel comfortable knowing your training service will help them achieve their goal, then—believe me—they will not care if you have on yoga pants and a T-shirt (a nice one) or what kind of car you drive. First, you give respect to others, and that’s how you get respect in return. “You get what you give” is a colleague’s mantra, and it’s worked for me for over 26 years.

Laura Gideon MS, CPT
Co-owner, Bamboo Balance Fitness
& Aquatics Training
Los Angeles, California

Getting Inspired by Older Clients

Please give our older adults a special “thank-you!” from me. I’ve been an instructor and personal trainer for over 20 years. I’m sure that many of us “old schoolers” in the business have asked ourselves from time to time, “What drives me ahead?” How about enthusiastic, supportive, affirmative clients and group exercise class participants? These individuals make us think [about all facets of what we’re doing]. I’m able to come up with fresh new ideas because I know their faces will light up in amazement when they see/hear the changes I’ve made for my next class. Thank goodness! I have been working in a 55+ age community. Never in my life have I felt so inspired. I want to say a special thank-you to all whom I have encountered and who have kept me true to myself.

Z. Rox Ztarr/Kakas
MINDMUSCLE Fitness & Wellness
Henderson, Nevada

SIDEBAR: We Want to Hear From You!

Send your letters and opinions to Ryan Halvorson, IDEA Fitness Journal Fitness Forum, 10455 Pacific Center Ct., San Diego, CA 92121-4339; fax them to him at (858) 535-8234; or e-mail them to You may also leave a voice mail letter in the editorial voice mail box at (858) 535-8979, ext. 239. (For general membership questions or information, however, please e-mail member ser­vices at We reserve the right to edit letters for length or clarity.



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