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Fresh Food Prep Vs. Exercise: Is One More Important?

I would rather see my clients spend more time preparing fresh food for themselves versus exercising. First, if I’ve properly helped clients to identify poor food choices and eating habits, as well as informed them about making nutritionally sound meals and snacks for themselves and their families, they should already be seeing positive changes in their bodies. Such changes include more stamina and energy and the initial weight loss that comes from cutting out excess sugar and salt.

Second, every minute my clients are on their feet preparing fresh food, they are not sitting. Numerous recent studies have shown that it’s not so much minutes of exercise that are important as minutes of not sitting. In other words, an hour of exercise in a day with more than 8 hours of sitting is less healthy than a day with only 30 minutes of exercise but just 5 hours of sitting.

Third, while they are preparing fresh food, my clients are being more mindful about their eating habits. They have taken the time to plan a menu, seek out fruits and vegetables and, I hope, carefully consider the source of the protein as well as added ingredients such as salt. In addition, I counsel all of my clients—many of whom are either over 50 or recovering from injury—that it is movement that counts, not just what is termed “exercise.” Of course, as exercise professionals, we know this, but clients often equate the word exercise with a workout routine.

The bottom line is that both a healthy relationship with real food and adequate daily movement are essential for good health. There’s no reason for it to be an either-or proposition.

Janet Gross
Baltimore, Maryland

Would I rather see clients spend more time preparing fresh food for themselves or exercising? The answer is subjective. I want to encourage my clients to spend their time on healthy behaviors that will beget healthy behaviors.

It really depends on [which activity] the client perceives to be more enjoyable and has a greater impact on his self-efficacy. As the trainer, I would then give recommendations, accordingly.

Brook Benten Jimenez, MEd
President, Cardiopump Fitness LLC
Round Rock, Texas

Exercise for COPD Sufferer a “Life Changer”

I read the article regarding chronic obstructive pulmonary disease by Len Kravitz, PhD, and Jenevieve Roper, MS [Research, June]. It detailed how exercise can increase the quality of life for people who suffer from this illness. I was diagnosed with COPD and lived at home connected to an oxygen machine with a rollaway tank (as needed) in 2007. I also suffered from high blood pressure and diabetes, all brought on by obesity. I was 5 feet, 8 inches tall and weighed more than 450 pounds.

It seems counterintuitive that exercise would help, but it’s so true. Thank you for bringing this to everyone’s attention. Often people with such chronic issues are unwilling to seek the help of a certified trainer. For me, it was a life changer.

Lee Jordan
Certified Personal Trainer and Health Coach
Jacksonville Beach, Florida

How to Make Personal Training More Relevant

I just read another great issue of IDEA Fitness Journal [July–August]. The feature “What’s Ahead for Personal Trainers?,” which reported on a panel discussion among five personal trainers and was moderated by Len Kravitz, PhD, piqued my interest.

There seems to be an overwhelming emphasis on weight loss and weight management in many of the responses—as if that was the main reason people seek our services. In reality, most of those with the means to engage a trainer have issues other than weight. These may be quality-of-life issues such as pain reduction, increased mobility or other health issues. We must address these, too, and not only because these goals are those of wealthy people, but because these goals apply to nearly everyone else. Such goals yield long-term compliance to a much greater extent than does weight management.

Trainers need to find a way to become relevant but not by pitching weight loss, cut physiques or long endurance events. We need to become relevant by offering our clients and our communities the honest, if not painless, truth that health—and especially fitness—requires an investment of time, energy and maybe money, [but it] won’t pay dividends right away. It’s a hard pitch to make, but it would shout “integrity.” That may not make you as rich as you would like, but it would make you a professional.

Irv Rubenstein, PhD
President of STEPS Inc.
Nashville, Tennessee

Do HRAs Promote Personal Health Ownership?

Regarding the news item “CVS to Force Fitness?” [Making News, July–August]: Premium discounts for participation in health reimbursement accounts are nothing new. In fact, the Affordable Care Act (recently revised) supports this “know your numbers” behavior. HRAs are confidentially designed to create awareness for employees and provide an opportunity for them to seek help and support. And yes, HRAs make good people sense and good business sense. 

The U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Treasury issued the final rule on Incentives for Nondiscriminatory Wellness Programs in Group Health Plans on May 29. As expected, the rule increases the allowable incentive for health-contingent programs from 20% to 30% of the cost of coverage. It is time for Americans to take responsibility for their own health. Well-designed workplace wellness programs help with ownership. 

Danielle Vindez, MA, HFS, CSCS
Redondo Beach, California

The state of Alabama already does something similar to CVS Caremark. Employees who do not pass the wellness screening must then make an appointment with their private physician. All employees receive a consult with a nurse following the screening. Unfortunately, I can’t say that I have seen any positive impact. Blue Cross® Blue Shield® or the State of Alabama would have to confirm what impact the screenings have had on insurance claims/screening results since the screenings began. I believe it takes more than screening [employees] and telling them something they already know, which is basically what I see happening at my workplace (a State of Alabama hospital). What is being forced on the employees is a health screening, not fitness or wellness.

Ruth Mannich, MMT, MT-BC
Group Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer
Centreville, Alabama

This move by CVS is not “inspiring”; it is coercive and an example of how the politics of class play out in subtle ways in our profit-driven culture. How many of the CVS employees who opt out of these so-called “voluntary” screenings—and who are slapped with a $50/month penalty—make minimum wage or slightly better and work 40 hours per week at a job in which they may have no deep personal investment but that they need to retain to pay bills and support families? Are the company CEOs willing to subject themselves to the same scrutiny and submit their test results to an insurance company as well?

If these executives wanted to truly help their employees, they would provide gym memberships and wellness activities accessible during paid lunch hours or during breaks. I think [the CVS idea] is a bad practice, but one unfortunately typical of corporate culture.

Paula Klein
Certified Personal Trainer
Tucson, Arizona

IDEA Personal Trainer Institute™ East and West Resonate

IDEA Personal Trainer Institute was a phenomenal experience! I’ve been working in the fitness industry for more than 7 years, and this was my first conference. The presenters were leaders in the fitness industry and educated us in a fun and captivating way. The material presented was cutting-edge and relevant and will help propel my fitness career to the next level. Anyone who works in the fitness or wellness industry will benefit from this conference. Thank you, IDEA, for putting on such an amazing event. I will be back for years to come!

Landy Stewart Miyake
Bemidji, Minnesota

IDEA Personal Trainer Institute West was, bar none, the most professional and educational conference I have attended. The caliber and expertise of the presenters were inspirational and educational. It makes me want to step up my game as a personal trainer and offer more quality service to my clients.

Tia Wayling
Creston, British Columbia

IDEA Personal Trainer Institute West was, by far, one of the best conferences I have been to! [It was] so well run, and the presenters were top-notch. In addition, the presenters of the sessions I attended were all very willing to stay and answer questions to help us with our particular situations. I will highly recommend this conference to all of the fitness professionals I know!

Debbie McFadden
Gardnerville, Nevada

As the owner of two clubs that specialize in personal training services, I saw IDEA Personal Trainer Institute East, in Alexandria, Virginia, as an opportunity to “infuse” some new energy and education into my facilities. The investment was well worth it. Not only did it create excitement and bring in new ideas; it brought us together more as a team! We are currently in the process of evaluating our experience and [choosing] the top three or four best ideas for our clubs to take action steps on. Without a doubt, we gained greater benefit by going as a team than if we had sent one or two individuals!

Randy Sabourin
President, Metro Fitness Club
Syracuse, New York

IDEA Personal Trainer Institute East was my first conference, and I will definitely be back. The presenters were awesome. Todd Durkin, MA, was so motivating in his boot camp session; Shannon Fable taught me so much in “Book Yourself Solid” and then kicked my butt in BOSU HIIT; and last—but not least—I spent time in TRX® sessions with Fraser Quelch. I am such a huge fan of TRX, and listening to Quelch speak was like meeting my favorite rock star. If there were any way for me to go to the 2013 IDEA Word Fitness Convention™, I would be there in a heartbeat, but I will just have to wait until next year.

Deanett Pierce
Oak Ridge, North Carolina


In “Applying the PERMA Model,” by Elaine O’Brien, MAPP (June Senior Fitness column), some elements in the “SPEC vs. DRAIN” chart were transposed. We regret the error. Here is the correct chart:

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