4 Social Support Tips to Stick with your Fitness Program

Too often I have seen great progress with clients for fall by the wayside. Why does this happen? A very common reason, inadequate Social Support.

These are 4 Social Support strategies I recommend as a personal trainer to keep you on your fitness journey.

1. Find a Fitness Buddy

I'm sure you have heard the phrase, “You are the product of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” Don't know who said this. For exercise and fitness this couldn't be more true.

You hang around people who enjoy a healthy and fit lifestyle, you will get fit and be healthy too.

I encourage all of my clients to find a fitness buddy. This is someone that will hold you accountable and vice-versa. Having a friend to go on a journey with will make it that much easier.

Find a fitness buddy you enjoy spending time. Make sure they are a positive influence and encourage you, as well as you motivating them in return.

Can't find a fitness buddy easily? Consider doing group exercise classes such as yoga, cycling, pilates, etc.

3. Ask for Support

Make sure that the people around in your life understand the fitness journey you are going on. Ask them for support and help. You need to make the right decisions not just in making time for exercise but in eating the right foods that are have nutritional value.

Perhaps you friends and family might even be interested in getting “back into shape” too. You could invite them to join you and become your fitness buddy.

As part of asking for support you should also ask for reminders about staying physically active. This includes keeping training appointments or regularly going to the gym or making time for workout sessions.

3. Gamify the Goals

As part of making an exercise program fun you should gamify the goals. What does that mean? Basically turn it into a contest.

Let's say if you go to 10 yoga classes in a row without missing a single one you had one your schedule, you get to go on short weekend trip. This is a great process goal for you to make for yourself.

Better yet make a competition with your Fitness Buddy.  Of course remember the main objective is accountability, not to gloat with your friends who are trying to make you more fit.

4. Find Social Fitness you Enjoy

Doing the same type of exercise without a team sometimes ins't the right move for you or clients I work with. I encourage people and my personal training clients to not only find a fitness buddy but to find social sports and fitness you enjoy.

This could include joining a local swing dance club, hiking, climbing, signingup for a recreational baseball league, etc. You get the idea it's not just a group exercise class but something that gets you out there and is social.

I've found this has done wonders for some clients. It's changed their outlook on leading a more balanced and healthy lifestyle. Especially ones that are more introverted.

Admittedly I am someone who mainly focuses on lifting weights by myself. I do sometimes workout with other people. In recent years I've walk-the-walk so to speak. I've signed-up for many recreational sports leagues to experience new ways of moving my body and enjoying the company of new people.

Social Support

What are your thoughts about social support and fitness? Do you like these tips? Have anything more to add?

How has Social Support helped or hurt you on your fitness journey?

14 Trainer Questions to Ask Yourself to set Fitness Goals

Often when people first start-off with a fitness journey they do not ask themselves the right questions. These are 14 questions to ask yourself before you start planning or designing a fitness program. Personal trainers often ask these with clients on the first sessions.

  1. What are your short term goals? (3 – 6 months)
  2. What are your long term goals? (beyond 6 months)
  3. What could prevent you from achieving your fitness goals? (work, school, kids, etc.)
  4. What is motivating you to make a fitness program?
  5. What is important to you?
  6. How will health and fitness support your goals for yourself?
  7. What sports or exercise programs have you participated in the past?
  8. Are there fitness or exercise programs you enjoy?
  9. Are there certain exercises you hate?
  10. Do you have a favorite exercise you feel good at?
  11. How do you intend to integrate exercise into your life?
  12. How much time can yo commit to an excise program?
  13. What social support (family and friends) do you have to change your lifestyle?
  14. When is the last time you kept to an exercise routine (3 times per week)? How long did this last? Why did it stop?

10 Ways to Measure Fitness Progress

How do you measure fitness progress?  This isn't always clear or easy as often you won't be making the the progress you want to. There are many ways to measure progress to see if you are meeting fitness goals.  Here are the 12 most common ways.

1. Body Weight

The most obvious first choice, and what most people think of, is body weight. This is an easy way to measure if you are meeting your own SMART fitness goals. Most people start a fitness program with the goal to “lose weight”. If you are hiring a personal trainer, like myself, that is definitely the most common thing we hear. 🙂

I do caution though that weight loss may not always be a good thing. What if you lost muscle? Would you be ok with that? Probably not. Most also don't realize that muscle tissue ways more than adipose tissue, a fancy term for fat. It also won't measure body composition changes.

2. Body Composition

Typically most people are actually looking for changes in body composition. What does this specifically mean?

The definition I hear from most people is that they want to “look better” which essentially means less fat and more muscle. You can gain more muscle, which is heavier, and lose fat. That's why with number #1 Body Weight it may not tell the whole story.

To measure Body Composition you can do skinfold and circumference measurements.  These typically make most clients feel uncomfortable so I don't do them.

3. Body Size

Lean tissues takes up less space than fat tissue. That means if you are losing fat your body size will get smaller.

I encourage you to measure this by your clothes. Are some of your clothes loose or to large? That means your body size is changing.

4. Emotional Health

If you ever work with me, something I put a strong focus on is emotional health and well being. Fitness and exercise often leads to measurable improvements in sleep quality, energy, and general mood.  Clients also report that they feel less stressed and irritable after a workout sessions.

This isn't a surprise since during exercise that is the only time your body releases endorphins besides when you sleep. Endorphins are hormones that give you positive feelings. Exercise = feeling good. 🙂

5. Resting Heart Rate

People that are brand new to an exercise program will often see a decrease in resting heart rate (RHR). The best way to measure this is to do it first thing in the morning or right before you to to sleep at night.

6. Muscular Strength and Endurance

A clear and easy way to measure fitness progress. Are you lifting more weight? Are you able to do more repetitions than before?

This is an easily measured fitness goal and something that most people look to improve.

7. Walking Test

A timed walking test can be a great indicator of improved fitness level. Sounds easy? Well you would be surprised by how little walking some people do these days, especially here in the US. Walking for long periods of time is a good exercise.

8. Flexibility

Something I caution people about measuring but still  something to measure. As someone who isn't the most flexible I can tell you improving flexibility takes a long time. Unless you are born with great flexibility improving genes, in which case I don't like you very much. 🙂

9. Balance

If you participating in balance exercises as part of your fitness program, then by all means this is a good way to measure progress.

10. Skill Level

Do you participate in fitness activities such as soccer, football, tennis, golf, rock climbing? If you see improvement in motor-skills this means your fitness routine is working. Assessments can be done to measure but often clients find they just feel themselves having a better back-hand tennis swing.

SMART Goals -What are They & Why You Need Them

smart goals

If you are someone who has ever worked out in a gym or at home I'm sure you have thought you of some common fitness goals. These include but are not limited too;

  • “I want to tone up.”
  • “I want to lose weight.”
  • “I want to get ripped.”
  • “I want to lose belly fat.”
  • “I need a beach body.”

And and on and on.

All of these are not necessarily bad goals to have for a fitness or exercise program. To be honest even I have thought these phrases too. Personal trainers can get caught in the same mental traps as clients. 🙂

If you want success with fitness you should always be thinking about SMART goals with your fitness program. What are SMART goals?

SMART Fitness Goals

SMART is an acronym and I'll explain what each S-M-A-R-T letter means;

  • Specific – The fitness goals you set for yourself must be clear and Specific so that you know whether you are making progress. The examples I used that most people say to themselves such as “I want to tone-up.” is not specific enough. A more specific goal would be “I want to tone-up my triceps and biceps.” This is better as you are saying exactly what part of your arms you want to tone-up.
  • Measurable – You need to measure your progress so that you know if you are improving, by how much, and if you need to make adjustments. That means if you are trying to run a mile in say under 10 minutes and you are 12 minutes currently, you will want to track any progress you make. For this Measurable goal you should use some sort of wearable fitness tracker so that you can see how much you are improving your running times. When you know you are improving, and by how much, it will encourage and motivate you.
  • Attainable – You want to set realistic goals for your program. If you set a goal and accomplish it you are much more likely to lead a healthy and fit lifestyle. Way to often people will set completely unattainable goals for what they are trying to accomplish.  I know, I see it all the time as a Personal Trainer. I always encourage clients to “think big” since there is nothing wrong with that. However take steps in your physical health and training in small bites. Be ambitious but realistic about where you are in your fitness journey.
  • Relevant – You must set goals that are relevant to your interests, needs, goals, and abilities. Too often I see trainers making clients do exercise activities that are not relevant to a client's priorities. If you are a track athlete doing explosive weight exercises such as Olympic lifts would be ideal. Doing tennis would not be.
  • Time-based – You goal must have a set time for completion. If you just set a goal and don't think about when it is going to happen, you may fall be the wayside of making that goal happen. Evaluate regularly to see if are going to meet the goal. If not you might want to revisit Attainable and see if you set a realistic goal for yourself.

How to set a SMART Goal

Saying, “I want to lose 20 pounds in a week” is not a realistic goal. However saying, “I want to lose 20 pounds of fat in 8 weeks.” is a much more ideal goal and follows SMART principles. This meets the Specific and Time-based part of SMART.

Consider is this at attainable goal? Do you have finals coming up? A big vacation? Can you make time for a home-based or precious time out of your day to go to the gym?

The SMART goal we set and these types of questions will show also make you think about what types of exercises you should be doing to drop that 20 pounds of fat you want to lose.

The next step would be to think about how you would accomplish your goal. Are going to be lifting weights? Cycling? Swimming? Consider how this is going to be measured.

Lifting weights would be an  easy way to measure progress. The more weight you lift over the 8 weeks, you are making progress. The more weight you drop and more your body composition changes the better.


If you intend on setting up a fitness routine and program for yourself, or if you work with me, I always recommend defining goals. SMART greatly helps with keeping you on track and helping you stay focused on fitness. Remember be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based in your fitness goals.

Setting a SMART fitness goal allows you to be crystal clear about what you are trying to accomplish with a fitness program, why you are doing it, and when it is going to get done.

Have you ever set a fitness goal like the ones I talked about at the beginning of this article? How did that work for you? Have you tried setting a SMART fitness goal? Did that work better?

7 BIG Mistakes you are Making at the Gym

With Spring upon us and just around the corner a lot of people are thinking about getting “in shape.”  Attaining a beach body for Summer is most people's number 1 goal right now.

While you have already won have the battle if you made it to the over to the gym there are similar mistakes I see people make constantly at the gym.  This isn't to say there is a wrong or right way to workout since everyone is different but these actions are not helping you make the fastest gains possible in the shortest amount of time;

1. Too Much Weight

This is pretty common for people just getting started at the gym.  They are trying to compare themselves to other people around them lifting a lot more weight.  You need to just slow down and not worry about what you are lifiting.  You should focus on a good lifting technique and gradually increase the weight.  Remember, no bodybuilder or the buffest person at the gym started out looking that way.  They had to work at it too.

2. Using Your Phone

Walk into any gym in the US nowadays and I am sure you will a similar sighting.  People on there smartphones texting, emailing, surfing the web, etc. while working out.  Really people?  If you want to get into optimal shape you shouldn't be on your smartphone doing that.  I know a lot of people use their smartphones to play music but consider leaving it in the locker room (with a lock on the locker of course) instead.  I have an inexpensive Sansa Clip which is small, lightweight, and easy to clip-on to workout clothes.  The Sansa Slip is 4GB which is plenty of space for music or podcasts.  Having just an MP3 player allows me to workout for 45 minutes – 1 hour without worrying about anything else.  If you truly want to shed fat and gain muscle fast you will do it a lot better if that is what you are concentrating on for that period of time.

3. Fitting to Much into One Workout

If you have not been to the gym in awhile but used to be in great shape, don't overdue it.  Just because you used to be able to lift or run a lot does not mean you can now.  Push yourself but don't fit too much into 1 workout session.  You will hurt yourself and possibly end up not wanting to go back to the gym.  Try to make workout sessions short but highly efficient and effective.  Remember you can always come back to the gym

4. Comparing Yourself to Others

Don't worry about the biggest or fittest people in the gym.  Like I said before they didn't start out that way and you shouldn't expect to start out that way either.

5. Wrong Technique

It is quite common to see people doing the wrong techniques even if the are experienced gym rats.  If you do the wrong lifting or exercise techniques you won't get the most of your workouts.  If you think you are doing something wrong try to go with a friend or hire a personal trainer for a few sessions to iron our your kinks.

6. Not Stretching

This goes into number 5.  It is ideal to stretch before, during, and after when you are lifting weights.  A lot of people don't but that doesn't mean you shouldn't.  Stretching will enable your muscles to recover faster and keep your body limber.

7. Not Drinking Water

Make sure to include a water bottle in you gym bag and stay hydrated during your workouts.  This will make your workouts more effective and keep your muscles moving.  It is best to take small sips of water between sets.

Gym Mistakes

I don't claim to be a fitness expert, although I do personal training, but I hope you have found this helpful.  If you agree or disagree with gym istakes please let me know and leave a comment below.  If you know a friend or family member could benefit from my list and advice, please share.

Omron HJ-112 Pedometer Review

omron hj-112 pedometer

It's no secret, you already have broken your New Year's resolution and losing that 20 pounds seems like it is not going to happen now. Right? The solution to keep that New Year's Resolution weight loss goal is simple though, an Omron HJ-112 Pedometer.

Most people, especially in today's stagnate office world, don't realize how little we actually move around during the day. Do you know how many steps you take everyday? Do you think you get in 10,000 steps? In case you didn't know that is the recommend amount of walking for an average healthy person.

When I originally got my Omron HJ-112 Pedometer as gift, I was pleased with the gift. (Unlike how some people would be.) I thought I would come somewhat close to that 10,000 step (3-4 mile) recommend minimum. Wrong, very wrong! Do you know how many steps I was taking everyday? I was walking about 3000-5000 steps a day, which is less than half the amount of walking I should have been doing. The most embarrassing part about it is that I have two dogs, Cody and Sierra, and I have to take walks with them everyday. (They are singing dogs in case you didn't know.)

A pedometer can really put things into perspective for you and make it so that you want to start moving around to reach that 10,000 step goal. Now that I have the Omron HJ-112 Pedometer strapped to me at all times, I sometimes walk when I would have driven, and walk around a little more just to walk. Sounds kind of crazy, but a pedometer makes you want to walk more. As I am writing this review I have over 15,000 steps on my Omron HJ-112 pedometer, which isn't bad at all. (I did take the pedometer running with me today, but in my opinion that still counts.)

The Omron HJ-112 Pedometer has a 7-day backlog, which makes it easy to track your progress. One feature that some might like, or not, is the fact that Omron automatically resets at midnight. This can be annoying are still up past midnight and want to keep tracking your progress. It also tracks aerobic steps which I assumes means running, miles, and calories burned if you want to know those numbers as well.

There have been a few times I have wondered how accurate the Omron is as some days I believed I have done quite a lot of walking, but don't feel the step counts reflected that. Something to keep in mind is the Omron Pedometer must be kept in a vertical position to track your steps. If it is too much on a horizontal axis it won't record steps. I usually try to keep the pedometer in my pocket upright at all times though so I don't know why this would be happening.

Setting up the Omron HJ-112 Pedometer is a bit tricky. I recommend reading the instructions carefully before you try to set the pedometer up. This way you won't get confused. I would also suggest not using the crappy “mini-screwdriver” that comes with it. I used a small screwdriver set we already had. Also it is helpful to have another person or friend help you calculate your stride length. You can try to do it on your own by using a cup or other object to mark of where you started your stride, but it's a bit difficult. I also recommend measuring a few times to make sure your stride length is accurate.

This video should help you setup the Omron HJ-112 Pedometer

Sometimes it is difficult to remember to put the Omron Pedometer on, and you do not get steps recorded.

If you want to keep your weight lose goals without killing yourself or going on a crazy diet, I would highly recommended buying the Omron HJ-112 Pedometer. Having the Omron pedometer has helped me get a lot more walking in everyday than I would have. My whole family now has Omron Pedometers and we are all getting more walking in. Even if I can't meet the 10,000 goal, I still try to make sure I get somewhat close to that number like 8,000 or so.