Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Key to Health Is Making Changes

As many of you already know, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis about 5 years ago. This weekend I celebrated my 46th birthday and I am and have been symptom free since that time.
As I look back, I realize alot has transpired during that time. For one, I began competitively weight lifting as a masters weight lifter and qualified for the International Pan American Games. This means I will be competing this year for Team USA in Puerto Rico at the event-- a huge honor!
I am also the leanest I have ever been---my body fat decreased to about 16.7 percent from a dismal 29.5 percent.
I continue to pay close attention to my diet-- consuming the types of food that bolster my mind and body--without having to 'diet'. And I feel great both physically and mentally. Am I extraordinary?
I don't think so.
We all have the power to change our lives and make them better, more fulfilling. As host and executive producer of local cable t.v health show 'Fitness, Health & Healing' I've been fortunate to meet other people like you and me who have stepped out of the 'box' and changed their lives in a magnificent way--first by implementing small changes in their lives then bigger ones. and finally producing a healthy world for themselves filled with love, joy and fun. The key is knowing there are options out there for all of us to choose from and then just doing it.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Finding the Right Personal Trainer - For Your Sport

While a personal trainer with a combination of professional certifications and academic background may seem 'perfect', an important question to consider is whether that fitness professional has the experience, skills and resources necessary to help you achieve your goals.

The key is finding the one who has the skill set you need.

This is particularly critical if you are training for an explosive sport such as olympic weightlifting or basketball.

I give the example of olympic lifting first because it is such a technical sport that requires precision. You are going to need a coach and/or trainer with first-hand knowledge and experience of the sport. A trainer that is a 'jack of all trades'--a generalist rather than someone who specializes and is vested in the sport of olympic lifting will not be able to help you. They will end up only wasting your time and money.

For instance for olympic lifting, you may want to ask them if they are currently coaching other lifters, and if they do any lifting themselves. For Olympic lifting, you may also want to ask if your coach is affiliated with any teams or other coaches within the sport. This is not a sport where you want your trainer to be an 'island' unto himself--or herself.

The same holds true for other sports. If your goal is to become a competitive body-builder, you may want to search for a trainer that has the experience and passion for the sport. Perhaps a trainer that is a body-builder will be better equipped to help you reach your goals.

Feel free to ask a prospective trainer if they have the specific experience you need for your sport.

My best to you all.

Linda Kravitz, CEO

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Finding A Gym That Supports You!

Hi Ladies!

Most of my training is currently done in a private studio with my personal trainer closely monitoring me. I am in the early stages of learning to safely perform the two Olympic Lifts and believe me, I need the monitoring. Training at home is out of the question because the type of training I am doing requires lots of space and a large wooden platform for me to perform the movements safely. My accessory work is done in a local gym that allows me to bring in some of my own equipment for my workouts. This equipment includes plastic urethane training plates(5 and 10 lbs each) that are the same diameter as the Olympic size 45 lb. plates you see in your local gym or health club. I also have been using them for deadlift training.

This has become critical to my workouts.

Most, if not all commercial gyms(and health clubs) will not have training plates available. That means that for weight trainers like you and me, we are forced to begin deadlifting at 135 lbs.(using two 45 lb. plates, one 45 lb. Olympic bar) to get us the correct height from the ground, or not lift at all!

Finding a commercial gym that allows you to bring equipment essential to fit your level of training is no easy task. It took me several months to find one that did. This gym was not the cheapest nor the closest to my home. They 'won' my membership because they ultimately left my training to me. While, lugging these plates from my car through the gym doors may seem odd to some, I know this equipment will help me with the work-out I need. Unfortunately, current industry standards still fall short for women, and we are required to go that extra step to insure the most safe, effective work-out for ourselves.

It may take longer to find a facility that 'supports' your training, but they are out there!

Linda Kravitz, CEO

Monday, July 10, 2006

Certified Personal Trainer, What does it really mean?? (NOT MUCH IN MANY CASES!!)

I would like to thank the owners of the FitWoman.com for inviting me to participate in their new blog. Before I begin I just want to make sure that the readers understand what is posted here are my personal opinions (backed by first hand experience, published industry standards and common sense) and not those of the FitWoman.com

I make this disclaimer for the truth hurts and there are liable to be many outraged so called fitness professionals who will be exposed for the fakes and frauds they really are and many readers will come to realize how little they are getting for their money and how much potential danger they are in!

Having worked in the commercial fitness industry for almost 10 years I can tell you that like any health profession there are both good & bad practitioners. Unfortunately with the fitness industry there are NO NATIONAL STANDARDS OR LICENSES like other medical professions. All medical & allied health professionals must have extensive education, practical training and state licensure i.e. MD, DO, DC, RN, PT, ATC, RD, DDS, DMD, LMT are medical professionals that have passed rigorous standards.

There are almost 400 personal training and fitness certifications with the majority requiring no more than an online multiple choice test and a fee of around $50.00. In an attempt to rectify this situation IHRSA, the prevailing leader in the commercial fitness club industry, started recommending in 2001 that clubs only hire trainers with certifications that had third-party accreditation from a nationally recognized certification commission. There are currently only 5 organizations that meet this criteria of the almost 400 certifications available in the fitness industry (I will list some of them and their contact info later in the post).

Why am I bringing this up? Several reasons: first many trainers (myself included) work extremely hard at obtaining advanced degrees, the high level accredited certifications and treating our profession as a true health care field and if we do not police the industry ourselves it will never change! Second, as a health care provider I am obligated to protect the health and safety of people. I can't tell you how many people have come to me after being injured by a bad personal trainer and they are terrified of exercising for fear of more of the same! The third reason is the ALARMING new trend in commercial fitness facilities of removing the highly educated and experienced trainers who have good credentials and replacing them with young, inexperienced trainers because the trainers that are just starting out will work for less (thus dramatically increasing the club’s profit!).

Club owners and managers rarely care about your health and improving your life. They see a business that is driven by sales, sales of memberships and sales of personal training. Since the average gym member has no idea of what good certifications are or credentials that should be required of a trainer, they just work with whomever they are assigned or whose appearance they like. This can be extremely dangerous! People must become educated as to what credentials a trainer needs and what questions they must ask to ensure their own safety!

So what follows is an outline of how to properly choose a personal trainer, what credentials they absolutely must have and resources for you to verify they have these credentials. Here are 10 essential questions to ask or points to consider when choosing a trainer:

#1 DO NOT choose a trainer based on appearance, everyone is genetically different. You CAN NOT look like someone else just by doing their workout or diet! It is physiologically impossible!!!! Also drug use and cosmetic surgery run rampant in the fitness industry because it is so appearance driven; DO NOT let yourself be fooled!

#2 They should have a minimum Bachelor's degree in a health related field (exercise physiology, exercise science, athletic training, physical therapy, physical education) so as to have at least a basic scientific understanding of how the body works.

#3 They should have at least one certification from an IHRSA approved organization. The top organizations & certifications are: National Strength & conditioning Association (NSCA), National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). These organizations are the top choices for they require: a minimum bachelor’s degree in a health field, both written & PRACTICAL examinations, and yearly continuing education credits from reputable sources.

Also included in IHRSA’s top third-party accreditation is the American Council on Exercise (ACE) which has recently sought to improve their qualifying standards by increasing the difficulty and areas covered in their examinations although they still do not require a college degree. (I personally would look to see if a trainer had certification through at least one of the first 3 organizations I listed in addition to ACE).

#4 Does the trainer carry personal liability insurance of at least $1,000,000.00 – Remember trainers are they only profession that load your body with increasingly heavier weights (sometimes double or triple your bodyweight!) this can and has spelled disaster and a trip to the emergency room for many clients! Protect yourself!

#5 Can the trainer give you references and contact info for past and current clients so you can get objective information on them and their skills? You should find out how long their clients usually stay with them and why? On average my clients stay with me for 2 to 5 years because I am constantly helping them and teaching them new skills NOT because I confuse them and make them dependent on me. I personally know of several other professional career trainers that have the same following due to their knowledge and skills. These highly skilled people are out there, you just need to look!

#6 Is the trainer familiar with your goals i.e. sport specific training, weight loss, pre-post natal, post-injury rehabilitation, special populations, pediatrics, geriatrics etc.? Most trainers that specialize in one or more of these areas go and obtain specific certifications or degrees in these areas in addition to a personal training certification. You must be the one to ask! Your health is in your hands –nobody else’s!

These are some of the top specialized credentials from reputable organizations that go far beyond personal training(in no particular order):

NSCA Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist

NASM Performance Enhancement Specialist

ACSM Health & Fitness Instructor; ACSM Exercise Specialist, ACSM Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist

ACE Clinical Exercise Specialist

CHEK INSTITUTE: Corrective Exercise Kinesiologist level I –IV; Nutrition & lifestyle Consultant level I-III

Poliquin Performance Strength Coach Level I – IV

American Academy of Health, Fitness & Rehab Professionals: Post-Rehabilitation Specialist; Medical Exercise Specialist; Medical Exercise Program Director

USA Weightlifting Sports Performance Coach; Club weightlifting coach

#7 Is this the trainer’s career choice? Or are they doing it part-time until something else comes along or as a second source of income? I don’t know about you but I would not feel comfortable with a part-time surgeon or dentist?

#8 Does the trainer perform an assessment of you and your capabilities as the basis for developing your program? The assessment is the most important step in designing your program for it tells the trainer what you are physically capable of doing at this time and what exercises are appropriate and which one’s are dangerous! The assessment should cover everything from an extensive health & medical history to exercise history, goals of the program, nutrition assessment and a physical exam of your posture, joint range of motion, flexibility, balance, coordination and strength.

I find most trainers, especially those in large commercial health clubs do no assessment whatsoever because they DO NOT know how to perform one (filling out a health history sheet or Par-Q IS NOT an assessment!), they do not wish to learn and it was NOT part of their certification program and the club does not require it. Stupid and dangerous in my opinion! Working with a trainer that does no assessment is like going to the doctor and having surgery without an examination of what the problem is!

Exercise is like a drug! We take drugs to alleviate pain and cure illness, we do exercises to alleviate pain and cure illness. We all know that the wrong drug produces the wrong result, the same is true with exercise: The wrong exercise gives the wrong result and that can be harmful to you!

#9 Does your program incorporate the daily movements you need to live and work and the activities you wish to improve? If a workout looks like it just came out of a bodybuilding magazine then IT IS USELESS unless you are a competitive bodybuilder!

A workout based on sitting on machines is garbage! For you burn fewer calories; you do not coordinate the muscles of your body; you do not improve and maintain your balance, and the isolated strength you develop can not be applied to real world three dimensional activities that comprise life. Think about it, how much education and skill does it take to have a person sit on a machine put the pin in the weight stack and say “give me 10 reps”? NOT MUCH, IF ANY AT ALL – this is why commercial clubs are switching to the young, inexperienced trainers. The owners can cut expenses and increase profits for they do not have to pay for education, skill and expertise!

In fact isolated training on machines leads to muscle imbalance syndromes that precede injuries in most people. If your workout looks like: leg day, arm day, back day, chest day and you are not a bodybuilder then it is pure trash and has no science behind it! Worse, it will probably injure you in the long run!

Real exercise programs are highly specific to the individual and must be based on an assessment and they must incorporate at some point the following 10 basic motions. These 10 motions are what the human body is designed to do: Gait (walk or run), squat, lunge, bend, step, push (vertical & horizontal), pull (vertical & horizontal) and rotate. These 10 motions must be performed three dimensionally, NOT on machines or they will have NO carry over to improving your daily life because at work, home or in sports YOU ARE NOT SITTING ON OR ATTACHED TO A MACHINE! If you can not do any of the 10 basic motions then you are not functioning at 100% capacity for your body. That is dangerous for we get hurt in the movements WE CAN’T DO not the movements we can do!

#10 Does the trainer have an established referral network incase there are problems beyond their skills and scope of practice? Every good professional trainer I know (including myself) has established themselves a network consisting of: medical doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors, dentists, massage therapists, nutritionists etc. because one person can’t know everything. Ask to see this list and contact some of these professionals, if the trainer is any good they will tell you so because these professionals WILL NOT jeopardize their reputations and practices by recommending a poor quality trainer!

Remember it is up to you to ask questions and check credentials. Every time a trainer renews their certification and insurance they receive dated cards and or certificates that state when they were originally certified and when the current certification / insurance expires. The same is true for their CPR and first aid certifications. ASK to see these cards and certificates and don’t take no for an answer. If they truly have the credentials they should be proud to present them for they work extremely hard at obtaining them and keeping them current! (I know I do!)

To help you, the following 4 links are to the NSCA, NASM, ACSM , and ACE webpage’s that allow your to verify your trainers credentials:





To read more about IHRSA’S trainer credential recommendations (I don’t make this stuff up)

The Curse of Questionable Certifications by Jon Feld:


American Council on Exercise – Third party certifications:


I know many of you will be shocked and outraged by this post but I assure you it is the truth! I welcome any and all responses and I hope I have given you useful information that will not only allow you to achieve your health and fitness goals but protect you from harm.

I would like you leave you with 3 quotes that I use as a base for my training philosophy and I think you will agree with me they directly apply to the health & fitness industry:

1) Great spirits have always encountered opposition from mediocre minds. The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly.

2) Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

3) We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them

Albert Einstein
US (German-born) physicist (1879 - 1955)

Until my next post….


About the author: Gordon Waddell, PES, CSCS, CES is an Exercise Physiologist and Health & Fitness professional with over 10 years industry experience including personal training, strength & conditioning, performance enhancement and injury rehabilitation. He holds a B.S. with honors in Exercise Physiology and is currently completing a Masters degree in Exercise Science. He is studying corrective exercise kinesiology through the CHEK Institute and Neuromuscular Therapy through The St.John Institute.

Gordon is available for personal training, ergonomic consulting, program design, workshops and seminars. He can be contacted by e-mail at gordon@advanced-fitness-concepts.com Please visit his new website: www.advanced-fitness-concepts.com

Sunday, July 09, 2006

A Stretch of Nervous and Indiscreet Eating

Well, I've returned to life in a NYC law firm. For the past year, I have been working my own hours to help develop The Fit Woman website with Linda, and to write our e-book, Why Weight to Train? (which is complete - we are just working on programing the book's security features before sending it out). I was able to focus on my workout and diet.

Now, back in Downtown Manhattan, I write, argue and brief, then I go for a falafel sandwich and ice cream cone. I have also decreased my workouts just until I can acclimate to my new work schedule. This has been going on for three weeks, and it is no surprise that I have put on a few pounds.

But the amazing thing is that the extra pounds did not go to my thighs - they did not go to my belly -- in fact, the extra pounds doesn't seem to have traveled to any fatty tissue at all. Instead, it shot right to my biceps and shoulders! In other words, the extra calories turned into muscle!

I am not going to push my luck - this week I will be returning to my greens and tuna fish with low-fat mayonaise (which I actually do enjoy). But it is nice to know that a temporary stretch of nervous and indiscreet eating will not do much harm once you lower your body fat to a certain percentage and replace it with lean muscle. I am sure my lean muscle to fat ratio works better than any diet pill could to protect me from getting portly.

Ciao for now, Janet

Monday, May 29, 2006

Why Weight to Train? - Our New E-Book Soon to Launch

Shortly, we will be selling our new e-book -- Why Weight to Train? A woman's guide to strength, physique and age reversal. If anyone would like to get it for FREE, visit our site at The Fit Woman - and click on the free e-book hypertext on the right sidebar - you will be brought to a 2-minute survey of 8 short items.

Or, if you are real eager to get your name on the free e-book list, you can click here to go directly to the survey.

We would like to learn more about online fitness equipment shoppers or would-be shoppers.

Ciao for now! Janet

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Rehabilitative Exercise

If you are in a corrective phase of training, you may relate to Zoe. She has lower back problems and is partially paralyzed from the waist down (yes, dogs do have waistlines) due to a traumatic injury when she was a young pup. She has had surgery to prevent the injury from worsening. Essentially, she had lower back impingement that caused a number of slipped discs and dying nerves - she lost a good deal of motor control.

I work with her almost every day, assisting her to perform squats. I pick her up, rest her on her two back feet and push her down and up for 3 sets at 10 reps each. Then I give her a little massage and stretch.

I am amazed how this keeps her well tuned and preserves what she has left. When I miss a few days, she just goes around dragging her back legs. After resuming our sessions, she is back bouncing around.

If squats do this much for Zoe, think of what they can do for you!

By the way, our e-guide, Getting Started with Weight Training is almost here. Stay tuned.

Ciao for now - Janet