John Kelly's blog

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What happens after an extended layoff - an observation

personal trainers at work personal training New Orleans

In the aftermath of hurricane Katrina our clients began trickling back into town, and there was a return to normalcy. They began scheduling appointments again. Most had not exercised in anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks.

I expected them to be weaker. I decided to conduct an experiment. I put them through their previous workout, and I did not lighten the weights. I did not offer them any added encouragement, I did not give them a target to reach, and I told them to stop at whatever point they wanted to.  It was a very interesting result.

Most all of the clients got all of their reps. Some were off a repetition, but that's about it. We were doing slow reps, so one repetition can take about 20 seconds. So in total they were off at most 20 seconds on a 90 to 120 second exercise. Within a workout or two they were totally back up to speed.

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The trainer said, "Just one more" six times

personal trainers at work personal training New Orleans

In 34 my years in the fitness industry, I have worked at lots of health clubs and have seen a lot of things. Some things are amazing, some bizarre, and some just stick in my mind as a teachable moment for me. This is one of those memories.

The trainer said to her “Just one more" six times. By the third extra rep the client’s form was shot, and she was almost standing up in the machine. By the fourth rep she was clearly panicked. By the fifth rep she looked over at me as if to say WFT! I just shrugged my shoulders.

The trainer had no idea what the client was capable of or how fatigued she was on that particular set. If he did know he would not have had to say “Just one more” six times.

He wasn't aware. A trainers should do more that set the weights, count the reps, and say “Just one more’ redundantly until the client can't move anymore.

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Remembering Katrina

personal trainers at work personal training New Orleans

Eight years ago as Katrina was raging towards New Orleans I was deciding whether or not I should leave.  I went into a restaurant in Metairie that was still open. I asked the restaurant owner why he was still open. He told me he was leaving soon; his workers were going to stay. I asked why.  He told me the generals always leave; the soldiers stay.  That was all I needed to hear; I boarded up my business and my house.  With three dogs and one other passenger I headed across Lake Pontchartrain.

Amazingly traffic was light; it was still a day before it got really serious. I decided to stay off the bumper-to-bumper interstates.  I made it by country roads with not much traffic all the way to Hattiesburg, and the next day we traveled onward half way across the country. We were treated with kindness wherever we went, and the hotels were happy to accept the dogs.

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Can't move it, can't hold it, and can't slow it down.

personal trainers at work personal training New Orleans

Muscles have to be exposed to more than they are used to handling if there is to be a positive change. Hopefully that is done in a safe manner. Confronted with a state of fatigue that is beyond what the body is used to, the body, as self-protection, will make a positive adaption by becoming stronger if given enough recovery time.

There are three stages of fatigue associated with resistance training. When you can no longer lift or move a weight you've reached concentric or positive failure. When you can no longer hold the weight you've reached static failure. This produces a deeper fatigue than positive failure. When you can no longer stop a weight from falling or lowering you've reached negative or eccentric failure.  This is the deepest fatigue.  Eccentric failure is best conducted with a trainer or spotter and on equipment where it can be safely performed.

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What to do when chronic running injuries occur

personal trainers at work personal training New Orleans

Ted was a gifted runner. In his late forties his knees began to aggravate him, and they got worse each year.  At age 54 his doctor advised him to stop running. He started strength training with the aim of getting back to running.

We worked around his condition for a while and slowly incorporated leg exercises into the routine - leg curl, calf raises, leg press, adduction, abduction, squats, and occasionally partial leg extensions.

Ted wanted to start running again.  He did and the next day his was limping again. I told him, “You are able to lift 450 pounds on the leg press to a very deep fatigue to the point where your legs are unable to move, and the next day you have not a hint of pain.”  For Ted with adequate rest after strength training he came back stronger each week.  With running there was no recovery or improvement, only injury.

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The Role of a Personal Trainer

personal trainers at work personal training New Orleans

I once asked a trainer what he was trying to accomplish with his clients. He said, “I'm there to get them stronger and to improve their health.” I told him I didn't need him for that. I can buy running shoes and head out the door. I can go to gym and pick up weights. He countered that he was there to teach clients how to exercise correctly. I came back with the fact that anyone can go to the bookstore and buy any number of books on how to do it correctly.

I don't know what the role of a trainer is in other systems or gyms. There are several ways of approaching it. My thoughts on the subject have been shaped by my interactions with clients. A client once told me I come here to get a workout I could not get on my own. She said, “If I can do it on my own I don't need you anymore”. That really stuck with me.

I had another client whom I told, “You know you could figure this out on your own”. She replied, “I have two businesses and three kids. I pay you to figure it out for me”.

I think both are correct.

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Reversing the Biomarkers of Aging

personal trainers at work personal training New Orleans

Wearing glasses, hearing aids and dying one’s hair are effective methods of reversing the effects of aging, but the most effective thing we can do to reverse the aging process is to do regular strength training exercise. It is the most effective exercise in addressing the biomarkers that effect not only how young we look, but more importantly, how we young we feel. Our bodies undergo many changes that can be reversed by proper strength training:

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What exercise device or program truly delivers? Part 2

personal trainers at work personal training New Orleans

The article is a continuation of What exercise device or program truly delivers? Part 1

...If you don’t time for all that there is one form of exercise that addressed all the aspects of health, while not completely, to a very significant degree – that is strength training (a certain type of strength training will do it in minimal time).  In the long-run strength is the most important aspect of health.  The number one reason people enter nursing homes each year is because they lack the strength to carry out daily activities.  They lose muscle, bone density, strength, and balance.  They fall, get injured, and end up in a nursing home.  They are not put in homes because they are out of breath.  Increasing strength
will do more to increase your quality of life than any other exercise.

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