Home LIFESTYLE Want to jump-start your fitness program? Personal trainer might be the answer

Want to jump-start your fitness program? Personal trainer might be the answer

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Sherry Millar, 66, has been training with Delray Beach personal trainer Joe Ardagna for 15 years. She credits him “with helping me gain strength in ways I never thought I could.”

Steve Dorfman
Palm Beach Post

How we’ve all handled our health and fitness goals during the past year of quarantine can run a pretty wide gamut.

On one end of the spectrum, we have 52-year-old film star Will Smith, who earlier this month posted pictures to his Instagram account showcasing his unashamedly doughy midsection with the charmingly honest mea culpa “I’m gonna be real wit yall – I’m in the worst shape of my life.”

And on the other end of the spectrum, we have 66-year-old Gulfstream resident Sherry Millar, who has been working out harder than ever — an hour of cardio daily and multiple weight-training sessions weekly — and believes that she’s “in the best shape of my life.”

So while Smith has vowed to undo the past 14 months of what he described as “countless days grazing thru the pantry” and promised there’d be “no more midnight muffins,” Millar explained that “working out regularly with weights, which I’ve been doing since I turned 50, is truly the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.”

One thing Smith and Millar — and untold millions of other folks — do have in common is how much they depend on their personal trainers for maximizing their fitness.

A 2016 International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association report estimated that 28% of members in standard multipurpose clubs used a personal trainer.

However, that same report said that fewer than 10% of members age 55 and older made use of a personal trainer — which most fitness experts believe is unfortunate because that’s the demographic that can perhaps most benefit from working with a personal trainer.

After all, ideally when one pursues a fitness program, the time is spent challenging oneself and making steady incremental progress — rather than just simply going through the motions.

Smith never would have sufficiently developed his physique to play Muhammad Ali in the biopic “Ali” without the guidance of personal trainers and will certainly be working with them again to regain his action-star abs.

And Millar credits her trainer — Delray Beach’s Joe Ardagna, co-owner of Slash Fitness — “with helping me gain strength in ways I never thought I could.”

So whether you’re just getting back into exercising after a long layoff or want to step up your fitness game to the next level, finding a good personal trainer to help you, guide you and — when you need it — push you may be one of the best investments you can make in your health.

Benefits of working with a personal trainer

A good personal trainer can teach you aspects of fitness you may never have considered.

According to Ardagna, whether you want to learn how to lift weights properly, lose weight, increase your endurance and/or improve your balance, a trainer is a wealth of knowledge.

“For example, you might think you need to focus on cardio to lose weight, but you need strength training and core training as well to maximize your results,” says Ardagna. “A trainer can guide you on what steps will help you achieve your goals most efficiently and adjust the program as circumstances warrant.”

Your personal trainer can also help with motivation, as well as keeping you accountable and providing fun and variety to your sessions.

What you should look for in a personal trainer

Choosing a personal trainer is a very personal decision says Ardagna. This is someone with whom you will spend a lot of time and need to not only like but, most importantly, trust. Here are four areas Ardagna always recommends people prioritize when hiring a personal trainer:

1. Certification and qualifications. The personal trainer should be certified through a nationally accredited certification. Don’t be afraid to ask him or her where and when they received their certification.

2. Expertise. Make sure your trainer has experience in relation to your goals, your conditions and even your age group. This means, if the trainer is only an expert on losing weight and dieting, and you are looking to gain flexibility and core strength, you two may not be an ideal match. Or if the trainer has only worked with millennials and younger and never trained a senior, that may not be an ideal match either.

Millar notes that before she began training with Ardagna, she saw him training other clients and knew immediately that they’d be a good match.

“He embodied what I was looking for,” she recalled.

3. Medical conditions and/or previous injuries. Confirm with your trainer that he or she has experience in training people with any and all medical conditions and previous injuries you may be dealing with.

4. Listening. A good trainer will always be a good listener, meaning they will listen to your goals, needs, and do their best to understand you and what you are asking for.

A good trainer also will pay attention to you and only you during your sessions.

Finally, a good trainer will track your progress (by either writing it down, logging it on an app, or communicating with you directly) and provide you with details, examples and data to show you how you are improving.

Millar believes that her relationship with Ardagna transcends mere guidance with exercise and encompasses so much more: “I enjoy the relationship we’ve developed over the years. I’ve heard it said that training can often form lifelong relationships because your trainer is not just training your body but also your heart and your mind. That is certainly true with Joe. He isn’t just a trainer but also a therapist and a friend. I recently lost my husband of 28 years very unexpectedly. Moving on is a long, difficult journey and the grief can be overwhelming. Training with Joe has been an integral part of that journey because our workouts provide both a distraction and a healthy structure in my life.”

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Want to jump-start your fitness program? Personal trainer might be the answer

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