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What I Learned in 2011

Monday February 14, 2011 I started working at Victoria Wellness as a personal trainer. Fitting that I started on Valentine's day because it quickly became the first job that I knew I really loved. I also quickly realized I was about to learn A LOT! In 2011, I also starting working as a Registered Massage Therapist and have been lucky to have a busy practice and wonderful clients. It has been a big year for me and I wanted to share a few of the many things have stood out for me this year.

1. Women NEED to lift HEAVY!

I have known and followed this rule but have rarely seen it in practice. Most women I see working out at big box gyms, pick up the five to eight pound weights and attempt to 'tone' up. Routinely at VWP, women will be doing Romanian deadlifts with 135 or more pounds, performing 8 repitions of chin ups and pushing 300 to 600 pound sleds! These ladies are STRONG and very inspiring. This year I focused on lifting heavy weights and have put on 10 pounds of muscle. Guess what? My clothes fit better! The scale doesn't matter ladies! Strength is Beauty.

2. Intensity is key

You've heard it before, but I still see people plodding along for an hour  on treadmills and elliptcals. Increase your intensity, shorten your intervals and get that workout done faster! You can burn tons of calories by doing treadmill or hill sprints, kettlebell swings, battling ropes, sled sprints, countdowns and ladders. We do all of these at VWP throughout workouts and as finishers.

3. There is a lot more to being a trainer than just kicking someone's butt!

A good personal trainer or coach should be doing their research not only into your back ground but into what exercises you should be doing based on your health history. Should you really be doing overhead pressing with rounded shoulders? Should you be squatting heavy loads with limited movement through your ankles? These are things we look at and research at VWP daily to keep our client's bodies healthy. I used to, and now often see trainers, give clients the most challenging exercises just to kick their butts. Now, after learning and experiencing a lot, clients are put through progressions to increase their strength and move towards more challenging exercises. Maybe they will never get to the most advanced excercise and that is just fine. I would much rather keep a client healthy and strong than have them doing something unsafe.

4. Warmups should include mobility and stability drills for each joint.

Gone are the days of using a piece of cardio equipment to warm up for 10 minutes before your workout. Why not use your warm up time to work on ankle mobility, hip stability and thoracic spine mobility? Your body will thank you!

5. I haven't done crunches for an abdominal work out in over a year and neither should you.

Why do crunches when you can do an anti-rotation press (called the Pallof press at VWP)? Honestly, if you haven't tried it…DO IT! Doing weighted crunches can not only injure your low back in the long run, but for women they actually can make your abdomen look bigger. If you want a flat stomach, work on your nutrition intake and try core exercises like the pallof press, body saw, supermans, and planks.

6. Massage Therapy doesn't always have to be painful to be effective.

I often hear people say that getting a therapeutic massage is too painful so they shy away from it.  A good RMT will have many tools they can use to help you with your condition or injury without causing a lot of pain. Some people are firm believers in 'no pain, no gain' when it comes to massage and can get great results from it. But from my experience in the last year of being an RMT, people like to leave a treatment feeling good. In my massage treatments I work on the painful area, but also try to provide relaxation too. In our busy lives these days we definitely  need and deserve a little TLC and I like to have people leave my treatment room feeling good and positive, even if it was just for that hour they were with me.

7. Your workouts don't need to be split into a different body part each day.

I used to do split workouts religiously! I thought it was the only way to work out. But my eyes were opened at VWP! Now three days a week I train all my muscle groups within one workout with compound exercises like the ones we do at VWP (squats, deadlifts, lunges, presses, pull ups, rows). Try doing these big exercises and skip on the seated bicep curls, leg extensions and wrist curls and I bet you will look just as good or better!  

8. People are inspiring.

Over the past year I have witnessed and heard a lot of stories on my massage table of people over coming injuries, horrific events in their lives and stress. In the gym, I have seen  clients overcoming boudries and fears, showing amazing strength and pushing themselves to their limit every day. I am very lucky that I get to be part of these people's lives each day and it constatnly reminds me of how awesome life really is.  I look forward to learning more and meeting and working with more inspiring people in 2012.

See you in the gym!
Meaghan
Eat clean, Train hard, Laugh often

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