Fat Loss Fun Facts

June 17, 2013 by  
Filed under Articles, Weight Loss Articles

Let’s cut to the chase on the subject of fat loss. There’s so much nonsense written about it, so much time spent worrying about it.

Here is a short summary of fat loss facts. Snappy, to the point and hopefully there are a few facts you can use easily right away…

Alex holding 5 pounds of fake fat


The more muscle you have, the higher your resting energy expenditure (in other words, you’ll burn more calories without actually doing anything than someone with less muscle).


It takes energy to process and digest the food you eat. This is known as the thermic effect of food. Protein comes in highest in terms of its thermic effect, followed by carbohydrate and then fat. In simple terms, you burn more calories digesting protein than either carbs or fat.

FAT LOSS FACT NUMBER THREE (here’s where it gets fun):

On average the human body stores 130,000 kcal of fat, primarily in the form of triglycerides.


A lean adult may have around 35 billion fat cells, while an extremely obese person may have 140 billion – that’s 4 times as many fat cells!

FAT LOSS FACT NUMBER FIVE (this is interesting):

The fat cells of obese people store two to three times more triglycerides than the fat cells of lean folk.

NUMBER SIX (this explains a lot):

Carbohydrate is stored in the form of glycogen, which is bound to water in the liver and muscle. This is why when you eat a lot of carbs, you weigh more (water retention) and also why, when you cut carbs out of your diet, you lose weight fast (water weight).

FAT LOSS FACT NUMBER SEVEN (why we do what we do as personal trainers)

Reducing calories only (energy input) without also increasing activity (energy output) will result in loss of muscle mass. Why is this bad? Because it has a direct effect of slowing the metabolism and the body starts to use fewer and fewer calories making it harder and harder to burn fat.

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Weight Loss – Bad Idea!

Most people can count more than ten other people they know who “want to lose weight”. Losing weight is a very general concept and when people say they want to lose weight, what exactly do they mean?

How To Lose 10 Pounds In One Day!

My husband, Rudi, wrote a humorous article a while ago, something like, “How to Lose Ten Pounds in One Day” in which he told his readers they could chop off a couple of limbs and achieve the effect quite nicely. Obviously that’s not what people mean when they say they want to lose weight.

Usually losing weight means shrinking fat cells. People want to reduce the amount of body fat they are carrying around. This makes sense as it’s the fat under the skin (subcutaneous fat) that makes people look overweight, flabby, soft, swollen and dimpled. The fat around the organs and in the blood is important to reduce as well as this can affect the body’s ability to operate properly, clog up arteries and slow down the heart (trying to keep things light here but high levels of visceral fat is plain dangerous).

The Weight Loss/Fat Loss Confusion

Unfortunately a lot of people have losing weight confused with reducing fat. They go on very low calorie diets for short periods of time and lose anything up to twenty pounds in thirty days. There is usually no evaluation of exactly what they’re losing; no fat tests or blood tests are done. Fat is reduced, certainly, but so is muscle tissue and this is key to why, once the diet is over, the weight piles back on and people complain they are heavier (and fatter) than before.

“Weight Loss” Is BIG Business

The weight loss industry is big business. Millions are spent on it every year and yet people are statistically fatter than ever before. It doesn’t take a genius to know something is seriously wrong – could it be the general confusion most people have about what it means to lose weight?

Best Strategy – Forget Your Weight

Here’s a good attitude: forget about your weight! Get a fat test done with a competent health and fitness specialist, personal trainer or with your doctor.

Find out how much fat you’re carrying about with you then work out how you’re going to reduce this. Realize it’s NOT going to happen in a month (most likely it took you much longer than a month to build it up, right?). You will have to reduce what you eat, you will have to exercise (and that doesn’t mean just going for a walk, it means doing weights, doing some aerobic activity and stretching).

We’ve helped many people reduce their body fat (and their size). It does take effort and it’s hard to get started but, when people follow 100% what we direct them to do, they get results (and usually feel fantastic into the bargain). There is a science to all of this and it can be done but focusing on losing weight is 100% the wrong way to go – see a true health and fitness professional and take control.

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The BMI Obesity Controversy

Does BMI effectively indicate obesity in individuals? Can we trust it as the standard for determining whether we are obese, overweight or healthy?

BMI, or body mass index, is so well known by most people as the measure of the health of the body that most people don’t question its authority. It is used by doctors, personal trainers, dietitians and life insurance companies to determine whether or not a person is overweight, healthy or obese.

Unfortunately, BMI has some serious flaws. Ask a serious bodybuilder what he thinks about the fact that his BMI indicates he’s overweight and he’s likely to laugh – these guys often have body fat levels below 10%. It’s not body weight or body mass that’s at issue as far as Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease or hypertension are concerned, it’s fat levels. The fatter you are, the greater the risk of disease. It just happens that BMI has been the accepted tool to determine body composition since 1985. Why? It’s really easy to work out, you just need to know a person’s weight and height then run a simple formula and, voila! He’s “normal”, “overweight” or “obese”.

Here are some interesting BMI facts that might surprise you and should get you thinking about its usefulness (or lack thereof) as a tool you use to determine what shape your body is in:

1. The formula for BMI was devised by Belgian mathematician, Adolphe Quetelet, between 1830 and 1850. He warned that the calculation was only meant to be used for large diagnostic studies on general populations and was not accurate for individuals.

2. The height and weight tables used to determine what your score means came from the life insurance industry initially in 1908. In 1985 the National Institute of Health (NIH) began defining obesity according to the BMI, which defined the 85th percentile for each sex as the official cutoff for “obesity”, based on the standards for underweight, average, overweight and obese that were set by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company mortality tables. It pays to think about the motives of life insurance companies in using, and determining what would be termed “obese” when drawing up policies – it’s unlikely those “obese” customers got a discount on their insurance premiums.

3. The NIH introduced the BMI standard with the view that it would be only used by doctors to warn patients who were at especially high risk for obesity-related problems. It was never intended that it be used by individuals as a diagnosis of whether or not their weight is healthy but this is how it is used today – individuals are encouraged to easily diagnose their own BMI via the NIH website BMI calculator.

4. The standardized BMI tables (put together by the life insurance companies) fail to take body frame or build into account (“small”, “medium” or “large frame”, for example).

5. The BMI is based on a Caucasian standard and can be inaccurate for other races. Some Pacific Island populations and African Americans in general have a lower percentage of body fat at a given BMI than do white or European populations (Stevens, 2002).

6. In 1998 the NIH reclassified the definition of “overweight” overnight by lowering the threshold by 10 pounds. On Jun 16, 1998, the “average” woman was 5 feet, 4 inches tall and weighed 155 pounds. On June 17, 1998 that same woman became “overweight” as the weight for “average” dropped to 145 pounds. Keep in mind that the much-publicized US obesity crisis has risen to the forefront of national attention only since the late ‘90s, after the NIH changed the standard for what constitutes overweight and obesity.

Does all of this mean there isn’t an obesity problem or that having too much body fat isn’t detrimental to health? Obviously not, but using the BMI as a standard to determine the condition of your body probably isn’t the best idea either. Especially when you realize the definitions for “overweight” and “obese” are arbitrary and at the whim of insurance companies or the NIH and that people with extremely low body fat and in superb physical condition can be labelled as “overweight” per their BMI.

What’s a better way to determine fat levels in the body? The gold standard currently is hydrodensitometry testing and involves getting into a tank of water. Based on the amount of water displaced, your body density and body fat can be calculated. It’s used by universities primarily and costs $25 to $75 per test. Then there’s DEXA scanning, the same imaging technology doctors use to measure bone density to determine osteoporosis risk. Your body fat, muscle and bone mineral density are measured. It’s extremely accurate and non-invasive but costs $200 to $300 per test.

If you’re looking for a simple method to predict heart attack risk and other obesity-related diseases that you can use at home and costs next to nothing, consider checking out your waist to hip ratio. What’s healthy? For men, anything below 0.95. For women, below 0.86 per the American College of Sports Medicine.

Here’s how you find your waist to hip ratio (WHR):

Measure the circumference of your waist just above your belly button
Measure the circumference of your hips around the buttocks (widest point)
You can measure in inches or centimeters
Divide the waist measurement by the hip measurement
WHR = waist circumference/hip circumference

Always remember, exercise is a key factor in alleviating the risk for cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis and many other potentially deadly conditions. You can exercise no matter what shape your body is in now and it will improve so long as you do it properly and consistently. Being educated and seeking advice from exercise professionals to make sure you’re on the right path should be part of your overall health plan.

Tracey Thatcher

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August 17, 2011 by  
Filed under General Articles, Nutrition & Health Articles

In previous articles we’ve talked a lot about the fat-burning qualities of muscle and why strength training is a must for anyone interested in burning fat and reducing their waistline. In this article we’re going to explore the amazing, under-acknowledged and bountiful vitamin D. Why? Well, because recent research has pinpointed vitamin D as a star in our war against flab.

What’s So Great About Vitamin D?

  1. When you have enough vitamin D in your body, more leptin is released than usual. Leptin tells your body when you’re full. An Australian study showed that people who ate a breakfast high in vitamin D and calcium blunted their appetites for the next 24 hours.
  2. With enough vitamin D in your bloodstream, fat cells slow their efforts to make and store fat according to Dr. Holick, M.D., Ph.D., author of The Vitamin D Solution. Whenever your vitamin D levels are low, parathyroid hormone (PTH) and calcitrol (another hormone) levels are high and when you have high levels of these two hormones your body tends to hold onto fat. A Norwegian study found that elevated PTH levels increased male risk of becoming overweight by 40 percent!
  3. Vitamin D can help you lose fat all over your body, but especially from your belly. Studies at the University of Minnesota and Laval University found that vitamin D triggers weight loss primarily around the belly.

The Institute of Medicine recently increased the amount of daily vitamin D to 600 international units (IU) but there are some scientists who argue even that is not enough. The Endocrine Society recently released a revised recommendation of 1,500 to 2,000 IU.

According to Dr. Horlick, obese people (people with a body mass index of above 30)need two to five times the vitamin D of lean people – a dosage that should be monitored by a doctor. This is because fat cells tend to trap vitamin D so less is available in your bloodstream.

So how can you make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D? Going out into the sun might not be enough these days – the pollution in our air filters vitamin D-containing UVB rays and there’s also the worry of skin cancer to consider. There are, however, some healthy, nutrient and vitamin D-rich foods available to help you get more D.


Eggs not only contain vitamin D, they are also packed with protein and have omega-3 fatty acids. Eating an egg for breakfast while reducing overall calories can improve weight loss by 65% and reduce appetite throughout the day (according to two Saint Louis University studies).


Fatty fish includes salmon and mackerel and they contain up to four times the vitamin D of lean or white fish. These fatty fish varieties also offer high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Go for the wild varieties – a Boston University study found that farmed salmon has just 25 percent of the vitamin D of wild salmon – wild salmon get their vitamin D from eating nutrient-rich plankton while farmed salmon eat feed pellets.


Most milk products contain calcium as well as vitamin D – we already know how calcium plus vitamin D can blunt the appetite for up to 24 hours – so this could be a good choice to pump up vitamin D levels for people who can tolerate dairy products.


Vitamin D supplements are fine but, it appears vitamin D works best in combination with other nutrients (like calcium), so your best bet is to eat whole foods rich in this awesome vitamin rather than take a bunch of pills.

Obviously, we’re not advocating you go nuts and eat a dozen eggs for breakfast, but modifying your diet a bit to include a couple of eggs, fruit and low fat yogurt for breakfast along with some healthy servings of fatty fish throughout the week can’t hurt. If you’re concerned about your vitamin D levels, see your doctor or nutritionist.

A balanced exercise plan along with a healthy, nutrition-dense diet will go a long way to improving your waistline, energy levels and your overall good health and longevity.

Tracey Marashlian

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Weight Loss – What Works, What Doesn’t and Why

Losing weight implies a subtraction of some kind – you want to subtract body weight (preferably body fat) – and there are several different ways to go about it; one is through diet which means subtracting calories from your food intake. That’s what low-calorie diets do, you eat fewer calories (calories measure the energy value of foods) to try to reduce your body fat percentage. Basically what this means is that you input less energy (food) so that your energy output is greater than the input.

Sounds simplebut there are quite a few variables to being able to lose weight, one of which is your metabolic rate. A fast metabolism means you burn energy (measured in calories) quickly. A slow metabolism means you burn it slowly. It’s easier to put on weight if you have a slow metabolism because your body isn’t burning the calories you’re eating fast enough and so stores them, eventually, as fat.

Dieting actually slows down your metabolism and so make your body more likely to get fat. Sounds like a horror story but it’s true. Read on for the top four factors that slow metabolism and make people fat. Don’t worry, there’s also a solution for what you can do to combat them once and for all.

  1. DIETING: Eating too few calories for too long will result in loss of muscle (the body will eventually start breaking down muscle tissue in order to get the energy to survive) and a slowed metabolism. The other thing that can happen with dieting is that the body, realizing it’snot getting the calories its usedto, goes into an ages old “starvation mode” and slows down metabolism to save as much energy as possible just in case the shortage of food continues long-term (as was the case centuries ago when humans had less control of their environment than they do today).
  2. AGING: Once the body reaches full maturity (about twenty years of age) there is a gradual loss of muscle tissue each year, adding up to about 10% every decade and accelerating around the ages of sixty to seventy. With this muscle loss comes a slower metabolism which is why so many people complain that it’s harder to lose weight as they age.
  3. EXCESSIVE  AEROBIC EXERCISE: Overdoing aerobic exercise will eventually eat into muscle tissue, especially in those parts of the body that are not being moved much during the exercise. For example, you’ve probably seen long-distance runners with small upper bodies, that’s because the arms and chest are not used particularly during long-distance running. Don’t forget, loss of muscle tissue will result in a slower metabolism.
  4. INACTIVITY: If you have a sedentary job, are not active generally or you are bed-ridden due to illness or injury you will lose muscle tissue and in turn slow down your metabolism. A great example of this is what happens to a broken leg in a few short weeks of inactivity – the muscles whither and the broken leg becomes significantly smaller and weaker than the healthy one.

What do each of these four factors have in common? Loss of muscle tissue. Muscle is the energy burning powerhouse of your body; the more you have, the faster you’ll burn calories. Muscle cells burn about three times as many calories as fat cells!

Exercise increases metabolism naturally. Strength training (using machines, free-weights and your own body weight) is very important to this process because it is all about  increasing muscle tissue. Knowing how to do strength training correctly and actually doing it regularly is one big way to guarantee you keep your metabolism going and ensure your body becomes and remains a calorie-burning machine.

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Interval Training: Fat-burning Miracle?

April 20, 2011 by  
Filed under Articles, Featured, Fitness Articles

A commonly asked fitness question is, “What’s the best type of exercise for weight loss?” It’s a really good question but one that gets many incorrect (and sometimes even downright silly) answers depending on who is answering and more often than not, what they’re trying to sell.

For a long time it was believed that long distance, low intensity aerobic training was best – you can still find “fat burning” workouts on many cardio machines (treadmills, steppers or elliptical machines) and if you do this type of training you will maintain a slower speed for a long distance. Go to the gym and you’ll see most people walking fast or jogging slowly for twenty minutes to half an hour on the cardio machines.

More recently the concept of interval training has become more popular. Interval training is where you work hard for a short period of time (one to three minutes) and then slow down to recover (thirty seconds to a minute) then bump up the speed again. This type of cardio training achieves an increase in cardiovascular fitness (aerobic fitness) much more efficiently than long distance, low intensity training. There are many variations of interval training including using it as part of a strength circuit with weights.

A study was done in Italy in 2010 comparing three different ways of training to discover which one improved body weight, percentage of body fat and waistline measurements of a group of “overweight and middle aged” subjects with “large waistlines”. The three types of training were: endurance running at a slow pace for 30 to 40 minutes 3 days a week, a low intensity circuit for a total of 50 minutes 3 days a week and, finally, a high intensity circuit with variations of high and low intensity running then three sets of 20 repetitions of five weight training exercises for 50 minutes total exercise time 3 days a week.

The winner – as far as greatest reduction in body weight, percent fat mass and waistline – high intensity circuit training. The point being that higher intensity exercise is beneficial to both trained and untrained people. Also important is that weight training was a large part of the high intensity circuit and plays a large part in reducing fat and size when done in enough quantity.

Without a doubt strength training is key to reducing fat and increasing metabolism. Strength training can be anything from using free weights like dumbbells and barbells, using machines with cables and weighted rectangular plates to increase load and body weight exercises like pushups, chin-ups, lunges or squats.

A knowledgeable and experienced health and fitness specialist or personal trainer will be able to design an interval training program with the right degree of challenge and balance of strength and cardio work for your exact needs. We have over 25 years of successfully helping people achieve their health and fitness goals under our belt. You can tap into this wealth of knowledge and experience by visiting our Face Book page, Personal Training, for Daily Fit Tips. If you feel very adventurous, you could even sign up for our fortnightly newsletter or even Email Us.

Tracey Thatcher

References: Paoli A, Paccelli F, Bargossi AM, Marcolin G, Guzzinati S, Neri M, Bianco A, Palma A. Effects of three distinct protocols of fitness training on body composition, strength and blood lactate. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2010;50:43-51.

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Weight Loss – Common Approaches And What Really Works!

February 16, 2011 by  
Filed under Articles, Weight Loss Articles

Losing weight is possible on almost any plan that involves restricted calories, at least in the short term. One big problem is the definition of “weight”. The weight you lose can be from a variety of sources – muscle tissue, fluids or fat. When weight loss is very fast (more than one to two pounds per week) it is unlikely to be fat weight being lost but more likely to be a combination of fat, muscle and fluids. The other big problem is how to keep the weight off once the diet is completed.

Most people who manage to lose weight and keep it off long term are those who adopt healthy eating habits and engage in regular exercise as part of their normal every-day lives. The word diet Let’s take a look at some common weight-loss approaches along with their pros and cons.

  • FAD DIETS. These are diets that promise a lot of weight loss in a short time period often without also recommending exercise. They are called “fad diets” because they are wildly popular for a period of time then die out when the next fad is introduced. Often they involve the use of pills, supplements, fat blockers and other gimmicks. Their popularity stems from the fact that they often do cause weight loss – in the short term – but usually you put the weight back on once you stop the diet. Examples are the grapefruit diet or the lemonade diet.
  • GLYCEMIC INDEX DIETS. These are weight-loss diets that use the glycemic index to guide your eating. The glycemic index classifies carbohydrates according to their potential to raise your blood sugar levels; the idea being that you don’t want to eat foods that raise blood sugar levels, instead you should stick with foods that maintain an even blood sugar level as this promotes weight loss. Examples of glycemic index diets are the Zone diet and the Carb Lovers diet.
  • LOW CARB/HIGH PROTEIN DIETS. Low carb diets limit the amount of carbohydrates you can eat claiming that excessive carbohydrates (especially sugar, white flour and other processed carbohydrates) increase your insulin levels leading to imbalances in blood sugar levels, weight gain and cardiovascular problems. Most of these diets allow large amounts of proteins and fats while restricting carbohydrates which can lead to nutritional deficiencies and other health problems. Examples of low carbohydrate diets are the Atkins diet and the South Beach diet.
  • MEAL REPLACEMENT DIETS AND MEAL PROVIDERS. In the case of meal replacements you typically replace one or two meals a day with a low-calorie, nutritionally complete shake or bar. Then you eat the third meal, something healthy and between 600 and 700 calories of your own choosing. Meal providers give you ready-made meals that are calorie controlled. These diets can be costly due to their convenience. Examples are Jenny Craig and Slim-Fast.
  • LOW FAT DIETS. Low fat diets remove as much fat as possible from your diet in the belief that fat intake is largely responsible for being overweight. Unfortunately you can still get fat on a low fat diet if you ignore the total calories you are eating – too many calories from any source can add add pounds. An example of a low-fat diet is the Ornish diet.
  • VERY LOW CALORIE DIETS. These diets cut your calorie intake massively, allowing only between 400 and 800 calories a day. A doctor may recommend a very low calorie diet if you need to lose weight quickly before a medical procedure or if you have serious health problems due to obesity. Very low calorie diets should never be done without the guidance of health professionals as very close monitoring is needed to avoid complications and to ensure you are getting necessary nutrients. Examples of very low calorie diets are Medifast and the HCG diet.

The truth of the matter is that most weight-loss diets are hard to stick to long-term and some are downright unhealthy. It’s unpleasant to feel hungry and deprived but the biggest problem with most of the diets is that they don’t encourage long-term healthy lifestyle changes or exercise so any pounds lost usually are regained once the diet is stopped.

It’s well worth researching a system of nutrition that works for you from here on out, not one that promises a slim body in less than a month. Getting active is very important too and there will be times you overindulge but the more you understand about nutrition and how the body works and the more you exercise correctly, you’ll find it easier to get slim and stay that way even if it takes longer than a couple of weeks to get there.

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Good News for Baby Boomers!

March 25, 2010 by  
Filed under Articles

Aging and Fitness
How to Slow the Body’s Clock

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, by 2030 the portion of the U.S. population aged 65 or older will double to about 71 million – that’s a lot of older people! The question is, how can we age and still get the most out of life? How do we avoid chronic disease (cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes) traditionally associated with aging? What about steering clear of osteoperosis (reduced bone density) and bone fractures resulting from that particular nasty disease?

Good News for Baby Boomers!
It’s Never too Late

With aging many seniors adopt a sedentary lifestyle, which is associated with less than ideal health effects (type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease to name a couple). On the contrary, the health benefits of a physically active lifestyle for seniors clearly indicate that many age-related illnesses and diseases can be impressively slowed down. I look for example to my 65 year-old father who even to this day exercises each day and can still cycle 20 miles, run or hike up-hill and dance the night away whenever there’s a good party going. He’s so healthy it’s hard to imagine he’s already 65. All the discipline he displayed concerning his body over the years has paid off and he’s managed to slow down his biological clock significantly; doing things even some teenages would balk at today.

There are three main aspects to fitness training and hiring an experienced and knowledgeable personal trainer will ensure you get the right balance of flexibility, strength and aerobic training to ensure your golden years are disease-free. Yes, it does mean making an investment in energy today but when you think of what will be saved in the future it’s well worth the effort and time.
Contact Rudi Marashlian, Master Trainer, at rudi.m@ca.rr.com with any of your health and fitness questions.
If you liked this newsletter, please forward it to your friends so they too can sign up at www.gofitnow.com to receive our free newletter, regular updates and fitness tips.


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How To Choose A Good Trainer

January 4, 2010 by  
Filed under General Articles

A good or great trainer would have the majority of the following characteristics, qualities and credentials and could also verify them.

1. UNIVERSITY QUALIFIED: with a background in exercise science (or similar field).

2. CERTIFIED: with a reputable agency; ACSM, NASM, NSCA (these are the top 3 agencies from over 300 in the USA).

3. GETS RESULTS – EXPERIENCED: Has gotten results on people and some similar to you and has proof. Also has more than 3 to 5 years of full time experience working as a paid trainer. (not just self, friends or family members).

4. ASSESSMENT: Before you start working out the trainer does a thorough assessment to find your current strengths and weaknesses in different areas of health and fitness to help design or prescribe a personalized exercise routine or program.

5. INTERESTED: The trainer must be interested in you; your goals, barriers and helping you totally. The trainer does not stare at the mirror or check the local talent or their appearance, butt or biceps.

6. PERSONALITY: You will have to trust and rely on your trainer. There has to be some semblance of life or spark in the trainer. You have to like and get along with them a little. A super qualified, no personality, dead-in-the-head trainer, will be a brain drain for you.

7. CONTINUING EDUCATION: Loves to learn and keeps up to date with leading edge fitness know-how through multiple ways: books, videos, courses and more. The good trainer knows what they know and what they don’t. Trainers need to be alert and actively interested in continuing their education.

8. GENUINE PASSION: Fitness is a large part of their life. They have real passion for fitness. This is what the trainer does full time, for a living and not as an interim thing to do for money or by default because of failure to succeed being a rock star or actor

9. PROFESSIONAL: They are professional in appearance, attitude and action. They do not air or bring their dirty laundry to work for you to listen to or solve their problems.

For potentially the best, fastest, safest and most effective way to train invest in the services of a personal trainer who is ideally: college qualified, certified, experienced and has proven results over many years. This trainer would include strength, aerobic and some stretching training in your workout program with some dietary tips and guidance as deemed necessary.

A really good trainer would also educate you in the finer and more important basics of strength, cardio, stretching, recovery, rest and nutrition as well. The workouts would then be safer, more effective and time efficient leading to better results.

Rudi Marashlian

Exercise Science


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