From the outside, personal training can seem like a very hardcore, high energy undertaking to many prospective clients. In many ways, it is. One very common misconception is that all workouts are this bootcamp, “kick your butt into shape”, circuit style of training, regardless of the client’s goals. This is definitely not the case. Often times, the KISS (keep it simple, silly) approach works extremely well for building strength, toning, and building task-specific performance.

First off, I’d like to clarify that my goal here is not to discredit boot camps. Due to the high intensity and aerobic focused nature of these programs, they can be a great general workout to get the best results on top of your regular training especially if your goals are primarily fat/weight loss oriented. That being said, when the goal is to optimize one’s training to ensure the best results, large group fitness classes are not always the best option for muscle gain, injury rehabilitation, and task specific work such as hiking, or competitive sports.

When going to the gym for the first time, it can be a daunting task; there’s loud music, an enormous amount of options for exercises, sets, reps, and workout programs – not to mention the form on all of these exercises (for a more detailed guide on how to figure out where to start, check out our article on starting out with going to the gym). As such, one of the best ways to go about beginning training is to determine your weakest link and build from there, with the exercise selection being based on the goal of the training.

For example: I recently started training Andy. He came to us with the goal of improving his hiking performance as he is an avid hiker. After a brief consultation, we concluded that the hardest piece for him was staying in a strong position on bigger steps, as well as just being able to muscle through a hike effectively. Given that he did not have much background in strength training, we concluded that he needed to build up his core and glutes, as well as a strong focus on strength training since his cardio capacity was already quite good.

We started with basic movement patterns such as breathing and bracing patterns, goblet squats, push-ups, planks, and dumbbell rows. As Andy became stronger and more proficient with these general patterns, we gradually progressed towards more hiking specific strength work such as high box step-ups, 1-leg Romanian deadlifts, loaded front rack carries, half kneeling pressing work, and a healthy dose of corrective work such as cook hip bridges, blackburns, and straight-leg raise progressions. All of this training was done without the use of a bullhorn, yelling, sets of over 12 reps, or “cheerleading” training strategies.

After just a few months of training 1-2x per week with these basic exercises, Andy got a chance to put all the work we’d been doing to the test on a couple of backpacking trips (lasting 3 and 5 days) on Vancouver Island, BC. He noticed a significant improvement in his hiking performance and general stability.

Backpacking in coastal BC comes with its fair share of challenges. Often you venture into difficult terrain with slippery roots, boulders, and fallen trees, along with steep and usually muddy trails, all while carrying 40-50 lbs on your back. Strength and stamina are key to making it to the end of a day’s hiking with enough energy to do it all again the next day.

As a long-time avoider of gyms, I was initially reluctant to try out a personal training regimen. But discussing the above points with Matt he quickly sorted out a suitable routine to get me started. Working one-on-one in a calm and uncrowded environment has allowed me to work at my own pace and focus on getting things right. Matt’s been a great coach with a keen eye for form, and knows just what little extra exercises I can do to help with specific issues. And all these little things add up, and it’s been great to feel like I’m making progress. Rarely has 50 minutes gone by so quickly!

As Matt mentions above, perhaps the most noticeable improvement has been my balance in tricky conditions. I feel so much more stable tackling difficult obstacles – stronger legs and especially core means I can hold my position for longer if I need to reassess my footing. And it’s meant I’ve enjoyed my backpacking trips even more than before.

– Andy Gibb

As it is apparent, working out doesn’t have to be a ridiculously high energy undertaking, all that needs to happen is showing up consistently and putting in the work on a well-designed training program that adapts to you as you improve over time.

Check out our personal training methods and take the first step towards a StrongerYou by booking a free consultation online or by phone at 604-562-3719.

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