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Shape Up With a Personal Trainer, Health Matters, January 2012

With the obesity epidemic rising, weight loss is sure to figure into those New Year's resolutions. If you've tried and failed, time and again, to shed those extra pounds, maybe you should consider going the route of a personal trainer.

You might be thinking, "Yeah, and with what money?" For many folks, hiring a personal trainer is a luxury. But if you consider the cost of fitness classes or a commercial weight-loss program, enlisting the services of a trainer might make economical sense. And consider this--many personal trainers work with two or more clients at the same time, which reduces the per-person costs of a training session. Since motivation and accountability are crucial to maintaining a successful regimen, training with a partner is advantageous on two fronts.

Matt Lamarque, owner of Bovine Strength Systems in Seaside, has been in the business of personal training for approximately 15 years. Lamarque offers flexible programs by training in 30-minute segments, and will accommodate up to two people per session (three for a one-hour session). Clients should commit to a minimum of two (ideally, three) days a week, he says.

"Being able to charge for only a half-hour gives us a bigger demographic," Lamarque says. "I don't believe this decreases the quality of a session, other than maybe the social stimulation of having someone there for the entire hour."

Training with someone not only saves money, but it increases the chances you'll show up and put forth a decent effort.

"Everybody has good intentions," says Lamarque. "When the New Year comes around, everyone wants to get in shape, eat better and exercise. Honestly, it's a lot harder to do if you don't have a set appointment, if you don't have somebody to meet or answer to."

Hiring a personal trainer can be a wise decision when it comes to your overall health. Numerous studies show that incorporating strength-training, physical conditioning and healthy nutritional choices into one's fitness routine is beneficial, notes Lamarque.

"The quality of life to be gained far outweighs the cost [of a personal trainer] if the cost is reasonable," says Lamarque.

The main reasons clients seek the expertise of a personal trainer are structural (to overcome pain, weakness or injury) and, more commonly, the aesthetic aspects of weight loss and physical conditioning, says Lamarque. An existing workout routine can be streamlined to increase efficiency and help prevent injury. Most important, he adds, trainers provide leadership and reinforce accountability.

When a client first meets with Lamarque, a survey is taken of his or her health conditions, prior injuries, current activities and work environment. An assessment workout is then performed.

"Everything is done with the hope that the client comes back the next day feeling nothing," Lamarque says. "No pain, no gain" no longer applies.

"There's no glory or progress in that at all," he adds. "It's finding the correct progression that the body can adapt to at a steady and consistent rate. When you get to an advanced level of training, when you do have soreness, it's actually invited and welcomed by the person."

Those who present with physical problems beyond Lamarque's realm of expertise are referred for appropriate management. "We don't overstep our boundaries," he says.

As always, it pays to do your research when looking for a personal trainer.

"Unfortunately, the industry is riddled with people who don't know what they're doing," Lamarque warns. "The certifications out there really are not up to par with what I think people [need] to sell their services. ... Trainers should constantly challenge themselves and not just look good in tight clothing."

Consider a personal trainer to help guide you to a new-and-improved, healthier body in the coming New Year!