Fitness Tips

from Jerry Pitman

Fitness Training -Lifestylers vs Apprentices

When considering types of clients that hire personal trainers, while there are many ways to categorize them, and omitting athletes, I think of them in two basic categories.

The first type is what I’d call the Apprentice (I know, I know). The Apprentice just wants to get in and learn as much as humanly possible and eventually move into their own thing. Everyone knows about this group because it’s been touted in fitness for decades so I won’t go on. Obviously, a good approach!

The other type, however, is what I’d call the “Lifestyler”. The Lifestyler literally likes to keep their trainer on with them pretty much all the time. And, they’re growing in popularity the world over! Some folks, many in fact, express that fitness training isn’t a “need”. In reality, it may well be one of the most important needs we have, especially as a culture here in the U.S. and I can and could make an incredibly strong case for that! But, that’s a different day. One case in point is simply that the obesity epidemic isn’t curbing, actually it continually only gets worse.

See, fitness & health are like identical twins! While they may not be the exact same thing, they are so closely tied that it is all but impossible to separate the two. And, what’s the avenue to fitness? Exercise and healthy eating. See how that works? Without the regular exercise and healthy eating, we don’t get to have the fitness; subsequently, our health suffers by the minute. Our weight comes up.

In our culture, we perceive that their are many reasons for weight gain due to the conflicting “research” and “expert” opinion. This makes the awareness problem much worse! As a personal trainer of 9 years and just watching the habits of countless people around me by age 44, I can tell you that very, very few people do both exercise and eat well. You would be surprised. The vast majority do neither, even when they think they’re dieting it’s horribly incorrect. So, if you thought you could at least count that, probably not.

In my eyes, their is ONE major problem & cause. It’s this: The fitness lifestyle simply isn’t there for 95 to 97% of people. That means well over 9 of 10 ppl we see walking around aren’t doing anything, whether they are thin or not! Many “thin” people are inactive and eat horribly. The real problem is so evident to me now. But, I had no clue 10 years ago, before becoming a trainer. I thought that there were many reasons. No. No not really, there aren’t.
And, while most have an idea to some degree of this, still, finding motivation is another big problem. It’s the BEAR of the problem. The grizzly to wrestle with.

The Lifestyler recognizes this emotional disconnect to wanting to exercise (and/or diet) & simply decides that “Hey, if my results are going to be better and I’m going to be happier with a trainer, then why not just keep them around?” And, as a result, they feel better, look better, eat better… and as happier people, essentially increase the overall quality of life! That’s the big reason to hire a p.t.! It isn’t just about looking great; it’s life, love, relationships, & great health. The Lifestyler may well recognize that “Sure, they can lose weight on their own… or, could. Heck, they might even be able to keep it off.” But, if things are that much better with a trainer, then they choose “with”!

When we think of need vs. want (because I hear that a lot when folks are thinking of training & budgeting), what are we basing our investment decision on?

Let’s look at some examples: How much are we spending on having a “nicer, slicker” car each month? How much are we spending on home upgrades? On a mortgage for a little bigger, little better house? New furniture? How much did we invest in a purely cosmetic surgery? How much do we shell out in eating out breakfast, lunches including dinners each week & month? How much do we spend on inessentials such as cigs & beers? Credit card interest. How much for going out with friends to movies & entertainment? Do you even know? And, I’m sure there’s a whole lot more to add to this list.

We live in a hyper-consuming country & our values seem to be “bigger is better”… “more is better,” extravagance even. So, when we say, “Is this a need?” when we’re considering whether to hire or not… perhaps we should be a bit more clear on what we are actually valuing as a need and the “wants” we are already spending our hard earned money on! If we’re really honest, we’ll see that it’s going out all over the place, and none of which is a bolster to our health and mindset.

Lifestylers may be seen as living in luxury; but, it isn’t really luxury, it’s hard work. And, while having a certain lifestyle is more expensive, we have to consider that perhaps they’re just living smarter… at very least, valuing their money differently than most do. God only knows how much time I might have saved myself by hiring a Personal Trainer in my 20’s or 30’s, or where I’d be today had I.

Most are “investing” to look better in a nicer car,

Others invest to look better, feel better, be stronger, live longer.

Confusion Principle or Stagnate!

If there’s anything we need to be extremely aware of, it’s that the body needs to be jolted into change. The Confusion Principle goes at the tip top of my list in importance when it comes to pure fitness. I’m amazed at the sheer number of trainers who’ve never even heard of the Confusion Principle, let alone how to incorporate it. If I have a client that only wants to build muscle, with no other goal, then I use free weights 90% of the time. However, if a client is wanting weight loss and versatility in raw fitness ability, then we mix up equipment and exercises not only as a matter of interest but of absolute necessity!

Using myself as an example, I’ve lifted most of my adult life and done quite a bit of martial arts but if I get up on a gymnastic apparatus like rings, I look ridiculous; and, you know what? I don’t like it! It makes me feel like I need to start all over and rightfully so! Yet, my personal fitness level is actually skyrocket high in nearly every aspect, especially strength, muscular endurance, agility, speed and flexibility. It would stand to reason that I could do a lot on rings… but not without proper training!

That, guys and gals, is the Confusion Principle in action… that’s the name of the game. A trainer who doesn’t quite yet get that is just uninformed. Free weights are not the be-all and end-all to fitness, not by a long shot. Don’t buy into everything you read online or hear in the gym.

7 Points for Finding Motivation to Exercise When We’re Dealing With Pain

“How to find motivation through the pain of fibromyalgia?”

1.) When I first read this question sent in by Kristina, I thought, “Oh wow, how in the world am I supposed to help someone figure out how to find motivation to train through the pain of fibromyalgia when I don’t even have it”. And, then I remembered that the fundamental truths, the realities we have to face in fitness, are still the same and among every person. When we train, we have to endure. When we endure, we get to live in the outcome of those efforts. That’s the simple reality for each person no matter what their individual set of circumstances.

I may be a bit “over the top” when it comes to fitness (I really don’t think so), but I think of the hardcore soldier that’s got to go through the mud and rock, bleeding from his wounds, over the barbed-wire, down a mountain side, falling and rolling, cut and bruised, then getting back up and keep on going, keep running, not for glory but for survival. When our attitude matches that, it’s tough to keep us from simply lifting some weights or going for a jog on a beautiful, sunny afternoon (at the beach?).

2.) Light lifting may well help with the fibro pain outside of the workout. Lifting does, after all, positively effect the body in countless ways. Not to mention the endorphins, the serotonin and the hormones released during exercise. While endorphins and serotonin help enhance our mood mostly during the exercise, the improved hormone balance, will help enhance mood long after the lifting is done. I suspect serotonin can do this as well. As a lifestyle, it’s like lifelong energy and enhanced mood. While evasion and justification is actually the norm, ultimately, there’s no actual such thing. Lest we evade the very thing that will help us to feel better.

3.) Lift lightly, not too heavily and slowly graduate yourself into it. Notice I didn’t use the wording “ease yourself.”  That’s very intentional; there’s nothing easy about fitness. It’s a mindset. But, gentle resistance training may prove to be your Godsend. While there is never a guarantee, I would not be in the LEAST bit surprised to learn that it ends up helping with the pain once you formed the habit of 2 to 4 times a week weight lifting or doing calisthenics (bodyweight resistance training).

4.) Look at the long term; again, this is the same for everyone. If we want to live fit, we’re kind of working out for tomorrow or even the next year or the next decade to be better, healthier and stronger not just of body, of mind! Increased blood flow to the brain also helps stimulate mental process. We all want to be a little smarter even if we don’t feel the need for beastmode. But, I very highly recommend you catch the bug. Definitely expose yourself to someone who has it. It’s not very highly contagious but if you manage to catch it, it’s almost incurable.

5.) Even those who don’t have fibro can have a similar “defeatist” mindset. A similar way of thinking, and that way is basically in a mode of continual “seeking of a ‘reason’ not to train.” They have the tendency to look for a revolving “back door” way out from what is simply the responsibility of self care. And, it’s all either purely psychological, spiritual or both and probably even has a genetic foundation. And it can come in any form because when you boil it down, it’s really just as simple as they don’t “like to exercise” but want to feel and look like they do. Life just isn’t that way. So, knowing that this is the norm can be helpful to you to try and avoid that kind of strange, self-defeating mentality.

In truth, for some it will be harder, and for some it will be less challenging to stay hooked up.. but, when push comes to shove, we all have to stay hooked up if we want the results. And, in nearly all of our cases, commitment to the lifestyle and having the “beastmode bug” tends to mean living with a lot less pain later on down life’s road, provided we’re training smart.

6.) Now, this is my own quote so don’t be too critical but, “We can’t appreciate a refreshing, cool breeze without the heat of the sun.” In other words, we tend to REALLY appreciate the times we can ride easy and lay back, chill and enjoy life when and if we’ve really endured through hardships and hard work, labor, etc. That truth is fundamental and, it’s a gross under-statement to say that I’m a LONG shot from the only person who’s learned this lesson. I’ve since read at least one other author who’s expressed the sentiment in almost the same words. That’s because it’s true!  If all we ever have comes easy, then we truly appreciate nothing.


7.) Everyone works through/with varying degrees of intensity anyway; some are very fine with enduring a whole lot of pain, while others are much more “philosophical” in methodology. We all will only push ourselves only so hard anyway; so, the point is that you’re getting in there and stepping up and realizing yourself for who you really want to be. Each time you do it, you’ll not only feel better about yourself but, eventually, you’ll get so accustomed to it that you won’t think as much about it.

Try starting only with shorter ranges of motion, lighter weights, and very mild intensity work, just don’t ever let yourself off the hook for not getting in there and doing something because the “justification thinking” is what lands us back in the same place.

P.s. I would love to hear a testimonial if you find that your pain either subsides or goes away almost entirely. I would consider that a really nice bonus. After all, the concept here is motivation and motivation can be “positive or negative” but tends to “stick”. While inspiration is nice, it makes us feel good, but tends to dissipate much more quickly. Look for both, but especially to be motivated. That can last a lifetime.


3 Simple Steps to True Weight Loss -It’s Not Always so Black and White

Did you know that it’s actually a common story when a person’s tried tons of diets, books and exercise in the past and nothing has ever worked for them? It’s true, while each person is intrinsically unique in so many ways, pretty much everyone who’s tried to lose weight through the discouraging cycle of slow gain and temporary losses feels the exact same way. It is frustrating, and can be very discouraging, but don’t ever lose hope or cast everything aside. Don’t ever quit. Because, often it’s as simple as a tiny light of thought that comes on somewhere in your mind and things are different almost overnight. One word of caution, however: That “light in the darkness”… it’s most often found only by the person who continues pressing towards it. If they ever “sit down,” that’s where they’ll almost always stay.

So, here are 3 simple steps to get you up and moving.

1.) Simply realize that you are who you are and the person you’ll be tomorrow is likely who you are already being today. What this means is that our bodies will shape themselves around our actions and our actions will shape themselves around our opinions and attitudes. So, while it may seem on the surface that our bodies are at fault for our weight, for the most part it’s a problem that occurs early on in life with dietary and exercise habits, although it may not become evident until our 20’s. Sure genetics play a small role, but all of my own elders both on maternal and paternal are obese. By all rights, I should have been as well! What was the difference? I began to workout as a teen and just never stopped. Everyone should exercise regularly, frankly daily, it’s just not a common BELIEF (mindset) in our culture. But, trust me, it’s the truth. Whether you’re evolutionist or creationist, as I am, doesn’t matter; your body isn’t made up to be sedentary. That’s not even scientifically viable.

So, our goal has to be to reprogram this mental image we have of ourselves, our bodies, and exercise. See yourself as a good and positive being, capable of reaching any goal and capable of making any change. One has to fully decide to do that because fitness is in no way a “one-foot-in, one-foot-out” kind of thing.

2.) Start some sort of routine of exercise, but never with an end in mind. It’s o.k. to have a goal but realise that that goal will be your 2nd beginning. The routine of exercise and healthy diet doesn’t have to be formal. My first 7 to 10 or so years of working out, I never used a formal routine at all. I never even tried to stick to that. If I had, I might have gotten discouraged at some point! 😉  In reality, for much of that time I worked out for very simple reasons; I wanted a better physique, to better my self-defense, and as a kind of “hobby.” And when I didn’t feel like working out, I decided to do it.

Too often folks make some “new year’s resolution” that doesn’t stick. Honestly, I HATE new year’s resolutions now because I have learned what they truly represent, just another insincere promise, another failed attempt and temporary commitment. Instead, make a “New LIFE resolution”. If you make that, I promise it will work for you. The routine you start may or may not be formal, but exercise must become a lifestyle habit and that must be a decision to begin today (that said, I am still planning on creating these for sale and I’m currently planning on including a very good MEAL PLAN as a part of it since that’s what everyone’s told me they have a tough time with. So, head’s up for that). Begin today but simply do whatever you know. Tomorrow never comes. Even if it’s plain old push-ups, situps, and leg lifts. I was practically a “calisthenic guru” in my earlier years. I never lost much of that even though I have lots more muscle now. I kept it because I developed it to begin with and muscle has a type of memory.

3.) Begin learning about dieting even if you think you already know something. Lots of folks think that and I hear it all the time in a first meeting with new clients, only to find out later that they are hurting themselves through wrongful dieting, no kidding! It’s sometimes the most health conscious because they actually go overboard with eating in a way they think is healthy. The rest simply learn a few things and don’t learn enough to be effective. Begin to learn more about dieting and put it into practice.

I’ve talked to and heard of countless people who flat out refuse to eat vegetables or fruit. Yet, those are the things that we should never leave out of ANY meal. Those are REAL foods. Yes, as opposed to “fake” food, synthetic food, mass “produced” food, call it what you want; the processed stuff isn’t real. But, one has to make the decision to learn to enjoy vegetation. That simple shift in mindset alone will do wonders because it shifts attention away from processed foods and rediculous food “stuff” like pasta, which does absolutely nothing for anyone from any standpoint (the exception is that it is the “go-to” food when football linemen want to be sure to gain weight. As a weight gainer, it’s pretty effective!). It goes in the same category as potato chips and white bread. It’s an empty (empty calorie, empty carbohydrate) biproduct of what was once actually real food, the grain itself! But, if one is so convinced they don’t “like” vegetables or fruits, then they can be extremely tough to help because they’ve built up their own psychological barriers to change. Those walls can be like an impenetrable fortress for them because while they may want to change on the inside, their words, actions and beliefs prevent them from being able to do so and can sometimes even prevent a personal trainer from “breaking barrier”.

Remember that “try” is another word for failure and past failed attempts are only reference points for doubt and pain. I believe it’s Maxwell Maltz who recommended remembering past successes instead, even if seemingly unrelated, to draw on for strength. And, that makes a lot o’ sense.

See, fitness, the real deal, is like working in management. Think of how a department in business must be managed. If you just govern certain aspects of the department you manage, those aspects that you happen to enjoy, what would happen? Obviously, it would all fall apart, right? It would just fail. Like a machine who’s parts all flow and function together, your body and lifestyle choices must be the same way! When that happens, fit happens.

Make the shift over into eating healthier foods. That will afford you the ability to eat more, and more often, without upsetting your metabolic balance. Besides, you really get used to the taste and after a while you start to like it because the stuff that grows is what our bodies most naturally ingest and digest. And, you’ll feel better to boot.

Does Counting Calories Work?

The word “calorie” has apparently gained a negative undertone in many folks’ ears today. They think that calories mean being held down by the shackles of the system of religious tracking and meticulous calculations.

Once a gal came to me for help and immediately began to tell me that she’ll never, ever “count calories” again. She told me that she wanted to be able to lose weight but didn’t want to have to track calories. She asked if she could still lose weight but through some other way. Well, sure, there are ways. But, there are no easy ways, or “easy outs,” either. Let me just make this point for you and hopefully you’ll give it some deep thought.

A “Calorie” is just a unit of measurement. It is a simple unit by which we’ve chosen to measure how much energy we’ve consumed or is in a given amount of food. Indeed, if we continually take in more energy than we have a habit of burning from day to day, we’ll gain weight. Over time, this adds up far too much. This is how our weight “sneaks up on us” with age. Did you know that as little as 25 to 30 lbs overweight can mean all the difference between being “normal” weight and actually being full-on obese?

A gal weighing in at 180 at 5 ‘ 5 ” tall is not just overweight, but is actually right in the obese range. Where just 25 bls less at 155 lbs and she’s at much closer to an ideal weight and probably even normal weight if she’s over age 30 (not that normal = healthy, mind you, just that it’s the “norm”). At 149 lbs, she’s now beginning to be at much closer to picturesque weight for great health. Keeping in mind, this is provided she’s not particularly muscular which is, in actuality, quite rare! Most think they “probably have built a lot of muscle” but that’s almost never true even when they’ve been lifting weights regularly. Learn to crucify your excuses early on, so you’ll succeed later.

We can easily add a few lbs each month to our tally. Unnoticeable at first, but over a period of a few short years this can mean 30, 40 and 50+ lbs heavier! Think of what you weighed back in college. For nearly everyone, they’ll see that it was indeed considerably lighter. This is absolutely not due to aging as most think; it’s due to lifestyle and food availability. It’s only human nature to take advantage of what is available to us often, even to a point of abuse. Consider this: China is now having problems with obesity, even among their young. CHINA! Why? They no longer have the problems with food scarcity they did 20+ years ago. They are now much more economically like the States which, seemingly, they’ve been trying to emulate, fiscally speaking, for years now. Well, they finally caught up. Congratulations, this is what happens.

But, back to topic, a calorie is at least some measurement of the amount of energy we are consuming. We need to know. A measurement is a good thing. Calories are nothing to be feared but perhaps something to befriend. The enemy isn’t a “unit of measurement.” Our enemy is not knowing how much energy we’re taking in on a regular basis, not knowing how much we’re actually burning off day to day… and being totally comfortable with all of it.

If you don’t want to count “the dreaded” calorie, then you should certainly have a substitute system in place to ensure you’re not eating more than you’re going to burn from day to day. Or, inversely, that your energy burn via daily activity will override your rate of calo… um, “food energy” consumption.

Getting to the Heart of Fitness and When to Start a Training Regimen

I am not a guru at business. I mean, I get by. I work at it. I do what I need to to make my living. But, really… I don’t get business that well. I never did. In fact, sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever really get it. The more you learn, the more you realize there is that you need to learn and do. As much as I’m able to help and reach people; as much as I’m able to change lives and impact attitudes toward fitness and so on, I am just not absolutely sure that being a tried and true “big” CEO will ever really be in the cards.

But, there’s one thing I definitely get and will always probably get. One thing that really resonates with me as well as anything. One thing that has been very much a part of my life for over 27 years now and has given back to me as much as I’ve put into it and, in some ways, maybe more. That one thing, of course, is fitness.

When someone comes to me for help, they usually don’t come to me with a cavalier attitude and full of ideas on how they want to get fit. Oh sure, every now and then you get the type who tries to come in and control just how they’d like you to get them fit as if that has been working for them, but as a rule that just isn’t usually the case. An important side note here. That kind of thinking NEVER works for them; that lack of willingness to “give” themselves to exercise and diet in the first place is largely why they struggle and these folks almost always continually struggle but they think they know what they need so they’re adamant about telling me how they’d like their training as if it’s an order of Filet Mignon topped with mushrooms and a side of potatoes and buttery asparagus.  As Bruce Lee used to teach, in order to drink what is in my cup, you must first empty yours, leaving behind preconceived notions and ideas.  This approach is crucial to getting the absolute most from any training experience.

Inversely, people usually come to me very lost in everything, lost in what to do, how to do it, how often, how much, how hard, when to train, where to train, especially what and how to eat, and the list goes on. And, while they may feel lost, they of course end up with the most dramatic results due to their natural openness (empty cup)…

Bringing clarity to myths behind size and strength!

Size does not necessarily equate to strength. With that in mind, it’s important to realize that with the addition of new muscle to an individual body, strength will come. Strength will accompany adding more muscle fiber to anyone’s physique for that particular individual. In all honesty, it’s just as tough for many of us to add more muscle as it is to add new strength. For me, it’s always been tougher. I’m much more likely to get stronger with lifts than I am to grow in solid muscle. So, as you could imagine, with every pound of muscle I’ve managed to add, I’ve grown substantially in strength. It’s just a mistake to assume that because one person has more muscle mass than another, that equates to being stronger than the other person. This is certainly not the case.
As a trainer, I’ve had to train guys who were extremely intimidating from a physical standpoint. Well over 6 feet tall and anywhere from 235 lbs to 300 lbs. They sometimes tower over me at barely 5’10” with my shoes on! I’ll never forget one of those really big guys who could barely even lift 12-15 lb dumbbells for the lateral shoulder raise. Before we worked together, I thought I was going to have to struggle to help with his bench press and I was quite worried about it… but I quickly learned that I could pretty much curl with my arms what he pressed on bench. So, size most definitely does not mean strength. However, in combat (for my audience that is more self-defense minded), don’t mistakenly think that it is not one advantage. There are many varying advantages in self-defense and size is only one of them… but it can be a costly mistake to get yourself tangled up with someone who is much heavier and may be every bit as skilled on the ground, if not as fast, in today’s age. But, that’s another blog.
So, while one person is larger than another, whether muscle mass or not, that doesn’t mean they will be stronger by any means. However, for one person to have grown even a few lbs in muscle weight, let alone 10’s of lbs, that particular individual will be considerably stronger for themselves than when they began training. One cannot simply add muscle fiber to their body and not become stronger. That just does not happen. There is even a direct correlation between fat gain and strength!  The more actual muscle you add to your body, the stronger you will be. If for no other reason, the sheer amount of hard work and muscular contractions it takes to actually build new muscle requires the constant firing of neurons within the muscles themselves and that alone becomes much more proficient with time and is a major reason why we do become stronger over time.