Press-Republican

August 7, 2012

Watch out for fitness fads

By TED SANTANIELLO, Fit Bits
Press-Republican

---- — Trends are everywhere.

They are seen in all aspects of society — in clothing, electronics and interior decorating. Trends are fun and entertaining to keep up with.

One place where trends do not belong is in the health and fitness field.

Fitness fads are what unqualified personal trainers use to get their clients to buy into them. They can originate from scientifically sound research that is misinterpreted and misused by unqualified personal trainers, which can easily lead to injury.

Those who practice these fitness trends are often trainers who obtained their knowledge from talking to others in the gym, looking up exercises on the Internet and mimicking the latest exercise video/program they purchased. These unqualified individuals do not have any real understanding of human movement, exercise physiology or safe exercise progression and should not be prescribing exercise.

AT WHAT EXPENSE?

The most common trends lately have been functional training and high-intensity interval training. These two types of workouts can be extremely effective but are dangerous if not taught properly.

A high-intensity program that gets results is not always a program that is effective. An exercise program that works is one that is set up to help you achieve long-term realistic goals while also minimizing injury. Education must also be included in order for a program to be truly successful.

Personal trainers who just beat you up senselessly in the gym are not doing you a favor. They are setting you up for serious injury or death. Yes, you may lose weight, but at what expense?

An exercise program that helps you lose 5 percent body fat won’t do you much good if you end up tearing cartilage in your knee and can’t exercise for six months.

DON’T IGNORE FORM

Those that ignore the importance of technique in the exercise programs they promote are setting you up for failure. I’ve seen some trainers throw novice clients right into advanced exercises, such as the push press or deadlift, just because they know the exercise will yield quick results. But then they don’t stop clients when they aren’t doing it correctly. If anyone tells you to ignore exercise form, don’t train with that person.

Injury rates for exercise are actually extremely low as long as the movements are done correctly. An article published by the National Strength and Conditioning Association “Weightlifting Movements: Do the Benefits Outweigh the Risks?” says that when weightlifting is performed with proper technique, the chance of injury is actually lower than most other sports and training activities.

With the prevalence of functional exercises on the rise, training programs are exploding with complex, multi-joint, athletic movements to promote fat loss. These movements are wonderful for the advanced client who has taken the time to build up to them, but for a beginner, this can be way too much for the body to handle, causing extremely stressful conditions for muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

EXERCISE SCIENCE

These types of situations don’t promote the long-term growth of the client. Proper progression must be used in order to prevent overstress on these structures. The reason why unqualified trainers like to progress exercises quickly is because results will happen quicker. 

Personal trainers who don’t understand the basics of human anatomy and physiology will almost always consciously or unconsciously set you up for a short-term, high-risk program. This will end up setting you back further than when you first started. Only a qualified exercise specialist who truly understands the proper dynamics of the human body will know how to create an effective program. They also know how to assess for any ailments that clients have and modify the program to fit their needs.

While fitness trends come and go, what stays consistent are the laws of exercise science that are used to mold safe and effective programs. These programs can only be designed and instructed by qualified exercise professionals who know how to properly assess their clients. Unqualified personal trainers tend to concentrate only on the results and are not aware of how to assess and safely modify exercise programs. 

In exercise science, if you are not properly assessing, then you are only guessing.

Ted Santaniello, CSCS, is a certified personal trainer and the fitness manager at the Wellness Center at PARC, located at 295 New York Road (next to ARC) in Plattsburgh. For more information, call him at 324-2024.