Benefits of having a personal trainer
Satish Brian JP Anandan, certified trainer and co-founder of Afterburn Fitness Studio, reveals how a personal trainer can help in the different stages of your fitness journey.
People think by doing crunches, they’ll burn belly fat. That’s wrong
For the beginner
FOR A NEWBIE, the gym is an intimidating place, especially when faced with all the cables, machines and weights that you probably have no idea what to do with. Sure, a trainer will take you through them, but more importantly, they can set up a realistic plan to help manage your expectations before you even set foot on a treadmill. Achieving your fitness goal takes time, and if you’re not being realistic, you’ll very soon get frustrated and give up.
Satish Brian JP Anandan, certified personal trainer and co-founder of Afterburn Fitness Studio, explains: ‘For a lot of people, all they know is if they put in the effort, they should see result. But there’s a lot more happening before you actually see the results. Getting you to do the exercises correctly takes time; so small changes first. It’s not looking at the big picture yet, but breaking it down and telling you in the first month the changes your body will go through – you’ll either sleep better or move better or breathe better – and what you need to do to lose that weight, and so on.’
Satish further explains that it’s realistic to expect losing about five pounds (about 2.2kg) in a month. ‘ Typically, to see some physical change, I would say about eight to 12 weeks, with an average training frequency of three to four times a week.’ And that also depends on your body type, how active you are, etc.
Food intake is also important – because to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume. A good personal trainer is able to recommend a feasible dietary plan that will maximise your efforts. Ultimately at this stage, a personal trainer’s mission is to encourage you to enjoy the exercise and not make things so complicated you feel like it’s an uphill climb. Eventually, you’ll see the benefits to continue.
For the intermediate, regular fitness fiend
So you’ve built up a routine and you know your way around the equipment. But let’s face it, more often than not, we find excuses to skip a gym day or two. According to Satish, the trainer’s role is also to hold you accountable to your goals. ‘If you’ve already made that commitment, it’s a lot harder to cancel the appointment and upset your trainer. You’ll stick to your goals,’ says Satish. That’s crucial because the longer you take to reach your goals, the less motivated you’ll get. Worse if you gain back the weight after taking a break, only to pick up again where you left off. ‘ You just keep repeating that cycle. You would have wasted six months or a year.’
Of course, in your quest for fitness (either to lose weight or gain muscle mass), a trainer can make sure you exercise in a safe manner while motivating you. It’s much easier to push yourself harder when you can get rid of self doubt, knowing full well you have a safety net. It’s also about increasing your workout efficiency so that no time or money is wasted. ‘A trainer would have set you on a path where you’ll be able to eat better, sleep better, move the weights better, have the right form, and be able to connect your mind to your muscle as you exercise. All these small things lead to results, which will in turn keep you on your journey a lot longer compared to someone who’s just training by themselves and not knowing where they are going.’
For the experienced fitness buff looking to progress
So fitness is now an integral part of your lifestyle – what next? A trainer can implement new training methods to help you progress, such as shortening your rest period and/or increasing the number of
reps, sets, load and training sessions. But it’s not as straightforward.
‘People think increasing the load will help. In some cases, yes, but there’s only so much you can increase in a short period of time. So you change the tempo of the movement instead,’ Satish says. ‘ There are many more variables to change an exercise programme, like foot placement. Usually when you challenge your balance by reducing your base of transport, your core needs to work a lot harder and that alone will make the exercise more difficult. So you don’t necessary have to increase the weight. These small changes are very useful if you have a trainer to deliver these kinds of training methods.’
For the six-pack obsessed
Sorry to burst your bubble, but it takes more than just crunches to achieve your dream six-pack. First, you need to know this about your body fat: ‘People think by doing crunches, they’ll burn belly fat. That’s wrong. Thing is, when you put on weight, you can’t control where your body puts on fat; the same way you can’t control how your body loses fat.’
Before you throw in the towel, Satish offers this tip: ‘If your body fat is high, you don’t have to do so much abs exercises because the results won’t be visible. I encourage you to go through an intense ab workout when your body fat is between 15 to 20 percent for females, or below 15 percent for males.’ [ Ed: Of course, genetics is a factor as well, but let’s not complicate matters for now.] The thing is, abs exercises are more for sculpting and defining. ‘So as you lose body fat, your muscles will be more prominent. Then when you do your crunches or sit-ups, you’ll be able to see the bumps.’
Afterburn Fitness Studio, 18-1, Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar (03 2202 2242/ fb.com/afterburnstudiobangsar). Mon-Fri, 7am-9pm; Sat-Sun, 8am-3pm.