Where Did Your Trainer Train?

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By Nancy Hawkins Rigg,

Founder and Owner, Forever Fit Foundation

If you don’t know, you might want to ask. The answer could surprise you.  It’s a valid question, and it will also inform you on your trainers’ commitment to continuing education.

Any qualified fitness professional will welcome those kinds of inquiries because they have spent a lot of time, money and effort earning and maintaining their credentials.  Of course, there are shortcuts to certification, but there is no shortcut to excellence.

The easy way is to go online, pay the fee, and get some remote instruction and then a pretty certificate in the mail. Or a would-be trainer can sign up for a day-long class to become a personal trainer.

Is this who you want to guide you toward your fitness goals?

If so, that’s fine, but you might want to reconsider the complexity of Pilates and the human body.

Quality Trainers need time and experience and continuing education to become the best.  Pilates is a total body conditioning exercise system, and the exercises that are considered part of the Pilates Method can be performed with an apparatus (called a“reformer”) or on the mat.

Total body means just that: these exercises don’t isolate an arm or a leg, or even the abdomen; a trainer who teaches clients how to perform these exercises needs to understand the complex anatomy of the human body.

Even the simplest of movements involve the brain and the central nervous system as well as the muscles; Add to that, many clients come to Pilates with at least one problem they want to fix; it could be a backache or knee issues, and this means that it is vital to have a trainer with quality education and a thorough understanding of biomechanics and the basic principles of the Pilates Method.

The trainer also needs to be able to communicate effectively with the client to insure that the client is comfortable and relaxed and understands not only the principles of the Pilates, but how they can develop the strong and flexible body that Pilates promises.

The point is this: Great Trainers aren’t born- they are taught over years.

A Pilates instructor isn’t ready for certification in a single afternoon or even a week.

What exactly is Pilates?

Pilates is an exercise system developed by Joseph Pilates, a German immigrant, who was a prisoner of war in England during World War I before he moved to New York City in the 1920s.  He created a revolutionary system of exercises that if done properly and on a regular basis, creates a strong and flexible core. That core consists of the muscles surrounding your spine in the center of your torso.

When you practice Pilates you are strengthening and lengthening the muscles that properly support your spine, thus keeping your vertebrae in a nice straight column. Learning and practicing Pilates is best done under the educated eye of a personal trainer who has legitimate Pilates training themselves.

At one time, the practice of Pilates was almost limited to ballet dancers who had become injured in the studio or on the stage, but as more people learned the benefits of Pilates, the label “Pilates” has been tacked on all kinds of exercise.

Anyone can turn on cable TV and flip on some Pilates exercises or purchase a Pilates DVD at the store, but the risk is that the client might perform the exercises incorrectly without proper supervision.

When you hire a Pilates Trainer, you want to select someone who is trained in the fundamentals of anatomy, exercise science and movement and one who communicates well.

Select your Trainer based on their credentials and not just the price tag or the sales pitch.

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Nancy Hawkins Riggs is the founder and owner of Forever Fit Foundation, a personal training business specializing in Pilates, Gyrotonic, Gyrokinesis, Yamuna Body Rolling and sport specific training. Forever Fit Foundation accepts clients at three sites: Dover and Lewes, Del., and Mendenhall Station, Pa., just over the Delaware line. A certified athletic trainer, she earned her bachelors degree fro the University of Delaware and her master’s degree in exercise science and sports medicine from Miami University in Ohio. Please call (302) 423-1816 or (302) 698-5201 to schedule an appointment for more information.


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