10 Insights from a Personal Trainer

I have recently had the privilege of meeting another fitness-lover in Seattle though this blog, and it turns out we had a lot in common! Olivia Exline is a Personal Trainer with Fit Your Life Personal Training, which is her mobile in-home personal training business. She also teaches classes for Sassy Fit and is an intern at Mars Hill Church Downtown. Needless to say, she is pretty busy, but thankfully she took some time to sit down with me and answer some questions that might be helpful for you:

1. How did you get your start in personal training?

I was in interior design for years and always ended up doing something undesirable like sitting at a front desk.  I needed a change, so I moved to Seattle! I really wanted to have a job where I could help people.  I have always been a gym rat and my mom was a personal trainer when I was in high school.

A friend convinced me to get my personal training certification, so I eventually did, even though it was intimidating.  I wanted to work with women who would be intimated by going to the gym.  I had my profile on ACE and got a hit with a company to be hired for in-home personal training and boot camp classes.  I was mentored and then started teaching classes with them, and am now in my 2ndyear of personal training and teaching group fitness.

2. What is your daily workout routine?

In a perfect world I would get to do my workouts first before I trained anybody, but I don’t want to get up at 4am, so I fit them in when I can during the day.  I get bored with routine so I vary my workouts quite a bit. I aim for 4-5 days a week, usually 2 days on/1 day off and trying not to go more than 2 days in a row off.  I do a mix of running, swimming and circuit training.

I try to keep it intense (like a 7 on a 1-10 scale) even when I’m lifting weights I want my heart rate high—that way I can get an intense workout in 30 minutes if I am crunched for time.  I like taking boot-camp style classes to change it up (and sometimes steal exercises :) ).  And Zumba is a BLAST, but I don’t get the chance to take it often.

3. What is your favorite pre/post workout snack?  

I probably don’t do pre-workout snacks much; I try to place my workout in between meals so that I’m nourished but not too full.  But in a crunch, Luna or Clif bars or a piece of fruit is great—something quick-digesting but not all sugar.  Post-workout I probably lean towards smoothies.  Dashing Dish’s recipes make smoothies taste like milk shakes which is great if you’re hot.  Salads are another fave.  Stuff that’s quick to throw together cause I get hungry fast!

4. Do you take any supplements?

Not really.  I take high quality vitamins that have a mix of greens, anti-oxidants, oils and a ton of other stuff that I’m forgetting.  I was feeling really low-energy not too long ago and realized that it might have had to do with the fact that I was taking a basic one-a-day.  I feel so much better taking those.  I also take a vitamin D3 during the darker 9 months and probiotics.  Nothing too serious.

5. What are your fitness goals?

I think I have general and specific depending on what I’m doing.  Like running, I set weekly and/or monthly mileage goals, or I may train for a certain minute/mile pace.  Swimming is generally endurance—that whole breathing bit is tricky.  Lifting weights, I often don’t feel like I challenge myself enough, so I aim for higher weights and muscle failure (which also elevates your heart rate).  If I discover an area I am weaker in, I’ll generally focus on that more.

6. How do you inspire your clients to reach their goals?

Clients generally have weight loss goals, which includes nutrition in addition to fitness, so I pretty much mirror what I do with myself.  We train in circuits or intervals mixing strength and cardio.  While we’re warming up/cooling down, I usually ask how their eating was since I saw them last (or look at their app if they use one), what successes and failures they felt they had.  And tailor the conversation per their answers.  The general rule is to listen to your body—and most of us don’t slow down enough to hear it.  It’s a lot like listening to the Spirit :)

7. Why would someone need personal training?

It’s a mixed bag, some people don’t know how to exercise or do so with good form, but I would say that for the most part people need encouragement and accountability.  If you are paying for something and it’s scheduled, you’re less likely to flake out and stay in bed.  Honestly, I’d love to have my own, someone to remind you what you can do, to push you out of the mental battle telling you to stop.  Yes please!

8. What should someone look for in a personal trainer?

That’s tough too.  I think it depends on your goals (weight loss, maintenance, etc).  Personal compatibility is a big component, but ultimately it’s whether they’re going to get you to where you want to be. Generally trainers will offer a free intro session, so feel free to try some on.  Meet with them ask them questions, if they specialize in anything, what types of workouts they do, why they’re a trainer.  Be clear about what you want as well, and when they put you through that first workout, decide if they’re a good fit.  If not, try another.

9. From a personal training perspective, what are some of the biggest issues for women?

I see first-hand the image issues women have based on what we think guys wants and what we see in society.  We draw comfort in eating.  And people don’t talk about it publicly or to each other. We especially don’t talk about the heart underneath why we are going to food for comfort or escape.

10. Do you have any other words of wisdom to share?

Your workouts—with a trainer or not—are YOUR workouts.  That means that you are responsible for at least 75% of the work.  I think it’s a common misconception that by hiring a personal trainer, everything will be fixed.  That’s putting a lot of weight on the trainer who doesn’t eat every meal or do every workout with you!  We are here for encouragement and we will do that, absolutely, anytime.  We’ll check on you and give you home work, etc.  But know that you have to make a commitment to the process as well, and that’s gotta come from the place in you that wants to change.

Change is uncomfortable, and your mind (and the enemy, the devil) will tell you it’s too hard and that you should quit.  But if you always stay where it’s comfortable, you never grow – this is true in any capacity.  Our bodies are amazing machines, created to be capable of many things and superior to all other creatures on the earth.  Often our focus gets skewed by our ‘priorities’ and taking care of our body usually gets dumped first.  But it is a gift to you, and the only one you get in this life, so consider leaving your comfort zone.  The possibilities are near endless!