Everybody should be exercising regularly, it’s true, but not all exercise forms are equal. However, when someone engages a personal trainer (or chooses NOT to engage one), it is almost always because they believe they need to be “pushed” – which is code for getting a flogging or being punished.
Often, a trainer believes this is all they’re good for. That the session isn’t any good unless the client is nauseous and gagging on the floor, lightheaded, or completely and utterly spent. Many trainers believe that their purpose is to force a certain body type into your physique, come hell or high water, and if you don’t achieve this ideal you’ve failed.
This mentality is as harmful to the trainer (who WILL grow old one day) as it is for their clients.
Whilst there are definitely times for high intensity, high loaded periods, doing that to your body (or your clients) every day is harmful, especially if you’re not actively seeking rest, recovery, and rejuvenation. For mums, rest, recovery, and rejuvenation are already hard to come by, let alone creating a training space where they’re flogged so bad they’re actually de-training on a regular basis. This is a recipe for exhaustion, burnout, depression (because you feel like a failure), weight gain (because of the stress hormones), and injury. Even athletes at the highest level factor time into recovery. In fact, your best strength gains will come when you’re asleep! So if you’re not getting enough sleep, then what?
Movement and laughter are two health-boosting activities that incorporate recovery into the session. If this is your primary goal, then how successful will you feel when you finish? Not to mention the added health benefits of community, connecting, and play! Laughter therapy (yes, it’s a thing!) is a kind of cognitive-behavioural therapy that could make physical, psychological, and social relationships healthy, ultimately improving your quality of life. Benefits of laughter alone include*:
- Improving mental health, including symptoms of depression and anxiety, by altering dopamine and serotonin activity,
- Stress reduction, including reducing circulating chronic stress hormones,
- Boosts your immune system,
- Triggers an endorphin release, your “happy” hormone.
Movement alone has the following benefits**:
- Changes your brain to make you more resilient,
- Reduces depression and anxiety in a similar way to laugher, and is on parr with medical interventions for effectiveness in treating these diseases,
- Improves self esteem,
- Prevents disease***, excess sitting now is linked with many diseases and conditions, including obesity, hypertension, back pain, cancer, cardiovascular disease and depression.
Now, high impact, high intensity, and high loads do have many positive health benefits too. However, they must be dished out mindfully and deliberately, and not every session. A flogging is only ever “good” if:
- You’ve had enough sleep for the past week (at least),
- You are eating enough (according to a professional – not just according to you!),
- You are getting enough minerals and nutrients – which is not the same as getting enough calories,
- You currently have a peaceful lifestyle (ie. you’re not screaming at your kids everyday then rushing to work),
- You are adequately hydrated,
- Your training goal requires your to go harder, higher, heavier
If you haven’t met these requirements, then going hard may be doing you more harm than good. You’re NOT lazy if you choose moderation and activities that fill your cup. You do NOT need to be punished or flogged for a personal training session to be “good”. The opposite is, in fact, true. Your personal trainer or coach should be the guy that tells you to relax, take it easy today, or does a dance with you to make you laugh!
Clare Hozack is an ex-athlete and owner and founder of IntoYou. Clare is currently a strength and conditioning coach, using her skills to return women to functionality after having kids, and providing education for personal trainers in how to train women better