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by Sarah E. Rippel, BS, CPT

November 2005

     I became a Certified Personal Trainer over ten years ago, indoctrinated in the world of bodybuilding and its training methods. Looking back upon that time, I can’t help but think "if I had known then what I have come to learn over the past few years, I could have provided a lot more to my clients." Obviously, one can’t go back in time. As an individual who has always been her toughest critic, I remind myself almost daily that I have grown tremendously since those days. My training philosophy has changed dramatically, as I have let go of the obsessive, fanatical exercise mentality that kept me mentally and physically exhausted. I feel that I am able to give my clients more than they expect, and this is what sets me apart from others in my field. Not only has my training philosophy affected my own personal exercise program, but those I prescribe for my clients as well. Long gone are the days of bodybuilding-style training programs, which focus on training body parts. The human body doesn’t move by contracting a specific muscle group, instead, a "concert" of coordinated contractions from many muscle groups is required for movement. Knowing this, it makes absolutely no sense for anyone to spend their time performing exercises that do not improve how their body moves and feels. The "training movements, not muscles" philosophy is essential in developing integrated, progressive exercise programs for any individual.

     Aside from assisting them in their quest for better health and improved physiques, I am also able to educate my clients about the body and how it works. I want my clients to understand the "how’s and why’s" behind every exercise I have them perform. I feel that I cannot truly be of service to my clients if I do not help empower them so that they gain the confidence and know-how to continue exercising safely and effectively on their own. I refuse to settle for being "up to par" with my peers, for I want to make a positive impression on people’s lives as well as the fitness industry! Continuing education and a desire to learn are vital in this endeavor. I would be lying if I said that I don’t love learning and the continual challenge it provides. Knowledge is empowering, and in the fitness industry, if one does not adequately "arm" themselves with top-notch training methods, they simply cannot provide their clients with safe, effective, and challenging exercise programs. I am always on the lookout for innovative ways in which I can best bring about results for each client I train. A cornerstone of the integrated training approach to which I adhere is core stabilization and strength. Pilates is a proven way of developing the core, and for years I have been intrigued by this form of exercise. Gaining a better understanding of the Pilates method and having the opportunity to incorporate it into my clients’ programs will allow me to provide them with better service. Ultimately, it will make me a more successful fitness professional.