Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wellness Month: Meet the Experts- A Fitness Professional

A fitness professional is a person who has training in the field of fitness and exercise, most often in instruction (fitness instructor) and may learn to teach classes such as aerobics, yoga, Pilates and/or other exercise modalities as well as personal training. 
An exercise modality is a system or form of exercise that is designed to elicit a very specific response from the body of the individual who is engaging in the exercise. In the case of aerobics, most people are trying to get their body to shed excess bodyfat and to increase their level of cardiovascular endurance. Weight or resistance training exercisers are usually trying to grow or tone their muscles to make them stronger, bigger, or more attractive. People who practice Yoga are usually after a stronger mind/body connection in order to gain more energy or awareness.
A fitness professional may have a college degree in exercise science, human kinetics, sports medicine or other related fields and/or hold a certificate from a nationally recognized certifying agency that requires demonstration of teaching skills showing proper technique, cueing and musicality as well as a written test covering such topics as fitness theory and practice and the various systems of the body involved in physical exertion. Fitness professionals should have CPR/AED/First Aid certification as well. 
The role of a qualified fitness professional is to adhere to an industry standard code of ethics. One widely accepted industry code of ethics has been put forth by the IDEA health and fitness association, the world's largest fitness association for fitness and wellness professionals. It states that:
As a member of IDEA Health and Fitness Association, I will be guided by the best interests of the client and will practice within the scope of my education and knowledge. I will maintain the education and experience necessary to appropriately train clients or teach classes; will behave in a positive and constructive manner; and will use truth, fairness and integrity to guide all my professional decisions and relationships.  
Further information on the code of ethics for trainers and group exercise instructors can be found at:
IDEA Code Of Ethics For Personal Trainers
IDEA Code Of Ethics: Group Fitness Instructors
With scientific research clearly showing that exercise and good health are closely linked, the work of fitness professionals is becoming increasingly diversified as they respond to the various health and fitness needs of their clients. And with rates of obesity and sedentary living rising at alarming rates, fitness practitioners are also increasing their efforts to target and motivate the vast majority of the population who do little or nothing when it comes to exercise. [Source: IDEA] 
For more on the role of a fitness professional try these links:
LiveStrong- Role of a Fitness Instructor
SportsNHealth- Role of Fitness Instructor

So far we have heard from various women who work in the fitness and wellness field- a massage therapist, a nutritionist, a yogi, a breathwork therapist and a hypnotherapist. Now let's meet a fitness professional. Please let me introduce myself, Shannon Stoughton, the Joy of Fitness Mom of one and lover of exercise, because it just make you feel darn good! I'd love to  tell you a little bit about what I do and how my role as a fitness professional helps round out the nurturing your whole self for optimal well being series. Thanks!
Shannon Stoughton, Washington, DC metro area based
AFAA certified fitness professional and owner of Joy of Fitness

How and why did you become a fitness professional? In other words, what is your story?
I became a fitness professional roughly a year after the birth of my daughter. I had never gained so much weight in my whole life as I did when pregnant. Let me tell ya, I had a hankering for bread products for which I whole-heartily indulged, much to my doctor's chagrin and to my waistline's ballooning (despite the little bundle of joy growing within). I loved being pregnant. However, I didn't love the results of my let loose dieting during pregnancy- a muffin top that five years later I am still working on getting rid of. After giving birth to my sweet baby girl and subsequently finding out about all these medical issues I had such as: borderline high cholesterol, genetic blood clotting disorder, increased chance of heart disease due to the extra fat around my waist and my family history of the disease, feeling of isolation from being a first time mom and staying at home, I knew I needed an outlet- a way to meet other moms. Most of all, I needed to get off my rear-end and better my chances of living a long, healthy, productive life (I am so dramatic!). So, I decided to take a stroller based fitness class. I not only found a renewed interest in exercise, I met amazing women, fellow moms- many whom remain my good friends today. 

When I found out the owner of the fitness program I was attending was looking for instructors, I jumped at the opportunity. I became Baby Boot Camp pre and post natal certified (and later AFAA certified), started teaching and haven't turned back. I love exercise and sharing my enthusiasm and knowledge with others. Through my training and experience, I came to understand that losing the baby fat takes patience and time in order to do it in a sound way that includes regular exercise and healthy eating habits.

You see, I had been an athlete in my teenage years and exercised for sport, but didn't fully appreciate the many physical and psychological benefits of a consistent exercise regimen until after becoming a mom. Motherhood among many things has taught me to embrace chaos, along with my middle-aged mommy figure. I enjoy exercise for how it makes me feel first and foremost (alive, productive, happy) which helps me stick with it. The other stuff: better health, slimming down waistline, firming-up of arms...well that's nice too!

What exactly do you do? I help people get fit, stay fit and enjoy it. My goal is to provide safe, effective workouts that help my clients shape-up, increase energy and mood, and most of all to live a healthier, happier life. I like to a take a fusion approach to fitness, incorporating cardio, strength, core/abs and flexibility as well as focusing on whole body movements. I keep up-to-date with the latest scientific news as it relates to fitness, health, nutrition and incorporate what I learn into routines that are relevant to my clientele. I really try to keep my mind open to new fitness ideas and approaches to help my clients get the most out of the workout.  I listen. I share my knowledge. I blog.  I adjust. I research and find answers if there is something I do not know. I refer to the appropriate people when something is beyond my capabilities. I am my clients best fitness advocate.

How do you fit fitness into your everyday, busy life? 
I always say you gotta start somewhere, sometime. There is no time like the present to start an exercise regimen. The good news is there is something for every body, need and budget, every day of the week, 365 days a year. Try out different things. Start a walking group in your neighborhood, at lunch during working hours, and as you get in better shape, you can ramp it up to a running club with maybe the goal of running a 5K race. Stand more. Yes, that's right. Stand in your office while taking a call. Stand while waiting in the doctor's office. Just stand more! Really, I just read an article about the correlation of sitting to mortality. Here's the facts folks and a good blog article from Harvard Business Review about converting from a sitter to a stander. 
The Many Benefits of Standing at Your Desk
Sitting time and mortality...
You could take a fitness class through your local recreation center, YMCA, health club, or join a gym. Buy a fitness video and set-up some time in the early morning or evening that's your time for exercise. Don't worry about missing your favorite TV show. You can watch it later. Plus, it's not as important as being healthy and feeling great! Or try a boot camp style class. Yoga. Pilates. Work with a trainer to help you get started, motivated and to provide a safe, effective routine. Lot's of fitness professionals nowadays offer group sessions, lowering the cost, upping your fun and adherence. 

The point is there is something out their for you and with a little effort trying various modalities you'll find something that clicks. Most likely you'll like several different things and that's good, because mixing it up between cardio, strength, flexibility workouts is not only recommended for optimal physical fitness to keep you healthy, your workouts remain fresh and challenging which helps keep you motivated. Check out this link for the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines for physical activity ACSM EXERCISE AND WEIGHT LOSS GUIDELINE for more information about how much you should be exercising every day. 

Anything you would like to add?  Be active. Be happy!

Thanks for indulging me and hopefully I've convinced you, (if not completely scared you away), that adding exercise to your everyday life can help you improve your health, both physically and psychologically, for optimal well-being. 

Peace and here's to your good health.

1 comment:

David Haas said...

I have a quick question about your blog, do you think you could email me?