The Manhattanization of the Independent Personal Training Industry

Aug 13, 2017 Eric Toussaint 6 Comments

There has been a change taking place within the industry and it has come to my hometown or should I say the hometown of my business JETT Training llc. For as many years as I can remember I have run JETT Training within the walls of Fitness First in Bethesda, MD while paying a fair and actually quite modest “trainer fee”.

This pass month – June 2017 with very short notice Fitness First was forced to close. Seeing the change in the winds I always kept my foot in the door at a gym a few miles north of Bethesda, Team Eckenrode Gym and Fitness. This is currently my new venue and I am very happy with the owner and the management.

Now to my point, as the rapacious development efforts in Bethesda are coming to fruition, Fitness First was squeezed out. When development of this type takes place the only types of gyms that can afford the new high rent are corporate gyms. Corporate gyms as rule do not allow independent trainers.

So where do the independent trainers go to practice their trade. I am extremely fortunate to have found a home at Team Eckenrode http://teameckenrode.com, however there are those of my colleagues that are still undecided, and others that have decided to become trainers at corporate gyms. I really don’t recommend the corporate gym option for several reasons. Your clients will no longer be yours, they will belong to the corporate gym and if you leave you can’t take them with you as there will be a non-compete and a proximity clause. You will also be working twice as much for half the pay (best case scenario if you are lucky).

That being said independent trainers as in most big cities are forced to exist in the nooks and crannies of the industry. Small boutiques studios, friends and or colleagues that own Yoga and Pilates studios, martial arts studios etc. There is no formula here and most of these relationships/studios are hard to find and tend not to be as well equipped as actual gyms. But if there is a will there is a way, and there are many a trainer that have had great success with this approach. The other option is to do strictly in-home training, which works quite well but many training hours are lost in transit.

On the client side of this equation, it can be a tough transition if the new venue of choice doesn’t offer all the amenities that they were used to in a gym. There may be no classes, no childcare, no towels etc. There can also be geographical challenges, I personally stand to lose five to six clients as a result of my change of venues. However this phenomenon is nothing new and many clients are already used to not having everything under one roof and are already taking an a la carte approach to their fitness needs or as I call it the “Manhattanization” effect on the fitness industry. What does Manhatanization mean, well to the gym industry it is what happens in all the larger cities, as mentioned earlier the independents exist in the nooks and crannies and clients have their fitness needs met in an a la carte fashion.

I think at the end of the day, independent trainers need to always be on the look out for places to train their clients because nothing is forever and your base of operations could change at anytime. If possible try to find a gym that is independent friendly and tell every trainer you know to join ASAP, there is strength in numbers. That is the situation I am in now and if the owner decides to close up shop the 50-60 independent trainers have a strong chance of rallying together to finance a new gym/base operations. Don’t wait until you have no options, always have a back up plan and talk with your colleagues about how you would handle a forced change of venue.

I will also add in this bit of advice always treat everyone in this manner – “I may work for you one day, and you may work for me one day”. You never know what the future holds and the more friends you have in the industry the more options you will have.

Good luck and God bless to all you independent trainers out there!!

What is in your gym kit?

Jun 12, 2017 Eric Toussaint 6 Comments

I’m curious what is in your gym kit? I’ll go first…

Ok so of course I have weight belt, it’s a wide back valeo belt. I have a set up straps for heavy pull days, knee wraps for heavy squats and leg presses and I also keep a pair of minimalist shoes in my bag for squat days. I have chalk but rarely use it, it’s just too messy.

Another necessity is music, I have an arm band for my iPhone and a set of wireless earphones.

This has been my standard kit for years and it has carried through many a workout.

So I ask you…

What do you bring to the gym to get your lift on?!

What are you up to?

May 18, 2017 Eric Toussaint 6 Comments

It seems an age since I have written a blog post, so I thought I’d check in with the JETT Nation and see what you’re up to.

I personally have been trudging along with my recovery from multiple foot surgeries (two neuroma surgeries on each foot). My last surgery was January the 13th, 2017 and my current rehab routine consists of trying to walk barefoot when I can and slowly testing the waters with my martial arts training. I have been able to resume weight lifting an am making good progress, and the elliptical doesn’t seem to bother me as far as my cardio is concerned.

It’s nice to be back in the game even if not at 100%, I am trying to remain as active as I can while convalescing but I truly think it will take a full year to get back to where I was before all the issues with my feet started.

Enough about me…what is the JETT Nation up to these days? Are you running, lifting, riding, swimming, becoming a yogi etc., let me know I would be interested to hear as I am very much living vicariously through the physical experiences of my clients these days.

Even if your not following a fitness routine I’d love to hear from your and maybe I can help change that. Especially if you are dealing with injuries, not only because that is one of fortes but because I have lived through many injuries in my day an my own issues have led me to better help my clients over the years.

I hope your Spring is going well and that you are Happy and Healthy!!

How much do you stretch? Part I Lower Body

Mar 21, 2017 Eric Toussaint 6 Comments

By far I would have to say that stretching is the most overlooked part of most exercise enthusiasts programs. There just never seems to be enough time. Personally I have to stretch to keep up with my martial arts training, but am just a challenged when it comes to time available.

Here are some simple lower body stretches that I try to perform two to three times a week.

Perform each stretch 2-3 times, hold for 60-90 seconds.

Kneeling Hip flexor stretch:

Piriformis stretch:

Lotus stretch:
I would recommend a progressions with the lotus, I struggle with this one

Hamstring stretch on raise object:

Quad Stretch:

Straddle Split:
I recommend a progression as well

Do You Need to Train to Destruction?

Mar 4, 2017 Eric Toussaint 6 Comments

Just how hard do we really need to train? Is more always better? How much is enough? These are tough questions to answer. Especially considering that we all come in various shapes, sizes, ages and fitness levels.

First and foremost anyone starting an exercise program should be healthy and medically cleared. I will of course tell you the easiest and safest way is to workout is with a qualified personal trainer or fitness coach.

Here is the approach I take with my clients:

Believe it or not most of my clients, whether they are athletes or stay-at-home-moms, follow a rather similar program. My programming is heavily focused on proper function and functional movements.

Function – meaning are you are moving properly – focuses on avoiding a situation where we are building fitness on top of dysfunction. Functional movements are exercises that provide strength building that has crossover into to the real world, or real strength as I like to call it.

The previous section is based on specific programming that may be above the average person’s base of knowledge. Again a trainer is a good idea – to be safe in your training you either need to know what you’re doing or train with someone that does and have good function.

All that is left in the scheme of safe and effective training is intensity. Here is where the largest variance lies with my clients. Each age cohort, and level of physical fitness, requires a different level of exercise intensity and is also the area of most potential risk and injury (assuming all conditions of function and proficiency are met).

Your level of intensity should be age and population appropriate and geared towards your current level of fitness. Someone beginning a training program that has been sedentary for a long period of time cannot be expected to train with the same intensity as an elite athlete. However it seems that some feel the need to always push beyond and this is a sure path to injury. Whatever your level of fitness, the intensity of training should match it and not exceed. Even an elite level athlete has his/her limits.

There are times when the general population or the athlete can push hard, but it must still be at measured pace. Most training programs are progressive. Even the most elite level athletes don’t take this fact lightly; a professional fighter doesn’t have a fight every day, and a runner doesn’t run a marathon every day. Many athletes actual taper their training programs as they are approaching a max physical output.

There is nothing wrong with maximal efforts when you are prepared, and I regularly encourage my clients to get involved in some type of competitive event to give them a goal and help them become more fit. But as I’ve said many times the output must be measured and prepared for.

Train hard but don’t train to destruction and watch how many maximal outputs you are performing. Then you will be one large step closer to training injury free.

How Much Should You Exercise?

Feb 6, 2017 Eric Toussaint 6 Comments

This is a question that has been much debated over the years and does not come with an easy answer. I can tell you what has worked with my clients over my twenty years of training.

I cater to the general population, which let’s face it, thats most of us. I like to see two days of lifting a week, three to four days of cardio and a sound diet. Let me now elaborate on my three tiered approach.

With weight-lifting or negative resistance training I like full body workouts set up in a push/pull fashion, with a heavy emphasis on functional movements. I also like to focus on corrective movements based on the Functional Movement Screen (http://www.functionalmovement.com/fms) that I give to all my clients.

The cardiovascular approach we take is very low risk. Two days of elliptical and two days of spinning. Both are no impact cardiovascular options which is key to safety and continuance of regular cardiovascular training. Elliptical training should be done at 55-65% of maximal heart rate to help build a strong cardiovascular base. Spinning covers the need for interval training which is essential. See link for good explanation: http://www.sparkpeople.com/blog/blog.asp?post=7_good_reasons_to_try_interval_training.

As far as diet is concerned, we have a very specific approach that combines a detox cleanse and simple to follow five meal a day approach. It is very much based on being able to fit into the busy schedules that everyone seems to have these days. For more details see link: http://jettllc.biz/services/nutrition/.

I hope this helps and if you are interested in further explanations or just general FAQs please feel free to peruse our website www.jettllc.biz.

Light at the End of the tunnel

Jan 18, 2017 Eric Toussaint 6 Comments

I am nearing the end of the story of my feet. I just had had my second surgery last Friday and and will be convalescing for about ten days. The surgery was a success and both neuromas were removed. If you have following my tale of woe then you know that I have been dealing with Morton’s neuromas (two in each foot). Only being able to remove one at a time from each foot, I needed two surgeries.

I am hoping to be back to 100% by June, but will start this coming Tuesday with the upper body cycle, then the recumbent elliptical and then swimming. I will also try some light calisthenics as well. That regimen should hold for about two and half months and then I will try the regular elliptical and the zero runner with an eventual transition to running.

The ultimate goal is to get back to my kung fu training with an additional focus on intense cardio, stretching and less focus on weightlifting only as cross-training.

I am excited for a pain free future and my new focus; before my surgery I was to focused on weightlifting, and my martial arts training was left wanting. I am also going to stick to my New Years resolution of learning some ground fighting.

If you too are struggling with and injury I hope this provides some inspiration. Keep your chin up and focus on the can, not the can’t and you will rise above.

The New Year

Jan 1, 2017 Eric Toussaint 6 Comments

What will you be thinking about when Auld Lang Syne is playing? I should frame this a little more particularly, I am referring to your health and fitness in the past year…this is not me trying to be Tony Robbins.

I myself have had ups and downs in 2016. I was able to focus for better or worse on a lot of weight lifting à la bodybuilding. To the point that I was contemplating entering a contest/show. This style of lifting however does come with a cost. It is all consuming, very painstaking and the rewards comes slowly. You cardio suffers, your flexibility and speed as well. But boy do you love looking in the mirror, it becomes very narcissistic.

That being said my martial arts training very much fell by the wayside, but not only due to bodybuilding. I have been having foot issues, more specifically – Morton’s Neuromas. This led to surgeries in each of my feet. The second round of surgeries will be January the 13, 2017 (yes I need two surgeries in each foot). This for all intents and purposes has brought me to a complete halt. I have only recently gone from using the upper body cycle (UBC) to recumbent elliptical and I swim when I can.

The last time I lifted was Thursday November the 17, 2016. For those that bodybuild you know thats enough to put you into absolute freakout mode. Fortunately I have vacillated from aerobic to anaerobic training so many times over the years it doesn’t really bother me and it actually sets me up for the New Year.

My plan for the New Year, although due to my next surgery really won’t go fully into effect until Spring will be focused on cardio, flexibility, speed and martial arts. I will also try my hand at grappling as well to compliment my Kung Fu training. My strength training will be greatly reduced most likely two days a week.

I am looking forward to this change of pace and programming, and pushing the limit with my new focus for 2017.

Diet Time Now!!!

Dec 31, 2016 Eric Toussaint 6 Comments

The New Year is here and the time for diet draws nigh!! I must admit with my greatly reduced mobility (thank you foot surgeries) mixed with holiday vacations and all the food and good cheer that come with I have been struggling to maintain my schoolboy physique.

I am up about ten pounds and since I have not lifted weights in six weeks (again thank you foot surgeries) I am losing muscle mass rapidly. I don’t mind the ego hit that comes with the muscle loss but muscle mass burns calories (one pound of muscle burns about 40 calories a day).

I have had some success with the upper body cycle and the recumbent elliptical. I have struggled with getting to the pool for lap swimming; I just need to buckle down and make it happen.

That being said, it’s time to address diet. I have been sucked into holiday mode and have quite frankly been eating horribly. I think partially due to the fact that with my reduced level of activity I’m not mentally as focused on diet and exercise as much. This morning I upgraded to a premium membership on my LoseIt app and will be using it everyday until I reach my goal weight.

I am still trying to figure out what my goal weight should be, I have been as heavy as 200 hundred pounds when really lifting heavy and as light as 164 pounds when really pushing the mountain biking and triathlete pursuits. My focus in the New Year will be martial arts and general endurance. This course of action of course is best helped by staying lean and mean, most likely I’ll shoot for 165 pounds.

My time will be split between lots of cardio with an emphasis on interval training, some weight lifting (most likely only two days a week) and martial arts training.

The main thing to remember for myself and anyone else reading this is simple…there is no exercise regimen that can outperform a bad diet. So even though my exercise regimen will change, my real focus will be on using the LoseIt app and really watching what I eat. Otherwise I will not hit my goal weight. I hope to hit my goal by March at the latest. My starting weight is 179 pounds.

I’ll keep you posted…

Staying Focused On Your Physical Fitness While Injured

Dec 20, 2016 Eric Toussaint 6 Comments

How do you keep your focus on physical fitness while you are injured? It is an issue I am wrestling with currently. I am preparing for my second round of surgeries on my feet (yes both feet) in January.

I have been literally trying to keep my steps to a minimum to heal as fast as possible and avoid possible scar tissue and nerve damage (a possibility if I don’t ease back into my everyday routine). I keep a fold up tripod stool with me that I sit on whenever possible while at work and recently got a temporary handicap placard for my car. The handicap placard is somewhat helpful; but his humbling experience has also led me to the sad conclusion that the Bethesda area is really not very accommodating for those with disabilities, especially for longterm parking.

Some much energy is spent trying to not move and taking extra time for every task because of my naturally slower approach to everything that it’s hard to get motivated to workout. I started with using an upper body cycle and in just the past ten days or so I have started using a recumbent elliptical. It feels pretty good but of course it is harder to burn calories in a recumbent position.

I have been trying to eat less to not gain weight, my muscle mass due to not lifting weights is being affected, which is a little bit of vanity hit but there is a upside. I will be going back into martial arts full force once this is all over (hopefully April, 2017) and being lighter is a good thing for speed and agility. I will also be focusing on a lot of stretching and I have promised my self to try my hand at some grappling training.

All that being said, as mention it is a struggle to stay motivated and it is a little depressing to be so immobilized. However I am enjoying reading more and catching up on some Netflix viewing. I am doing my best to stay upbeat and have also been doing research for how I want to structure my eventual return to the physical.

Keep me in your thoughts and if you can move do it…you may not alway be able to one day!!