3 Tips to Choosing a Fitness Professional For Your Exercise and Health Goals

What makes a fitness professional worth the investment?  Working out on a few machines every week isn’t that difficult right?  Adjust the settings to your size, figure out a weight to do 10 reps with for a couple sets, and you transform into a fitness model in 30 days or less guaranteed!  That’s what social media and advertisements have you to believe.

Since I was a early teenager I have been attracted to working out.  Even though I played soccer most of my life along with other sports growing up, weight training was something I knew I needed for better athletic performance and because I had little self-confidence as a thin kid.  As most teen boys wanted, I also had the desires to bulk up and look HUGE!  All I needed was to lift a bunch of heavy weights, read some bodybuilding magazines, and instant massive physique! Wrong.

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Finally, at the age of 18 I received my first gym membership after working out in my room with a curl bar and doing push-ups and pull-ups.  Unfortunately, I still had no idea what I was really doing until I studied for and became a personal trainer in 2008.  I went 15 years of bumbling along reading only the same bodybuilding magazines as a guide.  Let me guess, you have done basically the same thing with some kind of magazine and now YouTube sensation to guide you.  I’m willing to bet a large sum of money you also are still clueless and have not achieved what you want regarding your athletic performance and overall health.

A fitness professional is an investment, no doubt.  Remember that fitness professionals also made an investment in themselves by spending $400-$500 on a certification, sometimes multiple certifications.  Plus, they have continuing education credits to maintain that certification, which are also a financial investment.  Fitness professionals are not just the biggest guys and hottest girls in the gym. 

How do you know who to invest in for your health and fitness goals?  I’ll share with you three characteristics of a good fitness professional.

  • Relationship oriented: they show a true interest in their clients beyond taking their money.  You truly matter to them beyond the 30 or 60 minutes a couple times per week.
  • They are a product of their product: they “look” the part and enjoy being fit.  A fitness professional doesn’t have to be the biggest, fastest, strongest, and best looking, they do need to exemplify a healthy, active lifestyle. 
  • Their own workouts are similar to what you enjoy: fitness professionals train others similarly to how they workout, it’s being human.  Watch them and see if you gravitate to their style.

Not all clients stay with the same professional, and that is fine.  Work with a few until you feel comfortable.  Ask them questions about their experiences both in fitness and life overall.  If you’re a 55- year-old male, a 27-year-old female may not understand what’s going on in your stage of life.  The relationship has to be win-win.  Fitness professionals are also counselors because our clients are in a vulnerable state and they feel comfortable sharing about their lives.  Being able to trust each other is crucial for maintaining a long-term relationship.

You are investing in their knowledge and expertise to get you where you have not been able to go.  If you’re health is worth it, then hiring a fitness professional is worth it.  Just like having a CPA.  Sure, you can do your own taxes, is it worth the risk of fines, penalties, and levies if the job isn’t done right?  Only you know the answer to that.  Your health is the same risk assessment.

For questions about my experiences with clients, email me at athleteinthegameoflife@gmail.com.  Go to my website and learn how to be on the Athlete in the Game of Life Team to receive a FREE copy of my book.

3 Tips to Reduce Hypertension for American Heart Month

Have you heard of someone being heart dead and still living?  If so, you have witnessed a true miracle!  You have heard of people being brain dead while their heart still beats via life support.  Once the ticker stops ticking, life is over.

February is American Heart Month endorsed by the CDC and the American Heart Association.  Valentine’s Day may be about pleasing the emotional heart of your significant other, making sure they take care of their biological heart is of the utmost importance first. 

According to the CDC, around 500,000 people every year die from heart disease, which makes it the top killer of Americans.  Stroke is number five, and often a result of hypertension, which also is the cause of heart disease.  Let’s talk hypertension, shall we?  Hypertension affects half of the adult population in the United States, yet only 25% have it under control.  That’s not a lot of people considering the amount it affects daily.  Hypertension is blood pressure higher than 130/80.  Do you know your average blood pressure?

The major problem with hypertension is most Americans either don’t know they have it or ignore it.  Of the 108 million people who have hypertension, 1 in 3 do not treat it, and 3 in 4 leave it uncontrolled.  Where do you fall in this classification?

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Hypertension is a lifestyle disease caused by obesity factors and poor choices in eating, compounded by a lack of exercise.  It’s not rocket science to understand the percentages with 30% or more, depending on your area, classified as obese, to see why hypertension is America’s ongoing pandemic.  Drive-by Canes or Popeye’s, and you’ll see how this pandemic literally feeds itself to death.

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COVID-19 severe risk factors are also directly connected to obesity and those with heart disease.  To be honest, the math adds up on why the virus has killed so many people.  Unfortunately, it’s not news to tell someone to stop eating fried and processed foods and get off the couch or die.  I’m telling you now, change your eating and exercise habits to avoid being part of the 500,000 heart disease deaths annually.

Three easy ways to improve your heart and reduce hypertension risk:

  • Eat fried foods once per week or less aka fast-food chains
  • Elevate your heart rate to 65% of its max for 30 minutes, 3x per week
  • Park within the last 3 spots furthest away from the door when at the grocery store

Try my suggestions or use them as ideas that fit your likes and habits.  Besides some genetic factors, you are the one in control of your heart’s health.  Don’t be the victim of your own poor choices that land you in the hospital and on medications that could be 100% prevented.

The first step to any positive change is acknowledgment you need to make that change.  Do not beat yourself up over past years of treating your body badly.  Make the decision NOW to institute small edits into your normal eating and physical activity plans.  Small changes add up to big results at the end of the week and month.  Other positive side effects are weight loss, increased energy, and higher self-confidence.

How can you implement these ideas?

  • Use a fitness tracker for elevating your heart rate, not just step
  • Use a calorie tracker for your food intake (math is hard and this is a basic math problem)
  • Join an online support group with similar goals

If you need more assistance, please email me at athleteinthegameoflife@gmail.com.  I’m more than happy to give a few suggestions.  Also, go to my website and download my free report on back to register to win a signed copy of my book The Athlete in the Game of Life.

Moderation Examples, Not Extreme Behavior to Achieve Your Resolutions

Extreme right wing, extreme left wing.  Extreme heat, extreme cold.  Obesity, anorexia.  Overuse injuries, injuries from underutilization.

When it comes to new health and fitness goals, extremes are way to common for January resolutions.  Waking up at 5:00AM to run 3 miles when you never wakeup before 6:00AM and haven’t run since PE in high school.  Drop 40 pounds on a liquid diet in 15 days, and you barely drink 3 glasses of water per day.  What are the odds of success in these situations?  Not much.

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As a fitness industry expert, I have personally gone through different extremes with my body.  None of these extremes have ever lasted long for many reasons.  The body and mind cannot deal with depravation and over training for long periods of time without injuries.  What has lasted is a moderation of healthy lifestyle habits and activities that I enjoy.  The lessons learned from training for a bodybuilding contest and elite level obstacle course races, helps me maintain a fitness level that works for my personality and body type.

  • “I need someone to be super strict with me or I’ll never lose weight.”
  • “I have to workout for two hours every day.”
  • “I’m cutting all carbs from my diet and eating only meat.”

Do any of these statements make you nod your head in agreement?  If so, has that thought process worked for you beyond the length of a program/diet/contest?  If the answer to the first question is yes, the answer to the second is no.  You have reverted back to your previous self and feel like a failure for doing so.  This cyclic behavior is self-destructive and why your resolutions never work every year.

Regardless if you started and stopped already, or haven’t started yet, try a new moderate approach to changing your lifestyle.

  • No alcohol Sunday-Thursday
  • Replace soft drinks with flavored mineral water
  • Join a group to try new physical activities like hiking or cycling

In an article on NPR about a Swedish study on factors that help keep resolutions, ones that are for pleasurable activities instead of depriving are more successful.  Moderation in your lifestyle can lead to better choices overall.  Look at choices about exercise and food changes with an “if I do x, then I adjust y”.  For example, you’re going to dinner with friends on Thursday night.  Adjust your breakfast and lunch choices to allow for anything you want at dinner.  You fully enjoy the outing without guilt and still on track for your goals. 

NPC Physique competition 2014

Life is meant to be lived, not constantly have the fun taken away.  For 6 years I have maintained body fat percentage around 10% or less.  I don’t skip meals, turn down alcohol, or workout excessively.  The hard work was done during the bodybuilding contest prep.  Since then, I learned that is not the lifestyle for me.  Overall, I don’t drink sodas, keep alcohol to the weekends, and don’t buy sugary foods at the grocery store.  Total calories I eat are more than most people daily, the food is just not processed and full of fat. 

2021 doesn’t feel much different so far than 2020.  What you can take into the new year is a more focused view on your health and fitness to strengthen your immunity and reduce risk factors for heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.  In turn, you will be happier and have more self-confidence to take on the challenges 2021 will bring you.

For help with your goals, feel free to email me at athleteinthegameoflife@gmail.com.  Join the Athlete in the Game of Life Team on my website and receive a free copy of my book!

My Story of Becoming an Author in Pandemic Times

Napoleon Hill said in every adversity are the seeds of opportunity.  The Covid pandemic is a major time of adversity for all of us.  Businesses are forced to close, and people lose jobs with no timeline, if and when they will ever reopen and go back to work.  For a while millions of Americans received $600 extra per week to stay afloat and figure out how to survive, much less thrive.  The added bonus ended in July and many were in the same situation as when it began, I was one of those people.

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In following Napoleon Hill’s philosophy, I invested the weekly $600 into becoming a Corrective Exercise Specialist through NASM.  For months I pondered how can I advance my career in fitness to keep pursuing my passion that adjusted over the years to help others battle postural issues and chronic pain.  Becoming a CES was that adjustment that also led to securing an SBA loan through the PPP initiative and writing my first book, Athlete in the Game of Life.  Was there lots of anxiety?  Absolutely, and still is!  Allowing fear to crush my goals, hopes, and dreams wasn’t and isn’t an option.

A teaching of marketing guru Dan Kennedy is to go the opposite direction of the masses, that’s where the leaders and successful entrepreneurs head.  While most were cutting back and hiding, I continued to spend, risk, and find ways to grow mentally.  As I write this blog, my book preorder link through Amazon is now available, and I made another investment for a radio PR campaign to promote my book and coaching programs. 

What you focus on expands.  Depending on your political leaning, you may be contracting and feeding into mass hysteria that plagues social media and every news channel.  I turned that off and instead focused on how to come through this pandemic stronger than when it started.  Nobody has a crystal ball to know exactly what the true “new normal” will be.  Like everything else, in time, we will be flying around the globe without a mask and showing up at packed events without a worry.  Don’t believe me?  Where was that mask from the last pandemic?  Oh ya, you never had one.

Register for a free copy of my book at mattpeale.com

As a new author, the view of myself has not changed to a celebrity.  Authors do have instant credibility and are held in a semi-celebrity status by those who are aware of their books.  Becoming an author is the beginning, not the ending.  Authorship is a journey in reflection and growth to find ways for sharing the information written down with others.  So, my journey begins to share my passion in new ways for me, yet tried and true ways done by other successful entrepreneurial authors.  Good days and bad days lay ahead, and the cash register person at the grocery store has no clue who I am, nor cares. 

The lifetime of a book is 5-10 years per Advantage Publishing.  Time to slug through the mud and share my message for the next 5-10 years with people all over the world.  Big thinking separates the have from the have nots, mixed with a lot of faith.  Whatever you story is, have courage to share it.  It’s okay for people to laugh and ignore you, those aren’t the ones you want as friends, customers, clients, or patients.  As Jim Rohn said, there are only about seven mean people out in the world, they just seem to show up a lot wherever you go.

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Take my message and make it into whatever you need for accomplishing what may be impossible during this pandemic.  Every winter does have a spring, and you we all get equal amounts of both.  Work to turn this pandemic winter into your next spring of amazing!

To learn more about me, my programs, and to preorder my book, go to mattpeale.com.

Losing Your Balance? Try Exercise! It’s Easier to Swallow Than Pills

Having good balance means being able to control and maintain your body’s position comfortably while walking, standing, ascending or descending stairs, or even just sitting still. People over 65 see their doctors for balance disorders more than any other condition, so it’s important to maintain or even improve balance as you age.

Most older people feel dizzy briefly at some time or other. In many cases, balance problems disappear on their own within about two weeks. But if you have strong or persistent feelings of dizziness, lightheadedness, faintness, or if you sometimes feel shaky, weak, unstable, or just generally physically insecure, you could have a balance disorder.

To have good balance, your muscles have to work smoothly together in response to several sensory systems:

  • your vision
  • the sensations you get constantly from nerves in your skin, muscles, limbs, and joints (called proprioception)
  • nerve signals from your inner ear

These sensory systems supply information about your position in space and the pull of gravity. Errors in any of these systems can produce balance problems. So muscular improvement is a good step, but there are options that can provide even more benefits.

On a simple level, balance training involves doing exercises that strengthen the muscles that help keep you upright, including your legs and core. These kinds of exercises can improve stability and help prevent falls. That makes sense – stronger muscles help keep you upright! But there’s more to it! Physical exercise over a course of several months has been shown to improve cognitive performance, including executive functions, speed of processing, and memory. So what type of exercise is best? Cardiorespiratory fitness improvements following aerobic training might only be one of multiple factors mediating the positive effects of exercise on cognition. It is vitally important to include a variety of classes of activity – resistance training, balance training, coordination exercises; strength exercises, etc. By including all of these forms of exercise on a regular basis, research has shown improvement not only in balance, but also in cognitive function, executive function, memory, and more.

The Movement Academy Active Agers Program provides a road map for an exercise program that incorporates all of these activities into your exercise program. So, while getting stronger and healthier, you are improving balance and stimulating neural growth in the brain! Try it. You have nothing to lose (except maybe a few pounds) and A LOT TO GAIN!  Click HERE to start your Active Aging Program today.  Enter code MEMORY to get 50% off your first month!  Only those who act receive the benefits of balance!

PE Teachers as Health Coaches

Health coach.  It’s a term used by almost everyone in the health, fitness, and wellness field to describe what they do or their actual title.  A health coach is not a graduate of any college or university, nor is it required to be certified in any type of health, fitness, or wellness training.  One vital occupation that fills the role of a health coach and gets none of the credit is a PE teacher.

In theory, and not always practice, a PE teacher is your first experience with anyone knowledgeable in health, fitness, sports, and wellness.  The elementary school PE teacher provides kids their initial dive into what being a healthy and fit person means.  Doing the job correctly means being a healthy and fit person yourself as a role model, and consistently learning how to make a larger impact on the health, fitness, and wellness of your students.  Unfortunately, this view is not currently taken by PE teachers, administrators, parents, and students.

From a business standpoint, many network marketing companies instruct their distributors to label themselves as health coaches to describe their work in selling nutritional supplements.  Yes, I have worked in that business arena extensively in the past.  Truthfully, a network marketer has more nutrition education and information than a PE teacher, which is extremely sad!  PE teachers receive minimal to no education and professional development about nutrition and healthy eating to share with their students.  Have you seen the childhood obesity problem?  The lack of education given to kids is a significant part of the problem as they become adults with buying power.  The CDC says barely 56% of health teachers across the United States even receive professional development on nutrition at all.  FYI, health teacher and PE teacher are not always the same person.

My company Movement Academy recently conducted a PD for a New Orleans area school district’s PE teachers.  As a personal trainer I can give guidelines and general facts about healthy eating and macro nutrients, but no specific diet recommendations.  The teachers in our sessions were generally clueless about healthy eating and discussed little to nothing with their students.  They all agreed overweight and poorly fueled kids are an issue yet didn’t think their jobs were to give students any insight.  That blew my mind!  Physical education is not about dodge ball, kickball, and only sports.  Healthy eating is crucial to overall physical fitness and on the same level as teaching movement skills before sports skills.

Here’s a thought, change the title from elementary school PE teacher to elementary school health coach.  Make it incentive pay based on health assessments and indicators of the students in a school.  Who cares how far a kid can throw the football, what is his disease risk factors score.  Is he a candidate for type 2 diabetes and heart disease?  The health coach not doing his or her job doesn’t receive the top pay.  That’ll get some of the roll out the ball PE teachers actually doing their job!  The teachers may even speak up and have their school leadership pay for worthwhile professional development to help them hit their incentives.  And oh btw, academic performance and attendance just tripled while behavioral issues dropped by 50% under such a program.

“Hi, kids!  I’m Mr. Matt, your health coach this year.  We are starting every class with a cheer about healthy eating.  After that we are learning some awesome skills together so you can have more fun and energy!  First, everyone has to smile and be ready to move.  Ready, here we go!”

How to Speak for Understanding with Your Students & Youth Athletes

When you talk to a 10-year-old, do you use the same words and have the same expectations of comprehension compared to speaking with another adult?  As adults, we sometimes forget children are physically and mentally incapable of physical movement and playing sports like adults.  Watch a typical youth recreational sports league and listen to the coach.  You’ll notice that parent often speaks to the U10 team as if they’re 18-years-old.  Yes, I have been guilty of it myself in my youth soccer coaching days.

Kids are not just miniature adults.  They think differently, move differently, have different motivations and emotional capabilities than adults.  When instructing them, you must use words and tones they understand.  It’s much easier for an adult to lower their brains back to youth than for a child to raise theirs to a 38-year-old.  As part of the professional development seminars I sell to school districts for their PE teachers, we talk about using words students will understand.  Increasing a child’s vocabulary is important, and so is having them understand your concept or philosophy first in language they relate to.  Kids understand the term stop instead of cease motion, for example.  Small items like these that go a long way towards successful communication and implementation of your teaching/coaching goals.

Similar to adults, children want to be encouraged through positive and affirming tones and language.  When you’re beat down all day by your boss, customers, and prospects, life gets very heavy and depressing.  Kids are the same way, which is why sports specialization and winning only at early ages hurts participation rates when they become teens.  Coaching and teaching effort instead of win at all costs has a lasting positive impact beyond sports.  A strong effort often yields great/winning results in sports, business, and relationships.  Using positive words for critiquing is difficult, but the results are worth the work.

As a personal trainer, I face these challenges daily with clients.  My adult clients don’t understand all the scientific terms and rationale behind exercise.  They come to me before or after work to release tension, feel better about themselves, and usually lose fat or weight.  All the science behind what we do doesn’t matter to them, just explain and show how they can perform the workout properly.  The same goes for kids when I train them.  Show them how to do something and explain why it’s important to do it that way in terms they understand to avoid injuries.  Yes, I use the proper names of muscles mixed with the general terms, so they expand their knowledge, but it’s not the only way I communicate.

If you’re a grizzled veteran of teaching or youth coaching, you’ve mastered these skills.  For the relative newbies, it takes time to learn.  A new parent or teacher is used to only speaking with and to other adults.  Reading a book on coaching with all its technical details doesn’t tell you how to actually have kids grasp and implement the strategies.  After they look at you with puzzled faces and do the opposite of what you said do you start realizing some work must be done.  Be patient and work on yourself before losing your temper with them.  I’ve learned all these things in my journey as a youth soccer coach and personal trainer.  Have fun and enjoy your journey on becoming an effective communicator with your students and young athletes.