When someone comes to us with the desire to make a healthy lifestyle change, we begin by assisting the client with establishing his or her goal(s). What is it that the client wants to achieve? Whether the goal is weight loss, increased strength, endurance, or flexibility, improved performance for a specific activity or sport, recovery from an injury or surgical procedure, prevention of disease, decreased stress or risk of injury, or simply an improved feeling of well-being, we always take a balanced or holistic approach.
This is to say that regardless of the specific goal, we must consider the impact that each aspect of the individual's behavior has on the achievement of that goal. How does the client eat? How does he or she sleep? Is the client active or generally sedentary? How does the client handle stress?
We must also consider the client's health history. Has the client had any surgeries, injuries, or health conditions that may impact the client's ability to achieve his or her goal(s)? What are the client's physical, mental, or emotional limitations, and what impact do they have on the goal(s)?
All of these factors and more are examined during the initial consultation. The client completes a nine-page Health/Lifestyle Questionnaire and the responses are thoroughly examined, discussed and considered by the Health/Fitness Consultant over the course of the first few sessions. The Consultant then begins the assessment process, which consists of a full musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, and muscular strength and endurance assessment. Any issues that fall outside of the scope of the Consultant's training and expertise are referred to a competent professional within our vast network of health practitioners (Please refer to our Referral Center on this website).
After the initial assessment process is complete, we reevaluate the client's goal(s) to determine whether they still realistic or still desired in light of what we have learned? Once we have determined the client's goal(s), we identify the client's priorities and how they conform with the established goal(s). Does the client's behavior conform with his or her priorities? If not, is the client willing to change his or her priorities? (See "Our Philosophy" on this website)
We then begin to develop a three-pronged approach to the lifestyle change: 1) Nutrition (including supplementation); 2) Exercise (including cardiovascular and resistance training); and 3) Stress Management (varies for each client). Nutrition is first because we truly believe it is the most important aspect of the client's program. Without determining your individual nutritional needs, you will not be able to realize optimum results from the other components of your lifestyle program. For that matter, if any one of these components is neglected your true potential will be somehow be compromised and your goal(s) may never be reached.
Each aspect of the program is customized to meet each client's individual needs and conform with his or her limitations. We do not subscribe to the idea that any one approach to nutrition or exercise is right for everybody, no matter how many success stories are associated with that approach or how many books were sold. We are all individuals and therefore all biochemically and biomechanically different. What is healthy for one individual may be ineffective or even dangerous for another individual.
Our goal is to educate the client. We want the client to be able to perform the skills we practice on their own. We do this through consultations, demonstration, hands-on work, and books and other written material which we encourage the client to read on their own time (we have a library of books which our in-studio clients are welcome to borrow and a wide selection of books available to purchase directly from our website).
With regard to nutrition, we don't just tell the client what to eat, we teach them why certain foods are better for them than others. With regard to exercise, we don't just teach the client how to do the exercise, we teach the client how to identify different muscle groups and how the body is supposed to move. This is anatomy and biomechanics. Also with regard to exercise, form is essential. We teach the client how to perform the exercise as safely and efficiently as possible so that the client's workouts are more effective and he or she is not wasting time recovering from injuries sustained in the gym.
Similarly, we want the client to be able to translate the skills they learn in the exercise room to the activities they perform in everyday life. This is referred to as functional conditioning. Fitness is more than just bench presses and bicep curls. How many times do you here about someone coming home from the gym and throwing their back out taking out the trash or shoveling snow?
With regard to stress reduction, this is very individual and often addressed through adherence to the other two components. Sometimes, this issue demands referral to another practitioner within our network.
Once the program is developed and agreed upon, we explore and discuss how the client will carry it out. This part of the process is largely up to the client. How much is the client actually willing and ready to incorporate these changes into his or her lifestyle. As for the exercise component, some clients find that they need the continuous guidance and direction of the Fitness Professional to adhere to their program while others are comfortable with working out on their own and checking in with the Fitness Professional periodically. There is no norm. The bottom line is that no matter which approach the client chooses, he or she must be fully committed to that approach and own it before success is possible.
Every four to six weeks, we will assess the client's progress and adjust the program to the extent necessary. If the client is having difficulty with or is not experiencing results from a certain aspect of the program, we make further adjustments at that time. Good health is similar to a good relationship - it takes constant commitment and maintenance.
People often ask us how we would describe in just a few words what it takes to be successful with a lifestyle change. Three words come to mind (in order of priority): Desire; Commitment; and Consistency.