photo credit: Jim Mullowney Photography

15 years ago was the first time I got paid to say “drop and give me 20” (or something to that effect). The idiom time flies when you’re having fun couldn’t be more appropriate. 

Artist Teiko Reindorf

I was working in my last co-op work term at a fitness studio in Vancouver called Symmetrix when I got my first client. I was almost done my Kinesiology degree and wasn’t sure what I was going to do next. I did my first co-op term at a different gym in Vancouver where I signed up new members, cleaned equipment and folded towels. I worked as a brace fitter and managed the front desk at a pedorthic clinic. I also worked at a physio clinic teaching exercises prescribed by physios. 

Funny enough, at the time I graduated from SFU, I said to myself I didn’t want to “do” personal training. Fast forward 15 years and I can’t picture myself doing anything else. It’s true that I love my job but what I love more is positively changing people’s lives through fitness. With that said, to celebrate 15 years in the biz, here are 15 fitness tips that you may find useful:

1️⃣Any kind of exercise is good exercise. I used to be a snob and judge people on what type of exercise they did, but I’m long past that.💦

2️⃣Don’t be attached to any particular exercise. You don’t HAVE to squat, bench press or deadlift or do any exercise the majority of people do to have a good, effective workout.🤯

3️⃣If it hurts, stop.🛑

4️⃣Just because someone does an exercise one way, doesn’t mean you have to perform it the same way. Do what works for your body.🙌🏻

5️⃣There is no such thing as a fat loss workout. Nutrition trumps any workout you can do to lose fat.🥦

personal training gym st. john's

6️⃣Spot reduction doesn’t work, but spot enhancement does.😅

7️⃣If you want bigger arms, you have to do isolation exercises for your biceps, triceps and delts, contrary to what many coaches or articles say (compound exercises like chin ups, bench press and rows are not enough).💪🏼

8️⃣Most people cant overhead press with ideal form due to restrictions in mobility. Steep incline shoulder presses or landmine presses are a better option.👊🏼

9️⃣Training 2-3 hours a week is not enough postural correction work to improve your posture. You need to look at the other 165 hours in the week and make adjustments there.🙂

🔟Every single new client I’ve ever had said they did planks in their workouts but never did them correctly. Remember “ribs up” and “bum in” the next time you try a front plank.😃

1️⃣1️⃣Circuit training is not strength training. Boot camps and circuit training focused workouts/gyms are a great way to combine weights and cardio, but it’s a subpar method at building strength and muscle.😅

1️⃣2️⃣Hip mobility is super important if you have low back pain. Core strength and excess abdominal fat are also important factors that should be addressed.🧘🏻

1️⃣3️⃣Most people go too heavy when they exercise. Learn how to connect with the muscle better by lowering your weights when building muscle. Similar suggestion goes for building strength. Learn how to coordinate your muscles better when squatting, bench pressing or deadlifting (or doing any other compound exercise).👍🏼

1️⃣4️⃣Use internal cues (feel biceps contract to bend elbow) when building muscle and external cues (push floor away when deadlifting) when building strength.💪🏼

1️⃣5️⃣Most people have weak feet and are disconnected from feeling the ground. Your feet have muscles too, which also need to be strong. See if a minimalist-type shoe could work for you.👟

Hope you found these quick tips useful. If you want more info on training, you know where to find me and the rest of my team. 💪🏼🐲

~Jon🏋🏻‍♂️

Jon-Erik Kawamoto, MSc, CSCS, CSEP is a Strength and Conditioning Coach, Co-owner and Founder of JKConditioning. With 15 years in the industry and over 10 years as a freelance fitness writer, Jon has helped many change their lives through fitness. To inquire about coaching, workshops, presentations or writing, you can contact him through our Contact Us page. (photo credit: Jim Mullowney Photography)

Tara Rector-Whelan

Personal Strength Training by Thomas King

I started at JKC after a good friend recommended it to me. She had been coming for about a year and I was envious of her great results. I felt sluggish after failing to motivate myself with various home workout routines. I love the fun and relaxed atmosphere at JKC. It’s such a comfortable gym space and I enjoy knowing so many of the people I work out with. Jon and Thomas make an effort to introduce everyone to each other and with all the joking around,  it starts to feel like a family. Not to mention the awesome results. I’ve always liked to run on a treadmill but I’ve never had the drive to lift weights on my own. Going to JKC makes me accountable which was what I really needed. I feel so much stronger and healthier than I did 4 years ago when I started.

Kathryn Sparrow

Nutritional Coaching by Julia Howard

From my initial consult with Julia, she was professional and knowledgeable as both a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and athlete. She was interested in my nutrition and fitness goals and the development of a plan that would set me up for success.

Julia designed weekly meal plans that were complete with recipes and shopping lists. The food choices were nutritious, easy to prepare, and ensured that I felt well nourished and energized throughout my training and non-training days. Not only do I feel leaner and more fit, but I have more energy and I feel much more in tune with my body and food choices. Julia really helped me put everything in place so I can continue this process going forward- I cannot thank her enough!

trap bar deadlift

A few of my wonderful friends and colleagues recommended JKC. I was told by one colleague that “It’ll be the best thing you ever do for yourself” and she was right! To be honest, I didn’t have much experience in any gym setting. And NO prior weight training experience. It was always so overwhelming! But from the first day, nothing was intimidating about JKC. Each workout is set up just for me, and with my specific skills and goals in mind. There are no stupid questions, you learn as you go, and what I really love, I always feel included and important, regardless of my skills/experience.

I started at JKC in January of 2014 and I’m 67 years old. When I had my Initial Assessment, I knew – almost immediately – that Jon knew what he was doing and what he was talking about. I was overweight, out of shape, and in serious need of someone, like Jon, who could get me back on a fitness/conditioning routine that suited me, my age, my less than acceptable physical condition, my sometimes intermittent RA, and my need for a structured, consistent and yet flexible training and conditioning program that would work for me.

Fundamentally, if I made a choice at all with respect to JKC – it was to continue to come back each week. I have not been in a lot of gyms. To be honest, they used to intimidate me. What makes JKC different is their approach to each and every one of their clients. Jon and Thomas – and now Craig – tailor each training regime to the particular needs of each client. That ensures that the training regime will suit each client upon the start of training and changes as the client improves. It adjusts for any physical setbacks such as injuries and it adjusts for success. It is just that simple.

It is also the consistent encouragement that comes from Jon, Thomas and Craig. That voice that comes to you while you are in the middle of a particularly difficult set – rear-foot elevated split squats comes to mind immediately – that says “good job” or “keep it up” or “just a couple more reps.” To know, in that moment, that you are not alone and the trainer is paying attention to what you are doing. That is priceless for me.

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