Whether you're just starting on your fitness journey or seeking to elevate your current routine, everyone has their own unique fitness goals. In this blog, we've gathered expert insights from the Western personal trainers on 10 common fitness goals they often see.

From shedding unwanted pounds and mastering the art of pull-ups to relieving pain and enhancing overall daily activity levels, take a look at these tips from our Trainer's Toolbox!

Goal #1: Lose weight

Losing weight is one of the most common fitness goals, but it's essential to approach it with a balanced and sustainable strategy.

First, focus on your food. “Weight loss is all about consistency in the gym and discipline in the kitchen,” says Western personal trainer Olivia LaPlante.

Regular exercise not only burns calories but also helps build lean muscle, which boosts metabolism and aids in fat loss. But making mindful food choices and getting a balanced diet rich in whole food and nutrients is equally important. By striking the right balance between exercise and nutrition, individuals can create a sustainable and effective weight loss journey that leads to lasting results and improved overall health. Remember, success comes with patience and dedication to these healthy habits over time.

But what kind of exercise is best for achieving weight loss? Luckily there’s a lot to choose from!

“Do resistance training, full body workouts, HIIT workouts, and go on the treadmill,” says Western personal trainer Ally Bader, “Getting your heart rate up with a mix of cardio and strength training is a great way to facilitate weight loss.”

Goal #2: Get stronger

Just like losing weight, getting stronger is one of the most common fitness goals trainers hear from clients–and consistency is key for this one too!

“Do 2 to 3 days a week of strength training, and be consistent.” advises Western personal trainer Ryan Doro.

Strength training routines should include compound exercises that engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously, maximizing efficiency and promoting overall strength gains. Some effective compound movements include squats, deadlifts, bench presses, overhead presses, and pull-ups. These exercises not only stimulate muscle growth but also improve coordination and stability. Incrementally increase weights, repetitions, or difficulty in your exercises to continue making progress.

While pushing your limits, it's crucial to prioritize proper form and technique to prevent injuries and achieve the desired results. Focus on engaging the targeted muscles during each repetition and seek guidance from a qualified trainer if you're unsure about the correct form for specific exercises.

Goal #3: Train for an event

Whether you’re preparing for your first 5K, a triathlon, or anything in between, the key to training for any fitness event is a systematic approach. Identify the distance, time, or other performance metric you want to achieve and then break down your training into smaller milestones

"Start small, start slow,” says Western personal trainer Tad Taggart, “You don't jump straight into a big program right away. Make small, achievable goals like something as simple as biking or walking a few times a week.”

Cross-training is also important when training for an event. Cross-training involves engaging in various activities to complement your primary event training. For instance, runners can benefit from cycling or swimming to reduce impact, improve cardiovascular fitness, and work different muscle groups. Cross-training also helps prevent overuse injuries and keeps training enjoyable.

If possible, consider working with an experienced trainer who specializes in the event you’re training for. They can offer personalized guidance, track your progress, and provide valuable feedback to fine-tune your training plan.

Goal #4: Do 5 unassisted pull-ups

Mastering the art of the unassisted pull-up is a challenging but rewarding fitness goal. Pull-ups target multiple upper body muscles, including the back, shoulders, and arms, making them a fantastic indicator of overall upper body strength.

To get started, Western personal trainer Lauren Griepentrog recommends starting with assisted pull-up variations to build your pull-up strength gradually. “Start by doing different forms of pull-ups, like banded and machine-assisted pull-ups and work your way up.”

Resistance bands can provide support as you work on the movement pattern. Gradually decrease the assistance provided by the bands over time until you can perform pull-ups with minimal assistance. Aim to practice 2-3 times per week, dedicating a few sets to pull-up progressions and other exercises that target the necessary muscle groups. Remember to be patient with yourself and celebrate each small progression!

Goal #5: Improve flexibility

Flexibility is a fundamental component of overall fitness and plays a vital role in injury prevention, joint health, and enhancing athletic performance. Whether you're an athlete, a fitness enthusiast, or simply looking to move with more ease and comfort, improving your flexibility is a great way to pave the path to achieving other fitness goals.

“When it comes to improving flexibility, consistency is key,” explains Western personal trainer Krystal Morgan, “Do stretching and mobility work every day.”

“Even on off days, prioritize stretching,” suggests Western personal trainer Sydnie Meyer, “Even 10 to 15 minutes of stretching exercises each day can help improve flexibility over time.”

Yoga and Barre are also excellent practices for enhancing flexibility, balance, and core strength, as they incorporate a variety of stretching exercises that help increase the range of motion and improve flexibility over time. Consider adding one of Western’s 10+ yoga and barre classes to your weekly routine. (You can find the group fitness schedule here.)

Goal #6: Create an effective workout program you enjoy

Creating a workout program that you genuinely enjoy can make all the difference in staying motivated and consistent. But it can be hard to know exactly what exercises we should be doing in order to reach certain goals. Working with a personal trainer can help you learn the kinds of exercises that make sense for your goals and identify the things you actually enjoy doing.

“I love showing clients different lifts and explaining different training styles for different goals,” says Western personal trainer Tony Riske, “Once you start to learn the correct order in which to go through a routine, with a warmup, working sets, and a cooldown, you can begin to build a program you really enjoy.”

Working with a trainer can also help you identify your personal fitness preferences and explore different training styles. Don't be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and try new exercises or activities. You might discover a new passion or challenge that you never knew you enjoyed.

Goal #7: Tone up

Toning up is a common fitness goal that involves reducing body fat and building lean muscle mass to achieve a sculpted and defined physique. Toning requires a comprehensive approach that includes both exercise and nutrition.

“Combine resistance training, such as weightlifting and bodyweight exercises, with cardio like running or cycling,” advises Western personal training Stacia Root, “Increase your daily activity and watch what you’re eating to make sure you’re fueling yourself with the right balance of nutrients.”

Goal #8: Prioritize recovery days

If you’re one of those people who always wants to go, go, go, prioritizing recovery may be a challenge for you. But rest days are a crucial component of any well-rounded fitness routine. Giving your body time to rest and recover is essential for optimal performance and injury prevention.

Remember, rest and recovery are not signs of weakness; they are necessary for your body to repair and rebuild after intense physical activity. Adequate rest allows your muscles to recover, grow stronger, and perform better in subsequent workouts.

Having a rest doesn’t mean you have to lay on the couch all day, either.

"Doing 20 minutes of stretching and 20 minutes of low-intensity activities on rest days is a great way to allow your body the recovery it needs without causing additional stress,” says Western personal trainer Katie Fichtenbauer.

Incorporating recovery tools like foam rolling and cryotherapy can also help alleviate sore muscles and help you recover faster.

One of the most important aspects of recovery–paying attention to your body's signals. If you're feeling fatigued, sore, or experiencing any pain, it may be an indicator that you need additional rest. Be flexible with your training schedule and allow yourself to adjust it based on how your body feels.

Goal #9: Reducing pain and discomfort

Aches and pains are a part of life. Whether caused by age, chronic illness, or injury, pain and discomfort during our day-to-day activities can diminish our quality of life. Luckily, regular exercise guided by a personal trainer with expertise in pain management or injury recovery can go a long way in improving pain and aid in better recovery. A personal trainer can help identify the issues that may be causing you pain and discomfort and help correct them.

Some of the most common complaints heard from personal training clients center around experiencing pain and discomfort during regular day-to-day activities.

"Focus on more functional instead of aesthetics,” says Western personal trainer Zach Prochnow, “Work your hips, core, and shoulders and incorporate recovery techniques to promote healing and reduce discomfort.”

Goal #10: Be more active in life

Sometimes the most important goals are simple. Many people know the value of regular exercise in overall quality of life and want to prioritize an active lifestyle. But leading an active lifestyle can sometimes be a challenge to fit in with busy schedules.

Some tips for leading a consistently active life?

"Do what you enjoy,” says Western personal trainer Andy Guastad, “If you like it, do it. If not, don't do it."

“Find ways to move your body inside and outside of the gym,” suggests Western personal trainer Spencer Melberg, “Go for walks or hikes, go for a bike ride, and focus on exercise that specifically helps you in weak areas, which will make your overall lifestyle more enjoyable.”

Even prioritizing things like small movement breaks if you work a desk job, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and doing active household tasks like chores and gardening can go a long way in keeping your body healthy.

No matter what your goals may be, we can help you reach them!

Remember, your fitness journey is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. It's essential to listen to your body, set realistic goals, and stay committed to the process. If you find yourself struggling with certain fitness goals, consider working with a personal trainer for expert, personalized guidance and support.

These dedicated fitness pros are equipped with the knowledge and experience to tailor workouts to your specific needs and goals. They can provide valuable insights, keep you accountable, and help you stay motivated throughout your fitness endeavors.

Visit us at westernracquet.com/personal-training to learn more about each of the trainers here at Western and start your personal training journey!

In a world that can sometimes feel a little too obsessed with weight loss and rigid dieting, Health at Every Size offers a refreshing paradigm shift that prioritizes individual health and well-being over arbitrary numbers on a scale. Embracing diversity and body acceptance, this empowering approach to nutrition and wellness challenges conventional diet culture by recognizing that health is not determined solely by body size but rather by nurturing a balance, holistic relationship with food, physical activity, and self-care.

That’s why Health at Every Size or HAES is one of the core philosophies that guide our Nutrition Programming at Western with registered dietitian Tad Taggart. Tad strives to implement the principles of Health at Every Size backed by the latest in nutritional science into his work with nutrition clients.

Before we dive into the Health at Every Size philosophy, take a look at some of our past Wellness Corner blogs to get an overview of some of the more insidious history and traps of diet culture, like the myth of the BMI, the body image trap, and setpoint theory.

Does weight loss equal health?

Imagine you do not currently exercise and eat very little fruits or vegetables. Imagine your diet is primarily foods you choose out of convenience and not so much out of health considerations.

Imagine you go to the doctor, and they point out that your health biometrics (blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, etc.) are concerning and put you at risk of some scary health consequences.

As a result, the doctor suggests losing weight. Feeling motivated, you begin a new exercise and diet plan. You’re more active than you were before and find yourself eating many more fruits and vegetables. After several months of this, you find your weight is down several pounds. You return to the doctor, who shares that your biometrics have also improved.

With this mini-story in mind – consider a couple of questions:

  1. Was it the weight loss that improved your health biometrics, or was it the diet and exercise changes?
  2. If someone made the same changes but had no weight loss, would you predict that their biometrics would still improve?

The answers:

  1. Diet and exercise changes are what improved your health biometrics.
  2. Yes! Weight loss or weight gain is not inherently a measure of health!

What does this mean? Why share this incredibly common scenario? I share this because this sequence of events that happens to so many people is leading many, many individuals to false conclusions and faulty science.

This sequence of events where individuals are told to “lose weight for their health”, seek weight-loss behaviors, lose weight, and become healthier makes many believe that their weight is the operative factor in this equation. When in reality, it is the lifestyle changes that are making the real difference.

In other words, it’s not about the weight – It’s about what we think the weight means.

The weight loss myth

Many of us believe this:

Weight Loss = Healthier

But believing weight loss equals better health sets many people up for frustration and failure. For those that are “doing all the right things” but can’t seem to make weight budge, they believe they aren’t getting healthier. Or put another way, many people hold the assumption that getting healthier means there needs to be some weight loss attached. If we then hold this pattern to be true, the logical next step is to then operate on the reverse:

Weight Gain = Unhealthier

From this perspective, many people feel they are failing every time they step on the scale and see an increase. Regardless if they are staying consistent with new healthy behaviors, they believe they must be doing something wrong.

The issue is that there’s more to the formula, but our culture’s focus on certain body types (read: thinner) being considered “healthier” than others makes it hard for many of us to see past the numbers on the scale.

Think of the first scenario. Instead of Weight Loss = Healthier the formula actually looks like this:

Health-Giving Behaviors = Weight Loss AND Healthier

With this pattern, we can acknowledge that the middle “weight loss” piece just doesn’t always happen (to many people’s dismay). Regardless, we can reduce this pattern and find it still holds true (and is painfully logical, as well):

Health-Giving Behaviors = Healthier

This then brings us to the Health at Every Size framework for health. While there is much more complexity behind the HAES principles and framework, the foundation of the HAES message states that a person’s health cannot be determined by their size.

For many, weight is not a predictable path. For many, weight change is not as simple as “calories in, calories out”. There are many people out there believing that they are not “healthy” until they lose a certain amount of weight or fall within a certain classification of BMI, despite a healthy lifestyle and having objectively good health biomarkers and biometrics (e.g. blood pressure, blood sugar, etc.).

The HAES message basically states that you don’t have to wait until you weigh a certain amount to be considered healthy.

Health at Every Size myths and misunderstandings

In my experience working in the fitness world, the main arguments against the HAES model are founded on a misunderstanding of what HAES actually is and stands for. First and foremost, do not mistake “Health at Every Size” for “Healthy at Every Size”. That single “y” makes a huge difference.

HAES does not state that anyone and everyone is healthy, no matter the weight. Instead, HAES is suggesting that anyone can have the capacity to be healthy, no matter what size they are. There are plenty of individuals that could be considered objectively unhealthy at a variety of body sizes across the spectrum (here’s where you think about that one family member you have that eats nothing but fast food and never exercises but doesn’t seem to ever gain weight).

HAES aims to simply distinguish the fact that one’s health is not determined by their size but by their lifestyle and behaviors (as well as various environmental and biological factors that we can dive into more deeply in another Wellness Corner blog).

Another misinterpretation of HAES is the belief that it is a social justice movement. HAES is a model for care, or how individuals should be observed and treated by healthcare and fitness professionals.

While some of its messaging does coincide with social justice movements–both HAES and the body positivity movement emphasize inclusion, well-being, and respect–the HAES approach is focused on recognizing someone’s health status for factors not including weight. This means that as a doctor, nurse, personal trainer, dietitian, or any other provider, recommending weight change for the sake of “health” isn’t always justified and needs to be scrutinized more closely.

In other words, providers should be careful to cast aside inherent biases and be asking themselves, “Will weight loss or gain authentically make this person healthier? And if so, how?” Ascribing to the HAES principles means thinking outside the “weight-loss” box and seeing someone’s health and needs as a multifactorial issue and not something that can be solved with the cookie-cutter “weight-loss” prescription.

HAES ultimately is an effort to personalize care, whether it is a medical prescription or a fitness plan, to ensure that someone is truly getting healthier and not just on a lifelong journey of weight loss (that might never come or if it does, might not bring with it all the promises of health and happiness they think it will).

A dietitian’s perspective of Health at Every Size

So, what really is HAES, and how can it be used in a nutrition counseling setting? From the perspective of a fitness dietitian and personal trainer, HAES is a message encouraging everyone to pursue health and fitness, if you so choose, and do it without the looming dread, doubt, or fear that is caused by the belief that you must also start a diet or aim for weight loss.

HAES messaging means that the number on the scale doesn’t decide if you can be fit, healthy, happy, or confident. You get to decide that.

If you’re interested in learning more about Health at Every Size or talking with registered dietitian Tad Taggart, check out all of our Nutrition Services at Western today and see how Tad can help you start reaching your fitness and wellness goals.

In this series of Healthy Habits blog posts, we'll provide valuable insights into creating healthy habits that promote a healthy life, including aspects of physical fitness, mental well-being, and emotional balance. Whether you're a beginner or already have some experience with healthy living, this series will provide the tools and inspiration you need to create lasting change in your life.

You've probably heard your mother say it a million times: "Stand up straight!" It turns out she was on to something. You may not think about it often, but the way you carry yourself can have a big impact on your overall health. From your spine to your joints and muscles and even your respiratory and digestive system–everything is connected, and there are a number of conditions that can be aggravated by poor posture.

Luckily, there are a few simple things you can do to improve your posture and protect your health. Here's everything you need to know about why good posture is essential and 6 tips for improving yours.

What is considered “good” posture?

Good posture is the proper alignment of your body's bones when standing, sitting, or lying down. When in proper alignment, all the muscles, ligaments, and tendons are able to work together efficiently. Good posture not only enhances physical appearance but also promotes proper breathing, prevents muscle imbalances, and reduces the risk of pain and injuries.

You probably know good posture when you see it. The head is held upright and aligned with the spine, the shoulders are relaxed and pulled back slightly, and the chest is open. The back maintains a gentle, natural curve, and the abdominal muscles are lightly engaged. Additionally, the hips are centered and level, and the feet are planted firmly on the ground.

Why is good posture important?

Maintaining good posture has a number of benefits for your overall health. First, it helps prevent back pain by ensuring that your spine is in proper alignment. Additionally, good posture aids in digestion and breathing by keeping the organs in their proper place. Good posture also helps improve your mood and decrease fatigue by increasing circulation and allowing your muscles to work more efficiently. Lastly, good posture simply helps you look better! While it may not be the number one reason to work on your slouching, improving your posture is a really simple way to improve your day-to-day appearance, making you appear slimmer, taller, and more confident.

6 ways to improve your posture

1. The dreaded text neck

Staring at your phone all day isn't just ruining your mental health–it's ruining your posture too! Text neck is what happens when we excessively repeat the motion of sticking our heads forward and down to look down at our devices. When we do this repeatedly over extended periods of time, it can often lead to neck pain, headaches, and poor posture.

Living in a digital world can make text neck hard to avoid. The best way to keep text neck at bay is to take phone breaks every 20 minutes or so and move your head and neck around slowly to give it a nice stretch. If you can, try to make a conscious effort to hold your head up high and keep your shoulders back when using electronic devices, especially if you sit at a computer all day for work.

2. These boots weren't made for walkin'

They may be the perfect addition to your favorite outfit, but if your shoes have a high heel, your spine is not happy about it. Regularly wearing high-heeled footwear can cause misalignment in the spine by forcing the base of your spine forward and causing over-arch in your back. This misalignment puts a lot of extra pressure on your backbone and can cause back pain and poor posture. We're not saying you can't occasionally throw on a pair of pumps for a night out, but for the day-to-day, ditch the stilettos and stick with a flat or low, chunky heel.

3. Core competency

Exercising your core muscles is one of the best things you can do to maintain good posture; plus, a strong core comes with a myriad of other benefits for your body, like improving balance and stability. And don't worry–you don't need six-pack abs to give your spine the support it needs. Even simple, low-impact core exercises like hip lifts and planks can build strong, supporting muscles that prevent back pain and poor posture.

Consider trying one of our core-strengthening group exercise classes at Western, like TRX, Strength, Pumped Up Strength, Barre, or Rowing–all classes that will keep your core engaged. If you’re looking for some additional ways to strengthen your core, talk to a Western personal trainer. They can put together the perfect custom workout for whatever your goals are.

4. Pillow talk

If you need a rest from all those core-strengthening exercises, try improving your posture while you sleep! Sleeping on the wrong type of pillow can cause strain on the neck and back and keep you slouching throughout the day. Something as simple as finding the right pillow for your sleep position can help fix misalignment in the spine and prevent poor posture and back pain. If you sleep on your side, choose a firm pillow; if you sleep on your stomach, choose a softer pillow; if you sleep on your back, choose a medium-firm pillow. Don't forget about the mattress either. Firmer is better, as it helps support your spine's natural shape.

5. Embrace ergonomics

Sometimes we just can't escape our desks. If you're stuck in a seat all day, consider investing in ergonomic furniture and accessories to make your office a little more spine-friendly. Start with an ergonomic office chair that has adjustable seat height, backrest, and armrests and good lumbar support. Get a little extra ergonomic support by adding a footrest or lumbar back support to the setup. Looking to go the extra ergonomic mile? Ditch the chair altogether and try a standing desk. Studies have shown that standing desk users saw an improvement of up to 32% in their back and neck pain after a few weeks. Even just standing in intervals of 15-30 minutes during your work day can significantly improve back pain and posture.

6. Heavy lifting done right

Practicing good posture while lifting weights is essential for maximizing effectiveness and minimizing the risk of injury. Start by maintaining a stable base by planting your feet shoulder-width apart and keeping your knees slightly bent. Engage your core muscles to provide stability and support to your spine. When lifting, focus on using your legs and hips to generate the force rather than relying solely on your back. Keep your back straight and avoid rounding or arching it. Ensure that your shoulders are pulled back and down, away from your ears, to maintain proper alignment.

It's also crucial to lift within your comfortable range and not exceed your capabilities, gradually increasing weight and intensity over time. Remember to breathe rhythmically and avoid holding your breath, as proper breathing supports overall stability and performance. By practicing good posture while lifting weights, you can effectively target specific muscle groups, minimize strain on your joints, and promote a safe and efficient workout.

If you’re struggling to master the right form in the weight room, talk to a Western personal trainer today! They can help make sure you’re practicing proper technique and minimize the risk of injury.

Stand (or sit) tall

Good posture is important for overall health because it helps minimize strain on your body while allowing it to move efficiently using less energy. Even small day-to-day adjustments go a long way in improving posture. Make an effort to stand tall with your shoulders back and down and your chin parallel to the ground. When sitting, keep your feet flat on the floor in front of you with your knees at a 90-degree angle.

Being aware of how you sit, stand, and move throughout the day can help you figure out where improvements need to be made in order to stop the slouch. Just by being aware of how you carry yourself throughout the day and making a few adjustments here and there, you can help prevent pain and other health problems down the road.

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