Pleasure and pain

As an exercise scientist and professional in the fitness industry to me the general gist of my job is to promote healthy living by staying up to date with recent research, to motivate people to move more so they can then safely adopt this lifestyle into a regular routine. Like any area of expertise, knowledge should be at a high level so clients can be educated in respect to their individual needs. Programs therefore should be tailored for the individual in front of you. If one on one health backgrounds and goals are known and sessions can be planned accordingly. In a group situation with many different health backgrounds and needs a general session should be taken on board allowing everyone taking part to be motivated to exert energy they may not be so willing to on their own, to learn new movements and correct technique. Training in the company of others has been shown to assist in an increase of self belief and motivation building comradery and respect for others. We are also naturally competitive beings so the strive to push yourself a little harder to match your fellow workout buddies is definitely present.

There are so many different types of training and types of education being offered today, that it’s hard to decipher what is best for you. This is where goals come into action.
What is it you want from your training session?

One style that seems to be the rage at the moment is military style training, where the instructor seems to take on an autocratic style of coaching to push participants to their absolute limit, which is usually failure.

Benefits of this style:
– The participant definitely reaches a state of training they would not be inclined to take on their own.
– Adrenal hormones are secreted as a result of the stressful situation, causing the participant to enter their flight or fight mode which gives the participant an energy boost and masks the feeling of pain briefly.

Concerns of this style:
– Speaking generally our population is dealing with daily stress and adding stress during exercise can cause muscles to tighten and not flow into movements as fluently and muscles tend to fatigue faster.
– Whilst entering that flight or fight mode can be beneficial occasionally, physiological symptoms of an increase in blood pressure, heart rate and muscle tension occur which for some individuals can be dangerous and lead to serious health issues.
– When maximal effort to failure is promoted this can then lead to poor technique and therefore risk of injury increases. These maximal effort training sessions I believe should be carried out in a controlled environment and with a smaller ratio of participant to trainer, testing of limits should be measured and physical responses should be noted keeping in mind the individuals needs at all times.

I would recommend this style of training if in a group situation to those only with a lot of exercise and technique experience, those who are training for a an intense goal may find that extra push beneficial. Those with a competitive nature need to be aware of their limits however, and the trainer should also be mindful of this to know when to say stop. Once this fight or flight mode has been entered and the pain threshold increases, for people who have addictive characteristics it can be hard to stop, so proper technique and exercise execution must be observed. In this competitive state there is also a higher risk of overtraining which can result in a negative response such as fatigue, persistent muscle soreness, depression and an increase in irritability.
Anyone who is new to exercise or starting back from injury I believe should not be taking part in these types of training, especially for trainers with high numbers participating, they simply do not have enough eyes to maintain a safe exercising environment and the risk of injury is too high.

No matter what style of training you take on there should always be a level of enjoyment. We were born to move and therefore should find ways to do so regularly. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing then you’ll be less inclined to continue with it and if you’re someone that has struggled with your health you could be at risk of falling into old patterns of inactivity and poor health.

Exercising for pleasure benefits:
– Participants are more inclined to be active in this style more frequently independently to organized sessions
– Similar effects from activities such as yoga for the participant to feel more relaxed, with a spiritual connection to what they’re doing. Some examples are that of a runners high which can occur through any intense aerobic activity allows the individual to enter a euphoric state well beyond the normal relaxation we may experience from the secretion of dopamine when exercising giving us the feeling of happiness.

– When adopting this style of training as a trainer you must be careful with how you bring it across to your participant and find a happy medium for the participant to experience their desired result in a workout and increase their heart rate but also take them to that place of fun and enjoyment. Like any training you are tailoring it to the individual or general groups needs.
What I recommend is this.. Find an activity you love and try to include it in your weekly routine as much as possible. When it comes to choosing the right trainer for you look at what it is you want to achieve and get out from it and do your own research of what and who is available. We are their to motivate educate, and promote an ongoing active and healthy lifestyle, you should look forward to a training session knowing you will benefit physically and mentally.

Stay true to yourself!
Listen to your body and be aware of your limits. There are different types of pain and you will be able to distinguish what is safe and what isn’t. When you’re new to exercise there will be movements that feel uncomfortable because you’re body is simply not used to these muscles firing in that way, your trainer can help you learn correct technique to be able to perform these at your best and with no injury. If you’re feeling pain that simply doesn’t feel right you should always stop, it is better to be safe then sorry. Ask your trainer about it, sometimes the discomfort is normal but listen to your body and if you’re worried, it could be advised to visit your medical practitioner and check that everything is ok. If you’re coming back from injury visiting a medical practitioner is always advised and they will be able provide a report that you can give to your trainer advising them of any limitations you may have.

“It’s not about how many reps you can do but rather how they are performed.”

On a personal note; I love my job and look forward to every session, I’m so lucky that I love every one of my clients and that they can say they look forward to our sessions or notice a difference and miss training if they miss a session. Hearing that they go home and write down exercises or places we have been so they can then repeat the workout in their own time is what it’s all about. I don’t want them to have a quick fix and then suffer from a quick backwards turn, I want them to fall in love with movement to have self confidence and feel safe in what they’re doing, to continue this lifestyle for as long as possible.

Published by jdv05

I'm an Exercise Scientist leading Personal Training and active tours around Parks Victoria protected spaces of Warburton and the Mornington Peninsula. A lover all things movement, incorporating nature into our sessions and personal workouts. I spent 2014 in Japan working as a tour guide and researching trails and writing active trips for both Australia and Japan. I enjoy competing in fun runs and trail runs, with my favourite being the Two Bays trail run. You can check out some of my workouts and fitness tips on my personal blog, Qualifications include: Bachelor in Sport and Exercise Science, Certificates III and IV in fitness, Level 1 instructor in Mat Pilates, Wild fitness trainer, Level I and II boxing instructor, Surf instructor.

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