Fitness goals and technology

Technology in Exercise: Can you do it on your own?

There is no denying that technology is a wonderful thing. And like anywhere else in the workplace, it has become invaluable in the world of fitness. The advances in the last 20 years or so have provided greater ease and variety galore in the fitness world. Today’s cool gadgets, hot trainers, and a smorgasbord of at-home options in any specialty can provide whatever your fit little heart desires. Ask any “mature” runner about the portability nature and variety of songs on their Walkman and Discman vs. Ipod today (not to mention headphones!), or their choice of weekend races to enter 15 years ago. Oh, how the times have changed.

It’s never been easier to obtain a variety of workouts via laptop, tablet and phone. Or register for an event with a credit card and click of a button.

But with all of these options comes a bigger need for discussion and education than ever before. Each individual needs to be responsible for adjusting this “anyone can do it/use it” culture to their specific needs. I find an informed client a huge plus in building the strong client/trainer relationship that will assist in individual goals, and today’s technology has definitely made everyone more informed. But although we all have basically the same goals, they need to be met in a variety of ways. At-home workouts without the full picture can be a hindrance instead of a help, causing injuries and breaking the very motivation that started your quest.

I’ve had clients through the years tell me they would be cutting back on our sessions and using more at-home workouts to reach their goals. And this is an excellent way to gain fitness using less of your hard earned cash, for sure. Just keep in mind, solo workouts require more of yourself in terms of motivation and the “stick-to-itness” that a successful routine is all about. No one to demand your presence and start that program rolling but you, so be prepared. Inevitably, many of these clients wind up coming back for additional sessions down the road, not always happy with the path they chose. But our discussions have now taken turns that they may not have before regarding proper form and injury prevention while exercising alone.

As we age, specific instruction is invaluable to prevent injuries and assure compliance to proper form.

I make sure that my clients understand the technology world out here is vast and not always 100% accurate for their needs. They need to buy routines and use devices that are useful for their specific goals. Yes, hot ticket gadgets received at the holidays are fun to use, and provide an informative, albeit temporary, diversion. Variety is that proverbial spice for life. But they won’t do the workout for you. And come March, you won’t have made a dent in your goals unless you’ve put the work in and listened and processed that information on a regular basis.

Technology is an excellent tool, but realize that there is no substitute for the awareness, hard work, and time you need to put into a successful workout program. The variety offered today is a big plus, but we need to be responsible about the choices we make. There is no substitute for your own mind and how it knows your body in the most personal ways. Listen to it and give credit to what it’s telling you.

The job of a personal trainer has certainly changed in the last 20 years with the availability of cyberspace information and options for our clients. Yet nothing can replace one-on-one, in-person training. (Well, there is the Skype training option.) It’s still everyone’s job to clarify, educate, question, and assess. A trainer can certainly help with these questions. Does the at-home program you are using directly address your target goals and needs? Will it benefit you consistently in the long run with variety and modifications for all fitness levels and age groups? Is it for any injuries or limitations you may have? And very important – who is performing and endorsing the program and what are their qualifications? I’ve seen them all, from seasoned professionals to celebrity wannabes.

Find out what’s right for you before you spend the big bucks or undertake a program not tailored to your needs.

Remember a fun gadget is not worth the money when it’s sitting in your desk drawer with a dead battery or misplaced altogether. And that super-hot trainer is not going to give you the body you’ve always wanted if his jarring voice becomes so tedious that you’d rather clean your bathroom than listen to that same routine… again.


Guest blogger Linda Jennings holds her Personal Trainer Certification with the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and Reformer I training with Stamina Pilates.  Her hobbies include running (participant in Broad Street Run and Philly Distance Half Marathon), hiking, traveling with her husband, and reading.

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