Tag Archives: fitness advice

The Firefighter Fitness Guide to Gym Etiquette; The Dos and Don’ts of the Fitness Floor

The gym is undoubtedly one of the most interesting places for people-watching. There’s the lady in the neon spandex who looks like she stepped out of an aerobics class in 1984, the guy who’s constantly flexing in front of the mirror, the girl in full hair and makeup who’s just there to show everyone how cute she looks in track pants, and the guy who’s shorts are always just a little too short. And while the gym may be full of characters, there are a few rules everyone should know in order to get in a good workout while allowing everyone else to do the same. Therefore, we’ve put together a list of dos and don’ts that every gym-goer should follow to make the most of every workout.

1. Do- Use the mirrors to your advantage.

The mirrors aren’t just there so meathead guys can flex their muscles and check themselves out; they actually do serve a useful purpose. You should perform exercises in front of the mirrors so that you can check your form and make sure you are performing the exercise correctly. This can help you avoid making mistakes that could prevent the exercise from being as effective, or even lead to injury. A lot of people are uncomfortable watching themselves during their workout, and it can be a bit awkward at first, but getting used to watching your form during each exercise will help you to make each rep count.

2. Don’t- Talk on the phone.

We get that sometimes this can’t be avoided, like when you’re waiting on a call but aren’t sure when to expect it, but for the most part, do you really need your phone in the gym? You’re only going to be in there for an hour or so, and pretty much anything can wait that long. It’s distracting to other people (not to mention annoying) to have someone chatting on their cell while walking on the treadmill or worse, standing in the way of others trying to move around the gym in order to take a call. It can also cause you to lose focus and miss out on getting in a good, hard workout. Leave your phone in the car or in your gym bag, and return any missed calls after your workout.

3. Do- Have a plan.

It’s a good idea to know before hitting the gym what exactly you’re planning to do once you get there. Separate your weight training days by muscle group (legs one day, chest the next, etc.), and at least have an idea of which exercises you’re going to do. It may also help to keep a notebook with sample workouts and number of sets/reps for each muscle group. This will help you stay on track and you’ll be less likely to leave the gym until you’ve finished what you planned to do.

4. Don’t- Block others in front of the mirror.

While it’s a good idea to use the mirror to check your form during a workout, you don’t want to prevent others from being able to do the same. Be mindful of others while choosing where to stand in the weight room, and make sure you aren’t blocking someone else from being able to see. It’s easy to forget that there are other people in the gym when you’ve got earphones in and are focused on doing your own thing, but remember to be courteous of other gym-goers who are trying to do so as well.

5. Do- Wipe down the equipment when you are done.

This one seems to be a no-brainer, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone up to a bench or piece of equipment only to find that it’s covered in sweat. Gross! The gym is already a minefield of germs, so the least we can all do is clean up after ourselves. Sweating is inevitable during a great workout, but be polite and wipe down the machines after use. If you tend to sweat excessively, bring a towel to the gym with you to prevent dripping.

6. Don’t- Forget to hydrate!

Be sure to drink plenty of water during every workout to avoid dehydration and to keep your performance levels at their peak. Losing just 2% of your body weight in fluid during exercise can decrease performance up to 25%, and most people drastically underestimate how much they actually sweat during their fitness routine. To keep this from happening, try to drink a glass of water fifteen minutes before hitting the gym, and another eight ounces every fifteen minutes during exercise.

7. Do- Invest in the proper gym gear.

The right fabrics and fit can make or break your workout, so be sure you are adequately dressed for whatever type of exercise you plan on doing. Tight-fitting fabrics are ideal for both cardio and weight training to ensure that your clothing will not impede a vigorous cardio session and will allow you to better check your form while lifting weights. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes that are gym-appropriate (we’ve all seen the guy who wears flip flops and khaki shorts to the gym!) and consider investing in a pair of fitness gloves for added comfort and ease while lifting heavy weights.

8. Don’t- Take too long on one piece of equipment.

I actually once saw an old man sit down on a leg extension machine and open up a newspaper to read…seriously?? The gym is not for your personal use only; there are others who want to use the equipment too. Just because there’s no one standing over you waiting for you to finish up on that weight bench doesn’t mean that someone isn’t keeping an eye on it so they can snag it as soon as you’re done. Avoid sitting for too long in between sets or stopping to text or chat with a friend while sitting on a bench or machine (another good reason to leave that phone at home!). Limit cardio sessions to thirty minutes per machine, and allow others to work in with you on the weight machines. Variety is key to a good workout anyway, so there’s really no need for you to be on that elliptical for a whole hour or clock in 100+ reps on the bench press.

9. Do- Ask for assistance.

If you don’t know how to use a particular piece of equipment, you need a spotter or just someone to double-check your form, don’t be afraid to ask! While not all of the gym staff and personal trainers have the same certifications (and no, not all certifications are created equal), they should be able help you with the basics, such as navigating the equipment if you’re a gym-newbie, and helping to ensure that you are performing exercises correctly and efficiently.

10. Don’t- Make loud noises such as grunting, yelling or dropping the weights.

Not only is doing so distracting and irritating to others, dropping the weights can be dangerous to others and damaging to the gym floor. If a weight is too heavy for you to safely re-rack it, you should be using a lighter weight. As for the grunting, is it really going to help you perform that rep? We think not. Focus instead on keeping your breathing normal and steady during each set.


Back to School and Back on Schedule: 7 Tips to Stay Fit this Fall

Like it or not, summer is starting to wind down, and with the return of fall comes the return of our hectic schedules. Kids are going back to school, summer office hours are coming to an end, and it becomes more and more difficult make room in our daily routine for healthy habits. Studies show that people consume an average of 200 calories more per day during the fall season than they do in the summer months. Perhaps this is due to less outdoor activities, more on-the-go snacking, or simply that we no longer have the need to be bikini-ready when the weather cools down. Whatever the reason may be, keep that fall flab at bay with these 7 tips to keeping that bikini body all year long. It may not be autumn just yet, but these tips will help you to be prepared when fall is in full swing.

1. Plan healthy weekday meals ahead of time.

Between work, school, and extra-curricular activities, there’s not always time to prepare a healthy dinner every night. Avoid the diet-derailing drive-thru by planning quick and healthy meals at the beginning of each week. Do your grocery shopping over the weekend, and make a list of everything you will need for dinner that week. Meals don’t need to be complicated to be healthy. Pre-cut, frozen vegetables can be a great time-saving alternative to chopping up fresh veggies, and they retain just as many nutrients. There are also some great recipes online that require five or less ingredients and only 15-30 minutes of prep and cook time. Check out www.allrecipes.com for some quick and easy ideas. The crockpot is another great way to prepare meals that require little work and cleanup. Also, consider doubling up on each recipe so that you can save leftovers for later.

2. Reinstate Routines

During the summer, we tend to allow ourselves more time to relax, sleep, and participate in activities that we often feel we don’t have time for come fall, but these things are essential to good health. The key to keeping up these healthy habits is to schedule them into your day. Adequate sleep is a vital part of staying healthy, so set a nightly bedtime and stick to it. Power down your laptop and turn off your TV when bedtime hits, so you won’t be tempted to stay up late flipping channels or surfing the Internet. Do the same for your workout routine. Pick a specific time during the day, whether it’s in the morning, during your lunch hour, or after work to hit the gym, and schedule other priorities around it so that you always have time for a little exercise. Even if you only have fifteen or twenty minutes to spare, remember that every little bit counts. The trick to having time is to make time, so planning ahead will help to keep you on track.

3. Pack a Healthy Lunch

Instead of hitting up the nearest fast food joint on your lunch break, try packing yourself a healthy lunch to bring with you to work. Pack it the night before so you can grab it and go in the morning. Not only will you be saving calories, but you’ll save some cash as well.

4. Manage your Stress

It’s no secret that schedules can be stressful, especially at the end of summer when trying to re-adjust to a regular routine. Stress can do damage to your health, however, and can contribute to weight gain as well as heart problems in the long term. Keep your stress levels in check by finding something to help you cope when things get hectic. Check out a yoga class, meditate, or take a short five to ten minute break whenever you feel stressed. Not only will doing so clear your head and help you feel more focused, but you’ll likely avoid other unhealthy habits such as stress-eating to help yourself cope.

5. Do Something Physical Every Weekend

When the pools close and the weather cools down, it’s easy to start spending more time indoors in front the TV, especially after a long week. But instead of vegging out all weekend, plan to do at least one active thing. The weather is beautiful this time of year with fall colors and milder temperatures, so head to the park for a walk and a picnic, check out your local farmer’s market, go hiking, or take your bike out for an afternoon ride.

6. Don’t Go Long Periods Without Eating

When running around between work, errands, and kids’ school and sports practices, it can be easy to go long periods during the day without food. This can have a negative effect on your diet if you end up eating the first thing in sight or over-eating at the end of the day. Avoid running on E by bringing healthy snacks with you on the go. Choose light but filling foods such as almonds, fruit, whole wheat crackers with hummus or cheese, or low-fat, high fiber granola bars that can be easily tucked into a purse or briefcase, but will keep you from feeling famished during a busy day.

7. Eat Breakfast Everyday

No matter what your day entails, you should always make time to eat something before heading out. Not only will eating breakfast jump-start your metabolism and give you energy to power through your morning, but eating breakfast has been proven to boost brain function and prevent weight gain. Choose a healthy breakfast with a combination of protein and whole grains, such as a cup of whole grain cereal with almond milk, a whole wheat English muffin with egg whites and low-fat cheese, or a slice of whole wheat toast with almond butter and banana slices.

Now, get outside and enjoy the last few days of summer! 🙂


Not all Fitness Programs are Created Equal: How to find a trainer or class that’s right for YOU!

It can be hard to hit the gym everyday on your own, especially if you’re just starting out or if it’s been awhile and you want to get back in the habit of exercising on a regular basis. If you’re the kind of person who gets bored easily, has a hard time getting motivated, or you just aren’t sure where to start when it comes to working out, then a personal trainer or group fitness program may be right for you. However, just as how all body types are different, not all trainers are one-size-fits-all. In order to get the benefits of a personal trainer or group fitness instructor, you need to find one that understands your body and your goals, and can come up with a plan specifically tailored to your needs. Before paying for a package of sessions or signing up for a class membership, there are a few things you need to find out first. Use this checklist of things to look for in order to determine which fitness program or personal trainer is right for you.

1. The Proper Certifications

You’d be amazed how many fitness trainers are under-qualified due to either insufficient or complete lack of proper personal training certifications. Many gyms will hire people without certifications, then provide them with a days’ worth of training before letting them loose in the gym. I’ve watched countless trainers teach their clients improper form, or use the same workouts for every client instead of tailoring workouts to each different individual. Make sure your trainer has a current NCCA-accredited certification (it’s ok to ask!). Also, check as to whether the trainer carries professional liability insurance if they are not employed by a fitness facility. This is especially important when signing up with a fitness class or boot camp program that is held somewhere other than a gym or club.

Make sure their training is legit!

2. A “client first” attitude

A good trainer will sit down with you before your first workout and find out about your fitness level, health history, lifestyle, schedule, and goals before prescribing a program. They should ask about any areas of pain that you may have, any health conditions that could affect your abilities, your current weight and BMI, as well as what you are trying to achieve by hiring them. They may also give you a fitness assessment so they can Answer their questions honestly in order to give them a better picture of what they’re working with and how to help you reach your goals.

Be sure your trainer is asking questions!

3. A willingness to listen

I’ve heard people say before that they stopped working with their trainer or dropped their boot camp membership because their instructor simply didn’t understand them. A good trainer listens to their clients and trains each according to their individual fitness level. Not every client can go from 0 to 100 in a day, and their trainer should be able to recognize this and help them progress in a way that’s natural and comfortable for them.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions!

4. A compatible personality

Just as different methods of learning work for different people, there are different methods of training for everyone too. Some may find that a group fitness class is more fun, while others may prefer the one-on-one approach to working with a personal trainer. Either way, be sure the instructor or trainer is one you can see yourself working with on a regular basis, and that their approach to training is one that you feel will help you reach your goals. Most trainers and fitness programs will offer one free class or session so you can check them out before committing to a membership or package.

You’ll spend a lot of time with your trainer, so be sure you like them!

5. A desire to keep learning

While it’s only required that trainers update their certification every two years, a good trainer is interested in continuing their education. There’s always more to learn in the field of fitness, and there are additional certifications available to trainers such as group fitness, youth fitness, nutrition, metabolic training, and sports conditioning to name a few. Your trainer should want to continue learning about their field in order to provide you with the best fitness counseling possible.

It takes a lot to be a great trainer!

6. The need to practice what they preach!

While this one is somewhat debatable due to the idea that “those who can’t do, teach,” I think it’s important to have a trainer who is passionate about what they do, and demonstrates that through their own personal dedication to health and fitness. Hiring an overweight and out-of-shape trainer would be like going to a dentist with rotten teeth, and most people would certainly never do that! Make sure your trainer recognizes the importance of physical fitness by practicing it in their own life, and not just in their clients’.

Your trainer should care about your health AND theirs!

7. Professionalism

While it’s great to have a trainer who’s personable and comfortable with you, you don’t want a trainer who’s too comfortable and says things that are inappropriate or unprofessional. A trainer should never discuss other clients with you, or bring up questionable topics such as religion, politics, or sex. They should also never demean or insult you, and a trainer of the opposite sex really shouldn’t physically touch you during an exercise. These are all topics that are discussed in personal training certification classes, so your trainer should be well aware of what they can and cannot say and do. If you feel uncomfortable around your personal trainer or fitness instructor, do not feel obligated to continue training with them.

Your trainer should never yell at or insult you!

8. A genuine desire to help you reach your goals

The most important quality a trainer can have is a real desire to help others by training, motivating, tracking progress, and ultimately leading their clients to success. Your trainer should take a genuine interest in you and find the most effective ways to both challenge and motivate you. They should monitor and keep you updated on your progress, and help to challenge you in a way that is positive yet pushes you toward your goals.

Challenge + motivation + positive reinforcement= success!

*All of the trainers at Firefighter Fitness have NCCA accredited certifications in personal training and group fitness, and also serve as Peer Fitness Instructors for their fellow Atlanta area firemen. As firefighters and EMTs themselves, they are highly trained in CPR and injury prevention and treatment. A free introductory class is available to anyone interested in the Firefighter Fitness program, as well as a fitness assessment to help our trainers provide unparalleled fitness instruction to each of our members.