The hardest fitness advice to follow

Five trainers, one question: What advice do you preach, but struggle to practice?

Trainers coach us through those painful last few reps; remind us to choose whole over processed; champion our recovery and regeneration efforts. But do they take their own recommendations to heart? After all, as anyone who’s ever suggested suffering through a post-workout ice bath, or turning off the TV in favor of shut-eye—or, well, anything—can attest: It’s easier to give advice than follow it. Here, five fitness professionals reveal to Q the most difficult part of the prescription for even the most passionate, dedicated people—themselves.

reduce stress to maximize results

“I find myself telling clients about how stress hinders their performance both inside and outside of the gym. I coach them on finding time to set their phone down and enjoy life; finding out what the main trigger for their stress is; and how little things—like a 30 minute workout—can make big changes.

But I have a very active and hectic lifestyle between work, training, putting my nose in a book and doing research, and married life. I am trying to master everything! But my clients take my advice and run with it, and they become less stressed, happier, and get better results.”

—Greg French, Personal Training Manager, Bethesda, MD

push your body past its limits

“The advice that I give my clients that is hardest to follow myself, especially in my older, post-sports age would be to push my body past the limits my mind tells me. The human body is an amazing thing that is capable of so much more than our minds tell us. I am there to be my clients’ backbone during sessions, especially when their mind is telling them they can’t do the last two reps, or can’t go 5 more seconds. You have to be able to block that out."

—Lane Olson, Tier 2 Trainer, Lincoln Park, Chicago

don't abandon healthy eating when you're busy

“I tell all of my clients how important it is to not grab the easy option of fast food or something packaged when you are tired, short on time, or overly hungry. I have a really hard time with that myself because my schedule is all over the place, so it’s really hard to not grab the quick and easy thing at the corner store. To help me combat this issue, I try and have really easy, healthy options with me and in my refrigerator like hummus and cucumber; green smoothies; fruit and nuts; rice cakes, nut butter, and banana; or steamed veggies.”

—Emily Siekierski, Tier 1 Trainer, Lincoln Park, Chicago

prioritize sleep over (almost) everything else

“The most in-demand times for personal trainers are the early mornings and evenings, after the working crowd finishes their day. When I was a personal trainer, I would make it a priority to retreat home for a mid-day nap. While I always return to one of the major cornerstones of health—adequate and high quality sleep—when giving my clients advice, nowadays, my own schedule can add up to fatigue and minimally sustained results for my body and mind. To minimize the fatigue, I have been getting to sleep earlier and making sure to reserve a few hours during the day to recover properly. A massage once per week helps a lot too.”

—Ross D. Anti, Fitness Manager, 19th Street, New York City

be mindful of calories, even if you're not counting

“The advice I give my clients that is somewhat hard to follow myself has to do with nutrition. People tend to either underestimate or overestimate the amount of calories they need. As Tier 4 coaches, we use the resting metabolic rate (RMR) to find out the estimation of total daily calories for a client. We don't always count our calories, and when cooking for ourselves, it is a process we must be mindful and diligent about. Without the support of a fitness coach or someone else, we tend to not hold ourselves as accountable as we would otherwise.”

—Lucas Varella, Tier 4 Coach, Century City, CA
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