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Be Your Own Personal Trainer


The first step in training is determining which of the three stages of intensity meets your goals and commitment level. These stages are activity, exercise or athleticism.

The first step in training is determining which of the three stages of intensity meets your goals and commitment level. These stages are activity, exercise or athleticism.

Activity can be a leisurely golf game, judo twice a week or roller-hockey at break-neck speed. Although these provide tremendous social benefits, they don’t improve skill. A properly designed exercise program will gradually increase your energetic output with the ultimate goal of stalling or reversing biological aging.

Athleticism is a structured program to improve strength, endurance and skill level with the aim of beating the pants off your competition! It tends to have diminishing returns for the body, with more risk of injury and over-training, but pays greater dividends in life-long knowledge and raised self-esteem.

If you choose an exercise or athletic level of intensity and wish to start training but cannot commit to hiring a trainer, these five cornerstones will guide you towards being your own best personal trainer.


Every day you generate a quarter of a kilogram of new cells; that amount rises when you engage in fitness. Fitness imposes controlled damage and so tricks the body into biological youth by forcing it to rebuild itself. If you don’t provide it with quality material to rebuild, you shoot yourself in the biochemical foot.

Vitamins A to E are all specialized escorts along specific chemical routes. Their job, like a traffic officer, is to direct fuel–including fat–down chemical pathways, guiding calories to their metabolic doom. Vitamins also act as both tools and keys that work to either assemble the tissues of your body or in the dismantling of toxic metabolic waste.

From your head to your toes, your body will need boron to zinc. Minerals are responsible for making your bones rigid, your skin velvet soft and are crucial in the rapid firing of your 100 billion neurons. Each mineral needs the other, so mega-doses of one are best left in the bottle. With the right combination of vitamins, minerals and other precursors to hormones and neurotransmitters, you can do more than just accommodate conditions such as arthritis or mild diabetes in a training program. You can beat them!


When it comes to endurance, pick an activity you like in an environment you find inspiring. Not all exercises are equal. Running ranks below cross-country skiing and above cycling in percentage of working muscle fibres. However, once you pick your favorite way to huff, you should know a little trick trainers use to determine your appropriate level of cardiovascular intensity. It’s called monitoring your heart rate.

You’ll need grade three math and a watch with a second hand. Subtract your age from 160. This is the bottom end of your moderate heart rate and means you will probably feel the urge to step up the pace. Subtract your age from 200. This is the top end of your heart rate--at which point you may want to consider easing up a little.

The heart rate is measured in beats per minute. To take your heart rate, place your index and middle finger on your pulse, at the wrist or at the neck, and count the number of beats during a six- second period. Then multiply the number by 10 and you have your number of beats per minute.

You can take the pulse at intervals throughout your run if you truly feel the need to attune yourself to an objective measure. However, the real value of the heart rate monitor is found after the run, to determine how quickly you recover. Take the heart rate as described at every minute after the run for five minutes. If it takes only one minute for your heart to return to a resting rate (before you started working out) then you should be doing triathlons. If it has not returned to resting level by the end of five minutes, consider slowing down or consulting your health practitioner.


For your starting point in weight training, find a weight that seems reasonably challenging and count the number of times you can lift it before exhausting the muscle. If you exhaust the muscle after 10 to 12 repetitions (reps), you have found your light weight for that exercise. Exhaustion after eight to 10 reps determines your medium weight and exhaustion after six to eight reps establishes your heavy weight.


Biology and anatomy employ many terms originating from the craft of weaving. Nowhere is that metaphor more applicable than to muscle tissue. Usually each muscle fibre spans the distance from one joint to the second, sliding smoothly next to its neighbor inside its own viscous sheath. However, with stress things go awry.

One fibre may fuse into another, effectively causing it to pull on the muscle instead of the intended bone. Entire sheets of muscle can adhere to each other in a hodgepodge quilt that limits movement. Scars can run like bad stitches across muscle cells and rob them of their contractile potential.

Stretching provides the body with respite. It breaks up scar tissue; combs out knotted fibres to leave them running straight; and increases blood flow into areas that are harder for your vascular system to reach.

The Focus

The most successful method of guaranteeing you will go to the gym is to make a regular meeting time with a workout partner of the same skill level or a little higher. Also, keep a written record of your exercises and your improvements. Create your environment. Rid yourself of the pictures, literature, videos and television programs or any thing else that acts as a momentary cue to old habits. Don’t forget to offer yourself a reward for finishing something enjoyable and yet consistent with your program, and actively seek the support of your immediate family and close friends.



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Amanda ModaragamageAmanda Modaragamage