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There seem to be two types of clients who come to Total Fitness: 1) Those who are not exercising at all, and 2) Those who are already exercising, but doing so in ways that are at best ineffective and at worst damaging to the structure and metabolism of the body.


Most likely, if a person is working out and injuring themselves, lowering their metabolism and/or exhausting their energy reserves, they could end up in category No. 1, the group that does not exercise at all. “Why bother?” they may say to themselves. “If exercise only hurts me, makes me more tired and hungry—I might as well sit on the couch.”


Most trainers have a set program for all new clients—you come in and do a certain set of exercises.


At Total Fitness, we match the person with the appropriate exercise.


How? In initial assessments, we help you understand your total physiological load. Smart trainers match the appropriate mode of exercise and intensity of workouts based on a client’s total health.


We also focus on habits that help you build your health—the healthier you are, the more fit you can be. If you are not healthy, there will be a limit to how hard you can work out and how fit you can ultimately be. These concepts are not new to naturopaths—in fact, the health assessment questionnaire that we use at Total Fitness was developed by nutritionists. What is new is applying these concepts to exercise.


High Physiological Load


Clients in acute stages of exhaustion, stress and depression, immune suppression, and/or multiple injuries are best served by learning how to increase their life force, tune their biological oscillators and develop a greater appreciation for their health. These people are best served with yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong and Swiss ball training, as well as walking. Such clients need professional guidance to determine the appropriate intensity for their workouts.


Moderate to High Physiological Load


Clients with sub acute pain or injury need to continue to build what martial arts practitioners call their chi, or life force, as well rebuild the structural integrity of their bodies and develop aerobic endurance. Intensity here can range from 40 to 60 percent of their max. A key question for such people to ask themselves is, “How did I feel after my workout? Do my workouts help me feel more energetic? Am I in less pain?”


Moderate to Low Physiological Load


These clients need to stabilize the joints of their body, develop motor skills and improve the balance, flexibility and the structural integrity of their body. They can enjoy controlled free weights, balance boards, medicine ball workouts and other exercises up to about 60 percent intensity.


Low Physiological Load


As your health improves, let her rip! This is where efforts to lose weight, change your body shape through sculpting and toning and superior athletic performance will occur. To lose weight, you must improve your health and lower your stress level.


The Four Components of Physiological Load


Determining physiological load includes an assessment of four components: musculoskeletal, visceral, hormonal and limbic/emotional.


An important concept in all natural medicine is that nobody is the same—you are not only biographically unique, your body, even the exact shape of your bones—is different from anyone else. And just as you are unique, so can your unique needs change as your health picture changes.


Your total physiological load considers all of the following:


Muscoloskeletal stress may take the form of injuries or imbalances of the muscles and bones. For example, rotator cuff injuries, or one leg being shorter than the other.


Visceral stress refers to stress in the organ systems of the body. For example, a client may be a regular exerciser, but recovering from a hysterectomy.


Hormonal stress is a big issue for everyone, not just women. This may take the form of either high or low thyroid metabolism, PMS or menopause. Both sexes are adversely affected by either high or low blood sugar, and men go through andropause—the male equivalent of menopause.


Emotional stress is the kind of stress most of us can easily identify, but those of us who work with the body know that emotional issues are held in the tissues! This can take the form of prior physical abuse, current job dissatisfaction or excessive worry about your weight.


Inappropriate Exercise Does Not Produce Beneficial Results


One simple way to tell if your exercise program matches your physiological load is to ask yourself if your program is working.


Do you have more or less energy to run the rest of your life? Just like food, we should not live to eat and we should not live to exercise. A healthy exercise program is part of a balanced lifestyle. People who are preoccupied with their workouts to the exclusion of social life, work and/or family concerns have other issues they are avoiding. If you exercise so hard that you are too exhausted to do anything else meaningful, you are not matching your program correctly.


Are you hurting yourself through your workouts? I can’t tell you how many people come to me after doing the same routine for years, even though they are developing shoulder and knee problems, ending up under the surgeon’s knife. One client had three knee surgeries but had been running year after year without correcting the structural problems that were causing his pain in the first place.


Is your metabolism improving? The biggest mistake most women make when they go on a diet is to undereat and overexercise. One client had headaches 24 hours a day, exercised two hours a day and lived off broccoli, a bowl of cereal and one ice cream sandwich—total food for the day. Metabolic imbalances will show up by either high or low blood sugar or thyroid problems.


Is your body shape improving? Years ago, I taught eight step classes a week. During that time, I actually gained weight around my middle. Why? Excessive stress on the adrenals, especially excessive aerobic exercise, too frequently at too high of an intensity, causes fat deposits around the belly. I know much as a trainer because I have made many mistakes myself!


Are you losing the weight you want, or are you holding steady? Most often, clients are not getting the frequency they need—most of us need daily exercise to lose pounds, but even aerobic exercise over your ideal heart rate zone too frequently can lower your metabolism. Another mistake I have made personally: Years ago, I was running 5 days a week. Tests showed I had literally lowered my metabolic rate. The professionals recommended I walk instead.


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