We are happy to post a new fitness interview with Aaron Harris, Certified Personal Trainer.
1. Could you tell us a little about yourself and what made you decide to become a personal trainer?
I first started exercising when I was in the sixth grade. I was always the smallest and weakest kid in my class, so I would do pushups and sit-ups every night to build up my strength. My older brother and I used to read comic books and I remember every issue had the ad for Charles Atlas’ Dynamic Tension Program.
That got me even more interested in exercise. My brother started to get Muscle and Fitness issues and Joe Weider catalogs. Impressed with Arnold, Lou Ferrigno, Franco Columbo and others, I asked for a York Junior Barbell set for Christmas. Since then I’ve been hooked on fitness and working out.
I decided to become a personal trainer based on my desire to work in a field involving something I love. I made up my mind to find a satisfying career that I would enjoy and I have found it.
2. What does you current workout routine consist of?
Currently I am doing strength training 3 or 4 days a week. I lift for about 45 – 60 minutes per workout focusing mostly on compound movements.
As far as cardio, I get plenty by participating with some of my clients during their training sessions throughout the week.
3. How does your approach to training differ from other personal trainers?
I get my clients to make fitness and exercise an enjoyable component of their lives, not make their entire lives revolve around workouts. I’ve met too many people that were unhappy with their trainers because the trainer did not take into consideration the client’s life.
Family, work, and leisure time are important, so I make sure that exercise, fitness, and healthy eating are able to be incorporated without expecting my clients to live like monks.
I also let clients know from the beginning what are realistic expectations based on how much of a commitment they are willing and able to make.
Unfortunately, lots of folks expect to be able to lose double digit pounds in a week thanks to the Biggest Loser, or be able to get in a total body workout and get amazing results in just 2 easy 10 minute sessions a week like they saw on an exercise product infomercial.
I let them know not to compare themselves to fitness models unless they want to live the life of a fitness model. I won’t fill them with false hope and promises that are undeliverable.
4. Do you feel it is important to track progress such as keeping workout journals and food journals?
If someone has specific goals they are working towards it is best to log their workouts and menus. I don’t feel that it needs to be done for every phase of training though. If someone is doing a week of active recovery or they are doing a maintenance phase usually they can skip the logging until it’s time to get back to serious training.
Definitely, the best way to track exercise progression is by keeping a log and referring back to it.
5. What do you suggest for people who are just getting back into working out?
My main suggestion is to prepare a solution for every imaginable excuse to not workout. Finding a good workout or training program is easy. Learning to do the exercises is not that difficult. Most people have big trouble just getting themselves started.
Whether it is lack of motivation or not enough self-discipline, I think it is the toughest for some people to just get going. I recommend they go over all the reasons they’ve used in the past for skipping a workout or delaying the start of an exercise program and find all the ways they can overcome these obstacles.
Once they’ve eliminated the obstacles, they can create a plan suitable for their goals, and find a partner or mentor that will hold you accountable.
6. Recently, I’ve received a lot of comments about the topic of eating one meal a day to lose weight. Could you give your feedback on this?
I’m sure there are a few rare individuals that might be able to survive, thrive and enjoy a healthy active life eating one meal a day, but for most people I don’t think there would be any positive outcome from following, or trying to follow a one-meal-a-day diet.
First of all, in order to get a sufficient amount of calories the majority of the meal would need to be energy dense. It would be too difficult to get enough calories eating the healthiest, nutrient rich foods because they are so full of fiber and much lower in calories.
That would lead to a problem of getting all your required nutrients. The average person would probably feel very low on energy, and the first thing to suffer from that effect would be their workouts, and we all know that exercise is a major factor in successful permanent fat loss.
Two other major concerns would be the decreased metabolism from prolonged daily fasting, and the possibility of the body cannibalizing skeletal muscle for its protein requirements.
Anyone looking for eating or diet guidelines for losing fat should consider that most athletes, especially physique athletes follow the rule of eating smaller frequent meals throughout the day to keep the metabolism running higher, even out blood sugar levels, maintain energy levels and keep hunger in check.
The athletes that are best known for following the opposite, eating just two meals a day, are sumo wrestlers. Just by looking at those two examples, anyone should be able to see that eating one meal a day is not the way to go about losing fat.
7. Could you describe your diet and any supplements that you take?
Right now I am following a very strict vegan diet, just as a personal experiment for thirty days. I call it my “Bird Diet.” Normally my eating is very sound. I try to avoid or limit trans fats, high fructose corn syrups, MSG. I never use artificial sweeteners or products containing them.
I definitely follow the 80/20 rule, eating very well 80% or more of the time so I can enjoy a treat once in awhile. Except during my experiment, I never deprive myself of anything. Mainly I just make good choices, the same thing that I teach my personal training clients to do.
As far as supplements, I try to take Mega Omega (EPA/DHA capsules) regularly, but I’m not a pill person, so that doesn’t always happen. The same applies for my multivitamin, The Big One. Occasionally I will supplement with whey protein, and depending on what training program I am doing, I will use creatine.
8. What are some things to keep in mind to help avoid injuries when exercising?
The first thing is to know your limits and not test them. Progress your workouts gradually, not too much all at once.
Properly warming up and maintaining adequate flexibility are also very important, along with maintaining proper form, not just for strength training exercises but cardiovascular exercise too.
Also, people need to occasionally vary their workouts. Performing the same repetitive movements will lead to overuse injuries. The best way to prevent that is by taking a break from the normal routine and doing something completely different.
Another important thing to help avoid injuries is proper nutrition. Exercise breaks down tissue. You need to have enough nutrients to repair and build the tissue damaged from your workouts.
9. Is there a fitness myth you would like to debunk?
The myth that conventional strength training shortens muscles and that Pilates lengthens muscles. First of all, exercise itself is the best thing to counter “muscle binding.” Individuals become “muscle bound”, inflexible through inactivity, not exercise.
I have nothing against Pilates, just its proponents that try to hype it by making it sound superior to other forms of exercise such as resistance training or weight lifting by making false claims. It is impossible to lengthen your muscles through exercise.
They are attached at their origins and insertions, and you should want them to always stay there! They can experience hypertrophy or atrophy, their tone can improve or decline, but to say you can change the length is just false.