When you interact with truly great, healthy trainers, they seem to always exude energy. We assume they somehow live in a different world that doesn't have the same time constraints or they have some superhuman willpower, but that is simply our self-justification. Some of them have full time jobs on top of training, while others are working long days as trainers, but all have time constraints like the rest of us.
The truth is that this special breed of trainer has continually experimented with all aspects of their diet, exercise and lifestyle to figure out what works best. Essentially, they are the scientists of healthy lifestyles.
I surveyed seven of the healthiest personal trainers I know to reveal what they have discovered in their studies.
My coworkers at Unite: Juliet Burgh, Christina Carran, Mark Donohoe, Mackie Root, Sandy Sweeney and Rich Zaremba. Also Shoshana Katz, manager at Body Cycle Studio.
Here are the common threads between them with all kinds of helpful tactics that can inspire us all to upgrade our lifestyles.
Mindful of sleep quality with preparation
This might not be the first thing you think of but it is of major importance to all of the top trainers because they are shooting for peak health and performance. Sleep helps fuel performance not just in their workouts, but also in their careers and lives. How much varies but all surveyed shoot for 7-8 hour per night and take special steps to ensure that it is top quality sleep.
Common tactics included:
Ease into the day with high protein, fat and fiber breakfasts
One of the most interesting findings was that everyone was conscious about having both a morning routine to wake and to ease themselves into the day.
A quick scan of their breakfast choices and concoctions show entirely new versions of the old standby breakfasts that big food companies convinced us we were supposed to eat. No orange juice, no mainstream cereal but you will find yogurts and eggs. They all work to get protein, fat and fiber into their breakfast to stay full and energized longer and avoid those sugary carbs hiding in many breakfast options.
No processed foods
Universally, these personal trainers prepare 90 percent of their food themselves and only go out to restaurants twice on weekends with friends and family. Americans now average eating out over four times per week, which is directly correlated with weight gain. These trainers embrace the art of efficient food prep and/or cooking as a healthy hobby via the art of Tupperware. You'll most likely catch them at the grocery store saving money, calories and our environment.
Take supplements customized to goals
Every top personal trainer I surveyed takes supplements but they aren't the kind you might expect. You won't find any of their supplements advertised in Muscle & Fitness magazine next to pictures of unhealthy bodies. None of the supplements mentioned contain chemicals like taurine, "nox", etc. promising to improve workouts and muscle growth. The supplements top trainers take are for long-term health like vitamins and short-term performance like inflammation, recovery, sleep, joint health. Some of the supplements mentioned include: Multivitamins with DHA, Calcium pills, rhodiola rosea, fish oil, probiotics, glucosamine chondroitin, and mullein leaf, to name a few.
Tough, balanced workouts with planned recovery
As you might expect top personal trainers like to push themselves in their workouts — no one surveyed worked out less than four times per week. You will see some variety in what people are choosing to do these days including, spin, CrossFit, MMA and yoga. Yet, universally, they all structure it as a mix of cardio, strength and stretch/mobility work. If you are focusing all of your energy on one aspect of fitness to train your body then you aren't working your body properly.
The age of the sandwich has reached its end if you go by the leaders in healthy dieting. Sandwiches are OUT and salads and leftovers with greens as a base are IN. By choosing to eat one salad a day, these trainers ensure they get their fill of vegetables and avoid processed carbs that are known to mess with blood sugar, make you sleepy and induce fat retention. Their salads are balanced and chock full of proteins, fats, etc. to make them filling as well as super nutritious. (Eat-a-Pita was one of their favorite places to grab a salad on the go.)
Eat natural, healthy snacks & fluids in between meals
All of the trainers surveyed packed their snacks and were very specific about what they munch on. Here are some of the most cited snack examples::
Gavin McKay is the Creator and President of Unite Fitness, a Philadelphia-based fitness studio franchise offering its trademark group training, The UNITE Workout, as well as personal coaching and nutrition programs.