HEALTH AND BEAUTY ARCHIVE:
538: Pool party
Keep your cool this summer with a visit to one of Tokyos many pools.
Metropolis shows you where to take the plunge.
536: Don't sweat it
With the hot and humid months upon us, Cristy Burne share some tips on staying
534: Swept away
Put away your broomsticksall you really need to soar through the clouds
is an armful of nylon and a good gust. Cristy Burne checks out the air up there.
532: Tee time
Cant keep it on the fairway? The yips invaded your game?
Rob Smaal finds a few experienced golf pros who can work out your kinks on the
530: Balancing act
An ancient science is helping modern men and women find peace, health and
the always elusive balance. Tama M. Lung takes a closer look at
528: Kicking on
Former K-1 Japan champion Nicholas Pettas shares his love of martial arts
at the new Spirit Gym in Nogizaka. Chris Betros goes along to watch.
526: On call
A revolutionary daily disease self-management system is making life easier
for diabetics. Chris Betros finds out about Lifewatcher.
524: Team spirit
From rugby to roller hockey, Tokyo is teeming with sports clubs for the
expat athlete. Rob Smaal shows you how to get in the game.
522: Type casting
Second-generation blood-type expert Toshitaka Nomi looks at the links between
blood classifications and health. Mick Corliss reports.
520: Like a rock
Climbing instructor Luke Kearns gets a grip on Tokyo's best indoor climbing
516: The personal touch
Madonna and Matsui aren't the only ones who need help staying fit. Hanna
Kite pumps it up with the top personal trainers in Tokyo.
514: From here to maternity
Kavitha Rao turns to a handful of Tokyo experts to track down baby basics
for nervous expat mothers-to-be.
502: Tour de Morton, part deux
Don Morton gets back on two wheels for a leisurely ride out toward Haneda
The personal touch
Madonna and Matsui aren't the only ones who need
help staying fit. Hanna Kite pumps it up with the top personal
trainers in Tokyo.
|Trainers at Jeff's
fitness in Yoyogi lead clients through cardio, weight
and other personalized workouts
Whether it's losing that holiday bulge or training
for a marathon, keeping up an exercise regimen can be rather
difficult. With bills to pay and people to see, work has an
uncanny way of taking precedence over any workout. To kick
the "I'll go to the gym tomorrow" habit
and finally stick to those new year's resolutions,
an increasing number of non-celebrities and non-athletes are
turning to personal trainers.
The fitness boom means that more and more Japanese gyms are
offering personal trainers, including foreign and English-speaking
Japanese experts, as part of their services. In addition to
staying on top of exercise trends both here and overseas,
these fitness and lifestyle gurus can help incorporate healthy
habits into everyday life.
The flip side to the fitness boom is that there are more trainers
who are just trying to earn an easy man. Certification for
personal trainers can be done in a couple of hours online
or through companies advertising in the back of fitness magazines.
The best trainers, however, have been schooled in anatomy,
kinesiology, physiology and nutrition, and are certified with
reputable organizations such as the American Council on Exercise
or the American College of Sports Medicine.
Certification in Japan can vary widely, so a good way to judge
a trainer is how they treat their clients. Most gyms will
also screen their applicants and make sure their trainers
have the proper credentials. "What really distinguishes
a good personal trainer from someone with just a piece of
paper is someone who cares about their client," says
Darren Shane, a Canadian trainer certified by the American
Council on Exercise and the National Fitness Leaders Advisory
Council and who now works at Gold's Gym. Shane often
calls to check on clients who he knows can't afford
the time or money to train with him more than a few times
a week. "I want to teach them as much as possible,"
he says. "I still want them to be able to go to the
gym by themselves."
In Tokyo, the average cost to hire a personal trainer is about
¥5,000 per hour in addition to gym membership dues.
Depending on the gym and the trainer, prices range from ¥3,000
to more than ¥10,000 per hour. "Once you hit
the ¥13,000 mark, that's usually at the level
of an elite athlete," notes Shane.
Built into these fees is often a lot more than basic weights
and cardio. Yasuhisa Tayama, the most popular trainer at Tokyo
Capital Club and a certified athletic instructor with the
Health and Welfare Ministry, asks clients about their eating
habits and whether they are taking dietary supplements. He
always reads up on new fitness techniques and health news.
Julie Suga, also a US-certified trainer with Gold's
Gym, echoes the sentiment, saying, "Fitness is 20 percent
exercise and 80 percent everything else."
Because expert personal trainers are educated in kinesiology,
physiology and anatomy, they can help their clients achieve
superior results from their exercise programs. "There
are about 650 muscles moving 206 bones through seven primal
movement patterns and their accessories. And they all function
as an entity," says Jeff Libengood, owner of Jeff's
Fitness in Yoyogi. Libengood, who holds multiple certifications
from the C.H.E.K. (Corrective High-Performance Exercise Kinesiology)
Institute and coaching education firm King Sports International,
emphasizes a thorough physical evaluation so that his clients
correct any muscular imbalances before training.
|Jeff Libengood and other
trainers use the Swiss ball to train several muscle groups
Top trainers will ask their clients about all aspects of
their health and be able to tailor an exercise program to
suit specific needs. At Jeff's Fitness, Takeshi Ninami,
CEO of Lawson Inc., has been working on his golf swing and
trying to lose weight with Libengood. After evaluating the
weaknesses in Ninami's swing, Libengood designed a
special exercise program to help him improve his flexibility
and strength in his core muscles as well as in his shoulder
and hip girdle. "All my other coaches told me to use
my left shoulder (for my swing), now I use my back and hips
to lead. I have confidence now that I will keep improving
at golf," says Ninami.
The ball and chain
Since trainers keep up with latest exercise techniques they
are an excellent source of alternatives to the standard Nautilis
set and checklist. Libengood, whose clients include Bob Sapp
and pop star Hitomi, uses a Swiss ball as one of the elements
in his fitness programs. Exercises with the Swiss ball can
be used for a variety of purposes, but are especially helpful
in rehabilitation and in removing muscular imbalances in the
body. They also provide a more efficient workout because they
train more than one muscle group at a time.
Libengood is also incorporating rubber bands and chains from
Russian body-building techniques into his weight lifting programs,
believing they will be increasingly popular in years to come.
The bands and chains help increase the amount of weight that
is lifted at the muscle's strongest angles. For instance,
if two rubber bands with 20 pounds of tension are attached
to weights during a squat exercise, the rubber band increases
the amount of weight being lifted when the body is fully extended.
The trainee will be lifting 90 pounds at the bottom and 130
pounds at the top, thus increasing the efficiency of their
As with a medical doctor or psychiatrist, choosing a personal
trainer should be a combination of finding someone with the
right training who also recognizes the non-physical aspects
of getting fit. "There is no point in having a personal
trainer if you can't communicate," emphasizes
Tayama. "You should be comfortable enough with your
trainer to be able to tell them when something hurts or is
hard to do."
Tayama says that he never orders his clients to eat better
or to strain themselves. "Training has a reputation
for being difficult. It's my responsibility to keep
it fun. I never give orders." Julie Suga points out
that trainers should vary their programs to keep the client
interested and challenged. In the end, all the trainers agree
that finding one who is enthusiastic and committed to your
fitness program is the key. As Jeff Libengood concludes, "Your
goal is as important to me as it is to you."
Photo credit: Martin Hladik
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