Personal trainers take their own training personally

By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Personal trainers can appear to be cut from the same well-trimmed cloth: they warm you up, they cool you down, they watch your form and advise you on balanced, sensible fitness goals.

But when they're not working, trainers, like the rest of us, pursue the fitness things they love, which can be anything from a pre-dawn run to a body building medal.

At an Equinox fitness center in New York City, Tiffany Boucher's working day can involve helping young men with their biceps and older women with their balance.

But before she hits the gym, this passionate runner hits the streets.

"Before everyone is up I run over the Brooklyn Bridge," said Boucher, who tries to run, bike or spin six days a week. She also lifts weights on two days and does Pilates on one.

"Some trainers really embody the lifestyle," Boucher said. "It's valuable for the consumer to ask appropriate questions when getting a trainer."

Boucher, who blocks out about 10 hours of workout time per week, believes clients learn from a trainer's example.

"It's about the importance of your workout in your day."

At a Crunch gym in New York, Jenn Burke counts weekend warriors, marathoners and would-be triathletes among her clientele.

She tailors her personal workout to whatever event she's training for, and she's usually training for something.

"Marathon, 5K (5000-meter), or triathlon," she explained. "Typically I'll have three or four days of resistance training, anything from circuit style to heavier weights."

Then she'll run four days a week, swim two to three, and take two bicycle rides. Burke says she works out about two hours a day, six days a week.

"It's just as important for a trainer to set goals as it is for them to understand their clients' goals," Burke said. "When trainers set their own goals they inspire their clients."

When Crunch trainer Richard Louis isn't prepping a client to run a race or look sleeker in their bridal gown, he's training for the Mr. Universe body building contest in October.

"It changes my routine," said Louis. "I do cardio mornings and try to leave more time for a personal workout. I'll do weight training with a different body part each day, and the last six weeks (before the contest) I'll do another cardio session after my last client."

Louis' workout averages two and one-half hours per day, five days a week. He believes the focus, concentration and intensity he brings to body building inspires his clients, even if they're lifting just five pounds.

"The basic things don't change," he said, "they just come in new packages."

Also wedded to the tried and true is Tom Spring, an exercise physiologist with the American College of Sports Medicine.

Based in Detroit, Michigan, Spring works with high-risk populations including seniors and the chronically ill.

"My passions are ice hockey and competitive skiing. On average I play five to six hours of hockey a week," said Spring, who prefers competitive sports to classes and outdoor to indoor running.

"I don't' venture too far from my old weight training," said Spring, who believes staying in shape is being a role model. "Clients gravitate to trainers who walk the walk."

Louis agrees: "Trainers should lead by example. I tell clients I'm the extreme example."

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