This article appeared in the Dec. 22, 2006 Jewish Advocate.


Personal trainers help with goal-setting, motivation

By Susie Davidson

Motivation. Results. Increased energy and decreased risk of injury - these are all valid reasons why people elect to use personal trainers. Here are some choices to help you get started.

For women who feel uncomfortable in a co-ed environment, Healthworks Fitness Center, which describes itself as Boston's premier group of women-only fitness centers, may be a great bet. Private rooms are available at Studio Elle Pilates in Coolidge Corner, voted Best of Boston for Pilates Studio for 2006 by CBS4 Boston (Pilates is a type of resistance training that focuses on core abdominal muscles to help sculpt the tummy, arms, and legs). Equipment classes accommodate small groups. Johnson said about half of her clients are Jewish.

"We always want people to feel welcome and relaxed here. We are about getting a great workout and even making friends," she said. "Our Clients Look Good in Public Because They Train in Private!" says Fitness Together, which stresses one-on-one workouts in studios where certified instructors guide patrons with free-weights, cardio equipment and weight machines. Here, there are no crowded gyms or waits for equipment.

In addition to their weight-management programs, Jenny Craig advertises fitness programs and Personal Trainer services. LA Weight Loss Centers also has beauty & fitness, and weight-loss programs. The Sports Club/LA also offers alternative medicine, yoga and massage. Boston Pilates adds Sports & Recreation, and Dance Instruction. Boston Body and Pilates & Yoga Center calls itself Newton's premiere Pilates, yoga and healing arts center.

You needn't be a Charles Atlas. "Many people come to us because they feel a sense of desperation as they put on weight, become less active, and struggle to just get through the day," said Sandy Mayer, who owns the Auburndale and Newtonville Fitness Together branches. "Some say they don't have time to exercise, it's too difficult to eat right. They eat the same processed garbage most people do and end up malnourished, while eating far too many calories." Fitness Together aims to alter these destructive behaviors without the intimidation or confusion frequently experienced at a large public gym. Trainers cater to clients' individual needs, whether the objective is weight loss, cardiovascular health, body fat reduction, increased muscle tone, flexibility or sports-specific conditioning.

"Our programs span the age-gender spectrum," says Theresa Warren, Fitness Director and Administrative Director of the Fitness Center at the Leventhal-Sidman JCC. The JCC also offers FreeMotion and Life Fitness equipment, and free weights. Personal training, which can be purchased singly or in multi-session packages, is great for those who have trouble staying motivated, want to move on from a plateau, or seek increased endurance.

Warren personally assists more women, most Baby Boomers. However, the JCCs dozen personal trainers see as many men. "Studies show that people who use trainers have an 80 percent increase in adherence to the program," says Warren, who has been at the JCC for ten years, has a background in phys ed teaching and is a certified trainer. The Fitness Center also promotes NIA (neuromuscular integrated action), which combines dance, punk/kick and other cardiovascular exercise. Over 60 groups a week include yoga, Pilates, and aerobics.

The JCC's new "Take It Off" three-month Weight Loss Program begins in January. "Using an adaptable weight-loss algorithm," explains Rachel Abelow, Assistant Fitness Director, it is easy to administer and follow, does not require a nutritionist or dietician, and gives members an average weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week."

As opposed to a Weight Watchers group setting, members meet one-on-one with a coach once or twice a week for 15 minute sessions, she said. Along with a 120-page, color, wire-bound journal, participants are given strength and cardio regimens. The program utilizes grocery store foods for meals and specific eating guidelines, including cooking tips, that stay within caloric requirements, yet allow for personal preferences.

"The trend is that more adults want to see results right away and want recommendations geared specifically for them and their lifestyles. This is why personal training, and now personalized weight loss programs are in vogue," said Abelow, who has a background in exercise physiology.

On the other side of the equation, how does one become a certified Personal Trainer? Online sites such as ExpertRating offer certification programs in Personal Training, Sports Nutrition, Pilates, Aerobics and Yoga. In addition physical training elements, aspects of study include hygienic gym practice and ethics concerns regarding contractual relations, antidiscrimination and treatment limitations.

Rather than certification organizations accredited by third-party agencies, The National Board of Fitness Examiners (NBFE), which advises seeking well-known, certified trainers (check FitnessLink.coms comprehensive database), sets national standards of excellence in the fitness industry and generates standardized national examinations for two-year "NBFE Registered PFT" designation. Five advisory committees encompass the areas of medicine, certification organizations, fitness professionals, health clubs, and higher education. Licensing for fitness professionals is required by certain states, which can make it easier for one to secure insurance coverage for services.

"Personal trainers can serve as not only coach, but also as educator, confidant, role model and source of motivation and encouragement," says Mayer of Fitness Together. "Its a fact - feeling good makes you look good, and vice versa.

Personal trainers help achieve health and fitness goals, provide you with positive feedback on performance, and bolster confidence to take on new challenges."


Visit for fitness offerings as well as these centers:

Boston Body and Pilates & Yoga Center: 8 Newbury St., Floor 6, Boston (617) 262-3333; and 46 Austin St Newtonville (617) 969-2673;

Jenny Craig has locations at 2 Brookline Place, #4 in Brookline (617) 566-1600; 191 Watertown St. in Watertown (617) 332-5047; 4110 Mystic Valley Parkway, Medford (781) 395-2511. For other locations check

Fitness Together has locations at 1404 Beacon St. in Coolidge Corner (617) 232-2297; 796 Beacon St. in Newton Centre (617) 641-9588; 2088 Commonwealth Ave. (617) 630-1101; 309 Walnut St., Newtonville, (617) 965-0412. For other locations, call
Healthworks Fitness Center: 920 Comm. Ave. in Boston (617) 731-3030; 1300 Boylston St. in Chestnut Hill (617) 383-6100; 441 Stuart St. Ste. 4 (Cross Street: Dartmouth Street), Boston, (617) 859-7700 and other area locations; check

LA Weight Loss Centers has locations at 100 City Hall Plaza, 1st Floor, in Government Center Boston (617) 573-9888 and at 1160 Boylston St. in Chestnut Hill (617) 264-9700. Check for others.

The Sports Club/LA is located at the Ritz-Carlton, 4 Avery St. at Tremont in Boston (617) 375-8200. Visit

Studio Elle is at 1318 Beacon St., Brookline (617) 975-0100. Visit

Also, check for a comprehensive list of local personal trainers.