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Facets of Fitness


By Leigh Sherry

One of the most frequently posed questions I hear weekly is “how many times a week should I be doing this?” Obviously, part of our job should be to educate our clients in how to attain their goals. It is also very clear that the guidelines or the “HOW, WHAT and WHEN to exercise” has not been readily available to the general population.

What else is abundantly clear is that many individuals prefer certain training modalities and tend to ignore or avoid others. You know the clients I am talking about (in fact you may be one of them!?), the ones that love cardio and don’t like to do resistance training and hence avoid it or the ones who detest cardio and only want to do weights… the list goes on! How do we bargain with these clients and get them to try new training modalities. Our best chance lies in education.

It is of paramount importance that every “Facet of Fitness” is addressed to provide people with the full benefits of exercise including functionality, aesthetics and not least importantly, injury prevention and chronic disease prevention and management.

In 2011, The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) released their updated guidelines. The position stand addressed how much exercise is actually enough!

ACSM Guidelines – “Quantity and Quality of Exercise for Developing and Maintaining Cardiorespiratory, Musculoskeletal, and Neuromotor Fitness in Apparently Healthy Adults: Guidance for Prescribing Exercise.”

Cardiorespiratory Exercise:

  • At least 150 minutes of moderate intensity/week
  • Either at least; 30-60 minute of moderate intensity (5 days/week) OR   20-60 minutes of vigorous intensity (3 days/week)
  • Gradual progression in time, intensity and frequency are advised for best adherence and reduced injury risk
  • Exercise is accumulative, but it is recommended at least one continuous session and then multiple shorter (minimum of 10 minutes) sessions may adhere to the recommendations.

Resistance Exercise:

  • 2-3 days/week each major muscle groups utilising various equipment and exercises
  • 2-4 sets will improve muscular strength and power
  • Allow 48 hours for recovery for muscle groups trained
  • For each exercise, 8-12 reps to improve strength and power, 10-15 reps for middle-aged and older people commencing exercise and 15-20 reps will help improve muscular endurance.

Flexibility Exercise:

  • Minimum of 2-3 days/week, preferably when the muscles are warm
  • Static, dynamic, ballistic and Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) stretching are all effective, dependent upon your exercise history and goals
  • Each stretch should accumulate 60 seconds at the point of tightness or slight discomfort.

Neuromotor Exercise:

  • Otherwise known as “functional fitness training” should be performed
    2-3 days/week for up to 20-30 minutes
  • These exercises include; motor skills (balance, agility, coordination and gait), proprioceptive exercise and multifaceted activities (eg. Yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates) to improve function and prevent falls.

In addition to these recommendations:

  • Pedometers, although useful should not be the sole measure of physical activity as exercise quality is clearly measured
  • All adults should recognize warning signs of heart disease and health care providers should ask about these symptoms. Even though exercise protects against heart disease, it is possible for active adults to develop heart problems
  • Meeting the guidelines for physical activity does NOT make up for a sedentary lifestyle. Sitting for too long has been identified as a health risk in itself.

We are extremely lucky to be part of the World Leaders in group fitness programs, not only because they are the world leader but also because Les Mills programs are diverse, based on scientific research and allow for many different training modalities. The fact that our programs address literally every single facet excites me a lot.. and hopefully you too!

Based on the ACSM Guidelines, now when you have someone from your BODYPUMP® class ask “how many times a week do I do this?” you will have an answer. But probably more importantly, you will also be able to provide them with some hints about other facets of fitness, eg where could they access their Neuromotor exercise?

It is a great way to cross-promote other programs. Even if you teach only one program, it is a great idea to be well versed in what the other programs are about and supply your clients with the right information. If you are unsure of what other LES MILLS programs provide, check out “Our Programs” on the Les Mills website.

About Leigh
Leigh Sherry is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist (ESSA) and a Trainer for CXWORX® and Presenter for BODYSTEP®.  Based in Sydney, NSW, Leigh owns and runs Smartlife Health, an Allied Heath Practice (Physiotherapy, Exercise Physiology, Dietitian and Remedial Massage).