Leisure Fitness Wellness Professional Network – Meet the Trainer: Michael Katz

Article by Wayne Harris
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Michael Katz, Personal Trainer Huntingdon, PA

Leisure Fitness Trainer Network includes a variety of fitness professionals and in this MEET THE TRAINER segment we would like to introduce you to Michael Katz.

INTERVIEW w/ Michael Katz, Personal Trainer.
Training Location: Huntingdon Valley,PA

-At what age did you become physically active?
I have been physically active for most of my life. My father was very athletic and by the age of 6, I was a very comfortable ocean swimmer.

-Did you play sports in high school and/or college?
In high school, I played football. In college, my freshman year I attended a large state university and was on the school’s diving team. I transferred to a small liberal arts college in my sophomore year and became involved in martial arts, competing in intercollegiate competitions and ultimately becoming the team captain. I also picked up scuba diving in college, obtaining my open water certification which led to more advanced certifications including that of a rescue diver. Throughout college, I also participated regularly in strength training with free weights and a cardiovascular fitness program based on running.

-Did you study health and fitness in an academic setting?
In college, I obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Social Psychology from Tufts University and subsequently obtained a Juris Doctor Degree from Temple University School of Law. While these degrees are not directly connected to the fitness industry, my undergraduate studies provided a solid foundation in understanding behavioral motivation and change relevant to assisting fitness clients in adopting and adhering to a program of fitness and a healthy lifestyle. Behavior change theory and strategies are a critical component to the success of anyone seeking to achieve their fitness and health goals. My law degree and years of practice as an attorney have enabled me to develop the skills needed to listen attentively to clients, identify issues of relevance and importance to them and come up with creative solutions designed to achieve desired outcomes.

-How do you seek out continuing education?
As a Certified Personal Trainer, I am required to meet the continuing education requirements of a number of organizations in order to maintain my credentials. These organizations include the American Council on Exercise for my Personal Trainer Certification, Mad Dogg Athletics for my certification as a Spinning instructor and American Heart Association for my CPR/AED certification. During the course of each year, I participate in workshops, classes and fitness conferences offered through these organizations and also available through my membership in the IDEA Health & Fitness Association, including course work leading to advanced certifications. I also take full advantage of articles, magazines and periodicals published by these organizations both online and in print so as to maintain awareness, insight and knowledge about the latest trends and research in fitness.

-Do you specialize in a training style?
I offer my clients a broad array of training modalities ranging from free weight strength training, TRX suspension training, bodyweight based training and outdoor obstacle course training. The specific training program I structure for my clients is based on their individual needs and goals. All of the training I offer my clients, from traditional strength training to bodyweight training, is grounded in concepts of functional strength and the ability to safely move our bodies through multiple planes of motion. The programs I structure also include cardiovascular and flexibility training so that a client receives a balanced program that meets all three dimensions of fitness: strength, cardio and flexibility.

-What is your coaching style? (Cheerleader vs. drill sergeant)
My coaching style is one of encouragement. I work hard at getting to know my clients, listening to what is important to them in their journey of fitness and health, what their priorities are and understanding what obstacles and frustrations in their lives may interfere with achieving their goals. I work through an interactive process of instructing and guiding clients in developing strategies that will enable them to achieve their objectives. My coaching, of course, includes appropriate programming and instruction in exercise designed to achieve a client’s specific goals but I provide an approach that goes far beyond just the mechanics of working out. My goal is to assist my clients in making lifestyle changes that will promote fitness and health throughout their lives.

-Do you include a health assessment prior to beginning a fitness program?
All of my clients undergo a health and exercise history screening based on comprehensive questionnaires, surveys and onsite physiological data collection. Where appropriate, I request my clients to have their doctors provide medical clearance to participate in a structured exercise program and to provide any relevant medical limitations or conditions that impact on appropriate programming. In addition, I conduct postural, mobility, movement and strength screening with all of my clients to identify joint and body segment alignment issues, muscular weaknesses and compensations that will benefit from remediation designed to create a strong structural foundation for effective and safe training.

-How frequently do you see your clients? (Once a week, twice a week?)
The frequency with which I see my clients is driven by their desires, needs and availability. My preference is to see my clients at least twice a week so as to promote consistency in the implementation of the program I design for them. My goal, however, is to help my clients develop self sufficiency in their fitness programs. I am delighted to have my clients come to me as frequently as they like. But more importantly, I want to give them the tools and knowledge to maintain a fitness lifestyle outside of my studio, whether it be at home in their home gyms, at a big box gym where they are unsupervised and left to their own devices or when they are traveling for business or pleasure.

-What kind of clients do you usually work with and what results were they trying to attain?
I work with a broad variety of clients from their mid-30’s to mid-60’s, from those who are seeking specific performance goals to those seeking to simply be fit, healthy and better able to enjoy daily life activities and recreational pursuits. Some of my clients are seeking to build muscle mass and strength and some are seeking healthy weight loss and weight management, utilizing sound nutritional concepts plus individualized exercise programming to meet their goals.

Professional obligations:
-Where did you get certified to be a personal trainer? (American Council on Exercise – ACE, N.S.C.A., N.A.S.M., and A.C.S.M. are the gold standards)
My certifications are as follows:
Certified Personal Trainer – American Council on Exercise
Functional Training Specialty Certification – American Council on Exercise
Spinning Instructor Certification – Mad Dogg Athletics
TRX Suspension Training Qualified – TRX

-How do you program and track the client’s progress?
Individual client charts are maintained and updated after each session. Programming is based on identifying specific, measurable and relevant goals that can be attained within realistic time frames. Concepts of periodization are used to structure programs where appropriate. Where clients are interested in body composition metrics, ultrasound technology is utilized on a periodic basis and the results are charted for the client.

-What is your strategy for preventing and dealing with injuries?
The assessments I perform on each new client are designed to identify postural and muscular imbalances, compensations and existing injuries throughout the kinetic chain. The results serve as the foundation for subsequent programming so that problem areas can be addressed and injuries avoided. If the results suggest there is an existing problem that requires the expertise of a physician or Physical Therapist, this is discussed with the client. I then coordinate what I do in the studio with the recommendations of the medical professional. During each training session and in the instruction and implementation of each exercise, emphasis is put on proper form to avoid injuries. In addition, all programming emphasizes core conditioning and flexibility designed to avoid common lower back and shoulder injuries. I also routinely seek client feedback about each exercise a client performs so that I am attuned to their perceptions of exertion.

-Do you stay on top of the latest fitness trends and related research?
As note above, through my continuing education process, membership in fitness professional organizations, online and print subscriptions to industry periodicals, magazines, and articles which I review on virtually a daily basis, I am exposed to new and developing trends and current research.

-Do you hold liability insurance?
I am insured through Philadelphia Insurance Companies which provides specialty insurance for Personal Trainers. My limits of liability coverage are $1,000,000 per occurrence and $3,000,000 aggregate.

-Why did you embark in this profession?
I was raised with the fundamental values of making a contribution to the quality of people’s lives. Throughout my life, I have had a passion for fitness and health. The fitness profession was a natural “marriage” of the two.
When I entered the fitness profession, I chose to call my business “Odyssey Strength and Fitness Studio”. The name resonated not only with my philosophy of fitness and health but also with what I hope to provide to my clients.

“Odyssey: an extended adventurous journey or experience;
a spiritual quest for discovery.”

The above sums up in a nutshell my philosophy of fitness and health. Life is not static; it is filled with change. How we meet those changes head on and embrace them helps define who we are. While this precept is applicable to our lives in general, it has particular application to how we define what it means to be strong, fit and healthy.

Our fitness goals, needs and desires change over time and our fitness programming must evolve to remain relevant, dynamic and appropriate. Through embracing change, we can maintain and grow in strength, muscle tone, cardio-respiratory capacity and flexibility. We can remain strong, healthy, injury free and able to enjoy all of the life activities with friends and family that are important to us.
It is this approach to fitness that I offer my clients. Regardless of your age, based on understanding your goals, desires, needs and what is relevant to your lifestyle, I will guide you through a comprehensive individualized program of fitness that will enable you to fully enjoy your life and keep things exciting!

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