Training programs at StrongFast use "Blended Fitness." What is it and why is it special? Read on!
The term "Blended Fitness" comes from "Blended Learning" which is used to describe a combination of classroom training and eLearning. I have a strong background in both from doing classroom training for Computer Learning @ UB (among others) and developing eLearning software. In 2003, I presented on Blended Learning to the local chapter of the American Society for Training & Development ("ASTD", since renamed "ATD" for "Association for Talent Development" ... go figure).
Back in 2005, I was running a regular kickboxing (sort of) training class. (It was called "Advanced Group Class" or "AGC" although one of the guys commented, "We're not so much advanced as slightly above average." Good times.) The guys wanted some extra training to do during the week, so I put my software engineering skills to work and developed an online system for them that expanded and evolved into the blitzometer system still used by StrongFast Fitness today.
Blended Fitness vs. Personal Training
Standard Personal Training involves in-person sessions with a personal trainer. These sessions can be instructional (coaching) or motivational (workouts) or a combination of the two.
Blended Fitness includes in-person coaching sessions to learn new exercises and ensure proper form for safety and effectiveness. Sessions also help determine the best resistance (load) to use for strength training, best exercise selection, and other factors to provide the best training program for you. This is what makes personal training "personal."
Personal training sessions are great and highly recommended. However, when used as your exclusive training method, there are some drawbacks.
- Your trainer time is limited to your sessions. With three one-hour sessions per week, that's three hours per week of coaching time out of 126 non-sleeping hours. There's more to fitness than workouts: nutrition, mobility activities, aerobic activities, etc., should be incorporated into your overall fitness plan.
Blended Fitness uses fewer in-person sessions but makes extensive use of online tools to keep you in touch with your trainer and on track with your training.
- There's no accountability outside the sessions. Your trainer might give you additional workouts to do on your own, or actions to take like logging your meals or watching an online video. But your trainer won't know what you did until you report at your next session.
Blended Fitness allows you to record your activities online where your trainer checks your inputs daily.
- If you rely on your trainer to motivate you through workouts, what happens when the sessions stop? Presumably you won't be attending sessions for the rest of your life.
Blended Fitness lets you do most of your training at your favorite location: home, your gym, at work, outside, or wherever. Your fitness program is specifically designed for your situation and preferences.
- What if you have questions during the week? For example, you might experience some unusual soreness and wonder if it could be a problem. Or you might come across a new piece of fitness equipment and wonder if it's worth buying.
Through the online system, you have access to your coach every day. This is not your typical "send an email and wait 24 hours for a reply" service...your coach checks for online messages multiple times per day...and responses are a priority.
- Getting to your trainer can be inconvenient. You might have late changes to your schedule, issues with the weather, or things that just come up (i.e., "life").
Blended Fitness offers you maximum flexibility in your training schedule and location. If something comes up, just let your coach know!
- Training sessions require the full attention of your trainer, so it can get expensive if you use them for all your workouts.
Blended Fitness uses fewer in-person sessions while still providing more personal attention. Plus you'll build the ability and confidence to continue training on your own later. StrongFast Blended Fitness sets you on the right path and gives you the tools to continue your journey.
Blended Fitness vs. Online Personal Training
Online "Personal" Training (OPT) is a big thing these days. As a personal trainer, I regularly see marketing for products to help trainers get more OPT clients. Why? The pitch is that it will allow trainers to make more money while working fewer hours. Indeed, that would be true, but at a big cost to you. That's why I put "Personal" in quotes above: how personal can it be if you and your trainer never meet? And if your trainer is only spending a couple hours a week supporting multiple clients?
Blended Fitness includes actual in-person sessions. There are some things you can only do face-to-face to get best results:
- Screens and assessments. In order to provide a safe and effective workout, it's essential to be aware of your strengths and weaknesses, including mobility restrictions and compensation patterns.
- Exercise instruction. Asking you to do an exercise on your own is easy for the trainer and online videos can help with correct technique. (We provide them through our online system.) But there are nuances even to seemingly simple exercises (like planks or push-ups) that can significantly impact their safety and effectiveness.
- Exercise form checks. Once you're doing exercises on your own, even if you've had instruction, it's possible for small changes in technique to evolve that can slow progress or even lead to injuries. The best way to check your form is face-to-face. Sometimes, it can be something as small as improper breathing!
OPT doesn't provide any of this; Blended Fitness does, and a whole lot more. OPT can be cheap (expect to get what you pay for) but can also cost more than StrongFast Blended Fitness, despite the lack of personal training sessions. OPT can work for an experienced trainee who just needs a little direction, but for most people it comes up woefully short.
StrongFast Blended Fitness provides better online training than available OPT offers, and includes real live in-person training sessions.
Blended Fitness vs. Do-it-yourself
Some people try using pre-packaged fitness programs to get themselves fit. These can be DVD sets, online programs, books, or other sources. They offer by a mass-market approach by necessity and their appeal is price...compared to any kind of personal training, they're cheap! And if they reach a broad enough market, they manage to find enough people who "get results" to perpetuate the brand. (How long those results last is another story...what happens after the 90 days is up?)
These programs always offer modified versions that are supposed to allow you to customize the workout to your ability. But how can people objectively judge their own capabilities? How can they identify their own compensation patterns or determine if they are performing an exercise correctly?
Like OPT, these programs may be useful for experienced trainees. They can also work for total beginners...at least for a while. For them, any kind of workout is going to get some results. But again, what happens when the program ends? And if they're doing a movement incorrectly, they may eventually find out the hard way when things start to hurt. (They may also develop compensation patterns to work around the pain, but won't know it with no trainer to check their form.)
Home exercise equipment (ignoring the junk often sold in infomercials) can also result in questionable form and difficulty with effective programming (determining what exercises to do, how often, with how much weight, etc.) if it's something that allows performing a variety of exercises. (Weights, resistance bands, or suspension trainers, are good examples.) Aerobic equipment like treadmills, bikes, and ellipticals are less susceptible to these problems but are not good for strength training.
All home equipment tends to wind up going unused after awhile, or at least unused for fitness purposes. This might be due to disappointing results or boredom that often results from stale programming.
Blended Fitness provides custom programs made specifically for you with anything from walking to lifting weights to High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). It also shows you exactly how to perform exercises with in-person sessions and teaches you how to create your own successful programs to stay fit for life.
Who Is Blended Fitness For?
StrongFast Blended Fitness is currently only available to those fortunate enough to live in the Buffalo, NY area. In-person sessions take place at 7 Tigers Martial Arts in Cheektowaga or, in some cases, at your home. Some basic internet skills are needed such as using email and Skype for video chats. Blended Fitness is for people who can exercise on their own rather than needing a trainer to guide and motivate them through each workout. (Blended Fitness provides daily checks on your progress as a form of accountability.)
You should have access to some kind of equipment, but you don't need much! Some simple equipment at home will suffice and you can get even started with nothing at all (for example, walking and doing body weight exercises).
Since Blended Fitness is so customized, it's great for men or women of any fitness level, any schedule, and any goal.
StrongFast Blended Fitness Personal Training is a monthly program. There are no long-term contracts and you can sample the system with a free one-week Blitz. Membership includes everything listed above for $165 per month. If you'd like to schedule any additional one-hour in-person training sessions, they're $55. (Availability is limited.)