Robb Report Oct 09

Mark Harigian, Harigian Fitness

What is your first step when you get a new client?

I do a complete evaluation that starts with a personality profile.  I’ve learned over the years that you can’t just train people for the sake of training, because it’s not personal and it doesn’t motivate people.  Training just becomes another obligation.  I get to know if the client is a type A personality or not, because different people have to be motivated differently.  The first step is to determine how to set the goals and what we want to achieve.  Then I do a physical evaluation, which entails cardiovascular test to see how fit the client is.  Then I do a body-composition test, which determines the fat-to-muscle ratio, including measurements.  If you don’t have that starting point, then you don’t get to celebrate what you’ve accomplished.  Whatever goals we set are going to be realistic goals for a three-month duration.  We start with three months, and if we reach our goals, then we reevaluate and regroup from there.

How do you go about providing home gyms for clients who wish to take that step?

This is a primary part of my company.  I build custom home gyms just like a custom motorcycle builder.  I actually call them “workout environments.”  I realized walking into clients’ homes that every room was at glossy-magazine level, except for the gym–it was like an afterthought.  I make equipment for the client’s needs, all powder-coated and finished in the same hues as the home.  That way, when they walk in to that room, they want to be there.

What is your favorite piece of fitness equipment?

People ask me what their favorite should be, and my first answer is, whichever one they are really going to use.  I’ve designed a small step mill for the home, which helps people go into their aerobic threshold.  It’s usually 10 minutes a day until exhaustion is reached.  When they hit 10,15, or 20 minutes at the max, they can’t go anymore.  The only way that you strengthen your heart and your lungs is to load them harder just like you would your brain.  You can’t read the same books and stay at the same level, you’ve go tot read different books.  Once clients achieve this duration, I add a weighted vest–this is what I do with Olympic athletes.  The load is heavier on the joints and muscles, so they’re burning more calories faster.

What difficult health or fitness issues have your clients overcome?

I had a client who had been a dancer, and she had been hit head-on by a drunk driver, which catapulted her out of the car.  She had plates and pins from her knees down on both sides.  SHe walked with a lot of pain over the years, and she didn’t believe she could do a lot of o things.  I trained her aggressively, and she’s never felt better.

Most people either baby injuries, ignore them, or just try to work around them.  I have a lot of people that come to me who like to run and they are gettingcramps in a certain leg.  I don’t tell them to go ride a bike, because they like to run–it’s their therapy; so I go running with them and I look at their biomechanics.  The way I correct an injury is by watching it in motion.  What I’m finding out almost across the board is that iPod users often carry them in the same hand as the leg that cramps.  That leg will get overdeveloped or start bothering them at some point.  Think about when you’re running and you don’t have anything in your hand, your arms and your gait are moving equally.  It doesn’t matter if you’re holding only a penny, that arm shortens.  You fix it by looking at the biomechanics and by figuring out what you’re doing wrong.  You can condition to a certain level, and then you have to change mechanical movement and improve that.  We often do videos of a client’s mechanics and their gait.  Then we look back at it.  The more you know; the better you’ll become at it and the more you’ll enjoy it.  You should know enough that you don’t need me.  There are too many trainers that don’t give input, they just talk about something else besides your training.

What is your fitness mantra?

Fitness should enhance your life, not be your life.  Too many people work out to be working out, and I say that’s not living life.  I find the things that clients like to do.  I have a client say, “I want to try white-water rafting,” then our training is going to get you in shape to be able to do that.  It’s sport-specific training.  Life is full of compromises–fitness shouldn’t be one of them.