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Change creates opportunities for personal trainers

Chris Rivera makes sure Cassidy Peeples is positioned correctly as she begins her first workout with a personal trainer at the Prescott YMCA on Wednesday.

Chris Rivera makes sure Cassidy Peeples is positioned correctly as she begins her first workout with a personal trainer at the Prescott YMCA on Wednesday.

PRESCOTT - Plastic surgeon Mark Fetter said that he regularly dispenses advice to his clients about diet and exercise.

He tries to set a good example for them by staying physically fit, working out five to six days a week - and seeing a personal trainer.

Why? "Because I am 46 and because I think there is a time in our lives when we have an epiphany where physical fitness has become an important component of our lifestyle," Fetter answered.

"When you are working out with a trainer, they understand every exercise and the benefits to a particular muscle group," said Fetter, who works out with trainer Phillip Legault at Freedom Fitness in Prescott. "But more importantly, they provide guidance so you don't hurt yourself. The important thing is to glean benefits but also do it safely."

Fetter is part of a growing demographic of residents in the tri-city area who work out with personal trainers to improve their health and slow down aging.

"It's a growth industry," said Aaron Underwood, sales manager and fitness consultant at Freedom Fitness - and a former personal trainer. "I would say the population is awakening to the need of having a personal trainer. It is a trend thing. However, having a personal trainer guarantees you get your results."

Underwood and Jeremy Nelms, fitness director at the Prescott Racquet Club, also acknowledged that the growing popularity of personal trainers nationwide coincides with a society that gains weight from eating fast food while watching television and engaging in other sedentary activities.

Nelms blames the entertainment industry for creating a nation of couch potatoes who watch television or movies and play videogames instead of exercising.

"You get home (from work), and you sit another four hours" watching TV, he said.

Nelms and others are tapping into the growing market of health-conscious consumers who have the will to change their lifestyles and the means to pay for the services of personal trainers. They pay fees to trainers - who mostly work one-on- one with clients - in additional to membership dues for fitness centers.

Clients range in age from their teens to their 80s, but a majority are in their 40s and older, the trainers said.

Most of the personal trainers would agree with Legault that a majority of the clients want to lose weight.

"Eighty percent of them are (aiming for) weight loss and general conditioning strength," said Legault, who also works at YMCA Prescott.

"Most people are usually beginners," Legault said. "You take them through a full-body routine, mostly on machines."

He said a majority of his clients train with him for two months, and learn to exercise on their own.

Freedom Fitness provides a customized program for its clients, Underwood said. Personal trainers at the gym base the program for their clients on body type, the percentage of body fat, postural deviations and muscle imbalances.

Reducing body fat is one emphasis of a workout regimen that Nelms stresses at the Prescott Racquet Club, where he meets with clients as often as three times a week.

His sessions begin with a warm-up on a treadmill that lasts three to five minutes, he said. Clients then take part in "dynamic flexibility," stretching with movements that mimic exercise such as lifting knees.

"And then we do strength training," Nelms said. He prefers free weights, such as barbells, because the weights take more muscle and stability than machines do.

Nelms said the clients afterward do a cool-down for three to five minutes on a treadmill as well as "static stretching," which involves holding a stretch in place.

While Nelms and other personal trainers focus on weights and other exercises, Laurie Back stresses posture and balance - and eating well. She works at the Prescott Racquet and the Prescott Downtown Athletic clubs.

"I deal with people who have orthopedic issues - older women," she said. "I can work with anybody except for bodybuilders."

A lifestyle and weight management consultant, Back said that she works with clients "who want to shift their lives into a more fit lifestyle."

Back said good posture is important, especially for aging well.

"A lot of people are not aware (of poor posture) until we work together, or they are aware and they don't know what to do about it," Back said.

People who stand up straight exert less energy, breathe better and show more self-confidence, Back said. Good posture also can combat some effects of osteoporosis by keeping the muscles toned and strong.

Back said that she enjoys dealing with clients who had no previous workout experience.

Two Prescott women said working out with personal trainers has improved their health.

Evelyn Herrick, a 63-year-old retired technical engineer, said that she began training with Nelms about 10 months ago to lessen lower back pain and hip problems. She noticed the discomfort when she played tennis.

Nelms said, "She literally could not rotate."

The pain is "completely gone," Herrick said. "It's just a total life change. I will never stop training."

Cathy Kenson, a retired registered nurse, has no plans to halt her training. She has worked out for a year at the YMCA with trainer Janine Pereira, and jogs and hikes with Pereira once or twice a week.

"It helps with overall health and mental (fitness)," Kenson, 48, said. "It makes you feel good."

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