|Personal Trainer Showcase|
|Name: Jess Mather|
|Stats: 5’4” / 120 lbs|
|Location: Orlando, USA|
In 2009, I was getting physical therapy on my shoulder from Dallas Hartwig, now the founder of the popular Whole30 paleo diet. Dallas also happened to be a Crossfit instructor, and he taught me how to do my first deadlift. He challenged how I ate, what footwear I wore, and how I trained. I became absorbed with this more “primal” lifestyle, instead of the typical way I learned how to “do” fitness, which was a lot of cardio, lift light weights, eat low calorie. It completely transformed my mindset and physique. A year later, I was certified as a trainer and starting my second degree in rehab!
I actually consider fitness a form of “pre-hab”. It helps us become stronger and more resilient to decrease our risk of injury and age-related movement impairments.
We talk a lot about “functional fitness” in the industry, focusing on the fundamental movement patterns that humans perform like squatting, hinging, pressing, pulling, bridging, pushing, crawling, and gait patterns like walking, jogging or sprinting.
In rehab, the same rules apply. Physical therapy is always focused on function, function, function. It’s not uncommon for me to do the same exercises with a 90 year old patient that I do with a 19 year old client. Of course, the parameters will change like load, range of motion, tempo, reps and more, but the fundamentals are always the same. Get people strong, healthy, and moving optimally to increase their quality of life.
In general, I want to continue to grow functionally stronger, improve my mobility, and increase my body’s resiliency! If my training is feeling stale, sometimes I’ll give myself a more specific goal like “perform 10 chin-ups” or “do a 280lb glute bridge”. My fitness goals are always focused on performance and function.
Do the least amount possible for the maximum amount of results, and eat as much as possible while still reaching physique goals! When most people get started in fitness or a fat loss routine, they often slash calories aggressively and will be in the gym 5-6 days a week. Instead, I coach my clients to build sustainable habits that actually feel good (aka eat more food and do less work) while still reaching their goals in a reasonable time frame. Most of my clients train for less than 3 hours per week.
Since I primarily work with women, I see them constantly not eating enough. I know how easy it is to fall in that trap, because I was one of them for years. When I get a client like that, we slowly bring the calories back up to around 1,800-2,300 or more calories a day, depending on the individual, and then slowly go into a fat loss phase. It’s always rewarding to see a woman learn to trust food again and actually fuel her body without the fear of putting on a ton of weight!
I think one of the best exercises we can do as human beings is simply walking. It’s what makes us so locomotive! I’ve worked with many patients who don’t have the strength or ability to walk. To have the independence to simply move from one location to the next is something we truly take for granted. Walking will always be my number one exercise.
My other two exercises I would hope every human could do is the Turkish get-up and the overhead squat. Even un-loaded, these two movements require an incredible amount of shoulder, ankle, thoracic and hip mobility, as well as an equal amount of shoulder, trunk and hip stability. The Turkish get-up is especially beneficial due to the motor control needed as you transition from various positions. I hope I can do all three of these exercises well into old age!
Strength training is always my #1. Strength is our foundation. I love the quote “strength makes life easier.” It’s absolutely true. Without strength, we can’t walk, we can’t stand, we can’t even sit up in bed without strength.
I prefer training for strength in a way that can be measured objectively. For most of my online clients who go to the gym, I typically give them anywhere from 2-4 “main” exercises to continually build strength in. These might be the back squat, barbell glute bridge, overhead press, or deadlift.
I encourage them to explore what results they’ve gotten outside of the physical realm. We often focus intensely on scale weight or measurements, but what about subjective data? I’ll ask them questions like, do you feel more confident? Do you have less joint pain? Do you sleep better? Are you happier? Do you feel stronger, physically and mentally? Are you talking to yourself with more respect and gratitude?
Helping them reflect on the changes outside of their body helps them realize that movement is more than just a tool to help them change their appearance, it’s a tool to help them change their life, and that’s motivating.
At this point, it’s part of who I am as an individual. Moving regularly, building strength, improving tissue health, and maintaining my overall health are part of my life values. If I slack on my training, I feel out of balance. In addition, I’m kind to myself when I need to take a break. I used to feel guilty if I took a few days to a week off, but I’ve learned to trust the ebbs and flows our body goes through. Movement is never something I feel I “have to do”, it’s something I GET to do because I acknowledge how fortunate I am to have the ability to do so.
I actually don’t have “cheat” foods! With most of my clients, they already have a “good” or “bad”/”cheat” food mentality. Instead, we accept that there is simply more nutritious food, and less nutritious food. Allowing yourself to eat ANY food whenever you want, “good” or “bad”, without guilt or labels, can be really liberating and empowering. With that said, if I could pick my favorite less nutritious food that I eat on occasion, it’d probably be cashew milk ice cream or coconut macaroons!