Improve Your Performance and Functionality with Meghan Aro
|Personal Trainer Showcase|
|Name: Meghan Aro|
|Stats: 5'9 / 135 lbs|
|Location: Los Angeles, USA|
Why did you become an ACE certified personal trainer?
I went to college for interior architecture and design. Throughout school I taught fitness classes at our college gym. After I graduated I accepted my first office job with an architecture firm in Houston and still taught group fitness classes on the side. I found myself continuing to educate myself about nutrition and fitness in my free time, reading countless articles and books. Having personally struggled with an eating disorder for years, I found myself feeling like I needed to help others who may be going through the same issues. I felt that my skills were not best put to use in my office job. I wanted to help people. So I decided to study for my personal training certification. I worked during the day at my office job, worked out for an hour after work, and then studied until midnight every day for about 4 months until I was ready to take the test. When I passed I quit my office job and started working for myself.
What does personal fitness mean to you?
Personal fitness has nothing to do with aesthetics. I very much dislike the whole body building world that puts so much emphasis on looks even at the expense of one’s health. I feel much of the fitness industry promotes starvation diets, unnecessary supplements, and modalities that aren’t necessarily functional and will eventually lead to joint pain and injuries. I want everyone to feel strong and confident in their body, whether or not that body comes with a six pack is completely irrelevant.
What are your own fitness goals?
My own fitness goals revolve around performance and function. I spent much of my teenage years working out intensely and never stretching or maintaining mobility. My top priority currently is getting a proper range of motion in my muscles and joints. I do yoga every day and some form of strength and cardio 5-6 days per week. I enjoy mixing up my workouts to include long distance running, sprinting, high intensity circuit training, and body weight movements/calisthenics.
How important do you feel nutrition is to achieve those goals?
Nutrition is key no matter what your goals may be. Your body is like a machine, it needs the right fuel to function.
What tips do you have for people who have a hard time eating clean?
Find clean recipes and experiment with trying new foods. It may take a few weeks to develop a taste for veggies and fruits, but your taste buds will eventually change and you’ll be able to appreciate cleaner foods. Many people have to go through somewhat of a detox period because many processed foods are so sugary and salty that the tastebuds are deadened and have a difficult time picking up other flavors. For example my husband used to have a very poor diet when I first met him, he ate tons of sugary processed foods. Fruit didn’t taste sweet to him at all and he certainly didn’t like vegetables. There was a weaning period for him to appreciate the natural flavors of real food; now he eats a big kale salad for lunch every day.
What are the biggest nutrition mistakes people make?
Low carb diets have become synonymous with health. It’s just not the case. Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of fuel. Low carb diets tend to miss out on some really important nutrients, and ultimately leave you feeling hungry and low energy. There are good carbs and bad carbs. People aren’t overweight from eating too much fruit.
Do you think yoga is beneficial for bodybuilders and athletes?
Yoga is beneficial for everyone. It’s the most sustainable form of exercise. I know I won’t be running forever. But you bet at age 85 I’ll still be breaking my mat out every day.
How does functional strength training differ from usual weight training?
Traditional weight training usually involves isolation of a specific muscle or muscle group. Think bench press, lat pull downs, bicep burls, etc. Functional strength training is aimed at teaching your muscles to work together as a unit, with an emphasis on full range of motion. Core strength plays a huge role in functional training because literally every movement you’ll ever do starts from your core. If your core isn’t strong, it’s likely that you’re doing most of your exercises incorrectly which will eventually result in injury.
What are your favorite exercises – either to perform yourself or for your clients?
My favorite exercise is plank, it’s really the most basic pose and is often overlooked. But you have to engage every muscle in your body to hold yourself up. I like including variations to increase the difficulty: one hand, one leg, knee to chest, knee to tricep, side plank, shifting weight forward past your wrists, etc. Before every workout I warm up with different plank variations to activate the core muscles.
What do you get asked most often as a personal trainer?
“How do I get toned?”
How do you keep your clients motivated?
I keep my clients motivated by prioritizing performance over a number on the scale. I think it’s way more motivating to see that you can do 10 pushups in a row from being able to do none, than it is to obsess over a number that doesn’t have much meaning. Form follows function. I’m not concerned with how quickly weight will come off because it’s not a race, everybody is different, and if they’re putting in the work they’ll eventually reach a healthy weight. But along the way I want them to love their body for what it can do.
And, how do you keep yourself motivated?
I keep myself motivated the same way I keep my clients motivated, by putting an emphasis on performance and mental clarity. My workout is my time to de-stress and clear my head. It should never be something that you dread.
Finally, what’s your favorite cheat day food?
I don’t eat unhealthy food very often. If I do, it’s definitely some kind of baked good like a scone, donut, or coffee cake. I’ve got a weak spot for sweets.