I had the privilege of hanging out with Tasha Morrison, an awesome AFAA certified personal trainer that I have lovingly dubbed, “Miss Fit and Fab.” Tasha is currently in Tucson, but she will be taking her love of fitness to Houston, Texas in October. She is a woman who is driven by a motivation to lead a healthy lifestyle, which should inspire all of us. We did some awesome exercises that you can try at home to tone those muscles and increase your endurance.
SJ: I know that some people choose a trainer based on certain things such as whether they are certified, male or female, etc. When choosing a personal trainer, what factors should be considered, and what qualities should a person look for in a personal trainer?
Tasha: You want to know their training history. What is the trainer’s experience level? Some women prefer working with another female. Women typically train differently from men, but there really isn’t a big difference in terms of gender. You need to gauge whether the trainer is paying attention to what is going on. The personal trainer needs to be focused on you to ensure that you are maintaining the proper technique. It’s important to know what is happening in your training area for safety reasons, specifically if you are in a gym. A great personal trainer will tailor your workout around your needs, instead of tailoring your workout around their personal style. When considering a personal trainer, look at them physically. Personal trainers should model the behaviors they are instilling within their clients. You can’t tell me about proper eating if I’m looking at you and wondering what you’re eating. Personal trainers are walking advertisements.
Plank – This is a great core conditioning exercise. In a push-up motion, raise your body off the floor. Make sure that your back is flat and your head, neck and spine are in a straight line. Keep your abdominal muscles engaged and breathe. Hold this position until you feel the burn.
SJ: Are your workouts customized for each client or do you start with basic workouts for each client?
Tasha: Cookie cutter workouts are not effective. Every human body is different, and each body responds to different exercises in a different way. A trainer has to look at a client’s personal goals and give them reasonable expectations for change.
Advanced sit up – This might not look like it is difficult, but if you complete a few of these, you WILL feel the burn. Position yourself as if you are going to do a sit up, and lift your feet off the floor. Begin by doing a sit up with your feet raised. When your head hits the floor, tap those feet on the ground below. Lift your feet, do a sit up with your feet raised, and repeat. (See Tasha’s demonstration in the video.)
SJ: What factors do you consider when developing a workout regimen for your clients?
Tasha: You have to look at your client’s fitness level to make sure they are physically sound to begin a fitness program. Clients need to check with their doctor to see if working out is okay. I have to know what amount of time a client is willing to commit and what changes they’re prepared to make in their lifestyle. I always stress that the goals should be realistic and measureable.
Squat side step – This is the perfect exercise for a sexy posterior. The band was used for resistance, which really intensified this workout. Lower your body into a squat position. Take a wide step to the side, squeezing the glutes. Slowly step feet together. Make sure your body is low the entire time. Continue these steps as Tasha demonstrates in the video.
SJ: I lost all of my baby weight (47 pounds) from doing Beach Body’s Insanity, P90X, and walking/running. I have always had a gym membership since the late 90’s, but I do not currently have a gym membership. I have weights, bands, a body bar, etc. in my home. How important is it to have a gym membership versus working out at home?
Tasha: There really isn’t a difference between the two. I have over 100 at-home workouts. Invest in a fitness ball, dumbbells, a jump rope, etc. There are benefits to going to the gym because the gym offers a variety of machines, classes and additional equipment I may not have access to at home. There are different times in my personal regimen in which I may do more high intensity interval training or I may be attempting to gain more mass and need to increase the weight I use. I enjoy the flexibility the gym offers to meet those changing needs. I love the gym atmosphere, and it’s always a motivation to work out when you are paying for a gym membership. Working out at home is inexpensive, and many women feel more comfortable when working within the comfort of their own home. You’ll be successful either way if you’re committed.
Tricep extension – This exercise tones those triceps. Grasp the band from behind with both hands about shoulder width apart. Bring one fist to the opposite shoulder to hold the band against the body. While holding the other forearm parallel to the floor, fully extend the arm and flex the arm back to the shoulder in a smooth, controlled movement. (See demonstration in video.)
SJ: One of my associates sent me a picture of a woman with flat abs that said, “Great abs are made in the kitchen.” How important is diet in a fitness plan?
Tasha: I always tell my clients, “You can’t outwork a bad diet.” You need to have a combination of eating right, muscle toning and cardio. Your lifestyle modifications should come from lean protein, fruits and vegetables. You can work out, but you also have to make those modifications to your diet. I tell my clients to make small changes over time, for example, if you drink coffee, stop using cream. Cut back slowly, and over time you won’t even miss it. Choose one thing for the week and focus on that. I have been on a water diet for three years. I used to love juice! I hated water. However, over time, I worked on drinking less juice, and now, water is the only thing I drink!
Mason twist – This is one of the moves I do during my Ab Ripper X workout. It is an excellent exercise to strengthen your core. Sit up straight with the knees slightly bent. Lift your feet off the floor and clasp your hands together in a fist. Touch each side of your mat at a relatively fast pace, twisting your core. If you want to add intensity to the workout, grasp a weight with both hands as Tasha demonstrates in the video.
SJ: I love desserts, but if you come to my home, you will notice that I don’t buy dessert for the house — no cookies, cakes, etc. I will only eat dessert sometimes if I am dining out. When I blog about a dessert that I have baked, I always deliver portions of the dessert to neighbors and friends to prevent having dessert in the house. I believe that having a dessert in moderation is okay. What do you tell your clients about treating themselves? Do you ever treat yourself?
Tasha: I tell my clients in the beginning that they should minimize the temptation to cheat by not having those things readily available. However, once you have achieved some of those intended fitness goals, you can begin having a treat (in moderation). You will find yourself cheating more and more if you don’t minimize those treats. I choose not to lead a restrictive lifestyle, so if I want a hamburger, I go to Zinburger and get a hamburger. I tell my clients to take that pressure off themselves, but there is the reality that it might not help you get closer to your goals if you treat yourself too often. You must possess your own level of self-motivation to achieve your goals. Another good idea is to keep a food diary, and you will notice that you just had a Snickers bar two days ago, and you don’t need another one. You can now see how much you are eating. Moderation is the key! I also believe that you have to earn that treat. You have to earn the moderation. Achieve those goals and you can incorporate things in moderation. You want to enjoy yourself, but you have to make good decisions. I don’t believe in unrealistic goals. I can’t tell you not to eat sweet potato pie during the holidays. It’s okay to treat yourself, but you have to balance it out.
Speaking with Tasha was very educational. I have even begun a food diary. She is truly a walking advertisement of health and fitness. If you are in the Houston area, let us know, and Tasha will be happy to help you with any of your fitness needs. She is ready for new clients in the area, so if you’re ready to get started on a program that will change your life, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.