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March 17, 2014, 12:00AM PT in Exam Preparation Blog  |  0 Comments

Health Coach Helper: Lesson 7

ACE Health Coach ManualWe’re now getting into physical-activity programming. Chapter 16 covers considerations and guidelines and Chapter 17 covers the actual programming and recommendations you will make for your clients. But, before we dive in, consider this: You are (future) fitness professionals and physical activity is just a part of your daily life, much the same way crunching numbers all day is a part of an accountant’s day. For most people, however, learning to be physically active takes time, and for some, like those who are obese, exercise can be uncomfortable. While we feel better when we exercise, those who are not accustomed to exercise (or who have had negative experiences with exercise), it can be anything but fun. That’s why so important that you try to set aside all personal beliefs and judgment and put yourself in your clients’ shoes.

Here’s a great experiment that will help you understand what it’s like to exercise while being obese. Fat in the neck region can decrease the diameter of one’s air passages, which makes it much harder to breathe and take in the amount of air that a non-obese person can easily consume.  Next time you have a straw and a couple flights of stairs try this: First, walk up and down the stairs the way you normally would and note any feelings of fatigue (either cardiovascular or muscular). Give yourself a few minutes to recover. Then, place the straw in your mouth and plug your nose so that you’re only able to breathe through the straw (this simulates the narrowing air passages of an obese person) and try going up and down the stairs again while breathing through the straw. Now compare the two experiences. You’ll likely have a better understanding of why an obese person doesn’t enjoy exercise quite as much as you do.

The most important thing to keep in mind (in particular with those who have low self-efficacy) is to start clients out with something they can manage. If you start a client with a program that is too demanding (even if it doesn’t seem that hard to you), it can be discouraging and possibly even cause them to withdraw from the program. One of your first objectives is to help your clients develop a positive relationship with physical activity and actually enjoy this process. For some, incorporating 10 minutes of activity or eating one fruit or vegetable a day could be a HUGE change for some people. Giving clients small objectives they can meet will increase their self-efficacy and motivate them to want to take on even more fitness and nutrition challenges. Help your clients understand that and build them up by making small, manageable and meaningful changes.

Chapter 16 Key Points:

-Special considerations for overweight/obese individuals; low-back and lower-extremity musculoskeletal pain; impact on walking and cycling

-ACE Integrated Fitness TrainingTM (IFTTM) Model: Understand the progression of what you would accomplish and what assessments you might do if you elect to do anything other than the health-risk appraisal during the first few sessions (body composition, postural or physical fitness assessments).

-Using assessment results to guide exercise programming; use the results of these assessments to determine which of the four phases of cardiorespiratory and resistance training your client will start in, and what the appropriate “end-phase” would be based on the client’s goals (this is explained in greater depth in chapter 17). Hint: If the client is new to exercise, he or she will always start in Phase 1.

-Targeting behaviors for change in overweight/obese individuals; know the recommended goals for clients who are overweight or obese (see page 461).

Chapter 17 Key Points:

-Cardiorespiratory training based on the ACE IFT Model; understand the goal of each phase (aerobic-base training, aerobic-efficiency training, etc.), components of each phase (assessments, training distribution in different in each intensity zone, end goal of the phase, etc.) and for whom each phase is appropriate. For example, only those with competitive or performance-related goals should participate in Phase 3 and 4 of cardio training. Most people will be just fine working in Phase 2. See Table 17-2 for an outline of the different phases. Also, know the different intensity markers that you could use to establish those three intensity zones (Table 17-1 gives all the different markers you could use).

-Resistance training based on the ACE IFT Model; know what you’re looking to accomplish in each phase, when you’re ready to progress to the next phase, what the appropriate end-phase is based on the client’s goals, the FIRST Recommendations, and the appropriate progression of plyometrics. I recommend having a general familiarity with the exercises described in this chapter because an exam question could make reference to an exercise and you would be expected to know the objective of the exercise (what the exercise does for the body).

While I did not address Chapter 19 in this blog (it features case studies demonstrating how to put this information into practice), be sure to carefully review each case and try to identify the individual’s risk for CAD, stage of change, appropriate starting phase and progressions based on stated goals.

The last Health Coach Helper will cover Chapter 20 of the ACE Health Coach Manual. If you have any feedback on these blogs or if you have a study question, you can comment on this blog or contact our Resource Center at 800-825-3636, Ext. 796, where our Study Coaches are attending the line 7 a.m.–6 p.m. PST, Monday-Friday.

By Jessie Newell


Jessie Newell is a Study Assistance Representative at ACE. Jessie earned her B.S. in Kinesiology: Fitness Specialist from San Diego State University and ACE Personal Training Certification in 2012. She also earned a Basic Hatha Yoga and Let It Go Yoga Certification through Let It Go Yoga in Santa Barbara, CA. She loves to learn and enjoys being continuously challenged by the questions of those she works with. The choice to pursue health and fitness stems from her two passions: helping people and science! Since she was 19 she worked in a Wellness Center setting and she saw the positive impact that an active lifestyle has on one’s well-being in action, and because of these, aspires to help others find their happiest and healthiest self through her knowledge in the wellness field.

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