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The Balance Institute
1905 Sunset Blvd Suite C
West Columbia,

South Carolina


Phone: 803 796-4807 803 796-4807

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Personal Training Frequently Asked Questions

What is Personal Training?

Personal training is the one-on-one guidance provided throughout an exercise routine that may use resistance bands, weight machines, free weights, cardiovascular machines, stretching, and/or balance and coordination skills. These sessions are typically led by certified personal trainers and may last between 15-60 minutes.

Why Is It Important to Have a Certified Trainer?

Advanced trainer certification is your guarantee that your trainer has had a quality professional education. Many organizations offer personal training certifications, but not all are equal. Desirable certifications require 2-4 years of formal education in a health-related field, at least 100 hours of previous field experience under the supervision of an exercise professional, and a written and practical examination. Highly recognized organizations having these criteria include the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), and the American Council on Exercise (ACE).

Do your research. Trainers specialize. If you want to bulk up, find a trainer who specializes in bodybuilding, If you want to train for a triathlon, find a triathlon trainer. If you have medical problems, look for a trainer with extensive education in exercise science.

How Much Training Do You Need?

How much training you need and for how long depends on your quality-of-life goals.

Many desired health changes in the body can be achieved within 12 or less weeks of prescribed exercise training. Improvements in blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides can be seen within 4-8 weeks of beginning a planned exercise program as well as improvements in strength, coordination, and endurance.

More specifically, within the first month of moderate exercising, most people can expect the following changes.


  1. muscles begin to relax

  2. muscles begin to work together better

  3. muscle infrastructure begins to develop to allow easier breathing, strength and movement

  4. blood vessels and heart muscle begin to tone and relax

  5. working muscles begin to use up excess blood sugars and fats

  6. lungs expand to allow more oxygen in and out and bones begin to strengthen

  7. body weight begins to decrease as long as nutrition is appropriately managed

Within two months, the following improvements typically occur.


  1. muscle coordination and balance are better

  2. endurance has increased 10-20%

  3. pains (e.g., back pain) are usually gone or almost gone

  4. metabolic rate at rest increases so you burn more calories at rest

  5. doctors' visits usually show lower blood pressures and better blood sugars, lipids, and cholesterols

  6. body weight continues to decrease as long as nutrition is appropriately controlled

The internal measures—blood pressure, cholesterol, lipids, and blood sugars—respond fairly quickly to exercise training programs; and, as exercise training continues, the benefits continue to improve. Many people think that they can quit training once they achieve their initial goals. Unfortunately, after initial goals are achieved, five weeks without training can reverse most of the benefits gained during training. Attaining one's initial goals, therefore, should be a beginning to a lifelong habit of activity. That is why it is important to develop a variety of exercise activities that you enjoy in order to maintain health and strength on a long-term basis

Maintenance programs are, of course, less time consuming. Strength training two to three times a week will improve strength. Just once to twice a week can maintain it. Aerobic exercise, that is intense enough to make you breathe harder but still be able to talk, should take place for at least 30 minutes over most days of the week. The exercise time can be accumulated in ten minute intervals throughout the day to get the similar health benefits.

What Can You Expect When You Work with a Trainer?


At many gyms, a first visit with a personal trainer involves instruction on the weight machines, and a strenuous workout on some aerobic equipment like a treadmill, bike, or elliptical climber. Many trainers guess at your capabilities and think it is a good sign if you are sore after your workouts. The Balance Institute knows, however, that you can receive healthy results without pain.

At The Balance Institute, all personal training packages begin with baseline testing to assure safety, appropriate intensities of exercise, to observe flexibility and safety of movements, and to determine the client's willingness to work. This testing includes a walking test on the treadmill, resting and exercise blood pressures and heart rates, body composition including weight, circumference and skin fold measurements, resting metabolic measurement to determine the number of calories burned at rest, and a safe strength test involving almost every muscle group.

One-on-one testing at The Balance Institute typically takes 2-3 workout sessions to complete. The testing itself is a workout, but a moderate and safe one. From this baseline information, a clear picture of your starting point can be established. This starting point, along with your personal goals and goals determined from the testing, creates an accurate exercise prescription for your first training package.

At the end of your first one month's package of either 8 or 12 sessions, you decide if you want to continue training at The Balance Institute. If so, you simply pay for the next month's package, and your exercise prescription will continue to evolve with every exercise session. Re-testing is performed every 6-8 weeks to assure progress and re-assess goals. This re-testing only takes one exercise session as it is a shorter version of the original baseline testing.

Some clients need only a few sessions to master exercises that address a particular problem (e.g., back pain, a stretch program, or postural training) in order to be able to perform exercises independently at home. Others need a few months of training to allow a safe transition to a gym or home exercise program. Still others need longer lengths of time to ensure their health progress. The Balance Institute personnel are happy to respond to all of these needs.

Do You Have to Get Sore to Get Benefits?

Muscle soreness that occurs one to three days following strenuous exercise or a new activity is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). Years of research have not yet determined the exact cause of DOMS, but at least six processes are related to it including lactic acid accumulation as a natural by-product of muscle movement, muscle spasms, micro tears in the working muscles or their tendons, general inflammation, enzyme release from the worked muscles, and/or sensitivity of the nerve endings in the worked muscles.

The occurrence of DOMS after a workout is related to increased muscle growth that bodybuilders love. The idea of tearing a muscle down to build it up comes from this phenomenon. Most personal trainers want clients to experience DOMS after every workout so as to grow muscles in ways suited for professional bodybuilders.

Decades of research, however, show that even mild levels of exercise give health benefits such as lowered blood pressures, lowered heart rate, improved blood flow from the extremities back to the heart, improved breathing capacity, lowered blood sugars, and improved mood and sleep. Also, research shows that moderate strength training just two days a week—not intense enough to cause DOMS—maintains and improves everyday strength and can improve bone densities.

You can work harder. You can be miserable. You can work yourself into a worse state of health than when you started, but why do that? At The Balance Institute, our clients don't want to be sore, don't want big muscles, and don't want to spend their lives in the gym. They do want help in getting healthier and being better able to do everyday things in life. That is exactly what The Balance Institute does.

The Balance Institute personnel will help you enjoy your workouts and help you learn habits and a lifestyle that can well serve you for the rest of your life. They will work with you through lifestyle decisions and help you figure out activities that you can enjoy on your own and keep you healthy and active.


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