Guides on the Path to Physical Fitness

Personal trainers deliver results (not miracles), but it takes commitment from both parties

Some of their clients are workout warriors and some are couch potatoes. Some want to bulk up or stretch out and some just want to lose a few pounds so those new pants fit in time for the class reunion. Some know what to expect from the process and some are clueless. And some are willing to put in the work while others expect miracles, and they expect them now.

“All sorts of people come through that door, but all of them have at least one thing in common—they’re looking for help,” says Scott McCarthy, a personal trainer at Balance Fitness on Fourth Street in Wilmington.

That’s where he and other personal trainers come in. According to the U.S. Department of Labor statistics, there were 279,100 personal trainers in the United States in 2015, a number that’s expected to increase to 338,000 by 2018 because of population growth and the increasing interest in health and fitness. In Delaware in 2015, there were 1,060 personal trainers and fitness instructors, all of them willing and able to help turn soft tissue into firm muscle—assuming their clients are willing to pay the price.

“Training and working out are two different things,” McCarthy says. “We’re not just out there counting reps for people. We’re like guides who help them find their way to personal fitness. Some people already know their way and don’t need a guide, but there are lots of people who need somebody to help and encourage them. And that’s our job—helping people who need help.”

Of course, there are some misconceptions about personal trainers. For one thing, they don’t tape ankles and cut up orange slices at halftime—those are athletic trainers. And not all their clients end up looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger in his greased-up, body-building prime.

A personal trainer at the YMCA coaches a client on the treadmill. (Photo courtesy of the YMCA)
A personal trainer at the YMCA coaches a client on the treadmill. (Photo courtesy of the YMCA)

A Marathon, Not a Sprint

“I’ve been doing this for 18 years and I’ve seen and heard it all,” says Nic DeCaire, who runs Fusion Fitness Center on Main Street in Newark. “A lot of people think we just sit around all day in sweat pants and watch you lift weights or run laps. They don’t realize that we offer a complete regimen for physical and mental well-being and that we’re with them every step of the way. It’s a commitment on both ends, from the trainer and the client.”

One thing all trainers emphasize is that a training regimen is a marathon, not a sprint. Not all clients grasp that basic concept and that’s why it’s one of the first messages a personal trainer delivers —expect results, but not miracles.

“If the commitment from the client isn’t there then there isn’t much we can do to help them,” says Charlotte Maher, a personal trainer at Fit Studio on Rockland Road in Wilmington. “But those cases are pretty rare, because most people we deal with are here for a reason. They want to lose weight or tone up and it’s probably something that’s been in their minds for a while. So, when they finally take the step to hire a personal trainer. they’re serious about it. And we make sure they understand that it takes a commitment and a lot of work to reach their goals, but it’s worth it.”

Those goals vary from person to person, and personal trainers must be willing and able to customize their regimen according to those goals. Most fitness centers deal with clients on a one-on-one basis and in group settings, but no matter the regimen or the setting, it all starts with talk, not action.

“The first step when they walk through the door is a consultation, where we discuss their goals and learn about their medical and fitness history,” says Matt DiStefano of Core Ten Fitness on Orange Street in Wilmington. “A lot of people haven’t been part of a fitness program for a long time and they need to ease into things, and sometimes we have to convince them of that. They want immediate results and it just doesn’t work that way. For those people, patience is a big key, because this is not like ordering something at a restaurant.”

That’s why it’s helpful if prospective clients know what they’re looking for from a personal trainer. If they don’t know for sure, then the trainer must lead them in the right direction. And it doesn’t matter if the client is male or female; the regimen is basically the same, depending on why they hired a personal trainer in the first place, although Maher has noticed that men tend to focus more on their upper bodies.

Clients and members work out at Core 10. (Photo by Jim Coarse)
Clients and members work out at Core 10.
(Photo by Jim Coarse)

“This is not a one-size-fits-all kind of business,” Maher says. “That’s the reason the first thing we do is sit down and talk to them and find out what their goals are. If they have really big goals, then we have to put a time slot to that—it’s not something you can accomplish in six weeks or by just coming to the gym once a week.

“That’s why it’s so important that our clients are honest with us about their medical and workout history, and also the goals they have going forward. We have to decide whether those goals are realistic ones, and if they’re not, we make sure they realize that without discouraging them. Sometimes it can be a real reality check for them. And sometimes they can be stubborn about it, but the majority of our clients understand that we’re professionals who know what we’re doing and they trust us.”

Once those goals are identified, the training process can begin, and all personal trainers agree that it’s important to start slowly and build the training regimen from there. That means basic stretching and cardio-vascular exercises to begin with, then more extensive weight and conditioning training after that. But it always depends on the conditioning and health of the clients when they begin the program.

“We’re really about general well-being, and everybody has different goals and needs,” says Mark Myers, who oversees the personal training program at the Central YMCA in Wilmington. “And one thing we all emphasize is the need for balance. If you want to build up your biceps, that means building up your triceps as well. You never focus solely on one muscle group or one activity. Even if your main goal is to bulk up and add muscle, we also emphasize flexibility, which helps you avoid injuries. It’s really a total package and sometimes people have to be convinced about that because they’re focused on one particular thing.”

You Are What You Eat

Diet is a big part of a fitness program and that’s something trainers constantly preach to their clients, even the ones whose primary goal isn’t to lose weight. Trainers stress the old you-are-what-eat philosophy as part of a balanced approach to fitness.

“We’re not nutritionists and we don’t pretend to be experts in that area,” Maher says. “But we do refer clients to a dietician if they have a serious weight problem that can’t be fixed just by working out. We’ll set up a consultation with [the dietician] and that will become part of the overall fitness program, especially if losing weight is one of their main goals.”

But, DiStefano says, that doesn’t mean his clients can’t have a slice of pizza or a couple of cold beers on occasion.

“It’s like anything in life—moderation is the key,” he says. “If you work hard and eat right five days a week you can enjoy yourself on the weekend and that’s something I tell my people all the time. You don’t want to deprive yourself of the little pleasures of life just because you’re in a training program. It’s all about that balance.”

There is one group of clients who come to personal trainers with specific goals in mind—competitive athletes who are looking for an edge, including teen-agers who hope to excel in their sports enough to earn a roster spot and maybe even a college scholarship.

“It’s different than it was when I was growing up and we played all the sports, depending on the season,” says Stephen LeViere of LeViere’s Fitness, which operates the training program at Kirkwood Fitness on Naamans Road. “Most kids nowadays really specialize in a specific sport and that’s their only focus. If you’re a baseball player or basketball player, that’s what you do, all year round. It’s either your [high school] season or you’re playing in an AAU tournament or getting ready to play in an AAU tournament.

So, their training is geared toward something very specific, something that will give them an advantage and make them better than the guy next to them. If they don’t, they know they might not get that scholarship or even make the team.

“For example, I get a lot of football players in my May program before training camp opens in August, so they can be in better shape than anybody else in camp and they can stand out right away, instead of having to play themselves into shape or, worse, having to battle injuries.”

LeViere says he sits down with these eager athletes and determines exactly what he or she is hoping to achieve, just like he does with all his clients. Of course, the kind of sport, the position they play, and the size of the athletes help determine that, as does their present health and conditioning.

Weight training is an essential part of most fitness regimens. (Photo by Jim Coarse)
Weight training is an essential part of most fitness regimens. (Photo by Jim Coarse)

Gauging the Body’s Response

“But no matter who it is or what sport it is, you have to start with the foundation, and that is how well they can handle the stress and rigors of the game they play,” LeViere says. “You can’t play and you certainly can’t dominate if you’re injured. So, we start with simple presses and compound movements and simple squats with not much weight. And we don’t do jumping or running until we see how their body responds.

“Once we determine that, then we can start ramping up and focusing on the specific muscles they need for their sport, whether it’s speed or agility or strength or power.”

Another challenge for personal trainers is convincing clients to stay with their training regimen after they reach their goals. Many clients get what they want (the pants fit!) and then slip back into the unhealthy lifestyles that made them seek out a personal trainer in the first place.
“It happens frequently and you hate to see that,” DeCaire says. “But most of our clients stick with it because they feel so good about themselves because they’re physically and mentally fit, maybe for the first time in 20 years. That doesn’t mean they have to stay at the same level or maintain the same training schedule. If you’re training to run a marathon you can scale back some after you run your race. But most of them love their new selves and they want to keep those endorphins coming and they make this a life-time commitment.”

“That’s what makes this job so rewarding, when you see that total transformation in a person,” he adds. “When they start their training program they usually do it because they’re not happy with themselves, they’re not happy with the way they look or the way they feel. We help them regain the self-esteem they’ve lost and it’s a great feeling to know that you helped somebody turn their life around in a positive and healthy way.”

21 Things to do This Fall

We’ve got your autumnal to-do list covered

The season of corn mazes and pumpkin patches, hayrides and ghost tours is here. Let us help you navigate the options with a few suggestions.

Ride the Castle Trail Along C&D Canal
Between Delaware City and Chesapeake City, Md.
The Branch Canal Trail, which is the section of recreational trail winding through wetlands connecting Delaware City to the Michael Castle Trail, was completed in June after a few years in the making. The approximately 14-mile Castle Trail runs along the canal from Delaware City to Chesapeake City. Just a small portion near Chesapeake City is left to be paved, and should be completed any day. In the meantime, that section is easily cycled on a mountain bike. Closer to Chesapeake City, the trail is varied in terrain with a few challenging hills and wildflower-filled meadows, while it’s a smooth ride in the direction of Delaware City.

Fort Delaware Ghost Tours
Pea Patch Island, Delaware City
Various October dates
destateparks.com/ghost
Join the Diamond State Ghost Investigators and park staff for three-hour (6:30-9:30 p.m.) recreational paranormal investigations each Friday and Saturday this month. Be part of an actual paranormal investigation using electronic magnetic field detectors, data recorders and other techniques. Tickets are $40 per person, but Saturday, Oct. 29, is for hardcore ghost hunters only, from 9:30 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Tickets are $100.

topiaryNightscape at
Longwood Gardens
1001 Longwood Rd., Kennett Square, Pa.
Now-Oct. 29; 8-11 p.m.
longwoodgardens.org
Back after a successful show last year, the light and sound experience by Philadelphia’s Klip Collective is back for nighttime adventure across a magical landscape transformed by light, movement, color and original music. The expansive gardens are a backdrop for new music, new displays and a heightened cohesive experience.

U-Pick at Milburn Orchards
1495 Appleton Rd., Elkton, Md.
Various dates now-Oct. 30
milburnorchards.com
Family-owned and operated since 1902, Milburn Orchards is a local mainstay for families to gather handpicked peaches, cherries, apples, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, grapes, nectarines, plums, and of course, pumpkins. U-Pick Apple, Berry & Grape Adventures are Saturdays and Sundays 10 a.m.-5 p.m. For additional hours see the website.

Corn Maze at Ramsey’s Farm
330 Ramsey Rd., Wilmington
Various dates now-November
ramseysfarm.com
Travel around the world at Ramsey’s Farm’s eight-acre corn maze representing each continent, emphasizing the international importance agriculture. It’s open weekends 10 a.m.-5 p.m. through Nov. 1; for other dates and times, visit the website. Meanwhile, the pumpkin field is 10-12 acres of gourdy bliss, yielding approximately 20,000 pumpkins each season.

Coverdale Farm Preserve Adventures
543 Way Rd., Greenville
Saturdays, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.; additional dates on website
delawarenaturesociety.org
Coverdale Farm Preserve, a working farm that hosts farming, gardening and cooking classes and camps, is a definite autumnal destination. Self- and staff-guided tours, U-Pick fields of flowers, herbs and vegetables, lawn games and more are available. The special theme on Saturday, Oct. 15, is Pumpkin Celebration & Hayrides.

Brandywine Village Riverfest
Brandywine Village, Wilmington
Saturday, Oct. 1; 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
oldbrandywinevillage.org/events
The annual event is a fun-filled community day with music, children’s activities (mad science, tennis in the street, mini golf and more), artists and food vendors.

The Inspire Lot Series
215-219 W. 7th St., between Orange & Tatnall, Wilmington
Friday, Oct. 7; 5:30-8 p.m.
creativedistrictwilm.com
The 7th Street Arts Bridge Inspire Lot Series, held during the First Friday Art Loop, features poet and songwriter King Zimm this month. Also enjoy live music by Gable Music Ventures, assorted food trucks, hands-on art activities and more.

dsc_0907Vendemmia at Bellevue
Bellevue State Park,
800 Carr Rd., Wilmington
Sunday, Oct. 9; 2-6 p.m.
societadavinci.org
The region’s biggest celebration of the Italian grape harvest, the da Vinci Society of Delaware’s 13th annual Vendemmia da Vinci, will take over Bellevue State Park. The event includes fine Italian wine, beer and catering by Italian restaurants. Admission is $50 in advance and $60 at the door.

Grainfest 2016
Grain Craft Bar + Kitchen, 270 E. Main St., Newark
Saturday, Oct. 15; 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
grainonmain.com
This will be a fall celebration of craft beer and live music, featuring five bands on Grain’s new outdoor stage in the back lot, providing the perfect backdrop for the new beer garden, featuring more than 15 breweries and two food trucks. Chef Bill will be cooking up something special for the day. There will be kids’ activities as well.

Delaware Wine & Beer Festival
Delaware State Fairgrounds, 18500 S. DuPont Highway, Harrington
Saturday, Oct. 15; noon-5 p.m.
delawarewineandbeerfestival.com
The 7th annual festival features national acts Sam Grow and the Dueling Pianos. Local and regional wines, beers and spirits will be available. Painted Stave, Evolution Brewing, Bellefonte Brewing Co., and Dogfish are just a few.

Musikarmageddon Finale
the baby grand, 818 N Market St., Wilmington
Saturday, Oct. 15; 8-11 p.m.
outandaboutnow.com/musikarmageddon
Who will be champion of the area’s biggest battle of the bands? Arden Kind, Hoochi Coochi, The Susquehanna Floods and TreeWalker are the finalists for the Musikarmageddon X showdown.

Delaware Splatter Dash
Oberod Estate, 400 Burnt Mill Rd., Wilmington
Sunday, Oct. 16; 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
cffde.org
Benefitting Children & Families First, this fundraiser is for anyone who wants to walk, jog or run for a cause – and plow through seven color stations to get splattered by non-toxic, biodegradable powder en route to the finish line. The course covers 1.5 miles of off-road grass trails through trees, with a few inclines, but nothing difficult.

Pirate FlagHeavy Seas Party
Kalmar Nyckel & Riverfront
Dravo Plaza, Wilmington
Thursday, Oct. 20; 5-8 p.m.
Hosted by O&A, the Heavy Seas Party on the Riverfront includes tours on the Kalmar Nyckel (5-6:15 p.m.) and live music on the Riverfront with beers from Heavy Seas. This will be a fundraiser for the Delaware Children’s Museum. Featuring fresh pours of the Pounder Pils, Loose Cannon IPA, and the Partner Ships Terrapin Rye Wit, the event includes appetizers and live music by the Brad Newsom Trio (6-8 p.m.). Those 21 and older are welcome, and tickets are $30 in advance, $40 at the door.

The Ultimate Tailgate
Sheraton Wilmington South
365 Airport Rd., New Castle
Thursday, Oct. 20; 6-9 p.m.
mealsonwheelsde.org/ultimate-tailgate
The event will feature the best of area restaurants serving unique interpretations of tailgate food. This sophisticated yet casual event also will feature wine, spirits and a beer garden curated by 2SP Brewing Company. VIP admission is at 5:30 p.m.

I Want My CTC
– A Tribute to the ‘80s
World Cafe Live at The Queen, 500 N. Market St., Wilmington
Saturday, Oct. 22; 7 p.m.
worldcafelive.com
Joe Trainor assembles some of the area’s finest musicians and City Theater gathers some of its finest singers, traveling back in time to when video ruled the airways. Focusing on the golden age of MTV, this production brings some of the enduring ‘80s classics live to the stage for just one night. Tickets start at $20.

Halloween Blue Jean Ball
222 Lake Dr., Newark
Saturday, Oct. 22; 6:30-10:30 p.m.
fbdbluejeanball.org
This year’s event will take place at the Food Bank of Delaware’s new Newark building. To help combat hunger in the state of Delaware, the Food Bank is holding its 11th annual event, complete with a seasonal Halloween theme—come dressed in a costume or casual blue jeans (there will be a costume contest). A small plate menu prepared by students from the Food Bank’s Culinary School will be featured, led by the team at Iron Hill Brewery (also the presenting sponsor). Tickets are $75.

Beers & Gears at Delaware Park
777 Delaware Park Blvd., Wilmington
Saturday, Oct. 22; 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
delawarepark.com
Rev your engines for this annual seasonal favorite for area car enthusiasts. It’s open to all years, makes and models for participants, and of course, anyone is welcome to stroll through the colorful rows of sheet metal, chrome ad steel. Rain date is Oct. 23, rain or shine, and trophies will be awarded in all categories (rat rods, muscles, exotics, hot rods, tuners, pro street, classics, imports, and trucks). Rolling Revolution food trucks will be around for lunch and dinner.

DTC’s Wine Feast and Auction
Delaware Art Museum, 2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington
Friday, Oct. 28; 6-9:30 p.m.
delawaretheatre.org/winefeast
Wine lovers rejoice! The Delaware Theatre Company announces the return of the successful Wine Feast and Auction for another year. Enjoy a night of tastes from local restaurants like Caffé Gelato, Harry’s Hospitality Group and Domaine Hudson, and wine from purveyors like Branmar Wine and Spirits, Collier’s of Centreville and Frank’s wine at this intimate evening of philanthropy at the Delaware Art Museum. Beer will also be available from Dogfish Head and other breweries. All proceeds benefit the artistic, education and community engagement programming of the Delaware Theatre Company. Tickets range from $75-$250.

37th Annual Halloween Loop
Various Wilmington venues
Saturday, Oct. 29; 8 p.m.
outandaboutnow.com/halloween-loop
The Halloween Loop is a citywide party in which club patrons pay a one-time cover charge of $10 to visit more than a dozen nightspots throughout Wilmington. It (almost) goes without mentioning: wear a costume! Buses start running at 8 p.m., and stop their regular routes at 12:45 a.m. with last-visit stops at 1 a.m.

Auburn Heights Fun
3000 Creek Rd., Yorklyn
Various dates
auburnheights.org
During Steamin’ Days at Auburn Heights, visitors can climb into antique automobiles or board a train to experience what it was like to travel at the turn of the 20th century. Guests can also tour the magnificent 1897 mansion that was home to three generations of the Marshall family. Steamin’ Days this fall are Oct. 2 and Nov. 6, plus Steamin’ Halloween on Oct. 30 and Steamin’ Thanksgiving on Nov. 26. Other events take place throughout the month.