Training Edge

Industry News, insights & tools

by Laura Quaglio

NASM Pros: The NBA’s Go-To Trainers

Michael Oviedo has spent much of his career as a personal trainer to celebs, execs and athletes, including Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, who made Oviedo his exclusive practitioner on his 2015-16 farewell.

"When working with an athlete, instructors might think that they should add more resistance or weight during sports-specific skill training. That's not what you want to start with," says Oviedo, MS, LMT,NASM-CPT,CES, PES and director of clinical services at the Sports Performance Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas. If an athlete is out of alignment, piling on weight will just increase the risk of injury. "The intake part-the assessment-is really important. That preps your client down the road to be a better, stronger, faster athlete." His top tips:

Go beyond OHSA. This and the single-leg squat assessment provide a good start, but consider other tests, too. For the vertical-jump test, don't just record height; watch how the athlete lands. The Landing Error Scoring System (LESS) test-explained in the NASM-CES and PES courses-highlights 17 points where movement can break down before, during and after a jump.

Assess and correct before game play. "Before every game, I would literally get Kobe up on the table and use a goniometer and move those joints around to see what needed to be addressed," he says. The one time Oviedo couldn't do this, Bryant tweaked his back and took 3 days to recover. "After that, I was with him for every game," says Oviedo.

Read clients' signals. "The recovery piece is as important as the training piece," he says. "If they're worn out and tight, you don't want to train them again." Scrap your original plans if it's not what the athlete needs that day.

Don't just cue; inform. Yes, you want to cue the athlete throughout each exercise, but also explain what you're doing. (Why, for instance, you're having them stand on one foot and balance.) "You want them to start understanding how their body is responding," he says.

Be a lifelong learner. Oviedo has a BA in physical education and an MS in exercise science, in addition to the NASM certification and specializations, and training in the Fusionetics Performance Health System. He also earned his massage therapy certification so he could do the soft-tissue work that was out of scope for him as a CPT. "Don't rest on your laurels," he advises. "Learn as much as you can about human movement science, and stay on top of the research."

5 Ways to Stop the Spread of Gym Germs

In a 2016 study by, free weights were found to have 362 times more germs than a toilet seat.

Humans aren't the only ones "on" the exercise equipment. Microbiologist Charles Gerba, PhD, says numerous studies have found weights, machines, doorknobs and other surfaces teeming with microscopic trespassers such as cold and flu viruses, E. coli and MRSA. But don't freak out: The University of Arizona professor says using disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer a few times a day is an easy way to break the germs' "cycle of movement." In a study Gerba co-authored in 2013, a virus was spread from one infected worker throughout half of an office building in just 4 hours. Here, Gerba's tips for avoiding gym germs:

  1. Use disinfectant wipes on often-touched objects at the gym and anywhere else you go (airline tray tables, he says, are particularly gross). Unlike spray cleaners, these wipes "provide the right dose of disinfectant every time," he says. Use them on treadmill displays, elliptical handles, weight benches and even personal equipment such as yoga mats. They can pick up germs if you use them in a common area.
  2. Don't put athletic shoes on your desk or stuff them in your gym bag with clean clothes. Most shoes have E. coli on their soles.
  3. Choose a screw-top water bottle, not the flip-top kind, which allows bacteria to transfer from your fingers to the spout every time you open it. Wash it in the dishwasher to kill germs.
  4. Never share towels. "Blood-borne diseases have been transmitted to family members through sharing of towels," says Gerba. Wash all dirty towels, gym clothes and underwear in hot water.
  5. If you catch a cold virus, stay home for at least the first 2-3 days, which is when you're most contagious. A co-worker is sure to prefer covering your class over catching your germs.

Enlightening Yoga-Injury Stats

Trunk sprains and strains account for the majority of yoga injuries. A few modifi-cations can help keep practitioners safe.

I mean…we love yoga. Research finds that, in addition to building strength and flexibility, yoga can reduce lower-back pain, heart rate and blood pressure, and it may help people with anxiety, depression and insomnia. But it's not without its risks. A recent review of U.S. injury reports found that 29,590 hospital emergency room visits from 2001 to 2014 were due to yoga-related injuries. Study authors Thomas A. Swain, MPH, and Gerald McGwin, MS, PhD, from the University of Alabama, Birmingham published these findings in Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine [2016; 4 (11), 2325967116671703], noting that the number of injuries has been growing over that same time period and that the highest injury rate is in the over-65 age group.

In Yoga Journal, McGwin theorized that, among other things, "More people perhaps are gravitating toward yoga who are not more prepared, or teachers or the studios that are opening perhaps aren't at the level they should be."

If yoga is part of your programming, ensure instructors are well-trained and older adults, in particular, have gained clearance from their physician. For all ages, modifications should be shown for each pose; see sidebar on page 68. Want to learn how to lead a safe, challenging multilevel yoga class in a variety of settings? Check out the AFAA Practical Yoga Instructor Training course.

Put “Sleep” on Young Athletes’ Training Plans

Three cheers for coaching students about proper rest: Making a difference is easier than you’d dreamed was possible.

College athletes need a minimum of 8-9 hours of sleep per night, say experts. Less may reduce physical and mental performance on and off the court. It can also slow injury recovery because the body repairs itself during sleep.

Last year, researchers discovered simple interventions that can significantly improve student-athletes' sleep. Michael Grandner, assistant professor of psychiatry and psychology and director of the Sleep Health Research Center at the UA College of Medicine, and Amy Athey, director of clinical and sport psychology services for Arizona Athletics, created Project REST (Recovery Enhancement and Sleep Training).

They enrolled 40 student-athletes in the program, which included a 2-hour education and Q&A kickoff session, using a FITBIT® sleep tracker, sleep diaries, text-messaged sleep facts and 24/7 access to support. But the initial sleep-facts seminar had the biggest impact, say participants. The message here: In addition to discussing nutrition and sports performance with young athletes, you may want to talk about how sleep can affect their game. Visit the website of the National Sleep Foundation ( for Healthy Sleep Tips on sticking to a sleep schedule, creating a bedtime ritual and making a bedroom (or dorm room) more conducive to sleep.

Improve Deadlift Form With These Moves

Before doing deadlifts, use planks, cobras and floor bridges to prep clients.

"The deadlift movement is one of the more difficult compound exercises to teach because there are many areas where form can break down," says Mike Fantigrassi, NASM-CPT and Master Instructor. Here are his thoughts on cuing this move:

Start with stabilization. When you follow the NASM Optimum Performance Training™ model, start with Phase 1: Stabilization. This can help clients avoid most form breakdowns because they will practice the exercise with higher reps and with a slow tempo that will lock in good form.

Build strength and good form. Before doing deadlifts, use planks, cobras and floor bridges to prep. Planks teach how to draw in, activate the core, and brace. Cobras require pulling shoulder blades back and down. Floor bridges use the hip-hinge movement that's done at the top of the deadlift.

Next, try the Romanian deadlift, which emphasizes the top portion of the traditional deadlift movement pattern so the client won't turn the move into a squat. "People who are really good at squatting are usually not good at the deadlift, and vice versa," notes Fantigrassi.

Keep the bar close. During the part of the deadlift where the bar is dragged up toward the knees, it should almost graze the shins. If it's too far forward, balance shifts to the toes. If this is a real problem, try a trap-bar deadlift, which has clients step inside the bar, making it easier to stay balanced.

Watch the lower back. "When you see overarching or rounding, stop the movement and regress it," says Fantigrassi. The back (and the neck) should stay in a neutral position during the exercise.

Check breathing. The client should grab the bar, inhale, hold breath while standing up, then exhale near the top of the move. Breathing should take place in the bottom and top positions of the movement. "You want air in the lungs while lifting and lowering to help stabilize the core," he says. Timing of breathing becomes more important as the load increases.

Finish strong. If she is doing a full deadlift, make sure her hips don't come too far forward at the top (hyperextending the back). But make sure she finishes the move, pauses and squeezes the glutes (and breathes) before starting the descent.

Exercise, Not Opioids

In 2012, enough opioid prescriptions were written to give every American adult their own bottle of pills [American Society of Addiction Medicine, Opioid Addiction: 2016 Facts & Figures].

We often think of exercise as lengthening life-span by reducing disease risk. But it may also help prevent accidental opioid overdoses. This year, the American College of Physicians published recommendations reminding doctors that nondrug options should be the first-line treatments for acute or subacute lower-back pain [2017; 166 (7), 514-530]. These included tai chi, yoga, motor-control exercise, massage, acupuncture, progressive relaxation and others.

"Physicians should consider opioids as a last option for treatment and only in patients who have failed other therapies, as they are associated with substantial harms, including the risk of addiction or accidental overdose," says ACP President Nitin S. Damle, MD, MS, MACP.

With its flagship program, CSS Group Fitness can set up a full-blown cycling class for up to 30 people—anytime, anywhere, including in a field, parking lot or mall concourse.

When Wayne Snyder founded CSS Group Fitness in 2013, he named it for the three pillars of its well-rounded fitness program: cardio, strength and stretch. Though CSS is based in northeastern Pennsylvania, you won't find a gym address on their website. "As a mobile fitness company, we bring all our fitness programs directly to the customer, wherever they might be," says Snyder. "As our slogan states: We bring fitness to you!" What started out as one fitness truck with one instructor and one client has flourished into a 10-instructor operation serving a dozen medium-to-large corporate accounts and multiple public locations. Some businesses fund it 100% for employees, while others simply provide space. In public venues, clients pay per session or buy discounted bundles. "The time we save clients by bringing our program to the workplace or local mall is precious to them," says Snyder.

Here are some lessons learned from life on the road. Hang out before and after. Building a community can be challenging without a "community building." Amanda Grant, AFAA-CPT and indoor cycling and Pound® Pro instructor for CSS, arrives 20 minutes before each class to catch up with regulars and introduce them to new participants. "At the conclusion, I'll stick around to answer questions," she says. "All of this creates a warm sense of belonging and keeps our people coming back."

Use brands to build interest. Branded programs give instant street cred: All CSS instructors are certified by AFAA, NASM and/or in the disciplines they teach, including various bootcamps, Pound, YogaFit®, Zumba® and the AFAA course G.E.A.R. Indoor Cycling.

Point out added perks. Corporate workouts build camaraderie that carries through the workday, and clients report increased productivity. "They don't experience that afternoon-low-blood-sugar fog," says Snyder.

Make it doable. People often feel overwhelmed by nutrition info, so Snyder's team usually keeps it simple, suggesting cutbacks on high-calorie, low-nutritive foods.

Most of all, says Grant, the business model has taught her to expand her horizons-geographically and personally. "As a CPT, I didn't like public speaking or being on a microphone teaching a class, but I put myself out there and now I'm really enjoying it," she says. "You can't just stay in your comfort zone. Expand your marketability. Try something new that might make you a little bit nervous."

Meet our experts

AFM_Author_Quaglio Laura Quaglio, has more than 18 years of experience as a writer and editor for numerous magazines, books and websites on such diverse topics as wellness, nutrition, fitness, finance, after-school activities and parenting.

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