Be Your Own Personal Trainer: adjustments and corrections

Hi friends! How’s the morning going? Today I have some tips on how to adjust yourself during your next workout. Put these adjustments and corrections to use and it will be like you’re your own personal trainer!

Last night, spin was a blast, and I came home to dinner already waiting for me. Isn’t it the best when that happens? Slow cooker to the rescue! It’s definitely in my top 5 must-have kitchen appliance list. I made some of this turkey and feta lasagna with brown rice noodles, and it makes our house smells heavenly. Garlic + marinara + noodles = smells like nana’s house. (PS nana makes the BEST spaghetti.)

After the class last night, I was thinking about personal training, since I’m often asked if I’m still actively training clients. I’m not at the time, and while I miss it, I have some fun projects in the works and other things going on in addition to the little one on the way. I definitely plan to dig into more postnatal fitness, and am excited to see where my fitness journey takes me. For now, I’m really enjoying teaching and taking classes.

Even so, I look around the gym, and I would love to offer tips or help out anyone who’s interested. (A girl told me yesterday that she had been doing interval training almost every day and wants to lose fat but gain muscle, and I wanted to be like, “I can help you out!!”)

Be your own personal trainer: Corrections and Adjustments You Can Make Right Now to Get the Most Out of Your Workout-

(Photo: James Patrick)

Why Work With a Personal Trainer?

I think hiring a personal trainer is one of the most effective strategies for accomplishing your fitness goals. Not only will a qualified, experienced, trainer help you create a plan and complete a safe workout, but they can also help you in other ways. For example, they can give you the knowledge to break and prevent plateaus, tackle fitness aspirations, MOTIVATE you (!), and take your routine to the next level. I especially recommend seeking out a trainer in your area if you’re just getting started. They can get you set up with a solid plan and safe form as you work towards creating your fitness lifestyle.

How to Be Your Own Personal Trainer to Get Even More Out of Your Fitness Routine

If you’ve been working out for a while, there are some simple adjustments you can make in your workout to correct yourself along the way. Think about how you can be your own personal trainer during your sweat sesh, and you’ll get even more out of your routine. It’s easy to cruise through a workout and forget to maintain proper form; this could lead to muscle compensation or even injury.

Here are some rules of thumb that you can apply to many of your strength and cardio workouts:

1) Range of motion. Like we say in BODYPUMP, “Full range for the greatest muscle change.” if you are completing the exercise with a full range of motion, you will recruit more muscle fibers and force your body to work harder and become stronger. Think about how you can increase the range of motion safely within your strength training workouts. For cardio, especially plyometrics, create a dynamic from low to high; you’ll recruit more muscles and likely burn more calories.

Kettlebell workout

(photo: Danny Chan)

2) Is your core turned on? When you walk in the gym, engage your core, and you can let it go when you leave. 😉 Try to keep your abs braced during your workout, whether you’re jogging on the treadmill or lifting weights. It will help to support your back, promote good posture, and also give you a bonus core workout. 

3) Drop your shoulders away from your ears. Try to avoid holding tension in your neck and shoulders, as it’s energy wasted that you could be devoting to whatever move you’re completing. It also helps to draw the shoulders down and back to lengthen the muscles in the neck, as they can become tight from constant sitting and hunching.

4) Train your body evenly. Make sure to work the front and back of your body equally to promote muscle balance. For example, for every set of biceps curls you complete, do a set of triceps work. When you train your chest, be sure to train your back. (You don’t have to do this on the same day, but within a week span you should train each muscle group at least one to two times.)

Chest press w leg raise

5) Watch your knees. If you’re doing any type of jumping activity, be sure to land with a soft knee, instead of the leg locked out. While strength training, keep a slight bend in the knees. While performing squats and lunges, avoid letting your knees jut out past your toes. Keep your weight in your heels with a lifted chest, tight core, and sink down and back for your squats. For your lunges, the front knee should be stacked right above that front ankle.

6) Posture is king. Actively try to pull your shoulders back and down, lift up from your chest, extend up through the crown of your head, and tighten your core. Practice having good posture during everyday activities as much as you can to keep your core strong and protect your back. If you’re looking for some stretches for good posture, check out this post.

Anything you can think to chime in? Do you adjust yourself during your workouts? Have you worked with a personal trainer before? How’d it go?

Hope you have a great morning! <3




Fire up your weights routine

Things that almost screwed up my fitness life

Weights 101

Thank you so much to those of you who have let me know you’re interested in working out with me this summer. I was blown away by the response, and am currently sorting through all of the emails and due dates. Originally I was looking for five mamas, but I will be sending it along to 15 due to the overwhelming response. Expect an email from me this week if you let me know you’re interested!!

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Healthy Cinco de Mayo recipes → ← Mother’s Day Gift Guide


  1. Amanda on May 5, 2015 at 7:03 am

    Dropping your shoulders away from your ears feels SO good! To me, it feels like a little massage in the middle of my workout. Great advice Gina!

  2. Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat on May 5, 2015 at 7:27 am

    These are such great tips Gina! I think the knees-over-the-toes problem is one of the most common ones I see others doing in the gym, and when I squat, I’m constantly reminding myself to keep weight in my heels and check my knees in the mirror. Core engagement is another one that can be so easy to let slip (especially if you’re doing weights after an intense, tiring cardio session) but you’re right – it’s crucial for good posture and preventing injuries!

    • Kris on May 5, 2015 at 11:07 am

      I really wish kids would be taught the correct way to squat in school. I showed my daughter the correct technique and have shown several of her friends. Drives me nuts that the PE teacher doesn’t show correct technique to avoid injury.

  3. Erin @ Erin's Inside Job on May 5, 2015 at 7:33 am

    Great tips! The more that I am in the fitness industry, the better I get about knowing and sensing what I need to correct on myself, but if you had asked me to do that when I was learning and starting then I definitely wouldn’t have been as intuitive. Starting out with a trainer so you can learn those things is definitely a good idea!

  4. Tara | Treble in the Kitchen on May 5, 2015 at 7:46 am

    YES! I love these “corrections”!! I feel like when I teach any group fitness class the majority of my cues are centered around these corrections and I feel like a broken record but if you are doing ALL of these things perfectly you will totally FEEL it after the workout 🙂 Great post!

  5. Anita on May 5, 2015 at 8:35 am

    As I was reading those, I totally did each adjustment in my chair, and my spine already feels better! 😉

    Have a good day!

    Always, Anita

  6. Erin @ Her Heartland Soul on May 5, 2015 at 8:47 am

    Great tips! I’ll keep these in mind when I’m at the gym!

  7. Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious on May 5, 2015 at 9:00 am

    The shoulder one is key! I see so many people with their shoulders rolled forward. I also suggest changing how you stand when lifting weights. For example, stand with one leg extended back as if you’re in a lunge and do it on a weaker leg. It makes the workout much harder and strengthens the weaker side.

  8. Allie on May 5, 2015 at 9:07 am

    Great tips! And so true…I was hesitant to hire a personal trainer because it is pricey, but after a free session I ended up finally doing it before my wedding.My trainer was amazing and it made a huge difference in my body. Definitely worth every penny!!

  9. masala girl on May 5, 2015 at 9:14 am

    Could you do a post explaining splits? I know you’ve mentioned them before but it’d be nice to hear the difference between/how to structure different weekly splits 🙂

  10. ANgela @ Setting My Intention on May 5, 2015 at 9:25 am

    this is why I prefer to workout with videos or in a class – the reminders are so helpful! I’ve never worked with a personal trainer due to budget

  11. Alex @ True Femme on May 5, 2015 at 10:11 am

    I love these tips! I know in Pure Barre I’m always reminding myself to drop my shoulders down away from my ears. My mom had surgery for a herniated disk in her back last year and after going through physical therapy hired a personal trainer to help her gain her strength back. It was so important for her to learn proper alignment so she didn’t injure herself again (she was really fit before her injury) and I know that she absolutely loves it! Her trainer challenges her while also keeping her safe, but I think he might be too hard core for me 😉

  12. Samantha B on May 5, 2015 at 10:21 am

    Love these tips! I am constantly reminding shoulders away from the ears and tall from the waist up during all of my classes.

  13. Cathy on May 5, 2015 at 10:57 am

    All those tips are great ! I am lucky enough to have a trainer and its been a tremendous help. I’ve accomplished fitness goals I never would have been able to do on my own.
    One tip to add to the mix – before I had a trainer and was just starting out, I made it a point to go consistently to the same instructor(s) and mentioned that I was new and was open to any feedback or help that she was willing to give. Aside from super large class sizes, I’ve noticed that most instructors are more than willing to give help and pointers either during or after class. More than six years later, I am still taking this same instructor’s classes and its so wonderful to have someone say “Cathy, I KNOW you can do this” when I am tired and thinking about taking a break during class!

  14. Amanda on May 5, 2015 at 11:17 am

    Now that I’ve finished training for my road race, I’m interested in incorporating more HIIT into my weekly routine to hopefully burn off a little layer of belly fat I’ve got going on! Any recommendations on how often to do this each week/duration of each session? And maybe even an ideal weekly plan (I love body pump and yoga too, along with a great cardio session so I don’t want to drop the other things I enjoy doing) Thanks!!

  15. Emily B on May 5, 2015 at 11:35 am

    Oh man, I haven’t read for the past few days (med school finals, ugh), and when I logged on, it’s like you’ve been talking about all my favorite things! I ordered some Respect Your Universe tights after a friend recommended them and absolutely fell in love! They’re super soft and comfy, and the seaming makes my butt look good 😉 I also made your slow cooker turkey lasagna a few weeks ago and it was a huge hit. Last night I made your “best pasta salad ever” and added some marinated mushrooms with the artichokes…let it sit overnight and had a wonderful, quick lunch today. Thanks for all you do!

  16. Ashley @ A Lady Goes West on May 5, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    Hi Gina! Yes, oh yes. Working with a personal trainer is so valuable. I always tell people to try to meet with someone at least a few times, to learn a few things and get their movements assessed. While all your tips are good, I’d also suggest watching knee alignment. People tend to let their knees wobble in during leg work, which just isn’t a good thing. Also breathing — big belly breaths. In through the nose and out through the mouth, can really help fuel a good workout. Happy Tuesday!

  17. Nicole @ Fitful Focus on May 5, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    Amazing tips! Bracing the core is key – you’ll have better posture and, if your doing anything with weights, it’s amazing how much further you can push yourself and more you can lift when you engage your core.

  18. stacey on May 5, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    I would LOVE to have you as my personal trainer! Just sayin’!!

  19. Morgan @ Managing Mommyhood on May 5, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    Such awesome tups! I work out at home between nap time, so obviously a pt is oit of the question, so this was really helpful and insightful

  20. Heather@hungryforbalance on May 5, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    I have never used a personal trainer, but I could DEFINITELY see how beneficial it would be. Thank you for the awesome tips!

  21. Michelle on May 6, 2015 at 3:55 am

    Great tips! As a former trainer, I’m a stickler for form too and am always trying to stress form over reps to my readers now. I think people have trouble engaging their core while doing exercises, so I’m always reccomending planks. Great post!

  22. Sam on May 7, 2015 at 6:08 pm

    So…what tips did you give the girl in the gym who wants do interval training and burn fat and gain muscle?!

  23. Tammy on May 8, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    Hi Gina! What kind of a feta do you use? I always thought eating feta was a no-no in pregnancy, as I am 6 months pregnant and have been avoiding it! If I have been reading the wrong things then I hope you can enlighten me as I am missing feta something fierce! 🙂

    • Fitnessista on May 8, 2015 at 12:21 pm

      i use the sheep’s feta (from israel) from trader joes. i would talk to your doc, but the general rule is that you want to avoid raw or unpasteurized cheese, which many soft cheeses used to be. if you live in the US, raw cheeses are very clearly marked and a majority of cheeses are pasteurized, including brie or feta. my midwife said to enjoy any cheese i like, so i’ve been eating lots of goat gouda, feta and goat cheese

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