One Step at a Time to a Healthy 2012: An Interview with Tricia Wildman, Personal Trainer

In this season of new beginnings, many of us long to start the “Baby” New Year off on the right foot by committing to a health and fitness routine. We’re inspired by the energy of a clean slate, but sticking to that commitment isn’t as easy as it seems, especially with no support.

That’s why this month I’m offering an interview with Triangle-area personal trainer Tricia Wildman, who knows what it takes to make your resolutions a reality whether you want to lose weight, tone up, or stay on track with your goals for fitness, stress reduction and healthy eating.

I chose to talk with Tricia because she’s wise when it comes to taking things one step at a time, she knows how to work with many types of people, and she understands how to “meet you where you are” and keep you having fun with fitness. So let’s get started!

Let’s begin with the basics. Why is personal training important?

If you intend to start a fitness program, whether at the gym or in your home, it’s important to first seek the guidance of a personal trainer. Exercises may seem simple; however it is much more detailed and complex than it looks. If a trainer makes even a minor adjustment in technique, it can dramatically change how a muscle is worked, making the exercise much more efficient. It is important for a personal trainer to show you how to do exercises properly so you can do them on your own and get the most benefit.

Another reason to see a trainer is for accountability and motivation. You may know your way around a gym but struggle to stay disciplined. A personal trainer can keep you accountable by setting goals and tracking your progress, making it harder for you to skip your workouts.

Seeing a trainer is also great if you are bored with your current workout routine, need a challenge, or are not getting the results you want. One reason why people reach a plateau is because the body adapts to the usual routine. To get results faster you have to “trick your muscles” with new and varying routines. Doing so allows the body to let go of excess fat and allows muscle to grow and adapt to new stimuli. Fortunately, a trainer can give you advice on how to constantly switch it up and they can give you an array of exercises to choose from.

Gym memberships soar in January, but people often can’t keep their resolutions for fitness or losing weight if they aren’t disciplined. How does your work help them?

This often is a problem for many. We all have the best intentions to stay motivated and stick to our goals but it can be difficult to adhere to a routine that disrupts day-to-day life. As a personal trainer, I can help keep you accountable for your workouts and/or meals. I approach each client differently, and the degree to which I hold them accountable varies based on their goals, and their personality. For example, I may have client A, whom I will provide home workouts for and set goals that can be measured along the way. Or I could have client B, who struggles with weight loss, and is motivated and willing to do some lifestyle tracking [with] a daily log of food, sleep, exercise, and water intake so that I can address in detail any changes that need to be made. My most dedicated clients schedule with me and then make a promise to themselves that this is the one appointment they refuse to move. These are the clients who have made the most progress. As long as they can commit to coming to their appointments I can help them with the rest of the struggle.

Resistance can kill any routine or resolution…What do you say to people who don’t like to sweat or don’t want to be pushed too far?

My advice is to start “slow.” The whole idea behind physical activity and healthy eating is to make it a lifestyle. You certainly shouldn’t dislike what you plan to do for most of your life. Choose to run because you love the runner’s high you feel after a long run. Choose a sport because it’s social and fun. Or choose Zumba because you love to dance. Don’t just try to get through your exercise routine. Find something you enjoy and love doing.

Also, when it comes to exercise I have one rule for my clients to follow and that is “do something.” If you intended to go to the gym that morning but just didn’t feel like it, “just go,” and “do something.” Give yourself permission to leave if you really aren’t feeling it. Chances are once you get started with just a little something, your tune will change and you will keep on going.

What if a person who wants to see you has medical limitations?

If someone has medical limitations oftentimes we can work through them with some therapeutic exercises and stretches. People with medical limitations certainly should not be discouraged. Everyone can benefit from exercise. We would still take the approach of taking it “slow” but progress can definitely be made.

And if someone doesn’t like the gym “scene” or feels like they can’t afford a membership?

A lot of clients come to me for that reason. I offer a private setting where I do my personal training. For clients who wish to train on their own or are on a tight budget I offer discount package pricing. For those clients who exercise at home I will create workouts for them to do on their own. The workouts may require one or two pieces of equipment and sometimes no equipment at all.

How does your personal training practice and philosophy differ from how other fitness professionals approach wellness and fitness?

Most fitness professionals are about getting results “fast,” oftentimes at the expense of either burning out their client or even risking injury to the client. The most important thing to me is that my clients have a strong core first. The core (the muscles surrounding the spine) is the foundation of our training. If the core is not strong it cannot possibly support the body during vigorous training. It’s like comparing the body to a ship. If the ship’s sails were stronger than the mast, the ship would collapse. This is what happens when trainers are too aggressive with their training. The client may start seeing results fast, but if strengthening the core is not a priority in the process, their body will become more susceptible to pain and injury. Not to mention, if the core is not as strong as the rest of the body they are setting themselves up for a plateau.

Where do you work in the Triangle area, and how often do you recommend scheduling sessions for new clients?

Currently I have a studio in Hillsborough, NC but I also do in-home and in-office training as well. I usually see clients once or twice a week for private training. I also [sometimes] offer small group training so clients can fit in an extra workout at an affordable price in addition to the private training. I will be starting up a boot camp this spring as well. Don’t let the name scare you. Boot camps are for all fitness levels and exercises can be progressed or scaled down for each individual.

That sounds great. Is there anything else you want people to know about you and your work?

I am a very well rounded personal trainer. I have worked with those who have NEVER exercised, clients rehabbing injuries, moms wanting to get back into the shape they were once in, middle-aged men that want to get back to the shape they were in at college, the elderly, athletes, etc. The thing that all of these people have in common is that I gave them all real and lasting “results”. I am known to be tough but I am also known to be gentle and encouraging. My intuition and experience guides me in my role and I confidently know what my clients are able to do and when to progress them.

For more info about Tricia and her business, Beyond Barriers, please visit

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