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marglCan working with a personal trainer not only improve your health and body image but also contribute to spiritual development, leading to continual peace and happiness?

“Oh, absolutely,” says personal trainer, Holly Margl, who trains at Flex Appeal in St. Paul. “The key is to be in the moment, while you’re running or exercising…not to dwell on negatives but to be aware of the good things going on in the present, like how good your body feels or your beautiful surroundings. That’s when those moments of enlightenment come.”

But for many people, it’s hard to get started on the path to physical health. Motivation is lacking even when we recognize that we’re not happy with our present physical state. Our society suffers from chronic low self-esteem and lack of confidence, says Margl. A lot of us think that we don’t deserve to feel good about ourselves. Many of us are overly critical of ourselves and never feel we are good enough. For many people, Margl recommends therapy to jump start motivation. To be overweight, chronically ill and unable to enjoy physical activity is not merely a physical problem, but it has deeply rooted causes in hurts and habits just below the surface of consciousness.

Margl’s education, training and personal history qualify her to make these observations. She was not a physically active child in her youth, being the skinny kid who got picked last in team sports. She hated physical education until she was 14 years old and had to take a weight-training class at school. That activity awakened a new confidence in her. From then on, she continually sought that feeling through exercise, taking her weight training to competition levels.

The avoidance of feeling awful is what motivates Margl to exercise everyday. She admits she’s been to the extreme of exercise bulimia. Her degree in psychology and work as a chemical dependency counselor give her insight into the addictive personality. Once a stay-at-home mom, Margl is now a single mom of three boys. Going through her divorce, she decided to go into personal training because she likes exercise and people were already coming to her for advice. Margl is now a USA Triathlon certified coach, a National Strength & Conditioning Association Certified Strength & Conditioning Coach and competes in triathlons, marathons and bike races. She also teaches new personal trainers at Saint Paul College.

The mental, physical and spiritual benefits of personal training are as many as the reasons people seek personal trainers. A personal trainer provides accountability because you make a commitment to participate when you pay someone to help you reach your goal. Personal trainer fees can range from $50 to $120 per hour, so incentive to achieve results is strong. Things to look for in a good trainer are their certifications, education, exercise background, nutrition knowledge, whether they are willing to research and create programs to match your goals, and whether their personality clicks with yours. Because there are many more options for fitness training these days, you should also think about what environment you want to exercise in. Do you want to work out at home, in a health club or a neighborhood gym?

Margl has worked with some clients for as long as she’s been a trainer, since 2005. She believes this is because her clients feel their exercise goals are being achieved and maintained and they find the workouts to be continually challenging. Anyone who comes out of feeling bad or even just okay into feeling good, by eating nutritiously and doing exercise doesn’t ever want to go back to the way it was.

“And yet we do,” says Margl, “A trainer can’t be with the client at night when they’re sabotaging themselves with that bowl of ice cream before bed.”

A personal trainer helps us root out the reasons for our self-sabotage and helps us to see that we do deserve to feel good about ourselves. A life balanced by fun, regular exercise, good nutrition and a positive, present-moment mindset is a life filled with spirit.

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Catherine Ayano Nixon is a National Academy of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer, Yang style lineage Tai Chi teacher and writer. You may contact her at 651.357.3198 or catherinenixon@mac.com.

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