Low back pain is one of the most common chronic pain complaints, and much of it is mechanical in nature--meaning there is no actual injury to the tissues, but there is some sort of mechanical and/or structural issue causing pain. Many people tend to work sedentary jobs that involve a lot of sitting. This can tighten the hamstrings and hip flexors. These tightened muscle then eventually pull the pelvis out of alignment, putting strain on the back. Excessive dynamic movement, like running or jumping, repeated over time can cause back issues as well
Now there are a variety of stretches you can do to ease low back pain, but I am focusing on strengthening muscles to help, as I have several clients with low back pain who have found some relief with these exercises. So here are some of the exercises I have my clients do.
(Please do not attempt to diagnose yourself. Seek the help of a physical therapist.)
This will hopefully be the only controversial post I write on this blog--and it's controversial because I know so many people involved in MLM businesses that it's unreal. I recognize that MLMs have been around forever, but it seems social media has exploded their popularity. I cannot go a single day without seeing one of my FB friends shilling some sort of MLM, be it Plexus, Younique, Herbalife, ect. (Plexus and Younique are the most popular on my feed.) In the past, I've tried product samples from MLMs without realizing they were MLMs, like Nerium and even some supplement from Amway that was supposed to give me energy. I've bought from an MLM before as well--and didn't know it--like Perfectly Posh, whose products I now realize are overpriced and don't last that long. In fact, I'm better off buying at Sephora, where the products may be more expensive but they last a million times longer--think six months versus a few weeks. I didn't even know Mary Kay was an MLM, and it has been around since I was in high school and perhaps longer than that! Then there is Avon, but I don't recall Avon representatives ever trying to get me to sell it, too.
You may be wondering how this fits in with my blog. Well, it does because I first started researching MLMs when I noticed a former friend of mine splashing Plexus all over FB. Naturally as a fitness professional I must keep abreast of the latest, most popular supplements, so I started looking up Plexus, only to be not surprised that the product itself is a scam. What's even more outrageous is that the majority of people selling Plexus have little knowledge of nutritional science. Of course, I realize there are personal trainers out there who sell Plexus. But I also recognize that there are doctors out there who apparently support this company, as evidenced by this hormone specialist. No profession is safe from this quackery.
However, I am not here to talk about the efficacy of any of these products. I am here to talk about the exploitative nature of MLMs themselves and why I refuse to be guilted into supporting any of my friends' businesses. For one, these are pyramid schemes because people's bottom lines involve recruiting others to sell these products. The products themselves don't even matter. They're just smokescreens. Not only do I know this from research, but I know this through my friends themselves who post statuses about messaging them for business opportunities. Anyone who typically praises the business also happens to sell the product themselves.The article I linked to provides enough of an explanation over how MLM businesses works, so I won't even bother explaining myself.
For one, MLM businesses are incredibly obnoxious. Whatever happened to genuine interactions on FB that didn't involve some ulterior motive to try and get your friends to sell? I have had people on my FB try to recruit me, wanting to exploit my platform as a fitness professional in order to make bank. That is an egregious abuse of my position and expertise. I will NEVER sell supplements to my clients. I will never sell makeup to them. Or skincare products. Or anything else for that matter. I will only sell MY services that get them long-term results that a supplement will never get them. Plus, not only is there an implication that I'm expected to sell to them, but then I'd also have to recruit them. On what world is this even ethical? It's not, and I don't appreciate anyone thinking this is okay.
Another thing about MLMs that bother me is these parties. I have friends inviting others to come to parties, when in reality that person is going to try to get you to not only buy the product but sign up to sell it. How abusive is this? Perhaps if you outright stated what the party was really about, then maybe I wouldn't roll my eyes every time your response to someone's question is to message you. Yes, I understand I can unfriend these people, but my hope is that they'll eventually see the light and join others, like me, in speaking out against MLMs. They'll use their experiences in these MLMs to get others to see how exploitative these practices are.
These businesses typically prey on single moms or women seeking to work at home so they can have a better work-life balance. So I do understand that these ladies are just trying to make money in a way that allows them an income without neglecting their home lives. This is an understandable desire, but there are plenty of occupations out there that allow this, like personal training, occupational therapy, and even a basic 9-5 job that doesn't require you to take work home or give up your free time. Granted, I understand the woes of stay-at-home moms wanting to contribute income, but it's your responsibility to figure out how to make it work before you even have a kid, and this doesn't include diving headfirst into a scam! I plan to return to school next year to study to become an occupational therapy assistant, and OTAs, from what I've read, have excellent work-life balances. I also plan to remain a personal trainer for a long time to come. So I have no complaints about my life and my jobs. I love them, and I can't wait to go back to school to further make a difference in people's lives.
So yes, I've found a way to make life work for me in a way that makes me happy without feeling the need to fall for a scam. This took a lot of work and self-discovery and maturity, but I am genuinely happy with my choices and don't feel the need to shove my life down others' throats the way MLMs make their shillers do.
I see my MLM friends bragging about how amazing their jobs are and how you should do their jobs too if you just hate yours. In fact, I've known some to quit well-paying jobs to sell full-time. And I know it's all lies. I've been in sales before; it's rough, it's not easy to make money, and it takes constant hustle. But I didn't have to spend any money upfront to make commission off home improvement projects or gym memberships. I didn't have to dupe paying customers into also signing up to sell stuff--just buy stuff that hopefully turns them into satisfied customers; however, these business are part of the BBB, which MLMs are not. My managers were genuinely interested in helping me improve my skills so I could make more money. And if I wasn't making more money, then they would work with me to figure out how to fix this. Of course, I left sales because I hate it and I also believe sales is a naturally exploitative profession, but I didn't destroy relationships as a result of these jobs the way MLMs do.
What also annoys me, and this is perhaps me being elitist, is that many MLM shillers consider themselves business owners. You're not. You're not even an entrepreneur. You didn't come up with the ideas for the products you're selling. You didn't invent these products or create them. You didn't invent the marketing materials for them. You don't need a license for your business. You didn't have to get certified in anything. You don't need a degree in anything. ANYBODY can be an MLM shiller as long as they have a little bit of upfront cash.
On the other hand, actual entrepreneurs have had to work much, much harder to even launch a business. I actually have to be certified to work as a trainer, to be seen as a professional, to be seen as legitimate. I have to receive continuing education credits to remain certified. I also had to get my own insurance to protect myself from potential lawsuits. I'll eventually need a business license. I didn't invent personal training, but what I did invent is my own ideas for what I'd like to promote compared to what other fitness professionals promote. Blogging also goes hand-in-hand with this business, and while I didn't invent blogging either, all of these posts arise from my own ideas and experiences. And my publisher, Gnome on Pig Productions, has had to work unbelievably hard and have all the required paperwork to run and get an accountant and everything.
Believe me, I know MLM people have to hustle, but you're selling someone else's dream. You're not selling your own despite how passionate you believe you are about the products you're selling. The fact of the matter is that you're still making money for someone else, whereas with my own entrepreneurial endeavor, I keep 100% of the profits and get to decide how to utilize those profits. You don't. You don't get a say in the percentage of commission you earn. You don't get a say in how much the products should cost. You don't get to invent new products to sell. You don't get a say in anything other than how you yourself sell the product. Stop duping yourself into believing you're living some entrepreneurial dream, when real entrepreneurs don't go around bragging about lavish lifestyles but rather talk about the immense work it takes to run a business. And it does take a lot of work. I'm still trying to find that balance that allows me to continually grow my own business while working at the YMCA and being a PT Aide and continually expanding my fitness and nutrition knowledge through continuing education courses along with trying to be a young adult author.
I'm sorry, but I will not support you. I will continue buying my make-up and skincare products at Sephora or Ulta or elsewhere. I will never support unnecessary supplements like those provided through Plexus and Amway. I will buy my wax melts at places like Target. I will buy jewelry in places like Dillards. Now I will support you if you actually do launch your own business through your own original ideas that don't exploit others, like friends who sell their art on Etsy, or friends who write and publish books, or friends who create cute crafts. These are the real entrepreneurs, the real innovators, the real change makers. And stop insulting the term entrepreneur with the cutesy momtrepreneur that makes it seem like entrepreneurship is as easy as spending several hundred bucks to buy into someone else's dream.
Am I bitter? No. I guarantee you that even with the little bit of money I am making off my own business, it's still likely more than what most MLM people make, especially since they have to spend money on their own products in order to be able to sell said products.
Are there people who have been successful with MLM? I have no doubt there are, but the percentage is incredibly, incredibly small. The vast majority are struggling. Most new businesses, regardless of the route you choose to go, fail anyway. MLMs are no different. What is different is massive amounts of people buying into the idea that MLMs will somehow make them easy money.
When it comes to the gym, injuries from weight lifting are unfortunately common. Even if you're taking every precaution imaginable, no one is immune to injuries. Weightlifting-induced injuries are just about the worst thing that can happen to any weightlifting fanatic. They limit how much you're able to lift and what sorts of movements you can do. For example, I have a jammed hip--think super tight muscles that keep pulling on my hip joint and having it sitting improperly in my socket. Thanks to ballet, which I'm taking a break from as a result of this issue, I can't do heavy deadlifts or squats with any weight. Heavy deadlifts and squats with weights is what worsened this injury that was dormant thanks to a round of physical therapy last year that partially solved the problem ballet gave birth to. In fact, I try not to do squats at all, unless I'm demonstrating them to my clients or group class participants. (And, yes, I am in physical therapy for it.)
I say all of this to let you know how easily you can be injured weightlifting if you're not careful. For a few months, I honestly thought squats and deadlifts would solve my hip problem. After all, my issue last year was that my concentric muscles were weak, so I figured if I got back to work strengthening those, my problems would disappear. Nope. Physical therapy last year mostly fixed the issue, but my hip still wasn't sitting properly in the socket. So adding on exercises that only served to further tighten already tight muscles reactivated the problem, making it a million times more difficult to fix now.
Now this problem occurred because of ballet. I received this injury in the very beginning, back when I was trying to lift my leg as high as it could go. An audible pop, an injury that went a little dormant until middle splits were introduced, and now here I am suffering because I foolishly pushed myself too hard when I wasn't ready. Injuries from weightlifting generally occur for precisely this reason. So I get it. I understand the struggle. I hate not doing deadlifts or squats with weights, but I also don't want a hip replacement in the future. Ever since my reckless days of ballet, I've learned to stop pushing through the pain. I've learned to be safer when doing potentially risky activities.
I'm going to share some tips for you weightlifting fanatics and for those new to weightlifting about what you need to do in order to be safe. This will prevent years of grief (because I've had my hip injury for a few years).
I've been at the Y for a little over a month--and, yes, it took me a little over a month to land my first client. I've gotten a few through my own business, but I've had to be patient and persistent with getting one at the Y.
At my particular YMCA, I'm not required to sell training. When I work floor shifts, I'm not required to prospect. It is these reasons that I work at this particular Y. When there's no pressure for me to sell or to approach people with an ulterior motive, I can be more genuine in my interactions with people and feel much more comfortable letting them know I'm a trainer and then asking them what they're training for; I then let them know that if they ever need help with anything, they can feel free to speak with me, even when I'm working out. Does this mean my business is being built more slowly? Yes, but it also means I'm neither miserable in the process nor do I feel like I'm compromising any of my morals or ethics by approaching people with the intention of selling something to them.
It was this impersonal process of selling that made me quit my previous gym as a consultant. Do I wish I were brave and skilled enough to hit the floor and come away with a client every time? Yes, but it's not me, and I'm not going to force myself to be that way. So if you're someone who absolutely detests the idea of selling anything, I'm going to tell you all of what I did to land my first client--and I didn't have to prospect for this client, either.
Being out on the floor and talking with the members did not land me my current client. Do I speak with the members on the floor anyway? Yes. Do I try to find ways to help them? Yes. Do I give everything away? No. Do I hope one day these members will approach me for training? Yes. So if it wasn't the floor that helped me land my client, what was it?
What I do behind the scenes is what helped. At the same time, what I'm about to tell you isn't anything I set out to do deliberately with the knowledge that this would help me land my first one. Doing these things just happened to produce this result.
First, you want to become cordial not only with the members but more importantly the employees of the gym--yes, even the trainers, as it was a trainer who gave me my first client. Let them know who you are and that you're looking to fill up your book of clients. Be willing to go the extra mile for them. Learn from the trainers. Ask them how they got their clients. If you work floor shifts and someone needs you to take their shift and you're able, do it. Let the employees know that you're happy to help out wherever you can. This leaves a good impression in their minds so that when a member asks about training, they'll immediately think of you. And for the trainers not looking to take on anymore clients, let them know you're looking and that you'll take any clients anyone throws their way.
If you work the floor, do more than what is asked of you. For example, we have a binder of the cleaning schedule. I do a lot of stuff that isn't even on the list, like wiping down cycles in the spin room or wiping down the mats in the group exercise room. Granted, I do them because I want to stay busy, but members will perceive you as a hard worker the busier you make yourself seem. Plus, they're more likely to approach you for help. While my busyness hasn't won me any clients, it has won the admiration of several members who note how hard I work. Even if I've wiped the machines the day before, I'll do them again the next day. You are never too good to do the little things.
This next point seems obvious, but smile at every person you make eye contact with. Bid them a hello, how are you, and have a good day as they exit the gym. The friendlier you make yourself, the easier it'll be for people to approach you with the intent of holding a simple conversation that can eventually lead to one about personal training.
When you land leads, you need to follow up with them. I have a few right now that I intend to follow up with. One lead I received because my dad let a woman at his work know that I'm a trainer, and this woman wants her mom to have one. I got another lead because the front desk called me up to introduce me to someone interested in training but still needed to talk it over with her spouse; however, I was called up because the woman at the front desk knows how much I want to build up my book. And I got another one through a wellness appointment by simply showing the member my value and letting her know I'm a trainer (she had a trainer previously and is interested again).
If you are on the clock, let the front desk know that you'd like to do all of the tours, just so members meet you as the first trainer before any others.
Work out in your trainer shirt. Take group exercise classes in your shirt. Pay attention to the people on the floor. I noticed one member was wincing in pain as she was getting off an ab machine. Turns out she was having gluteal pain. I showed her a simple stretch, and the next day she told me she felt so much better as a result. Little things like this help, especially if you keep following up with the member you helped. They'll then start talking about you. It's all word of mouth. And when you finally do land your first client, put all of your efforts toward making them happy. Be especially enthusiastic/energetic when you're out on the floor training them so that members take note.
It's hard. It's rough. Being a trainer is for the privileged. I have had to take on another small part-time job, but it's a job as a pt aide, which will greatly support my career as a trainer.
It is such a rewarding career, one I will never give up on. I'm being patiently, politely persistent.
ACE Certified Personal Trainer, NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, nutrition coach, young adult author, moody ballerina.
I help people perform without pain.
Order When Stars Die
Free on Lulu.
The views expressed on this blog are entirely my own. Any advice I offer is not to be taken as medical advice. If you think you have contraindications to exercise, please see your physician before implementing any sample workout plans I present on this blog.
All images are either my own, from Canva, or Creative Commons