Recent Posts

Employer Spotlight: Bonita Porte, Energetic Juniors

by Meaghan posted February 4, 2016

We recently interviewed Bonita Porte of Energetic Juniors.


Here’s what she had to say about FPTI grads:

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Filed under: employment

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Smart Exercise Swaps for the Core

by Meaghan posted February 1, 2016

I feel like at this point I shouldn’t still be talking about the importance of prioritizing neutral spine and core stability over movement in training, but I still see so many examples of the opposite that I guess not everyone is up to speed. For brevity’s sake, I’ll try to simplify the science as much as possible.

First, the sheer structure of our lumbar spine suggests that it’s not meant to move very much. Each of its five vertebrae have only a few degrees of available motion, and between them we have discs that have shown to wear down with excessive movement, especially under load. And there are all those fragile nerves sticking out at every interval!

Additionally, the anatomy of most of our core muscles is unlike that of our prime movers: The fibers aren’t really aligned in a manner that is optimal for large amounts of force production. Rather, they seem better suited to absorb and resist force through isometric action. To no surprise, many of our core muscles also seem to elicit greater EMG activity with isometric exercises than they do with movement-based exercises.

That said, to both prevent spine injuries and optimize performance and appearance, doesn’t it make more sense to train them in the manner for which they seem to be designed? I certainly think so. That may mean simply training the core to keep the spine stable under load through larger lifts like squats and deadlifts that train our bigger, stronger hip extensors to produce movement. Or, for some clients who feel the need to “do abs,” it may mean making smarter exercise selections – and here are two examples:



Instead of: 

Standard Crunches (requiring a flexed lumbar spine)



McGill Curl-ups


As our renowned and leading researcher in spinal biomechanics, Dr. Stuart McGill, points out, your pelvis and lumbar spine stay neutral in this exercise due to the position of the legs while the more mobile thoracic spine moves to lift the chest and shoulders. Moreover, the tactile feedback on the hands in the small of the back tells us if we’re moving from places where we shouldn’t be. And for stubborn clients, the exercise still looks and feels very much like a crunch! Continue reading »

Filed under: core training, tips for trainers, workout tips

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Weightlifting Belts: Good or Bad Idea?

by Meaghan posted January 25, 2016

As our Advanced Concepts students are simultaneously learning about heavy lifting and the importance of core stability as pertains to both preventing and improving spine injuries, the always controversial topic of the use of weightlifting belts was bound to arise.

weight belt

Why the controversy?

Well, for starters, weightlifting belts are widely misused by the general population. As one of our students pointed out, some guys use them for every exercise, regardless of the need for additional spinal support.

curling with belt

And that’s just silly.

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Filed under: core training, exercise Q&A, strength training, workout tips

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Assessing Movement Efficiently with New Clients

by Meaghan posted January 20, 2016

This week, our FPTI Advanced Concepts students are learning the finer points of movement assessment. Assessing a client’s movement capabilities is one of the most important aspects of a first session. It gives the personal trainer the information he/she needs in order to write a program that addresses mobility and stability, and, most importantly, SAFE exercise selection and loading parameters. It also serves as a catalyst for the personalized programming in future sessions AND the explanation of it, allowing a foundation of trust to form between trainer and client.

Yet, movement assessments are probably the most neglected element of initial personal training sessions.


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Filed under: tips for trainers

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Alumni Spotlight: Michael Shipper

by Meaghan posted January 7, 2016

I mentioned recently that we’d be doing more alumni profiles this year. Well, here is our first!

See what FPTI grad Michael Shipper is up to now and how his experience at FPTI helped him start a successful and rewarding business with special needs kids.


Mike Shipper


When did you graduate from FPTI?

I graduated from FPTI’s Theory and Application course one year ago (December, 2014) – so what I’m about to share with you is a recap of what I’ve accomplished within just this past year. Hopefully, my story can help current and future FPTI students to achieve their goals and dreams.


What made you decide to become a personal trainer?

I remember very vividly waking up on a Monday in mid-August 2014 and just deciding that I was not going to go to work. I’d had enough! Seven grueling years of finance had taken its toll on my mind and my heart.

I had given it my all, but I couldn’t give an ounce more. I had built a nice book of clients (the money was good), but I was missing one major aspect in my life and that was the love of what I was doing. I thought I had a career because I would travel, wear custom suits, provide a room full of dentists and physicians with a presentation, and then eventually sell them financial products; in reality, it was just a job to me. I didn’t love what I was doing. I knew I had to make a change.


Why did you choose  FPTI to get you started?

I did my research before signing up with Focus. I interviewed at a few other schools in the NYC area, but FPTI proved superior. Focus provides both in-class and hands-on (practical) training whereas the other schools only taught from a textbook. This was the deciding factor for me. I’m a kinesthetic learner. I learn best when I’m hands-on and having this dual learning atmosphere was key.


What exactly are you doing now in the fitness industry?

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Filed under: alumni spotlight

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2015 in Review and What’s in Store for the New Year

by Meaghan posted December 29, 2015

A lot of exciting things happened at FPTI this year. To name just a few:

1. We graduated four more classes;

2. We added a part-time course in the evenings;

3. We hired an additional (and GREAT) instructor, Ryan Chow, to teach it;

4. We increased the number of employers attending our quarterly Career Fairs;

5. We increased our number of internship sites;

6. We increased our student placement rates;

7. We took a team of lifters to a Starting Strength competition and WON;

8. And, most recently, we were approved to accept federal financial aid for students enrolled in our 700-hour Master Course!



Needless to say, we’ve been pretty busy – which is why some things also didn’t happen.

We didn’t get our Nutrition Coaching course off the ground (or any of our other approved continuing education courses, for that matter…). BUT, we will. Soon. We have a growing staff of hard workers dedicated to getting good, credible information out to the industry and this isn’t a goal we intend to let just fizzle out.

I also didn’t get out as much content on here as I would have liked… BUT, I will. In fact, this year, I’ve made it a goal to post regularly with content relevant to our quickly growing student population and audience of new and aspiring personal trainers.

Here’s just some of what you can expect to see more of in 2016:

1. More real-world Q&As. As teachers, we get questions all the time – and the answers to most of them can usually benefit many of you.

2. Alumni profiles. We have a TON of students out there doing wonderful things in this industry and we couldn’t be prouder to share their inspiring stories.

3. More exercise DOs and DON’Ts. And general programming tips as well. Because who can’t use a few fresh ideas from time to time?


We’d also love to hear more about what YOU want to see on here. This blog is for you, after all – so leave a comment and let us know!

Filed under: Uncategorized

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Q&A: What Do you Think About ‘Workout New York?’

by Meaghan posted December 17, 2015

I’ve unfortunately been asked this question much more than I’d prefer since the new Bravo TV show, ‘Workout New York’ aired.




Has anyone else seen it? If so, I’m curious as to what you thought about it.

To answer the question originally posed to me, let’s just say I shut the show off after about 5 minutes. Aside from an inordinate amount of profanity and other unprofessional behavior exhibited by the trainers, the show portrays the fitness industry as ridiculously dramatic, superficial and self absorbed. Granted, there are probably too many trainers out there for whom this is true; but the better half seek to motivate and inspire, and are dedicated to helping other people achieve goals.

For a “reality TV show,” this show is far from reality.

Thoughts? Leave a comment!


Filed under: exercise Q&A, news

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The Importance of Culture and Community in Training

by Meaghan posted November 6, 2015

Today we have another great post from Brent Carter, Starting Strength Coach extraordinaire!  

As I write this, my hip flexor is killing me, my back feels like it was beaten with a baseball bat, and my legs feel like jello. BUT, I have never felt better! This is because I just had the wonderful opportunity to lead a team of lifters at the 2015 Starting Strength Fall Classic to a victorious team win!

Team FPTI  wins!

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Filed under: fitness commentary, sports, strength training, tips for trainers, workout tips

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Team FPTI Wins the Starting Strength Fall Classic in Long Island City!

by Meaghan posted October 29, 2015

BIG CONGRATS to Team FPTI for winning this past weekend’s Starting Strength Fall Classic in Long Island City, and to FPTI alum and FocusNYC trainer Luis Tejada for taking the Men’s Open title!



This just in: FPTI also came in SECOND in the nation, and Luis took 3rd place NATIONWIDE!

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Filed under: sports, strength training

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Q&A: Do I Need to Progress EVERY Session?

by Meaghan posted October 28, 2015


This one comes from a budding new trainer, and I actually get it a lot from FPTI students as well.

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Filed under: exercise Q&A, psychology and behavior change, tips for trainers

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