Make Personal Training Your New Best Friend

Make Personal Training Your New Best Friend



With my dedication to providing the best and most up-to-date resources and information to my audience, this week I had the privilege to interview two of the best fitness trainers in the East Bay.  I like their approach and the methods they use for training.  I also appreciate the quality of their education and experience in the field.


I interviewed Lisa Vonnegut, owner, and massage therapist along with Mark Lynn, co-owner, and both are personal trainers at Bay Functional Fitness (BFF). I also love their acronym, which they said they hadn’t realized the reference till after opening their business.



Mark describes his approach to fitness and his practice as taking a holistic approach based on the individual’s specific goals.  He says, “The key is to assess real and perceived strengths and weaknesses and then develop their program accordingly.



If performance, as in the case with athletes, is the goal, the protocols used will be unique to the skills or specific fitness they’re trying to develop. If someone has a desk job and spends a great deal of time sitting and their goals are based on general fitness, injury prevention, and/or weight loss those factors are addressed.



In addition to activity level, we also ask questions about sleep, energy, mood, and of course nutrition habits. Wellness incorporates the whole person and is unique to each individual. There is no one-size-fits-all formula.


There are common themes that are often predictable in terms of movement, strength, flexibility, etc, but what’s always important is to be aware of the client’s unique needs, and be there to meet the client where they are.”


I love how approachable and “friendly” BFF is and how relevant their brand comes across to many.


When asked why they opened BFF and what did they want to offer that is different, they say:


“BFF is currently an all online business. We offer corporate wellness programs for companies as well as individual training.


What makes us unique is our vast network of highly skilled instructors, trainers, and practitioners. Our team is all top-notch and science-based, but we’re also real people who can empathize and relate to the struggles of our clients.


We’ve been around long enough that we’ve been able to curate an extremely knowledgeable as well as friendly staff.”


Here is the rest of the interview with the BFF trainers.


Question: What are you paying attention to and listening for when you begin working with clients?


Answer: Physically I am paying attention to flexibility issues. I’m less concerned with absolute flexibility as opposed to relative flexibility. I want to know how opposing muscle groups are working with or against each other to promote or limit movement. That goes for everyone.


I’m equally paying attention to strengths and weaknesses that need to be addressed in accordance with their goals. There is more to training than just the physical aspect, however. Everyone has their own physical discomfort threshold that needs to be paid attention to. It’s important to work hard, but not at the expense of the overall enjoyment of exercise. If someone hates working out, they’re very unlikely to stick to a program.

All of the components of a fitness program should be tailored to the individual. One of the most important skills good 

trainers have is being able to LISTEN and read their clients.


Question: Why should our viewers consider working with a fitness trainer, if they don’t already or have never?


Answer: There are so many great reasons to work with a trainer. Like all specialized trades, good trainers are experts in their fields. One can waste a lot of time with their workout regimen if they don’t know how to approach fitness. Goals will be achieved much faster with a trainer. 


Accountability is another feature to having a trainer. If it’s on your schedule, you’re way more likely to get it done. 


If someone is experiencing pain or injury from their job or otherwise, a good trainer can help relieve pain through better posture, strength, and flexibility as well as weight loss if that’s an issue.


Question: Can you speak to in general first what you see as the issues could be for hairstylists and their physical health?


Answer: I actually have a number of friends who are stylists, and I’ve spoken to many of them over the years about physical health issues related to hairstyling. 


The most common issues I’ve heard about are associated with long hours on the feet, constantly raised elbows, and hand/wrist repetitive stress. There is also the mental strain of being “on” all day long, often with people sharing emotional issues. A hairstylist is a part artist/part therapist/part mediator. It’s got to be exhausting.


Question: What are three exercises could they do to support their body while at the salon, in between clients? At home?


Answer: In between clients I would say full-body stretching and foam rolling if there’s space for it. 


At home, a fully integrated strength and flexibility program with an emphasis on posture would be most beneficial. It’s hard to narrow it down to three exercises without knowing specifically what is needed for the individual.


Question: What if working out is the last thing a stylist wants to do, and has a hard time getting motivated to do so? What do you suggest, and how would you work with someone like this?


Answer: KEEP/MAKE IT FUN! The beauty of working with a trainer is that you don’t have to “want” to workout. 


I tell my clients that they just need to show up–after that, it’s up to me. The rapport we build, the way we modify and tailor each session to who the person is and where they are in the moment…that’s the artistry in what we do. It’s very similar to what hairstylists do! At the end of the session, they will walk away feeling better, and that’s what keeps them coming back. 


Question: How have you worked with someone if they live with chronic pain, as I think some hairstylists do?


Answer: Lisa is very good at this component of training. Here’s her take: Pain is not a natural state of being. It’s an action signal from your brain telling you that something is wrong. 


The first thing is to find anything I can do to reduce the pain level and increase the motion in the painful area. Having hope that the pain level can abate is really important to motivate clients to want to take action. 


I also do a lot of education about pain itself. Pain is multifactorial, it’s not only about tissue damage. It’s also about movement, mood, stress, diet, sleep, life satisfaction, and many other factors. Understanding the complexity of it and de-mystifying it helps you feel a little more in control of it. And that is a huge step in pain management. 


Question: You have a massage therapy aspect to your business. How does that play a role in physical health and well-being in your mind?


Answer: Again, this is very much Lisa’s wheelhouse.  I think the bottom line is that massage feels good. It also can help reduce inflammation, increase circulation, breakdown adhesions, and scar tissue to improve movement (which also reduces pain). 


Want a little neuroscience? The sensory cortex in the parietal lobe of the brain helps fuel the motor cortex in the frontal lobe of the brain. In other words, you need to have good sensory information to have good movement. And good movement means less pain. 


Massage is the ultimate sensory experience. So it can decrease pain and increase health and well-being in many ways.


Question: What effects have you noticed with your clients(in general, but is there a theme) through Covid?


Answer: People are scared, bored, and full of anxiety. People are also grieving. Not only for the loss of a loved one, though that’s certainly affected over 200,000 families.  People are grieving for lost businesses, lost hobbies, and passions, lost intimacy, a lost way of life. 


The uncertainty of the next few months; physically, emotionally, and financially can be crippling.


Question: What can you say about the effects of stress on the body, and ways that my guests might be able to counter through fitness and massage?


Answer: The effects of stress are many-fold. The body produces a hormone called cortisol when experiencing stress. Cortisol has its purpose, but in excess, it causes a host of issues from an overtaxed adrenal system to weight gain. 


Exercise naturally reduces stress and promotes hormonal balance. Runner’s high is a real thing. Prolonged stress promotes higher blood pressure which exercise helps reduce. Exercise and massage are, for many, the best ways to promote good mental health.


Question: How much does diet play in your program?


Answer: How much diet plays depends on the individual. Humans can be extremely resistant to changing the way that they eat. That said, every person embarking on a fitness regimen, regardless of goals, will do well to address nutrition. 


For weight loss, many studies show that nutrition is 80% of the equation. But it goes beyond body weight. Food can affect mood, sleep, coping, energy, skin, sex drive–essentially everything that makes a person human.

Question: What sort of mindset does someone need to begin a fitness program?


Answer: The most important mindset is having the simple desire to take a step. Taking a ‘start where you are’ approach is key. 


We also recommend that people set realistic goals based on changing habits. If the goals are set too high, it’s very likely that they will not be sustainable.


Question: What do you suggest if someone is at a plateau in their workout? Or, a slump?


Answer: Change it up! Try a new modality. Get a trainer! Find a workout partner (masked and distanced, of course). Always change your exercise program. Don’t do the exact same thing you’ve done for years. 


The brain thrives on novelty. You can’t do the same thing and expect a different result. 


Question: How often do you work with clients?


Answer: I’ve worked with folks from once a month to 4 or 5 days a week. It all depends on goals and the need for accountability.


Question: How long before someone can actually begin seeing results?


Answer: Most people will notice differences fairly quickly in mood, sleep, energy, and even strength and stamina. You want to allow time for your body to react and demonstrate aesthetic changes. 


We usually tell people to assess progress after 8 weeks. If you’re consistent and following your nutrition plan, most people should see tangible changes in that amount of time, often quicker. Improved mental health often happens immediately.


Question: How are you working during Covid?


Answer: Online/Remotely


Within three weeks of sheltering in place, the owners and staff created a virtual practice! If you ever wanted to train, these trainers know what they are doing, and I have a feeling you would have a great time getting physically fit with this group.


Log on to their website to make an appointment or email them with any questions.


Here’s to a healthy 2021!





PS. We all know the strain and physicality of our role as a hairstylist. The repetitive nature of our work can be hard on our bodies. It is all too easy to put off creating a plan for working out. Now is the time. Don’t wait any longer. Let 2021 be the year that you take care of yourself and get fit.

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