Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

Thanksgiving is here! The time of year where we are supposed to eat as many portions, of as much as we can, of whatever we like, and sit on the couch watching football, with no regret….right? No! Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks. I feel we can all find things to be thankful for whether or not our life is perfect. I am thankful for having a great job and to be surrounded by good people. I am thankful to have; a wonderful family, great friends, been born and raised in a small town with a great deal of community support and to now live in a another great small town with equally great community support.
So, what are you thankful for? My guess is that you found something. However, if I were to bet on what you gave thanks for, I would bet you did not give thanks to your body! I am a personal trainer and in my list above, I forgot to list it. Perhaps you gave thanks for your health and we should. Without our health we cannot exist. None the less, our body deserves a separate thank you since it does so much for us.
Without the body we would simply be a mind and a spirit. Our body allows our mind and spirit to be productive. Our minds could not communicate an idea without our tongue, lips, lungs and vocal chords working in unison to produce sound. That idea could not be constructed without our arm, hands, fingers and opposable thumbs to assemble it. Without our body the constructed idea could not be moved to other people for use. Similarly, our spirit could not help a friend, family member or stranger who is in need without our body. We are unable to show affection to others from our spirit without touch, expressions or body language. It is often thought that the mind and spirit are trapped inside the body, but perhaps the truth is that the body actually allows these two entities to be free.
So how do we give thanks to our bodies? For some people who work physically demanding jobs, or who have malnourished bodies, maybe sitting on the couch watching football and feasting on high calorie foods is a way to thank their bodies. For others, to best give thanks to their body maybe a walk before and after your thanksgiving meal is a good idea. A person struggling to lose weight may give thanks to their body by trying some of everything on the thanksgiving spread, but only eating very small portions of those foods. Perhaps you may need to give thanks to an aching body by taking a yoga class or by getting a massage. There are so many ways to give thanks to your body but the key is to think about what is best for your body and then, thank it!

Over the past fifteen years a huge emphasis has been placed on health and fitness. Most of us are very aware that we influence our health through diet and exercise. Usually, health professionals tend to encourage individuals to eat a healthy diet and improve upon fitness components such as cardiovascular health, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, as well as body composition. As a result, most of us who exercise focus on these areas and while they are all important to consider, these components exclude a few pieces to the complete puzzle of health.

Perhaps the piece of the puzzle that ties together all other components of health and fitness is the quality of movement. Some professionals, including myself, would argue that without good movement none of the components above are of much importance. I have observed very few people who move without compensations. Compensations often occur because we spend our day in less than ideal positions such as sitting, driving or using the same motion repetitively in sporting activities. While it is true that in order to be healthy you need to eat the right foods, have a strong heart, have strong capable muscles, and keep your body fat relatively low, if the movement patterns we use on a daily basis are compensatory, long term exercise may be deterred because of pain or a lack of desire to move.

For example, someone with knee pain who needs to improve their cardiovascular fitness may not be able to walk on a treadmill or ride a bike because of discomfort. While this individual’s pain may have come from an acute injury, it is also possible that this person’s knee pain could have been caused by movement compensations throughout their lifetime. None the less, this individual’s knee pain could prevent them from reaching their goals of improving cardiovascular fitness. Perhaps this highlights that our path to moving often should first include moving well.

The first step to moving well is to get out of pain. If you are in pain, you should consult a doctor or a physical therapist. Hopefully, you do not have pain. If you are not in pain, it may be a good idea to get a movement assessment by an individual who understand movement compensations and corrective exercise.

Understanding how people move and how to address movement dysfunction through corrective exercise can enhance an individual’s workout, athletic performance and quality of life. Corrective exercise programs can be designed to supplement an individual’s current workout program whether that person is exercising on their own or with a trainer and can also be designed to bridge the gap between physical activity and a return to every day movement in life and sporting activities.

Lets Stay Cool This August

Posted: August 9, 2014 in Articles, Golf

August has arrived and usually accompanying August is more heat, more humidity and as a result more health related problems associated with the heat. Hopefully, you are reading this because you are active and I also hope you are spending some time outside. I also hope you are taking the necessary precautions to prevent and heed the warning signs of heat stroke and dehydration. Here is some information about these topics.
Dehydration is one factor that can cause a heat stroke and is characterized by extreme thirst, dizziness, loss of elasticity of the skin, and extremely low blood pressure. In addition to dehydration, heavy perspiration, extreme heat, decreased salt intake, and increased physical activity can cause a person to develop heat exhaustion. Symptoms of heat exhaustion, a precursor to heat stroke, include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, muscle weakness, headaches, dizziness and muscle cramps. If these symptoms intensify or the individual stops sweating, has a rapid pulse, difficulty breathing, extreme confusion, hallucination, agitation or disorientation the individual may be experiencing a heat stroke.
Obviously, one of the most important things in preventing dehydration and heat stroke is staying hydrated. Often times we forget to drink fluids because we are not thirsty, we are too caught up in what we are doing, or we are just too busy. However, by the time we feel thirsty it is too late, our body is already parched and we may be putting our bodies at risk of serious health issues. Thus, it is imperative to drink fluids continuously throughout the day, each day. The general recommendation on daily fluid intake is 64 ounces. However, when it is hot outside and you’ve been participating in physical activity or have been drinking alcoholic beverages, more than the average 64 ounces should be consumed.
If you are in a situation where you think someone is suffering from dehydration, heat exhaustion or heat stroke it is important that you have that person stop any physical activity they may be doing. Also, it is important for the individual to drink cool fluids (unless the individual is in shock), find a cool spot to sit or lie down to rest, and apply cold compresses to the forehead, groin and armpits so the body can cool down quickly. If you think an individual is suffering from the symptoms of a heat stroke, emergency services need to be contacted immediately. So whether you’re on the golf course, tennis court, running sprints on the football field or in your yard gardening, please stay hydrated, stay in the shade and stay cool!

Gym Anxiety

Posted: August 9, 2014 in Articles

There are words to describe numerous fears and phobias that an individual may have. Those who have intense fears of spiders are considered to have arachnophobia. Others who have a deep fear of heights call their fear, acrophobia. Believe it or not, there is a scientific fear of the flute called aulophobia. While there is no official nomenclature for the fear of going to the gym, I feel there should be. However, my language skills are not the best so I would not begin to guess what the proper name would be.
The most common terminology used for the fear of going to the gym is gym intimidation or gym anxiety. Those of us who are contemplating beginning a workout routine often have thoughts and anxieties towards exercise and going to a gym. These thoughts can be centered on body image of oneself or intimidation of the body image of those who may be currently workout out at the gym. Another fear people have is that they do not know how to do exercise properly or they do not know how to use the equipment. Some people feel others will judge them because they look unfit or do not know how to exercise properly. Furthermore, people are afraid of getting hurt in the gym.
Many people who exercise often at public gyms may think this anxiety, fear or intimidation is strange. However, it is a real thing. I can remember how nervous, scared and intimidated I was when I first began exercising and trying to lose weight in college. Just walking in the doors of the student recreation center made me feel like everyone in the building was looking at and judging me. I perceived the people exercising judged me as someone who didn’t deserve to use their gym. The reality is that I had the right to be there as much as they did. Also, the vast majority of the people in the gym were not judging me. Over the past 13 years I have spent many hours in the gym exercising and working as a personal trainer and I can tell you, that most of the people I perceived to be staring at me barely noticed me, much less thought negatively of my fitness level or whether I was doing an exercise right or wrong.
None the less, overcoming the fear and discomfort associated with coming into a gym for the first time, or the first time in a long time can be difficult. It’s ok, you have the right to be a little uncomfortable and nervous in a new setting, especially a fitness setting. I can understand that. But, I really hope you don’t let the nervousness keep you away and I think once you come in to workout you will find it is a fun, comfortable friendly place to be. If you have some doubts about how to use equipment, what exercises are appropriate for you, or if you are doing those exercises correctly I am happy to help.

Identifying the Weakest Link

Posted: August 9, 2014 in Articles, Golf

Often times when clients come in for their first personal training session, they have many fitness goals that they want to work on. Usually, I agree with the changes someone may be trying to make, but other times the efforts we spend towards a client’s goal may be better served in other areas. Either way, I am happy to help someone meet whatever fitness goals they may have. After all, it is their body on which we are working and from the client’s perspective progress towards those goals are paramount.
However, a big problem that often times can thwart ones efforts in achieving fitness goals is the presence of too many goals. When someone tries to tackle numerous goals at one time it can be very difficult for the body to make the changes a client wishes to see. Also, there is only so much time in the day and in a session for a client to work on the goals they have set. If someone sets too many goals, it takes more time than it should to meet their goals or even more frequently the goal may not be met. Professional athletes rarely try to work on more than one fitness goal within an offseason and I don’t feel you should either.
Another problem that often foils an individual’s fitness goal is the frequent changing of those goals. In order to accomplish a goal, consistency is the most important factor, regardless of how well planned one’s workout may be. An individual cannot expect to see any progress when they only spend two days per week for a few weeks working on their goal. Improving fitness takes time! More importantly it takes focus.
One of the fastest ways to meet your fitness goals, is to identify the weakest link in one’s body and then to focus your fitness goals on improving that link. The weakest link in the chain is always the one that breaks and a chain is only is strong as its weakest link…These are all cliché sayings we have heard. In regards to fitness, a person’s weak link may include but not be limited to a limitation in mobility, stability, balance, strength, a specific part of the body or diet. Assessing and addressing one’s weakest link can be the difference in walking with or without pain, hitting a shot in the woods or in the fairway, or life and death.
Interestingly, when someone addresses the weakest link it is not uncommon to see other subsequent fitness goals improve. For example, when someone with severe balance issues addresses their issue, not only does their walking improve, but their golf game may improve as well as the strength in their legs. Someone who improves their core stability may not only relieve their back pain, but may also find that their shoulder range of motion improves and their general fatigue levels decrease. However, if an individual cannot focus their goals and identify which goals are best for them, progress towards the goals they set will be slow, if any progress is made at all.

Here is the first article I wrote for the Highlands Newspaper a few years back….I thought I’d share it.

Research shows us that the number one reported reason for physical inactivity among adults is the lack of time to exercise. Most adults are conflicted with working and raising families either in single parent homes or homes which both parents work. Many adults spend their days commuting to work and dragging their children across town to school and extracurricular activities. By the end of the day, most people just do not have time to exercise…Supposedly…
I have two arguments with research regarding this issue and it stems from the fact that the research is based on the individual’s perception of their time. My first argument is that we all only have 24 hours in a day and most people have numerous activities that fill their day. Yet there are plenty of people who get the recommended amount of exercise each week. There are CEO’s of major companies who work long hours, raise families and still manage to squeeze in sufficient amounts of exercise. I see super mom’s and super dad’s all the time who run a small business, work at a school, or work for private companies that find a way to make time for exercise. So, why can’t everyone find time to exercise?
My second argument against adults who claim they don’t have time to exercise is that they still find time to watch television or get on Facebook. I am guilty of this, I spend way too much time watching television and on the computer and I always complain about not having enough time. I would be willing to bet that if people would turn off the TV’s and computers at home and spent that time exercising they would exceed the recommendations for physical activity suggested by health organizations. I feel that it is not that people do not have the time to exercise, but it is more that they choose not to spend their time being physically active.
For those who still feel like they do not have enough time to exercise, here is some good news….It does not take that much time being physically active to gain major health benefits. The CDC suggests 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity and two days of total body resistance training each week. That breaks down to 30 minutes a day if your workouts are efficient. If you feel like you do not have 30 minutes a day, workout harder! If you participate in activities that are intense enough to make it difficult to carry on a conversation you can cut the 150 minutes of aerobic activity to 75 minutes, which is only 15 minutes a day. I think we can all find 15 minutes a day to help prevent things like heart disease and cancer so we can stay around a little longer for our friends and family….or is there not enough time in your day?

Labor Day Swim

Posted: October 10, 2013 in Articles, Exercises, Thought of the Day
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On Labor Day, Diana Nyad completed her childhood dream of swimming the more than one hundred mile distance between Cuba and the Florida Keys, becoming the first person to do so without a protective cage. Not only did Nyad have to complete this journey without a protective cage, for her record to be official, she had to swim continuously until the journey was complete. This requirement caused eating and staying hydrated to be a difficult task. Additionally, staying awake for fifty three hours straight was a bit of a challenge as well. Perhaps the most difficult part of Nyad’s swim was the large amount of salt water she ingested with every breath caused by the protective jellyfish mask she wore, which put her in a severely dehydrated state.

To me, act of athleticism did not seem like much fun. Initially, this appeared to be a senseless act to accomplish a personal goal and not to mention, downright crazy. I told one of my clients that if they ever hear about me participating in such a heroic endeavor, to find me and remind me that it is not something I want to do. Conversely, the truth is there is much to learn from Nyad’s swim. The truth is I have nothing but respect for what was accomplished. The efforts put into preparing for the swim and the extreme conditions that were endured are something we all should admire.

However, what I admire most about Nyad’s Labor Day swim is that she completed this swim on her fifth try and at sixty four years of age. Let me be clear, I do not feel sixty four is old. Undoubtedly, Diana Nyad has proven that. But, I don’t think any of us would blame a sixty four year old for giving up on such a physically exhausting goal, especially after failing on four previous attempts over the past thirty five years. But, she didn’t give up. She continued to improve both mentally and physically. Nyad didn’t care that she was sixty four; she simply wanted to get better. She wanted to accomplish a goal, set a record and catch the dream she had been chasing since she was eight!

While Nyad’s swim was a bit crazy, it was not just a senseless act to accomplish a personal goal. Nyad swam to inspire us to not give up and to prove that we are never too old to chase our dreams. Many of us may not be old or ever dream of attempting a physical feat such as previously described. But, I hope we are at least inspired to undertake a new task which may have previously seemed unattainable, continue to work on a previous goal that may have become too challenging and realize that we shouldn’t let trivial difficulties get in the way of things that would be beneficial, fun and enjoyable.

Sitting is the New Smoking

Posted: September 29, 2013 in Articles

The health detriments of smoking tobacco products are numerous, severe and well documented. I am sure, this is not earth shattering news. In fact, we have known about the negative impacts of smoking to the human body for over a half century. Smoking cigarettes used to be a normal part of everyday life for so many people. Smoking was as casual as chewing a piece of gum or having a glass of wine. However, when people started to see the impact smoking was having on their health and the health of others the perception of smoking changed to a more negative view…Again, I am sure you already know this.

However, what you may not know is that the health effects of sitting, or being inactive throughout your day, can be as bad as the health effects of smoking. Smoking is strongly linked to cancer and heart disease, amongst other things. Guess what, so is sitting! Those who accumulate more time sitting as opposed to those who move more often throughout the day suffer from health problems such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and premature death. Many of us may get an hour or two of exercise on most days, which I cannot discourage in any way shape or form. However, how do we spend the rest of our day? If we spend a lot of our time sitting (4 hours or more according to research) we are putting ourselves at health risks similar to those of smoking….even if you get to the gym for an hour a day.

I know in previous articles I have discussed staying active throughout your entire day, not just when you go to the gym. I cannot stress this to you enough; sitting is so bad for us. Humans are not designed to be idle, so sitting disrupts our natural processes. Metabolically, we burn about three times more calories (one calorie per minute) standing than we do sitting. By standing, our metabolic machine breaks down fat more efficiently and keeps our blood sugar at a more constant level. From an orthopedic or a biomechanical stand point, sitting absolutely wrecks our bodies. Our hip flexors become short and anterior structures of the body become more dominant. Over time this affects our movement patterns and can prevent us from engaging in physical activities we enjoy either because of muscle tightness, joint pain and joint dysfunction.

Again, this material regarding physical activity may be information you already know and somewhat redundant. It is not my intention to be repetitive. My intention is to change your perception of physical inactivity similar to how many of you have changed your perception of smoking over the past fifty years. Many of you have quit smoking, chosen to sit in non-smoking sections of restaurants or have avoided situations where people are smoking to improve your health while also discouraging others from smoking. The same can be done with sitting. Instead of sitting while you read maybe you can stand and read. Many people now work at mobile desks, which are basically treadmills with a desk attached. Go to the gym and watch your favorite show on the treadmill or do some yoga while you watch golf. Or go for a walk with a friend instead of sitting to chat. I promise the gossip will be just as good!

Non training physical activity…..? Sounds like a contradicting statement doesn’t it? However, many people who workout both regularly and intensely have a hard time meeting their fitness goals because they are not physically active throughout the rest of their day. Sure, getting to the gym for a full body resistance training session, walking a brisk 3 miles at a high incline on the treadmill or sweating profusely on the elliptical for thirty minutes are great activities that you should be doing. But you need to be active the other 14-16 hours you are awake as well.

Many of you work very hard at during your bouts of exercise, unfortunately the amount of calories we think we burn is much higher than what we actually expend during a workout. Often times after finishing a workout I feel like I have burned thousands of calories to discover I have only burned 600. Furthermore, most of us (myself included) eat more calories in a day than we should. So, when we return home from our morning workout and fulfill the rest of our day sitting at our computer, our desk, watching TV or various other sedentary activities, we still end up at a calorie surplus. Also, when we sit for long periods of times throughout the day we totally turn off our muscles in our core and legs negating that tough weight lifting session or abs class.

Our body is not meant to do physical activity for 30 minutes or an hour, four to five days a week. It is meant to do some sort of physical activity for numerous hours just about every day. Sure, we are not designed to be able to lift heavy weights from dawn until dusk, but we are capable of doing 30 minutes of resistance training, taking a mid-day walk and a little afternoon gardening. Your body is also capable of doing some other physical activities in between these events. Granted, we all need a little rest, but we need to move more than we rest. There are numerous things we can do to boost the amount of non-training physical activity throughout the day. Work around the house is a good calorie burner and strength builder. Shopping can help boost your activity if you choose to walk from shop to shop. Golf is always a good physical activity to do throughout your day…..Of course, carrying your bags and not using a cart is a better way to add to that non training physical activity! There are plenty of opportunities to be active throughout the day and if you are really committed to meeting your health and fitness goals, you will find ways to keep moving.

The industry of health, fitness and exercise is a rapidly growing field, both in knowledge and in demand. New equipment, workout schemes, online workouts and video workouts are being produced, refined and used. Group exercise instructors and trainers are needed everywhere from Los Angeles to Highlands. Scientists discover new evidence of the importance of exercise seemingly every day and also find new ways to maximize exercise modalities for various groups of people.

There is a plethora of information available to anyone with access to a computer or a personal trainer regarding this industry. This is a blessing and a curse. The information in regards to fitness and exercise can be misunderstood, misused or inappropriate for some individuals. Or, the information can make positive life changes for individuals. Needless to say, information regarding this industry can be both conflicting and confusing even to a fitness professional such as me. The information regarding exercise, in addition to all of the gadgets and gismos one can buy to use during workouts, can make a person feel unsure how to go about choosing, designing and implementing the best workout for them.

Throughout my first four years here at HCC I have enjoyed answering many questions about fitness, usually which regard some sort of comparison. Questions like, “should I walk or ride the bike?” Or, “is yoga better than Pilates?” Or, “Do I need a trainer, or is it better if I exercise on my own?” All of which are valid questions. In the past (and probably I will continue to in the future) I have given lengthy explanations on the positives and negatives of both things in question. Truth be told, there are not many negatives to most movement forms. However, there may be things that are better for certain individuals, or certain situations, but as long as someone is moving I feel they are doing something right!

Eventually, I reach a point in my explanations where I discuss how one’s effort towards the exercise is of most importance….and it is! This could be physical effort, such as pushing oneself to increase the intensity of an exercise or mental effort like when someone commits to modifying one’s daily schedule to allow for a workout. Over the years I have used a lot of words to try to get the point across that the significance of what you do for exercise is not as important as to how you exercise.

Over this past winter I realized that the best way I could sum up the point I’ve been trying to get across the past few year is to say that exercise doesn’t work unless you do. You can put as much time, money and hope into improving your fitness, but if you are not willing to go outside of your comfort level and work for the changes you wish to see, your improvement will be minimal at best. There are lots of fitness toys and great ideas about exercise available to people, but these things do not exercise the person; the person must exercise the equipment.