Archive for the ‘Tip of the Week’ Category

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.

Another Deceiving Product….
So, let’s review: Nutella is not good for you, in any way shape or form (see previous article on Nutella). Ok, now we can move on. I want to mention another tasty product like Nutella, but maybe a bit more deceiving in terms of nutrition. The reason it is deceiving is that it is yogurt, which is supposed to be healthy. For the most part, yogurt is healthy.

However, last July I was introduced to Greek God’s yogurt by one of the many culinary experts at Highlands Country Club. I was floored at how amazing it tasted. The word “heavenly” comes to mind, but does not do this delicious food the justice it deserves. It was so good that I commented I liked it better than ice cream. It was that good…plain. Once I added some pineapple or strawberries to it with a spot of peanut butter and some granola it was a snack that could literally knock your socks off. I made plans to substitute Greek God’s yogurt for my ice cream cravings. This yogurt, such a healthy treat was so tasty it was better than finding the fountain of youth, scoring a perfect score on an SAT or hitting the lottery, it was mind blowing. Peace had been restored throughout the galaxy!

But, thanks to the wonderful educators I have had throughout life who have made me a critical thinker in every situation I experience, I knew this yogurt was too good to be true. I knew that this yogurt had to be a Trojan horse so to speak, carrying unhealthy agents into my body hiding beneath its amazing taste and healthy name. While this product was yogurt, and was Greek, it only took a glance at the ingredient list to realize it was not healthy. The first item on this list (which is also the most concentrated ingredient) stated that this savory dairy treat was made with heavy whipping cream! Next, I looked to the nutrition label to see if by any chance it would reveal something healthy about this breakfast and midnight snack to be. Again, I was disappointed as I learned that Greek God’s yogurt had more fat, more sugar and more total calories than the Breyer’s Ice Cream in my freezer.

On one hand I was devastated, shocked and confused. How could yogurt be less healthy than ice cream!? On the other hand, I felt lucky that I had actually checked the nutrition facts before I began to down this decadent food as a replacement to ice cream! The disappointment I felt from this discovery did and still does out weight the good fortunes from this same unearthing. However, it taught me a lesson and this lesson should be passed on to all of you….READ NUTRITION LABELS! READ INGREDIENT LISTS! The labels on the front are not as important as the labels on the back! Know your foods in comparisons to other foods. Know your foods well!

Functional movement is a term in the fitness world that frequently gets misused. Many people look at a full body exercise that mimics a movement similar to something they do in everyday life (such as a golf swing or chopping wood) and label that exercise as functional. Sometimes that exercise may be functional. However, a truly functional exercise is one which improves the function of joints either by making the joint more stable or mobile depending on the needs of those specific joints. By improving the functionality of joints, the body is allowed to work as a whole to transfer forces and create movement.

In order to create proper movement, some joints need to be stable such as the foot, knee, low back and elbow. On the other hand other joints need to be mobile; like the ankle, hip, thoracic spine and shoulder. Interestingly, the body follows an alternating pattern of stable and mobile joints. The feet are stable, the ankles are mobile, the knees are stable, the hips are mobile and so on…. This follows true up to the joints of the skull and down your arms to your fingers. However, because of things such as injury, lack of physical activity or the fear of falling, it is not uncommon for this alternating pattern of mobile and stable joints to become reversed. When this occurs, a person’s movement becomes dysfunctional thus forcing a person to compensate in order to create movement. For example, a person who develops very tight hips (a mobile joint) must then transfer mobility to the lower back and knees in order to move their body through space. As a result painful, injurious, inaccurate and powerless movement occurs.

Similar issues may occur with similar dysfunctions in different joints throughout the body. For example, let’s examine the effect of tight ankles on a golfer. A golfer with tight, dysfunctional ankles will run into numerous performance and orthopedic issues while playing golf. Since the golfer’s ankle is tight the mobility that is needed to be created through the ankle during the golf swing must now be transferred to the knees and low back. As a result, the golfer may lose their posture in their downswing causing the ball to fly in undesired directions away from the fairway and possibly towards a pond or the woods. Also, this same golfer may complain about sore knees or a sore low back at the end of playing 18 holes because the mobility they are supposed to create from their ankles may be transferring to their knees or low back where mobility is supposed to be limited.

Unfortunately these dysfunctional patterns cannot be fixed by simply swinging your club harder, more often or practicing things such as “getting your shoulders back.” If your body cannot properly create stability or mobility where it is supposed to, doing things like forcing “your shoulders back,” will only cause more compensation in other joints. As a result you may experience more pain, or a higher number on your score card after a day on the course. There is good news, you can restore joint function and subsequently fix your golf swing through either stretching or strengthening that joint. As a Titleist Performance Institute Golf Fitness Instructor, I am happy to help you find and improve the dysfunctions in your body that are affecting your golf swing. It is up to you to get in the LEC and put forth the work!

March Madness Warm Up

Posted: March 10, 2013 in Tip of the Week, Video

Every March I am always amazed that everyone wants to play basketball. Basketball season starts in November…However it takes people until March to get motivated to play pick up games. So here are some tips on warming up before you play. Don’t get hurt and get ready to play at your best! WARM UP PEOPLE!!!!!

Have you heard of minimalist or barefoot running? Have those “toe shoes” caught your eyes? Over the past few years, there has been new exercise trend which calls for humans to revert back to our natural form of locomotion by taking a barefoot approach to our footwear. Often times this is referred to as minimalist exercise. Often times minimalists get reactions along these lines: “Has that person lost their mind?” “But, they are not wearing any shoes?” or, “Those shoes are hideous!”
Minimalist foot wear is revolutionary, shocking and socially deviant in part because the designs of shoes have changed little over the past few houndred years. Also our culture teaches that to exercise we need shoes with tight laces, toe protection, ankle support a thick sole and an elevated heel. While many might hope that minimalist footwear will soon fade like an exercise craze or a bad teen fashion statement, many top fitness professionals think it is here to stay.
Minimalist foot wear is not a fashion statement. In my opinion minimalist footwear is quite ugly. One man in his early eighties commented that my shoes were “very attractive.” I think he was just trying to be nice. True barefoot runners develop calluses and scars. However, feet are supposed to be ugly and the minimalist idea behind this “trendy” movement is to keep the orthopedics of our bodies healthy.
Minimalists feel that the human body was not born to wear the typical 20th century shoe. The general theory is that the typical shoe prevents the muscles, ligaments, tendons and bones of the lower leg from functioning properly. It is the minimalist belief that the shoe acts as a cast similar to the one which gets placed on a broken arm. After six or eight weeks in a cast, the hand and wrist loses flexibility and strength. Studies have shown that when a shoe is placed on the foot of an individual from a culture that does not wear restrictive shoes for six to eight weeks, their feet lose a great deal of their dynamic abilities. Furthermore, minimalists feel that when you add in a heel to a shoe, it disrupts proper body alignment. Also, a thick sole makes the ankle more unstable in addition to the unnatural ankle support provided by the shoe preventing ankle support from being developed by the ankles muscles, ligaments and tendons.
Unfortunately, most evidence concerning minimalist movement is anecdotal, but it is noteworthy that the leading professionals in the fitness industry are wearing “bare wear” and researching the benefits of minimalist exercise. None the less, those who begin an exercise routine minimalist in nature should understand that thus far, little research has been devoted to this style of exercise. New minimalist exercisers should understand that the transition to minimalist running takes a very long time (6 months for me) and those who are senior citizens, diabetic, obese, have poor blood circulation, or have Plantar Fasciitis should avoid switching to a minimalist shoe.

Just in time for Valentines day….

Last spring, I heard a lot of chatter in the media about an article published in the March 2012 issue of The Archives of Internal Medicine where researches suggested that those who ate chocolate in moderate amounts were skinnier than those who didn’t eat chocolate at all. This is great news right? Now you can go out and eat all of those wonderful chocolate bars you have been torturously depriving yourself of for year’s right? Maybe our overweight tendencies have been caused by depriving ourselves of these wonderful morsels?
Well, I hate to tell you, the answer is no. Remember if something sounds too good to be true than it is probably not true! While this study was carried out by people who have much more medical and nutritional knowledge than I do, this publication necessitates a closer look and perhaps an interpreter to help everyone fully understand what was discovered about chocolate.
It is true that researches found a correlation between those who ate moderate amounts of chocolate and being skinny. This sounds possibly logical as numerous health benefits of chocolate (such as benefiting one’s blood pressure, stabilization of blood glucose, high levels of antioxidants and positive affects on cholesterol) have been previously established. However, if you look at the type of chocolate used in the study, it is not the chocolate one would find in the check out at the local grocery store. The chocolate used in the study was not milk chocolate, but rather dark, bitter chocolate in its purest form.
Also, “moderate” amounts of chocolate are probably much smaller than you think. A chocolate bar is not a moderate amount of chocolate, it is actually quite excessive. A moderate portion of chocolate would be maybe the size of two nickels. Perhaps you think only a nutritional freak would eat a portion of chocolate that small. Well this is probably true. Remember the study didn’t say the more chocolate you eat the skinnier you are; it said those who eat moderate amounts are skinnier. Keep in mind too, that those who completely avoid foods are at risk for binge eating, potentially causing excessive weight gain and could possibly explain why those who didn’t eat any chocolate were not as skinny.
The biggest point of this study overlooked by most is that those classified as “skinny” were placed in that category based on their body mass index. This analytical tool of health only compares one’s height and weight, not taking into consideration an individual’s lean body mass. Therefore, it is possible that moderate chocolate eaters were considered skinny, but actually possessed a large amount of body fat and very little lean muscle mass.
So, take this study with a grain of salt. Certain types of chocolate do have a few healthy attributes, but then again so does beer, ice cream and lard. Remember moderation is the key! Just because a study says that chocolate is good for you, doesn’t mean you have the license to eat all the chocolate you desire. A practical view of our society would still clearly show that we are still very overweight and that we eat a lot of chocolate….

Ooooohh, Thats Yoga

Posted: October 20, 2012 in Articles, Golf, Tip of the Week

As a personal trainer for a diverse group of people, I use many different modes of training to meet the various needs of my clients.  I also try to diversify exercises to decrease boredom for my client in hopes of increasing exercise adherence.  Often times we will be doing a balance, stretching or strength training activity in which my client will exclaim, “oooooh, that’s Yoga.”  Another comment I get on a regular basis is, “ooooh, that’s Pilates.”  My usual response is, “No. This is movement of the human body!”

In most cases my client is correct that the movement is found in Yoga or Pilates.  As a trainer I am happy to see that my clients can identify with exercises from other modes of training outside of the gym, because it means they have been to at least one group exercise class, most likely more.  However, as a movement specialist, it bothers me to see that my client only sees the movement, balance pose or stretch as being part of a designated form of exercise such as Yoga or Pilates.  After all, it is not that Yoga or Pilates invented the movement, truthfully our body created the movement.  I feel it is much more valuable for the client to see the importance of the exercise as something they use in their every day living or in a sports related skill.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not discrediting Yoga or Pilates; they are wonderful ways to exercise.  Most trainers use exercises and poses from the realms of Yoga and Pilates on a regular basis.  These types of training certainly enhance a personal trainer’s repertoire as they are a great way to supplement a well rounded training session for our clients and are very helpful when you are trying to specifically target a certain aspect of a workout.  My concern is that the client does not realize the benefit the “Yoga” or “Pilates” exercise carries for their body, which should with observed with any exercise.

Also, I am concerned that the client may be using these modes of training exclusively.  This should be avoided just as a person should avoid using running or lifting weights as their only form of exercise.  No one form of exercise should be expected to provide sufficient training for all five fitness components (cardiovascular, body composition, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility).  This doesn’t mean a person should be afraid to take a Yoga class once or twice a week.  However, if Yoga or Pilates is the only exercise a person is doing, perhaps they should think about adding some other methods of training to their weekly exercise routine.

Playing Through Pain

Posted: October 12, 2012 in Articles, Golf, Tip of the Week

No pain, no gain, right? Wrong! The saying “no pain, no gain” in regards to athletic performance and exercise is about as obsolete as the practice of withholding water from athletes during athletic events. The truth is that no pain means you are using your body in optimal movement patterns to accomplish your movement tasks, allowing you to stay injury free. This lets you participate in your physical activities on a more regular basis, giving you more practice, making you a more skilled and more fit person for whatever physical activity it is in which you are a participant. Therefore, no pain equals all the gain!

The problem is that most people are not free of pain. In fact 80% of golfers play in pain, and in my opinion most of the other 20% are not being truthful. I bet of those 20% many of them have some sort of muscle tightness, joint restriction or other pain that they are so used to playing with that they do not view it as pain. However, whether or not someone is aware of their aches and pains, their performance is still impeded. Pain, joint restriction and muscle tightness all cause your body to compensate during movement. Furthermore, these discomforts also are responsible for causing a huge mental distraction during an athletic competition. This can result in a less than desirable performance.

The good news is that you do not have to play in pain. In most cases there are things an athlete at any age can do about the pain they are having. Often times, joint pain is caused by a muscular imbalance, which can be improved through either stretching a muscle group, strengthening a muscle group or a combination of both. It is not uncommon for people to move more comfortably after doing a few simple exercises targeted to improve their posture. Exercise is even recommended to those who suffer from arthritis as a way to reduce pain and increase joint function.

So, what should you do about your pain? My advice would be to begin an exercise program. If you are already on an exercise program, perhaps that program needs an adjustment. Of course, you should only do this after consulting your physician about the status of your ache, pain or injury. However, if you are cleared for physical activity there are a variety of things that trainers, as well as massage therapists, can do to help you move with less pain. If you are a golfer, as a Titleist Performance Institute golf fitness instructor, I am happy to help you with any golf fitness need. In fact, the whole premise of the Titleist Performance Institute is to keep golfers playing pain free, so that golfers can play more often.

Over the past thirty years there has been a great deal of debate as to whether resistance training is an appropriate form of exercise for children and teenagers.  Most concerns with resistance training for children (teens are also grouped in the category of children) have centered on the perceived possible damage that might occur to the child’s body.  While many people could see the benefits of children using resistance training as a mode of exercise, many parents and health practitioners felt the dangers of resistance training outweighed the benefits.  Amongst many, the biggest concern society had with resistance training for children in regards to safety was damage to the child’s growth plate.  However, over the past fifteen years or so insurmountable research has been done concerning the safety of resistance training.  Nearly all of this research has been deemed resistance training a beneficial and safe avenue for child exercise.  So… here is what you need to know about it!

Resistance training is a very effective form of exercise for children.  Resistance training can help improve a child’s motor skills, body composition, self-esteem, strength and athletic performance.  At a time when society has placed a huge concern on obesity and children are leading sedentary lifestyles, resistance training is a very beneficial form of exercise that can help reduce obesity and improve cardiovascular health.  Resistance training has been shown to enhance children’s mood and give children a better perception of self.  Also, when a child’s exercise program is designed properly, it can aid children in learning proper body movements, enhancing their motor skills, thus improving their sport performance.

Most importantly, resistance training for children IS SAFE!  In fact, it is a safer form of exercise than participation in youth athletics.  More injuries occur to the growth plate in both contact and non contact sports than resistance training activities, especially when the resistance training programs are designed and observed properly. Further more, resistance training programs for children can help prevent injuries!

Most injuries related to childhood resistance training occur when children workout at home unsupervised.  Often times the biggest culprit of injury in these circumstances occurs when children drop weights and other equipment.  Resistance training programs for children become even safer when the ratio of supervision to participants is lower and exercises are functional in nature.  Those designing a resistance program for children should have either a degree or certification in fitness and a firm understanding of the cognitive, emotional and physical needs of children.  Also, a childhood resistance training program should focus more on learning the proper performance of exercises and increasing repetitions as opposed to increasing the weight or the amount of resistance.