The Shoe That Fits

 

Up until about two years ago, picking out running shoes was simply finding some that looked great and also had my favorite colors on them. I didn’t take into account what kind of support they would give me. That thought actually didn’t even cross my mind only because I figured if they were new they had to be decent, right? Nowadays, I realize that’s not always the case.

I’m on my feet more often than not throughout the day. I spend most of my time in a typical work week standing, walking, running and demonstrating exercises more often than I find myself sitting and relaxing. Don’t get me wrong, I would not be very productive or happy sitting at a desk all day but the years of playing sports and being active has taken a toll on my body even at the young age of 28. This is what led me to the conclusion that finding the right shoes is very important and crucial to keeping my body healthy and supported.

Every six months or so my knees start to ache and hurt when I walk upstairs. They crack and crunch when I bend down and though it sounds awful, it’s not painful…yet. When all of this starts to wear on me, I know it’s time to visit the shoe store for a new pair or two.

I recently had a great experience at Performance Running Outfitters a couple weeks ago. Were my shoes expensive? Yes.  Were they worth every penny? Absolutely. I recommend anyone who is active, in shape or trying to get in shape to go to a store that can check out your gait, watch you run or walk and put you in the shoe that best fits you. There are a lot of places that have more affordable prices but I guarantee the quality just won’t be there.

So I went to the store and told the employee there exactly what I use my shoes for. I think it’s important to get shoes based on the activities you plan on doing in them. I wanted a pair that I would be able to workout and run in but I also wanted some that I could be on my feet all day and feel comfortable when I’m training.

I think the best part of my experience was actually getting taped on a treadmill while running. It made it clear what my feet do when they strike the ground. It was very obvious that I pronate (when I run my feet strike the ground and go inward)…some people supinate, which is where they ground strike and their feet go outward. Look at the bottom of your shoe and see where the tread is the most worn. This will give you a vague idea of what your feet do each time they hit the ground.

The way you walk and run is just what it is. It’s nearly impossible to try to correct your gait by yourself especially as you get fatigued. With that said, there are ways to correct your gait and decrease your likelihood of getting injured. I could see just by watching my own running gait why people get hurt so often. My left foot would pronate as I stepped and it would naturally correct itself which is common. The right foot on the other hand would pronate as I stepped and wouldn’t correct itself.  Eventually, the inability to correct the pronation would catch up to me and I’d probably suffer from some kind of injury.

This is where inserts come into play. I was fitted for an insert that would correct the issues in my right foot but not over-correct the non issues in my left. I could tell in a day or two of wearing them that I made the right decision in going to that store. I feel confident that I am supported from the bottom up. I even got a small selection of colors and picked out some neon green ones to encourage the spring weather to get here. I realize they aren’t as awesome as the shoes I used to get but they are thankfully awesome in a different way. They are functional, prevent injuries extremely comfortable.

So when looking for shoes, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What am I primarily going to use them for?
  • What is my budget?
  • Do I have any past or present injuries that would affect how I run or walk?
  • Do I have any joint pain during physical activity?

These are all topics to talk about with when inquiring about new shoes. It’s important that if you’re going to invest in something, you get exactly what you want. Like I said before, there’s nothing more important than being supported from the bottom up. Think about a tree without sturdy roots…it would eventually fall or crack over time. Take care of your roots and make your feet happy.

Roll Out

 

For some reason this week I have felt more soreness than others. This happens from time to time where some weeks I feel great and some weeks I feel a little beat up for whatever reason. I must admit though that there aren’t many days when I actually feel like I’m 28. I am grateful for my good health and passion for staying fit and eating healthy.

When I find myself feeling this way, there are a few things I try to do to speed up the process of feeling better. If possible I try to see my massage therapist, Jamie.  She is amazing at what she does and I always walk out of her office feeling better than I did when I walked in. Massages have helped me so much in all of my endeavors. It has helped me through tweaks, tightness and muscle soreness from more intensive training for running events. I highly recommend investing in yourself if you don’t already.

Another way I try to reduce soreness and increase flexibility is practicing yoga regularly. It has helped me over the last four months that I’ve committed to making it a part of my weekly routine. I am now more flexible than I have ever been which helps in all aspects of my training and I also have learned to be able to focus on the present and embrace the change of pace that yoga brings to my workouts.

The activity I wanted to expand on a little today that has also helped me a lot is foam rolling. Foam rolling is like your very own personal massage.  I find it a good supplement along with seeing my massage therapist. It’s something I can do on my own time and before and after my workouts. There are five regions of the body that I typically take some time on. Think of the knots in your muscles as a candy Starburst.  If you were to hold that starburst between your point finger and your middle finger long enough, the starburst would start to warm up and stretch out.  (Thanks Jamie for that gem.)

Here is my ‘roll out’ routine:

glute

 

 

Glute: Start by sitting on the foam roller. Bend both of your knees and then cross one leg over the other. Whichever leg you cross over, slowly lower that knee towards the ground and shift your body towards that side a little.  People that have sore lower backs during or after a workout tend to have very tight glutes. Rolling them out will help alleviate some of that low back soreness if it’s muscular fatigue. If you find a tender spot, try to sit on that spot and breath through it for 30 seconds to two minutes depending on how it feels. This rule applies for any muscle you’re rolling out.

 

 

hamstring

 

IT Band (Iliotibial band): I find my IT bands to be the most tender area to foam roll. Lay on your side and roll from above the knee to the hip.  You can always cross your opposite leg over the top to take some weight off if it’s too painful and ease your way into it.

 

Hamstring:  I usually do one leg at a time so I can put more weight on each individual muscle. Roll your hamstring from just above the knee up to the glute stopping if there’s any spots that are more tender than others.

 

 

 

situps

 

Quadricep: Lay on your stomach with the roller underneath your quad muscle. Roll from above the knee to the hip flexor. I typically use my elbows to push myself forward and back.

Back: Lay on your back with the foam roller in the small of your back to start. I usually cross my arms in front of me, bend my knees and push off my feet to roll from low back to upper back.

 

 

 

 

Massage, yoga and foam rolling are great tools to keep your body in the best shape possible so it can perform at its highest level.  They’ve definitely helped me and I hope they help you too. Happy rolling.

Warm Yourself Up Workout

 

This week my idea was to come up with a quick and efficient workout that would warm you up from the super chilly weather we have had this winter. As I’m writing this, the snow is slowly melting as a wonderful ‘heat wave’ is rolling through. I figured the workout would still be appropriate as freezing rain is in our horizon or at least it was. With all of this said, I feel like for the most part I’ve kept myself in positive spirits as far as the weather goes. There’s actually something quite beautiful about living in a snow globe. I guess it’s all in the perception of how you view things in life. Don’t let something you can’t control, like the weather, bring you down. Just bundle up, give yourself some extra time to get to the places you need to go and do things that will get those positive endorphins going…like my Warm Yourself Up Workout.

So the workout consists of six exercises that you can complete in a circuit-like fashion. For whatever reason, the theme of the workout is exercises that start with the letter B.  It’s probably because they are all beautiful exercises just like the snow.  They are beautiful in the sense that they will challenge you, get your heart rate up and it won’t take you very long to complete it if you push yourself. 

Warm Yourself Up Workout 

Burpees 3×15

Ball Slams 3×15

Box Jumps 3×15

Barbell (or dumbbell) Shoulder Press 3×15

Broad Jumps 3×15

Bulgarian Split Squats 3×15

Go through three rounds of each exercise at your own pace.  Challenge yourself to finish as quickly as possible while keeping good form.

burpees

 

Burpees:  You will start in a standing position with hands overhead. Jump up off the ground and then bend your knees so that you can put your hands on the ground in the same position as your push up. You are then going to two foot jump your feet back or walk one foot at a time back into your starting push up position. Your back should be flat and hands should be stacked directly below your shoulders. Jump or walk your feet back to your bent knee position and stand up to start the exercise over again with a small jump overhead.

 

 

 

ball slams

 

Ball Slams: Use a medicine ball of your choosing and put it overhead. The name of the exercise pretty much gives away what you’re going to do so bend your knees and you slam the ball on the ground. Catch the ball, bring it back overhead and repeat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

box jumps

 

Box Jumps: I would start with the smallest box which is usually about 12 inches. All you’re going to do is two foot hop up and back down at whatever speed you’re comfortable with. Be careful and stay focused during this exercise and keep your eye on the box as you jump.

 

 

 

 

 

 

barbell

 

Barbell Shoulder Press: I used a barbell but you can use dumbbells if they are more accessible to you. Stand with good posture and bring the barbell to your chest. Press the bar straight up above your head and then back down to your chest to begin the exercise again.

 

 

 

 

 

broad jump

 

Broad Jumps: Find a decent amount of space or even a clear pathway that you can use. Bend your knees and bring your arms back as if you are going to use them to propel you forward as you jump forward. The goal is to jump as far forward as possible and land as softly as you can with a bent knee.

 

 

 

 

 

 

split squat

 

Bulgarian Split Squats: You will need a bench or chair to set your foot on.  This exercise requires some balance so get yourself set up and stay focused throughout the exercise. Basically a split squat is a lunge with your foot raised up. Bring your feet apart so that if you were to drop your back knee into a lunge position, your knee would stay behind your toes. Make sure you stand up nice and tall throughout the exercise.

 

 

 

 

 

Have fun, work up a sweat and be proud of yourself when you finish.

Back to Lifting Basics

 

Though it is one of my favorite physical activities, for a lot of people it’s a part of the gym where they feel uncomfortable, overwhelmed and quite possibly embarrassed. The weight room can be intimidating with all the machines, cables, dumbbells and all the bells and whistles that go with it. I get it, so many things to try…where would you possibly even start? So I’m going back to the beginning as I have been the past couple of weeks. I’m even going to repeat a lot of exercises I’ve talked about in previous posts because I think it’s important to break things down and make it simple especially for those that are first starting out or even people that have fallen off the wagon and need to jump back on.

All I used for this workout is a set a dumbbells, a bench (a stability ball can serve as a bench as well) and my own body weight. This is a routine you can do at the gym or even at home if you can’t seem to get to the gym as often as you would like. If possible, I would try to get to the gym…I recommend this because I think there are less distractions to pull you away from your workout and it’s good to have some time to just focus on yourself. The interval workout ideas I posted last week can be tacked on to the front or back of your weight program. It still should take you no more than an hour to an hour and a half to get through all of it.

 

Weight Program

Dumbbell (DB) Chest Press – 3 x 15 (sets x repetitions)

DB Mid Rows – 3 x 15

Bench Squats – 3 x 15

 

DB Shoulder Press – 3 x 15

DB Lateral Raises – 3 x 10

DB Front Raises – 3 x 10

DB Reverse Flies – 3 x 10

 

Bodyweight (BW) Forward Lunges – 3 x 10/leg

BW Lateral Lunges – 3 x 10/leg

Glute Extensions – 3 x 15

Single Leg Glute Extensions – 3 x 15 

**each grouping of exercises are to be performed together. For example, you will do one set of dumbbell chest press followed by one set of dumbbell mid rows and repeat for two more sets. Just go down the list and perform each one and then just start over.

Here’s the exercise breakdown to help you make sure you’re performing each exercise correctly.

 

Chest Press

 

DB Chest Press – Laying on a flat bench with feet flat on the floor, (you can also put your feet on the bench if you feel too much of an arch in your back) start with the dumbbells around armpit distance apart. Your elbows should be making a 90 degree angle or so at the start of the exercise. Keeping the dumbbells at the same distance apart, press straight up from their starting points in a controlled, slow motion and control the press back down. 

**Make sure through any exercise you are breathing properly. Exhale when the exercise is difficult (for the chest press you will exhale on the upward motion and inhale on the downward motion) and inhale when you are coming back to your starting point.**

 

 

Mid Row

 

DB Mid Row – Start by putting the bench up at about a 30 degree angle. Lay on your stomach with your legs straight and your chest at the top of the bench. Your head should be above the bench. Start with the dumbbells in your hands with your arms straight. Bring your shoulder blades together by bringing your chest up off the bench a bit. Pull the dumbbells up towards your armpits and squeeze your shoulder blades at the top of the exercise. Control the weights both on the way up and down. 

 

 

 

 

 

Bench Squats

 

Bench Squats – The bench or box squat is a very basic exercise to get you familiar with the fundamentals of a squat. Start with your feet a little wider than hip width apart and turn your toes out on an angle just a bit to open up your hips. Think about reaching back on the bench as you sit and keep your chest up. Your knees should be going out towards your angled toes and you are going to sit and rock back to a neutral seated position. To stand, push through the outside of your feet to keep your knees from diving in and try to keep your chest up as much as possible. The goal is to not lean so far forward to get up but rather use your glutes and hamstrings to bring you back to a standing position.

 

 

 

 

Shoulder Press

 

DB Shoulder Press – Start with your palms facing one another at about ear level and press them straight up from the starting point. Lower back down to your ears and repeat. With all of these exercises, take your time and just get in a good rhythm. You always want to be in control of the weight and not feel like the weight is controlling you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lat Raise

 

DB Lateral Raise – Start with the weights at your side with your palms facing in. With straight arms or a slight bend in them, raise the dumbbells so they are parallel with the ground. Your palms should be facing the ground at the top of your exercise. Lower both dumbbells back down to their starting point and repeat. 

DB Front Raise – Start with the dumbbells in front of you facing your body just like you did for the lateral raise. With straight arms, raise both dumbbells until they are parallel with the ground. Just like the lateral raise, your palms should be facing down when you’re at the top of your exercise. Lower both dumbbells back down to their starting point and repeat. 

DB Reverse Flies – Bend your body into about a 45 degree angle. Make sure you keep your shoulders back and chest up to promote good posture. When you are doing a reverse fly, you want to think about squeezing your shoulder blades as it is working those rear deltoids. With a slight bend in your elbows, start with the weights together and arms straight.  Staying in your bent position, fly the dumbbells out keeping that slight bend and squeeze your shoulders blades at the top of your exercise. Control the weights back down and repeat.

 

Forward Lunge

 

Forward Lunge – Start with your feet together and take an over-sized step forward. In this position you are going to keep good posture and instead of leaning into your front leg to perform the lunge, you are going to drop your back knee towards the ground. This will ensure you are continuing to stand up tall and it will also protect those knee joints. The same rule applies for lunges as they do squats…no knees should cross the plane of the toes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lateral Lunge

 

 

Lateral Lunges – Start with your feet together and take a over sized step to one side. Your toes should always be pointing forward throughout the exercise. Lean into the leg that you stepped out with, push your glutes back behind you as if you were going to sit down and keep your other leg straight. Push back off the outside leg and repeat the exercise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glutes

 

Glute Extensions –  Lay on your back with your hands at your side and your knees bent with feet flat on the ground. Lift your hips and squeeze your glutes at the top of the exercise. Lower your hips back down and repeat.

 

 

 

Single Leg Glute Extensions –  You will start in the same position as glute extensions except one leg will be up in the air. Lift your hips, squeeze your glutes at the top and lower hips back down. Repeat.

 

 

Take your time with each exercise until you get comfortable with the proper form. Remember everyone is at the gym working on themselves. They aren’t worried about what the person next to them is doing so just go in with a plan and execute it to the best of your ability. Start with a lighter weight and you can always move your weight up if it is too easy. A good rule of thumb is the last five repetitions of your exercise should start to feel harder and harder. There are countless different exercises and these are just some basic ones to start you off and give you some guidance. I will definitely give you an in depth look into the weight room soon. Happy lifting.

 

 

Cardio Interval Basics

 

I hope you’re well on your way to a healthier you. I know tracking your food tends to be a little more time consuming at first but once you get used to what everything is worth, it’s actually pretty easy. Like I said last week, calorie counting is not completely necessary as there are great foods that are higher in calories and a food tracker really can’t take that into consideration. Your ultimate job is to become comfortable to the actual value of food and go from there. Have fun with your food. Try new recipes and don’t allow yourself to get stuck in a rut with the same old foods everyday.

But enough about that, let’s tackle the next topic at hand: the wonderful world of cardio. I must say for me, boxing and kickboxing is by far the greatest interval cardio I’ve come to love and hate. I only hate it at times because it hurts so good and it’s always a challenge. I am tired after a burst of punching and kicking no matter what, then I have a minute to rest and it’s back at it again. It’s been almost four years since I started and I still find benefit it in. Plus, it’s a great stress reliever. I bring up boxing because I think interval training is one of the most effective ways to get your cardio done in a timely manner on top of increasing your cardiovascular endurance with each burst of speed.

I guess my point with all of this is you have to find what works for you. I know some people do better in a class setting. There are many gyms nowadays that include a lot of free group exercise classes in their membership fees. They have cardio, step, boxing, dancing, spin and many other options to get your heart rate up. The nice thing about classes is you don’t have to think, just do what the instructor says and they are typically 45 minutes to an hour which to me is a good length of time on average to spend at the gym (I would say 90 minutes is a good goal, and that means the time you walk in and change to the time you walk out.)

If you aren’t comfortable working out with others and would rather do your own thing, then cardio machines it is. First, you have to find what works best for you.  I always tell my clients, if you are able to run, run. Walking isn’t going to do you any good unless it is all you are capable of doing for one reason or another. I would say my go to cardio machines are the treadmill, stair climber and every once in a great while, the row machine. When it gets nicer, I will hit the pavement again and start running outside. There will be some 5ks and possibly a duathalon (run, bike, run) in my future.

So now let’s get down to some ideas as far as what you can do once you find your cardio of choice. Going back to those intervals I was talking about earlier, I would start wherever you are somewhat comfortable. Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) is a good tool to use when gearing up for your cardio sessions. RPE is a scale from 1-10 (1 being you’re laying on the couch watching tv and 10 being on the verge of passing out from exhaustion). When you complete your session, a good place to be on the scale is around a 7 or 8. You should be tired once you are done. If you aren’t, something needs to change the next time you get moving.

Interval Challenge #1
Sprint 1 min, Jog 30 seconds… Repeat 10 times through. You can play with the speed and figure out what works for you and how you feel according to your RPE. You can also scale it back and jog/walk if that works better for you to start out. I try to bump my speed up a little bit for each sprint. The important thing is getting your heart rate up and giving it enough time to almost recover only to bring it back up again. The quicker your recovery, the more you are able to endure.

Interval Challenge #2
These will be longer intervals, so your faster interval can be a bit of a quicker pace since your recovery time is longer.  Think 1 min sprint, 3 min recovery… I would try to jog the whole recovery time if possible.  You can do anywhere from 5-10 sets of these intervals.

5k Challenge
The last challenge would be to use some kind of program to help you prepare for a race of your choosing. I think it’s a great idea to sign up for goals because you then have something to work towards and also something to hold you accountable. I ran a 10k this past fall that I completely prepared for by using a program.  I used halhigdon.com and found a program that worked for me and my schedule. This way I had structure to my runs and also a goal to work towards. I found it very helpful and it definitely kept me on track. There are a lot of “couch to 5k” programs out there, you just have to find one that complements your schedule and routine. These programs will include different kinds of runs. Some will be tempo runs, some will be longer endurance runs where you find a steady pace and hold it for the duration and you’ll also incorporate some cross training as well.

Remember, these workouts (except if you’re training for an actual run) don’t necessarily have to be on the treadmill. I’ve done stair climber and row intervals and really felt the fatigue throughout the workout. It’s a great idea to change it up to keep things fresh and keep your body guessing. You are also less susceptible to overuse injury.

So have fun, try these different ideas out and see what you think. Take it from me, cardio is not always fun but you just have to get yourself started and you’ll feel great once you’re done. I always feel accomplished when I go for a run and have a good pace time or do a sprint interval session where I was able to increase my speed each time without fail. Just gotta get after it and push yourself out of your comfort zone. There is no point of doing any type of cardio if you feel the same way ending your workout as you did at the beginning. You should be sweaty, you should be tired, and you should feel the burn in those lungs that will get better over time when you are able to build some endurance. Consistency, like anything in the fitness and weight loss world, is the key to your success.

Nutrition jump start tips…check.
Basic cardio interval ideas…check.

Next up… one of my favorite topics: resistance training. In the next couple weeks I will get you comfortable in the weight room. I know it’s probably the most intimidating place, and the area where people need the most help (which is a big reason Personal Trainers have job security), and that’s where I come to the rescue 🙂  I will keep it simple and give you all the tools to get yourself comfortable with a weight training program. Have a week full of positive attitudes and new cardio workouts!

Health & Fitness Tips for 2014!

 

A guest post from our customer Ashley

 

Happy New Year everyone! This always seems to be the time for ‘out with the old and in with the new’…new goals, new changes, making new habits and breaking old ones. Though I strongly believe there’s no better time than the present to set goals and reach them, I’m always happy to see new faces at the gym trying to make changes in their life at the start of a new year.  What I don’t love to see is those faces disappearing after a month or two because they didn’t get the results they wanted as quickly as they thought they would.  Remember, weight gain doesn’t happen overnight…for most, it has probably taken months or even years.  Weight loss works the same way.  It’s not a quick fix and it takes time, conscious thinking and energy to see the results you want.  So buckle up and get ready for the long journey ahead…it won’t be easy but you will be so happy you stuck with it and made changes that will affect you for the rest of your life.

 

I guess I would like to start off 2014 with a few tips to help you stay on track for the long haul.  I am just like everyone else…the holidays come, the parties start and the cookies are constantly tempting me.  I am ready to start the year off on the right foot and not allow these unusual habits in my life to continue.  Here are some of the things that have helped me along the way with setting new goals and getting motivated again.

 

1. Set both short term AND long term goals.  I find it easiest to stay in the present moment.  Weekly goal setting is very important.  There is never a week that goes by that I don’t know what I’m going to be doing when…workouts included. If I set ‘appointments’ for everywhere I have to be during the week, I’m more likely to go because I do what I say I’m going to do when I say I’m going to do it.  Plan ahead for yourself.  Figure out what works for you and your schedule and be realistic about it.  I have come to learn that there is always time in your life for the things you want to make time for.  If the gym is somewhere you want to be at some point during each day, then figure out when that is and make it happen. 

 

Long term goals are the prize.  The weekly goal setting helps you keep your eye on that prize.  Make sure you know exactly what you want out of all your hard work.  Goals are made without worrying about being judged by someone else because they are your own.  You are the only one that can live the life you want.  Sit down and take time to figure out what kind of life that ideally is.  It’s an exciting process and I highly recommend writing these goals down and showing them to your biggest support systems.  They will help give you an extra push to stay on track and cheer you on along the way.

 

2. Tackle one eating habit you’d like to change at a time.  If you don’t hydrate yourself enough, work on getting more water in one week.  Do you have trouble with too much snacking?  After getting on track with drinking more water, try to incorporate snacking less throughout the day.  Are you a carb or sugar junkie?  Hydrate, snack less and try to fill up on good carbs and less sugar.  It’s really easy to get overwhelmed by all the changes you need to make with your eating habits.  There’s no point in trying to take them all on at once knowing full well you’re not going to be able to be successful with each one at the same time.  This is a process remember? 

 

 Make eating changes that are going to last a lifetime not just be a temporary fix.  What’s the point of eating a certain way knowing full well this is not a forever way of life.  With that said remember there are always going to be holiday parties and birthday parties to pull you away from the proper eating habits you’ve grown accustom to…that is okay.  If you have the proper groundwork in place already, those days aren’t going to phase you long term. 

 

3. Variety is a good friend to have.  No one wants to be a one trick pony.  It is great to try and do a lot of different things to keep your body guessing.  Throughout my week there are at least four different kinds of workouts I enjoy.  Weight lifting, boxing and kickboxing, yoga and usually some kind of pilates or barre class.  I love being able to switch things up and have new activities to do each day.  The same old routine will become just that…old.  Find activities you enjoy and find a way to incorporate them into your week. 

 

4.  Find accountability.  Whether it may be a personal trainer or a workout buddy, do what you have to do in order to keep yourself on track.  I am a personal trainer and I have personal trainers that I work with each week to keep me going.  I always used to think that personal trainers were a luxury when in fact, they are an investment that are worth far more than the money you spend to see them each week.  I find them motivating, inspiring and they always push me outside of my comfort zone.  I would not be where I am today without them.

 

 I also have workout buddies that I love to sweat with…it’s fun, gives me one more reason to show up and make the commitment and it’s pretty cool to have people in your life that are after the same things. 

 

I can’t wait to start this new year off with a bang.  I’m going to bring the workouts, the recipes and the fun to help you with your goals and aspirations.  I can’t wait to see what the year has in store for me…time to work hard, play hard and continue to grow into the person I want to be.  I’ll leave you with you one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite movies…  ‘It’s supposed to be hard, if it wasn’t hard everyone would do it, the hard is what makes it great.’  It’s not always going to be easy but the hard will be what makes it all worth it in the end.

Stretching and Flexibility

 

A guest post from our customer Ashley:

I know I have done a flexibility post before but it is just so important that I’m going to bring it again. This time I’m going to incorporate some props you can use to help deepen some basic stretches without needing a stretching buddy.

All you need is a towel, a belt or if you have a yoga strap laying around that would be ideal. Don’t go out and buy anything special as it’s easy to improvise and just use something lying around the house.  I am going to use a towel and show you some great stretches to increase flexibility.

The first stretch is your basic hamstring stretch.

Place the towel around the ball of one foot. Laying on your back with the other leg straight out, pull up on the foot with the towel making your leg go perpendicular with your body. As you slowly pull your leg towards you remember to keep your other leg as straight as possible. The goal is to get your leg straight so if you need to release the leg down a little bit that is just fine. Push through the ball of your foot at the same time as you pulling forward and hold the stretch. Breathe through it and hold for at least fifteen second.

Place the towel in your right hand. Keep your other leg straight still and gently lower your straight leg down to the right side.  Your toes should be pointing up towards the ceiling and your opposite shoulder should be pushing down towards the ground to keep your back flat.  You will feel this stretch in your groin, inner thigh and possibly behind the knee and/or in your hip depending on your hip flexibility.

The last stretch in this position is similar to the last but on the other side of your body.  You will hold the towel in your left hand with the still on the ball of your right foot.  Keeping both

legs straight, gently lower your right leg across your body to towards the floor.  Keep your right shoulder pressed to the ground to give you a good lower back stretch.  To add some variety to this position, you can bend your knee to a 90 degree angle to deepen the stretch in the back.

The last stretch you will be on your stomach, the towel or strap will be placed across the toe of your right foot.  Bend your knee, bringing your heel to your glute.  To deepen the stretch, try to gently lift your knee with the towel off the ground. This stretch will be felt in primarily the quad muscle.


Stretching should be performed at least once a day. It doesn’t take very long and the benefits over time are very significant to your health and ability to perform everyday activities.   Now get to work and as the snow starts to fall this winter, drive safely 🙂

 

Pre-Workout Snack Ideas

 

A guest post from fitness blogger Ashley:

 

It’s very important to properly fuel your body before every workout.  Almost all cases when a client starts to feels nauseous or light headed during a session came down to the simple fact that they didn’t eat anything or they didn’t eat enough to get them through the workout.  Once they feel better, they usually admit to the fact that they didn’t want to feel sick from eating too much so they didn’t eat anything.

 

With that said, it is important to try to eat 30 minutes to an hour before your workout. There is a range for this because every body is different.  Some feel sick if they eat too close to workouts and others can eat right before they start and not be effected by it at all.   A good rule of thumb is it is always better to eat something rather than nothing.  Not eating enough can affect the intensity and duration of your workout as well as how much energy you sustain throughout.

 

So here is a list of ideas for pre workout snacks.  They are all easy to prepare and they will give you just what you need to work hard and feel energized the whole time.  It is also important to eat foods that are easy for the body to digest.  Depending on how long your workout is, you may need to eat another small snack, especially endurance workouts such as running.

 

Pre Workout Snack Ideas:

  • 1 tbsp. Peanut/Almond Butter and Banana
  • 1 Waffle and 1 tbsp. Peanut Butter
  • 1 serving Rolled Oats and 1 serving of Berries
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich on Whole Wheat Bread
  • Greek Yogurt with 1 serving of Fruit (watch the sugar content in the yogurt)
  • String Cheese and 1 serving Whole Wheat Pretzels
  • Protein Shake (if you are into taking supplements, your body will absorb these pretty quickly.  Make sure you look at the nutrition facts of these types of supplements.)
  • Scrambled Eggs/Egg Whites with Toast/Bagel

Your body is an amazing machine.  It will do whatever it has to do to get you through whatever you’re doing even if it doesn’t have all the right fuel.  That is why it is important to get the most out of your workout and eat right depending on what your exercise of choice is for that day.  If you have to eat closer to your workout than you would’ve liked just eat a smaller snack.  Listen to your body, it usually does a good job telling you when it needs something.  Have a great week and drink a lot of water 🙂

Ashley runs a 10k race

 

A guest post from fitness blogger Ashley:

 

Today was the day for me to finally run my 10k.  I must say it was a strange experience to run a race that I actually trained for.  Usually I just wake up and run it and then I’m sore for the next week because I shocked my body and it got mad at me.  It was a good feeling to actually feel prepared.  I was able to set some expectations for myself on how I wanted to do based on how my training leading up to it went.

 

I think goal setting is essential for success.  I have learned a lot about myself just by deciding to try running outside for 30 days.  Obviously I didn’t run everyday but I averaged about three days a week.  I would have never been able to run what I did today at the pace that I did without that initial goal in mind and the execution of my plan.  I found that my weekly goals were just as important in my success as signing up for the race itself.   I really don’t mind running after all, I would’ve never thought that.  I learned to give things a try more than once (the only thing I admittedly will never try again is hot yoga) and allow my body to get used to it before I give up and quit.  My body learned to endure through the hot and the cold, the long and the short distances.  I’m glad it is over but the journey to the finish line paid off and I’m proud of myself.

 

Here are some things I want you think about…

 

Think about your workout routine.  Do you feel like you get everything out of it that you want to?  Is it fun or over time do you get bored with it?  Do you set small goals for yourself or do you find yourself always just after a large long term goal?

 

I ask you these questions because sometimes I feel like people go through the motions.  They show up at the gym and think that’s enough.  If you are going to invest your time at the gym, it’s important to know what you want out of it and work hard towards obtaining that.  You should be feel like you got what you wanted out of your workout.  I find that even though I don’t sweat as much during a tough yoga class, stretching and flexibility for me is a different kind of hard.  I have a goal in mind for each workout.  For yoga, at the end of class I want to feel more flexible, relaxed and refreshed.  It’s important to have those thoughts in my mind otherwise I would think I didn’t do enough.  In reality, flexibility is just as important for my body as getting my heart rate up. 

 

If you’re bored at the gym, try something new.  You never know if you like something if you never give it a try.  We are creatures of habit and sometimes become content with what we are doing because it’s easy and familiar.  Last week I tried a barre class.  I thought I would need a tutu and we would be working on stretching and plies and a lot of ballet inspired moves.  I was completely surprised at how much I liked class and how many ballet moves we didn’t do.  My abdominals were contracted almost the entire class.  My muscles were worked in a completely different way than I would normally work them but the burn was the same, if not more intense than it usually is.  I was apprehensive to try it and so happy I did in the end.  It’s another thing to add to my list of activities I want to incorporate into my weekly schedule now and all it took was for me to take a step outside my comfort zone.

 

Small goals and small successes are the stepping stones to getting to your ultimate goal.  Whether it be losing a pound a week or being able to run for fifteen minutes straight, it doesn’t matter as long as you always have something to work towards.  Those small goals will help you get to your 30 pound weight loss goal or your half marathon.  I like to feel some sort of success every week and I think everyone should.  It gives you the push to keep on keeping on. 

 

So this week take a good look at what you’re doing and set a goal for yourself.  Try something new.  Allow yourself to find success somehow on a small scale.  Embrace your body and listen to it.  You only get one after all. 

Giving Yoga A Try!

 

A guest post from fitness blogger Ashley:

When it comes to exercise, I have always been open to trying new things and switching my workout up depending on what I think my body needs or the goals that I want to accomplish. Back in July, I decided I wanted to give running outdoors a try.  Well, I am happy to report that outdoor running has become something I really enjoy…most days at least.  I used to be a treadmill runner and now I find it much more difficult and quite frankly, just plain boring.  I can honestly say I am surprised that I stuck with my training and I’m all signed up for a 10k in a couple weeks that I will be completely prepared for.  I would’ve never come to this conclusion if I didn’t give something I thought I would absolutely hate a chance. 

The reason I am bringing this back up is because I have decided to give another form of exercise a try…again.  A while back, I tried out a yoga class.  It was okay and I tolerated it but I never felt like I was getting a good workout from it.  Most of the time, I’m completely wiped out and sweaty after a workout.  I think because of my athletic background, I’ve always been a high intensity exerciser.  It is hard for me to turn off my thoughts and take the time to let my body rest, stretch and recover.  

Well I have come to the realization that rest is just as important sometimes as working out.  That’s where yoga has come back in.  It is a time I can deload, let go of my thoughts and just enjoy the quiet for an hour.  It also allows me to get in the stretching my body desperately needs.  It compliments my workout regimen perfectly and I plan on incorporating it in my weekly routine once or twice a week.  It will help my running, eliminate some of my soreness because my muscles will be more flexible and can endure more and it will also increase my balance.  I am excited to have found another new thing to try and yet another goal to work towards.  

Here are a few basic poses I have found beneficial to me.

 

Cat/Cow: these are great back stretching exercises.

 

Cat: Start in a four point kneeling position with hands shoulder width apart and stacked below your shoulders and knees hip width apart stacked below your hips.  As you exhale, arch your back and drop your chin toward your chest. 

 

Cow: You will switch back and forth between cat and cow.  After the exhale of cat pose, you will inhale into cow pose.  Hollow out your back, keep your abdominals contracted but your core should lower towards the ground a bit as you hollow out your back.  Raise your head to look up.  Continue the cycle of cat and cow in line with your breath.

Child’s pose: this is another stretch for the back.  It allows you to relax and stretch the lumbar spine.  Knees should be at the edges of your mat with your big toes touching.  Sit back onto your heels and stretch your hands out in front of you.  You can also move your hands to one side to include a side stretch.

 

Downward dog: this pose will stretch and strengthen the back and hamstrings and help improve circulation. Laying on your stomach, you are going to curl your toes under and raise your hips.  Think about trying to push the crown of your head towards the mat, relax the neck and shoulders and lengthen the back.  You can also pedal your heels to feel a good calf stretch as well.

Low lunge: this will stretch hips, quads and hamstrings as well as strengthen these muscle groups.  Start in a lunge position and drop your back knee to the mat. Bring your hands up above your head , breathe and hold the stretch. 

Take the time this week to think of something you’ve always wanted to try but never did for one reason or another and just do it.  Give it a go and you may find that you really like it.  It takes thirty days to make or break a habit so give it a fighting chance.  I’ve learned that sometimes it takes a couple classes or tries before you get comfortable with the unfamiliar.  Allow your body to adapt to it and get used to it before you give up.  Who knows you may be running 10Ks and be able to touch your toes if you give it all you got.