3 Exercises to Fix your Lower Back Pain


 

The body thrives on balance. Our muscles and joints are happiest when they are getting equal and total range of motion. The spine is no different and since it’s range of motion is smaller than most other joints, imbalances can be felt more intensely.

The spine requires the stability of the supporting muscles that surround it to keep up upright and mobile. When a link in this system is weak, the body will compensate in order to expend the least amount of energy. 

A common issue seen causing that dreaded lower back is due to tight hip flexors, tight spinal erectors, accompanied by weak abs and glutes, also referred to as the lower cross syndrome. The tightness of the body in one area causes another area of the body to become weak. 

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” – Buddhist Proverb

 

So how do you fix or prevent this? Here are three things you can do today to make sure your glutes are firing, your core is tight, and your hips and back muscles stay strong but supple.

  1. Single leg glute bridges, to strengthen the core & glutes. Aim for 3 sets of 15 on each side. Plant the bottom of your feet and palms firmly on the floor. Stack knees above ankles. Lift one foot off the ground and perform a single glute bridge with the other, pressing firmly into your palms, shoulders, and foot to take any pressure off the neck. Try to get the hips as high as possible, then lower to the ground.
  2. Couch Stretch, loosen the tight hip flexors Aim for 2 minutes on each side. Using a couch or a bench, get into a low lunge in front of your object of choice, and the goal of this stretch is to use the front leg to support your weight as you put your back foot on a couch or bench and get your knee as close to the couch or bench as possible to stretch the hip of the back leg.  
  3. Supine single-leg twists to loosen the tight muscles in the lower back. Lay on your back, hands out to a T, and legs together, bring your right knee up to your chest and let it fall to the left side of your body. Try to keep the spine stacked in a straight line. Repeat on the left leg, bringing left knee to chest then letting it fall to your right, knee resting on the ground or a block. Spend at least a minute on each side.

Incorporate these exercises and stretches into your routine to help ease and prevent lower back pain. As always if anything causes pain, don’t do it and always consult your doctor before trying new things.

Top 3 Reasons To Train With Kettlebells


If you could only buy one piece of equipment to accomplish all of your training what would you buy? Treadmills and cycles are great for cardio but definitely won’t get you stronger. A barbell is great but where do you have room to keep it and let alone use it? Total gym style machines always feel so awkward, the cables never work and they seem to be built for someone elses body. So what exactly can use to transform your body, build strength, burn fat, and improve your cardio?

Enter the kettlebell.

Kettlebells are a great and diverse tool that you should implement into your training. Kettlebell swings train the total body and can be a low impact way to build muscle.They can be used to improve performance as well as make you look and feel strong and capable. Of course a tool is only useful as long as you know how to use it. Consider learning the basics with a certified coach who can show you the ropes. 

Today let’s dive into the top 3 reasons to train with kettlebells so you can see if they are a good fit for your fitness regimen. 

    • Carry Over To Sport and Life
    • Add Variety To Your Training
    • Quick And Effective Way To Train

1. Carry Over To Sport and Life

Kettlebell swings have tremendous carry over to your sport and lifestyle activities. They teach you how to hinge at the hip, one of the most important movement patterns for health and optimal function. A strong and healthy lower back as well as a tight core will be developed rapidly when you train kettlebell swings with good form. You will also develop an iron grip. Grip is one of the best indicators of a healthy human and Harvard has found strong correlation between grip strength and cardiovascular health. 

Swings will also improve your performance with the olympic lifts and power lifts and any other hip dominant movement like jumping. Kettlebell swings teach the dynamic hip extension that is the foundation of a powerful lifter and athlete. When you become strong and proficient with swings you can continue adding load becoming stronger and more explosive in the process.

2. Add Variety To Your Training

You can train Kettlebell swings more often than many other strength movements. Performing swings 2-3 times per week can really improve your strength and endurance and shake up your typical workout routine. By adjusting the weights , the number of sets, repetitions, and how long you rest you can get totally different responses from your kettlebell workout. 

A typical Monday workout could focus on strength and power. You would use fewer reps and a heavy weight taking 2-3 minutes between sets to fully recover. 

Wednesdays workout could be focused on building cardio. Use a light kettlebell and swing it for a long time. Pick a number like 20, 50, or even 100 reps and see how quickly you can get there. Or set a timer for 5:00 and see how many swings you can get in that amount of time. 

On Friday you could train kettlebell swings in a high intensity interval workout. Use light to moderate weights and focus on explosive efforts followed by bouts of recovery.

3. Quick And Effective Way To Train

Learning swings comes easier for some and harder for others. They are also easier to learn than the olympic lifts and far less technical. Swings are a great alternative for individuals who are focused on fitness for their health and young athletes. They also require less time to prepare the body for in terms of warming up the joints, muscles, and nervous system. They can be a fast and fun way to fit in a workout if you don’t have much time.

The kettlebell swings is such an effective tool because it trains both the eccentric (lengthening of the muscle) and concentric (shortening of the muscle) in a dynamic fashion. The snatch and clean both require a focus on a strong concentric contraction as the weight is lifted, Swings offer a different stimulus that may better suit athletes in sports like basketball or soccer or folks whose goal is not to lift maximal weight overhead. 

Kettlebell swings are a fun and effective way to train. Just like most exercises, it’s best to learn from a certified coach so you know you are performing them properly. If you are interested in getting in shape and training in a fun new environment come in for a free consult and we can show where you how training can be fun and get you results!

Is Boutique Fitness Right for Me?


If you’re ready for results it’s time to ditch the health club…

There was a time when we got all the exercise we require from our daily activities. But as hunting and gathering lead to farming and eventually the industrialized world we live in today the need for human “labor” has been nearly eradicated. Now that we work desk jobs, eat our meals from the hot bar at Whole Foods, and enjoy a generally sedentary lifestyle we are required to reintroduce this missing physical activity. For some reason, the question of how to add physical activity, or work, back into our lives is one that has proven to be puzzling, controversial, and difficult terrain to navigate.

 

In response to the demands of the market the fitness industry has grown tremendously, particularly in North America where an estimated $28 billion was spent in 2015. Much of this industry is dominated by health clubs and large gym franchises that offer a sampling of strength equipment, cardio machines, TV’s, massage chairs and minimal staffing. Granted  how many staff members do you need when your members don’t actually attend the club? In a study done by students at UC Berkeley found 67% of gym memberships are never used in the population they surveyed.

 

“If you are not going to the gym, you are actually the gym’s best customer.” -Stacey Vanek Smith, NPR

 

The savvy marketers at big box gyms know how to target their marketing towards individuals who won’t actually come to the facility. As humans we often get a rush of excitement by a new fitness undertaking. “This is it, the time I actually change, no looking back,” you say. The challenge is that the health club has made zero commitment to you. They don’t care if you show up or not. Luckily there is someone out there who does.

 

Boutique fitness is the alternative to the traditional health club model. Boutique gyms offer specialized classes based on the expertise of the owners, teachers, or coaches. CrossFit boxes, Barre studios, Bikram yoga, parkour facilities, spin classes  are all great examples of the boutique fitness model.

 

These communities succeed when the all parts are working together; the owner, staff, and clientele all succeed when they each meet their goals. This synergistic effect leads to faster results and more satisfaction from all parties. As a client you have a team of coaches and fellow members who are all rooting for you, teaching you, and most importantly holding you accountable. Becoming fit doesn’t have to be a chore, a challenge, or a pain point. In fact, it can even be fun 😉

 

Boutique gyms have been seen rapid growth in the past decade as clients recognize that when it comes to fitness, not all gyms are created equal. Some of the most common excuses sound like:

  • “I have a hard time sticking to a routine”
  • “I’m just too busy to exercise”
  • “I get bored with going to the gym, it always feels like work”
  • “I don’t know how to lift weights/choose a routine/eat the right food”

 

These are great excuses, but since you’re ready to make a change it’s time to ditch the excuses and focus on RESULTS. By implementing a system that counters your excuses you’ll be left with the only option, the results that you want to achieve.

 

If you struggle with sticking to a routine you will benefit from the coaches, friends, and community members that you’ll meet at each class. A group of people that will ask you about your day, learn about your goals and life, and most importantly encourage you to show up consistently to your workouts.

 

If you claim to be too busy then you should sign up for classes ahead of time. The wide variety of classes that are available each day at time frames that are consistent with your schedule make it easy to squeeze in an hour long workout.

 

If boredom is your challenge then a workout that changes every day is exactly what you need. Not only that but the different coaching styles and friends you’ll make at different times of the day make each class a totally unique experience.

 

If information is the enemy then relax, because that’s already been taken care of for you. Your coach has put a lot of thought into a training program that will improve your fitness and will be by your side to instruct you on form, breathing, and what weights to use. Keep an eye out for group nutrition challenges to boot!

 

To get the results you want sometimes you need to try a new approach. If that trip to the gym feels more daunting than Frodo walking the ring to Mordor then it’s time to see what a boutique gym has in store for you!

The Power of Choice


Most of us have an area in our life we wish we were performing better in. That part of us that doesn’t quite fit into our own skin. It could be a touchy subject that our spouse and friends know to steer clear of, the elephant in the room. It could be the promotion you still haven’t received, the credit card you haven’t paid off, or the weight you were supposed to lose by the beginning of  summer… in 2012.

 

And because you’re wearing this very uncomfortable skin that’s not quite your size I am happy to tell you that you are exactly where you chose to be today.

 

I can already hear the objections rising up so let me explain why.

 

You see I totally understand your story. I understand because it’s yours, mine, and everyone else’s. Sometimes having a new baby, a busy time at work, or the worst timing for a medical emergency/broken down car/economic depression can happen. There are a million and one events in life that can derail us. They are not always fair and can seem impossible to overcome when they show up knocking at our door.

 

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths.”

-Arnold Schwarzenegger

 

At that point we do an admirable thing. We give up on our dream. We set it aside to go fix the problem. We change our identity and become the superhero who knows exactly how to work overtime and take care of a sick parent. We do it because we want to make sure the story has a happy ending. We do it out of love.

 

And life goes on.

 

And sometimes the situation gets better. And sometimes it doesn’t. Either way, the situation that called for a superhero 6 months ago no longer needs a hero to save it. But there you stand in cape and tights committed to action. Except now it’s time to go home. Time to write a new story.

 

Where you stand today is a result of many choices. Some of your hero moments were the big decisions that shaped your trajectory. Like I said, I’m proud of you for doing that. But now it’s time to get back on the path. Your path. The one you stopped telling yourself that you wanted because it hurt too bad to think that it may never come true.

 

You might think it’s too late (it’s not).

 

You might want to try, but feel that you strayed too far (you haven’t).

 

You have to remember you have the power of choice. And it’s a good thing that you do. It gives you the power to turn your greatest adversity into your greatest strength. You always have the option to shy away or to stand and fight.

 

It’s time for a new story. You’re the hero and you’re at the turning point in the movie of your life. So what are you going to do next?You’ve endured hardship, learned tough lessons, and fallen time and time again. Wouldn’t this be a great time for everything to turn around?

 

Maybe you can recruit someone to help you get there, a long lost friend or a wise old mentor. Maybe you need to crank up “Eye of the Tiger” and experience the training it will take to achieve your success.

 

The time to act is now. Don’t slip back into your old story. You are the hero. The power of choice brought you here. Your choice decides what happens next.

 

So what are you going to do?

 

[GYM OWNER:] Add a call to action here, like: “Schedule your Free Consult here” with a link.

5 Reasons to get STRONG


Fitness trends come and go and most fall to the wayside for good reason.

Most programs fail to produce consistent results. It’s a wonder why so many folks stray away from what is tried and true when it comes to exercise programs?

“The rule is: the basics are the basic, and you can’t beat the basics.” -Charles Poliquin

Despite what your goals may be, every individual can benefit from physical resistance training. Not only that, but the health benefits extend far beyond your short term fitness goals. Regardless of why you train, let’s take a look at some of the reasons you should incorporate strength training into your fitness regimen.

1. Training for strength produces results.

Whatever your goals, muscle will help you get there. Some companies in the fitness industry has made a fortune around buzzwords like “tone”, “lift”, and “sculpt.” The problem is there’s no way to measure those loose terms. If you want to change your body composition there is only the ability to gain or lose muscle while simultaneously gaining or losing fat. If you are looking for the most efficient way to do make a change then strength training is your best option.

Strength training, or physical resistance training, can be defined as a type of physical exercise specializing in the use of resistance to induce muscular contraction which builds the strength, anaerobic endurance, and size of skeletal muscles. When you gain muscle you increase your bodies basal metabolism (the amount of calories you burn each day before factoring in physical activity). It’s kind of like putting a bigger engine in a car. The car is capable of moving faster or pulling a heavier load (more muscle), but it also uses more fuel (fat) whether it’s cruising down the freeway or idling in the driveway. Strength training helps us “tone” through this muscle gain/fat loss trade.

2. “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” -Peter Drucker

Training for strength provides a clear path for success. You can set training goals that are specific, measurable, and produce desired outcomes. A good coach will help you design a plan towards these goals with checkpoints along the way. Your strength training program is a road map to success with clear directions. Sets, reps, and weights lifted safely through the full range of motion are the signals that you’re on track. Many people find that a more detailed plan helps them stay motivated as they experience progress.

3. Age gracefully with more muscle mass.

As we get older strength training is one of the most important things we can do for our health. Physical independence is a key factor in a great quality of life.

A comprehensive study of strength training has been proven to:

  • Improve motor function
  • Lower resting heart rate
  • Increase stamina
  • Prevent sarcopenia (age related muscle loss)
  • Improve bone mineral density
  • Prevent and help rehab injuries

Functional strength training will be an asset in daily life too. From picking up grandchildren or bags of groceries to climbing stairs with confidence.

4. You’ll experience epic brain gains.

Did you know that lifting weights can strengthen your brain just as much as it does your body?
Dr. Yorgi Mavros from the University of Sydney has found that high‐intensity physical resistance training (PRT) results in significant improvements in cognitive function, muscle strength, and aerobic capacity in older adults with mild cognitive impairment. Adults who followed a resistance training routine in addition to cognitive training performed significantly better than control groups on a series of mental tests. A couple key factors to note:

The participants exercised 2x/ week working to at least 80% of their peak strength.
The benefits lasted one year after the exercise prescription had ended.

What does that mean? According to Yorgi, “The stronger people became, the greater the benefit for their brain.” Let that sink in for a minute. You actually grow your brain by training to become stronger! It makes me wonder if Einstein developed his Theory of Relativity in between heavy sets of back squats…

5. Strong moms have healthy babies.

During pregnancy, the question always arises of what does fitness look like for this stage of life? With so much on the line, it’s important to consult with a doctor before beginning any fitness routine. Luckily, there is a tremendous amount to be gained by incorporating a strength training routine under normal circumstances. Resistance training can help alleviate symptoms and improve health outcomes for the mother and child. According to the Mayo Clinic, women who follow a consistent strength training routine during pregnancy can experience:

  • Reduce backaches, constipation, bloating and swelling
  • Boosted mood and energy levels
  • Better sleep
  • Prevent excess weight gain
  • Maintain levels of muscle strength and endurance
  • Reduced incidence of gestational diabetes

Not only that but women who train during pregnancy report enhanced body image and better psychological well-being!

We would love to help you live a healthy strong life. Schedule a Free Consult to learn more.