Hey everyone! I just wanted to pass on a recent Richmond Times Dispatch article to which I contributed. It sheds a little light on why working with a personal trainer at home - or in a small studio setting - might be just what some people need to get and stay fit:
We are at that point where a BIG chunk of us have historically starting falling away from our New Year’s resolutions regarding eating better, working out more consistently and the like. Though I’m not a big resolution guy, I did resolve to go all of January without drinking (or as I like to call it, “enjoying”) any alcohol. Start my year with a clean slate. Anyone who knows me knows this is no small thing. I actually mentioned my goal to a ton of clients, fellow trainers and friends, as I do believe in the worth of social motivation and accountability. I’m happy to say that I’ve made it 29 days, and while there were certainly temptations along the way - being a temporarily-dry beer lover and attending a wedding with a cornucopia of local beers on ice can be brutal - I’m better for it. I’ve noticed what I knew I would notice: my quality of sleep was improved, I spent less money, and my abs are more visible. Plus, it’ll make the first beer I have during the Big Game this Sunday CRAZY enjoyable.
But I digress – this is less about booze and more about YOU. Did you use the start of this new year as a convenient starting point for bettering yourself? Have you strayed from your path of improvement? If so, why? What are your road blocks? Don’t let your eyes glaze over and write these questions off as motivational rhetoric. Seriously – what’s causing you to trip up? Identify, fix, repeat.
Fitness trainers aren’t immune, friend. While I haven’t had a drop of alcohol, I HAVE failed to properly prepare here and there this month – not planning sensible dinners to fit in a crazy schedule, not packing all my lunches - and yes, I’ve just plain indulged in fast food and pizza more than I’d like. Rather than beat myself up and go further over the cliff, I let these mess-up’s and how I feel about them FUEL future actions. Thoughts of yesterday’s bad choice can really make you feel GOOD about today…the fact that you have the opportunity to eat smart and to use your body as it’s built to be used.
So how will you improve going forward? Plan your eating – make EDUCATED choices on the fly when needed – and schedule your exercise. If you’d like help, Onward Fitness has an incredible team of trainers that can partner with you in whatever way makes sense for you. Personal training, fitness classes, online training...all with no hidden fees or mega-contracts. (Just ask anyone who’s worked with us.)
Be well, and double down on your resolutions to better yourself. You CAN do it – we see it every day.
A couple of weeks ago I was interviewed for a Richmond Times Dispatch article regarding helping folks navigate their way through the onslaught of calories and whacky schedules over the holiday season. While Halloween is behind us, it's still a timely topic, so have a look and learn some tactics I typically give my personal training clients you can start using NOW. Thanks and make it a good week!
Hey everyone - just finished a training session with a client and wanted to share the workout I ran him through. (Or to be grammatically correct, through which I ran him...) It'll hit you from head to toe as usual.
Performed in circuit fashion (back-to-back with little rest):
1.) Cross-Body Mountain Climber: 15 reps ea.
2.) Prisoner Squat: 20 reps (Demonstrated in this exercise video.)
3.) Push-Up: 15-20 reps (Whatever style that challenges you...I had my client lie on his stomach and extend the arms up and "overhead" between each push-up to incorporate the upper back.)
4.) Front Kicks: 20 reps ea. leg (fists up protecting your face, and alternate legs, kicking high...as if kicking that approaching zombie in the face!)
5.) Prisoner Lunges Forward and Reverse: 8-10 reps ea. leg (Step-out forward lunge, step back for reverse lunge, complete all reps on same leg before switching legs.)
Rest 1 minute (or until you've caught most of your breath) and repeat the 5-move circuit two more times. Booyah! Not bad for zero equipment. As for my client, I had him do the following upon completing the bodyweight-only piece:
1.) Kettlebell Swing: 20 reps (As in all exercise, form is critical on this one. Learn it. Respect it. Love it.)
2.) Kettlebell Overhead Press: 10-15 reps (Cradle one kettlebell in both hands and press overhead.)
3.) Kettlebell 1-Arm Row: 10-15 reps
PS - If you've ever thought about getting some real guidance and support in attaining YOUR fitness goals (whether it's losing fat, building muscle, feeling better or all of the above), we're currently running a REALLY good deal on our personal training services: 3 sessions of 1-on-1 personal training at our fully-equipped studio for just $69. So now's the time to get your kick-start.
Most every person desires change at some point in their life, but frequently we aren't willing to accept the feelings that come along with that change. Change is typically uncomfortable because it inherently removes us from our “comfort zone.”
In order to achieve change in our lives, we have to accept the feeling of temporary discomfort. If you want to improve your physical fitness, you must accept soreness; if you want to find a new romantic connection, you'll probably have to accept the awkwardness of a first date; if you want to go back to school to earn an advanced degree, you must accept that feeling of nervousness on the first day of school. Embrace these feelings of discomfort as steps towards the change you want to see in your life.
We probably can't help you with first dates, but if you need a little guidance and support in changing your body...let's talk.
The simple medicine ball is one of those old school exercise tools that remains versatile and effective. A medicine ball is a weighted ball used to add resistance to movement.
The term medicine ball first surfaced in an English-language dictionary in the late 19th century. In those days, the concepts of health and medicine were more closely related than today. Medicine balls were on the short list of exercise equipment that were considered essential.
Medicine balls typically range in weight from a couple of pounds to over 20 pounds. Nowadays they are usually made of dense rubber, though there are some with softer outer layers, and you can find certain variations like medicine balls with built-in handles or even with a rope/tether attached.
What does one do with a medicine ball? TONS of exercise moves, that's what! Remember, it's basically a weight you can toss. You can simply hold the ball while doing your regular exercises (think squats, lunges, overhead press, seated core twists...) and use it to add resistance throughout the range of motion, or you can work in some power moves like woodchoppers, medicine ball chest pass, and other fun explosive moves. I even make my personal training clients run sprints and shuffles holding them, pairing that with other moves using the ball.
Remember...the best pieces of exercise equipment aren't always shiny and expensive or "as seen on TV". Old school still works!
In terms of core exercises, the deceptively simple plank is a must-have. I work it in to all of my personal training clients' programs right from the start, as the plank can be made easier or tougher and lays a solid base of core strength.
The plank is an isometric (no range of motion - like clenching your fist and holding that squeeze) core exercise in which you're basically holding a challenging position for an extended amount of time. The beauty is that your strengthening your abs and your back simultaneously.
The basic plank goes like this: Get on the floor face down like the top part of a push-up. Next, bend your arms and rest your weight on your elbows rather than your hands. You're on your toes and elbows, and your body should be a straight line, with your head in a neutral position. Tighten your stomach as if you're about to be punched, and don't forget to BREATHE. Hold this position as long as you can. I have my clients work up to holding this basic plank for a full minute before playing with other fun(?) varieties.
As you hold the plank, it's natural for your hips to start sinking - don't let them! Remain straight. Your body may try to cheat by sticking your hips up too high, making the move easier. Remember - it's a plank...as in a plank of wood. Straight as a board. (Unlike the cheap warped wood you may find at your local home improvement store.)
If you can only hold a plank for, say, 10 seconds at first, no worries. Hold it as long as you can, rest on your knees for a few, plank again, rest, and so on for roughly a minute.
If you can't hold yourself up as described for several seconds at a clip, you can regress the plank by increasing the angle between your body and the ground. For example, try planking with you hands (instead of elbows) on the side of your couch, or on a low countertop. Everything else applies - be straight as an arrow, stay tight and regulate breathing. You can use this same regression for push-up's too.
I always enjoy watching clients' planking ability improve - and it does improve in fairly short order. Try to do a little longer each workout, and you'll be a 9th level Zen plank master in no time.
The payoff? Proper planking can assist with back pain, improve posture, reduce the risk of back injury by strengthening the supporting cast, and improve those abs. Tough to beat.
Train smart and be well!
Juicy title, no? Well here's the deal: the secret to staying fit isn't some magic weight loss pill, nutty new piece of exercise equipment or insanely effective workout held secret by the underground personal trainer society (there's a handshake and everything).
No, the trick is as follows: come up with ways to make exercise and healthy eating a sustainable part of your life. Gasp! Yes, you've probably heard that a million times. But if you're still having trouble making this happen, this time I want you to actually look at your routine and daily choices and start making changes! Seriously...get pencil and paper.
First, choose an online calorie counter and download the app for your phone (or laptop or PC). Give it the very basic info it needs in order to tell you how many calories you should consume each day to lose (or gain) the weight you want. Most also give guidelines for nutritional values as well, so you can see if your sodium or saturated fats are off the charts.
Then...and this is a biggie...USE. IT. EVERY. DAY. Apps like these have made it SO simple to know where you stand every day in terms of diet that real excuses fade away.
Next, look at your schedule and carve out a half hour two to three times a week for strength training. Find a certified personal trainer (I know a few!) for guidance in crafting a program, or do enough research on your own to find a basic, full-body program and become VERY comfortable with proper form. With proper programming you can get a great workout with nothing but your bodyweight.
Finally, either find a way to carve out similar time periods for cardio - anything that gets your heart pumping (jogging, swimming, cycling) that you will actually stick with and not hate - or worst case scenario, simply sprinkle in as many little walks throughout your day as you can.
Remember, circuit training can combine the benefits of both strength AND cardio work...that's why it's a fave of mine when working with clients.
Make a written agreement with yourself to take these steps, if that helps. Schedule - yes, on your calendar - your workouts. Examine what's kept you from doing these things in the past, and eliminate those roadblocks. Don't be overwhelmed! Chip away at it, but be consistent in each change you make. It may not be overnight, but look at what you'll have done: you'll be accountable for your calories and eating with a purpose, you'll be instructing your body to build and maintain lean muscle mass while losing fat, and you'll strengthen your heart and lungs. (There's actually a ton of benefits but jeez...this is just one blog entry.)
That, my friends, is what it's all about. If you make fitness a priority and cover the basics on a consistent basis, the results will come. Plan, and execute.
Hours and hours of hunching over a keyboard and sinking into comfy couches can take their toll on one's posture. If poor posture is an issue for you, make sure that your training includes movements designed to strengthen your back - all of it! Rowing movements (one-arm row, seated cable row, bent-over row) and lat pulldowns help to strengthen upper- and middle-back muscles that have stretched and become weak, which in turn will help reposition shoulders that have rotated forward. Good ol' planks are a great way to strengthen your lower back (your entire core, actually), and engaging those abs helps stabilize your core, supporting better posture.
Stretching tight pectoral (chest) muscles can also help: Stand approximately one foot from a wall (facing it). Lift your right elbow to your side, palm facing forward, hand above your elbow (90 degree bend in your elbow). Turn slowly to your left, letting your right elbow and forearm to come into contact with wall. Continue turning to the left until you feel a slight stretch in right pectoral muscles. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat with the left arm.
Remember...eating like a caveman is OK, but there's no need to hunch like one.
O little detached garage with no air conditioning, how I appreciate thee.
For years - in the days before I followed my passion and launched my own business - I would come home from my corporate gig, get changed, and walk the 20 paces from my back door to my garage (named early on "The Boom-Boom Room") for a workout. In doing so I avoided the cost of a membership to a gym that no doubt contained a million things I'd never need or use, the drive to said gym, and the excuses for skipping the whole thing.
Not much on the eyes in there, but it has everything I need and nothing I don't (except the occasional spider or cricket). Simple things. Effective things. Fitness distilled down to a few toys. Armed with your own bodyweight, some dumbbells, a barbell if you like...you have a universe of exercise options at your disposal.
Whether it's a basement, an office, a living room, a backyard...strength and cardiovascular work is accessible. A gym is a fine option for many...but if it's not working for YOU, don't give up! Seek knowledge and get to work. If you've got enough space to lie down on the floor, you've got enough space to work out.
So here's to you little garage. You've been there for me and kept me honest and in the fitness game, reminding me that there really are so few true excuses and that anyone can better themselves. Without you, I wouldn't be in my dream job and helping people every day.
And for that, I am forever grateful.