The Importance of Recovery


PRs slowing down and youre feeling a plateau? Your recovery could be to blame! Part 1

If you speak to any CrossFit Games athlete, they will probably tell you the biggest factors that affect their performance (especially in competition) are: Mental Game and Recovery.

All of the athletes at the Games are incredibly fit and capable, but it’s those whose bodies and minds hold up over multiple workouts who come out on top at an event like Regionals or the Games. And you better believe they actively work on both of those components—mental training and recovery—of their game.

Today, we’re going to address one of them: Recovery! Now I know you’re not a Games athletes, BUT recovery still matters, even if you’re an accountant who goes to the gym recreationally three days a week and plays hockey on the weekend. Recovery matters…more than you probably think. Sure, you might be able to get away with performing well after one night of bad sleep, or PR-ing a workout when you’re hungover once in a blue moon, but imagine an entire week without sleep: Could your perform well then? Or what about a month of binge-drinking every night: Think you could PR then? Although you hopefully haven’t ever gone a week without sleeping, many of us are still chronically under-recovered. Don’t mistake under-recovery for overtraining. For most people, under-recovery is more a result of poor lifestyle and nutrition choices than training volume.Think this might be you? In this—Part 1—we’ll consider symptoms that tell you your recovery is out of whack. In Part 2, we’ll look at potential solutions to the problem. Here are some signs and symptoms that your recovery might not be on point:

You Havent PRed in Months

If you don’t find your numbers going up, especially if you’ve only been committed to your training for a year or two – once you hit five years, plateaus do become normal and part of the process, but in your first year or two of training, PRs should happen quite regularly if you’re coming to the gym regularly and following a consistent program.

DOMS All Day Everyday

Obviously you’re going to be sore from doing 100 pull-ups if the most pull-ups you normally do is 25 to 30, but if you’re feeling DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness) more than you used to, or after a training session you know your body shouldn’t feel sore from, it could have something to do with poor recovery.

Resting Heart Rate

Is your resting heart rate higher (or lower) than it used to be? If you’re not recovering from training, or from other physical or mental stresses, you might notice a rise in your resting heart rate. If the problem isn’t dealt with—as the body gets more and more worn down, you might experience a decline in your resting heart rate. Knowing your resting heart rate is certainly a good thing to keep track of, so you can then note changes if and when they do occur.

Are You OK?

If you’re feeling uncharacteristically blue/low/depressed and people keep asking you if you’re OK, it could be something diet-related that’s stopping you from recovering properly to the point that it’s affecting your mood.

Tossing and Turning in Bed?

Did you used to be a good sleeper, and now you find yourself unable to fall asleep, or you wake up and can’t get back to sleep? Again, this might have to do with your recovery: In this case, perhaps your adrenals aren’t recovering enough. It could also have to do with stress: Too much cortisol in the body will certainly negatively affect your sleep.

If this sounds like it might be you, check back in for Part 2 – Solutions to help your recover!

How to Conquer Back Pain Once and For All!


 

 

Possible Solutions to Your Chronic Back Pain

So you feel like you have tried everything: Ice, heat, epsom salt baths, muscle relaxants, physio, acupuncture, IMS, massage, but nothing seems to work! Your chronic back pain keeps coming back and knocking you down and for a day, a week, a month at a time…Sound familiar?

Many times people with chronic back pain never bother to really look into the source of the problem, so their undisclosed injury never really gets better. Here are some suggestions that might help you deal with that nagging back pain once and for all:

8. Seek a True Diagnosis

If you’re in the group who has had back issues on and off for years, it might be worth getting an MRI to see if there’s something going on in there that you don’t know about. Maybe your back pain isn’t stemming from your rib that slips out of place from time to time that allegedly causes your muscles to spasm, after all. Maybe you have a bulging or slipped disc you need to deal with…If it’s not going away, consider an MRI.

 

7. Check Your Sleep

Sleeping injuries are no joke. Sleeping in bad positions, or with bad pillows, can cause legitimate injuries.

As for positions, it’s pretty well-known that sleeping on your stomach can cause neck pain. Others have back issues when they sleep on their backs unless they put a pillow under their knees. (Read more here: https://www.cnn.com/2016/03/18/health/sleep-positions-good-bad/index.html). Everyone is different, so no one size fits all, but it’s worth experimenting with sleep positions.

As for pillows, selecting the appropriate style might also have something to do with whether you’re a stomach, back or side sleeper. Expert consensus is that back sleepers should sleep with thinner pillows, so their head doesn’t get thrown too far forward, while side sleepers are better off with larger, firmer pillows to fill in the distance between the ear and outside shoulder. And if you’re a stomach sleeper, a thin, almost flat pillow is probably best. Some recommend no pillow for stomach sleepers.

 

6. Dont Sit for 8 Hours Unbroken

Often times back pain simply stems from—or at least is massively aggravated—by sitting too long. Set a timer to remind yourself to get up once an hour if if helps, but the point is, if you’re someone who sits all day at work, it’s important to stand up and move around. Spending five minutes foam rolling and stretching multiple times a day might also help. Another option a couple of my clients have had success with: A standing desk. It’s not for everyone, but it is an option.

 

5. Decompress

Many things can cause your spine to compress, the main reason being degenerative disease.  We have two pieces of equipment in our gym that may help with that compression.

  1. Inversion Table
  2. Reverse Hyper

It’s not a quick fix but it may help. If you aren’t familiar with either, ask your coach for life and they can help!

 

4. Hire a Coach

This is where we come in. Our coaches can help you figure out if there are any muscle imbalances or muscle tightness, that’s contributing to your pain. Are your glutes or abdominals just really weak, or your hip flexors or hamstrings really tight? Sometimes back pain stems from somewhere else in your body that needs work. We’ll provide you a plan of attack to iron out weaknesses that might be contributing to your undiagnosed pain.

Along the same lines, here are some things you can try doing at home if you think your weak glutes or weak abs, tight hamstrings or hips are leading to your back pain.

 Weak Glutes:Do 50-100 glute bridges, 50-100 clamshells on each leg and 50-100 bird dogs every morning when you wake up.

Weak Abs: Spend 5 minutes in a deadbug, bent hollow or hollow hold position every morning. Focus on building as much tension in your body as you can as you hold the position.

Tight glutes/hamstrings/hips: There are tons of great stretches out there. Kelly Starrett is one health professional who does a great job breaking down the importance of stretching, flexibility and mobility. His videos are easy to find, but here are three good ones that address these areas of the body:

HIPS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBHzXF-mVjY

HAMSTRINGS:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQtwaPoK-UM

GLUTES:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yl53kPn_YXU

 

3. Fix Your Posture

Often times undisclosed back pain comes from poor posture, and I’m not just talking about slouching. The problem might even start at your feet. Being pidgeon-toed or having tight ankles, for example, can lead to less than ideal posture, and ultimately hip or back pain.

 

2. Are You Wearing Proper Shoes?

Although those stilettos are sexy, they might be causing your back pain. The same is true of flip flops and sandals. If you’re in pain and wear the wrong shoes, it might be worth considering prioritizing health and pain-free living over fashion…

 

1. Lose Weight?

Is the pressure you’re putting on your back from being overweight the main source of the problem? It could very well be. Contact us and we’ll help you with your exercise and nutrition. We’ll get you exercising regularly as well as food prepping and fuelling your body with the right foods for you—to help you improve your body composition so that your body starts functioning more optimally. Sound good?

 

Reputable Supplements


Select Your Supplements Wisely

If youre into self-improvement and optimizing your health, youre probably willing to spend a little money on supplements: Anything that can give you that edge, right? On the other hand, its fairly common knowledge that the supplement industry is somewhat fraudulent. Do the products youre buying really deliver on their grandiose promises, or have you just been throwing money down the drain for placebo effects, or no effect at all? Supplement companies and products aren’t created equal, so here are some common RED FLAGS to take note of when deciding what protein powder or pre-workout you should buy:

Deceptive Labelling

It’s not uncommon to come across two seemingly-identical products on the shelf, with the exact same labelling. But for some reason, one is half the price of the other. Usually, the consumer picks up the less expensive one, only to discover the fine print when he gets home. Turns out the product he purchased provides 10 days worth of product, meanwhile the other bottle that cost twice as much contained 30 days worth of product. Stick to companies who label their products clearly.

Shoddy Science

Science and data impresses most of us. Supplement companies know this, so theyll do anything to make it look like their products are backed by science. The problem is, sometimes the science they use is unproven. Or theyll say vague things like “based on scientific research.”What research? What study? Dont be lazy: Spend some time and do some research to look into the validity of their claims. Specifically, look for peer-reviewed research with legitimate data.

Familiarize yourself with the Ingredients

Its not uncommon for a company to release a product claiming to be something like an endurance substance that improves performance.It might say its full of calcium carbonate, so the consumer assumes calcium carbonate must be good for improving endurance. (Calcium carbonate is actually just Tums and likely wont improve your endurance!) Familiarize yourself with the ingredients of any product you buy and look into what these ingredients really are. (Also, avoid products with added sugar!)

Embellished Promises

Stay away from products that claim to produce health miracles. If a product says it can cure tumors, be suspicious! Although in the USA, the FDA requires companies to refrain from making claims that they cure diseases, sometimes these regulations are ignored. Breaking Muscle explained more about this in an article here:http://breakingmuscle.com/nutrition/4-things-you-need-to-know-before-buying-supplements.

The supplement industry is here to stay, in all its often flawed glory. Its up to you to tread carefully and discover the good products out there. Read the labels, research the product, ingredients and company, avoid the common pitfalls and red flags, and trial and error your way to discover what works for you.

Find Time for Food Prep


Three common excuses people give when I ask them why they don’t food prep are:

I like variety. I cant eat the same thing for lunch every single day.

I dont have the time to devote an entire day to food prep.

I dont like cooking.

I dont have a big enough freezer.

All of which are, of course, lame excuses to mask their laziness…

 

Instead of coming up with excuses about how time-consuming and boring you think food prepping is, and how much of a mess you’re going to make in your kitchen, stop for a moment and consider about the benefits you will experience from becoming more prepared with your meals: Your health will improve, you might finally reach your body composition goals, and your performance at the gym will definitely sky rocket. And you’ll probably save money, too.

 

The truth is, Im more and more convinced that prepping food ahead of timebe it dinners or just lunches for the weekis at the heart of getting people to stick to a healthy diet.

 

Without prepared meals ready in your fridge or freezer, it can become so easy during your always-stressful work week to stray from your intention to eat well. And before you know it, you find yourself ordering take-out or eating nachos and salsa for dinner because it’s the only thing in your fridge that looks even moderately edible.

 

One of the biggest barriers against wanting to live a healthier lifestyle is the lack of preparation,reiterated Beth Warren, R.D.N in an article in “Self”about food prep.

 

So it’s time you become more prepared. And when you do, you’ll probably find food prep doesn’t have to be as hard as you think.You don’t even need a whole day. Not even half a day, really. You need time to grocery shop, and then 1 to 3 hours maximum, and you’ll have healthy meals for an entire week or two.

 

And to make it even easier—if you’re new to food prep—here are 5 tips to help make the experience more enjoyable and efficient:

 

  1. Get a big freezer:

A big deep freeze might be the best investment you’ll ever make…

Food stored in the fridge for days doesn’t taste as good as freshly made food, nor does it last as long. Go ahead and keep a couple of days worth of meals in the fridge, but freeze the rest to preserve the taste and the shelf life.

Freezing also helps if you’re someone who wants more variety and you don’t want to eat the same thing five nights in a row. With a freezer, you can start stock piling meals and then cycling meals from this week with meals from last week and even last month.

 

  1. Blanch Your Veggies (meaning plunge them into hot, then cold water).

Blanching veggies kills enzymes that cause them to wilt quickly. Blanched veggies stay fresher and crispier longer—especially if you’re going to keep them in the fridge for two to three days.

 

  1. Streamline your TUPPERWARE:

If you’re someone who has collected various styles of tupperware over the years and can never find the lid to fit the bottom (probably the same type of people who can never find the pair to their socks), do a complete tupperware overhaul and replace all your tupperware with one style and one size of containers, so all of the lids fit all of the bottoms. It will save a ton of frustration.

 

  1. Bring-a-Friend:

Make food prep a social event and food prep with a friend. You’ll be surprised how much faster it can be to have two chefs feverishly working together. Faster, more food, and more fun.

 

  1. Look Ahead to Next Week:

 

For the sake of saving time later, let’s say you’re making sweet potatoes, roasted veggies and chicken for this week’s lunches. Make extra sweet potatoes that you can pull out next week and pair it up with whatever protein you’re batch cooking the following week. Same if you’re making meatballs this week. Cook extra beef that you can throw in next week’s giant pot of Chili.

 

At the very least, give it a try. Devote 4 hours a week to food prep, see where youre at in 2 months time and then report back.

 

5 Tips when Choosing a Personal Trainer in the Cayman Islands


Let’s face it, trying to find a personal trainer ranks up there with some of life’s most difficult decisions.

Choosing a college…starting a family…what to watch on Netflix this weekend?

A good personal trainer should always be a good listener, explain why you are doing specific workouts/exercises and will always prescribe a plan that will help you reach your fitness goals. Daunting as it is to choose a trainer, there are a few key areas to help you start your search.

1. Experience

Experience is an important factor in choosing a trainer, but first you have to define the specific experience needed for YOU. Because a trainer has been “in the business” for years doesn’t mean they’ll know the area you’re looking to improve. Instead consider some other forms of experience:

Look for experience showed by happy reference-able clients. Each trainer should have stories of past clients they helped.
Ask yourself, has this trainer worked with people who look, act, or sound like me?
Look for experience outside the fitness environment. This could mean a trainer who has proven success in business, academics, military service, or personal endeavors. Top performers tend to bring their work ethic and attitude to all areas of life.
Look for shared experiences or similar backgrounds. A trainer who happens to be a mother of 3 children can offer invaluable experience to a new mother who is nervous about returning to training.

2. Knowledge

Experience can take many forms, but you want to make sure that your trainer is in fact knowledgeable. The best trainers are lifelong learners and their resume should speak to that. If you are having a hard time locating their credentials, it’s important to ask. Most trainers will open the floodgates about their inspirations and influences. Some leading questions could be:

  • How did you start your fitness journey?
  • What are your biggest influences in health and fitness?
  • What certifications do you hold?
  • Do you recommend any websites or articles where I could learn more?
  • systems or progressions do you use to help clients achieve their outcomes?

3. The 5 Chimps Theory

In zoology, you can predict the mood and behavior patterns of any chimp by which five chimps they hang out with the most. What does this have to do with choosing a trainer? It means find a trainer who you want to be like. Consider what personal characteristics would best help you on your fitness journey:
Do you need a trainer who is serious and intense? Or are they quirky and can always lighten your mood? Keep in mind that you aren’t selecting the trainer you WANT, but the trainer you NEED!

Once you feel that a trainer has a background that aligns with your goals it’s time to explore how they engage with you.

4. You’ll know how much they care!

The initial meeting is the perfect time to gauge your trainers level of caring. A good trainer takes interest in your needs and listens to your concerns. They inquire about your health and fitness background as well as relevant personal information. Expect questions about injuries, conditions, and athletic background as well.

The trainer/client relationship involves more than planning a workout routine. It involves building trust, addressing challenges, and working together towards a recognized goal. Now the trainer should set clear expectations for what you can expect from training. The approach they use should have a clear progression and benchmarks to track your progress along the way.

5. Persistence trumps Intensity

As author Derek Sivers says, “If more information was the answer, we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs.” Most people have an idea of what they SHOULD do, but generally struggle with what they WILL do. When you begin a new routine, adherence is key. For your first month or two, your trainer should be helping you develop habits around fitness and other healthy practices. When you choose a trainer consider the factors that will encourage your training as well as remove potential roadblocks.

Is it a convenient commute to the gym or park?
How often will you be able to meet? What times?
Is this a price that I am able to pay for each month/week/session?
Is this an environment that is safe and comfortable?

It’s easy to find an excuse why you shouldn’t call, but let’s face it, you’re still reading this for a reason. You’re reading because you care. Because you have a goal. Because you’re ready to do what it takes.

So instead of justifying why you can’t right now. Why it’s not a good time. Why next month would be better. Think about what your life would look like if today you made the choice that changed everything.

If you are ready to take the next step, Schedule your Free Consult here >

Why Heart Rate Matters


Check out this these details that look at stress response in relation to heart rate:

Heart Rate and a Persons Response to Stress

60-80 beats per minute: Normal resting heart rate for most people

115-120 beats per minute: Fine motor skills deteriorate

120-145 bates per minute: Optimal for complex motor skills and reaction time 

145-150 beats per minute: Complex motor skills deteriorate

170-175 beats per minute: Loss of peripheral vision, loss of near vision, cognitive perception deteriorates, loss of depth perception auditory 

175-200 beats per minute: Loss of gross motor skills, irrational fleeing, fighting or submissive behavior.

 

Basically, what I want you to take from the above is there’s a relationship as the heart rate moves further away from a normal resting heart rate and the control of certain physical and cognitive qualities.

I’ve definitely witnessed this decline at the gym! It starts with movement quality deterioration as people get deeper and deeper into the hole during a workout, and it goes further downhill from there…

I couldnt see. I thought I went deaf during that workout.

I couldnt even think straight, I was so messed up!

The second thing I want you to take from the above is that the more cardiovascular fitness you have, the more you can prevent this physical and cognitive deterioration from happening, not to mention the better you will move and the better your decision-making will be while under duress. The point is conditioning the heart can help prevent detours into sloppy town, and help you produce a higher relative output for longer.

And, of course, the more fit your heart is, the better you will be at life. I know I’d trust a cardiovascularly-fit fireman, who runs up 10 flights up stairs to rescue someone from a burning building, to make a good decision than an unfit, and likely flustered, individual with a 200 beats-per-minute heart rate panting uncontrollably.

 

This brings me to the my next point:

The importance of preserving the workouts intended stimulus during each training session.

The what, what? What stimulus? I thought we just did random stuff everyday?

Basically every workout has a specific intention. Sometimes we want you to work at a nearly max heart rate for 30 seconds, and then take a full recovery before repeating more 30-second high-intensity intervals. Other times, we want you conditioning for 8-10 minutes at a relatively high heart rate. And other times still, we want you to work continuously for 30-minutes at a functionally-feeling heart rate in the 120 range.

All of the above workouts train your cardiovascular system in different ways, and all have merit.

That being said, if you choose to ignore the workout’s intention resulting in, for example, you taking 20 minutes to complete a workout that’s supposed to take 5 minutes, then you’ve essentially missed the purpose of the day and won’t reap the benefits of the short, hard, fast workout of the week.

Usually this happens because someone wants to lift a heavier weight than they should—to keep up with the person next to them or to complete the workout as prescribed. But choosing to go heavier than you should just means you’ll slow down to the point that the workout becomes a strength working instead of an 8-minute conditioning workout and you miss the intention of the day. And because of it, your poor little heart won’t see the gains it should.

Though I see this most often with people putting too much weight on the bar, another common mis-step I see is people choosing the wrong gymnastics progression to preserve the intention of the day.

For example, let’s say we give you the option to do 3 muscle-ups or 6 pull-ups in a 15-minute AMRAP conditioning workout with muscle-ups/pull-ups, rowing and KB swings. You can do a muscle-up so you decide to go for the muscle-ups. But you can only do about one muscle up every minute and need ample rest in between. In order to preserve the intended stimulus of the workout—15 minutes of conditioning——you should have chosen to do the pull-ups instead the muscle-ups as pull-ups will allow you to complete more work at a higher heart rate. Instead, the workout becomes a muscle-up skill workout for you sprinkled with some rowing and KB swings.

There’s a time for skill work, there’s a time for strength work, and there’s a time for conditioning. We’ll make sure you work on them all, but when it’s time to work the heart at a specific intensity in a specific time domain, do you best to select wisely so you preserve the workout’s intended stimulus.

If you’re unsure how much to lift or what gymnastics movement to select, ask the coach for advice. That’s what we’re here for.   And if you want to see what your heart rate is you can always try out our demo heart rate monitor on the MyZone system or pick up one of your own from the pro shop.

Barbell Rules


If you’re like me, you don’t like power trip rules. In other words, rules just for the sake of having rules. So annoying, right?

I’ve always believed rules should be in place for a logical reason, and when the reason is explained clearly, I then respect and embrace following that rule.

When it comes to barbell etiquette, we have some important rules we want you to follow—not because we’re on a power trip to tell you what to do—but to keep you and our equipment safe.

Here are 10 barbell etiquette rules we absolutely need you to understand and embrace:

 

  1. No Close Standers Allowed

I often see people standing intimately close to someone as he or she is setting up for a big lift. In a weightlifting gym, the rule is you’re only allowed to stand on a platform if you’re about to lift the barbell on that platform. What we’re saying is, if you’re not about to lift the bar, move out of the way. Akin to this, never walk in front or behind another lifter. It goes without saying, this is for your safety and the safety of the person lifting the barbell. Human and barbell collisions are to be avoided at all costs.

 

  1. Strip Gingerly

When you’re stripping down your barbell, don’t let the empty barbell smash to the ground as you aggressively rip the 45 lb. plate off the bar. Instead, place one hand on the barbell as you remove the weight and gently lower the empty barbell to the floor. Letting the barbell smash to the ground is hard on the barbell, meaning we need to replace them more often, increasing our costs and ultimately your rates.

 

  1. Keep the Metal to a Minimum

Adding steel upon steel is not OK. The general rule is, if you can throw some rubber on the barbell, please do. For example, instead of putting three pairs of 5-lb. metal plates on the barbell, put on one set of 15-lb. rubber plates instead. Similarly, hogging all the 15 lb. plates, instead of throwing on a pair of 45 lb. plates, isn’t cool to the rest of the people in the class, especially during a big class. Apart from the equipment hog aspect of the rule, dropping barbells loaded with metal is harder on the barbells.

 

  1. Collars are Cool

Always use collars, especially when you’re going overhead. Sure, collars aren’t always necessary for a heavy set of deadlifts during a strength session, but if you’re at shoulder height—fronts squats, back squats—and especially going overhead—shoulder press, push press, jerk, snatch, overhead squat, bench press, COLLAR THAT BARBELL UP! It goes without saying that weights flying off barbells is dangerous for you the lifter, and for those walking by or spotting, who could end up with a weight dropped on their foot.

 

  1. Do Not Drop:
  • Empty barbells, or barbells without rubber and collars on them
  • DBs (unless they’re below the height of your knee)
  • KBs
  • Metal plates
  • Babies

I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but let’s protect our equipment. And our babies.

 

  1. Dont be Shy

If you’re lifting heavy and there’s even a chance you could fail the lift, don’t hesitate to ask for a spotter. If you’re comfortable ditching a bar off your bad during a back squat, then double check and make sure you have TONS of space behind you.

 

  1. Stop and Listen

When a coach comes over to offer feedback or advice, stop lifting and listen, even if you’re in the middle of a conditioning workout.

 

  1. No Plate Collectors Allowed

Plate collectors are those who can be found with a set or two of 5 lb. and 2 lb. plates strewn about haphazardly about in their general lifting area. This is a tripping hazard, not to mention you end up hogging equipment. If you’re not currently using weights, put them away until you need them again.

 

  1. Respect Percentages

Even if you think it’s “too light,” the percentages programmed for the day are there for a reason. Follow them, or if you’re confused, speak to a coach first before going “off program.”

 

  1. Ask!

If you’re confused about what you’re suppose to be doing, how much you’re supposed to be lifting, or you have any questions at all, don’t guess. Ask. You’re paying good money to be here, so don’t be afraid to use the coaches.

Don’t forget that the Spig’s & Squints Barbell Club starts up in April!

 

 

How to pick the best gym in your city


Gyms aren’t like McDonald’s, where a Big Mac tastes almost the same in Seattle and New York as it does in London or Beijing. Gyms aren’t created equal, meaning the products, services and coaching they offer vary from state to state, city to city, and box to box.

So how do you know how to find a good gym?

Here are 7 things to look for when selecting the right gym:

 

  1. “What is your fundamentals program?”

One of the biggest differences between gyms is how they bring new athletes into their community. Some throw you right into group classes on Day 1, others put you through two or three group OnRamp sessions and then release you to classes, and others still require you to go through one-on-one personal training before they graduate you to the group atmosphere.

When it comes to fundamentals programs—unless you have had a lot of experience in the sport of gymnastics AND Olympic weightlifting—the MORE one-on-one attention you get before group classes, the better! If you find a gym that makes you do 15 personal training sessions with the same coach, you know you’re going to be taken care of and kept injury-free. Yes it’s more expensive, but it’s your health and you’re worth the investment.

On the other side of the fence, if a gym lets you do a free class with other experienced athletes on your first day, steer clear and keep shopping around!

 

  1. Personal Coach

Lifting weights, gymnastics, rowing etc…is technical, and your strengths and weaknesses are personal to you. Select a gym that teams you up with a personal coach, someone consistently in your corner, who can get to know your specific limitations and work with you for years on improving your health and fitness. A relationship with a personal coach will make all the difference in your long-term development.

 

  1. Coach Retention

Ask around. How long have the gym’s coaches been around? If every coach is in his first year there, chances are the gym’s coach retention isn’t great (unless the gym just opened). Gyms with high coach retention are doing something right (not to mention, you’ll get more experienced advice). If the gym has five coaches who have been there for 5-plus years, you’re in the right place.

 

  1. Cleanliness

Lots of fitness facilities look rough around the edges. BUT, bathrooms and floors, for example, should be clean. If the gym is sloppy and careless with cleaning bathrooms and floors then chances are this sloppiness extends to the rest of the business.

 

  1. Other Services

If the only service the gym offers is “group classes,” move along. Find a gym that offers a broad range of services to meet everyone’s needs, such as personal training, nutrition counselling, individual programming, and other classes, such as weightlifting, mobility, or gymnastics classes.

 

  1. Demographics

This one is specific to you, but some gyms cater to older folks, while others pride themselves on being competitive in the CrossFit scene, for example. Find out what the average age is of the people at the gym, and choose one where you think you’ll be fit in and feel comfortable. After all, it’s the people who are going to keep you around the gym for years, so choose a place where you think you’ll be able to forge strong connections.

 

  1. Coach Education

Don’t assume the coaches are educated. Ask, ask, ask about their credentials. Do they have a weekend certification and nothing else, or are they into continued education to constantly improve their knowledge?

On a similar note, ask about the programming. What are the principles behind the training program you’ll be following? You’re there to see results, so you might as well select a gym whose programming has some thought, and some science, behind it.

There are tons of good gyms out there, but you might as well select the best one for your needs and goals so take the time to search around, and be willing to spend a little more money to become as healthy and fit as youve always dreamed of.

 

Bacon 101: All bacon is not created equal


So many fit-looking people running around your gym who eat bacon, right? Like, every morning for breakfast, they say!

These same people might have even tried to tell you that bacon is healthy. After all, pork is Paleo, and therefore healthy, right? And animal fat is good, and fat doesn’t make you fat…

But bacon? Healthy? Hard to wrap your head around the first time you heard it, and your first instinct was probably to become skeptical of this assertion.

The truth is, bacon isn’t a health food, per se. That doesn’t mean you cant eat it. It just means you probably shouldn’t have 12 strips of bacon a day and it’s important to take the time to source the healthiest bacon you can find.

Let’s start at your local grocery store: Chances are, these mass-produced vacuum-packed bacon packages for $4.99 a pound aren’t your best bet. More often than not, grocery store bacon has been produced from big factory-farmed pigs and is full of artificial ingredients and preservatives, sometimes even pumped with sugar or corn syrup. To be sure, check out the ingredients list and if there are ingredients you can’t pronounce, avoid this bacon!

Traditional bacon is best. It starts with pork belly. Then salt and spices are added, and then curing salt. Other times, it is smoked. It should only have three ingredients: Pork, water, salt. And it’s ideally it’s from pasture-raised pigs. Locally-sourced from a butcher is best. Yes, you will spend more money but it’s worth it and usually tastes better, too.

Of if you’re a super keener, check out Robb Wolf’s recipe for making homemade bacon here: https://robbwolf.com/2011/05/20/the-path-to-culinary-bliss-home-cured-bacon/. I haven’t tried it, but apparently it’s the best tasting bacon you’ll ever eat!

What about nitrates and nitrites?

Nitrates have a bad reputation, but…. the verdict is still out on this one!

First of all, what are nitrates?

Nitrates are chemical compounds in foods, and are also contained in some salts.

The reason for their bad reputation is because nitrates are known carcinogens. Or at least when we digest nitrates, micro-organisms in our food and our digestive systems convert nitrates into nitrites, and it’s the nitrites that are cancer-causing.

But the truth is, we consume nitrates every day, not just in cured meat, but in our vegetables. (Although vegetables have nitrates in them, they also have antioxidants that help prevent nitrates from being converted into nitrites when we eat them. This is also why the USDA requires bacon producers to add antioxidants like Vitamin C and E to the bacon—to inhibit the conversion of nitrates into nitrites).

Back to bacon: Apparently even when bacon says it’s nitrate-free, there can still be nitrates present. It likely just means no additional nitrates have been added, but nitrates are still there regardless of the label.

Before you start fearing inevitable nitrates too much, take not: It takes a LOT of sodium nitrate for it to be harmful to your health. Like you’d need to eat 18 lb. of bacon at once to be harmed! Unlikely for most people, I would say.

So when it comes to nitrates and nitrates, you decide. If you’re interested in reading more before you make your decision, check out these two websites:

http://dontwastethecrumbs.com/2012/09/nitrates-the-good-the-bad-the-truth/

https://www.marksdailyapple.com/a-quick-guide-to-bacon/

Bacon in moderation and eggs anyone?

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.