Thursday, May 24, 2012

Time to Register for Summer Log Rolling!

It's that time of year again!
We are so excited to see everybody on the lake!  Registration is online at:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Go on a Donor Date!


It has always been my philosophy that no matter how wealthy we are (or are not!) donating our time and resources is what gives us all a purpose in life.  The Downtown Madison Kiwanis Club has helped me expand my giving beyond the Huntington’s Disease Society of America, and I’m having a blast! 

Now that it’s been over a year since my return from Africa, I am once again eligible to donate blood to the American Red Cross.  I’ve only donated one time before my African adventures kept me off of the eligibility list, and wow does it feel good to help out!  It was the below video and some nudging from fellow Kiwanians to get back in that lead me to sign up again.

Peter has been a regular donor so we made a date of it.  Hey, it was free and the cookies were phenomenal!   The American Red Cross can use everybody’s help, and honestly it doesn’t hurt that bad.  Just don’t forget to come in plenty hydrated!

Here is the link to set up your appointment:

So when is your next romantic “blood donation” date?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Is Spinning BAD For You???

Is Your Spinning Class BAD for You?

Last week I heard through the grapevine that one of my spinners stopped taking my class because her crossfit instructor told her it was a waste of time.  I waited a week to write this because obviously I was upset and confused.  So what gives?  What would encourage one instructor to say another’s class is a waste of time?

Let’s start the conversation this way: which exercise is the best exercise?  The answer is very clear and simple and sadly is what many fitness professionals forget.  The best exercise for a person is what they enjoy the most.  But wait!  What about HIIT? Crossfit?  Insanity? Kettlebells?  Power Plate?  TRX?   Every modality has their benefits.  And yes, some interval training does produce more bang for the buck BUT cannot be done everyday.  AND that type of training isn’t for everybody.

Why would my trainer/instructor say to only take their class?
Sadly, here is the deal everybody.  The fitness industry is very competitive.  Same as when we review research, we need to know where the money is coming from.  Can your instructor financially gain from you going over to the health club to take a spinning class or Zumba?  No.  They earn their money from you taking their boot camp/crossfit/small group training.  The same goes for the sale of supplements.  Do they get a cut of the money you spend in the purchase of the supplement? Chances are you don’t need what they are pushing. 

So if EVERYTHING is good for me, is there anything I should avoid?
Yes.  Any workout with contraindications which put you at increased risk for injury should be left out.  This includes some boot camp and Crossfit classes with inexperienced instructors.  OR a “small group training” boot camp with one instructor that exceeds 25 people (can one instructor really analyze safety and form for 40 people at once?).  Even some spinning classes are taught with contraindications (think, lifting weights while on the spin bike, peddling with no resistance, etc.).  As fitness consumers, please educate yourself as to what is safe, unsafe and  downright dangerous. 

So what is your thing against Crossfit? 
There are many wonderful things about Crossfit.  Primarily the competitive nature, culture created, and the camaraderie.  For those who move properly and safely, this fun and competitive environment was created for them to push themselves more than ever before.  In fact, if I ever had a day of free time around here, I would love to incorporate some Crossfit into part of my training routine.

But here are some issues all must weigh before joining a Crossfit program:
·      What is my level of athleticism and technique before beginning this?  Crossfit is NOT a program that is safe for the beginner lifter or one with a low FMS score.  One quote I recently read (and agree with): “Crossfit - where technique-dependent lifts are taught to technique-deficient athletes and then performed for high reps so that what little technique there is, fails.” 
·      What are my coaches’ qualifications and level of experience?  Inexperienced coaches in this level of training can lead to very serious injuries. 
·      Do I have FUN with this type of training?  If it’s not for you, please know there are other options!

Of course the below video shows some extreme cases, but these situations are what have the world of serious fitness professionals outraged by some Crossfit programs:

What does this all have to do with spinning?
Back to the original issue: one of my spinners was told the class (not just mine, but all group exercise) was a waste of time. 
Let’s look at some of the benefits of spin classes:

1. If you’ve ever looked at the program structure of a typical cycling class, it IS interval based, scientifically working in all of the different energy zones.
2. Low impact and SAFE.
3. Something for everybody.  Every person in class adjusts their own intensity and resistance.
4. Group experience and camaraderie.  Many of my cycling classes are just as close and motivating as many Crossfit programs!
5. IT’S FUN.  And that my friends, is what exercise should be all about.

What about Zumba, Pilates, Turbokick, Yoga, Water Fitness, and all of the other group classes offered at my gym? 
There are unique benefits to be gained from each.  Personally, I’m not much of a dancer, but I’ve seen lives changed by the Zumba program.  Why?  They found a way to make exercise fun.  I look forward to my Thursday mornings in the pool for water fitness.  It may not be as intense as my circuit training days (but careful, it will surprise you!) but guess what… it’s FUN and a different type of workout.

Moral of the story. 

1. Do what you love.  
2. Stick with a VARIETY of fitness modalities (be sure to include some resistance training!).  
3. Consider an instructor’s motivation when pushing a program or supplement on you.
4. Get out of any unsafe fitness situation.  

Note: I get paid the same (small!) amount if I have 1 spinner, or 32.  I have nothing to gain or lose from writing these opinions except to hopefully help a few folks make educated fitness decisions. 

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Getting the Most Out of Your Fitness Conference

Getting the Most of Your Fitness (or any!) Conference

This weekend I’m thrilled to be attending the FILEX Fitness Conference in Sydney, Australia. Outside of helping TRX in the booth I’m also attending as many sessions as I can take in. Today is day two of three and I’m already getting that familiar “oh my god my brain is full and I can’t fit any more in there” feeling. That on top of the “whoa… I have SO much more to learn in this field” feeling can cause quite a bit of stress, exhaustion, and frustration. How do we deal with this?

First of all, these are both great feelings. If you ever get to the point in the fitness industry where you feel you know everything, you’ve got a problem buddy. Even if fitness wasn’t always evolving there is no possible way one person could learn everything there is to know. On top of that the science of fitness, training, and coaching is changing daily, thus we all need to do our part to stay on top of it all.

So at the conference we take notes, right? Well, yes but there is more. During my first several years attending conferences I took pages and pages of notes. After the conference I would file them away in a drawer. Do you think I ever looked at them again? Heck no. Not only that, but most of the knowledge and experiences I gained over the remarkable conference weekend didn’t stick, and I went back to being the same trainer I was before the educational experience.

Below is the action plan I finally took on a few years back (thanks to advice from other great fitness professionals) and I want to pass it on to you so that you can get the most of your conference!

1. Take notes during each session and star the most valuable “ah-ha” moments and key points.
2. At the end of each day of the conference (drinking and partying can wait a few minutes) review all of your notes. Seriously, do it.
3. During that note review pull out the three most important things you learned during the day, write those down along with how you can apply it immediately on Monday.
4. Repeat the above at the end of each day of the conference.
5. By the end of your conference you should have 6 to 12 key take-home ideas with an action plan. Now it’s time to narrow those down to the top three overall. These are the ones you will implement on Monday!
6. On Monday not only try your best to implement those key points, but tell as many people as you can! If you learned some new exercises, gather the other trainers in your gym and demo them. If you learned some new research, write a blog or social media post about it. The best way to learn is to teach!

At first you will feel worse as a trainer (seriously, changing our regular flow is tough) but as you use your new ideas they will evolve how you train and over time make you better than ever!

This all doesn’t take a terribly large amount of extra time, bit will give you the most value and professional improvement from any conference you attend!

Below are three of my key points from the weekend as an example:
1. Stop counting reps for clients. It seems like we should be doing it, but clients feel more motivated and independent when they do things on their own! We all stink at counting anyway. :) Action plan- Explain to clients on Monday that I am no longer their “counter”. I am there to coach, cue, and motivate.

2. I need to incorporate more games into my personal and group training. People should leave their workouts smiling and laughing and always need something to look forward to. Action plan: on Monday I will You Tube different partner drills and games. I will also use the ones I learned this weekend: Frisbee with Consequences, Hand Slapping, Knee Slapping Game, and Partner Warding. I also need to ensure each one of my log rolling classes really does end with a game for the kids!

3. While on the bike at the end of cycling class, it is important to incorporate some stretches in the transverse plane. Action plan: During stretches (before we all get off of the bike) I will have my spinners rotate their legs with one leg up, reaching down and diagonal, and rotate toward the elevated leg.

The TRX Gang at the end of a LONG (but great!) conference!

Please share with me some of your favorite “ah-ha” moments from your most recent fitness conference!