Category: Triathlon & Multisport

June Employee of the Month: Natalie Swistak!!!




Please congratulate Natalie Swistak for being nominated employee of the month. Natalie has been an instructor for Seattle Athletic Club since 1999 when we first launched Cycle at the club. She has taught many different formats including Kickboxing and Step, but her passion remains with Cycle.

Natalie consistently goes above and beyond when it comes to teaching Cycle classes. Her positive energy and enthusiasm for teaching are reflected in the outstanding classes she teaches and her passion shines through every time.

As a strong leader in the Cycle Department, she is a huge asset to our team. Natalie is a true professional in every aspect of the word. She is dedicated to teaching, having fun, and most importantly, listening to the members every time they step into the room.

This is what Natalie said about her Cycle classes at SAC, “My 6am Cycle classes bring me tremendous happiness because we have amazing, positive, and dedicated members who like to work hard but have fun!  We motivate each other every week and it’s something special I have not seen at many clubs.  I owe my inspiration to the members who make this happen!”

In addition to leading Cycle classes, Natalie is an inspiration outside of the studio as well. She has been competing in triathlons since 1998. She has completed 3 ironman distance triathlons and placed top 10 in her age group at Ironman Whistler in 2013! She is scheduled to do Ironman Arizona in November with her fellow TN Multisport Athletes. When she is not on the bike, running or swimming, she loves to snowboard and travel up to Whistler to mountain bike.

We are delighted Natalie is a part of our team here at SAC! Thank you Natalie for all you do!

Importance of Shoulder Roll

Swimming ability at the SAC is at quite a reasonable standard however with a few minor adjustments and basic tips you can improve your technique, endurance and timing drastically.

Today I will focus upon freestyle technique and how with a simple change you can improve not only your technique but also your personal well-being while swimming. One of the main problems when people swim this stroke is their body position and how they swim constantly on their front. This is an extremely static position and can cause excessive stress upon certain parts of your body.

A huge help would be to start or at least try swimming freestyle with a side – front – side rotation, or a body roll. This creates a shoulder roll movement which is extremely important for a variety of reasons:

1)      Less strain= as your shoulders have more movement and are not subject to all the strain from the arm pull, not only will your stroke feel looser but your body will after your swim. This will also help avoid nasty shoulder pain and poor posture.

2)      Larger pulls with less effort = as your body will stretch further automatically, you consequently have a larger reach but haven’t used any extra energy.

3)      Your body is more streamline = a more streamline body position is always desirable in swimming and by swimming on your side for half of the swim will result in not only a quicker swim but also a more efficient swim.

So how can you achieve all of this?

Drill -Kick Change

With your body you are going to roll side to side with each stroke

Start off on your side with your lower arm raised above your head, head resting on this arm and your upper arm down by your side (arms in a 6 o clock position)

You will then kick 12 times and then complete your arm pull by doing a normal stroke lifting the upper arm up and over. This is where you will roll to the other side now facing the opposite side of the pool, arms now switched along with the body

Repeat the 12 kicks and complete 40 yds (2 lengths or 1 lap) of this changing each 12 kicks

Now reduce the kicks to 10 kicks for 40yds, then 8 kicks for 40 yds, 6 kicks for 40yds and finally 4 kicks for 40yds. This is a 200 yd swim (10 lengths or 5 laps)

When you get down to 4 kicks the stroke will almost be at full stroke again however you will have a constant body roll with that stroke.

It’s relatively simple to practice this drill however it is hard to incorporate new techniques into your everyday stroke so thinking about this stroke while swimming is also very important.

Full stroke

You want to be switching the body with each stroke, giving you an extended reach, shoulder roll and a more streamlined body position,  however you need to keep you head still looking downwards while the body is rotating, until you need a breath.

Thanks for reading and hope this helps your techniques. I am often round the pool or in the pool so if you have any questions about this or anything else to do with swimming don’t hesitate to ask.

Boost Your Endurance Training Program

One of the most popular modes of exercise inside and outside of the gym is endurance training. Whether you enjoy running, rowing, stair-stepping or any other endurance training machine available in the SAC, chances are your training program could use a boost. Varying your endurance training program not only breaks up the monotony of working out but will also lead to improved performance. Utilize these types of aerobic endurance training to boost your workouts and performance.


Types of Aerobic Endurance Training:


  1. 1.    Long, Slow Distance Training (LSD)

This is generally what people do when they “go for a run.” The intensity should be about 80% of maximum heart rate or, if you don’t have a HR monitor, simply test if you can talk without undue respiratory distress while running; if so you are most likely at the correct intensity. The distance should be greater than race distance, or the duration should be at least 30 minutes to 2 hours. Frequency should be 1-2 times per week (NSCA).


  1. 2.    Pace/Tempo Training

For this type of training you need to be at an intensity at or slightly higher than race competition intensity. Duration should be ~20-30 minutes performed 1-2 times per week. This can also be referred to as threshold training. You should not be able to talk comfortably during this training (NSCA).


  1. 3.    Interval Training (Aerobic)

Interval training involves exercise at intensity close to your VO2max or maximum heart rate. Your work intervals should last between 3 and 5 minutes with rest intervals equal to work intervals (1:1 work to rest ratio). With this type of training you are basically working at an intensity you can only sustain for the prescribed work interval. Interval training should be used sparingly as it is very stressful, about once per week (NSCA).


  1. 4.    Repetition Training

Intensity for repetition training should be greater than VO2max, with work intervals lasting between 30 and 90 seconds. Longer rest periods are needed for this type of training so a work: rest ratio of about 1:5 is recommended. If you don’t have a way to accurately measure your intensity, simply work at a pace you can only sustain for the prescribed work interval. This technique will greatly improve your final kick or push at the end of a race (NSCA).


  1. 5.    Fartlek Training

This is a combination of several types of previously mentioned training. A Fartlek run involves easy running combined with either hill work or short, fast bursts of running for short time periods. Fartlek training challenges all systems of the body and helps reduce the boredom and monotony of training. This can be done once a week for ~20-60 minutes (NSCA).


For questions about designing your endurance training program please contact;


By Fitness Intern Andrea Aronsen, Seattle Athletic Club Downtown

Mastering the flip turn can be an intimidating task to take on. However, developing this skill will give you the uninterrupted swim time you need to improve and build endurance in the pool.
Flip Turn Image 1 Starting the Turn

The first part of the flip turn to discuss is coming into the wall. Along the bottom of the lane is a black line with a T at the end near the wall. This T marks that you are about 2 feet away from the wall and should begin prepping your flip turn. Generally speaking, the last stroke will be taken over the T (you may need to test this to see if this works for you). After your last stroke you should be horizontal at the surface of the water, arms at your sides, looking straight down at the bottom of the pool.

Flip Turn Image 2 middle of  the Turn

Next comes the flip! The most important part of the flip is to continue to breath out your nose they entire time! If you forget to do this you will end up choking on some pool water which is never a good thing. So continue to breathe out your nose while you flip to keep water out! One description that has stuck with me after all my years of swimming is that you are “chasing your legs.” Once you are in the horizontal position tuck your chin to your chest to initiate the rotation, and then fold at the waist as if you were going to chase your legs as you whip them over above you. The smaller you get when you fold over the faster you will flip. Many swimmers who are new to flip turns will try to use their arms to “spin” them around faster. In reality however, using your arms actually slows you down! Your hands should stay pointing towards the opposite end of the pool at all times so that when you complete the flip they are up by your ears ready for streamline position.

Once you have completed the flip you should be on your back, arms next to your ears, feet planted on the wall shoulder width apart (slightly skewed from pointing straight up, in the direction that you will roll to get back on to your stomach), and knees bent at about 90 degrees. Press your arms into a streamline, squeezing your ears as tightly as possible, making an arrow to cut through the water. Explosively press of the wall with your legs, rotating your body back over to your stomach as you dolphin kick back to the surface.

Flip Turn Image 3 Completing the Turn

Begin by practicing and mastering each part of the flip turn before combining them together. Soon you will be looking like a seasoned pro as you swim your continuous laps with your newly mastered flip turn. If you feel like you need more help contact one of the swim instructors on the staff or that aquatics director Teresa Nelson.

Slide Your Way to Stronger Hips!

The slider board was first introduced to gyms in the early 1990s. Professional football player, Jeff Markland, was looking for a new, innovative way to recover from injuries. After working with speed skaters, he developed the first, mass-produced slide board called the Kneedspeed. Unfortunately, this was a time when gyms were more interested in-group exercise classes that were specifically choreographed to music so the slide board did not fit that category. Slowly but surely the slide board has been making its way back into the fitness centers around the country. Although it is not just the athletes breaking out the slide board, but those looking for general fitness, new cross training, and especially injury prevention.

Movement on the slide board is performed as a closed-kinetic chain exercise. This means that the foot or hand remains in contact with the ground throughout the entire exercise. This ‘closed’ movement creates load on the joints and muscles, which increases joint stability during dynamic movements. This style of training is perfect for rehabilitation, since there is a constant load placed on every aspect of the joint (ligaments, tendons, and muscles), particularly in recovering from ACL tears. Lateral sliding on the board works both the outer and inner thighs, working to strength the medial ligament, which is commonly damaged during ACL injuries. Sliding also tremendously helps with IT Band syndrome, which is extremely common in long distance runners. By working lateral aerobic endurance and stabilizers, runners can move forward more efficiently with less risk of injury.


Here are a few exercises to try on your own:

Lateral Sliding– With booties over your shoes, place your foot against the block at the end of the slide board. Squat and press into the outer edge of the foot to send the body across the board to the other side. Try to prevent the legs from splitting apart. Instead, think about keeping the feet as close to hip width throughout the whole movement. This will help protect the knees and will work the inner thighs more.

Reverse Lunge– With the booties over your shoes, face away from the slide board with one foot on the board behind you. While maintaining an upright posture; slide backwards as you slightly bend the back knee. Keeping the stomach tight, stand up while sliding the foot back to the start position. Try to prevent putting any significant weight in the back foot. You should feel a stretch down the thigh of the leg behind you as you make the movement.

Side Lunge- With the booties over your shoes, stand beside the slide board. Keeping your weight over the foot on the ground, push your hips backwards as you bend at the knee. Make sure you keep the opposite leg straight with the quadriceps muscle engaged. As with the reverse lunge, try to prevent putting any significant weight into the foot that is on the slide board. This exercise will work the lateral stabilizers of the hip and ankle as well as stretching and strengthening the inner thigh muscles.

Pikes/Tucks- Start in a plank position with your feet on the slide board and the hands on the ground out in front. Pressing out of the arms and pulling in the stomach, lift the hips up in the air as you slide your feet up. You will feel a hamstring stretch at the top of this movement. Carefully lower your hips back down to the plank position making sure you don’t let your hips drop too low which will help protect the back.


For being a simple piece of equipment, the slider board can provide ample fitness benefits. It is a great cross-training tool for most activities such as: running, biking, downhill skiing, skate skiing, squash and tennis. As with any exercise, start small and slow, working your way up to more challenging movements and faster speeds. The Seattle Athletic Club has two slide boards located just beyond the lobby in the cybex room by the hand towels.  If you would like to learn how to use the slide board within your workout routine contact Thomas Eagen.

Have you tried INSANITY?

In most workouts you are exercising at a moderate level for several minutes and then you kick up your intensity and heart rate for a few seconds and then back to your moderate level. Bringing your intensity back down to a moderate level is giving your body enough time to catch your breathe completely and rest before the next higher intensity set.

Insanity is the exact opposite; you are working your body at a max intensity level for 2-5 minutes, with a short 30 second break between (see the chart below). This keeps your heart rate up and your body working at a max level through the entire 30-50 minute workout. You are pushing your limits within exercise every time you do Insanity, forcing your body to learn, adapt and get fitter.
An example of how an Insanity class is laid out is shown below so that you know what to expect before taking it:

50 minute workout layout:

Warm up (9 minutes)
Stretch (3 minutes)
Block one (2 minutes)
Repeat 2 more times
Power move (1 minute)
Block two (2 minutes)
Repeat 2 more times
Power move (1 minute)
Block three (2 minutes)
Repeat 2 more times
Power move (1 minute)
Abdominals (8 minutes)
Stretch (3 minutes)

Block Layout:

Exercise one (30 seconds)
Exercise two (30 seconds)
Exercise three (30 seconds)
Exercise four (30 seconds)
Rest (30 seconds)

Come try out the insanity class on Tuesday evenings at 6:35 in the group exercise studio by the weight room. Everyone is welcome! There are modifications for every movement for those who may have limitations. If you have an injury, this specific workout may not be recommended. Come enjoy a full body workout that will help you reach your fitness goals! If you have any questions please contact personal fitness trainer Amber Gruger.

The beauty of a crystal clear swimming pool

All swimming pools have pretty much the same rules. One rule in particular will be at any swimming pool you go to, that is “Please shower before you enter the pool”. This rule is there for a very specific reason. And no it’s not to annoy you. Pool chemistry can be a tricky thing. If you get in without showering your perfume, sweat, make-up and what the day has proceeded to leave on you can throw off the chemicals of the pool. You might think I haven’t been anywhere I haven’t done anything to cause the pool chemistry to go off balance. If everyone has that thought then the pool will never be clean.

In order to help keep the pool chemistry in balance is that everyone showers prior to getting in. So, keeping that in mind on your next visit to the pool please remember to shower before you get in.

A Runner’s Guide to Maintenance

Running is a very dynamic sport that involves several different joints to function in correct alignment to absorb and react to impact efficiently. A routine that strengthens to prevent injury, creates length, reinforces proper movement patterns, and treats or prevents inflammation can help you become a stronger and safer runner.

Mobility warm ups:
A general warm up might be too limited to maintain proper strength, flexibility, and stabilizer activation. Here are a few extra movements for optimal joint function.


  • Using a combo balance board for ankle circles, lateral and medial motion, and forward and back wobble motion. If you do not have a balance board, you can do multidirectional toe taps, ABC’s, or ankle circles.


  • Move from a hurdler’s stretch position to a track start position with the toes up to warm up and lengthen the front and back of the hips. An alternative is forward and back leg swings.
  • Folding forward touch down to an elevated surface like a step, or grab under the toes and transition from the forward fold to a deep squat with knees out and the heels up while using the arms to stretch the inner thighs and groin area. An alternative is a lateral leg swing, pendulum motion. Make sure that you are warmed up properly for this kind of motion.
  • Figure 8’s or circles can be done in a controlled movement or in a ballistic leg swing. Make sure to maintain a neutral spine and tight core for safety.


  • Move from a flexed spine into extension on the floor, or use a resistance band or stability ball for added traction.
  • Lateral bends reaching up and over done in a controlled movement lengthen major muscles, such as: lats, quadratus lumborum, and the psoas.
  • Lateral twists can be done in a ballistic motion from the arms or lying down with the legs as windshield wipers.

When it comes to an exercise routine make sure you have these simple, yet important basics in your repertoire.

  • A leg strengthener that is general and highly effective for spinal integrity, core strength and proper length/ tension relationships of the body is a barbell squat. This can be done with light weight body bars and can progress from there.
  • An upper body strengthener that utilizes core and shoulder stabilizers is a pushup. You can do a ball pushup using the stability ball under the hands for added activation and increased difficulty.
  • Chin-ups or pull-ups counter-effect shoulder elevation that is common in runners and again integrate a lot of core and stabilization.
  • An overhead shoulder press is good not only for shoulder stability, but range of motion and health of the shoulder joint. If you are doing this correctly with complete range, you should be able to extend the elbows straight with the weights held directly above you without extension at the lower back or shoulder elevation.
  • Core or spinal stabilizers have the greatest importance for endurance athletes. A plank or leg lifts for added psoas activation are great choices for runners.

Strength and mobility aspects of fitness are important to maintain as a runner to complement your running program. In addition, proper flexibility and massage will keep the body healthy and will aid in recovery. If you have additional questions, or would like more advanced options please contact personal fitness trainer Amber Walz.

Tips for sharing lanes in the pool

From the time we are babies we are taught to share. With this simple teaching the hope is as adults we continue to use this practice. This goes with so many different things in life.

You think “I need to get my laps in, I will go swimming today”. You head to the club. In the locker room you put on your swim suit and cap with goggles in hand you head to the pool after you have showered. You’re all ready to jump in and swim as you walk onto the pool deck you think to yourself “what’s this? All the lanes have someone in them!” There is a swim lesson in one lane, someone jogging in another lane and the other lanes have one person swimming. What do you do? Do you wait for a lane to open up? Do you get mad and leave?

There is a simple answer to those questions and leaving is not it. This is where the life long lesson of sharing comes into play. Watch the swimmers see who fits in with your level or speed of swimming. You can wait for them to stop and see you standing on the deck to ask them if they will share with you. You may think I don’t want to disturb someone’s pace; you can climb in making sure not to get in the way. Stand off to the side when they stop ask if they would like to swim circles or split the lane in half.

If you are the person swimming and see someone looking for a place to swim you can offer to share your lane with them. It is also possible to ask the jogger and lesson if they wouldn’t mind sharing a lane so you can swim laps.

Lap lanes can hold many people in them. If you leave :05 – :10 seconds between you and the person in front of you there will be plenty of room for a lot of people. If you were on swim team growing up you always shared lanes with possibly 10 or more people. It’s nice to have the pool or lane to yourself. Sometimes we get so used to it that the first thought is “What? My lane has someone in it.”

All in all there is plenty of room for everyone. All we need to do is SHARE.

Why train with the snorkel?

You may be seeing a lot of swimmers in the pool with a snorkel lately. The benefits are tremendous! Everyone should be training with one.

Benefits of training with a snorkel:

  • Allows the swimmer the ability to focus solely on stroke technique
  • Eliminates interruptions of turning head to breathe
  • Increases V02 max
  • Increase arm turnover
  • Swimmer is able to relax in the water not having to worry about “getting air” or gulping water.
  • Helps swimmer aim for perfect technique while remaining horizontal (Allowing for great body balance, head position, rotation, hand entry, catch, etc.).
  • Sometimes a nose clip is needed when beginning with a snorkel to prevent water from entering the nose
  • Eliminates having to worry about getting oxygen
  • Able to practice repeated movements correctly over and over, leading to a properly learned and executed stroke

For more information, or if you have questions about swimming or multisport training, please contact Teresa Nelson