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European Masters Games – Mariza Ohlsson and Naveen Garg

Two of our masters athletes – Mariza Ohlsson and Naveen Garg, travelled to Nice, France to participate in 2015 European Masters Games (Oct 1 – 11, 2015) that included 27 sports disciplines ( spread over 40 venues with over 7200 athletes from 25 years to 96 years of age!

Mariza participated in Squash and Table Tennis events where as Naveen focused on both Classic and Open Squash events. Mariza played 4 matches and won 2, including a hard fought 5 set win that earned her the Bronze in the combined Women’s Squash Classic draw along with Gold in her age category! Naveen played a total of 9 matches, winning all 5 in the classic division with Gold Medal and winning 3 of 4 in the professional division with eventual 5th place. His only loss of the tournament was a close 2-3 loss to the eventual silver medalist.

The atmosphere that these two experienced was not unique to the event. Squash as a sport that is  welcoming and inviting  for most. As Mariza explains the experience, “The camaraderie among squash players is unique among sports. And we were shown the very best, even an invitation to dinner from one of the local players to his house on the hillside with a magnificent view.”

Congratulations to both Mariza and Naveen for representing the Seattle Squash Community in France this year.



Audit Your Training Program

By Tom Sheriff, Personal Fitness Trainer Seattle Athletic Club Downtown

More and more frequently I am asked by coaches, friends and fellow gym-rats to review their strength training program. I am always happy to do so because I feel that most programs lack a simple evaluation, monthly or yearly, to ensure effective and efficient progress is being made. The following is an explanation of how to perform a simple audit of your training program.

The first question you need to answer is “Am I following a program, or am I wondering around doing whatever I feel like doing?” If you are just doing whatever you feel like, simply proceed as usual but for the next two weeks record what you are doing each day. At the end of the two weeks you can apply my auditing techniques to your workouts and go from there.

Once you have your program laid out, the first and most important step to auditing a program is to look for “gaps.” Make sure you are doing the fundamental human movements:

• Push (Bench press, military, dips etc.)

• Pull (Pull-ups, rows etc.)

• Squat (Back squat, front squat, overhead etc.)

• Hinge (Dead lifts, good-mornings, RDL’s, etc.)

If any of the mentioned movements are missing, there are gaps in your program.

Next I look for the push to pull ratio. To do this simply count the number of reps you do for each movement in a week then find the ratio of pushes to pulls.

Push: 300 reps/week

Pull: 100 reps/week

In this example the push to pull ratio of 3:1 is way off (but very common). A ratio of 1:1 would be better and ideally you would have a 1:2 ratio of pushes to pulls. The correct ratio ensures balance and promotes good posture.

I also look for balance top to bottom because people tend to slack in the leg department. If you bench press 315 pounds but shudder at the thought of a body weight squat you need to check your priorities.

Thirdly I look at how these movements are being accomplished. The main lifts of all my athletes and clients are considered core and structural lifts. This means they recruit one or more large muscle areas, involve two or more primary joints, and emphasize loading the spine directly or indirectly. If you perform all your exercises sitting or laying on a machine you are not getting the real-world application that exercises should give you.
A back squat will do a whole lot more for you than a leg press or leg extension because it more closely replicates movements you perform throughout the day.

Lastly I look for the purpose and progression of each exercise. If you cannot think of the real reason you are doing an exercise, there is good chance there isn’t one. Program progression is a topic that warrants a separate discussion but you need to make sure there is some rhyme and reason to how your program is moving forward.

I hope you take the time to really evaluate your workouts because you deserve to make progress. Just remember to look for the gaps! If you would like your training program audited please contact Tom Sheriff.

End of Summer Blues

By Personal Fitness Trainer Adriana Brown, Seattle Athletic Club Downtown


Well, it’s coming; fall is right around the corner.  Soon, gone are the mornings of birds chirping, sun shining, and flip flops.  Now comes the hard part, the continual early wake up in the dark, wrapped in your ski jacket, de-fogging your car.  Not such a pretty picture I know.  This is the killer for many workout routines.  In the summer time it’s easy to have motivation to get up early and get your workout in before work but once the cold hits your warm bed talks louder and louder to you.  How do we avoid the bad weather slacking?  A few easy steps and hopefully we’ll stay the course!


  1. GOALS!  Set them now, set at least one goal for the next 3-6 months.  Make them small and achievable but make them something that means something to you.  Remember that Mexico vacation in December?  Now is the time to stay strong and continue to work towards that fit healthy body.  Maybe you just want to do the Tough Mudder in September, continue your training and you’ll make it through with flying colors and a smile on your face!  No matter what your goals are big or small, make yourself accountable and continue on your well earned path to success rain or shine!


  1. GET A WORKOUT PARTNER OR TRAINER!  The number one way to make sure you get out of bed is to have someone waiting for you at the gym.  Whether it is your friend from work, your cousin, or someone you are paying, having a breathing person waiting you at the gym will push you to make the same sacrifice as someone else.  It’s so much more fun to workout with someone else, you can push one another, you can do more partner exercises, you can both bring strength and weaknesses to the table, but best of all you can keep each other accountable.  If you are still ditching your best friend 2 days out of 3 maybe it’s time to pay someone to keep you on track.  By hiring a trainer not only do you get fitness expertise, great effective workouts, but you also get someone forcing you out of bed!



  1. MAKE A DEAL!  Waking up early not working for you?  Make yourself a deal.  Two days a week you go early to the gym and two days a week you do it after work.  If after a month you’ve found yourself only making two workouts a week take a step back and see just what is and isn’t working for your workout times.  If you just aren’t a morning person maybe 6AM isn’t going to work for you.  Then find yourself a better time.  Whatever fits and whatever gets you in and accomplishing your fitness goals!


  1. GOOD SLEEP!  Good sleep makes everything better and easier.  You are more alert, your digestive system works better, your immune system is stronger, you think better, and best of all you feel refreshed and ready to tackle the day.  Make a bed time, stick to it.  Routine at home is just as important as routine in the weight room.  Resist the urge to stay up late for your favorite show, an extra 30-60 minutes of sleep could be your missing link between feeling half sick all the time and feeling like you can run a marathon!



  1. WATER!  Drink it, drink lots of it.  Replace one of your 4 cups of coffee with water.  The more water you have in your system the better your insides function, the better you feel.  It’s so easy to do so DO IT!


These are a few simple ways to keep you going when the going gets wet.  Bring on the dark and the dreary; you’ll be feeling like a ball of sunshine when you finish a tough workout and you are proud of what you’ve done.  You didn’t work that hard all summer to let it go now!  Hang in there and work hard!

Welcome Stephanie Billings

The Seattle Athletic Club would like to introduce its newest health professional to our team; IFBB professional figure athlete Stephanie Billings. Stephanie Billing’s warm face and welcoming demeanor will be at many of our fitness events lending a helping hand and using her education to answer many of your wellness questions. Here is some background information on Stephanie and how she came into the health and fitness industry:

With the dream of becoming an IFBB Professional Figure Athlete, I stepped on stage for the first time in 2007. Little did I know that three competitive seasons and ten shows later, my dream would become reality.

Growing up, I was raised in a football centered home, my dad and both my older and younger brother. Playing sports and lifting weights was a staple in our lives. I could not wait until I was old enough to workout at the YMCA with the rest of my family. We have photos of us flexing our arms and now, as adults, we still flex for one another! As an active family we not only lifted heavy, but they also ate heavy! All my life I have struggled with my weight and body image. These issued have plagued me my entire life… even at the age of 5 on the t-ball field; I had to make sure I had a bow in my hair! Growing up I played baseball, basketball and anything that would contain my competitive spirit (and showing that I was just as tough as my two brothers!), however, it was cheerleading that stuck with me from third grade until I graduated high school. This too added to my lack of confidence since I was not the ‘typical size’ of a cheerleader. Although beneficial for my current endeavors, my broad shoulders and long legs were not conducive to cheering in college, and no matter how hard I worked and no matter what titles I received, a 5’7” cheerleader is not on the top of a recruiter’s list. So I hung up my pom poms and conformed to the “college” lifestyle. Processed food, alcohol and lack of exercise followed suit and the inevitable happened, I had become a societal stereotype.

In January of 2005, I saw myself in a music video, put together by one of my former college classmates, and was completely faced with a true picture of my physical self: 180-pounds and 30 percent body fat. The person I saw on the screen could not possibly be me! It was at that moment I knew it was time for a complete lifestyle change; I bought a treadmill, a dry erase board, diet log and got to work. At that time, I knew little about diet and exercise but enough to know I had to burn more then I consumed in order to start losing weight. I immediately started educating myself about nutrition and what it would take to maintain muscle, while burning fat. Eight months later I had lost over forty pounds through hard work, a healthier diet and a new outlook on life.

Later that fall, I went to a body building competition to watch one of my friends compete. As the girls lined up on stage something clicked! This was what I wanted to do! At that moment I had an epiphany. I saw myself on stage, in the jeweled suit and clear 4-inch heels, reveling in the stage lights and listening to the onlooker’s cheers. Plans were immediately put into action to step on stage. Four months later at my first show my life changed forever, I became a figure competitor.

After the development of my new lifestyle I decided to pursue a health centered career. I completed my BA in public relations & marketing from the Western Kentucky University and knew that healthcare was a perfect fit for me. Working full time, ongoing competition prep & a full-time post graduate workload, I completed my Masters in Public Health (MPH) and Masters in Health Care Administration (MHA).

My MPH thesis, “Obesity Epidemic through a Childs Eyes”, dealt with elementary school children’s school recreation & nutrition programs. For my MHA program I completed a one year fellowship with the Department of Veterans Affairs & accepted a permanent position after completing the curriculum.

After completing my education & beginning my career, I knew I had found my niche in competing. I found a healthy balance between work & competing. Determined to obtain professional status, I competed at the 2009 Team Universe. This was my third national show, and tenth show competing. Leading up to the show, everything felt perfect and show day, everything fell completely into place. My dream came true and I left the stage a new IFBB pro.

Recent Accomplishments:
July 2012 Oxygen Magazine Cover Model
October 2012 Natural Muscle Cover Model
BeautyFit Sponsored Athlete & Endorsement Model

Wait, what about my abs?

You’ve been dying for that 6 pack to sprout any day now. You’ve been doing 500 sit ups every morning and trying to get more done in the gym on fancy equipment but so far no abs. What’s the deal? Plus when you talk to your friend about what his training is like he hardly ever mentions tough ab workouts. Has the world forgotten about them? Has your body forgotten how to grow them? Why aren’t there millions of ab classes in this world, or, even at your gym?

First off, why don’t your 500 sit ups give you a 6 pack after a week or 3 months? When you strengthen muscle, any muscle, you increase muscle fiber and that’s how you get bigger stronger muscles. So when you are working overtime trying to workout your abs ultimately that is what you are trying to do. However, the problem with abs is that they are such small muscles as far as “girth” is concerned that they are just not very big (not like if you had huge biceps, those would pop out, not so true with your abs), so when you add “size” to them they do not get that much bigger. So 500 or 5 million, your abs are only going to get so big.

Second quality is key. If you can do 500 of anything (or usually more than 50 of anything non stop) than either one, you are doing it wrong, two, other muscles are helping, or three your range of motion is not to it’s fullest. So perhaps you need to re-evaluate your technique and make sure that you are doing things correctly. One main give a way is if you are going along and after 10 or 20 reps you no longer feel it in your abs. Instead you feel it in your back or your neck or your arms. This is a sign that you have lost either strength, or technique and now it’s become a different exercise all together. Fancy machines are usually the downfall of any ab work as most of the time you use momentum, body weight, or other muscles to move through the motion, and most of the time it is not a full range of motion. There is a reason why there aren’t trainers lined up in front of ab machines with their clients!

Why don’t more trainers focus just on abs? If you have a well rounded training routine you should be using your abs with every exercise you do. Plus a lot of the times when you see members with trainers jumping around or throwing a medicine ball, it is ab work, it just looks different because it’s more active. The more active the more muscles you can use at one time, the more real world the movement is, the more calories you can burn at one time, and the more explosive you can be. It’s fine to just work abs from time to time but if you have a good lifting program you use them with every lift and even more so with some specific movements even if to the outside eye it doesn’t look like an ab exercise.

Lastly, why don’t hours of abs equal rock hard abs? Well they might, it’s just that they are buried under layers of body fat. As humans (and animals alike) we store body fat in a few key places designed to protect our organs and keep us warm. So it’s unlikely that you will find someone with excess fat on their calves but finding someone with a beer belly or a muffin top is quite common. It’s just how our bodies were made. So if you expect to do tons of abs and magically burn away your abdominal fat and replace it with muscle I have some bad news for you… it’s not going to happen. We use our abs every day, for posture, for bending, for sitting, for all sorts of basic movements. So it’s not like you aren’t getting them worked out (especially if you add in active movements on top of that). It’s just that they are usually underneath a layer or more of fat and so there for you cannot see them. So ab away but until you lose body fat you won’t be showing them off to anyone anytime soon.

The moral of the story, abs are great but there is no sense in trying to sculpt a stomach without losing body fat first. So keep strong in your core but remember, if you really want to use your time wisely make sure to burn calories and work at more active movements that involve abs instead of laying on machines!

If you have any questions or want more guidance on great active ab exercises talk to our trainers!