Gymnastic rings + you = super fun and strong times!
Now, I know what you are thinking… It sounds a little crazy but trust me, you can do it and you will love it! Gymnastic rings are a great tool to improve core strength, shoulder strength and flexibility, increase body awareness, and improve total upper body strength. I’m sure you can remember the last time you were upside down (those keg stands in college were a long time ago!), but you should totally give it a shot! It’s amazing how just getting inverted will teach you so much about your body in space and show you just how little control and awareness you have!
Gymnastic rings can be used to get inverted, for various pull up exercises, and for lockouts… Think Iron Cross. There are many many many steps before you will get strong and flexible enough to do real fancy things with the rings, but that’s part of why they are great. Even just learning the basics will give you so much body improvement in such little time you will be amazed! Here are a few things we do in class:
Pull ups: Sitting on the floor with your legs crossed and keeping that position thought the full movement, this can also be done assisted if you cannot do a pull up (yet!). Doing a pull up this way will increase core involvement, increase shoulder range of motion (rotating your hands at the top to touch your shoulders to the rings), and increase lat strength (starting from a dead stop and taking out any leg/hip flexor assistance), it’s amazing how pull-ups on the rings are so different than on a bar!
Lock outs: Getting up on the rings and locking out your arms. Sounds easy enough…the higher the rings the more you have to jump into lockout; which is challenging to jump up and power your arms straight down at the same time. You can do lockouts for time, with hand rotations, or with knee/leg raises for added core effort. Getting into position over the rings takes a ton of tricep, lat, core, and shoulder strength! You will be amazed at how challenging this simple movement is!
Ring Inversion: We start with the basics of just simply getting upside down. Getting your hips over your head is tough; ideally we work to do that starting under the rings with straight arms and pulling our legs up with just the use of our core and lats. That is incredibly challenging so using a bit of a pull up, getting a step in start, and using a spotter are all great ways to start. Once you get upside down you use your core and shoulders to maintain balance and control. When you come back to the floor we focus on core strength by slowly lowering your body down in a ball until your feet touch the floor. That is a tall order to say the least!
These are just a few basic exercises we do with the rings. The possibilities are endless however. You will be amazed at how quickly your strength, control, and skill come along on the rings with just a little effort!
Interested in trying out the rings? Come join the fun and challenging ring workouts today!
Contact Personal Fitness Trainer Adriana Brown.
Are you one of those people who keep doing the same exact workout that you have always done and wonder why you’re not seeing the results you want to see? Well, you’re not alone. I find that most people will stay with the same workout week after week, month after month and even year after year. It’s great that they have such a commitment to their workouts, and they are staying healthier than if they didn’t workout at all, but they could be reaching much better results if they integrated change to their workouts.
To find better results, you need to first ask yourself “what are my goals?” If you don’t have any workout goals you will be lost in the gym – idling at your current level of fitness. Keep your goals simple and SMART. SMART stands for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timed. Example: “I want to lose 15 lbs. in 3 months.” The example fits all of the SMART criteria.
Now that you have a goal, write it down and keep it somewhere you’ll see everyday or set a daily reminder on your computer or phone. This way you’ll be reminded of your goal each day and not lose site of where you are heading. From this point, the burden of making your goal a reality is upon your shoulders. If you really want to reach a goal then don’t let anything or anyone stand in your way. Be accountable for your goals.
Second, you need to ask yourself “am I working hard enough to reach my goals or am I just doing what I need to do to get 30 minutes done on the treadmill?” I find most people are doing the latter. If you only put in the same amount of effort every time you workout, you will only find the results to be mediocre at best. If you’re trying to lose 15 lbs. in 3 months, the same mediocre workout isn’t going to work for you. You need to change it up and get serious about elevating your fitness level.
Instead of getting on the EFX at a resistance of 6 and zoning out for the next 20-30 minutes try the rower, or consider the track and the stairs or an interval workout on the EFX. Whatever you choose, the workout should be challenging and out of your comfort zone; but it shouldn’t kill you either – so be aware of the level of intensity you are aiming for. The change is just what your body needs when you have hit a plateau. When you first start working out it’s tough on your body, but in a short time you start to feel better and you start to see results from your hard work. The workout is something new to your body and it’s reacting well. But after a few weeks of the same routine your body is used to the workout and isn’t challenged anymore and the gains you saw earlier are dwindling (except that you are still in good health). Now you need to increase the amount of work you do during your workout – change it up. You can increase the amount of time you spend on the treadmill and/or increase the resistance or speed of the machine you use. It’s time to put a little more effort into your workout.
Interval training is great for getting you outside of your comfort zone. Basically, you have a work interval (30 sec. – 5 min.) followed by a rest interval. The rest interval can be 1-2 minute break to get some water and to catch your breath before you do your next work interval (passive recovery) or just slowing the treadmill down to a walk or slow jog for a 1 – 5 (active recovery). This will be exactly the change your body needs.
The same thing goes in the weight room. Try different lifts (especially if you haven’t done anything new in years), change the number of sets you do, change the number of repetitions you do and/or increase the amount of weight you lift. Your muscles won’t get any stronger if you don’t overload the muscle and challenge them. I know a lot of you are nervous about “getting too big.” Being stronger has nothing to do with getting bigger and it takes a lot of hard work and a high calorie diet for one to really “get big” from weight lifting. Rule of thumb: muscle hypertrophy = 3-8 reps, strength/power = 8-12 reps, and muscular endurance = >12 reps.
Third, if you need some assistance with changing up your workout, try a session with a personal fitness trainer at the club. If you need your car worked on you take it to a mechanic. The same should pattern applies to working on your fitness; trainers have the knowledge and the skills to put you on the right track to reach your goals. Having a trainer set up a workout will make your time in the gym time well spent and get you results quicker and safer.
Again, the changes to your workout will help your body get past your exercise plateau. In order to get stronger and become fit your body needs to be challenged and keep your muscles guessing. If you start to change up your workouts every 4 – 8 weeks you should never reach a plateau and you will reach your goals.
Now that you have the tools you need to overcome your exercise plateau, go out there and get it done. Set your goals. Change up your workout. Put in some hard work and have fun! If you have any question please don’t hesitate to contact me, or any of the other personal fitness trainers, at the club.
Purpose: To massage the spinal muscles, work the powerhouse and test balance and coordination. It is often done at or near the end of a mat routine.
Sit at the front of your mat with your knees bent to your chest and heels together. Open your knees to shoulder width. Hands reaching through the legs to hold outside of ankles.
Tip back and balance on your tailbone. Bring your feet just above the mat. Keep the knees within your frame; scoop the navel deeper.
Inhale, roll back, pulling your feet with you. Balance on the base of the shoulder blades. Allow your legs to extend slightly until your feet are over your head- (head stays on mat). Clap the heels 3 times (like a seal clapping its’ flippers).
Exhale as you roll forward to the starting position, tucking your chin into your chest. Balance and clap the heels together 3 times. Your heels should not touch the mat.
Repeat 5-8 times; feeling the massage up and down the muscles of your back.
Maintain a constant C curve of the spine.
Never roll onto your head, neck or shoulders…only the base of the shoulder blade.
Initiate rolling back from the powerhouse not from the head.
Avoid hunching shoulders and tilting head back.
Don’t use momentum when rolling up. Roll up slightly slower than you rolled back to challenge the abs.
Note: Omit this exercise if you have an acute back injury. Proceed with caution if you have a delicate wrist or elbow.
Modification: You can begin without the claps and successively add 1,2, then 3 clapls as balance improves.
Visualization: Imagine you are on a rocker, balancing on the edges of both the front and back; trying not to tip over in either direction.
Let’s all breathe in together… and sigh out a big exhale and relax. Usually that’s the sound made when coming into your first Downward Dog of the day. Of course if your hamstrings and hips or shoulders are tight, you’ll let out a few grunts, but like most forward bends, the function of relaxation and total body stretching out ways the groans.
Downward Dog is an extremely popular pose in most Yoga sequences. Ashtanga, Hatha, Vinyasa, Power, Anusara, Hot Vinyasa all use this excellent pose to warm the big muscle groups and strengthen the arms and shoulders for the rigors of a more strength building practice. Downward Dog focuses on stretching the shoulders, mid back, hamstrings, calves, arches of the feet, hips and hands. The “yoga buzz” you might feel at the end of class, when mind, body and breath are in alignment are often directly related to downward dog. Yoga Therapists have known for along time the benefits of forward bending and stretching to calm the mind, ease mild depression and anxiety.
Ok, let’s examine this pose more closely and practice.
Set your mat, and come to hands and knees (Cat/Cow) from there tuck your toes under, ground the palms and first finger and thumb toward the floor and come to Downward Dog. Set your feet hip width apart and lift up on your tipy toes. Once on your toes, you’ll take the pressure off your hamstrings so you can roll your shoulders back, straighten your spine, lift your sit bones to the ceiling.
As you’re lifting everything up, LENGTHEN, your heels to the floor, without rounding back and shoulders. Remember when you were in eight grade, chewing gum, if you clenched 1/2 the gum in your teeth and pulled the other half out like string, THAT’S lengthening. If your shoulders hunch, put a bend in your knees, grind your palms more firmly and press your chest closer to your legs.
While holding Downward Dog for 5-10 breaths, engage your core and lift your kneecaps, keep micro adjusting shoulders and lengthening. Rest, by coming down to Child’s pose or Cat/Cow.
If you have shoulder, wrist or acute hamstring, eye injury, please do yourself a favor and HEAL before coming into a full on Downward Dog. You can get the benefits of a hamstring stretch by lying on your back, and strapping up a lifted leg and gently pulling it toward you. Go slow.
If you can’t yet comfortably ground your palms, grab two blocks as support props under your hands and come into the pose. You can also use a strap around your upper arms for more stability if your elbows poke out.
Like any yoga pose or practice, please consult your instructor before continuing if you have an injury or contraindication. I work with a lot of athletes, and often they work with incredible pain to stay on the field. Coaches have different theories on this, but my feeling, as a Yoga Coach is if you are in acute pain, stop and examine what’s going on. I like to push people to there limit, not drive them into pain.
That being said, enjoy. Downward Facing Dog is one of my favorite poses and this combined with stretching hips, neck and a slight back bend, and sitting in silence for 5 minutes, can be your whole practice routine to re focus and energize your body daily.
What’s new? Try something old; we are talking the tried and true basic barbell lifts. Here’s a few basic barbell exercises you may have heard of before; Front squat, Back squat, Overhead squat, RDL’s, Shoulder Press, Bench Press, and Good Mornings. If you haven’t heard of these movements you should get to know them ASAP.
Why are these movements so great if they are “basic?” There are a few reasons to do these exercises:
Increase your strength quickly, safely, and efficiently.
Increase your core strength actively through a full range of motion.
Increase your flexibility and joint/bone strength.
Burn more calories by using your full body, targeting larger muscle groups and increasing body tension while moving through the motions.
Using your new found strength and range of motion to apply to sports, general fitness, and overall health.
These basic lifts, when done correctly and to full range of motion, will make your workout feel like sprinting up a hill. The full range of motion, combined with a heavier load, pushes your body both in muscular strength and increased heart rate. Not only do these lifts make you sweat (buckets even) they push you to keep good form, good posture, and the concentration demands are much higher than sitting on a bench or using a leg press. You’ll test yourself physically and mentally to find more depth, increase your weight, and build core strength. Lifting with barbells will help you understand your body better and coordinate your muscles to fire harder, faster, and more efficiently. All these things add up to a intense workout, quicker strength gains and greater flexibility that will push you to continually work harder (increasing your heart rate and caloric burn).
Learning how to coordinate and move your body through space without weight first is pivotal in executing these more demanding exercises. Be smart, make small gains, be true to the movement, always aim for proficiency before increases in weight, and have fun!
If you want to learn more about these lifts and how to increase strength quickly, Personal Fitness Trainer Adriana Brown runs Men’s Power Training for Sport (barbell lifting) every Wednesday from 7:00-8:00am. To find out how you can become a barbell aficionado, call Adriana at 206-443-1111 or send her an email.
For athletes who spend a lot of the game balancing on one leg, like kicking a soccer ball, or pushing off a dominant foot for a jump shot- Eagle Pose is an excellent pose for you to strengthen the standing leg, while improving balance. Eagle also targets a tough muscle group between the shoulder blades, that include your Rhomboids and Trapezes, which need to remain flexible especially in sports like tennis, and basketball to take the stress off shoulders.
The benefits of Eagle include:
strengthening ankles, calves and adductors (inner thighs)
Stretches hips, shoulders and upper back
Improves concentration and breath flow under stress
Start at the top of your mat with both feet together and find a point of focus about 5’ in front of you. Get in tune with your breath; slow rhythmic breathing through the nose.
Bend your knees and cross your right thigh over the left, balancing on your left foot.
Squeeze inner thighs firmly together, and get active in core to increase your balance.
Reach your arms out in front of you and cross your right arm over left, bend elbows and bring palms together. If it’s difficult to wrap your arms, hug your shoulders instead.
To increase the intensity, sit lower in chair till your thighs are parallel to the floor and reach your fingertips forward. A slight rounding in the back and you ‘ll really feel the stretch between your shoulder blades.
Have Fun! Remember to Breathe! It’s only yoga after all, and the more you can keep your sense of humor and come back to the pose if you fall out, the more relaxed and determined you’ll be under pressure; in sports or in life.
For more instruction on Eagle, or any pose, please come to my classes at the SAC or schedule a private yoga lesson, now offered at SACDT, by myself or any of our many wonderful yoga teachers.
Let’s raise a glass to Summer!!
Just finished a hard training session with Captain “I said 10 more!” and now you are dog tired and hungry as a wolf. What do you re-fuel your body with, there are so many choices! The best thing to do is pick food higher in protein and fat and lower in carbohydrates and sugars especially. The more protein the better chance your body (muscles in particular) have of re-pairing themselves. The protein combined with the fat will take long to metabolize and sustain your energy for longer. Stay away from simple carbohydrates such as bagels, muffins, scones, syrups, yogurt coated nuts, etc. Need something fast, a protein shake with real fruit and a small amount of milk/soy milk in it will really hit the spot! Want to keep it simple? Try a hand full of almonds, a hard boiled egg, and a small piece of fruit. Don’t forget to follow it all up with plenty of water!
Have you ever taken a mat class, and wondered why we teach them the way we do? I’ve been teaching mat classes since 1999, and I hear these same questions over and over. Let’s address them!
Why use “Magic Circles”?
The magic circle is a tool that adds resistance to an exercise. It is a circle with cushions on the side comprised of a metal band (or several bands) inside that bends when you squeeze it. When you press into the cushions of the circle, you strengthen your body. Specifically, the circle can make your inner thighs work harder (like in double leg stretch), strengthen your arms (like in spine stretch forward), or engage your pelvic floor and lower abdominals (like the roll-down).
Teachers will choose to use the circle for various reasons; to strengthen specific body parts, to stretch your legs, to check for evenness (or demonstrate unevenness), to add variety to your mat routine, and to integrate or connect your legs, hips, back, and abdominals to each other. It’s tough (!) so if you are new to using the circle, make the movement smaller and focus on what the instructor is saying.
What should I wear?
Pilates Instructors like to see your form, so wear something fitted to your body. We want to see your back (to see if you are sitting up straight), your shoulders (to see if they are up to your ears) and your hips, your knees, even your ankles. Long pants need to be rolled up so we can watch your ankle and foot alignment when you stand. Don’t wear your shoes to class. We work the foot and the arch so wear socks or bare feet. Please wear your hair out of your face so we can see your neck. Also, leave your jewelry at home. It’s clunky, noisy, and you end up fussing with it.
What should I tell the instructor about me?
An instructor will want to know if you are brand new to Pilates, how many sessions or classes you’ve taken, and maybe what style of Pilates you’ve done. Let her know if you have had any recent or long-term injuries, esp. any surgeries, including childbirth. Most everyone can do Pilates, but there are some conditions that are contraindicated (not allowed) in Pilates, including pregnancy (unless you have been doing Pilates before you became pregnant), severe osteoporosis, and certain spinal conditions that do not allow for much flexion (bending forward).
What part of your work day are you guaranteed to have at least an hour to yourself? Before work, maybe if you don’t have to be at work at 6:00am, if you don’t have kids you have to get to school, if you don’t like to sleep in, if you don’t have dogs to walk. After work, maybe if you are still energized enough, if it’s not dinner time, if you don’t have to pick up the kids from soccer practice, if you don’t have a late meeting. Lunch time, for sure! This is the best part about working out on your lunch break, you’ll always be guaranteed to have that time to yourself. Maybe you might have a lunch meeting but for the most part that is your one hour out of the work day that is yours to do what you wish. Sounds like the perfect time to get a quick, strenuous, fun, energizing, and beneficial workout it! Besides having it fit nicely in the middle of your day, here are a few great reasons to workout at lunchtime:
Get in, get out and it’s done for the day. No worries about having to make time for a workout after work, this way there are no excuses.
Stop the after lunch crash, no more coffee or energy drinks required. After a lunchtime workout you’ll be energized with endorphins and will be ready to finish off the last half of your work day.
The quality of your lunch meal will be so much more beneficial. Most of the time you go for a salad at lunch but sometimes you grab a pizza, a pasta dish, or maybe even some heavy Thai food. After a good workout you will want nothing but good fuel for your body, I mean you didn’t do all that hard work just to turn around and un-do it all in 10 minutes – right!?
It’s easy to get your co-workers involved. Sometimes you go to lunch with your friends from work, but now make it a healthier get together and come down to the gym together. It’s always more fun if you have a partner in crime!
You are awake enough (as opposed to bright and early before work) to be alert and strong but not tired enough (as opposed to after an 8 hour work day) to not have enough gas in the tank to put forth good effort.
Come down during lunch, try it out and experience the benefits of a lunch time workout first hand. There are plenty of classes, programs, trainers, and gym partners for you, making this a great way to break up your work day. Plus, when you are done you can enjoy some of the healthy sandwiches, salads, smoothies, and fruit that available at the SAC Café.
Adriana offers a great Lunchbox Express workout that works for all fitness levels and is scheduled perfectly to suite the lunch hour.