What is the one thing we often forget to do as we get older…play. Look around at children, they are our best examples of how to play…and sometimes, even when we should play. Yes, I said it, much of the time adults find that children’s spastic movements or loud boisterous play is out of place or distracting to what they are doing. Instead, I challenge each of you to take a moment in your day to stop what you are doing, smile, and be playful. There is no reason we cannot work hard AND enjoy what we are doing at the same time. You are having a rough day and have nothing to smile about? Then I challenge you to create something to smile about. Humans are creative, energetic, dynamic beings with a natural curiosity to be playful.
What is one of the best ways to play? Go outside. Once you are outside, here is something really fun to add…get dirty. I don’t care if its sweat or mud, sand or salt water…get dirty and stay present in what you are doing. It doesn’t count if you go run stairs outside SAC with your trainer and all you think about is the report or edit you need to finish by 2 PM when you get back. The best thing you can do for yourself is to be present in where you are, who you are with, and what you are doing. Have fun. Smile. Play. Here are some ideas for you this month as we dive into a gorgeous spring!
• Take a walk with a friend…but ten minutes in, start skipping, then do a cartwheel. Just because you can.
• Play hide and go seek with your dog.
• Mountain bike at Duthie Park…don’t know how? Take a class from Me, believe me, I’ll make you laugh, smile, and play on the trails.
• Ride around the city with trainer Thomas’ Urban Bike rides.
• Go run stairs outside SAC, then sit on the pig in the market until one of the Flying Fish guys talk with you.
• Go on a hike, at the top, try yodeling…don’t know how? That’s why I said try.
• Garden in your bare feet.
• Climb a mountain (you can do Baker with SAC this summer!)
• Buy the random person in front of you at the coffee shop their drink.
• Commit to learning one new activity this summer, maybe it’s climbing, maybe it’s riding a bike, maybe it’s swimming, maybe it’s a pull up…just smile knowing you are learning something new for yourself.
Have fun out there! Remember to play and stay present…you never know what you might find. Connect with me if you need help remembering how or where or when to play…I’d love to get you started again! firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have ever seen a Nutrisystem commercial, you are missing out. In fact, check this one out before you go any further, it’s worth watching.
Did you catch the bit on the “proven science of the Glycemic Advantage?” I love that line. The good folks over at Nutrisystem have found a way to scientifically determine which carbs are good and which carbs are bad, and created a weight loss program around that premise. At first glance it may seem that the judgment on some carbs is too harsh. Maybe the “bad” carbs had a rough up-bringing and they never had an appropriate role model to teach them any other life-path.
Jokes aside, Nutrisystem , and may other diets are based on the notion of the glycemic index. Glycemic index (GI) is a way of ranking carbohydrates in terms of how quickly your body can break them down into usable sugar in the blood. Pure glucose, the most usable form of sugar, has a GI value of 100. Low GI foods have a value of around 0-30 and are found in foods like legumes, lentils and bitter fruits. Medium GI foods, like sweet fruits and whole grains have a value of around 30-60. Processed bread, food with added sugar and dried fruit are high GI foods with a value over 60.
Glycemic Index is important because the rate that carbohydrates are converted into glucose impacts your blood sugar levels. High GI foods increase blood sugar rapidly which triggers a large release of insulin. Insulin reduces the level of blood sugar by storing some of the sugar as fat. This roller-coaster effect on blood sugar is problematic for those with diabetes or pre-diabetes, but it is also bad news for people concerned with their weight.
Making some substitutions to replace high GI foods in your diet with low GI foods can help you lose weight. A 2009 review of randomized, controlled trials found a consistent effect of weight loss for those who followed diets rich in LGI foods. One study from the review showed equal weight loss for those engaged in an energy restricted, low fat diet that included high GI foods compared to an unrestricted low glycemic index diet. The people on the low GI diet were allowed to eat until they were full for the duration of the diet whereas the conventional dieters where compelled to monitor and restrict their food intake. And there was no difference in weight loss between the two groups! If you do not like the hassle of dieting but need to lose weight, consider incorporating more low GI foods into your diet. It is by no means a magical solution or an excuse to overindulge in fatty foods but it just may be a kick start your weight loss. Look at the GI table below for some examples of common foods and think of some meals and snacks where you can swap a high GI food for a low GI food. This is far from a complete description of how to use glycemic index to your advantage.
Please contact Personal Fitness Trainer Hunter Spencer with your questions.
I recently have been asked by a lot of friends, probably looking to the New Year and losing weight, about how to lose some weight and change the way their body looks and feels. More specifically they have brought it to my attention that their stomach changes each day, and that when they look at themselves each day in the mirror some days they like their looks and other days they don’t. This got me to think about how some people can become obsessed about their looks, exercising and/or dieting more than needed.
Let me tell you, it is not a bad thing to be conscious of what you look like, feel like, how you exercise and what you eat. A problem occurs when that is all that you think about and when you beat yourself up for fall short for one day. Our bodies are made to adapt to any stimulus, be that food, exercise, weather, stress etc. For someone to stress about how their body looks day to day is a little absurd; as each day our body can absorb more or less water, our stomach can be distended from eating too much food or foods that stay in our system longer, for females certain times of the month can make them retain water etc. When we look at ourselves on a daily basis the results can be very skewed and can create a very unhealthy mental aspect or body dismorphia.
A better approach would be to reflect on your weekly habits and how you feel in general. Much like weighing yourself (at the most) once a week try reflecting once a week on your weekly activities. Look at how you are eating that week, at how you are handling your stress for the week, how much exercise you are getting and try to make it all work for you. If you are feeling a little bit off take a look at the things that are different from the past that could be affecting you this week and try to fix them. In the end the science suggests that an change to our body being good or bad is from long term changes or habits, and that if you miss a day of working out or have a not so good day of eating you need to acknowledge it and move on; think about concentrating your energy into the better habits.
In the end how you look and feel does not change in one night…it is a culmination of everything you do in a habitual nature over a longer period of time. So if you feel down because you missed a workout or you feel like you are heavier don’t fret; take time to reflect on how your weekly habits are forming and then go from there.
Have you ever heard someone mention that “what does not kill you makes you stronger”? While that statement may hold true for some situations in life, it is far from universal. Something that does not kill you may still reduce your overall quality of life. Putting your body through regular unhealthful situation does not build immunity to those behaviors; it reduces your overall quality of life.
I often hear it expressed anecdotally that reduced symptoms associated with unhealthful situations must mean an improvement in health (for example, getting used to cigarette smoke, building a tolerance to alcohol or dairy products). Actually, what is happening is a lowering of your overall quality of life – or, you are getting used to feeling badly.
Taking care of your body through appropriate rest, reduced stress, eating healthfully, and regular exercise can redefine your definition of what it means to feel good. Do not accept regular illness and injury; rise above it.
As summer approaches and the kids are out of school it’s the perfect time to get your family involved in quality time together. One of the best and most fun ways to do this is through family workouts. There are plenty of ways to achieve this in and out of the club. If it’s a sunny Tuesday evening and everyone is home why not go run short hill repeats, or find some good stairs somewhere and encourage everyone to run/walk/jump them.
If staying in the yard is more your style there are plenty of ways to get the family involved in workouts that seem more like play. Race each other by long jumping across the lawn. Wheelbarrow teams make a great workout without your kids even knowing that their abs, arms, and back are getting worked. Grab a medicine ball at your local sports store and do some throws, jumps, squats etc. as a family.
If you feel like getting more structure and coming into the gym it’s a perfect time to get your kids comfortable with using the machines and basic equipment. You can always sign the whole family up for a few training sessions so that you can help each other exercise safe and effectively in and out of the gym.
It’s great for everyone to be coached by a professional and to cheer one another on through workouts. It makes for some good conversation before and after workouts! Plus your kids might finally be impressed with what you can do… maybe.
Setting a standard day and time is a great idea but if that’s too structured take advantage when you can. By working out as a family your kids learn by example, you spend time together being healthy and interacting, you encourage one another, your kids learn the great feeling of physical achievement, and most of all learning self confidence through physical activity will transfer over to other areas of life. The Seattle sun is sparse; enjoy it with everyone doing things that make you feel good about yourselves!
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.
Many gym goers fall out of exercising within their first 90 days of joining a gym or starting a new exercise routine. One of the biggest reasons people stop exercising is because they do not have a very structured workout and/or do not know where to start with their exercising. A new and very beneficial program offered here at the Seattle Athletic Club Downtown is called “The First 90 Days of Fitness”. It’s a structured introduction to fitness involving meeting with a nutritionist to get your diet analyzed in order to meet the demands of exercising; three consultations with fitness trainer where you get measurements and body fat taken and then training session. The Fitness trainers can also get set up on a structured workout program called ActivTrax.
If you are looking for a little more structure to your workout program, there is also our 12 week Evolve program; offering personal training twice a week, fitness assessments, 5 nutritional consultations, two RMR (resting metabolic rate) tests, a shopping trip to your favorite store, educational literature each week.
One of the club’s members, Chris Davidson, has been on this program and just completed his first 90 days of fitness. During his final assessment he was pleased to find out that he had lost 7.6 lbs of fat while gaining a considerable amount of muscle and strength. The major contributing factors to his fitness achievements were that he was at the SAC every day working out or playing racquetball; and that he exercised with a workout partner. This is just one of many success stories at the club. Fitness success is more attainable if you have a structured workout routine and with someone there to keep you accountable, whether it’s a Pilates instructor, personal trainer or workout partner.
This beautiful back bending pose is a classic, seen not only in many yoga styles, but also in classical India artwork. It is a pose dedicated to the god, Shiva, the Lord of the Dance and seen often in graphic depictions of him. You too can feel like a kingly dancer, or at least 10 times more energized when you do Dancer Pose correctly. Its many benefits include, stretching the chest, shoulders, quads, and abdomen. This pose strengthens your ankles, and whole leg, while honing your balance and focus skills.
Get into the Groove
I know you are developing your yoga practice from not only reading this wonderful blog, but also by taking regular classes with our fantastic SAC teachers!! Right!! So, that said, please do some Surya A and B warm up before attempting this challenging backward bending pose.
After warm up, come to the top of your mat and shift your weight onto the right foot. Bend right knee, and grasp the foot in a classic “runner’s” quad stretch pose. If you find it a struggle to easily grab your foot, please grab a towel or strap for the rest of the exercise.
Allow your pelvic bone to drop and tilt forward, this will stretch the quad more deeply and prevent pinching your low back as you back bend. Hold this simple stretch for 5 breaths.
Before going further, keep your pelvic bone dropped, AND lift your chest up to your chin. Then you can proceed into a backbend by leaning slightly forward, and kicking the weight of your foot into your hand and continuing to lengthen your foot and hand upward.
If you feel any pinching, stop, grab a strap and use this excellent tool to ease into Dancer till your quads, pectoral’s and mid back are more open.
GO SLOW. A lot of folks slam themselves into poses, and they are designed to be meditative, thoughtful and well, dancer like. If you find yourself rushing into Dancer or any pose, stop. Are you breathing? Are you struggling to go further than your muscles will allow at this time? Remember, yoga is NOT a competitive sport, but a wonderfully challenging way to integrate breath and body to enhance a healthy mind and body.
Stay in Dancer about 10 breaths, then switch.
Forward bending with slightly bent knees, or “soft” knees, or a supine twist are great counter poses to Dancer. Also, if you are still feeling vibrant, a headstand or one leg stretched forward, balance ( Eka Pada Hasta Padagustasana) are excellent ways to balance Dancer. If you need to modify, grab a strap and lasso your lifted foot with it. Also, standing near a wall and using it for support is a great way to train yourself to balance. You can also do this pose with a buddy, who can hold you. As always, all poses are best learned under the guidance of a certified yoga teacher. We have so many excellent teachers at SAC to choose from. You can always talk to me in one of my classes, Mondays and Tuesdays.
Tonja Renee Hall
Is a yoga instructor at Seattle Athletic Club Downtown, and for professional sports teams. She uses her 10 years teaching experience here, internationally and in many disciplines of dance, cycling sports, and equestrian sports to inform her teaching. She uses humor and discipline to encourage her students to reach for their personal best. To schedule a private yoga lesson, please refer to her website tonjareneehall.com or contact Anna Miller, Group Fitness Director at Seattle Athletic Club Downtown. Her favorite color right now is orange, and she can’t get enough of this sun!!!
When the word “athletic” comes to mind I envision an individual who is competent in all aspects of fitness (strength, flexibility, endurance, agility and coordination). Though excelling at all of these is a rare and difficult task, being competent in each of them builds an amazing foundation for a healthy and active life.
On the other end of the spectrum, neglecting one or more of these components can be a detriment to your performance and health. Being incredibly strong but inflexible is the cause of many overuse injuries (tendonitis, arthritis, etc). Being flexible and lacking strength can lead to the exact same ailments. Concentrating on endurance alone (i.e.: running or swimming) without a proper base of strength and flexibility will cause hormone imbalances and will wreak havoc on your joints.
Through creating a foundation in all these areas seems difficult, but here at the Seattle Athletic Club we offer a myriad of classes and opportunities to become the “Perfect Athlete”. With a wide variety of group classes, you can easily add several tools to your fitness arsenal with no additional cost. If you want to take things to the next level, any of our highly qualified Personal Fitness Trainers can help you fill in any gaps you may have in your regimen.
Here are a few examples of how to develop each component. Strength
Active Range of Motion (Leg swings, etc)
Agility + Coordination
If you have any questions or want more information please take advantage of our educated staff to help guide you with your fitness needs.
Purpose: To stretch the lower back and hamstrings; develop spinal articulation and improve control of the abdominal muscles.
Note: if you have a bad neck or lower back, leave this exercise out.
Lie on the mat with arms by your sides; palms down. Lift both legs to a 60 degree angle from the mat.
Inhale, lift the legs to a 90-degree angle. Initiate from the abdominals; bring your legs over your head peeling your spine off the mat. Keep reaching the arms long, shoulders pinned down. Don’t press onto your neck.
Exhale and open your legs just past shoulder width and flex your feet. Keep the back of your neck long, avoid any tensing or crunching in the front of the neck. The arms continue to press into the mat. Your body weight should rest squarely in between your shoulder blades.
Begin rolling back toward the mat, feel your spine stretching longer and longer as you articulate down until the tailbone touches the mat.
When the tailbone reaches the mat, take the legs to just below 90 degrees and squeeze your legs together again. Repeat the sequence.
Complete 3 repetitions with legs together when lifting and 3 times with legs apart.
Head to Toe Checklist:
Keep your upper body glued to the mat- avoid rolling onto the neck.
Don’t use momentum to roll over; use abdominals.
Feet should not collapse on the floor on the roll over.
Palms press into mat, arms long throughout.
Shoulders are stable on the roll down.
Visualization: Imagine your arms are lead bars pinning you to the mat.