Tag: Seattle

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

Glycemic Index and Weight Loss

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.

Pilates for Golfers

Have you experienced the elusive “perfect shot” moment? Your intention is clear, your swing is fluid, and your body and mind are synchronized. Your swing tempo, your movements, and firing of the muscles are working together. As a golfer, I love it when everything comes together. Would you like to have those moments consistently?

Both Golf and Pilates are mind-body activities and share some of the same basic principles. Golf and Pilates principles include precision, centering, power, control, and concentration.

Pilates is a great tool for conditioning both sides of your body and preventing injuries that plague golfers. Golfers are repeatedly bending over the ball, twisting their body in one direction and exerting the same muscles over and over. Pilates restores balance and realigns the body to bring back the natural, normal movement pattern.

Specific Pilates exercises build balance, strength and flexibility, while teaching the body to move in an efficient way. This program is designed to help golfers’ finesse their game, improve their swing and drive the ball further.

For more information contact Jocelyn or 206-441-1111, ext. 216.

The ABCs of HydroTherapy

Hydrotherapy, or water therapy, is the application of water to promote healing. All three forms of water (liquid, steam, ice) can be used therapeutically.

Advantages to hydrotherapy are:

  • It is almost always available.
  • It is easy to learn and perform.
  • It is painless and has no ill side effects.
  • It is inexpensive and can be done at home or at the gym.

The goal of hydrotherapy is to improve the circulation and quality of blood. This is important because blood delivers nutrients to and removes wastes from tissues and organs. If circulation is poor or slow, healing nutrients cannot be delivered and toxins cannot be removed, which causes degeneration of the tissues and organs. By improving the quality of blood, more nutrients are available for cells to use and toxins are managed more efficiently.

General therapeutic uses of hydrotherapy include:

  • Pain and swelling of injuries
  • Fever
  • Elimination of toxins
  • Antispasmodic
  • Improve immune function

Hydrotherapy treatments include the following:

Baths & Showers
Baths and showers can be healthy and healing. A hot bath or shower can encourage relaxation, reduce stress, and flush out toxins. Adding essential oils or herbs to the bath can enhance the therapeutic benefits. Cold baths and showers can be energizing and stimulating. A rinse of cold water after a hot shower can invigorate, boost the immune system, and improve blood flow.

Hot Foot Bath
A hot foot bath is the immersion of both feet and ankles in hot water for 10 – 30 minutes. It is an excellent way to draw blood from inflamed or congested areas of the body. Indications for use are foot and leg cramps, sore throat, cold, flu, nausea, insomnia, and chest or pelvic congestion.

Cold Compress
The compress is an application of a cold compress to an area that is initially cooled by the water and then warmed by the influx of blood to the area. It is an effective therapy for sore throat, cold, flu, and sinus congestion when it is administered to the throat or feet. When the feet are treated, it is also known as warming socks or wet socks treatment.

Contraindications for Compress
Skin conditions irritated by moisture.

Castor Oil Pack
Castor oil has been used therapeutically for hundreds of years, both internally and externally. Castor oil applied topically has many beneficial effects and can be used for almost any malady. The castor oil pack is a simple procedure, yet it can produce wonderful results. Physiological effects of the castor oil pack include, but are not limited to: stimulating the liver, increasing eliminations, relieving pain, increasing lymphatic circulation, improving gastrointestinal function, increasing relaxation, and reducing inflammation.

You can buy castor oil at most any pharmacy or grocery store. Apply liberally to the area to be treated, such as the abdomen. Place a flannel fabric or tshirt (something you don’t mind gettin oily) over the area and place a hot water bottle or other heating device over the fabric. This is a great thing to do just before bed, as the heated abdomen is very relaxing!

Gain the Edge: Pilates Boosts Cycling Performance

If you take regular cycling classes or are an avid cyclist, Pilates can be used as a cross training tool.

Whether performed on the mat or specialized equipment, Pilates increases core strength and stability. If your core is stable, your body can devote energy and power to your legs. When flexibility improves, risk of injury to neck, spine, knees, and lower back is lessened.

Benefits specifically related to cyclists include:

  • Greater effectiveness of pedal stroke
  • Increased upper body strength
  • Prevention of lower back pain
  • Better endurance through focused breathing
  • Correction of muscle imbalances

Next time you ride, think about how your body is positioned on the bike. Proper alignment helps you power up hills and sprint past opponents.

Most common postural faults are:

  • Rounded (hunched) shoulders
  • Excessive curve of spine
  • Forward head posture
  • Tight calves, hip flexors, hamstrings and low back muscles

Pilates can help correct these faults. It promotes proper body mechanics and postural awareness. Joseph Pilates believed that “the mind moves the body”. Pilates gives you the tools to create that body awareness.

Regular Pilates also helps prevent common injuries and discomfort. For example, cycling works mainly the quadriceps (front thigh). This can lead to a strength imbalance in the leg muscles and to muscle injury. Therefore, having balance between the quadriceps and the ‘opposing’ muscle group— the hamstrings — boosts the recruitment of those under used muscles. The body works as a unit, giving you the edge.

Consider adding Pilates to your workout regimen—it can pay off big; enhancing your performance and enjoyment of cycling as well as the activities of daily living.

Here’s an exercise to get you started: Single Leg Stretch.

Swim Slow and Move Fast!

Do you ever see those swimmers in the pool who seem to go so far and fast but seem like they aren’t trying very hard? What’s up with that? How is it that they seem to be swimming slow but they are moving through the water like fish?

It’s because they are. They are allowing their entire body—from the arms and shoulders through the torso to the hips and legs—to join the fun. Many people swim with just their shoulders and arms and hope they can drag the rest of their body along without sinking first.

Rotation and glide is critical to a more efficient and effective stroke. In my experience teaching swimming, I find that the two biggest impediments to a well timed rotation and supported glide is awkwardness in the breathing and trying to balance with the recovery arm.

Breathing should always be calm and controlled, even in sprints! Inhale through the mouth and exhale though the nose. Take time to exhale completely before taking another breath. The amount of time you are inhaling should always be shorter than the time you are exhaling. (Click here to find out why.) You should be rotating your head easily and looking slightly behind you on the inhale. Wait for your elbow to extend past your head before returning your head back into the water. Start exhaling immediately and smoothly through your nose. This process should become very rhythmic whether breathing every second, third or fourth stroke.

The rotation should be full and done with your hips and torso, not the shoulders. Balance will come from your core. Your recovery (the hand that is traveling out of the water) should be just that, a recovery. It should be relaxed, free of tension, and placed into the water rather than thrown in. Practice leading you arm with the elbow and dragging your finger nails through the water during the recovery. If you can sustain that, you will be well on your way to becoming one of those swimmers who make it all look so effortless!

It has a certain “Ring” to it!

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:

  1. 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!
  2. 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!
  3. 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.

Rethinking Your Cardio

One of the key components to any exercise program is cardio, however for most there is still a lot of mystery surrounding this topic. What machine works the best? How fast should I go? How much time is needed? As a result of this confusion most will tend to gravitate to one machine and perhaps even worse, remain at one pace and intensity for weeks on end. The goal of this article is to shed some light on this topic and leave you with some alternative ways to challenge yourself in a more time-efficient and fun manner.

How long should my cardio be?
There are many theories surrounding the topic of most effective duration of a cardio workout. It seems as if every year there is a new study claiming 30 minutes, 40 minutes, 60 minutes, etc. is the key to the most effective cardio workout. With such a wide variety of options to choose from, all claiming to be the superior method, it tends to leave many overwhelmed and confused. There is however good news. What virtually all of these methods have in common is the inverse relationship of time to intensity. The more intense the activity, the shorter the time needed to produce or maintain a training effect; the less intense the activity, the longer the required duration. In short, if you find you only have 30 minutes to devote to cardio, rather than choosing a light jog, try adding in sprint intervals. This will in turn not only promote positive changes to your cardiovascular system, but will also have a significant impact on the total number of calories burned.

What machine works the best?
This is often one of most discussed aspects pertaining to cardio training and unfortunately there is no right answer. Regardless of the machine, all of them have their strengths and weaknesses. For example, while the treadmill has the added benefit of forcing the user to exercise at a certain pace, it provides little to no benefit to the muscles of the upper body. The elliptical provides a low impact option to cardio training but leaves the intensity of the workout solely up to the user. All of these machines can have tremendous benefits but it is important remember to challenge your body in new ways regularly. Remember, there is no “perfect shape”, rather than always gravitating towards that same cardio machine, try a new machine each week. This will help keep your body balanced and prepared for whatever life throws at you.

Lastly, while we all know those certain individuals who absolutely love nothing more than spending an hour on a cardio machine, the reality is that this doesn’t describe the vast majority of us, myself included. Possibly the most difficult hurdle involving cardio to overcome is the mental aspect. All cardio machines revolve around a repetitive movement than can quickly become boring and monotonous. This is especially discouraging when the goal of a quality cardio workout is to challenge your body through intensities it isn’t used to. Here is a list of cardio workouts that will hopefully spark your interest, and in the process, might introduce you to a few new pieces of exercise equipment.

For more information on cardiovascular training or questions surrounding the four workouts, please contact Personal Fitness Trainer Will Paton.

Pilates Exercise of the Month: Pike on Floor or Stretch with Pumping

Purpose: This exercise increases flexibility in the hamstrings and lower back, plus challenges the powerhouse. It’s a great prep for the Mat exercise, Teaser.

Starting Position: Sit on the floor facing the chair, weight just back of sit-bones. Place your feet on front edge of chair with legs together. Arms long, reaching forward, palms on raised pedal. Shoulders down and stabilized.

  1. Inhale; Prepare. Exhale; Nod your chin, increase spinal flexion to maintain C-curve. Engage abdominals as you press the pedal down (arms can be slightly bent).
  2. 2. Inhale; Lift the pedal back up with control, keep abs engaged. Lengthen the spine and release the pedal. Exhale.
  3. 3. Repeat 3-5 times.

Head to Toe Checklist:

  • Maintain scapular stabilization to avoid neck, arm or shoulder tension
  • Keep abdominals engaged throughout exercise
  • Keep arms in same position relative to torso so the pedal is depressed by abdominals, not by pushing with the arms

Modifications: Sit on a foam cushion or platform extender to decrease gripping in hips.

What do I need to bring to my Pilates lesson?

  • Clean socks. Pilates exercises utilize the feet, so we don’t work out wearing shoes. If you are concerned about slipping, you can bring your socks with little sticky grips on the bottom. Or, we can provide a sticky pad to help adhere the feet to the Pilates equipment.
  • Fitted workout clothes. Pilates works on alignment; therefore, we need to see your body! We look for specific landmarks in the hips, shoulders, knees, ankles, and metatarsals.
  • Health history. It helps us to know what your health has been like your whole life, not just recent injuries. Chronic means long-lasting and acute means short and severe. We want to know both!
  • Energy. By now, everyone realizes that Pilates works your core, so some people like to workout on an empty stomach. I can’t emphasize this enough: don’t skip breakfast! A Pilates lesson is an hour long and requires energy (calories) to get through it! Eat something before you come, even if it’s just a handful of almonds. Your body and brain need the fuel.
  • No equipment. We supply mats, towels, equipment, etc. If you want to bring gloves, like weight training gloves, feel free. You probably won’t need them for your first lesson, but eventually we work up to pull-ups, and you may like them for cushion, comfort and grip.