Month: February 2011

How Pilates May Be Able to Help in Pregnancy

Amy B. is no stranger to Pilates, but was still amazed at how her Pilates sessions helped her through pregnancy, delivery, and being a busy, working mom of 2 lively kids. In San Francisco and Seattle, Amy took Pilates Mat classes for 7 years before the birth of her first child. After Amy’s baby was born, she felt strained in her back and shoulders due to lugging around a car seat with a growing baby. She wanted an efficient workout; something that combined strength and flexibility, because with a new baby she no longer had time to separately do strength conditioning and yoga — she needed to cram it all into an hour if possible. Lastly, she wanted her pre-pregnancy body back and to fit into her clothes again. She contacted Jocelyn and decided to start private sessions once a week.

Fast-forward two years; Amy is expecting her second baby. Amy says, “I felt very strong this pregnancy, which I attribute to consistently running and doing Pilates for the two years prior. For the first several months, I kept with the same exercises, but as my belly started to grow there were obviously some exercises we had to cut out or adjust to not lay on my belly or put unnecessary strain on my back”.

Amy was elated to learn that she could be tired during the day, but a Pilates session with Jocelyn after work would energize her and she’d feel great! She did Pilates right up until the end of her pregnancy, 10 days before she gave birth to Emilia.

According to Amy, delivery was “easy”! It took 5 minutes for her daughter to join the world with no medical interventions. Recovery was much easier this time too. She was pushing a stroller around Green Lake a week later, and resumed Pilates sessions with Jocelyn about a month later.

Strength Training for Endurance Athletes

Endurance training works one of two physiological energy production systems in our body; the aerobic cardio respiratory system, while resistance or strength training works our anaerobic energy system. Energy is used primarily in the muscle fibers, often referred to as the slow twitch and fast twitch fibers. The aerobic system trains our type I muscle fibers, which are more densely packed with mitochondria which utilize oxygen to make ATP. Meanwhile, the type II resistance fibers create ATP in the absence of oxygen by splitting molecules. Since many sports and other events rely more heavily on one type of fiber more than the other, athletes and the general public often train for that specificity. Most the population is composed of each fiber type by a 50:50 split, but specificity in training can shift the ratio of fibers either way slightly.

What happens when an endurance runner trains not just for their endurance abilities but also for strength simultaneously?

There have been multiple studies on this topic, with some studies suggesting that training simultaneously with both strength and endurance takes away from the optimal performance of one to improve the other, meaning you can be highly trained for endurance or just moderately trained for both strength and endurance, or vice versa. However, in opposition to many of those studies, others have tweaked the study method in finding how both can be trained for the benefit of improving upon an already trained ability. That is to say, if a runner was to train aerobically and then perform strength exercises used in running, would they improve? In the Journal of Strength and Conditioning, one of many studies was conducted on well trained endurance runners on how the addition of strength training to endurance training would affect stride ability. Groups were assigned to a periodized sport specific strength conditioning program with endurance (strength exercises changed each week), a consistent sport specific strength conditioning program with endurance (same workout), and an endurance only group. They found that the combination of periodized strength conditioning program with endurance training greatly resisted fatigue in overall strides than both the other groups. The exercises were sport specific to running, including squats, calf raises, hamstrings, and others. Many studies done on cyclists, soccer players, and rowers suggest the same findings.

There are several things to note on how this training would optimize performance. Strength was done at sub maximal weights and moderate repetitions – never to fatigue. This type of training will train the muscles for more endurance prolonged use, while enhancing strength. In the case of the runners the addition of strength increases the threshold of fatigue that the muscles endure by improving power. More muscular strength in the leg muscles contribute to greater power in each stride the runner takes. With that said, the studies in which competitors improved both modes of exercise were all trained with sport specific muscle groups. For instance a competing runner would not want to bulk their upper body like a rower might; it would only take away from their running ability. Studies among the general population show that those who want to improve health should train both modes for better overall conditioning. Strength and endurance training does not seem to negate one or the other for improving health and rehabilitation, but for those with an athletic specific goal, remaining sport specific is key.

Will Your Muscles Be Able to Save You?

My muscles have saved me on numerous occasions and they can help save you too! When I give into that chocolate croissant or feel like doing nothing but watch football on Sundays, my muscles save me! When I lock myself out of my house and need to climb in through the second story window, my muscles save me! Or, when I need to move my TV all by myself up four flights of stairs, my muscles save me. Muscles can also change your body composition and give you those solid shoulders, shape a sexy back, and lift your butt. Who wouldn’t want to reap these benefits? Muscles Rock!

It’s very important, when building lean muscle, that you are performing each movement correctly. If you have never done resistance training before, it is a good idea to work with a fitness professional. They can help you develop a routine and build a foundation for your specific type of training.

So grab your gym face, and your sneakers too. Its time to hit the weights! For more information on muscle building or toning please contact any of our qualified fitness staff. If you are interested in setting up a training session please contact the SAC’s fitness director Jacob Galloway.

Maximizing Your Swim Workouts – Learning the Coach’s Lingo

Understanding swim lingo can be a challenge. In some cases it’s similar to learning a new language. Instead of spending your quality workout time with your feet on the pool floor we’ve assembled a “user manual” to help guide you to more swimming and less interpreting of a written workout that may be posted.

  • S: Swim-Typically most swimmers resort to “freestyle” or “crawl” stroke during this, but swim truly means swim, just move through the water.
  • P: Pull-arms only (add a pull bouy in between your legs, paddles are used here too IF written in th workout)
  • K: Kick-legs only (with a kick board, with fins, with zoomers, without kick board, so many options)
  • OTF: Other than freestyle
  • DPS: Distance per stroke: getting as much “length” with each arm stroke
  • Drill: There are lots of drills to choose from, choose the ones that would benefit your stroke the best. Just think of the crazy movements your coach has you do all the time.
  • I.M.: Individual Medley: This consists of all four strokes in the order of fly, back, breast, and freestyle.
  • F: fly
  • B: backstroke
  • BR: breaststroke
  • FR: freestyle
  • Descend: Get faster on each one
  • Descend within the distance: Get faster within
  • Bilateral Breathing: Alternating sides that the breath is taken on. This would mean taking a breath on “odd” numbers of strokes. Three, five and seven are most common.
  • Length of a pool: Pools are typically 25 yards, 25 meters, or 50 meters (SAC is 20 yards).
  • Length: One way down, ending up on the opposite end of where you started.
  • Lap: Down and back in the pool, ending up where you started
  • How many laps for a mile: 1650 yards (66 lengths OR 33 laps in a 25 yard pool); 1500 meters (60 lengths OR 30 laps in a 25 meter pool); 1500 meters (30 lengths OR 15 laps in a 50 meter pool). Seattle Athletic Club Downtown is a 20 yard pool. One mile: 1650 yards (just shy of 82 lengths OR 41 laps).

Swim sets defined:
10X50 “on” 1:00
Defined: You start a 50 every minute and repeat 10 times. This includes your REST period.
If you swim the 50 in :45 seconds you get :15 seconds rest.
If you swim the 50 in :55 seconds you get 5 seconds rest.

10X50 with :10 seconds rest
Defined: You swim 50 yards and take :10 seconds to rest and then do it again. Repeat this 10 times.

Descending sets:
5X100 descend :10 sec rest
Defined: Get faster on “each” 100.
Ie: First 100 1:45,
Second 100: 1:40
3rd 100 1:35
4th 100 1:30
5th 100 1:25
*all with 10 second rest after each one
*This is an example of descending by 5 second per 100.
*The first on is slow and the last one is fast.

5X100 descend within the 100 with :10 sec rest
Defined: Getting faster “within” each 100. The first 25 yards is slow, the middle two get progressively faster and the last 25 is FAST. There is 10 seconds rest after each 100.

5X75 going 25 drill/50 swim with :10 sec rest
Defined: The first 25 of each 75 is a “drill” of your choice unless specified, the last 50 is regular swim. There is a :10 sec rest period after each 75.

If you have any questions on your swim workouts or need some variety in your training or even a lesson. Please contact Aquatic Director/Multisport Coach Teresa Nelson.

Add Olympic Lifts to Your Workout

Olympic-style and/or Power weightlifting is a long-established and commonly misunderstood form of resistance training. When performed correctly, Olympic lifts can be some of the most beneficial exercises that exist today, and may likely have a place in your regular workout routine.

What are “Olympic-Style and Power Lifts”?
Olympic lifts are exercises where you move relatively heavy weight over your head in a quick, concise movement. Where as power lifts are exercises involving back squats, deadlift, and bench press.

Traditionally only the snatch and the clean & jerk are considered to be Olympic lifts, as they are used for Olympic competition. In non-completive environment, however, similar lifts such as the power clean, push jerk, as well as many variations involving subtle shifts in grip and body position also qualify.

Do not be afraid!
Olympic/Power lifts often take a backseat with the general population because of fears surrounding accidental injury. Fear not! When done correctly, Olympic-style lifts are some of the safest activities available in the weight room, including those sit-down resistance-training devices.

Olympic/Power lifts have unique advantages: they utilize the entire body, require complete core involvement, promote strength and power development, teach you to generate force utilizing muscles in sequence, and accustom the individual to distribute and accept force correctly.

Also, the extension of the hips, knees, and ankles utilized in Olympic/Power lifting exists in virtually all athletic activities. For those who value power production, which translates to moving quickly, jumping higher, hitting harder, and the like, Olympic lifts are right up your alley.

Before you get Started…
You need to log some serious hours training in the weight room. If it is your first week back to the gym in a few years, Olympic and Power lifting may not be best for you. It takes a certain amount of structure (created with hypertrophy training) as well as requisite strength to perform an Olympic/Power lift effectively. It is a good idea to become proficient in some simpler exercises that utilize the components of Olympic and Power lifts, like the back squat, deadlift, Romanian deadlift, bench press, and overhead press before beginning an Olympic-style routine.

Safety First!
As stated earlier, Olympic and Power lifting, when done correctly, is a very safe activity. As with all exercise, there are risks inherent to the performance of Olympic and Power lifts, so do your research! To mitigate the risk, ensure you put in the necessary training hours prior to beginning an Olympic and Power training program, begin with a reasonable weight, make sure you have enough room, familiarize yourself with appropriate spotting and escape techniques, and attain the correct equipment.

There is no substitute (this article included) for instruction from a qualified professional. If you are interested in learning about Olympic and/or Power lifting consult a strength coach or an experienced and qualified personal trainer.

Self Help for the Lymph System

What does it do? Well, the lymph system works very closely with many systems in the body. The basic function of the lymph system is to aid the bodies immune system in destroying bad stuff, (aka, pathogens) and filtering the yuck so that the lymph can be renewed and returned to the circulatory system via the subclavian vein in the neck. It also helps in remove excess fluids, dead blood cells, toxins (sludge), cancer cells and other waste matter from the lymph cells and frees up the soft tissue space between them. It also works with the circulatory system in providing oxygen, nutrients and hormones from the blood to the other cells that make up the tissues of the body.

In lymph edema, an area of the body where lymph tissue has been damaged or compromised from pathogens or scar tissue- the lymph is unable to drain properly. This is why areas near the neck, throat, armpit and groin can sell during immune compromised times. With in these swollen tissues, the lymph becomes slow, clogged or stagnant.

Since the lymph system does not have a pump, it sometimes and more often than not needs a little bit of encouragement from us. There are some things that can help move lymph move in it’s one-way valve system upwards towards the subclavian vein and ultimately back into the circulatory system.

Inversions – taking the legs above the heart. Many yoga poses can assist with this as well as just putting your feet up on some pillows after a long day. Be aware that this is not recommended for those who have high blood pressure or glaucoma.

Massage and Self Massage – Manual Lymphatic Drainage or MLD treatment is a gentle technique to stimulate the movement of lymph. Light and rhythmic strokes in areas where lymph nodes live (neck, armpit, and groin area) can be very helpful.

Hydrotherapy – Hot and cold treatments help in expanding and contracting blood vessels in the body which will aid in pumping fluids through the tissues of the body.

Lebed Method – Lebed Method is group exercise class geared at moving lymph through out the whole body. Lebed Method taught by skilled Lebed teachers that are educated in lymph function and movement. The SAC offers Lebed classes on Mondays 4:00-5:00pm and Thursdays 4:30-5:30pm taught by Barbra Miller, one of our wonderful PFT’s.

Feel free to ask any of our health professionals if you have any questions about the amazing lymph system and remember to have fun in your body!

US Masters Swim: Postal Swim Recap

Seattle Athletic Club hosted its first annal USMS Postal Swim. Due to the popular demand we ran two heats. One on Friday, January 21st and the other on Saturday, January 22nd.

Postal Swim by definition:
Swim for 1 hour straight, drafting, flotation and propulsive devices (pull buoys, fins, paddles, wet suits, etc.) are not permitted. Only two swimmers may share a lane, and they shall each swim on one side of the lane during the entire race (i.e. no circle swimming). An adult “verifier,” acting as a
starter/head timer/counter/referee, must be present at all times during the swim. Each swimmer must have a verifier to time the event with a stopwatch, count laps, and record cumulative (running) 50 splits. Split times must be recorded to the nearest second and tenth (or hundredth)
of a second.

THEN SAC mails in your results (ie: postal) and swimmers are ranked nation-wide amongst all the other United States Masters Swimmers (USMS).

SAC USMS results:

  • Kim Pancoast: 4,050 yards
  • Karissa Lackey: 3,825 yards
  • Mark Webb: 3,685 yards
  • Brent Hardy: 3,650 yards
  • Natalie Komar: 3,620 yards
  • Erin McCormack: 3,420 yards
  • Manuel Medina: 3,330 yards
  • Darin Smith: 3,330 yards
  • Elizabeth Martin: 3,275 yards
  • Vicki Boiven: 3,225 yards
  • Jeff Wagner: 3,040 yards
  • Barb Fox: 2,950 yards
  • Sarah Holberg: 2,950 yards
  • Tom Camp: 2,900 yards
  • Lisa Ohge: 2,870 yards
  • Teresa Engrav: 2,675 yards
  • Ann Sloan: 2,650 yards
  • Sheri Hancey: 2,663 yards
  • Kirsten Nesholm: 2,450 yards

Congratulations to all our first time postal swimmers! Looking forward to 2012!

If you are interested in joining the SAC Masters team for swim meets, open water swims, or just plain fun with your friends please contact Aquatic Director/Multisport coach Teresa Nelson.

Quick Tips for Jump Starting Weight Loss!

For most of us this time of the year there we are looking to our future and where we want to be. Most of us are setting those New Year’s resolutions and trying to better ourselves. For the most part every person wants to change their body image, whether it’s lose weight, lean up or gain muscle mass. Here are some quick tips that anyone can do to help them start changing their body image:

  1. Wake up earlier. If part of your metabolism (the total calories your burn through the day) is the calories you burn with daily activity; then if you have a longer day you are burning more calories, and over a year those calories add up to shed pounds.
  2. Eat Breakfast. By eating your body has to break down the food, this increase your metabolism and burns calories. This caloric burn stays elevated for a while after eating while your body is digesting its food. If you skip breakfast or eat it at 10 am, you are wasting a lot of time where your body could have an elevated metabolism.
  3. Do your exercise earlier in your day if you can! Just like eating, working out with weighted exercises will increase your metabolism throughout the day. So if you can make your workout earlier in the day your metabolism is elevated for a longer period of time.
  4. Drinking green tea or coffee is supposed to increase your metabolism and mobilize fats for your body to utilize easier.
  5. Write down your goals and have them visible. Studies have shown that people who write down their goals are three times more likely to be successful.
  6. Change it up. This is important in most things you do. Most of us have a routine we do every day; we can drive to work and not even remember how we got there because we take the same route every day. Most of us go to the gym and perform the same workout we have been doing for years without seeing much success or change in our bodies. Try changing up things in your daily routine, such as driving a different route, brushing your teeth with your opposite hand, or go to the gym and try something new (just make sure you know how to utilize the equipment correctly). By changing up your routine you actually use different parts of your brain, making your think and react faster as well as make yourself smarter!

Not everything we do for our health and body image has to cost money; there are some easy things we can do that don’t take any extra time or money but they will take some extra effort…basically you should think about starting your day earlier, make sure to eat your breakfast, which could include green tea or coffee, write down goals and change up your normal routine. All of these things every person can do without much effort and start the process of becoming healthier and changing their body image. If you have any questions please contact Seattle Athletic Club Downtown’s Fitness Director Jacob Galloway.

Basic Gymnastics Workouts, No Spandex Singlets Necessary

When you think of gymnastics maybe you think of little girls doing flips or young men doing the pummel horse. Whatever the case may be, I’m sure you see it as something that is specialized and not for you. But I’m here to tell you this is not the case. The great thing about adding in basic gymnastic exercises is that you get to test your strength, range of motion, balance, stability, and core strength. You need little to no equipment and you get to be creative and use your body as a weight. Some amazing basic movements you can try are;

  1. The gymnastic push-up. This is a variation of the push up, finger tips face back towards your toes and hands move from directly under your shoulders to a new position closer to your hips. This allows you to build strength while at the same time increasing wrist flexibility, shoulder stability, and core strength. The closer you can get your hands to your waist the harder it is.
  2. Pistols also known as a one legged front squat. In this exercise the goal is to lower yourself down all the way to a full squat position (butt to heel) while keeping your foot flat, spine extended, and all the while keeping the other leg fully extended in front of you. This exercise is great for balance, increasing range of motion in your ankle, knees, and hips, increase of strength in the quad muscles, and can really elevate your heart rate. If you can’t get to full depth or can’t descend to the bottom position without the heel coming up you can use the TRX for assistance.
  3. Handstands. If you think this exercise has nothing to do with your goals of strength and looking good you couldn’t be more wrong. A handstand is a great tool for opening up your shoulders, using your core for stability, increasing balance, and of course improving your full body strength. I recommend starting against a wall plant hands no more than 2 inches away from the wall, making sure to press out of your shoulders, keep your toes pointed, keep your hips tight and core engaged, and keep the top of your head pointed towards the floor. There are many variations and other ways to increase the difficulty of this exercise before you move away from using the wall.
  4. Ab roll-ups. In this full body exercise you will be focusing on using your abs to generate force and power, this is not your basic crunch! Starting on your back pull your knees into your chest (using your abs) and then throw your feet down to the floor and finish the movement by using that force and speed to stand up. The main keys here are to keep your abs engaged, use the power from your tuck, and make sure to stand up with your hips down and chest up (think a good full range of motion squat, don’t dump your chest forward or round your back). To make it easier use a medicine ball to add more weight and increase speed and to make it harder keep your hands on your chest and don’t let your arms punch forward.

In addition to these body weight exercises there are endless basic exercises you can perform on gymnastic rings, everything from ring dips to pull ups to skin the cats and back levers. Learning the basics of gymnastics can open a new door to more fun and challenging workouts and can help you make leaps and bounds towards increasing core and joint strength. Seems that Mary Lou Retton really knew what she was talking about. Be strong, be powerful, learn how to move your body through a full range of motion, and finally you can use that chalk!

Yoga Pose of the Month: Ardha- Half (twist)

Let’s Do the TWIST!!
Ardha- Half
Matsyendra- Lord of the Fishes

Twist Benefits

  • DeTox’s liver and kidneys, relief for stiff upper back, neck and shoulders, energizes the spine, stimulates digestive fires, and some relief for sciatic discomfort.
  • You know that feeling when you stand up and stretch after a long period of sitting? Ahhh…you can almost feel it!
  • That’s what twisting feels like for your back and internal organs. Monday yoga practices at the SAC, I have been dedicating to the concept of detoxing the body from toxins. Twisting is one of the best ways to use your yoga practice as a tool to feel healthy from the inside, out.

Seattle Yoga StudioTwist it UP!

  1. To start, grab a blanket and fold it firmly under your sit bones, there by elevating your hips, and tilting your pelvic bone forward for more flexible ease in the hips.
  2. Bend one knee, then; step the other foot over the top of the “bent knee” leg. If you have supper tight hips, you can modify by stepping the foot near the ankle.
  3. Exhale as you lengthen the spine and twist the torso towards the bent knee-as if you are wringing out a dishtowel. Keep lifting up through the spine and avoid collapsing the chest and shoulders. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute for max twisting benefits.
  4. Counter twist by lying on your back for Bridge Pose or Happy Baby.
  5. There are many variations of twisting poses in a yoga practice. As always I like to plug our wonderful staff of teachers at Seattle Athletic Club Downtown who come up with there own variations of the Twist.

About 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 or contact Anna Miller, Group Exercise Director at Seattle Athletic Club Downtown.