Month: June 2011

Tips for losing “The Gut”

Maybe you have been meaning to lose a few pounds since that New Year’s resolution of yours, or maybe you have been putting it off that new 6-pack for a few years now. No matter what the reason you have for wanting to get in shape, it is important to know how to achieve and maintain your goals. First, let’s go over some common misconceptions and tactics to losing “the gut”.

Myth #1: 1000 Sit Ups
Many people assume that to lose excess weight around the midsection, it is important to increase exercise in the midsection. This thought process is correct, but not totally accurate. When losing “the gut” or shedding a few pounds, the initial goal is reducing fat in the midsection. Sit ups are not the best way to lose fat, although they are a good way to increase core strength.

Myth #2: A pre-summer diet!
This one is a little tricky. If you want to lose some extra fat, your diet is a great place to start. However if you plan on a crazy-intense diet that lasts 4 weeks, how long do you expect the results to last…maybe 4 ½ weeks?
Now let’s focus on some things that might work a little better when trying to lose the gut, and fit into last year’s swimsuit.

Tip #1: Proper nutrition
No big surprises here. Proper nutrition is a must for any fitness goals, and it might be easier than you think. A pound of fat is the equivalent to 3500 calories. If you can intake 500 calories less a day or burn 500 calories more a day for 7 days, then you can lose a pound in a week. However, if this is not a permanent change in diet, then you will take 1 step forward and 2 steps back. If you have any questions on safely and effectively adjusting your diet, ask SAC Nutritionist Suzzanne Myer.

Tip #2: Learn a fast paced activity that you enjoy!
Hate running? The Elliptical scares you? Bikes are more fun with engines? Well it’s still important to include moderate/high intensity aerobic activity to your weekly routine, especially when trying to slim down. Try changing your workout by learning a new game or sport. Did you know you can burn over 800 calories in an hour of squash? Or burn 340 calories in an hour of baseball/softball? Try picking up something new and exciting that is fun and physically rewarding.

Family Time: Keeping Your Family Healthy and Active

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!

What is a HR Monitor and How Do I Use It?

A Heart Rate or Fitness monitor allows you to keep track, “monitor” and/or record your hearts impulses while you workout or at rest. Before buying a HR monitor, it’s important to first understand how and why to use one. Below we will review a few different styles of HR monitors to help you choose the best one for your training needs. Then we will discuss the why and how of utilizing this instrumental training aid.

Who uses them?
A wide range of athletes and fitness enthusiasts use HR monitors. Some people use them as guides in their sleep or daily walk to work to follow HR variations throughout the night or day in their HR. They can be used in everything from swimming to hiking, or cycling to dance class or strength training. The main focus is to understand WHY you are using it and find the best fit for YOU.

What HR monitors are out there?
There are two main types of HR monitors. Chest strap monitors and finger sensor monitors.

  • The chest strap monitors are your classic HR tool, the strap fits gently across your sternum area and the watch on your wrist collects the data from your chest strap utilizing a wireless signal. It then records your HR data and helps you stay within your target zones. These models most often have a “coded” signal ensuring that you are collecting and recording YOUR data and not your training partner next to you. These monitors are great for cyclists, tennis players, triathletes, runners, swimmers, aerobics class participants, etc. When you need a hands free device and want constant feedback on your HR zones.
  • The second type of monitor on the market is a finger sensor monitor. The watch/device on your wrist has a small sensor designed to take your HR from your finger whenever you find it convenient. You do need to pause in your workout to take a reading and this monitor is estimated to be 95% accurate. This monitor is excellent for strength training, sprint or intervals, short duration or metabolic circuit training and when you need quick feedback at the end of your sessions.

Some popular brands of heart rate monitors are: Timex, POLAR, Garmin, Tanita, New Balance, Nike, Gaiam, Suunto.

In our PRO SHOP we have the POLAR FT4 for $99.00 This hart rate monitor features: auto age based target zones, heart rate, heart rate target zones with audio and visual alarms, caloric indicator, backlight, graphical target zone, date, time, key lock, water resistant. This is an excellent heart rate monitor if you want personalized target HR zones set for you, a consistent read-out of heart rate, time, etc.

Find out what it is you want to use your HR Monitor for, read about the features and functions and then choose your best fit!

Hiking Tips and Tricks for Your Body

After a long, cold, dreary winter, hiking season is finally here! Hopefully you spent the dark months strengthening your legs, back and core for the miles of terrain you will be covering this summer. If not, here are a few tips and tricks to get you through the pain and allow you to enjoy the beautiful scenery that you will no doubt be looking for. Whether you are a veteran hiker or bran new to the sport, these tips will help you make it to the top!

When You Feel the Burn
Anyone who has ever hiked will tell you that the quadriceps muscles start to burn pretty quickly. Most hikers spend their off time strengthening their quads, doing tons and tons of stairs and general walking up hill.

TIP #1 – Strengthen your hamstrings and hips as well not just the quads!! The legs work together, meaning that when your quad is pressing you up, the hamstrings are slowing you down so you don’t go too far. The hips are equally important and help with balance when you step on a rock or a root or slip on snow. Try this exercise to help strengthen the low back, hips, and hamstrings!

Hamstring Curl on Ball

If you are looking for more of a challenge lift your arms off the ground. This will make you more unstable and will activate the core muscles more.

When the Hunger Sets In
On average, hiking burns roughly 500 calories an hour. The body is going to tapping out the energy stores throughout the course of the hike. These energy stores need to be replaced to maintain the activity level.

TIP #2 – Bring plenty of snacks AND water on your hike. DO NOT assume that there will be water on the trail. A blend of fats (preferably nuts), carbohydrates (dried fruit, a Clif bar) and protein (beef jerky, nuts) will help sustain the body during the hike and will help prevent hunger. Take time to stop and enjoy your food and remember the hike will always be there. Breaks aren’t cheating!

Cramps and sore muscles
Hiking is an extremely tough activity; especially on the body. A lot of force and pressure is distributed throughout the body including your joints, ligaments, tendons, and of course muscles. To help prevent cramps, strains or sprains, be sure to stretch sufficiently following the end of a hike.

TIP #3 – The common leg stretches are perfect for the conclusion of a hike. It is a great way to cool down before you jump back in the car to drive home. Make sure you stretch your quads (front of thigh), hamstrings (back of thigh), calf AND soleus (see picture below), and your hip flexors (see picture below).

Common Leg Stretches

  • Feel the stretch through the front of the leg behind you.
  • Make sure you keep your hips even and moving forward.
  • Hold for 15-20 seconds 3 times.

These tips will help to keep you out of danger and help prevent you from getting injured while out on the trail. Proper planning is always needed when attempting any hike. Of course, be sure to tell at least 2 people where you will be and what time you expect to return. By being physically and mentally prepared you are sure to have an amazing hiking season! Hope to see you on the trails this summer!

“I went on all four of SAC’s May hikes and loved it! I’ve hiked with groups before and because I’m not a particularly fast hiker, was left behind. Doesn’t happen with this club. All levels of hikers are accommodated with someone from SAC going with the faster hikers and someone staying with the slower hikers. The members of the Hikers Club I have hiked with so far are friendly and we all work together to get to the top and back to the bottom. I definitely will continue to hike with this group and feel I’ve made new friends!” Cheryl

What do HR Monitors do and why would I need one?

HR monitors utilize your personal data to calculate your different target HR zones from which you should train or exercise from. Well…what does that mean?

Basically, if you are a runner and you always run a 10K at the same pace and the same HR, you won’t get faster; simple as that. Our bodies need adaptation and periodization in training; we need to push beyond our comfort zones and train at various intensities as well as break down the body to enable it to recover, adapt and become stronger, faster, etc.

Let’s say you run your 10K at a 10 sec per mile faster pace this week. Now you know you are running at a faster pace but if you have a HR monitor on as well, you are then able to have two variables to aid you in your tracking of fitness. 1) pace 2) Heart Rate. The goal in training is that you will adapt the body to be able to run that faster 10K and maintain at a lower HR. The first time you run faster your HR will most likely sky rocket a little…but as you adapt and settle into your new pace and new training routine, your HR will also adapt and your fitness will improve over time.

There are invariably dozens of other training zones and factors that enable you to reach optimum performance in whatever your discipline is. The more you understand the why and how of what you are doing, the less time and effort you will waste on the “quantity” and the more time you will spend on the “quality” of training. If you are a squash player, understanding the HR zone that you stay in during a match allows you to “train” your system within and above that zone.

If you are an endurance athlete or triathlete, understanding ALL of your training zones and how much to train within each and at what part of the season is crucial to your growth as an athlete. Understanding aerobic and anaerobic capacity, sub-lactate and lactate zones, etc. are all part of the puzzle. The biggest blunder in endurance sports is in the mindset that “more is more”. Training smart and not necessarily more is how you will reach your goals this season. And, starting out with an understanding of your HR zones and how to train within them, in combination with strength and stability work, is your best start!

If you would like to better understand how to take out the “garbage yardage” of your training and start training with purpose and quality, or, if you just need help getting started, email our Outdoor Adventure Coach, Brandyn Roark and she will help you pick out a HR monitor or just teach you which zones you need to train within.

Hawaii 70.3 Triathlon – SAC Athlete Results

On Saturday, June 4th Seattle Athletic Club was represented in Kona, Hawaii at the Hawaii 70.3 triathlon. The course consisted of a 1.2 mile ocean swim, a 56 mile bike ride on the Ironman championship course with the winds and heat delivering as always, and a 13.1 mile run through the Mauna Lani golf course with a spectacular view of the ocean.

Each athlete trained and worked hard utilizing the coaches, the swim conditioning, cycle class, pilates lessons, and massage therapist at the SAC. Congrats to the following members/employees:

  • Bridget Jones – 5:05 and 5th in her division qualifying her for the Vegas World 70.3 championships.
  • Mark Webb – 4:46 for his fastest 70.3 to date and a great lead-up to Ironman CDA in just a few short weeks.
  • Tom Camp – 6:11. So much stronger with more experience going into the race this year!
  • Amanda Camp – Had an amazing performance dropping time in all three disciples from the previous year and landing herself a finish time of 6:38.
  • Kirsten Nesholm – Broke 6 hours with fantastic overall performance with a finish time of 5:50.
  • Bri Cooper – Stayed strong and positive after switching out 3 flats in the heat of Hawaii. Way to finish proudly! 6:48 (and with 42 minutes of flat tires).
  • Karissa Lackey- Had an amazingly quick swim and bike! Finishing in 6:11.

If you are interested in training with a team or individual coaching please contact Teresa Nelson for more information.

Are supplements really necessary?

Before discussing dietary supplementation, it is important to note that the term “supplement” is a very general one. When discussing supplements we are referring to multivitamins, steroids, and everything in between. That said, it is hard to make a statement that encompasses the entire group.

Generally speaking supplements are completely unnecessary, largely ineffective, and can even be dangerous.

Supplements are unnecessary because there is nothing that you can get in a supplement that you can not get from a well-balanced diet, often ineffective as micronutrients behave differently in isolation, and can be dangerous due to side effects and impacts on our endocrine system.

Do not be fooled by the claims that you hear on television or read in magazines. You can get absolutely everything you need from a well-balanced, natural diet. Anyone who tells you differently is either confused or simply trying to turn a profit.

Want That Beach Body, Get to Know Your Metabolism!

When the weather becomes sunny most people want to start to become active, go to the beach, wear those summer clothes and feel good about their body. The question most trainers get is how one can transform their body, after losing my winter weight, to a toned beach body. Well and easy way is to figure out what will change your metabolism or calories your burn throughout your day. I want to write to you about how strength training can really change your metabolism, and why it’s really the best way to go about getting that beach body!

There are three ways to change your metabolism through strength training;

  1. how you workout
  2. your oxygen consumption after you workout
  3. the increase in lean muscle mass

How You Workout! Whenever you move, your muscles are working and those working muscles require energy releasing heat as a byproduct of using that energy. Strength training in simple terms is movement but usually with an added load, and can alter your metabolism two ways; with the amount of muscle used to move the load and the amount of resistance applied to the body. When performing a squat exercise you are much larger muscles (like the quads & glutes) as well as more stabilizers (hip complex and core) to perform the exercise than say bicep curls where you are really just using the smaller bicep muscle and shoulder stabilizers. The difference in calorie burning can increase two fold per minute by doing a squat rather than a bicep curl (from 5 kcal to 10 kcal per minute of exercise). The other half to workout metabolism is the load; when lifting heavier weights (80% of your 1 rep max) you can burn 12 times as many calories as lighter weights (20% of your 1 rep max) because you need to incorporate more muscles, mostly stabilizers, to help move the larger amount of weight. So to get the biggest bang for your buck, make sure you are performing exercises using larger muscle groups with heavier weights (60-80% 1 rep max) in order to really change your body composition and increase your metabolism.

Your Oxygen Consumption After You Workout! What exactly is post-exercise oxygen consumption…in basic terms it is your body trying to repair all the muscle damage your workout just did to your muscle fibers. Your body has to work hard to restore used energy, eliminate waste by-products, replenish your used oxygen in the blood, lower your body temperature, lower your heart rate and lower elevated hormones after exercise; basically try to bring you back to the same level as before you worked out or “normal.” All of this internal work requires additional energy from the body which can significantly increase your metabolism after weight exercise more than after cardiovascular exercise. Now the increase in calorie burn is not huge like during the exercise, but with working out for 50 min at 50% of your maximum oxygen uptake, 15 times a month for 12 months you can burn an extra 92,400 calories or the equivalent of 26 lbs of fat with just the oxygen consumed after exercise needed to bring your body back to normal. Pretty neat huh!
Another factor to consider is what type of fuel your body is using during workouts. Weight training tends to utilize carbs more during the actual workout, but afterwards fat is utilized more to meet the energy demands of the body in its recovery phase; especially when higher intensity workouts are performed.

The Increase in Lean Muscle Mass! Everyone knows that properly performed high intensity strength training stimulates muscle growth/development. What you may not know is how your muscle changes your metabolism. First, your resting metabolic rate will increase with an increase in muscle mass because muscle burns 3 times as much energy as fat. Second, the more muscle one has the more post-exercise oxygen consumption. So if you can gain muscle, doesn’t have to be a lot, you will burn more calories during your workout, after your workout and throughout your normal activities!

Starting strength training at higher intensities will increase your calorie burn (mostly carbs) during the exercise and an increased utilization of fats after the strength training; elevating your metabolism for 2 – 15 hrs after. If you can increase your fat free muscle mass you will increase the amount of calories burnt during the exercise and at rest. So if you really want to start to work on your beach body, start to think about that metabolism and how to get it revved up and working harder! For more information on changing your workout or ideas on how to increase your metabolism contact any one of our qualified personal fitness trainers or the fitness director Jacob Galloway.

Why We Do So Many Lunges

Most people know that lunges are a great exercise. They burn your legs, they get your heart rate up, and they taste your balance. They strengthen the entire leg from the quadriceps to the glutes. Many, however, do not fully understand the benefits of being able to perform the lunge correctly or the way to progress and change your lunges.

Basic Lunge Form
To perform the basic lunge, take a big step forward leading with the heel. At the same time, come up to the ball of your foot on the back leg. Find your balance in this position before moving on. Once you feel stable, lower the back knee towards the ground keeping your weight in the heel of the front foot. Both knees should make a 90 degree angle with the ground. Press through the heel of the front foot, activating hamstrings and glutes, to move back into a standing position. Maintain a neutral spine (upright posture) throughout the movement for the basic lunge.

Lunge with a Twist
This lunge makes the exercise involves all 3 planes of motion, helping to activate the core muscles and spinal rotation. While holding a weight or a medicine ball, perform the initial phase of the basic lunge. As you lower the knee to the ground, rotate the body towards the forward knee, tightening the stomach as you move. Return back to center as you stand up, focusing on the heel. Make sure you stay in control of your body through the whole movement. If you find that you are unstable, break the steps down and make it two separate movements. Lunge-twist-return to center-stand up. Once your body learns to do that you can work towards putting it all together.

Side Lunge
The side lunge is one of the more difficult lunges to perform correctly. For beginners, stand with your feet wider than shoulder width apart with both feet pointing forward. Lean your weight to one side as you reach your hips back lowering down. Press into the foot to stand back up and then lean to the other side. The feet do not move and the toes stay pointing forward. Be sure the weight stays in the heel and that the knee stays over the foot. Once the standing side lunge becomes easily done you can move into the stepping side lunge. The movement is the same only now you need to find the right placement of the foot; not to short, not to far. If you try to think about where your foot was for the standing side lunge you should be good to go. Be careful that the foot doesn’t turn out as you step. This exercise is meant to activate the hip stabilizers more than a basic lunge.

Several day to day activities require lunges to be performed. This can be as simple as pulling something out of the car or picking up a pencil that has fallen on the ground to as complex as reaching for a drop shot on the tennis court. By training the body in the three planes of motion, you will be prepared to deal with different types of situations that our bodies face daily!

Pilates Exercise of the Month – Shoulder Bridge

Purpose: To work the powerhouse and strengthen the back of the legs (hamstrings).

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent, hip width apart, both feet firmly planted on the mat; arms by your sides, palms down.
  2. Squeeze your bottom and raise your hips off the mat. The hips, knees and feet are in perfect alignment.
  3. Inhale, pull your navel to spine, and lift one leg out long in front of you. Then, extend it up to the ceiling, pointing toes. Exhale, flex your foot and lower your leg to your knee. (You may lower the leg further as long as the hips stay level and leg does not drop to the mat).
  4. Repeat 3-5 kicks on each side, Inhaling as you lift leg to ceiling and point toe, exhaling as you flex foot and lower leg. To finish, place foot on the mat and repeat kicking sequence with other leg.
  5. When finished slowly roll your back down to the mat.

Visualization: Imagine you are suspended from the ceiling by a sling around your hips, keeping you lifted.

Head to Toe Checklist:

  • Stay lifted in the hips throughout the exercise by pressing into the standing leg to maintain balance and control.
  • Kick swiftly, but not forcefully. The motion should not alter your hip height.
  • Stretch the leg away from the body as it lowers.
  • Navel should be pressed in and buttocks squeezed tight.

Use discretion if you have difficulty bearing weight on your shoulders.


  • Lift and lower only the hips off mat.
  • Lift and lower one leg at a time, as if you were marching in place, hips remain still and lifted throughout.