Month: January 2012

Take Back Control of Your Body: Increase Your Metabolism!

Do you remember back in your younger days when you could eat anything you wanted and it not add a single pound to your body, or back when you could hit the gym once a week to lift weights and your body still look tone? Does the expression “It’s my metabolism’s fault” sound familiar?

If you find each year that you are carrying some extra pounds and struggling to lose them, it may be because of a sluggish metabolism. Some doctors say that by the age of 40 our metabolism slows by five percent each decade. That means we start to pack on extra pounds each year as our bodies become less efficient at burning calories.

It’s time for you to take back control over your body and increase your metabolism! Basically, your metabolism can be thought of as the rate at which we burn calories and ultimately it determines how quickly we gain weight or how easily we lose it. Your metabolism is influenced by your age (it decreases by 5% after age 40), your sex (men generally burn more calories at rest than women), and by the proportion of lean body mass (the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism rate tends to be). There are plenty other factors that can affect our metabolism such as illness, motherhood, certain medications, and metabolic disorders.

The good news is we can fight back! Here are a few key things you can do to help boost your body’s calorie burning power at any age:

Strength Training is Ultimately the Key

We may be better off spending less time on the treadmill and more time in the weight room. While cardio exercise benefits the heart and lungs, strength (resistance) training builds lean muscle mass and lean muscle mass is paramount to a fuel efficient body. The more muscle we have, the more calories we burn, even in our sleep.

Eat Protein and Eat Often
Never eat fewer than 1,000 calories per day. Our metabolism thrives on food. Eat three protein-packed meals and two protein snacks per day. Snacking will actually give your metabolism a boost while protein provides a thermal (fat burning) effect superior to that of carbohydrates. Eating enough protein also helps to build and maintain muscle mass, another important factor in revving up the metabolism. Eat as often as every two to three hours and never allow more than five hours between meals. Fish, turkey, nuts, low-fat cheese, avocados, and eggs are excellent choices. And don’t forget to spice it up! Many studies have shown that spicy foods, like hot peppers, can boost metabolism.

Stay Hydrated

Your body depends on water for survival. Water makes up more than half of your body weight. Every cell, tissue and organ in your body needs water to function correctly. For example, your body uses water to maintain its temperature, remove waste and lubricate joints. Water is essential for good health. Drinking six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day, is a reasonable goal.

Some people are at higher risk of dehydration, including those who get a lot of exercise, have certain medical conditions, are sick, or are not able to get enough fluids during the course of the day. Older adults are also at higher risk. As you age, your brain may be unable to sense dehydration and send the signals for thirst.

Adequate Amount of Sleep

Get to bed earlier! We need at least eight hours of sleep per night for our bodies to function properly during the day. Research shows that people who don’t get a sufficient amount of quality sleep tend to gain weight. The quality of our sleep affects the hormones leptin and grehlin, which control hunger and metabolism. Being tired also causes us to reach for empty calories like sweets.

It is the beginning of a new year so be sure to make it a priority to take care of your self and contact the fitness department at the Seattle Athletic club to talk with one of our personal trainers. We will help get you started on a wellness program that will allow you to take back control of your body.

New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year its 2012 the year of the dragon The time to start the New Year with a fit you, and it’s that time again when we look at the New Year, with goals, resolutions, and personal development. The body takes 15 days to create, implement, and resonate internally a new habit. You start your day with 1440 minutes to start a 30 minute fitness routine should be simple ( right ), but as a fitness professional the number 1 sabotage from clients is “I have no time.” Just think of how you CAN get to the Seattle Athletic Club, set times, days, and book your calendar. You should start small look at the classes being offered if you have been out of the fitness routine. Try not to use the “all or nothing” approach since it never works without preparation!

Preparation is the key to success.
Look back at the work outs you had time to do prior, and think of what worked and what didn’t work. Start with basic classes; build up your confidence, then your awareness with help you understand your fitness path to being in the mental/physical shape you desire. Try something new with an open mind; give it a chance to set in. Always give yourself kudos when you get to the Seattle athletic Club, taking the first step is the only way to start. Whatever format of exercise you do be proud to be there, and never look at any work out as a bad one. You showed up, you tried, feel invigorated, and now get inspired to keep the habit.

Try something different:

  • • Grab a jump rope: 1 minute = 3 minutes jogging
  • • Go punch a punching bag: you burn 30 -40 calories per minute
  • • Do cardio a la carte: spend 15 minutes per exercise machine for 1 hour
  • • Specialized classes: Let fitness professional take you through an action packed class and make friends

Always be proud of who you are, and what you are doing. Have a great year, focus on your goals, and stay consistent.

Spice up your workout!

Keep your New Years resolution alive by mixing up your workout and staying motivated. Group exercise classes such as Yoga, cycle, sports conditioning, dance or resistant classes are ways to liven up your workout while staying motivated and having fun. Before you lose site of your goals branch out into other areas of fitness training. Who knows, you might even enjoy it!

Group, by definition, is more than one person. Therefore, more conservative guidelines are set for group exercise than that of a personal trainer who works one-on-one or a coach who works with a well-trained athlete. Due to the nature of group exercise, an educated instructor will evaluate two main components-effectiveness and potential risk. With that in mind, the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America or AFAA, which is a nationally recognized organization for group exercise certifications, has developed five questions an instructor should consider when putting together a safe and effective workout for participants.

First, what is the purpose of the exercise? Consider muscular strength or endurance, cardiorespiratory conditioning, flexibility, warm-up, skill development, and stress reduction. Secondly, are you doing that effectively? Consider proper range, speed or body position against gravity. Third, does the exercise create any safety concerns? Consider potential stress areas, environmental concerns or movement control. Fourth, can you maintain proper alignment and form for the duration of the exercise? Consider form, alignment, and stabilization. Finally, for whom is the exercise appropriate or inappropriate? Consider modifications to increase or decrease the level of intensity based on fitness levels.

When choosing a class that suits your needs, consider your goals whether they are flexibility, cardio-fitness or strength training. Once you have determined this, grab a schedule and jump in! Before you begin a new class, it’s always a good idea to talk with the instructor before class. He or she can provide valuable information as to what you can expect and what you may want to do to modify. Keep in mind, the first couple of times you try anything new it will seem awkward. The key is to keep going back. The more you participate, the better you will become. The energy in the class provided from the instructor, the music and the workout will inspire you to return and reach your fitness goals.

If you are ready to branch out and try something new to help your fitness goals become a reality, try a group exercise class today!

Why icing may not be your best bet for sore muscles…

We all know the acronym RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) but is that really the answer to all sore muscle pains? Research in Ireland is showing a different case. Most athletes or active persons involved in an injury or sore muscle issues will immediately place ice on the injury sight.

As a professional athlete who spends most of her time racing on a mountain bike or on skis, get bumps and bruises quite often and sometimes a sore shoulder from falling off my bike and hitting a tree or from completely annihilating myself off a ski jump while trying to do a 360 on skate skis. I have had my fair share of injuries, mostly muscle or bone bruising and I most often would ice the sore area…it made it feel better. And, one of my favorite activities are ice baths the night before a race. The feeling of the blood leaving my legs in the cold bath and then re-warming as I snuggle into some cozy sweats is wonderful. But, I’m not sure it is always the best idea to ice and then be active.

It is difficult with icing and research because there is really no way to do a “blind” test. You can’t blind people to whether they are receiving a therapy or a placebo, and people mostly know if their muscles are getting cold or not. Current research has indicated that icing significantly reduced muscle strength and power for up to 15 minutes after the icing had ended, and it also lessened fine motor coordination. Impaired limb proprioception was also a symptom from people in the study.

One idea for this decrease in performance and power is the ice reduces nerve conduction velocity. The impulses from the nerves are slowed down within the muscle and tendon fibers, thus decrease their seamless functionality. So, with impaired function the possibility of injury can rise.

So what’s the point here? Basically icing limits your muscular functionality for a limited time. So, if you are injured and you choose to numb the pain with ice…do not return to exercise after icing. Icing is great for acute injuries, just don’t go back to your workout. Chill out, hydrate and plan your next workout in your head!

One Hour Postal Swim!

Hey swimmers, it’s time for another Postal Swim! Seattle Athletic Club Downtown is hosting their annual One Hour Postal Swim (OHP) on January 29th.

  1. *Swim as far as you can in one hour
  2. *No need to count laps (someone else does that for you)
  3. *Submit your laps and splits to USMS (United States Masters Swimming)

Training tips:

  • *Gradually increase overall yardage in a session. Approx 10-20% based on the amount you have been swimming.
  • *Gradually increase overall yardage in a week. Approx 5-10%
  • *Get in 1-3 sessions totaling your estimated yardage you have set out to reach in the hour.
  • *Frequency is more important over total volume in a session so swim often. 4×15-30 minute sessions are better than 1 session at 1 or 2 hours.
  • *Join in on a swim conditioning class at Seattle Athletic Club to mix up your routine and to meet fellow OHP swimmers.

Rules and Regulations here:

Contact Teresa Nelson at to sign up.

Triathletes Checklist – What’s in Your Bag?

Have you considered participating in your first Triathlon in 2012? Or are you the type of athlete who always seems to forget something on race day? Here’s a quick list of essential items that should be in every triathletes bag for their next event.


  • Goggles
  • Cap
  • Timing Chip
  • Timing Chip Strap
  • Wetsuit/Speed suit
  • Tri Top
  • Tri Bottoms
  • Watch
  • Body Glide
  • Towel
  • Sunscreen


  • Bike
  • Pump
  • Cartridges
  • Tubes
  • Helmet
  • Helmet number
  • Glasses
  • Bike Shoes
  • Waterbottle
  • Fuel (water/electrolytes/gels/bars/etc)
  • Race Belt
  • Race Number
  • Socks


  • Run Shoes
  • Visor/Hat
  • Gels

Post Race:

  • Change of Clothes
  • Fresh shoes
  • Recovery Food

Seattle Athletic Club Downtown is proud to have USAT Level II Triathlon Coach, Teresa Nelson along with her team of supporting coaches leading our multi-sport program. For more information on training for multi-sport events, please contact Teresa at

Pilates Mat Class Q&A

Have you ever taken a mat class, and wondered why we teach them the way we do? I’ve been teaching mat classes since 1999, and I hear these same questions over and over. Let’s address them!

Why doesn’t the Pilates Instructor workout with us?
A Pilates Instructor teaches her class based on what she sees, and she responds to your abilities. Observe the mat class closely and you will notice that a good Pilates mat class is interactive. Are you having trouble with an exercise? She may come over to help you. Is the class moving too slowly? She will give you energy with her voice. If she did her whole workout in front of you, why would you come to class? You could just stay at home and pop in a DVD if you would rather just go through the motions and not be pushed. You are not the “audience”; you are the active participants and are helping to design the class!

Why does the instructor walk around? What is she looking at?
She is looking at you! She is watching your form and judging your abilities so that she can form the exercises around the needs of the class. When I’m teaching, I notice right away as people walk in whether they are dragging their heels with a lack of energy, or come bouncing in with a lot of energy. If they have a lot of energy, I’ll make the 100 more challenging by adding the criss-cross legs. During the roll-up, I notice if the class is generally flexible or stiff. If no one can touch their toes, I’ll spend more time stretching during single-leg circles.

I like having the dim lights. Why are the brighter lights on?
The instructor needs to see you! Dim lights are great for a meditative, stretching, breathy class. But Pilates is meant to invigorate, not put you to sleep.

Why is there no music?
Pilates is very rhythmic. Can you picture the instructor counting the 100 right now? What about open leg rocker? Have you ever done the criss-cross quickly, then slowly? Each exercise has its own rhythm that is unique to that particular exercise. We manipulate the rhythm to make the exercise harder or, occasionally, easier for you. Music would interfere with this technique.

Gym Etiquette – Hey, Can I Work In?

Welcome 2012! Welcome all you new SAC gym goers and many of you faithful continued gym goers. With the New Year brings many new & regular people who may need a refresher on how to be respectful to amongst fellow gym goers as well as the people trying to keep your facility in tip top shape. Here at the Seattle Athletic Club we try and offer everyone the very best, and never mind lending a helping hand or answering questions, but here are a couple tips to make sure that everyone can enjoy the gym…because everyone has an equal membership and is allowed equal opportunities to utilize the same parts of the gym as you are!

Here is a summary of the tips:

  • Leave the gym better than when we got there by simply re-racking your weights & equipment.
  • Try not to take equipment from one area and leaving it in another area.
  • To ensure the safety of your toes members are required to wear close toed athletic shoes in the free weight room and cybex room (basically anywhere up stairs).
  • Specialized equipment is stored behind locked doors & may be utilized by members as long as they ask for permission every time they want to use it.
  • Spray down and wash the equipment after you use it.
  • Sharing is caring…if you come back to someone using your equipment or area, try and work in with them.
  • Everything within the club belongs to the club; please don’t bring club equipment home with you.

How many times have you gone to use a piece of equipment and realized there was a stack of large weight plates left on it for you to remove, or looked for a pair of dumbbells but were unable to find its mate? We need to realize that we need to leave the gym better than when we got there, or simply re-rack your weights & equipment. Not everyone in the gym can lift three 45 lbs plates off of the bench, squat rack or plate loaded equipment. Just think of it as part of your workout to unload all those plates…and pull the weights off and throwing them on the floor is not replacing them, its just causing another hazard to other members and staff. Not everyone can read minds and figure out where you left the dumbbell after you used it, plus it’s a hazard to leave lying around for someone to trip on.

Along the same lines, other specialized equipment like resistance bands, medicine balls, BOSU & Swiss balls etc all have their own homes (usually each room has their own stock of equipment). This equipment sometimes finds its ways in strange areas like on the running track, down by the squash courts or in the kick boxing area. The employees of the Seattle Athletic Club try to ensure that there is a range of equipment in each area (that each area can sustain), please help us by not taking stuff from one area and leaving it in another area. Many members and employees have become accustom for equipment to be in a certain area, and when someone uses it and does not put it back to its home it hinders other’s workouts and enjoyment of that equipment. Remember, if every room is stocked with a range of equipment, then there should be no need to bring it from another room. If there are resistance bands missing, someone has not been good about replacing the equipment where they got it from.

Close toed athletic shoes…where are they required and why? Members are required to wear close toed athletic shoes in the free weight room and cybex room (basically anywhere up stairs). This is to ensure the safety of your toes, which you need for balance, and if a 50 lb dumbbell falls on them it makes it hard to balance well. Many members have talked to me about this and expressed that they would never drop a weight on their own foot, that may be true but can you control what others do? If someone next to you fatigues and drops a weight and your foot happens to be in the way…oops there goes your toes. The other issue members have is that they say a close toed athletic shoe does not provide much protection, this may be true but some protection is better than no protection at all. Plus from a sanitary issue, it keeps your feet protected from anything that could be on the ground. So if you are thinking about taking one of our outstanding yoga classes and then come to the stretching mats or cybex room upstairs without shoes for a quick stretch or workout, expect to be asked to put your shoes on.

One of the most unique things about the Seattle Athletic Club is all of our specialized equipment, most of which is here for members to utilize as well. If there is a kettlebell sitting on the rack in the weight room feel free to use it, if you are interested in using a TRX suspension trainer, go through a quick instructional course from a trainer and then just check it out when ever you want to add it to your workout. If you feel like stretching with a power band, borrow on from the fitness director’s office. If there is specialized equipment placed in the open then its here for you to use, and replace when you are finished. If there is specialized equipment in locked doors, it is usually equipment the personal trainers have purchased (not the club) and brought to the club to train with. This specialized equipment in locked doors (or doors that are usually locked, some may be open because of a trainer using the equipment) can be utilized by members as long as they ask for permission every time they want to use it. Because it is specialize and not owned by the club there is a risk with someone not accustomed to using it, and we need to make sure that you will not hurt yourself or others.

I love to see people sweating during their workout, to me its showing off all their effort in their workout…but other members do not enjoy your sweaty equipment too. There are spray bottles and towels in every room that you can use to spray down and wash the equipment after you use it, just think of it as an active rest time (where your heart rate to lower to under 100 beats per minute within a minute of finishing your exercise) and get a quick cleaning in. Speaking of towels, there are also towel bins in every room for you to place your used towels in.

Many people like to do circuit style workouts, it’s a great way to use a lot of muscle groups at once, and get your heart going…it also uses a lot of equipment and space. This is okay to do, but remember others are trying to workout in the same area as you. They should be able to work in with you when you are not on that piece of equipment or in that area. If you leave the weight room to go use a machine in the cybex room, it is hard to know if you are coming back (unless you are a trainer and know most everyone’s workout routines); if you come back to someone using your equipment or area, try and work in with them…sharing is caring!

Everything within the club belongs to the club (unless it is your own personal belongings you brought with you). This means that sweat and bathing towels should stay in the club and not end up in your gym bag. Jump ropes, resistance bands and other equipment have been purchased for enjoyment of everyone, not for you to start your own at home gym. If you are interested in knowing how much they cost or even having us purchase a band for you (or check out the pro shop, lots of fun workout gear in there) let the fitness director know and we can order you one!

We are all human, we all forget to replace our used equipment from time to time, but it should not be a habit we continue. Gym etiquette is something everyone should be responsible for, creating a great atmosphere for all members. If you use a set of dumbbells, a barbell, a ball, a box or specialty equipment put it back when you’re done. If you grab a cable attachment from the tree to use, don’t take off the handle that’s currently on there and put it on the floor, put it on the tree- it’s simple. Yes, the Seattle Athletic Club’s staff is here to make sure the weight room is kept safe and clean, but everyone should take an active role in the cleanliness and safety within the club. When it comes to the gym just remember the golden rule, do unto others as you would have others do unto you! So be respectful for other members sharing this gym; it takes very little effort to pick up after yourself and everyone benefits from it.

Yoga for Ailments

While studying Ayurvedic medicine (holistic medicine from India), I quickly realized how intertwined yoga is in this system. There are several different types of yoga, most focus on meditation. Hatha yoga is a branch that integrates physical asanas; this is what most westerners are familiar with. A pioneer in Hatha yoga is Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar. Iyengar yoga is known for it’s intense, rigorous style; however, Iyengar founded his practice off of the belief that yoga can heal. I wanted to highlight a few asanas that can be done to alleviate common ailments that he has recommended, and coincide with what I’ve learned through my studies.

For heart and circulation asanas that are effective, inversions are a great choice and have multiple health benefits.

Salamba Sirsasana – This pose requires a lot of muscle activation to maintain. It has a vigorous effect of the circulatory system, helps alleviate insomnia, and is said to relieve symptoms of colds, coughs and tonsilitis. It is not a good idea if you have a migraine, cervical spondylosis, an ear/ eye infection, have had dental work recently done, or shoulder impingement.

Be sure to maintain core/ body contraction as if holding a plank position, elongate the body pushing energy toward the ceiling, and shoulder blades back and down.

Viparita Karani – This pose is a passive alternative. It’s another inversion that improves circulation and heart function.

Elevate legs against a wall with hips touching the wall. You can use one or two bolsters supporting the lower back. The bolster should also be flush with the wall. If you have neck issues, a good modification is to roll a small towel up and put it behind the neck to maintain the cervical curvature.

Viparita Dandasana – This pose is similar to fish pose. It’s a great chest opener and spinal mobilizer.

Climb into a chair backwards, lie backwards giving your lower back and hips support. Use a bolster off the ground, hang your head down to the floor touching the crown of your head to the bolster. You can stack multiple bolsters if you have reduced extensibility of the lumbar spine.

For digestive issues several different asanas will improve peristalsis and digestion.

Utthita Parsvakonasana – This pose opens the hips and mobilizes the lumbar spine.

Open both hips aligning knees properly lunging into front leg (thigh parallel to the ground). In the side bend make sure to reach through the fingers creating length in the spine and not place your weight on the hand that’s on the ground.

Utthita Marichyasana – This pose is an intense torso and leg stretch.

Place a chair or high stool against a wall. Stand with the inside foot on a chair and twist toward the wall, place both hands flat on the wall and wrap your opposite elbow around the outside of your knee. Remember to keep chest open and look over your shoulder.

Stress and immune system health are generally important for everyone to focus on regularly to maintain quality of life.

Supta Baddhakonasana – This pose requires several props, but is really effective.

Align the bolster parallel with your spine touching the tailbone. When positioning the strap, place it low around the back of your hips level with the sacrum and use blocks to touch your knees down to if necessary.

Adhomukha Virasana (downward- facing hero pose)- This pose has a calming effect and is similar to Balasana (child’s pose).

When lying over the bolster, you can use a rolled up towel under the hips if you have reduced ankle and knee flexibility, and a rolled up towel to rest your head on for comfort.

Some of you may be familiar with these asansas from a traditional or restorative class. Now, you can look into self-healing from a holistic standpoint, as well. Having a qualified yoga instructor help you perform these asanas for the first time is important. Please contact Personal Fitness Trainer/Certified Yoga Instructor, Amber Walz, or any member of our yoga staff for details on how to begin.

One of the biggest questions gym goers ask themselves: “Do I use machines or free weights?”

Now that the holidays are over and the New Year has begun everyone is starting to come crawling out of hibernation. The gym is usually where they will end up shaving off some of the reserves that weren’t necessarily needed all winter. One of the biggest question new gym rats (or returning gym rats) ask themselves is “Do I use machines or free weights?” It is a great question that has been debated back and forth for years in the fitness community. Below lists some pro’s and con’s in regards to machine based training and free weights to help you make your own educated decision.

1. The machines will set the body in the correct position for target specific muscle groups.
2. They are easily adjustable. The weight can be changed without the difficulty meaning you can push your limit safely.
3. Usually set up in a total body circuit which is easy to understand.
4. Several machines have multiple uses (pec deck for rear delts, leg press for calf raises).

1. Limited range of motion.
2. Not each body type is the same and some machines don’t allow adjustments of each piece.
3. Unrealistic movements that do not translate to real life.
4. Targets prime movers and do not recruit stabilizers or core muscles which are needed in day to day activities.

Free Weights:

  1. Greater range of motion
  2. Stabilizer muscles are recruited throughout the exercise.
  3. More core muscle engagement since you will not have the support from the machine.
  4. Broader selection of exercises to perform which are more realistic and prepare the body for everyday activity.


  1. Education is required to perform the exercises correctly. If performed incorrectly there is a greater chance that you will be injured.
  2. Spotting is often required.
  3. More inconvenient to change or adjust your weight. Must put weight back and select new weight.
  4. Must decide which exercise to do next instead of following a circuit.

Both the machines and free weights offer great advantages to building strength, endurance, and flexibly. The happy medium between the two would be the Free Motion Cable Machine. You get the benefit of having to stabilize your body using your core while having the ease of changing the weight that you get from machine based exercises. It is important to make smart decision prior to exercising to avoid injuring yourself. Always consult a personal trainer before starting a new routine to find out what is best for your body type and athletic ability!