Month: August 2013

Pilates Exercise of the Month: HIP CIRCLES

Hip Circles, Pilates Moment

Purpose:  Hip Circles focus on the abdominal muscles; strethes the front of the shoulders, across the chest, and down the arms.

Starting Position: Sit in a V position with the arms extended behind the body, hands resting on floor; fingers face away from body. The legs are together, about an 60 degree angle from the floor.

  1. Inhale; move your legs down and around to the right.
  2.  Exhale, complete the circle, bringing the legs to the left and back up to the starting V position.
  3. Complete 3-5 sets.


Visualization: Imagine your hands are stuck in cement and you are unable to move your torso except to keep it lifting to the ceiling.

  Head to Toe Checklist:

  1. Begin small, increasing circles as you gain strength.
  2. Circling the legs too low will compromise your abdominals.
  3. Don’t let the upper body collapse.
  4. Press the shoulders down and away from your ears.


Prop yourself up on your elbows if maintaining straight arms is to difficult.

Jocelyn Paoli, Pilates Instructor

The Naturopathic Walk of Life

By Personal Fitness Trainer Amber Walz, Seattle Athletic Club Downtown

Many questions arise around naturopathic medicine. The creed, “do no harm,” is first and foremost. A licensed ND goes through a 4-year medical doctorate program at an accredited university and must pass national boards called NPLEX exams. Naturopaths operate on the holistic standard of treating the cause, not the symptom. Most of the time treatment of symptoms will not address the underlying issue. This is most obvious in cases of chronic illness; for example, if you have a client with diabetes who is treated with insulin, but not treated with nutritional guidelines and exercise, the symptoms are being treated yet not the cause. Naturopaths seek to restore and maintain optimum health in their patients by emphasizing nature’s self-healing process, the vis medicatrix naturae.


Food as medicine– Nutrition can be complex yet an amazing way to treat many conditions, correct deficiencies, discover intolerances, and balance energy. A naturopath will give nutritional guidance within their scope both as a medicine, as well as, diet.

Physical medicine- Physical medicine will increase longevity, and is used in treatment and upkeep of the physical body. Naturopathic medicine can encompass many forms of treatment depending on specialization of the practitioner.

Herbal medicine- Herbs and homeopathy are used in treatment to supplement or as an alternative to prescription medication. Most often the herbs will mimic the same biochemical pathway as the prescription option. Homeopathy is a method of treating like with like. Highly diluted substances are used to trigger the same symptoms and the body’s natural healing system as a response.

Counseling- The mind is as the body does. Naturopaths are trained to take into account quality of life, stress, and overall emotional health upon treatment. The counseling is limited to the practitioner’s specializations, yet it is always an element of treatment.


If you are curious about what a naturopath can offer, well, you are in the right place. Washington is one of the most progressive states related to naturopathic scope of practice. There is growing demand for integrative practices, which will lead to greater opportunity for research and development of this holistic field of medicine.




By Fitness Intern Andrea Aronsen, Seattle Athletic Club Downtown

Mastering the flip turn can be an intimidating task to take on. However, developing this skill will give you the uninterrupted swim time you need to improve and build endurance in the pool.
Flip Turn Image 1 Starting the Turn

The first part of the flip turn to discuss is coming into the wall. Along the bottom of the lane is a black line with a T at the end near the wall. This T marks that you are about 2 feet away from the wall and should begin prepping your flip turn. Generally speaking, the last stroke will be taken over the T (you may need to test this to see if this works for you). After your last stroke you should be horizontal at the surface of the water, arms at your sides, looking straight down at the bottom of the pool.

Flip Turn Image 2 middle of  the Turn

Next comes the flip! The most important part of the flip is to continue to breath out your nose they entire time! If you forget to do this you will end up choking on some pool water which is never a good thing. So continue to breathe out your nose while you flip to keep water out! One description that has stuck with me after all my years of swimming is that you are “chasing your legs.” Once you are in the horizontal position tuck your chin to your chest to initiate the rotation, and then fold at the waist as if you were going to chase your legs as you whip them over above you. The smaller you get when you fold over the faster you will flip. Many swimmers who are new to flip turns will try to use their arms to “spin” them around faster. In reality however, using your arms actually slows you down! Your hands should stay pointing towards the opposite end of the pool at all times so that when you complete the flip they are up by your ears ready for streamline position.

Once you have completed the flip you should be on your back, arms next to your ears, feet planted on the wall shoulder width apart (slightly skewed from pointing straight up, in the direction that you will roll to get back on to your stomach), and knees bent at about 90 degrees. Press your arms into a streamline, squeezing your ears as tightly as possible, making an arrow to cut through the water. Explosively press of the wall with your legs, rotating your body back over to your stomach as you dolphin kick back to the surface.

Flip Turn Image 3 Completing the Turn

Begin by practicing and mastering each part of the flip turn before combining them together. Soon you will be looking like a seasoned pro as you swim your continuous laps with your newly mastered flip turn. If you feel like you need more help contact one of the swim instructors on the staff or that aquatics director Teresa Nelson.

Slide Your Way to Stronger Hips!

The slider board was first introduced to gyms in the early 1990s. Professional football player, Jeff Markland, was looking for a new, innovative way to recover from injuries. After working with speed skaters, he developed the first, mass-produced slide board called the Kneedspeed. Unfortunately, this was a time when gyms were more interested in-group exercise classes that were specifically choreographed to music so the slide board did not fit that category. Slowly but surely the slide board has been making its way back into the fitness centers around the country. Although it is not just the athletes breaking out the slide board, but those looking for general fitness, new cross training, and especially injury prevention.

Movement on the slide board is performed as a closed-kinetic chain exercise. This means that the foot or hand remains in contact with the ground throughout the entire exercise. This ‘closed’ movement creates load on the joints and muscles, which increases joint stability during dynamic movements. This style of training is perfect for rehabilitation, since there is a constant load placed on every aspect of the joint (ligaments, tendons, and muscles), particularly in recovering from ACL tears. Lateral sliding on the board works both the outer and inner thighs, working to strength the medial ligament, which is commonly damaged during ACL injuries. Sliding also tremendously helps with IT Band syndrome, which is extremely common in long distance runners. By working lateral aerobic endurance and stabilizers, runners can move forward more efficiently with less risk of injury.


Here are a few exercises to try on your own:

Lateral Sliding– With booties over your shoes, place your foot against the block at the end of the slide board. Squat and press into the outer edge of the foot to send the body across the board to the other side. Try to prevent the legs from splitting apart. Instead, think about keeping the feet as close to hip width throughout the whole movement. This will help protect the knees and will work the inner thighs more.

Reverse Lunge– With the booties over your shoes, face away from the slide board with one foot on the board behind you. While maintaining an upright posture; slide backwards as you slightly bend the back knee. Keeping the stomach tight, stand up while sliding the foot back to the start position. Try to prevent putting any significant weight in the back foot. You should feel a stretch down the thigh of the leg behind you as you make the movement.

Side Lunge- With the booties over your shoes, stand beside the slide board. Keeping your weight over the foot on the ground, push your hips backwards as you bend at the knee. Make sure you keep the opposite leg straight with the quadriceps muscle engaged. As with the reverse lunge, try to prevent putting any significant weight into the foot that is on the slide board. This exercise will work the lateral stabilizers of the hip and ankle as well as stretching and strengthening the inner thigh muscles.

Pikes/Tucks- Start in a plank position with your feet on the slide board and the hands on the ground out in front. Pressing out of the arms and pulling in the stomach, lift the hips up in the air as you slide your feet up. You will feel a hamstring stretch at the top of this movement. Carefully lower your hips back down to the plank position making sure you don’t let your hips drop too low which will help protect the back.


For being a simple piece of equipment, the slider board can provide ample fitness benefits. It is a great cross-training tool for most activities such as: running, biking, downhill skiing, skate skiing, squash and tennis. As with any exercise, start small and slow, working your way up to more challenging movements and faster speeds. The Seattle Athletic Club has two slide boards located just beyond the lobby in the cybex room by the hand towels.  If you would like to learn how to use the slide board within your workout routine contact Thomas Eagen.

Have you tried INSANITY?

In most workouts you are exercising at a moderate level for several minutes and then you kick up your intensity and heart rate for a few seconds and then back to your moderate level. Bringing your intensity back down to a moderate level is giving your body enough time to catch your breathe completely and rest before the next higher intensity set.

Insanity is the exact opposite; you are working your body at a max intensity level for 2-5 minutes, with a short 30 second break between (see the chart below). This keeps your heart rate up and your body working at a max level through the entire 30-50 minute workout. You are pushing your limits within exercise every time you do Insanity, forcing your body to learn, adapt and get fitter.
An example of how an Insanity class is laid out is shown below so that you know what to expect before taking it:

50 minute workout layout:

Warm up (9 minutes)
Stretch (3 minutes)
Block one (2 minutes)
Repeat 2 more times
Power move (1 minute)
Block two (2 minutes)
Repeat 2 more times
Power move (1 minute)
Block three (2 minutes)
Repeat 2 more times
Power move (1 minute)
Abdominals (8 minutes)
Stretch (3 minutes)

Block Layout:

Exercise one (30 seconds)
Exercise two (30 seconds)
Exercise three (30 seconds)
Exercise four (30 seconds)
Rest (30 seconds)

Come try out the insanity class on Tuesday evenings at 6:35 in the group exercise studio by the weight room. Everyone is welcome! There are modifications for every movement for those who may have limitations. If you have an injury, this specific workout may not be recommended. Come enjoy a full body workout that will help you reach your fitness goals! If you have any questions please contact personal fitness trainer Amber Gruger.

Decrease your child’s risk to sport injuries


Summer is upon us which means school is out and now you have to help keep your kids active without pushing them too hard.  A summer of fun activities can quickly turn into a summer of stress and overuse injury.   From various little league teams to sport camps put on by your surrounding community centers the decision of what activities are appropriate and how much your kids can handle is an overwhelming thought.


Keeping your kids safe is a high priority for all parents and coaches.  Keeping an open line of communication with the child and the coach is extremely important for parents to understand the mental and physical demands placed on your child’s body while participating in multiple physical activities over the summer.  Kids are starting organized sports at an earlier age these days which sometimes means the size and athletic ability of your child may put them at risk when competing with others the same age.  Doing a little research and talking with the coaches/instructors before just placing your children into a camp or league can give you a good understanding if that activity will be a good fit for your child.


Risk of Injury


All sports have a risk of injury; some more than others. In general, the more contact in a sport, the greater the risk of injury.  Concussions occur after an injury to the head or neck. They are most likely caused by body-to-body contact, body-to-object (like a ball) contact, or body-to-ground contact.  Most sports injuries involve the soft tissues of the body, not the bones. Only a small percentage of sports injuries involve broken bones. However, the areas where bones grow in children are at more risk of injury during the rapid growth phase of puberty.  The main types of sports injuries are sprains (injuries to ligaments) and strains (injuries to muscles). Many injuries are caused by overuse. Overuse is when a child overdoes it (by pitching too many innings, for example). This places stress on the tendons, joints, bones, and muscles and can cause damage.


How to reduce risks

  • Wear the right gear. Appropriate protective equipment may include pads (neck, shoulder, elbow, chest, knee, and shin), helmets, mouthpieces, face guards, protective cups, and eyewear.
  • Increase flexibility. Stretching exercises before and after games can help increase flexibility of muscles and tendons used in play.  There are a wide variety of stretch assisting tools available such as the foam rolls or stretch bands which can make stretching more fun for your kids.
  • Strengthen muscles. At a young age the focus will be on general motor patterns and as the athletes get older the exercise will consist of more sport specific movements and overall increase in major muscle development.  Conditioning exercises during practice and before games can help strengthen muscles used in play but you may also need to supplement their activities with a specific strength training program.  Gyms such as the Seattle Athletic Club offer summer strength training programs for all ages and skill levels all year round.
  • Use the proper technique throughout the season of play.  Depending on the sport your child’s attention to details and technique will help them decrease risk of injury.
  • Take breaks. Rest periods are important during practice and games to reduce the risk of overuse injuries. During the year, a 2-month break from a specific sport is recommended to prevent overuse injuries.  Going from school organized sport right into summer league can attribute to overuse injuries because there is not adequate recovery from the stress of the port.
  • Play safe. There should be strict rules against headfirst sliding (in baseball and softball), spearing (in football), and body checking (in ice hockey) to prevent serious head and spine injuries.
  • Stop the workout if there is pain.
  • Prevent heat injury or illness. Rules for safe exercise in the heat include the following:
    • Drink plenty of proper fluids before, during, and after exercise or play.
    • Allow athletes to gradually adjust to exercising in hot, humid weather by increasing activities slowly over the first 2 weeks of practice.
    • Decrease or stop practices or competitions during periods when the combination of excessive heat and humidity approaches dangerous levels.
    • Wear lightweight clothing.
  • Stop playing if lightning is detected within a 6-mile radius (follow the “5 second per mile” rule).
  • Play on safe fields. Inspect fields before practices and games. Clear all debris and repair holes and uneven surfaces.


It’s also important to make sure your child has a complete physical exam by your pediatrician before participating in any sport. Most organized sports teams require an exam before a child can play. These exams are not designed to stop children from participating, but to make sure they are in good health and can safely play the game.

Keep your children active with a variety of activities.  The variety will allow for a well rounded development of athletic ability.  The variety will also allow for your children to recover from any excessive demands placed on specific body parts during a sport season.  If you have specific questions about your child’s fitness development or how to keep them injury free please contact personal trainer Jason Anderson at the Seattle Athletic Club.