Author: Thomas Eagen

Personal Fitness Trainer Seattle Athletic Club Downtown

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.

Wait! Are you rock climbing this summer? Here’s what you need to know:

The sun is finally out here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. People are taking full advantage of the vitamin D and exploring new adventures outside. Rock climbing can be a really unique and challenge way to experience the Cascades as long as you are prepared. Before you tackle some vertical rock face, here is some helpful information regarding rock climbing both indoors and out!

Rock climbing has been around for hundreds of years. Traditional alpine mountaineers used the skill to scale impossible mountain faces that otherwise could not be traversed. What started as a need-based skill quickly evolved into more of a sport in England in the late 1880s and only grew from there. Several different types of rock climbing exist today, ranging from indoor, traditional to outdoor, big wall extreme! Listed below are just a few possibilities:

Big Wall- Think El Capitan in Yosemite. Or Half Dome also in Yosemite Big Wall climbing is exactly what it sounds like: climbing a huge wall, over 1,500 ft. Climbers spend multiple days camping in portaledges that can be attached to the side of the cliff and slept in like a hammock.

Bouldering- This is a style of rock climbing most people can get their hands on. If you are afraid of heights and don’t like the idea of dealing with a lot of gear, bouldering may be the best solution. These routes are normally small and closer to the ground with a crash pad or ‘bouldering mat’ beneath the climber. They normally consist of climbs 3 to 5 meters high to reduce risk of injury from falls. Bouldering requires more powerful, dynamic movements in short bursts, whereas sport climbing or traditional climbing usually requires more endurance. Bouldering is typically graded on a scale of V0 to V16 increasing in difficulty as the number climbs.

Crack- Crack climbing involves the climber ascending long, technical cracks in the rock face using specific techniques. The cracks vary greatly in size and accessibility. Some climbers choose to wear gloves to allow for more friction and less injury to the hand.

Free/Speed- For the more advanced climbers, free climbing is a way to test their skills. Free climbing is performed without the assistance of climbing equipment such as ropes. Speed climbing has been associated with free climber where the climber attempts to scale the wall as quickly as possible. This challenges the climber to make quick decisions and has been described as ‘dancing’ up the wall. Bouldering is a more common form of free climbing.

Indoor Climbing- Indoor climbing has made rock climbing more accessible to the general population. Climbing gyms rent equipment that would otherwise be expensive to buy, and set up designated routes for climbers to solve. Both sport climbing and bouldering can be found at indoor climbing gyms. Sport climbing will require one person to belay which is a system for lowering the person climbing and catching them when they fall. Climbs are graded on a scale of: 5.5-5.14d, although each gym and route is rated slightly different.

Climbers of all levels will often use chalk to gain more friction and help to absorb the sweat as they climb. For most forms of climbing, participants will wear a harness and climbing shoes which are designed to be form fitting and assist with protecting the feet. Specific queues and rope knots must be known before someone can effectively belay a partner during indoor or sport climbing. Once these are mastered, you’ll be scaling walls in no time!

If you are interested in learning more about rock climbing contact Outdoor Recreation Coach Thomas Eagen at

No time for long runs? Give HIT a try!

Once believed to be another workout gimmick, high-intensity interval training, or HIT, is gaining validity in the fitness community. The idea that short bursts of 80-90% maximum effort can produce comparable results to long traditional endurance training almost seems too good to be true. Believe it or not, HIT can help you train for endurance events without hours and hours of training.

High-intensity interval training can be performed with most exercises as long as proper form is maintained throughout. Individuals move through a series of exercises at near maximum effort for a short time frame (usually 20-30 seconds) with minimal rest between exercises. This forces the body to activate numerous energy systems that are usually associated with endurance training.

New research conducted by McMaster University and the University of Melbourne has confirmed that small bouts of intense exercise not only increases your metabolism but can actually increase the skeletal muscle oxidative capacity and endurance performance. This study validates the idea that HIT can be useful when training for long endurance races such as half or full marathons. Dr. Martin Gabala and Dr. Sean McGee found that HIT also alters the metabolic control during traditional aerobic-based exercise. Since these races usually require hours of long runs, which forces the body to endure more stress, the idea of HIT is appealing to most endurance athletes or those aspiring to become one. Before you go crazy remember that those long runs provide more than endurance of the muscles of the body. Long runs prepare your mind to deal with doing the same physical movement for hours on end. The study, however, suggests possibly limiting the number of long runs by supplementing a few with HIT. After only four sessions of HIT, results showed increases in the mitochondrial enzymes which assist with traditional endurance exercises. After six weeks of training, the gains were significant.

This is also useful information for the general population! The number one excuse for not exercises is lack of time! Kick that excuse to the curb, hit the pavement and sprint!

Give this HIT workout a try!
*Perform each exercise for 30seconds with 30seconds of recovery in between each.

  • Burpee
  • Jumps from one leg to the other side to side (Skater Jumps)
  • Squat with a Shoulder Press (grab a medium/comfortable weight)
  • Plank on your hands with a Mountain Climber (knee to opposite elbow)
  • Plank on your forearms with an arm reach (don’t let your hips rock as you reach)

Repeat X3

Metabolic Adaptations to Short-term High-Intensity Interval Training

Your guide to adventure in the Pacific Northwest!

Do you have friends or relatives coming to stay with you during this amazing Seattle summer? We all love having company and having the chance to show them a little piece of your city. But what do you do after you take them to Pike’s Place Market and to the Fremont troll? Let the Seattle Athletic Club’s Outdoor Recreation Department take some of the pressure off your shoulders! Maybe you are looking for a short, quick hike that won’t kill your company from Florida who are use to walking on the beach, not mountains. Don’t do another bad hike!! We will give you a wide array of suggested hikes, based on your needs and fitness levels.

The Outdoor Rec Department has TONS of resources to help you plan the best adventure for you and the people with you! We can also recommend the best places to go to buy or rent the gear needed for your outing. Maybe you don’t have people visiting you but you are new to the area and want to go for a long bike ride: Outdoor Rec can provide you with some options as far as trails to take, mileage, and things to see along the way.

The Pacific Northwest has something for everyone! No more sitting around staring at each other while you wait for an idea to magically appear. Simply contact the Outdoor Recreation Coordinator Thomas Eagen through e-mail ( or on the Seattle Athletic Club Downtown Facebook page to start the planning process!! Get your loved ones off the couch and show them why we moved here in the first place!

Outdoor Adventure Possibilities:

  • Day hikes (examples: lakes, waterfalls, summits, mountain views, seclusion, wildflowers, etc.)
  • Backpacking trips (overnight camping or multi-day trips)
  • Mountain biking
  • Leisure bike rides
  • Endurance bike rides
  • Rock climbing
  • Walking tours
  • Kayaking
  • Open water swimming
  • Geocaching

Skip the Ride the Ducks tour and the 1st established Starbucks and see Seattle a completely different way!

Are you fit for hiking?

As the snow starts to melt and the flowers start poking their heads through the frozen ground, hikers across the Puget Sound area are dusting off their boots and trekking poles as they prepare to resume their exploration of the vast Pacific Northwest! Will you be one of those hikers this year? Better yet, will you be PREPARED to be one of those hikers this year?? Below is a simple series of exercises designed to strengthen the muscles used while hiking. Most people tend to focus solely on quadriceps strength in regards to hiking. While the quads are very important (especially for the decent), the glutes and core muscles help prevent injuries to your ankles, knees, hips and back.

These can be incorporated into a regular, normal routine or at the completion of a cardio session!!


  • Hip Bridges – 10 reps
  • Knee Drops – 10 each side
  • Walking lunges – 1 lap (feel a stretch in the hip flexor, keeping the stomach strong!)
  • T walks/Birdfeeders – 1 lap (no weights. Take 3 steps in between each 1 to bring you to the next leg)
  • Curtsey Squats – 10 each side

Main Set:

  • Step Ups – 10 each leg (Stay on the same leg for all 10, then switch. Bring opposite knee up to add a balance component.)
  • Walking lunges with 15lbs dumbbells – 2 laps
  • Lateral quick steps over the BOSU – 10 each side (start at the side, move sideways over the BOSU staying as low as you can. Be sure to bring each foot down to the ground before you change directions.
  • Standing squats with 15lbs dumbbells – 20 reps
  • Band side steps – 1 lap
  • Plank Mountain Climbers (knee to opposite elbow) – 10 each side
  • Repeat x3

Cool Down

  • Knee to chest stretch
  • Figure 4 stretch
  • Hamstring stretch
  • Hip flexor stretch
  • Foam roll calves, quads, IT band, hip flexors

A Quick Look at Russian Kettlebells

Most people have heard of kettlebells or have at least seen people swinging them around in the gym. I’m sure you are thinking to yourself, “What the heck are those people doing and why in the world would I ever want to?” Here I will try to answer that question. Along with being an explosive power move and total body exercise, the kettlebell swing also works to correct posture while maintaining a neutral spine. By firing the back body (posterior chain) you will start to engage spinal stabilizers, helping to reverse the forward rounding that happens from sitting all day, typing on computers, texting on cell phones, etc. The movement remains grounded throughout, which helps to avoid heavy impact on the knees.

The Kettlebell (or giyra) first appear in Russia around 400 years ago. They were originally used as a handled counterweight for farmers to sell their goods. Eventually they were integrated into modern weightlifting and became Russia’s national sport around 1948. Typically measured in kilograms, kettlebells range from 4kg to 32kg although most people tend to work with 16kg-24kg for daily exercise.

There are three primary exercises performed by Russia lifters include: the swing, the goblet squat, and the Turkish getup.

The Swing- The swing targets the back of the body, focusing on hamstring and glute firing while maintaining a neutral spine. You can do higher rep counts with a lighter weight for more of a cardio workout or lower reps with heavier weights to build muscle mass. The lats remain engaged throughout the swing to maintain control over the movement as you catch the bell in your hips.

The Goblet Squat- With the bell in both hands, the handle facing up, lower down into a squat, touching your elbows to your inner thighs. Be sure to keep the chest up, back tight throughout the entire movement. If you are having issues dropping below parallel, move the bell away from you to allow it to act as a counterbalance which will help you drop lower.

The Turkish Getup- Just one of the ways the Russians like to work on their abs. The Turkish getup is a step by step sequence that moves you from the ground up to standing with the bell on one arm overhead. This will target core stabilizers throughout the entire body, obliques, low abs, rib stabilizers, and back stabilizers.

Once you have these basic principles nailed you can combine them with the workouts you are currently doing or create new workouts focused around the kettlebell!

Here’s an example: Sample Workout:
Men=20kg swings/squats 16kg getups
Women=16kg swings/squats 8kg getups

  • 5 minuntes warmup of dynamic movements (lunges, squats, pushups, high knees, downdog shoulder press, etc.)
  • 5 sets of 10 swings (try to limit the amount of rest between each set)
  • 10 goblet squats
  • 5 sets of 10 swings
  • 2 Turkish getups each side

Repeat X 3

If you are interested in learning more about kettlebells contact Personal Fitness Trainer Thomas Eagen to schedule a 40 minute swing lesson.

Once you are comfortable with the movement feel free to try Kettlebell Blast Tuesday’s and Thursday’s from 6:30am to 7:10am! We will work to perfect your kettlebell skills while training your cardiovascular system and having fun all at the same time! Classes are $14.50 per class. Try 1 week for free!

What’s SUP???

Have you been looking for a new way to get out and explore the beauty that is the Pacific Northwest? Maybe you have gone on the canoeing trips to Diablo Lake in the northern cascades and have kayaked through Deception Pass over by the peninsula and those are old news. Or maybe you just want a new, dynamic way to fire stabilizer muscles and strengthen your shoulders and arms for any sport you may attempt. SUP may be right up your alley! Who thought you could SURF in Seattle?

SUP or Stand Up Paddleboard is essential a large surf board (similar to a long board) that uses a single paddle to move you across the water. Think the canals of Venice only you get a paddle instead of a stick and a flat board to stand on instead of a boat. SUP has exploded in popularity, especially here in the Pacific Northwest. The board is large enough to balance comfortably while still making your body work to maintain your stability. You can go for long, all day, excursions or just rent a board and paddle from one of the many local companies and head out with friends for a few hours.

SUP was first made popular in Hawaii (go figure) as a way for instructors to work with beginner surfers. Standing on the board gives you a better view point to see where the students are and to see specific waves coming in (compared to a canoe or kayak where you have to remain seated).

A standup paddleboard is lighter than a kayak and easier to store (since it is just a flat board and a paddle). It also has no moving parts making it simpler than windsurfing. It is also much cheaper than sailing and kite-surfing while still giving you physical benefits and allows you to really enjoy your surroundings. Weather it be surf, river or lake, SUP is a great way to introduce water-sports into your life and enjoy the nature around you!! Just remember to have a life jacket at all times and have the leash attached to your ankle for safety! Check out Urban Surf’s website for more information, classes, or weekly meet-ups with like minded enthusiast and we will see you on the water!!

35lbs. in 15 weeks… New member achieves excellent results in Evolve weight loss program

Leela, a new member to Seattle Athletic Club, joined looking for help losing weight. After meeting with the Wellness Director Kelly Callison, she decided to challenge herself with the 12-week weight loss program, Evolve. Evolve is where Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness come together to assist weight loss. Most diets are unsuccessful because the very word diet suggests that the change is temporary.

During the Evolve program Leela worked with Personal Fitness Trainer Thomas Eagen twice a week and met with Nutritionist Kathryn Reed once every couple of weeks. Thomas and Kathryn worked with each other to develop a course of action best suited to fit Leela’s needs. Starting with the RMR or Resting Metabolic Rate, Leela was able to find out exactly how many calories she required to sit in a room and breathe. With this information she could work with Kathryn on developing the caloric intake plan. This allowed her to lose roughly 2-3lbs a week by eating throughout her entire day, tracking calories and protein throughout. The simple change of eating breakfast made a huge impact on Leela’s energy levels not just for workouts but day to day activities in general. She also experienced a great reduction in your sweet cravings by getting more protein at each meal.

“I have always struggled with my weight, but lately it had been getting so out of hand that I decided to make my health a priority. SAC seemed like the perfect choice because it was close to my office, has a wide variety of activities and especially because it has a specialized weight loss program. I really needed the structure and support that Evolve gives me. Thomas and Kathryn have outlined a very reasonable workout schedule and diet for me that doesn’t interfere too much with the rest of my life. I’ve actually been really surprised by how little I’ve had to change. For exercise I workout with Thomas twice a week, do Zumba twice a week and then I have one day to do whatever exercise I feel like. I’ve really enjoyed getting to try out the different classes and programs available at SAC. And I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how little I’ve had to change my diet. I still get to eat things that I like, I’m just much more conscious of portion size and having smaller meals throughout the day. I count calories and really focus on reaching my daily goal for protein. I’ve already started noticing some big changes. My clothes are getting looser, I’m getting stronger and I have much more energy. I’m really excited for more changes in the future. My eventual goal is to get back down to a healthy weight for my height. It’s still a ways off, but I am fully committed to working on my weight and setting up a healthy lifestyle for myself. I want to stick with the eating and exercise habits I’ve developed in Evolve for the long term. And I think with the fairly simple changes I’ve made it won’t be that difficult to do.”

At week 10, Leela had lost 27 pounds, 6% body fat, and has reduced her measurements around her entire body. Leela continues to make excellent progress with 35 pounds lost at week 15. Keep up the great work!

Contact Personal Fitness Trainer Thomas Eagen or Wellness Director Kelly Callison to get started achieving your weight loss goals today!

Try 2 Wheels Instead of 4!

Living in Seattle has some pretty great perks: coffee, business, and a few months of sun. The city is also a great place for outdoor enthusiasts looking for the next big adventure. Even if you are not the “extreme sport” type, Seattle will definitely have something right up your alley to get you outside and moving!

Did you know Seattle has an amazing network on biking trails that connect north, south, east and west? You can ride, relatively car-free (excluding certain stretches were you ride in a bike lane), from downtown all the way past Shoreline, around to West Seattle, out to North Bend, and down to Orting or even Tacoma. Several years ago the city of Seattle took on a project to convert many of the unused railroad tracks to biking paths. Some of the trails follow the trail road the whole way while some are actually paved directly over the previous grade. They provide a brand new experience of the city that would otherwise go unnoticed. Next time you are looking for something to do on the weekend, get out and enjoy one of these trails!

Burke Gilman – This is one of the most popular trails in Seattle. On any given sunny weekend you will see cyclist, runners, people on roller blades, walkers, dogs and kids! The trail starts at Golden Gardens and stretches all the way to Bothell (roughly 20 miles). This trail is heavily used as a commuter trail during the week since it connects Ballard, Fremont, Wallingford, and the U district.

Interurban North – If you are looking for some hill climbs, this is the trail for you! Starting north of Ballard at 110th, the trail connects north Seattle with Shoreline and eventually the city of Edmonds. Most of this trail runs through neighborhood streets as it meanders up and over the hills of the city.

Interurban South – Further south of the city, you can take the Interurban to connect with Tukwila, Kent, Auburn, and Pacific. This trail starts at Fort Dent Way in Tukwila and crosses over the Green River. It follows along the Puget Sound Energy power line corridor and is used both for commuting and general recreation. The path ends at 3rd Avenue SW in Pacific.

I-90/Mountain to Sound – This is one of my favorite trails in the city! It gives you several different options if you wish to extend your ride and see some different places. Starting just south of Seattle by Sturgus Park, the trail follows along Lake Washington until it connects with I-90. Take the bridge over (looking at everyone sitting in the traffic!) to connect to Mercer Island. You can get off the trail here and ride a nice loop around Mercer (I recommend riding counterclockwise so you are on the outside). This is roughly 13 miles around the island. You can also keep going and connect out to Bellevue, Issaquah, or even North Bend if your legs can handle it!!

So next time you think about getting in the car, think twice and jump on your bike! Be sure you are prepared. Always bring: a first aid kit, flat tire repair kit, a cell phone, water, extra food, extra water, a change of clothes/warm clothes, some cash (in case you need to bus back!)

For more information on outdoor activities, or training for your outdoor adventures, please contact Personal Fitness Trainer Thomas Eagen.

The Power of Proprioception

All athletes will face the danger of getting injured during their sport. This is why we train the muscles and practice the movements. By practicing, we help provide the body and mind with the confidence that we can perform the tasks required of us. One of the largest components to this sense of confidence is proprioception. Proprioception refers to the sense of a joint position in relation to the rest of the body. This allows our body to know where we are in space; more specifically, while we are moving in relation to the rest of the body as well as the environment. The more balanced our body becomes; the more efficient our movements will be, making ourselves stronger. Once the body can control the hips and spine, the primary muscles can take over to perform the power required. The true key to any sport is efficiency. Can I prepare my body for any type of movement that may occur during performance? Can I avoid getting hurt while still going all out and not holding anything back?

Balance training will do much more than make you less clumsy. Along with strengthening your hip and ankle stabilizers you will become more agile, developing the ability to control and change your center of gravity throughout movement. Again, this is why we train and practice just shy of maximum effort. The body loves to learn through trial and error. You have to start to lose your balance before the body can learn where it needs to step up and activate. Hiking provides a perfect example of this type of proprioception. While the start of the hiking season might require that your entire attention remain focused on the trail to avoid falling, after a few hikes, you start to notice that you are more confident in your ability to adjust to the terrain by foot feel alone, thus making you less focused on the trail below you and allowing you to look up and enjoy the scenery. This helps to establish your connection with your surroundings and will, in turn, help with your balance.

Proprioception can be incorporated into your regular workout routine easily. When standing performing front raise exercises, try standing on one foot. This causes the body to become more unstable and will recruit different muscles to help find the balance point. When that becomes too simple, try closing your eyes. Try keeping your eyes closed through an entire yoga class, or pilates mat session to see if you can feel where your body is in space, focusing solely on your movements. Try a yoga class that focuses on balance training or arm balances. This will teach you which muscles to engage and which muscles to relax to help become more successful. Once the neural pathways are developed, the body can use these movements as tools to help their efficiency on the court, out in the woods, or even in the pool!