Tag: trainer

Inspirational Member of the Month – Tony Hansen


One of the great privileges of being a Trainer, Instructor or Body Worker at Seattle Athletic Club is the opportunity to work with truly decent and incredible people. Tony Hansen stands in evidence of this. Another great honor of being a Trainer here is that we get to work with colleagues (in the richest sense of the word). The wealth of knowledge and integrity of our Trainers is such that clients never have to feel bound to any single Trainer. Again, Tony can testify to this.

When Tony first came to Kathryn Reed (SAC Nutritionist) and me his goal was to lose weight and get into better shape. Soon however, it became clear that he was really committed to reclaiming his body, his confidence and his spirit. Tony was, from the beginning, very open and trusting to Kathryn and me; he trusted me to nudge him out of his comfort zones and into new realms of ability, agility, strength and belief in himself. Conversely, he gave me room to challenge my own comfort zones and become a more complete Trainer.

During the Holiday Season of 2012—nine months into our training—Tony told me of his annual strategy to find a single worded theme to guide him through the next year. He ultimately came up with “Emerge” for the coming 2013 year. And ‘emerge’ he did! His coordination development and his willingness to be challenged physically really started to become evident. More importantly, the possibility for confidence began to emerge too. As the next Holiday season began to approach he entrusted me as a sounding board while he sought out his theme word for 2014. Finally, he came upon “Embark” which, after he told me, seemed the only possible word. We continued to work together until it was time for Tony to face head-on his apprehensions around the weight room and all that it represented to him. Who better to work with than a three sport collegiate athlete and holder of several Division II football records; who better than the always positive, extraverted and insanely strong Jacob Galloway! In other words, who better to work with than Tony’s worst gym nightmare? Together Jacob and Tony have worked through those issues and Tony actually feels good going to work out in the weight room on his own. He feels he can ‘own his space’ and not feel judged, and more importantly bring its own deep compassion to others in there that may also feel intimidated. Tony and Jacob have become good friends with a deep mutual admiration for each other both professionally and fellow worker-outers.

Tony now proudly wears slimmer and better fitting jeans, is in terrific shape and is sought after as a distinguished Therapist to speak publically, participate in public forums, and present advice in governmental affairs about mental health issues in the work place.

Tony has emerged and embarked as a truly incredible and inspirational person and the world is a better place because of it. Personally selfishly Jacob and I are privileged to work with Tony and call him our Friend.

Perfect your push-up form before performing them consistently; THEN join me and challenge yourself.

Starting position: high plank position, placing your toes and hands on the floor.

Hand position: your hands should be slightly wider than shoulder-width; making sure they are not out too wide or in too narrow.

Elbows: when bending your elbows and lowering your chest closer toward the floor, stop when your elbows reach a 90-degree bend and your biceps are parallel to the floor. When pushing back up to a plank position, do not lock your elbows.

Back and abdominals: keep your back straight and in line with your neck as you are tightening your abdominal muscles in toward your spine.

Gluts and legs: keep your gluts and thighs tight and squeeze them together during the up and down phase of the push-up. Squeezing your gluts and legs together will prevent you from slouching or hyper-extending your lower back.

Chin and neck: keep your chin tucked and your neck inline with your spine to prevent from hyper-extending your neck.

Proper breathing technique

  • When you bend your elbows to head toward the floor you should INHALE
  • As you push away from the floor back to plank position you should EXHALE

Once you have perfected that push-up form, join me in a CHALLENGE. Complete 50 push-ups each day. That does not have to be 50 push-ups at one time; you can split it up into 5, 10, or 15 at a time throughout the day to complete the 50 total for the day. Push-ups are a very great body weight exercise to strengthen your upper body. The main muscle groups pushups are working to strengthen are triceps, shoulders, and chest.

Get the correct push-up form down and join me in the challenge today!

If you have questions or would like to schedule a training session, please contact Personal Fitness Trainer Amber Gruger.

Train Smarter, Not Longer

Out of all the excuses we use to avoid going to the gym one ranks above them all. It’s no secret that our lives are getting busier and busier and unfortunately this trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down. So the question is where can we find time to fit in that hour of exercise 4-5 days a week? What if I told you that you didn’t need an hour, or 45 minutes, or even 30 minutes for that matter? What if 4 minutes could be enough? Dr. Izumi Tabata challenges the traditional format of a workout with a specific variation of interval training designed for maximum output in a minimum amount of time.

Dr. Tabata performed a study in 1996 involving seven subjects who were put through 6 weeks of training with 5 workouts each week. Each workout consisted of a 5 minute warm-up followed by what is now known as the Tabata Training System. This system involves 20 seconds of work at maximum capacity followed by 10 seconds of rest repeated 6-8 times. In this study the control group performed a more traditionally accepted method of cardio which involved challenging the individual to complete exhaustion in 30 minutes. What Dr. Tabata found was nothing short of incredible. The Tabata Training group out performed the control group even when the total amount of exercise was only 4 minutes compared to the 30.

Why does this work? The overload principle states that training adaptations come about when the body is subjected to unaccustomed stress. The specific adaptation depends on the nature of the overload imposed. In other words, specific exercise overload brings about specific training effects. Traditionally people have geared training towards either aerobic or anaerobic conditioning. However with the Tabata Training protocol both aerobic and anaerobic can be overloaded. This Method also takes into consideration the mental aspect of working at maximum capacity. For the average individual it is nearly impossible to achieve maximum output for anything over 60 seconds. This becomes increasingly more difficult if we take into consideration the addition of multiple sets. Part of why Dr. Tabata’s training method is so effective is that it allows the individual to achieve maximum output, while at the same time, requiring minimal rest.

It is important to note that this training system is not recommended for an untrained individual. As with starting any exercise regimen, it is crucial to start off slow and gradually work your way up to ensure that you will stay injury free. It is recommended that before you begin using the Tabata Training Method you start with 1-3 sets and slowly work your way up to the full 8 sets. This method also shouldn’t be applied to exercises like box jumps or other high impact exercises due to the added risk of injury.

If you would like to know more about Tabata Training, please contact Personal Fitness Trainer Will Paton.

To Squat or Not to Squat… That is Half the Question

Many people are afraid of performing a squat; saying it is bad on the knees, back and hips. Everyone has heard a horror story about someone hurting themselves doing a barbell squat. Well accidents do happen (usually from incorrect form), but with correct coaching the back squat rivals the deadlift as one of the best exercises for your body.

There are many benefits from doing squats, from correcting hips issues, back problems, strengthening joints and connective tissue, burning a ton of calories and many more. You can perform squats by using many pieces of equipment, like a barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell, your own body weight, cables, and resistance bands. Even within a squat there are two types, a front squat and back squat.

So let’s discuss the front squat, this is where the load (weight) is positioned toward the front of your center of gravity, usually on the front of your shoulders. By placing the weight more forward your body works more of the knee complex and quads during the movement, and creates move of an emphasis on your core (mid to lower back). This exercise is great for those people who need to try and strengthen their core (forcing an upright posture) more as well as strengthening ones knees (less forces on the knees for people with osteoarthritis, ligament or meniscus damage) and wrists (from holding the weight at the shoulders).

When we transfer the weight to the back of our center of gravity, the load (weight) usually rests on our back or is held by our hips (as with dumbbells). By placing the weight more backward your body works more of the hip complex and glutes during the movement, and creates move of an emphasis on how to engage your butt (one reason our backs have issues is that most of us doing know how to fire our glutes during a movement). This is a great exercise for people who need to learn how to strengthen their legs and use their hips for athletic endeavors, as well as open up their chest and create better posture (with holding the bar on your back).

As far squats being bad on the knees, a study by Escamilla (2001) looked at the biomechanics of squatting exercises on the legs and found that back squats activated more hamstrings and had higher compressive forces on the knees while front squats had more quadriceps muscle activation and lower compressive forces on the knees. They found that either squat would be good for people with ACL issues as for the low posterior shear forces. While another study from Andrews et al (1984) found that machine squats had a 30-40% higher shear force on the knees that barbell squats.

After all that what is the take home message? With correct coaching and form, you can gain a lot from squats including:

  • increased bone density
  • increased knee mobility and stability
  • stronger legs, hips and core
  • burn a lot of calories
  • it releases that muscle building hormone testosterone
  • one of the most functional exercises for every person
  • increase sports performance and overall fully body strength & coordination

If these benefits seam like something that interest you and you would like to be taught by one of the Seattle Athletic Club’s highly educated fitness staff please contact Fitness Director Jacob Galloway.

What you really should know about starting a workout routine!

How do you make sure that on your own you are doing what is best for your training? Beyond just having a great routine and pushing yourself, how do you make sure that your training is smart, effective, and safe?

Here are a few tips to make sure you are on the right path to success and health!

  1. If you don’t know for sure ask a professional. You can only learn so much from pictures from a magazine or from videos on YouTube. When in doubt always consult a fitness professional. Better to build good habits and perform movements correctly than guess and cause injury or teach your body wrong movements that will have to be undone somewhere down the road!
  2. Throw out the idea of “No Pain No Gain.” If something you are doing is causing you pain, making you uncomfortable maybe that exercise is not for you. You should be challenged and you should work hard but there is no need for actual pain. Getting tired, breathing hard, muscle fatigue, those are all good things to a degree but you should always avoid pain inducing movements and seek a professional for advice or modifications.
  3. Don’t be Hercules right away. If you are performing new exercises or a new type of routine you should make sure that you are using reasonable weights. The goal of a new program is to learn new movements and build upon the knowledge you already have. The goal is not to put up the heaviest weight you have ever lifted doing an exercise you have never done before. Be smart, learn the exercise before challenging yourself with weight.
  4. If you are getting too tired or too fatigued to perform an exercise correctly or safely take a break! Sometimes if you are racing the clock or your partner you may have the inclination to push yourself to the edge. This leads to muscle fatigue which will surely lead to injury eventually. Be smart, make sure that the form comes first and if and when you start to lose that it’s time for a break. Push yourself but always know your limits.
  5. Lift safely, always use a spotter with heavy weights or with a new movement. If you do not have a spotter than stay away from near maximal efforts. Better safe than sorry
  6. You’re gonna feel it tomorrow! Whenever you start a new program you are almost guaranteed to end up sore as all get out. So pace yourself with weight, reps, etc. when starting on something new. A little soreness is bearable but when you can’t even get out of bed the next morning you’ve gone too far. Your goal with a new program is to learn and perform movements correctly, not to take on the workout like it’s your purpose in life. So beware and don’t push it too much that first time around!
  7. Hard workouts are awesome but not every day! Make sure to mix in high intensity workouts with lighter stuff. 3-4 times a week of high intensity workouts are more than enough. Your body needs some down time so make sure you are getting some good cross-training in, whether that’s Yoga, basic cardio, basic circuits, or just plain old rest days. You need to make sure that you are giving your body workouts that are not always super demanding. This will decrease chance of injury, over used muscles, muscle depletion, and allow you to see the best results from all your work.
  8. Never skip warm-ups. This small but crucial amount of time should be put into every workout. You cannot expect your muscles or lungs to perform at their best ability cold. The warm-up doesn’t have to be extensive but you need to make sure that your muscles, lungs, and brain are ready for a workout. Warm-ups are crucial for staying healthy and injury free but they also allow you to get the most out of your workout!
  9. If you know you have an injury be extra vigilant about listening to your body. This goes along with, if it hurts, don’t do it. Most injuries do not magically disappear so make sure to avoid movements to any joints, muscles, bones, etc that you know you have injured. Consult with a PT or doctor before getting in over your head!
  10. Keep an open mind. A lot of times things are harder than maybe you expect them to be. Jump roping was so easy when you were 10, you could do it all day. Now you can hardly get over the rope 15 times before screwing up or feeling like your lungs are going to explode. Just remember everything takes time, learning, gaining muscle, gaining flexibility, gaining general muscle recruitment patterns, and increasing your overall fitness takes time. Just be ready for some things to be harder than you though. Don’t get discouraged.

For help designing a new workout, or information on planning modifications to your existing workouts, please contact Personal Fitness Trainer, Adriana Brown.

Training the Hips

In every one of my clients that I evaluate, the hips are always lacking in strength. Either they are tight and weak or lose and weak. Both equal a serious set of problems. When the hips aren’t doing their job your quads, hamstrings and low back have to pick up the slack. Performance, posture and power output become seriously hampered. In addition this results in chronic soreness in the above areas and can lead to injury. Long story short, tight hips sink ships.

The hip joint is a ball and socket joint. The head of the thigh bone sits it on the socket of the hip. Ideally this rotates in all directions as well as flexes and extends. Lower body exercises (lunges, squats, etc) barely cover the myriad of ranges that hip is capable of. These also emphasize the quads and hamstrings which are already over trained. In addition the more commonly used hip exercises (hip machines, band monster walks) put the body in very stiff, robotic patterns and also do not involve the feet (don’t get me started on foot strength). Trying to strengthen the hip in unnatural movements doesn’t teach the hips how they should move outside the walls of a weight room.

Correcting this limitation does take time, precision and patience. One of my favorite recipes for combating hip weakness is the cable machine. The cables offer unrestricted movement. You aren’t confined to an apparatus or under a load. You can move the body fluidly, utilizing everything from your toe to your finger tip. Involving the hip in these full body natural patterns can create impressive gains in flexibility, strength, speed and power.

A few simple rules apply. Stay with low weight. Speed strength is the goal, not slow strength. Initiate from the core then activate the hips. Think of the body like a whip. Let the power flow through your body and don’t muscle through movements. If any ranges hurt, make the movement smaller. Feel for smooth efficient movements. We’re not trying to fatigue the muscles, just activate them. Most importantly, remember that true functional strength is a skill that takes dedication, repetition and drive.

2 sets of 10 per movement

  • Lateral Sweeps
  • Michael Jacksons
  • Kick Backs
  • Roundhouse Kicks

For more information about how you can optimize your training feel free to contact Personal Fitness Trainer, Curt Ligot.

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.