No Resolutions, Just Habits: 4 Tips for a Healthier, Happier You

by Heidi Shalek

A resolution, by definition, is a firm decision to do or not do something. Sounds simple enough, right? So why is it that so many new year’s “resolutions” don’t stand the test of time? A resolution without planning and accountability is really just a good intention, at best. A want or desire to do something will never come to pass without action. So how do you set yourself up to be successful and take control of all the things you wish you would do? Start by saying goodbye to resolutions and hello to habits.

#1 CHANGE YOUR MINDSET. Be present, make progress. You can’t go back in time and change the fact that you took two weeks off from training or grabbed take out five out of five nights last week. What can you do? MOVE ON. Tomorrow is always a new day, another opportunity to make the best choice available. Practice letting go of what you did or didn’t do, and do something now to make yourself feel better. Missed both of your workouts this week because you were living your life? No problem. Hit some lunges and push ups in your basement and call it a day. Ate three cookies for lunch? No problem. Wash it down with some kale juice. You get the idea…

#2 GET A COACH. Behavior change thrives on accountability. Can’t afford one-on-one training every week? No problem. Identify a coach or instructor who inspires and motivates you. Spend the money on ONE single strategy session. Ask questions about EVERYTHING. Set goals, exchange emails. Now you have someone in your corner who you can reach out to if you find yourself off track. You’ll see your coach in class every week, and you can bet that they will check in with you every time.

Read More

Tired of your gym? Not a “gym” person? We’ve got you.

By Dr. Kyle McCrobie & Heidi Shalek

As 2018 draws to a close, you may find yourself evaluating your fitness routine or thinking ahead to your health and wellness goals for next year- it’s totally normal! Should you join a gym? Should you download a fitness app? Should you check out that boutique fitness studio? Should you do an online program like a Couch to 5k? Should you change your eating habits or get a meal prep service?

With so many options and information floating around, we hope we can point you in the right direction by answering one question: What IS the difference between a big commercial gym and a small fitness studio like the TR? (And why should you care?)

We think it’s safe to say that most people are in agreement about what they dislike about the gym- whether they go or not.

#1. It’s a process to join.
#2. It’s crowded.
#3. It’s usually dirty.
#4. Personal trainers bombard you with their sales pitches.
#5. Creepy gym goers try talking to you even when you have headphones on.
#6. You feel stressed about what to do for your workout.
#7. You’re worried you’re not doing the exercises correctly.
#8. You feel a little self conscious while exercising.
#9. You do everything you can to drag yourself there multiple times in a week.

At the TR, none of the above happens. At the TR, you might even start to look forward to exercising. Why? Because in a small studio environment your program is adjusted specifically for you- even in a group class. Your workouts are appropriately challenging, not inherently painful. With consistent practice, you will know what you are doing and understand why you are doing it. Most of all, you’re making progress you can measure and FEEL. The coaches will make sure you’re getting the most out of the exercises you’re doing by correcting your form. Not to mention that each one of our locations is spotless, the clients are friendly and the music is on point.

Read More

Practice Mindfulness to Elevate Your Workouts

by Kevin Duong


I recently had the privilege of visiting Plum Village, a monastery located near Bordeaux in southwest France. Considered to be Europe’s largest Buddhist monastery, Plum Village encourages visitors to experience the art of mindful communal living by offering retreats as short as one day or as long as three months. For those who aren’t familiar with the concept, mindfulness can be thought of as paying attention to the present with intention, while letting go of judgment. Although this may seem like a simple concept, experiencing it over a 10-day visit to my brother (who is now a practicing Buddhist monk at the community) a few months ago quickly turned me into a believer.


So, you might be wondering, how does mindfulness relate to exercise? When working out, I emphasize being present. I listen to my body. I focus on my technique. Before moving on to the next progression, I concentrate on making my form pristine to avoid hurting myself. Yet, in the process, I don’t judge if I fall short; rather, I appreciate the good my training does for my body and mind. Overall, for me, this thought process reduces stress – a key component of a healthy lifestyle – while fortifying my body.  Most importantly, being mindful allows me to recognize when by body needs recovery and when it is ready to work hard, and as a result, optimize my training.


I now try to take this same approach to every aspect of my life. I carefully consider what I eat, focus on tasting my food, and enjoy the experience. I prepare myself for sleep, minimize surrounding distractions like my phone, and focus on achieving deeper, sounder rest.

Read More

Consistency Is Key – Just Ask Bruce Lee

by Derek Christeler


“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

-Bruce Lee


This is a lesson for all facets of your life; consistency is the key to any goal.  There have been many times I’ve seen this as a personal trainer.  People often use an upcoming event, a new year, or the summer season as motivation to try and get as fit as possible- often returning to unhealthy or sedentary habits once the excitement fades.  Unfortunately these folks jump right into an exercise and nutrition plan that would bury a Greek god.  Soon after they start the program from hell, they end up getting burnt out, injured, and/or binge eating a pint of ice cream at midnight due to calorie restriction.  This is the approach of practicing 10,000 kicks once- leading to an unhealthy, cyclical relationship with exercise and/or food by constantly starting and stopping a new program, plan, cleanse or diet.  Being short sighted in your overall wellness can limit or even diminish your quality of life.


The alternative option is to set a major goal with the understanding that it will take effort and it won’t happen overnight.  This is the approach of practicing one kick 10,000 times.  In order to have success, consistency is the name of the game.  It’s better to creep up on your goal without a deadline than try to knock it over the head by going hard for two weeks and then being upset that nothing happened even though you gave it your all.

Read More

The 4 Pillars of Health

by Jonathan Carroll


How can I get more sleep? How I can eat better? How can I get booty like yours? These are questions I get all the time.

Since my job is really about helping people improve their overall heath and quality of life, I frequently get asked, “How can I improve my _________?” Let’s be clear – there is tremendous variety to the way people fill in this Mad Lib. And, yet, I have found that most questions fall into what I affectionately call “The 4 Pillars of Health”: Sleep, Stress Management, Exercise and Nutrition.

The “4 Pillars” started as a simple, easy-to-follow guideline I provided to the people I coach at The Training Room. Over the past several years, it’s taken on a life of its own! While I am in the process of putting together an entire book that summarizes my complete recommendations in these four areas, I wanted to give you a sneak peek. Hopefully, my suggestions will give you a basic framework for thinking about your habits and goals – either way, I’d love your feedback.

I know this is an ask. As George Costanza used to say, “I’m busy, you’re busy, we’re all busy.” I get it. I’m guilty too … but we need to stop priding ourselves on how busy we are – it’s not the first adjective any of us wants used to describe us. A few years ago, I was (un)fortunate enough to have thyroid problems and chronic plantar fasciitis which left me waking up in pain on a daily basis. While I can’t say this was the best of times, it was transformative for me. It’s when I decided that I needed to make some major changes to my life and prioritize my well-being. I know it’s hard. But, I promise you, if you do the same, it may be one of then best decisions you ever make (other than doing another couple deadlifts to get glutes like mine).

Pillar 1: Sleep

I used to stay up late almost every night. I convinced myself that I was a “night” person – that the wee hours were my “creative” time and were precious. While I would routinely come up with four or five ideas a night (all brilliant, thank you … good thing I love being a trainer), I was only getting 4-5 hours of sleep after working 8-12 hour days. Even for super humans (or as I like to call them, the Irish), it takes a toll. Sleep is when your body and mind repair themselves. It’s when the junk gets filtered out and things get reset. Sleep lets you think more clearly and be at your best. And, trust me, since your brain and your body love deep sleep, you should too!

Read More

6 Reasons Why Everyone Should Train with Kettlebells

by Jenny Cunha


I became a SFG kettlebell instructor in order to challenge myself and fine-tune my abilities.  Going through the training and certification process not only gave me the opportunity to learn from some of the best coaches, but made me focus on the basics in order to push my own endurance and strength.  I’m so glad I embraced the challenge, and I’ve got six good reasons why you should train with kettlebells too.


#1 – Skill Acquisition Learning and practicing a new skill, whatever it may be, improves confidence and cognitive function- both of which have a positive impact on your health and well-being. You can increase your focus and involve your brain in your workouts by using a tool that requires a higher-level of technical skill and understanding – the kettlebell.

#2 – Versatility The kettlebell may be the most versatile, stand-alone training tool, period.   Inline with the specific goals, structure and timing of your program, the kettlebell can be used to focus on mobility, strength, power or conditioning. A well-rounded training program starts with good movement at its foundation. From there, you can progress in a logical sequence, building strength and then power. The kettlebell can be used every step of the way.

#3 – The Sweat Factor It’s no secret that a good sweat can be satisfying. Physical activity has long been shown to have incredible health benefits, including the ability to lift your mood. Research has even proven that exercise is an effective treatment for mild to moderate depression. Regardless of whether exercise actually releases endorphins (jury’s out on that, believe it or not), stimulates norepinephrine production to help combat stress, or simply enhances communication between your body’s physiological systems, it’s undeniable that it’s good for your body and your mind.

Read More

What Is “Good” Training?

by Alex Tanskey


I often feel like I’m a salmon.  Not in a bad way.  More in a “swimming against the tide of outdated fitness information” way.

But sometimes, that tide is just too strong.

Whether it’s someone’s preconceptions of training, or previous experiences with other trainers/coaches, people are often surprised when they go through one of my sessions or classes. There’s this idea that in order for training to be “good” it must be 1) hard, 2) intense, 3) bodybuilding style, and/or 4) cardio based. And really, it doesn’t need to be any of those four.


So let’s start with what “good training” is not:

  1. Good training isn’t how high you can get your heart rate.
  2. Good training isn’t how much you sweat, how hard you breathe, or how sore you get.
  3. Good training doesn’t involve punishing yourself, for whatever reason.

Those thoughts are exactly why so many people – trainers included – get burned out so quickly. After all, most personal trainers don’t last beyond 1-3 years, and the drop-off in gym attendance by March illustrates the fleeting nature of New Year’s Resolutions.

So what makes for good training?  Here are three things it should encompass:


The Many Benefits of TRAC

by Heidi Shalek

Let’s face it – we all want to feel strong, happy, healthy and pain-free.  Most of us wouldn’t mind having a rockin’ body and friends who care about us either.  One of the main reasons we hit the gym is to obtain some, if not all, of these things.  So why does the traditional gym experience fall short for so many?  One potential answer: because people aren’t getting these things.  If they were, they would make it a priority to go, right? Yet, no matter what, on January 1st, gyms across the country will be flooded with a fresh batch of healthy hopefuls who are looking (and likely not for the first time) for these elusive gym benefits in the same old places.

If you’ve been to The Training Room, hopefully you know that not all exercise is created equal.  You also know that going to the gym doesn’t have to be a solitary grind filled with pain, anxiety, and self-doubt (I’m willing to bet, if you’ve ever wandered a gym floor in search of an open elliptical machine or piece of equipment you actually know how to use, you know what I’m talking about.)

There’s good news. I can say with confidence that every single coach at the TR is dedicated to client education, building our fitness community, and providing a fun, friendly, and welcoming environment. We believe in setting realistic goals and achieving them through safe, appropriately challenging, progressive workouts. By focusing on increasing what you can do well and safely, we can gradually help you build strength and improve the quality of your movement (Why should you care about the quality of your movements? Another simple answer: so you don’t jack yourself up).

Enter TRAC. Everyone who begins our TRAC program must complete a functional movement screen and demonstrate a solid grasp of the fundamentals of lifting weights and swinging bells (We recruit our coaches from a land where kettlebell swings are as fundamental as tooth brushing … just in case you ever wondered where Alex Tanskey came from). Once you’re in, your TRAC group will inevitably develop its own unique dynamic. Critically, it is that very group dynamic that can often provide the missing link in your quest for health and wellness.

Read More

5 Ways to Get More from Your Training

by Eirinn Carroll

Treat Each Movement with Care– Heavy lifting is not the only time to slow down, set up, and move with intention. Each movement in your workout has a purpose and should be treated as such.
Trust the Process– Your workout, or your overall training regimen is not a race to the finish. Doing the same things often, perfecting and improving upon them is the best approach. Take your time learning new movements and progressing forward, and while you’re at it, enjoy the journey!
Do Your Homework– If your coach recommends something to do on your own, whatever it is, do it.
Fuel and Refuel Based on Your Goals – Often what you do outside the gym is just as, if not more, important than what you do in the gym. Whether your goals are related to general health, getting stronger, sleeping better, or losing weight, the food you eat plays a big role in getting you there. The precision nutrition blog (http://www.precisionnutrition.com/blog) has great info on this, or you can set up a time to meet with our own Alex Tanskey for a more individualized approach.
Sleep More, Stress Less– You’ve prioritized your workouts into your weekly routine, which is great. Now let’s prioritize winding down, relaxing, and getting good quality sleep – on a regular basis. This will help you recover faster and put you in a better state for your next workout.

Dear Training Room:

When we receive a letter like this from one of our clients, it reminds us what a great job we have as coaches, and how fortunate we are to work in the fitness and wellness industry.  Helping people learn how to move well and get stronger so they can enjoy life is quite simply, the best thing ever. 



July 26, 2016


To: Training Room


I found out about the TR through a friend. One day I ran into him at work and complimented on how great he looked. He then started to tell me about TR and kettlebell training. He had hurt his back as well and we pretty much experienced the same pain. We both were on the same page how Meds, PT or even a chiropractor wasn’t helping. Seeing how he looked and felt I decided to look into the TR. I asked who he recommended and he told me about a kid, Kyle. November of 2016 I called and made an appointment with Kyle. I had no idea what to expect which I am sure Kyle knew since I showed up in jeans and a sweatshirt for the assessment. Before I started I could hardly walk or stand without having pain. I was miserable every day. I am a very active person and just turned 50 and this injury had stopped me from most activities I enjoyed. At first when I started I thought, “Is this going to help at all?”. The exercises were something I never did and seemed very weird to me. But within the first month I started to feel better and was able to do things I couldn’t do before.

Read More

Two Cues to Instantly Improve Your Push Up

by Rob Colameta


Whether you’re personal training, in TRAC class, circuit training, or even at outdoor sports conditioning, you’re guaranteed to run into the pushup. I’ve seen a lot of different people do the pushup and have found myself using the same two cues to help people get the most out of this popular and really effective strength exercise.

#1 Reach

Most people finish their pushups like this:


In reality, that’s not too bad. Note that his hips are in-line with his shoulders, he’s not arching his back, and it looks like he’s holding a solid plank at the top. However, he’s missing out on some serious shoulder benefits by not reaching his hands through the ground.

If he thinks about “reaching” at the top of the pushup, you’ll see his shoulder blades come around to the sides of his torso, like so:


It’s a subtle change but very easy to correct and guarantees you the awesome shoulder benefits that come along with doing the pushup correctly.

#2: Use Your Whole Body

Read More

Client Spotlight: Sara J.

By Alex Tanskey | Sara’s own comments in bold
There are people that see fitness as a hobby.  There are others that see it as part of their lifestyle.  For client Sara J, it’s definitely the latter. [Probably not OK to use the word “compulsion” in a client spotlight? But seriously, if anyone had said that about me two years ago, I would have thought they were talking about someone else – and there are so many Sara Js in the world, that could’ve been true… Things have sure changed!]
Few people have seen such drastic changes as Sara since she started in November 2014.  Suffering from back and hip pain, her goals were to lose weight, get stronger, and move better.  But having scored a 6 on the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) – with a score of 14 being optimal – she understood it wouldn’t be a quick fix. [At the time, I only vaguely knew how much work there was to be done. I knew I wanted to “feel better” but I didn’t fully grasp how much better I would eventually feel, or how long it would take! And thanks, Alex, for gently keeping me in the dark about that for awhile, because if I had known in the beginning, I might have run away – and you know I don’t run 😉 But it’s been so completely worth it]

Client Spotlight: Will B.

Will came to the TR after injuring his back in February. Being a police officer, the health of his back is critical to his job and forced him out of work for 4 months.  Here’s his story:

Since my injury, I had countless doctor appointments, saw 2 back specialists, 3 sessions of acupuncture, massage therapy, 20 sessions of physical therapy and 1 epidural injection…all of which did NOTHING for me.   In fact, one back specialist told me I had three choices: learn to live with the pain, live on pain killers, or surgery because there is no “magic pill.” I refused to accept any of these options.

Read More

To Stretch or Not to Stretch? Part 2

By Chris Mullins
In part 1 (last month) we learned that just because a muscle is tight doesn’t mean it needs to be stretched. We also learned that there have been quite a few studies (such as this one from Stephen F. Austin State University and this very comprehensive re-analysis from the University of Zagreb, Croatia)  that static stretching prior to exercise may actually inhibit athletic performance. However, this doesn’t mean stretching is completely pointless. It simply means you need to establish which muscle(s) and type of stretch is right for you, then ensure you are doing it correctly.


How? The case for stretching.
Let’s simplify this for a moment: almost every muscle in the body has a counterpart that performs the opposite function. Biceps and triceps, quads and hamstrings, all the way out to the muscles that open and close your hand. Also, muscles are dumb.

Read More

Top Mistakes Runners Make with Their Training Programs

By Chris Mullins

With peak running season coming to an end, now is a good time to reflect on what you did well during training and what can be improved upon for next season. After running countless races, as well as coaching for 5 years for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation’s Team Challenge half-marathon training program, I have seen the same mistakes year after year by many runners. I put together this list in the hopes that you can avoid the common pitfalls that many-myself included-have fallen victim to.

1) Too much/too fast (overtraining). The reasons why people run too much or too fast may differ (“I’m afraid I’m not doing enough,” “I just felt so good, so I kept going.” “I really love running.”), but novice and experienced runners fall victim to this mistake all too often. The “right” amount and pace depends on many factors-race distance, race experience and current fitness level, to name a few. As a general rule, I suggest that my runners who are training for a race stick to 2-3x per week, with one or two longer runs at a conversational pace

Read More

SFL Certification

by Regan Crane
     Here it is, my very first blog post on my experiences as a female trainer at The Training Room.  After reading Alex’s genius blogs where he so eloquently expresses his opinions on such things like burpies, to his experiences traveling and the short comings of costumer service, I have decided to join the blog world.  While it may not read like Shakespeare or Tanskey, I’ve still got something to say.
     Last month, as some of you may know, I attended a certification course called SFL – Strong First Lifter.  After training for 4 months, I felt ready to join this group of elite lifters, and prove that I could also be a part of the Strong First team.  I was really excited to learn new barbell techniques in hopes of improving my client’s lifts and my own.  Power lifting is something that I’ve grown passionate about, and I was hungry for more training.

Client Spotlight: Sarah B.

This month’s client spotlight is on one of our strongest female clients, Sarah B.  One of Sarah’s best qualities (and there are many!) is her determination each time she sets foot in the gym.  It’s the reason she currently boasts a barbell deadlift nearing 300 pounds, can press some ridiculously heavy kettlebells, and can knock out feet elevated push ups like it’s her job.  In fact, there’s rarely a day in which she fails to hit some new personal record. But, it wasn’t always that way…

Flash back to October of 2013, and Sarah started training very reluctantly.  She had told our staff that she didn’t want to get “too big,” while also having chronic back, hip, and shoulder pain.  After explaining to Sarah that she was on the verge of being “too flexible,” and that strength training would get rid of many of her aches and pains, she finally acquiesced.  Safe to say, she hasn’t looked back since.

Squinting, Stress, and Turkey Necks

by: Dan German
We have all found ourselves sitting at the computer enthralled in reading an online article, perusing social media websites…or even reading this newsletter. Next thing you know, you’ve moved your head forward, squinting at the screen, and jutting your chin forward.
This Neanderthal-like position requires the muscles of the eyes to work harder. The closer you are, the harder the muscles work. Over time, constant tensing of these muscles cause chronic tightness, headaches, poor movement and pain. In rare cases vision can even be driving back pain.

Get some sleep.

Sleep: The Ultimate Recovery by Tyler Cote

Recently I have become interested in many aspects of health, not just exercise. Don’t get me wrong — fitness remains my number one passion. If I stop working out for a week (heck, even a few days), my whole life seems upside down. But nonstop training isn’t good for me either. Recovery is essential, and what better way to recover than to sleep.

Read More

The Health Square: 4 Keys to Fitness

You’re ready to take the plunge and dedicate yourself to getting in shape. You’ve come to the right place. I’m about to tell you the most important things you need to know to get there. I call my approach the Health Square. The health square consists of four equally important categories. The categories themselves are probably not new to you, but how I’ll ask you to look at them may be.

Read More