by Maren Kravitz
By now we’ve all heard about “spinning classes” in which participants ride at cadences of 120–140 RPM’s with little or no resistance. Some of these classes even claim to offer a complete “total body” workout by including choreographed push-ups on the handle bars, as well as a bonus featuring bicep curls and tricep extensions with 3-to-5-pound weights – all while pedaling at supersonic speed. But keep your fingers crossed that your clip in shoes and pedals work.
While you struggle to keep up with the cadence and choreography of the instructor, you envision yourself with shapely toned legs while burning massive calories and dripping sweat. Hopefully, you’ve checked the spinning studio’s website FAQ page to confirm that these classes are indeed designed to shape and build muscle, without adding bulk. #winning
Is your indoor spinning bike pedaling you??
But unbeknownst to many participants, fast heart rates and dripping sweat does not necessarily correlate to increased caloric burn. The truth is: most typical indoor cycling bikes are fixed gear systems with weighted flywheels. The flywheels can weigh anywhere from 25 to 45 pounds. That smooth feeling when the pedals glide around with low resistance is actually inertia at work.
Those who ride indoor cycling bikes with extremely low resistance are essentially being taken for a ride. Even if your heart rate monitor shows an elevated heart rate, the “work” or watts being produced is very low, while the amount of wasted energy is very high. There is absolutely no correlation between calories burned and strength, muscular endurance or aerobic fitness.
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.
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.”
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
by Eirinn Carroll
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.