Are you stuck in a fitness rut, doing the same workout day in and day out, and wondering why you're not seeing the results you desire? Or maybe you're new to the world of fitness and looking for the best way to kickstart your journey to a healthier, stronger, and happier you.
Whether you're a seasoned athlete or a beginner, one term that should be on your radar is "cross-training." In the quest for a well-rounded fitness routine, cross-training can be your secret weapon to seeing results faster and keeping boredom at bay.
In a world where hyper-specialized fitness programs often steal the spotlight, cross-training stands out as the versatile hero that can elevate your fitness game. It's the antidote to plateaus, a safeguard against overuse injuries, and a gateway to a more balanced and engaging fitness regimen.
Keep reading to learn more about the science, psychology, and practicality of cross-training and tips to help incorporate it into your fitness life!
Imagine your typical workout routine: perhaps it consists of daily runs, which are great for cardiovascular health, or frequent weightlifting sessions to build strength. While these activities are undoubtedly beneficial, they tend to emphasize certain muscle groups and aspects of fitness while neglecting others.
Cross-training addresses this limitation by encouraging you to diversify your exercise modalities. Instead of focusing solely on one type of workout, you might also engage in activities like cycling, yoga, dance fitness, tennis, or pickleball. Each of these activities targets different muscle groups and offers unique benefits (physical & mental), creating a more comprehensive approach to fitness.
At its core, cross-training is a fitness philosophy that encourages variety and diversity in your exercise routine. Instead of sticking to a single type of exercise, cross-training involves integrating a range of different activities into your weekly or monthly regimen. The idea is simple: by mixing things up, you can achieve a more well-rounded and balanced level of fitness.
What are the benefits of cross-training?
Cross-training isn't just another trendy fitness buzzword; it's a strategy that can yield a multitude of benefits, helping you reach your fitness goals more efficiently and effectively. Let's dive into why incorporating cross-training into your fitness routine is a game-changer.
One of the most frustrating experiences in fitness is hitting a plateau. It's that point where your progress stalls, and you no longer see improvements in strength, endurance, or body composition. Plateaus often occur because your body adapts to a repetitive exercise routine. It becomes highly efficient at performing the same activities, which means you burn fewer calories and build less muscle over time.
Cross-training disrupts this cycle. By regularly introducing new exercises and activities, you continually challenge your body in different ways. This constant variation keeps your muscles guessing, prevents adaptation and helps you break through plateaus. As a result, you'll notice more consistent progress and improvements in your overall fitness.
One of the main complaints we often hear from new members joining the gym is that they have become bored with their regular workout routine. They are looking to incorporate something new or reinvigorate their enjoyment of fitness. Beyond the physiological advantages, cross-training provides a refreshing change of pace. Doing the same workout day in and day out can become monotonous and mentally draining. This monotony often leads to boredom and decreased motivation, making it harder to stay committed to your fitness goals.
Cross-training offers a solution by keeping your workouts interesting and mentally engaging. Whether you're mastering a new yoga pose, conquering a challenging cycling route, or perfecting your serve, the varied nature of cross-training keeps your mind active and eager for the next session.
Different types of exercise vary in their intensity and impact on the body. For instance, running is high-impact and puts stress on your joints, while swimming is low-impact and gentle on your body. Cross-training allows you to strike a balance between high-impact and low-impact activities, reducing the risk of overuse injuries.
By incorporating low-impact activities like yoga alongside high-impact ones like strength training or HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training), you give your body an opportunity to recover and heal from the stresses of intense exercise. This, in turn, promotes overall physical well-being and longevity in your fitness journey.
Fitness isn't just about looking good; it's about feeling good and functioning well in all aspects of life. Cross-training offers a comprehensive approach to fitness, addressing various components such as cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, flexibility, and balance.
Different exercises target different aspects of fitness. Cardiovascular activities like running and cycling improve your heart and lung health, while strength training enhances muscle tone and bone density. Activities like yoga contribute to flexibility and balance. By incorporating a variety of exercises, you create a more well-rounded fitness profile, making you more capable and resilient in everyday life.
If weight management and muscle tone are your fitness priorities, cross-training can be a valuable tool. Different exercises can target various muscle groups and energy systems in your body, leading to improved calorie burning and muscle development.
For example, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can help you shed excess fat, while strength training can sculpt and define your muscles. Incorporating both into your routine, along with other forms of cross-training, can accelerate your progress toward your weight and muscle-related goals.
Begin by evaluating your current exercise regimen. Take note of the types of activities you're already doing, the frequency, and the intensity. Understanding your starting point will help you identify areas where you can introduce variety.
Determine your fitness goals, whether it's improving cardiovascular endurance, building strength, increasing flexibility, or losing weight. Having clear objectives will guide your cross-training choices and ensure they align with your fitness ambitions. Remember, breaking down goals into smaller, more achievable goals will make it easier to achieve longterm goals.
Distribute your cross-training activities throughout the week to create a well-rounded fitness routine. Aim for a mix of cardiovascular workouts, strength training, flexibility exercises, and activities that engage different muscle groups.
When introducing new activities, start with a manageable frequency and intensity. Cross-training should enhance your fitness journey, not overwhelm you. Gradually increase the intensity and duration as your body adapts and becomes more conditioned.
Maintain a fitness journal or use a fitness app to track your workouts, including the type of activity, duration, and intensity. This will help you monitor your progress and make necessary adjustments to your routine.
If you want to mix things up out on the workout floor, consider working with a certified personal trainer who can design a personalized cross-training plan tailored to your goals and fitness level. They can also ensure you're using proper form and technique to prevent injuries. If you're interesting in trying out tennis or pickleball, take a look at our group and private programs. If you've been eyeing that group fitness schedule but are feeling a little intimidated, we've got a built-in buddy for you! With our WeConnect program, we'll pair you with a seasoned Western member who will go to class with you and show you the ropes! (To get paired up with your WeConnect Buddy, please contact Membership Outreach Director Staci at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Don't be afraid to experiment with different activities. Cross-training is an opportunity to discover new interests and passions. Stay open-minded, and you may find that you enjoy activities you never thought you would!
Remember that adequate rest and recovery are essential for reaping the benefits of cross-training. Incorporate rest days into your weekly schedule to allow your body to heal and rejuvenate, and take advantage of recovery tools like cryotherapy, which can help you recover quicker.
Cross-training is all about finding the right balance, staying motivated, and enjoying the journey to a healthier and more well-rounded you. If you’re not sure where to start, we’ve got your back! Whether you're a seasoned fitness enthusiast looking to diversify your routine or someone just starting on their fitness path, our team is ready to help.
Consider speaking with one of our personal trainers, group fitness instructors, or tennis pros who can work with you figure out your unique goals and preferences and introduce you to new equipment, exercises, classes, and tennis programs.
At Western Racquet & Fitness Club, we offer a HUGE range of fitness activities and amenities that will keep your workouts fresh, exciting, and effective. From our wide variety of equipment (and the new Strength Studio coming soon), group fitness classes, tennis courts, and more, there are countless ways to engage in fitness at Western. We promise you will never get bored!
Whether you're just starting on your fitness journey or seeking to elevate your current routine, everyone has their own unique fitness goals. In this blog, we've gathered expert insights from the Western personal trainers on 10 common fitness goals they often see.
From shedding unwanted pounds and mastering the art of pull-ups to relieving pain and enhancing overall daily activity levels, take a look at these tips from our Trainer's Toolbox!
Losing weight is one of the most common fitness goals, but it's essential to approach it with a balanced and sustainable strategy.
First, focus on your food. “Weight loss is all about consistency in the gym and discipline in the kitchen,” says Western personal trainer Olivia LaPlante.
Regular exercise not only burns calories but also helps build lean muscle, which boosts metabolism and aids in fat loss. But making mindful food choices and getting a balanced diet rich in whole food and nutrients is equally important. By striking the right balance between exercise and nutrition, individuals can create a sustainable and effective weight loss journey that leads to lasting results and improved overall health. Remember, success comes with patience and dedication to these healthy habits over time.
But what kind of exercise is best for achieving weight loss? Luckily there’s a lot to choose from!
“Do resistance training, full body workouts, HIIT workouts, and go on the treadmill,” says Western personal trainer Ally Bader, “Getting your heart rate up with a mix of cardio and strength training is a great way to facilitate weight loss.”
Just like losing weight, getting stronger is one of the most common fitness goals trainers hear from clients–and consistency is key for this one too!
“Do 2 to 3 days a week of strength training, and be consistent.” advises Western personal trainer Ryan Doro.
Strength training routines should include compound exercises that engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously, maximizing efficiency and promoting overall strength gains. Some effective compound movements include squats, deadlifts, bench presses, overhead presses, and pull-ups. These exercises not only stimulate muscle growth but also improve coordination and stability. Incrementally increase weights, repetitions, or difficulty in your exercises to continue making progress.
While pushing your limits, it's crucial to prioritize proper form and technique to prevent injuries and achieve the desired results. Focus on engaging the targeted muscles during each repetition and seek guidance from a qualified trainer if you're unsure about the correct form for specific exercises.
Whether you’re preparing for your first 5K, a triathlon, or anything in between, the key to training for any fitness event is a systematic approach. Identify the distance, time, or other performance metric you want to achieve and then break down your training into smaller milestones
"Start small, start slow,” says Western personal trainer Tad Taggart, “You don't jump straight into a big program right away. Make small, achievable goals like something as simple as biking or walking a few times a week.”
Cross-training is also important when training for an event. Cross-training involves engaging in various activities to complement your primary event training. For instance, runners can benefit from cycling or swimming to reduce impact, improve cardiovascular fitness, and work different muscle groups. Cross-training also helps prevent overuse injuries and keeps training enjoyable.
If possible, consider working with an experienced trainer who specializes in the event you’re training for. They can offer personalized guidance, track your progress, and provide valuable feedback to fine-tune your training plan.
Mastering the art of the unassisted pull-up is a challenging but rewarding fitness goal. Pull-ups target multiple upper body muscles, including the back, shoulders, and arms, making them a fantastic indicator of overall upper body strength.
To get started, Western personal trainer Lauren Griepentrog recommends starting with assisted pull-up variations to build your pull-up strength gradually. “Start by doing different forms of pull-ups, like banded and machine-assisted pull-ups and work your way up.”
Resistance bands can provide support as you work on the movement pattern. Gradually decrease the assistance provided by the bands over time until you can perform pull-ups with minimal assistance. Aim to practice 2-3 times per week, dedicating a few sets to pull-up progressions and other exercises that target the necessary muscle groups. Remember to be patient with yourself and celebrate each small progression!
Flexibility is a fundamental component of overall fitness and plays a vital role in injury prevention, joint health, and enhancing athletic performance. Whether you're an athlete, a fitness enthusiast, or simply looking to move with more ease and comfort, improving your flexibility is a great way to pave the path to achieving other fitness goals.
“When it comes to improving flexibility, consistency is key,” explains Western personal trainer Krystal Morgan, “Do stretching and mobility work every day.”
“Even on off days, prioritize stretching,” suggests Western personal trainer Sydnie Meyer, “Even 10 to 15 minutes of stretching exercises each day can help improve flexibility over time.”
Yoga and Barre are also excellent practices for enhancing flexibility, balance, and core strength, as they incorporate a variety of stretching exercises that help increase the range of motion and improve flexibility over time. Consider adding one of Western’s 10+ yoga and barre classes to your weekly routine. (You can find the group fitness schedule here.)
Creating a workout program that you genuinely enjoy can make all the difference in staying motivated and consistent. But it can be hard to know exactly what exercises we should be doing in order to reach certain goals. Working with a personal trainer can help you learn the kinds of exercises that make sense for your goals and identify the things you actually enjoy doing.
“I love showing clients different lifts and explaining different training styles for different goals,” says Western personal trainer Tony Riske, “Once you start to learn the correct order in which to go through a routine, with a warmup, working sets, and a cooldown, you can begin to build a program you really enjoy.”
Working with a trainer can also help you identify your personal fitness preferences and explore different training styles. Don't be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and try new exercises or activities. You might discover a new passion or challenge that you never knew you enjoyed.
Toning up is a common fitness goal that involves reducing body fat and building lean muscle mass to achieve a sculpted and defined physique. Toning requires a comprehensive approach that includes both exercise and nutrition.
“Combine resistance training, such as weightlifting and bodyweight exercises, with cardio like running or cycling,” advises Western personal training Stacia Root, “Increase your daily activity and watch what you’re eating to make sure you’re fueling yourself with the right balance of nutrients.”
If you’re one of those people who always wants to go, go, go, prioritizing recovery may be a challenge for you. But rest days are a crucial component of any well-rounded fitness routine. Giving your body time to rest and recover is essential for optimal performance and injury prevention.
Remember, rest and recovery are not signs of weakness; they are necessary for your body to repair and rebuild after intense physical activity. Adequate rest allows your muscles to recover, grow stronger, and perform better in subsequent workouts.
Having a rest doesn’t mean you have to lay on the couch all day, either.
"Doing 20 minutes of stretching and 20 minutes of low-intensity activities on rest days is a great way to allow your body the recovery it needs without causing additional stress,” says Western personal trainer Katie Fichtenbauer.
Incorporating recovery tools like foam rolling and cryotherapy can also help alleviate sore muscles and help you recover faster.
One of the most important aspects of recovery–paying attention to your body's signals. If you're feeling fatigued, sore, or experiencing any pain, it may be an indicator that you need additional rest. Be flexible with your training schedule and allow yourself to adjust it based on how your body feels.
Aches and pains are a part of life. Whether caused by age, chronic illness, or injury, pain and discomfort during our day-to-day activities can diminish our quality of life. Luckily, regular exercise guided by a personal trainer with expertise in pain management or injury recovery can go a long way in improving pain and aid in better recovery. A personal trainer can help identify the issues that may be causing you pain and discomfort and help correct them.
Some of the most common complaints heard from personal training clients center around experiencing pain and discomfort during regular day-to-day activities.
"Focus on more functional instead of aesthetics,” says Western personal trainer Zach Prochnow, “Work your hips, core, and shoulders and incorporate recovery techniques to promote healing and reduce discomfort.”
Sometimes the most important goals are simple. Many people know the value of regular exercise in overall quality of life and want to prioritize an active lifestyle. But leading an active lifestyle can sometimes be a challenge to fit in with busy schedules.
Some tips for leading a consistently active life?
"Do what you enjoy,” says Western personal trainer Andy Guastad, “If you like it, do it. If not, don't do it."
“Find ways to move your body inside and outside of the gym,” suggests Western personal trainer Spencer Melberg, “Go for walks or hikes, go for a bike ride, and focus on exercise that specifically helps you in weak areas, which will make your overall lifestyle more enjoyable.”
Even prioritizing things like small movement breaks if you work a desk job, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and doing active household tasks like chores and gardening can go a long way in keeping your body healthy.
Remember, your fitness journey is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. It's essential to listen to your body, set realistic goals, and stay committed to the process. If you find yourself struggling with certain fitness goals, consider working with a personal trainer for expert, personalized guidance and support.
These dedicated fitness pros are equipped with the knowledge and experience to tailor workouts to your specific needs and goals. They can provide valuable insights, keep you accountable, and help you stay motivated throughout your fitness endeavors.
Visit us at westernracquet.com/personal-training to learn more about each of the trainers here at Western and start your personal training journey!
Sometimes just beginning a journey is the hardest part. Taking that first step into the unknown to change your life can be scary, which is why, at Western, we try to foster an environment of education, support, and results for people at every level of fitness, no matter their goals. When you're just starting out on your fitness journey, it can be hard to know where to start.
Whether you're a complete fitness novice or someone who has tried and struggled before, we recommend working with a personal trainer to learn, stay on track, and start reaching your goals. Discover the power of personalized workouts, expert guidance, and the transformational impact of having someone in your corner helping you succeed!
One of the significant advantages of personal training is the ability to customize workouts based on your individual needs and goals. Personal trainers at Western have a wide variety of specialties and clients of various fitness levels that they work with every week. They have the knowledge and experience to put together the ideal workouts for your body and your goals. Here's how personal trainers accomplish this:
If you're a newer member at Western, you've likely already received your Fitness Assessment upon joining. The Fitness Consultation takes you through a comprehensive assessment of your fitness level, taking into account factors such as strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular health. You'll also receive a full body analysis with the state-of-the-art Styku 3D body scan machine. This assessment helps your trainer create a baseline and understand where to start with your training. If you haven't received a Fitness Assessment but would like to, email our Fitness Consultant, Ryan Kostroski, at email@example.com.
Personal trainers work closely with you to establish realistic and attainable goals. We have clients from all walks of life come through our doors, so if you have a goal, it's likely we've helped someone before you achieve it! Whether you want to lose weight, build muscle, improve endurance, or simply want to move better during your daily life, our trainers will tailor your workout plan accordingly.
As you progress, personal trainers adjust your workouts to ensure continuous improvement. They introduce new exercises, increase the intensity gradually, and challenge you to push beyond your comfort zone, preventing plateaus and keeping you engaged. The personal trainers at Western truly love getting creative with your fitness plan and will utilize every tool at their disposal to help you reach your goals and not get bored (inside and outside of Western!).
When you're a fitness newbie, it's extra important to learn proper form and technique to avoid injuries that might hinder your progress and ensure you are engaging the targeted muscles effectively. Western personal trainers prioritize proper form, technique, and injury prevention for all their clients and will always help correct form to maximize your workout's benefits. By instilling proper form and technique from the beginning, you can more easily develop long-term habits that will benefit you beyond the initial stages of your fitness journey. These habits lay a solid foundation for sustainable progress and injury-free workouts.
Starting any fitness journey can be hard. It takes time for our bodies to get used to any new kind of physical activity, and it can be a challenge to push past roadblocks and stick to a new fitness routine. When you work with a personal trainer, you have a built-in cheerleader ready to hold you accountable and cheer you on so that you stay on track to success.
Your personal trainer will help you establish specific, measurable goals that truly resonate with you. They'll remind you of your "why" when things get tough and celebrate your victories, big and small. They'll also help you mix up your routine so you never get bored and explore new things like fitness classes, outdoor activities, and new exercises. Lastly, they'll be your fitness buddy! Yes, sometimes our personal trainers like to join in on the workout too! Having someone to share your workout can boost motivation and make the process that much more enjoyable.
There are three essential factors to consider when selecting a personal trainer:
Look for personal trainers who hold certifications from reputable organizations such as the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), the American Council on Exercise (ACE), the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA), the National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF), the American College of Sports Medicine (ASCM), or the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). These certifications ensure that the trainer has undergone proper training and possesses the knowledge to guide you effectively. Every trainer at Western is certified by a reputable organization. Many of the trainers at Western also pursue continuing education opportunities and additional certifications in specialties they are passionate about.
Consider the trainer's experience working with beginners and individuals with similar goals as yours. A trainer with a track record of helping clients achieve their desired outcomes can provide valuable insights and support. If you have specific needs or preferences, look for a trainer with additional knowledge in specialty areas like pre- and post-natal exercise, kettlebell training, nutrition coaching, bodybuilding, athletic conditioning, mobility, or pain management. At Western, we get to know you first so we can match you with the ideal personal training for your specific needs.
Of course, you want your personal trainer to be an expert at all things fitness, but you want to like them too! Finding a personal trainer who you can connect with on a personal level can make the training experience even more fun. Effective communication is crucial for a successful trainer-client relationship. Find a trainer who listens to your needs, understands your preferences, and communicates clearly. Compatibility in terms of personality and communication style can foster a positive and productive training environment.
We all like to have reassurance that we know what we're getting ourselves into when we try something new, so it's no surprise personal trainers often get asked what a training session for a beginner is like. The honest answer? It all depends on you! Every client is different, and at Western, our personal trainers customize each session specifically for their client so no two clients will be doing the same workout.
If it's your very first session with your trainer, you will likely go over some of your goals and any important considerations again before you begin. The trainer will take care to explain everything you'll be doing and make sure you feel comfortable and are having fun.
It's okay to feel nervous before your first session with a personal trainer, but remember that they are here to help you and want to see you succeed just as much as you do. Don't forget to come prepared in proper workout attire that you feel comfortable in, and bring a water bottle!
If you're new to working out, you may wonder if a single personal training session is worth the cost. The answer is: probably not.
If you're just starting out, a single personal training session can be a great way to learn proper form and technique and can help anyone who is uncertain about committing to a full training program get a taste of what it's like, but beyond that, you'll need more time with a trainer if you want to see progress toward your goals.
Personal training is an investment in your health and fitness, and it takes time to see results. Long-term fitness goals take time to achieve. Personal training is a journey that involves progressive training plans, consistent guidance, and ongoing support. To maximize the benefits and see substantial progress, working with a personal trainer over an extended period is recommended. This allows for the development of a tailored program, accountability, and the adjustment of exercises as you progress. Ultimately, while a single personal training session can offer valuable insights, it is the cumulative effect of multiple sessions that paves the way to achieving lasting fitness goals.
Embarking on a fitness journey as a beginner can be both exciting and challenging. By working with a personal trainer at Western, you can kickstart your fitness journey with confidence and set yourself up for long-term success.
Remember, investing in your health is invaluable, and the guidance of a personal trainer can make a significant difference in your journey. If you're ready to take that first step, partner with a personal trainer at Western and unlock your full potential as you embark on an empowering fitness journey.
Visit Western's personal training page to learn more about our training program, read about our trainers, and get matched with the right personal trainer for you.
In early 2018, strange things began happening to my body - my legs were going numb, and I would get frequent pain running down them. Recognizing that something was not right, I talked to my primary care physician and then an orthopedic specialist to try and discover the source of the pain and numbness, thinking maybe it was related to a spinal disc injury. Unfortunately, after several completely normal x-rays, I was no closer to figuring out what was happening to my body – and my symptoms were quickly getting worse.
I was referred for an MRI and waited for my appointment to come around, but my body had other plans. After experiencing relentless numbness and pain and several episodes of feeling like my legs were on fire, I couldn’t wait any longer. After a particularly bad episode that left me laying on my office floor at Western, Mary (Western’s owner and general manager), recognizing how serious the situation was, took me to the ER where MRIs were conducted immediately. This led to an abrupt and unexpected diagnosis: multiple sclerosis.
Before we move on to the next step of the journey, let’s talk about what multiple sclerosis is and what getting an MS diagnosis means.
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic autoimmune disease that impacts the central nervous system – essentially it messes with the parts of the body that control everything we do. Despite all we do know about MS, we still are not sure exactly what causes the disease. Researchers know that something triggers the immune system to begin attacking the central nervous system and theorize that this could be types of viruses, environmental factors, or genetic factors, but research is ongoing to try and determine the exact trigger.
What we do know is that the attacks on the central nervous system result in damage to the myelin, the protective sheath that surrounds the nerve fibers, disrupting signals to and from the brain. Because there are several different types of MS and the symptoms are so varied, everyone’s experience of the disease is different, which can make it difficult to diagnose.
MS affects different people in different ways. There is a very wide range of symptoms that can differ in severity and duration – vision loss, pain, fatigue, impaired coordination, numbness, tingling, and many others. The symptoms vary which means the effectiveness of treatment vary too. Regular physical therapy or medications can usually help manage uncomfortable and painful symptoms.
Because of the unpredictable nature of the disease, so I had to see a neurologist to get a final diagnosis after receiving the initial diagnosis in the ER. After that night, I was determined to find the perfect neurologist for my needs and get this under control. On a difficult and trying journey from Green Bay to Milwaukee, to Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, and back again, I found a neurologist here in Green Bay (Dr. Todd Rave) who put together an effective treatment plan for me, which allowed me to breathe a little sigh of relief that things were going to start getting better.
As an MS patient, I have learned that my story is unique to me, and each person with MS has their own journey and has to learn to manage symptoms in ways that work for them.
The main symptoms that I manage are:
To manage and slow down the progression of my multiple sclerosis, I am on daily medication that helps with the spasticity, headaches, numbness, and weakness in my legs and arms. I also get IV treatment twice a year that I have administered at the hospital. Like many people who live with chronic illnesses, I also have taken a holistic approach to managing my health. I rely on Vitamin D supplements and chiropractic care with Club5 in Green Bay. I also get energy work with Reiki specialist Ana Kat from Rock & Body Shop in De Pere as well as massage therapy and personal training sessions. My biggest breakthrough has been with whole-body cryotherapy at Western which has really kept inflammation down in my body and is one of the biggest ways I keep my symptoms in check.
Most importantly though, none of this healing and ongoing health management would exist without the love and support from family, friends, & co-workers. Every day is another chance for discovery and to learn something that will help me to continue to live a happy and healthy life even with multiple sclerosis.
Patients with MS know that there is not one specific thing that can change our diagnosis or symptoms. It can be challenging to deal with changing symptoms, especially because not everything that we deal with as patients is visible to the human eye.
There is a quote I read that has helped me and I really believe that there is truth behind it:
“Every experience, no matter how bad it seems, holds within a blessing of some kind. The goal is to find it.” -Buddha
I have had so many blessings since I got my diagnosis in 2018 and if this didn’t happen, I would not be the person I am today. I have been blessed with so many individuals over the last 5 years that were brought into my life for a reason; I have to think that if I was not diagnosed, I would have missed out on all of them.
By raising awareness of what life is really like for someone battling with MS every single day, I hope we can instill more empathy in people and inspire the world to help find solutions to make life better for people living with multiple sclerosis as well as other disabilities and chronic illnesses.
I’ll leave you with a poem written by Kim Bayne about the battle with multiple sclerosis that helps explain how no matter what, I have the strength to overcome MS because it does not OWN me.
When it comes to getting fit, one of the best decisions you can make is to hire a certified personal trainer. Whether you’re just beginning your fitness journey and you’re not sure where to start or if you’ve been working out for years and need to shake things up, personal training can get you where you want to be faster.
Hiring a professional in other areas of your life is a no-brainer. Got a leaky sink? You hire a plumber. Need some help with your taxes? Hire an accountant. Working with a personal trainer is no different than working with any expert to help you accomplish a goal faster and with knowledgeable guidance.
With the many fitness options available online and in the gym, you may wonder what exactly a personal trainer can do for you that you can’t do for yourself. According to a study by the Journal of Sports Scient & Medicine, working out with a personal trainer can increase the chance of achieving your fitness goals by more than 30 percent! Let’s explore some of the benefits of hiring a certified personal trainer, that you won’t see with a DIY fitness approach.
The most important part of working out is making sure you’re doing it safely. Nothing is going to stall your progress more than an injury. If you’re new to working out, having a personal trainer go over the basics can be a huge help. You’ll feel confident that you have the correct form in the weight room, know how to use machines, and know which equipment should be used for certain exercises. Even if you consider yourself a bonafide gym rat, getting expert guidance from a personal trainer can help you take your workout to the next level and reach goals faster.
Personal trainers will also be able to reel you in if you’re pushing yourself too hard. They know when it’s time to go all out and when it’s time for rest and recovery. They know what types of exercises are suitable for your specific needs and level of fitness. With a certified personal trainer by your side, your risk of injury is greatly reduced and you can feel confident that you’re doing the right exercises to meet your specific fitness goals.
Sticking with any fitness routine can be hard. Even if you love working out, finding time to get a workout in when you're navigating a busy schedule can be a challenge. A lot of us start out strong with lofty fitness goals in mind and start to lose steam a few months in. Working with a certified personal trainer offers a level of accountability that’s hard to ignore.
For one thing, you’re paying them! Knowing you’re paying someone goes a long way in making you stick to your commitment. It’s harder to blow off a workout that you’re putting your hard-earned dollars towards!
Personal trainers are also great at gassing you up and keeping you engaged so that you actually want to keep coming to your sessions. A good personal trainer will check in regularly to make sure you’re not veering off track and provide support and advice if you’re struggling. When you work with a certified personal trainer, you’re not just getting a consistent weekly workout, you’re getting a built-in cheerleader!
You can come to the gym and work through a rotation of machines, hop on a treadmill and run through a program, or bring up a YouTube video and follow along - but none of those workouts are tailored to you and your specific goals.
Certified personal trainers are experts when it comes to creating workout plans that match the individual needs of their clients. In fact, they’re passionate about it! You may be looking to lose weight, improve endurance, get those gains, recover from an injury, or something else entirely. Whatever it is you want to achieve, a personal trainer is going to build an effective plan with those results in mind. This personalized approach ensures that each workout session is designed with your body in mind and maximizes efficiency so you reach your goals faster.
Everyone hits a fitness plateau once in a while. While consistency is key when you’re trying to reach certain fitness goals, you won’t see long-term results without mixing it up once in a while. When your body gets used to doing the same workouts over and over again, it’s sort of like switching to cruise control. Your body will become efficient at that workout you do every day and adapt, which leads to burning fewer calories and seeing fewer gains. You also risk overusing some muscles and ignoring others which can lead to injury.
Working with a certified personal trainer can help you shake things up with new exercises and routines and keep your body guessing for maximum results. Plus, you’ll never get bored!
We mean it when we say personal training really is for everyone! Beginners, athletes, bodybuilders, ballerinas, desk jockeys, kids, teens, seniors, those with disabilities, those who want to train long-term, and those who just want a session or two - everyone!
If you have a fitness goal you’re trying to reach, a personal trainer will set you up for success and help you get to that next level.
If you’re curious about personal training at Western, now is the best time to dip your toes in! This week (February 27th - March 3rd) we’ll be running free personal training demos all week long. Sign up for a completely free, no-pressure session with one of Western’s 17 amazing certified personal trainers and see how they can help you achieve your fitness goals this year.
Stop by the front desk or call Western at 920-497-1161 to sign up for your demo session this week!
As we inch closer and closer to the holidays, there are a number of distractions and speed bumps we have to navigate through in order to make healthy decisions. There are parties, wine tasting, pies, desserts, and leftover Halloween candy that just has to be eaten. And let’s not forget two of the best holidays: Thanksgiving and Christmas. As the weather gets colder and colder, we often stay indoors as well, catching up on our favorite shows or binge-watching a new series while not being able to enjoy the warm weather that’s slowly leaving us here in Wisconsin.
While all these changes are happening, many of our health and fitness behaviors are changing as well. Many people use this time to step off the track and indulge themselves in the holiday treats, saying they’ll start up their fitness routines and healthy eating habits again after the holidays. Sometimes the busyness of the season can make it too difficult to work out and eat healthily.
However, the holiday season is an important time to stay committed to our healthy behaviors. As the saying goes, “It’s easier to turn the wheels of a moving car,” meaning it’s easier to stay in the habit of health instead of starting up again after taking weeks off and losing much of what we’ve been working for this past summer and fall.
I’m not saying to go on a strict diet and workout plan because I think we should all be able to indulge a little during the holiday season, but even indulgence should be done in moderation. I’m also not saying going to the gym and working out every single day is necessary, but I would suggest making it two or three times per week so you can keep that momentum into the new year. Plus, at Western there are so many health and fitness options - we can make just about any schedule or lifestyle work for you! We have a great personal training team who would love to help you and the best group fitness classes and instructors in the state as well! And if you’re looking for a “taste” of fall without all the excess sugar and calories of holiday treats, stop in at the FuelBar. We have delicious and healthy treats that you’ll love!
If you're looking for some personalized guidance, and haven't had a Fitness Consultation yet, I also highly recommend reaching out to Ryan Kostroski, Western's Fitness Consultant, at firstname.lastname@example.org. He will be able to assess where you’re currently at, where you want to go, and options on how to get there. This is a valuable tool for tracking goals and progress as well as pinpointing areas that may need improvement. There's no better time to do it than now! Why wait until after the New Year to get started? Give yourself a leg up so that a healthy foundation is laid well before January 1st.
If you need some holiday diet tips or guidance, please reach out to our Registered Dietitian and Precision Nutrition Coach, Tad Taggart at email@example.com. He is an excellent source of information and can help you stay on track while still being able to enjoy all the delicious holiday foods. You can learn more about Tad's approach to a healthy relationship with food and our bodies and about our nutrition programs at westernracquet.com/nutrition.
My advice during this holiday season is to enjoy yourself but also keep in mind your health is very important as well. You don’t need to floor the gas pedal, but please don’t hit the brakes either. Use the wonderful resources Western has to offer so you can enjoy the holiday seasons and go into 2023 feeling confident and healthy.
Many people suffer with pain in the feet or ankles. Whether it is poor ankle mobility, low arches, or just pain while walking or doing other activities, feet and ankle pain can be a nuisance and can hinder your workouts. If you miss out on doing activities you love due to feet pain, read on to find out what you can do to get back to being active and feeling yourself.
While there can be a variety of reasons behind the cause of these pains, there are a few easier ways to solve this problem.
Take a look at your shoes. Are your shoes pretty old? Do your shoes really offer support? Are you relieved when you finally can take them off? Whether it is your workout shoes or everyday office attire, a little bit of research and an investment in yourself can help the pain you may be feeling in your feet and even your ankles!
Stretch your calves. Your feet and calves work together to create movement, just like your forearm creates movement in your hands. Take a second and grab your forearm and wiggle your fingers. You can feel the movement coming from the forearm while doing this action. The same thing actually applies to your feet! When your calves are tight or weak this can hinder mobility in your feet and ankles and can cause the pain you are feeling. Luckily, there are a couple simple ways to manage and potentially eliminate these issues.
Tight Calves- There are a few options you have to self-treat your tight calves. Use a massage gun on the area to help loosen up that muscle. If you don't have a massage gun, try a few sessions wit the Hyperice Massage Gun at in our Wellness & Recovery area. The Hyperice Massage gun delivers percussion therapy that concentrates targeted pulses of pressure into the muscle/tissue, helping to relieve muscle pain, stiffness, and soreness, and increase range of motion. Another great and more cost-friendly form of self-myofascial release available to you is using a foam roller. Foam rollers are great because they allow you to focus on the area as a whole or a specific area that is particularly hurting. You can choose how much pressure you want as well. If you want light pressure, keep your other leg on the ground to take weight off the leg on the roller. If you want more pressure, you can stack your legs on the roller to remove that weight from the ground.
Weak Calves- If your calves are weak, it can add pressure onto the ankle and foot. Calves can be worked during cardio exercises, but if you are experiencing pain that may not be the best option as you don’t want to be hurting while trying to correct a problem. There are a lot of different forms of calf raises you can do. There is a calf raise machine at Western that allows you to perform the movement with no weight or as much weight as you prefer. You can also do normal calf raises with no weights and perform these wherever you want! You can add weight for a little extra resistance by using a barbell, kettlebell, dumbbell, or other forms of weight. You can also execute a calf press on the leg press machine by solely lifting the calves with the balls of your feet planted on the machine.
In summary, many people experience foot or ankle pain and do not realize there are more “simple” solutions that can be done to ease this. If this sounds like you, try some of these tips out and notice the difference it makes in not only your workout routine, but everyday life.
When it comes to strength training, there are many different approaches. Some people may be looking to tone their muscles while others are looking to bulk up. Sometimes our bodies plateau and we need to make changes to the way we exercise to help get our muscles back on track. One exercise program that has been commonly used to help gain more muscle mass quickly is called German Volume Training, sometimes also referred to as the 10x10 workout. This style program puts our muscles under a lot of stress for a long duration of time, causing both types of muscle fibers to be called in for action, leading to muscle hypertrophy in less time.
Number of exercises
German Volume training can be done by picking two to three exercises that can be used as a superset with an antagonist muscle movement. For example, when doing a chest exercise the antagonist muscle would be the back. So, a good superset would be 10 reps of bench press and then 10 reps of bent over row. Or for the overhead press, the opposing exercise could be a chin-up. A third add in could be an abdominal exercise.
For legs, two exercises could be Squats and Glute Ham Raises or Romanian Deadlifts. When doing squats or deadlifts, because of the core involvement and heavy loads they require, it would not be safe to include an abdominal exercise. Make sure to chose only one exercise per body part to perform and that the exercise engages a lot of the muscle.
Resting for about 20 seconds in between each exercise is ideal for recovery. At the end of each set, it is then suggested to rest for between 1 to 3 minutes to allow muscles to be ready for the next set. (Remember there are a total of ten sets.)
Choosing the right weight
When choosing what weight to use 60% of a one-rep max is a good start, a weight that can be lifted up to 20 reps. This is to enable that the same weight gets used for all 10 sets. In the event of not being able to complete all the repetitions, weight should then be reduced 2.5%-5%. For example, if the weight being used is 100lbs, drop it down to 95-98 pounds on the following set. While it may seem as a small decrease, the point of this type of training is to keep the intensity as high as possible for efficient results.
Due to this being such an intense program, it takes longer for the muscles to recover. Therefore, one training session every four to five days per body part is plenty.
Remember the key to progression is to continue to overload the muscles. So, when 10 sets of 10 can be completed, this means its time to increase the weight by 4-5%. Also, expect a deeper soreness after performing this type of workout program.
Besides muscle hypertrophy, GVT can also benefit the cardiovascular system. This kind of volume training causes the heart rate to climb higher during each set and by the end of the workout, the heart rate starts to remain at a higher rate even during rests.
The idea behind this type of training and why it works is because after attacking the same muscles repeatedly, the main working muscle fibers will fatigue, and the body will then bring in our slow-twitch muscles fibers to do the work. This allows both our fast and slow twitch muscle fibers to experience growth. Therefore, our muscles will undergo faster development under this type of volume training.
Day one: chest, back, and core.
Day two: rest
Day three: legs- quads and hamstring/glutes
Day four: rest
Day five: Shoulders and arms
So, if you are finding yourself in a rut when it comes to building more muscle mass, give German Volume Training a try for a few weeks. Keep track of the weights being used and try to increase them a little each week. Remember, there are many ways of doing this technique and breaking down different movements for each muscle group. Try different complexes and find what best fits you.
If you feel like you'd like to try German Volume Training but feel unsure of where to start, get in touch with a Western Personal Trainer. We would love to set up a session and help you learn some new training techniques! Visit westernracquet.com/personal-training and fill out the inquiry form or stop by the Trainer Desk and talk to a trainer anytime!
Ask anyone who has ever used exercise to make a drastic change to their life and they will likely tell you that consistency is the foundation to long-term success. Yes, we all know that behaviors like regular physical activity and proper nutrition are an essential component of long-term health, but in the hustle and bustle of modern life it can be difficult to make the necessary changes to adopt new lifestyle habits.
When it comes to exercise, focusing on the positive aspects of changing a behavior can make it a more pleasurable experience. The brain rewards pleasurable experiences by increasing levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. Learning how to enjoy the process of exercise could elevate levels of these transmitters so that exercise becomes a positive and rewarding experience. The result is that the more you exercise, the better you will feel, which could lead to long-term behavior change and a healthier life.
Use the following five steps to help shift your focus so that you approach exercise to a healthier life, which is essential for making it a daily habit.
Taking these steps to focus on the positive aspects of working out could help change your perception of the benefits of exercise so that it becomes easier to make it a consistent habit. It is only when exercise becomes a regular habit that you will experience lasting and long-term results from your efforts.
How I picked myself up off the canvas and continued a journey I started almost 15 years ago.
Before I get started, if this is our first encounter: Hello! My name is Tony Riske, and I have both the pleasure and privilege of being one of the newest personal trainers here at Western. I currently reside in Appleton, where I was raised, although I consider the U.P. to be my true home.
My path to personal training here at Western has been anything but orthodox, but to properly encompass how I ended up here, we have to travel back to the summer of 2008. Back then, I was entering 8th grade, and the only thing on my mind was the upcoming middle school football season. As one of the captains-to-be, in order to help reach the goals we had set as a team and the goals I had set for myself, I knew it was time to get in a weight room. And so on the first Monday in June at 8am that summer, I made it to the Appleton North weight room, accompanied by my best friend’s now brother-in-law, who was going into his senior year. To say I was nervous would be a massive understatement; here I was, a middle-schooler, going into my future high school’s weight room for the first time, surrounded by my future coaches and older future teammates. But this anxiety was dwarfed by my self-confidence and desire to reach incredibly lofty goals I had dreamed about for many years prior, and I began training three times a week during the summer. The impact seemed almost immediate; I was challenged in ways I physically and mentally never had been challenged before, and with each obstacle came the desire to overcome whatever was being put in front of me. By the end of that 12-week summer, my confidence had never been higher; the time I had spent in the gym that summer coupled with my body’s transition to adolescence had given me athleticism I always dreamed of. I was dunking a tennis ball on a 10-foot basketball hoop, my endurance had skyrocketed, and I was even beginning to lift more weight than a good portion of my older peers.
For the next two years, this trajectory continued; when I arrived to high school in fall of 2009, I made what I still consider the best decision of my life and joined the wrestling team. The dedication, attention to detail, and extreme mental resiliency required by the sport of wrestling are all attributes of successful individuals in any environment, whether it’s a gym-goer, an entrepreneur, or a new parent trying to get their fussy baby to stop crying. By the time I reached my sophomore year, I felt like a superstar in-waiting; I had made both the varsity football and wrestling rosters and was receiving athletic letters of interest from a few local colleges here in Wisconsin. Unfortunately, my early triumphs mixed with the politics and drama of high school began to cloud the visions of success I had for myself just a year or two earlier; I was becoming distracted by unhealthy platonic and romantic relationships, but the worst relationship I developed during this time was my relationship with alcohol. I began to only care about when the next party was and what kind of bottle I could get my hands on, and it had a direct impact on my performance during my training sessions and competitions. The extra work I used to put in and attention to detail was gone, my peers were catching up to me, and my mental well-being was rapidly declining. By my senior year, I lost my starting spots in both football and wrestling, and ultimately put an end to any aspirations I had of competing at the collegiate level.
After high school, I went off to UW-Whitewater to study finance and economics. I had hoped that a new environment and a new experience of living on my own would help me rediscover my old passions and maybe even create some new ones. But by my first month in Whitewater, I found myself turning to alcohol more than ever to cope with the stress of school and using it to run away from my responsibilities. Rather than acknowledging I was struggling, I would lie to my family and friends about how I was doing in school. After four years in college, I returned home in spring of 2017 emotionally broken with barely enough energy and motivation to get out of bed some days.
After bouncing around from job to job, I landed a position with a home improvement company in 2018 doing marketing for them up until March 2020, when I was furloughed from the position due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The time I spent during those initial months of quarantine gave me a lot of time to think about who I was as a person then, and the person I wanted to become going forward. By this point, I was in the worst physical condition of my life; 55 pounds heavier than when I graduated high school, and not even half as strong. I had always loved fitness, and I enjoy meeting new people and learning their story, so when an opportunity for a kickboxing fitness instructor came to my attention in March 2021, I decided to give it a shot despite my present physical condition. My first day there included me going through the kickboxing circuit workout created by the organization. Not even 10 minutes into the workout, I became physically ill because of how out-of-shape I was. Even though I still got the job, I had felt completely humiliated; how was I going to be a trainer when I can’t even complete the workout myself? For me, as a former high-level athlete, this incident was the final straw. Over the next year, I rediscovered the discipline and fire inside of me that I needed to change my physical and emotional well-being for the better, which has resulted in me losing 45 pounds over the last year and gaining back the love for my own life I remember having as a teenager. But I didn’t do it alone; along the way I had unwavering encouragement and help from former coworkers, family, and friends.
Present day, April 2022. I could not be more honored and humbled to be writing this piece as a member of the personal training team here at Western. A special thanks goes out to Alex Awve and Mary Thomas for giving me this opportunity; their openness to me and what I believe I will bring to the table as a personal trainer is a debt I will owe them for eternity.
My story doesn’t end here though, in fact, I know this is just the start. I cannot wait to learn more about every one of you and hear your stories. And if you’ll allow me just a couple hours of your time each week, I know together we can create an impactful and sustainable routine for whatever kind of lifestyle you live and want to live going forward.
Have you ever heard of mind-muscle connection? Simply put, it's an aware and deliberate focus on a target muscle contraction. The reason this is important is because it helps recruit more muscle fibers which leads to better muscular development.
How many times have you seen people doing a squat half way down or pull-ups half way up? Maybe they’re doing cable pull-downs with too much weight and rounding their shoulders and pulling with their biceps. The problem with half of a repetition is that usually there’s too much weight on the bar or weight stack and the person cannot complete the full range of motion. Why is this important? Because when performing exercises like squats, squatting deeper recruits more of the much needed gluteal muscles.
What happens if you can’t do a full range pull-up? I would suggest using a band or the assisted pull-up machine. Chances are, if you are doing a “half-way up” pull-up, you are using your biceps and shrugging muscles to do the movement, not the needed back muscles like the lats or rhomboids.
And if it’s a flexibility issue for squats, that should be addressed before the heavier lifting. There are many types of dynamic warmups and stretches that would help improve one’s range of motion.
Start light and do a full range of motion. Starting light and moving slowly will help you feel the lengthening and contraction of the muscles. Don’t progress in weight until you are able to feel this on each rep.
Having trouble feeling the muscle? Try doing band shuffles before squats. It will start activation of the glutes.
Touch the muscle you want to work. Just feeling the muscle can help the connection.
Focus on the lengthening and squeezing of the muscles, especially during warmups.
Weight lifting has nothing to do with how much weight you can do. It has more to do with how much you can feel the muscle working during a movement.
The ability to target certain muscle groups help with injury prevention. For example, strong glutes and hamstrings can help reduce the likelihood of knee pain and injuries. A strong upper back helps pull the shoulders and head into alignment so the “slumped” posture is corrected.
Not only is it useful for reducing injuries, but it also helps in the ability to locate an injury or pain one might have.
AND it’s best for visual muscular development. If you were to squat half way down, the front of the legs or quads would develop, but the entire backside of your legs would lag in comparison. Or, if you can feel your shoulders and chest working but your back isn’t, chances are you’ll end up with a rounded, slumped posture.
Any questions on how to do any of this? Please ask one of our trainers who will gladly help.
Kettlebell training is a popular method of strength training that targets specific muscles in many unique & fun ways. You can create an entire full body program along with a great cardiovascular workout with just a few different sizes of kettlebells. The neat thing about kettlebell workouts is that they can be performed by not only athletes, but the general population as well.
One widely known kettlebell exercise across the fitness community is the kettlebell swing. The swing can be performed with one or two hands, or alternating, swinging up and down. On the upswing, the kettlebell should reach about to eye level, and on the downswing, it should swing in between your legs, but not too far. A good way to train your neuromuscular system is to put a foam roller right behind your back when performing the swing. If you knock the foam roller over, you are going too far. You can perform the kettlebell swing with straight, slightly bent legs, in order to prevent hyperextension at the knees. This gives way to a slight hamstring stretch on the downward phase, followed by a powerful swing/jerk motion, utilizing our fast twitch fibers.
Another way you can perform this exercise is with a deeper bend at the knees, more so contracting your hamstrings and gluteus muscles. Because of the versatility of the kettlebell, the swing is not limited to just between the legs. You can perform a lunge swing, following the same movement patterns, with the difference of swinging the kettlebell to the right on a left leg lunge, and to the left on a right leg lunge. This “lunge swing” exercise is to be performed with caution at first, as our nervous system, which is the first to adapt to any training program, is still learning the movement.
Another potential kettlebell swing exercise is the side lunge “golf swing”. As many fitness gurus know, there are three planes of motion humans can move through. The sagittal, frontal, and transverse plane. Effectively utilizing all three of these planes will maximize our performance in the gym and in anthetic events. The side lunge swing is performed in the frontal, or often referred to as the lateral plane. When performing this exercise, start in a side lunge with the kettlebell out in front of you. Using your core muscles, swing the kettlebell to either the right or the left, depending on your bent leg. This will replicate a golf swing. Be very careful not to hit your knee with the kettlebell when swinging it, however. It is very important that you swing the kettlebell far enough away from your knee in front of you to avoid collision. Another way to prevent this is to slightly turn your squatting leg into external (outward) rotation. This will minimize the chance of the kettlebell hitting your patella (sesamoid knee bone).
There are many other exercises besides the swings that can be performed such as: goblet squats, deadlifts, rows, farmers carries, snatch’s, cleans, and front squats, just to make a few. Just about any dumbbell workout can be performed with a kettlebell. Kettlebells tend to present challenges in certain exercises because of the weight distribution. For example, on a shoulder press, it is advisable to keep a strong grip on the handle to ensure proper activation of not only your deltoids (shoulder muscles), but your wrist flexor muscles (grip muscles). When you press the weight up in the air, the weight distribution of the kettlebell poses a great challenge for our wrist flexors to remain activated. If the weight is too much, or our technique is slightly off, the kettlebell will turn over and fall against your hand, no longer being secured by your grip.
The kettlebell farmers carry can help improve our grip strength tremendously. Grab one or two heavy enough kettlebells, and walk in a straight line, or safely around your gym. As you proceed on your walk, make sure you retract your shoulder blades and activate your thoracic (upper back) muscles. These muscles (rhomboids, trapezius and others) help to maintain our spinal structural integrity. Make sure you are gripping the kettlebell with a great deal of force. As you return to your starting blocks, if you picked a great amount of weight, you will be ready to just about drop it to the ground. You will notice that your posture will feel a lot more sturdy immediately as your postural muscles have just been activated for a great deal of time. This exercise is great especially for people who live a sedentary lifestyle.
Kettlebell workouts are a great way to spice up your routine in the gym. There are hundreds of exercises to choose from that can work your entire body in a very different way. If you are serious about your training and improvement in the fitness world, learning a few kettlebell workouts would be well worth your time.
Part 1: Why Your Workouts Aren't "Working Out"
After years of scouring through fitness and nutrition research, I have discovered quite the assortment of tips and tricks to ‘maximize results’ in the gym. By this, I mean I have put in considerable time and effort towards understanding all the ways to help my clients most efficiently and effectively reach their fitness goals. Throughout this research, I have come to find that much of the ‘big picture’ or ‘fundamental’ truths for fitness seem to be glossed over, neglected for the sake of defining and understanding the minutiae. In other words, we often seem to “miss the forest for the trees” when seeking or giving advice to make progress in the gym. Many of the popular articles in the news and on the internet are announcing the next ‘breakthrough technique’ or product that will ‘take your fitness to the next level’. While we are obsessed with finding the cutting-edge difference-makers, we forget that fundamentals are… well… just that: fundamental. The “tried and true” basics of how to be successful in the gym aren’t shiny, sexy, new, or exciting. So, while we frantically search for the next secret to make that 1% difference, we forget to attend to the other 99%. Among the chatter of all the ‘new research’, we seem to no longer hear about what has worked for so many people over so many years prior.
In this three-part blog, I would like to introduce the major errors I see fitness enthusiasts make that prevent them from reaching their goals or their fullest potential. The intention with this article is that you use it as a sort of “checklist”. As you read through each bullet, consider whether any of these fundamental missteps sound familiar. If this is the case, addressing this factor could be the missing link in truly accelerating your health and fitness goals. With that, I also recommend treating this list in sequential order, working from top to bottom. If you find that there are multiple points you need to work on, start with the upper-most point (closest to #1) and work your way down. The higher on this list the point is, the more foundational it is. If you don’t resolve any issues in the earlier points, any changes in the later points will not have as significant of a result, if any. Whether you are starting a new fitness journey or have been working out consistently for years, this list is essential to ensuring you find a fitness plan that works for you.
With that, read on for the top foundational fitness mistakes and how to fix them.
Error #1: You don’t even like your workouts.
This is the most foundational, fundamental factor in whether someone ever achieves their fitness goals or even finds a good, healthy relationship with exercise or movement. If every workout you’ve ever done or ever do is something you dread, chances are you aren’t very motivated to sustain it. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll want to be active if your current workouts are painful, uncomfortable, or downright boring. Most people doing exercise in a way they feel they “should” instead of being active in a way they want tend to have motivation that waxes and wans. If you instead commit to forms of exercise and activity that you find exciting and energizing, you are much more likely to stay committed for the long-term. Before addressing any other factors for why you might not be seeing progress, consider whether you even enjoy how your time at the gym is spent.
It’s possible you may read this first suggestion and think to yourself, “I hate [insert exercise type here], but how will I ever reach my goal of [insert goal here] if I don’t do that?” For many, this can mean weightlifting to gain strength, running to lose weight, yoga to gain flexibility, and the list goes on. If you’re pondering this conundrum, I’d like to make two argument points: First, assuming that the single activity you’ve committed to (and dislike) is the only way to achieve your goal is neglecting an entire world of fitness, filled with many different ways to achieve the same goals. Just because some book or article you may have read said a particular form of exercise was the best way to achieve a particular fitness goal doesn’t mean it is the only way to achieve that fitness goal. Which leads to my second point: that particular activity (that you don’t like but feel you “should” do) actually isn’t your best way to achieve that goal because you don’t enjoy it. If every fitness session is done begrudgingly, you’re never going to be committed or focused enough to achieve the supposed goal, regardless. Picking an activity that you enjoy and are committed to will keep you motivated enough to stay consistent and reach your goals. Want to gain strength but hate lifting weights? Try a bodyweight workout routine or ashtanga yoga. Looking to improve your endurance but hate running? Try boxing, rowing, or swimming. Regardless of your goals, there is always more than one way to reach them. And whatever your fitness goals may be, the types of exercise that you truly enjoy are going to be the best way to achieve them.
Error #2: Your goals and your activities don’t really make sense.
If you’ve made it to this point, we’ve already established that you enjoy your workouts (or have changed them so that you do enjoy them). Now it is time to evaluate your goals and decide if they align with the activities you regularly participate in. For example, your cardio might improve if your workout of choice is playing basketball, but you’ll probably never gain significant amounts of strength. Further, many forms of yoga may build strength and flexibility, but they likely won’t improve endurance. Perhaps one of the best quotes I can reflect to you is from my old cross-country coach. During practice, the team would often complain when we had a more challenging practice planned. Coach would announce that we had one of our longer runs and the team would erupt in a chorus of groans combined with some whiny complaints of, “But why…”. At this point, coach would have a devilish grin and repeat the mantra, “The only way to get better at running… is to run.” While this may sound obvious, it is an excellent reminder when we establish our fitness goals. When setting your goals, frame them from the activities you enjoy. If you like yoga but hate running, you may need to let go of any goals of running a marathon. If you like basketball but hate weightlifting, having a goal of a 300lbs barbell squat makes little sense. Set your goals within the activities you enjoy, and you’ll fuel your motivation rather than fuel the guilt of being unable to achieve a goal you feel you “should” have. The only goals that matter are the one’s that keep you coming back and focused on the fitness activities you enjoy.
To continue this point, I’d like to recall the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” In other words, choose the activities you love, and set goals that will continue to motivate you in those activities. To continue our example, you may have previously been lifting weights to get stronger but changed to doing more basketball because you enjoy it. If that’s the case, your new goal could be to improve your layups. It might take some time and reflection to realize that the past goals you once held weren’t truly your own and wouldn’t actually deliver you any happiness or satisfaction. Setting and achieving goals in activities you love will be consistently rewarding, making it so that you don’t have to delay feeling happy ‘until you reach [insert goal here]’. Life’s too short to do a workout you hate. Love your workouts and set goals that keep you coming back for more.
Stay tuned for Part 2!
Every December 31, many of us start thinking about what the new year will present to us. We set goals, we break them. We make other goals and break them as well. It's hard to create new habits; oftentimes harder than we realize!
What’s your goal? Do you want to lose weight? Run a marathon? Sleep more? Or do you have a physique that you’re working towards? At the root of it all, a plan with self-discipline will get us to where we need to go.
In order to keep a New Year’s resolution, breaking down our goals and creating smaller, short-term results is key. Do you want to lose 40 pounds this year? For many, the sound of it sounds unattainable or unrealistic. But, does losing one pound in two weeks sound possible? Absolutely.
Do you have a plan? Do you need help creating a plan? A plan is like a road map. If you don't know what you’ll be doing, how to do it, or even where you’re going, getting to a specific destination is really difficult.
Below are some strategies you can use to assist in your New Year’s resolution.
Happy New Year from me and all of us here at Western! We can't wait to help you with your goals in 2022!
Do you lie awake at night, fighting to fall asleep? Maybe your brain is keeping you up with all the stress of the day or you're struggling to find a comfortable position where your body can feel relaxed. If this is relatable, I promise, you are not alone. When we don’t get a healthy amount of sleep, it can lead to experiencing major threats to our health and happiness. Sleep is responsible for healing and preparing the body for the next day. It improves our daily performance, keeps our minds sharp, and we feel better mentally and physically. Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to increased heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, depression, weight gain, and more negative side effects.
Healthy sleep requires 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted rest. Leading factors for sleep disorders are breathing problems, drinking alcohol, eating certain foods, eating too late in the evening, inadequate exercise, or depression & anxiety. Many of us struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep through the night, but it has been proven that creating healthy sleep habits before bed is a great way to start falling asleep faster and staying asleep longer.
One thing that can be done is to create a regular sleep routine to follow each night. Every night have a set of specific activities to do before getting in bed. This will help get the mind and body in a “ready for sleep” mindset and make going to bed much smoother. Things to think of when creating healthier sleep habits are:
Set up a healthy and comfortable sleep environment. The place where you sleep should be comfortable and relaxing. Eliminate any distractions in the bedroom.
Maintain a consistent time for going to sleep every day of the week. This includes weekends. This keeps our circadian rhythm regular, making it easier to fall asleep when we want to.
Turn off or silence all electronics like phones and TVs at least 30 min to an hour before bedtime. Screens disrupt the release of melatonin in the body making it harder to fall asleep.
Reduce intake of caffeine, alcohol, and heavy meals before bed.
Avoid physical activity right before bed.
Do some calming exercises to relax the body.
Getting a good night’s rest is very important for our well-being. It is beneficial for your mental and physical self and keeps you going every day. Do your body a favor and start creating healthy sleep habits that will lead to a better night’s rest and a happier you.
As Western Racquet’s Fitness Consultant I am in a position to talk with many of our new members about their goals when it comes to their health and fitness. I typically hear many of the same responses with weight loss being the number one desire for many out there. Weight loss isn’t easy and it tends to become more difficult for most of us as we age. It definitely doesn’t help that we see a plethora of commercials daily advertising silly things like lose 30 pounds in 30 days when most of us in our heart of hearts know that isn’t reasonable. These ads give people unrealistic expectations that can often lead to them giving up way too early when the end goal of losing significant weight feels unattainable. As someone who lost 40 pounds over an 18 month period, I am here to help you find some practical ways to make this dream a reality.
I hope these ideas helped and reaching your goals is something you can definitely do with the right motivation, work ethic, and some help from the family here at Western Racquet.
Self-myofascial release (SMR) is a popular form of self-massage used to reduce soft-tissue stiffness, aid post-workout recovery, and maintain normal muscular function. SMR can be done with a variety of tools such as foam rollers, lacrosse or tennis balls, and handheld rollers.
SMR works by applying pressure to tight or knotted muscles in order to trigger relaxation. It can be an intense experience, but consistent use will maximize the benefits and decrease the discomfort.
The Benefits of Myofascial Release:
SMR is great to use as a warm-up, a post-workout recovery routine, or as part of your daily mobility routine. Watch the videos below to see how to release various muscles using a tennis ball.
Calf: Place the ball under the mid-calf. Slowly roll the calf over the ball until you find a tender spot. Flex your ankle back and forth a few times, or hold pressure on the ball until you feel the trigger point release. Repeat for other tender areas around the calf.
Hamstrings: Sitting on a box, place the ball under the mid-thigh. Keep pressure on the ball and extend at the knee until your leg is straight. Relax your leg and repeat for a few times. Move the ball to a different area of the hamstrings and repeat.
Glutes/Piriformis: Place the ball in your glute and lay back. Grab on to your knee and gently pull it to your chest. Release your knee and repeat.
QL: Lay back with the ball above your hip and to the side of your spine (be sure to not be on bone). Grab your knee and pull it to your chest. Relax the tension on your knee and repeat.
TFL: Place the ball below your hip bone (where your pocket would be on pants). Flex your knee to 90 degrees and slowly rotate your foot back and forth.
Pec Minor: Pin the ball between your chest and a squat rack or door frame. Raise your arm up as high as your can while keeping pressure on the ball. Slowly lower your arm and repeat.
Suboccipitals: Lay back with the ball directly under the base of your skull. You can roll the ball from side to side, nod your head yes, or just relax with pressure on the ball.
Are you going to the gym to train or to exercise? Are they the same thing? Exercising can be defined as any activity that requires effort carried out to improve health and fitness. Perhaps you go on a morning run, or play tennis, or do your “routine” in the gym. Often, many come to the gym every day and walk on the treadmill for 20 minutes, move to the elliptical to another 20 minutes, go into the weight room and pick up some weights, do 15 reps of certain exercises, get a sweat going, perhaps do a circuit, finish with some ab work and stretch out. All are really great forms of exercise to be doing consistently. If you’re doing one, some, or all of these, you’re on the right track!
Training is different. It is often geared for competition to reach a particular goal for a sport or hobby. Training uses programs to reach these goals. There are progressions, overloading muscles, planned rest days, one rep max testing, and many other ways to reach a specific goal. For example, if a person wanted to increase her vertical jump for volleyball, she might start by measuring her current jump height. The program for her might look like: Box jumps, followed by power cleans, squats, and some hamstring curls. Each of these would be tailored with weight, repetitions, speed, etc. Then perhaps in a few weeks, she’d retest her jump height again.
Or, perhaps someone would like to lose 10 lbs. One could easily do cardio every day, do a workout routine, and try to eat healthily. Will this work? Possibly. But a person would have a better chance of reaching a goal with a training plan. The assistance of a registered dietitian to help measure your carbs, proteins, and fats is a fantastic tool. A personal trainer could create a plan for helping make a person become stronger, leaner, and more flexible.
Both approaches to fitness are great. The main difference is “exercise” is a little broader of a goal and “training” is specific to a person’s goals.
If you have a specific goal in mind or are stuck in an "exercise rut" and need some guidance to get you to that next level reach out to our Personal Training department today and get connected with the right trainer to help you customize a plan that will help you succeed!
We all slip from time to time! Progress isn't always linear and when we're working towards goals, it's expected that there will be occasional setbacks. Don't let your setbacks stop your from reaching your goals! Here are ten tips for getting back on track!
1. Only eat when you are feeling hungry (wait until your stomach is growling but not until you are starving). If you wait until your body goes into starvation mode your body will not burn as many calories.
2. Avoid major hunger by breaking your meals into five smaller meals per day. Think of yourself as a scavenger and try to avoid eating over sized meals.
3. When eating out immediately cut what was given to you in half and take the other half home. This way you get two meals for the price of one and you don’t have to worry about overeating.
4. Know your own body! You will be able to tell when your body is hungry so don’t be afraid to eat.
5. Alcohol will throw off your weight loss goals quickly. A couple nights of drinking in a row could throw off what you had been trying to obtain all week from eating healthy and working out.
6. If you weigh yourself all the time, STOP! Go off how you feel and only weigh yourself occasionally. The number on the scale does not determine how healthy you are.
7. Take small steps, don’t try to change everything in one day. Lifestyle change and maintaining weight loss comes with consistency of healthy choices.
8. Don’t think that you must do multiple workouts every day to lose weight. Loss of weight comes from burning more calories than you are consuming. Weight loss comes from a balance of nutrition and exercise.
9. When working out, it is important to give yourself a break or relaxation day to recover.
10. Be confident in and dedicated to yourself when it comes to being a healthier you! You know what needs to be done. Make good choices!
This week I would like to take this opportunity to discuss the box squat. I will be going through an explanation on why the box squat can be beneficial to you, how to properly perform the squat, and a few other details regarding different training variables. A few great reasons to try out this squat are the fact that it will help reinforce proper form as well as help break through strength plateaus.
When you have a target below you and you get to briefly pause on the box, you can pinpoint certain weaknesses in your form. You will not have any momentum to help you up from the bottom of the squat which will also help you increase your strength over time. To set this move up, you will need a squat rack with a barbell and a box to sit on.
Generally speaking, a common goal is to squat with your upper legs parallel to the ground. Everybody is at different levels when it comes to mobility and injuries so I would suggest using a box that you feel comfortable with. You can slowly decrease the height of the box as you become stronger with this move. However, depth is not the most important factor and I do not want anyone to feel like they are forced into an uncomfortable position, do what works for you!
Once you have your box, place it in the rack about one step behind you. You will step under the barbell, put the weight on your upper back and take a step back so you are over the corner of the box. Position your feet around shoulder width and point your toes forward or slightly out. Break at the hips first by pushing your butt back and then follow by breaking at the knees. As you descend you want to focus on keeping your back neutral and your knees in line with your toes. Once you control yourself to the box you will sit down and pause briefly to take any momentum away. Then drive through your feet and stand up.
Posture is also very important with this squat variation. Make sure you can control the weight down and you don’t smash into the box, this will add unwanted stress on your lower back. As I mentioned earlier, this can help pinpoint issues in your form. If you drive up from the bottom and see you knees cave in or you feel you back rounding, you can start by taking some weight off and correcting those issues. If you are making those mistakes with a box, there is a high chance you’re making them without the box as well. I am describing a slow and controlled movement but if you want to train more explosively, the box squat is an excellent option.
You will repeat the same form but when you touch down on the box you will explode up with power and drive to the top as fast as you can. When you look at rep ranges for this type of move you have tons of variety. If you want form, 2-4 sets of 10-15 reps are a great start. If you looking to add size or strength you could shoot for heavier weight and rep ranges closer to the 5-10 mark.
At the end of the day if you are pushing yourself and focusing on good form don’t worry about getting caught up in the little details.
It’s all about balance, right? In our diets, lifestyle, workplace, and our bodies!
Balance is your body’s awareness. Both internally and externally your body is looking for ways to assess your current condition. It’s rare that we are going to have 100% awareness of our surroundings, but we can build our bodies to optimize our daily, and adventurous, movements. Whether hiking over logs, stepping off a curb, or playing sports, we shouldn’t wait until we injure ourselves to strengthen our balance.
And how do we strengthen our balance? Ankle and foot stability, and a little mental override.
Below are a few balance and stability progression movements. Start from the top and move on once you are confident and comfortable. Through each movement take a moment to assess your body. What muscles are firing up? What are my feet and toes doing? Where am I looking? Looking to strengthen your feet even further? Try these moves without your shoes! Let your feet hug the ground. Stay safe, keep a chair nearby, and have fun!
1. Start by standing with feet hip-width apart.
2. Lift one foot off the ground in front of you.
3. Switch feet.
4. Try lengthening the duration of each balance hold.
5. On each foot, add in some eye and head movement. Look left, right, up, and down.
6. On each foot try closing your eyes.
Continuing progressions with ankle and foot movement:
1. Standing on a single foot, press up onto the balls of your feet, raising your heel off the
ground. Lower and repeat
2. On each foot, and add in the eye and head movement, while continuing the above.
3. Try closing your eyes.
Continuing progressions with lateral movement:
1. Standing on one foot, hop to the side landing on the opposite foot. Land lightly by slightly
following through with the movement.
2. Repeat movement by hopping from side to side and lengthening the stride each round.
3. Add in the eye and head movement, while continuing the lateral hops.
4. Be aware of your surroundings and try closing your eyes.
Add balance and stability training into your workouts:
1. Single leg movements
2. Box step-ups
3. Box jumps
4. Lateral movements and ladder drills
5. Progressive movements
6. Mobility work
7. Coordination drills
By practicing these movements we are letting our body learn to embrace new movements, body patterns, reactions, and terrain. Strengthen the body, strengthen the mind. Strengthen the mind, strengthen the body. This is just a small list of how to get started on allowing our bodies to trust us more. Add these movements little by little into your daily routine, workouts, or standing at your desk. There’s no better time to enhance your life than right now. Ground our feet, stabilize our ankles, align the body, and our minds will follow.
Friends don’t let friends skip leg day! This has been my motto for a while now and I say it frequently at the club! I know leg day isn’t everyone’s favorite, and it doesn’t have to be, but it should be a part of your normal fitness routine. Or maybe you don’t have leg “day,” but you incorporate some leg moves throughout your other workouts, which is great! Hopefully, you all know the benefits to including some leg exercises into your fitness regimen, but do you incorporate any single leg moves? Or know the benefits of them?
Single leg work is great for balance, stability, correcting muscular imbalances, and increases proprioception and focus. Plus, they are hard and usually get your heart rate up which is a great cardiovascular workout as well! PT Andy wrote about some great leg exercises a little while ago as well as a couple of single leg ones, so I don’t need to go into those (You can find Andy's blog post about Leg Workout Musts by clicking here.) I will give you some new ones to try though! When you think of single-leg exercises, you probably just think about lunges, but thankfully, there are a lot more exercises out there than just lunges (no offense to lunges as those are a great move as well).
What are these other single-leg exercises I speak of? So glad you asked! Check out the descriptions and videos below to help you out. I should note, you don’t need a lot of repetitions with single leg work. Most of these you will want to keep the reps lower to build more strength. Try using a barbell with all of them. You will be able to go a little heavier and really hammer your legs. Rest for 30-45 seconds in between legs and always alternate which leg you start with each set. The nice thing about these single-leg exercises is since you have a little support from the other leg, so balance isn’t that much of an inhibitor. I know a lot of people shy away from single leg work because they have poor balance. Well, these will help increase your balance as well as allow you to go a little heavier while having the aid of the support leg.
Here are four moves to try out.
Kickstand Romanian Deadlift (RDL) – All you do for a kickstand RDL is put one leg back a little bit and do an RDL except for using and focusing on the lead leg. You can put your rear leg up on a bench, or just place it about one foot behind your lead leg and focus on using your front leg only. Shoot for 4-6 reps per leg.
Kickstand squat – Similar to the kickstand RDL, place one foot about one foot behind where you would normally have your foot for a normal squat position and just squat down. Stay up on your back toe the whole time and keep most of the weight on your front leg. Your front knee will travel a little further forward than during a normal squat, but don’t worry! As long as you don’t feel any knee pain, it is good for your knee to get the increased range of motion, especially since you won’t have near as much weight on the bar. Shoot for 4-8 reps per leg.
Jefferson deadlift – This is like a sumo squat but emphasizes the front leg. Stand with one foot on either side of the bar a little wider than hip width apart. Keep your lead foot pointed straight forward and your back foot anywhere from 45-90 degrees out depending on your hip mobility. The main thing is keeping that back foot on the ground and keeping your torso facing straight forward towards your lead leg. Don’t let your back heal come of the ground or let your torso twist so it’s facing at an angle. Pick up the bar in between your legs keeping your back flat and straight, then set it back down. Do 6-10 reps per leg.
Rear leg elevated Kang squat – Kind of a cross between a good morning and split squat. Place one foot on a bench behind you. Bend over like you are going to do a good morning, when you hit parallel or slightly above, drop your rear knee down into a lunge position, then drive yourself up through your front heal. Shoot for 6-8 slow and controlled reps per leg.
Try a couple of these by adding them into your workout and let us know what you think. Check out the videos if you need a better visual and as always, ask one of the trainers for help if you need it. That’s what we love to do!
Let's face it. Nobody likes wearing masks all day. They can be uncomfortable, hot and sweaty. But...we're all in this pandemic together and so close to getting through, so we need to keep working together towards common goals so one day masking can be just a memory!
Working out is difficult enough, let alone wearing a mask while doing so. Due to our state mandate and wanting to follow public health recommendations for the safety of our community, we’ve required members to wear the masks to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Just like we’ve done at the beginning of the pandemic to where we are today, we’ve had to adapt and grow with changing policies and knowledge we've all gained throughout this pandemic. We’re learning ways to cope with the masks to make sure we get to the gym, stay strong and stay healthy.
Here is the rundown on why masking at Western is so important and how you can help keep your community safe!
1. It’s a state mandate, so we follow it! We are stronger when we work together as a state, down to even our smallest communities.
2. It helps reduce the spread of viruses. There’s a reason doctors, dentists, nurses and techs wear them all day, every day. Researches have found in a number of studies that masks led to a more than threefold reduction in how much virus people sprayed into the air. The World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) include face masks in their recommendations for slowing the spread of the virus.
3. It helps members feel safe so we can stay open! We love our members and we want to make sure we can stay open so that our community has a place to keep working on their fitness and wellness, which right now, is more important than ever. Following public health protocols like masking, extra cleaning and sanitizing, and physical distancing helps us stay open so we can keep meeting the needs of our community.
4. It helps the staff feel safe too! Our staff is part of Western's special community too, and many of them spend long hours at Western interacting with members and working hard to keep our building clean, build programming for our members, and run day-to-day operations. When you wear your mask, it gives our staff peace of mind when they go home to their families at the end of the day.
5. No, believe us, we DO NOT like harping on people who struggle with mask-wearing. We know that after a year of dealing with this pandemic, patience is wearing thin and everyone is doing their best to cope. That's why, if you’re not comfortable wearing a mask, we have options for you! If you're a Western member, you can reserve a private studio for yourself for FREE. There are treadmills, bikes, rowers, and weight equipment to use so you can get your workout in without the mask and without risking the health and safety of any of our staff or members. We also offer a large variety of virtual group fitness classes weekly and virtual personal training. Check out westernracquet.com to see schedules of classes and to learn how to reserve a private studio.
6. Please wear your mask correctly, covering both your mouth and nose. Wearing your mask correctly shows respect to everyone around you, and helps also set an example for our youngest members who also come to the gym.
7. Consider upgrading your mask for best performance! If you work out frequently, you may have a better experience when you use a face mask created for exercise instead of a typical surgical or cloth face mask. Check out this list of the best face masks for exercising.
8. Lastly, please wipe down the equipment after use. Handles, dumbbells, barbells, weights, mats, bands, and anything we touch our hands to need to be wiped down after use. Our staff continues to be extra vigilant in our effort to sanitize things around the club, but the effort of our members helps immensely in keeping Western clean and safe.
Thank you to our wonderful fitness community for helping each other these unprecedented times! We are all so excited to keep moving forward at Western and continue to work towards beating this virus together so we can keep growing our fitness community!
The sled pull is a dynamic move that will work on your legs, upper back, and grip strength, it's also good for getting your heart rate up. While these pulls do help with multiple muscle groups, this article will focus on the quads and why it is beneficial for your knees. In our gym, we set up the sled pull by attaching a TRX strap to our weighted sled in the carpet area between the cardio floor and weight room. You will then face the sled with the TRX handles in a neutral grip. Then you want to slightly bend at the waist and knees to get into an athletic position, this is followed by extending your arms straight in front of you and keeping good shoulder posture.
The actual movement is pretty simple - just start walking backwards! Posture plays a massive role in protecting the lower back and shoulders when doing this move. Try to focus on squeezing and activating the quad muscles with each backward step. If you are struggling with balance you can start by taking small steps, as you get comfortable with the movement you can increase your stride to your normal length. The reason we want to key on the quad in this exercise is because of the benefits of stronger quads and the protection they can give your knees.
The quadricep is comprised of four large muscles located on the upper, front part of our leg, the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and the vastus intermedius. This set of muscles are responsible for a few very important things, first of all, they are extensors of the knee joint, flexor of the hip, and they even help stabilize the knee joint when running. As you can imagine, these are crucial patterns when walking, running, squatting, etc. In other words, we could all benefit from what the sled pull has to offer on the quad involvement alone. In a study published by the Cleveland Clinic, a group of people between the ages of 40 and 79 took part in a test to see how quad strength would contribute to cartilage loss. After about three years of continued studies, 15% experienced a loss of knee cartilage. 44% happened to participants with quad weakness versus 11% with normal strength. This is one very specific study but I think it is a great example of how the move can truly help our body. Something like preserving knee cartilage probably isn't a specific goal for most people but it will definitely be something we would all appreciate in our future.
Watch the video below to get a moving visual on how to do the sled pull, then come over to Western and give it a try!
My name is Casey Alger-Feser and I am one of the Personal Trainers here at Western Racquet. Today I would like to take this opportunity to talk about a muscle that seldomly gets any isolation work even though it plays a large role in many physical activities and our daily life - the Anterior Tibialis is a muscle that sits along the lateral area of the tibia. In other words, to the right of the shin bone on the right leg and to the left of the shin bone on the left leg.
You can feel this muscle activate by simply trying to “touch your shin with your toes”. The technical term for that movement is called dorsiflexion, which is one of two functions of this muscle. The other function is called inversion. Again, the technical description for this is to move the sole of the foot towards the medial plane, but you can think of it like rolling the outside of your ankle. When you try these movements you can see how important these muscles really are. They help when you are running or walking by stabilizing the ankle when your foot hits the ground. It essentially helps decelerate your foot which means it's used every time you walk. It is especially valuable when you are landing from a jump in a sport or making other explosive moves like slowing down after a sprint. They will also help lift your foot off the ground as you walk, as well as “locking” the ankle if you were about to kick a ball with your toe.
My guess is most people do not know what this muscle does or why we need to strengthen it and that is why you will rarely see people working on them specifically. As I mentioned earlier I think this is a great opportunity to not only learn about what the tibialis does, but how we can make it stronger. I have personally added tibialis toe raises to my routine over the last few months and have seen an increase in lower leg stability as well as a reduction in knee pain as a result.
To perform a tibialis raise you want to start with your butt against a wall and put your feet about 1-2 feet in front of you. Without bending your knees you want to utilize the dorsiflexion we talked about by lifting your toes off the ground as high as you can. If it is too challenging to complete 15-25 slow and controlled reps, you can move your feet back slightly to ease the movement. If you find it is too easy to complete the reps just do the opposite and move your feet further from the wall. If you have thick soles to your shoes you can always take them off and try this exercise barefoot, this will also make the move a little easier. If you have never worked on the tibialis before you could start with 1 or 2 sets of 10 to 15 reps to gauge how it feels. These numbers can increase over time as you start to feel stronger and more confident. 2 sets of 25 reps would be a great goal to shoot for. Remember, if you can do these numbers at 1 or 2 feet away from the wall, you want to continue to move your feet away to make it more challenging.
Watch this video for a visual of how to complete this exercise.
I learned a large portion of this information from an awesome coach named Ben Patrick. You can find him on Instagram @kneesovertoesguy. He has a ton of great info relating to this topic along with ways to come back from chronic knee pain or other knee-related issues.
Leg workouts are a tough day for anyone. They’re hard, they’re exhausting, they hurt in good ways and sometimes in bad ways. Knees, hips and back hurt occasionally. Most of the time, the pain part is short term. Oftentimes, it’s a lingering ache that we just ignore and keep pushing through. Muscle and joint pain are usually signs of dysfunction somewhere in the kinetic chain. Short and long term overuse, weakness, muscle imbalances, tightness, poor posture, among other issues are reasons behind lingering pain. When “leg day” pops up during the week, many of us experience pain stemming from these dysfunctions.
Not every leg workout is the same, but it should have the same components. Below are exercises and movements that should be incorporated in your leg workout to keep the muscles strong from all directions. Not all need to be incorporated into one workout but maybe spread out over two workouts during the week.
Sit down and stand up. We do this all day long. It’s a basic functional movement and also an athletic move. You don’t need to lift hundreds of pounds (how often will you be lifting hundreds of pounds from a sitting position?) but you should be able to lower yourself and stand up again.
The single-leg squat is a great exercise to complement the double leg squat and it’s a simple movement to do. It helps correct muscular imbalances, improves balance, coordination and requires focus. Single leg movements should be used in every leg workout to help strengthen stabilizers and, oftentimes, neglected muscles.
Lateral lunge or Band shuffles
Both of these movements are great because we live in a world where everything we do is in front of us. Being able to move powerfully and quickly in a lateral direction in sports not only reduces the chances of injuries but also makes one’s game more efficient and stronger.
Single-Leg Hip Hinge
How often do you pick something up off the ground? Have you ever picked up something and felt a tweak in your back? The kinetic chain wasn’t firing correctly and the gluteal muscles did not do the work they were supposed to do. This exercise helps strengthen them and correct the imbalance and misfirings.
Just about every sport has some sort of rotation in it. Swinging a bat, a club, a racquet, kicking, throwing, etc. are some movements we need to be strong in if we want to excel in a sport. Unlike squats which are up and down and lateral lunges which are left to right, the transverse lunge is a movement with a rotational element to it. It stabilizes the core and teaches the body to move in a controlled direction, focusing on balance, stabilization, power, and flexibility, among others.
This is a staple in just about every leg workout. Why do we need strong hamstrings?
The key to any workout is balance. You need to workout opposing muscles in different planes of motion to prevent potential injuries. So keep mixing up your program, incorporate the above exercises, and reduce your risk of injuries so you can continue doing the activities you love. If you have any questions, please ask a trainer because we love helping!
About 85% of women will become pregnant at some point in their lifetime. Exercise is an important aspect of growing a healthy baby inside you as well as for the mother's well-being. Most doctors recommend exercise throughout pregnancy if the mom is cleared to do so. There are many benefits of working out throughout pregnancy. There are also some do’s and don’ts to follow. If done right, keeping an active lifestyle throughout the duration of the pregnancy will lead to easier delivery and quicker recovery. As always, consult with a doctor before beginning or changing a fitness routine during pregnancy.
According to The Bump, the benefits of exercise of pregnancy include:
Exercise in general makes you feel good, have more energy, sleep better, improved heart health, and increased self-confidence. So why not keep doing it while you are pregnant? As long as it is done safely and effectively, there is no need to skip the sweat sessions while creating a new life!
So now you know it’s good for you, but what should you do or not do?
Speaking from experience, as I’m in the process of growing human number three, the most important thing is to listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right or uncomfortable, stop doing it or try something else. There are really only a handful of exercises that should not be done, which include activities that have an increased risk of falling down - things like skiing, rollerblading, horseback riding (fast), gymnastics, etc - and activities that require you to hold your breath, like scuba diving, or certain weightlifting or yoga breathing techniques. You want your baby to get all the oxygen it can. Temperature-extreme workouts like hot yoga or cardio sessions in extreme weather- should also be avoided. Some women also get lightheaded when they lay flat on their backs, so instead of doing a regular bench press, opt for a machine chest press version or dumbbell incline chest press.
30 minutes of cardio activity three times a week is a great way to achieve some of those benefits. Swimming, walking or jogging, biking, or using the elliptical are all great ways to get that heart rate up a little. Upper and lower body weightlifting, as well as core work, is also a great way to grow a healthy baby and look good and feel good while you’re doing it. Just remember, keep hydrated, use common sense, get your doctors approval, don’t keep your heart rate super high for extended periods of time, and don’t let your internal core temp get above 98 degrees. As always, if you have questions, feel free to ask me or one of the other trainers; we would love to assist you! Otherwise, have fun and be proud of the miracle that is growing inside you by showing off those moves!
One of my personal favorite leg day exercises is to do pistol squats. For those of you who do not know what a pistol squat is, it is a single leg squat that requires a great deal of balance. The idea of the pistol squat is, while standing on one leg, squat to the lowest point without letting yourself fall back or rest on the ground.
Benefits: Develop full range of muscle recruitment, isolation of each leg for balancing strength deficits, increases flexibility and mobility, increases ankle joint mobility and flexibility, and greatly improves balance.
The best way to start a pistol squat in the beginner stage is to use a cable or TRX straps. This way, you will have some assistance and you can get into the habit of correcting your form as well as becoming familiar with the range of motion. As you progress to more difficult stages, such as using a BOSU ball to balance on or adding weight, it is important to be aware of your limitations. It is exciting to push yourself and watch yourself accel at something you have never thought to even try, just me, I am one of those people. But injury can set you back in more ways than just exercise, so be cautious when attempting a difficult workout. Also, please do not be afraid to ask one of the trainers on the floor or behind the desk for help! It is our job to help, so don’t hesitate if you need it.
In the current state of today’s world, it has become imperative that we take care of our bodies in order to stay healthy. Many of us are beginning to re-think or re-focus how we go about daily activities that would normally have never required a second thought. This attention to detail, which keeps us from getting sick, is a concept that can also help us stay healthy during our workouts.
As a new member of the 30-year-old club, my body is starting to remind me that, if I want to continue to work out at a high level, I need to make sure I am properly warming up and cooling down properly. For example, while coaching softball just last week, I decided to join in during practice and play the outfield when we were short a few kids. I did not warm-up, I did not cool down, and I paid the price with three days of feeling like I got hit by a truck and not being able to work out.
My point here is not to let you know I’m not as young as I used to be; many of my friends already remind me frequently. What I want to express is that our bodies are amazing machines that can perform at a high level, but we need to maintain them regardless of our age so that we’re not paying the price later. For many of us, adding a proper warm-up and cooldown to our routine is somewhat of a foreign concept that we need to wrap our brain around, so here are a few things to keep in mind to help cement the way you think about those parts of your workout.
Warm-ups and Cooldowns Are for Everyone. Many people, including myself at times, think, “I don’t need to warm-up before and stretch after my workout. I know my body.” I’m here to tell you that these concepts are not individualized; they are important for everyone. There is science behind how our muscles perform when warm and loose, and this science applies to everyone, including you and me.
Warm-ups and Cooldowns Save Time. This is a weird concept to think about, right? But, let me ask you this: how much time will you lose if you have to sit out in order to recover from an injury? Weeks? Months? That’s a long time without any workout. When you think about it in that context, a five-minute warm-up and five-minute cooldown seem like a pretty good use of time to help prevent those injuries.
Recovery Is as Important as Your Workout. We all have a reason that we work out. These reasons are called goals. To reach your goal in the quickest and most efficient manner possible, your body needs to function at its peak. This cannot happen if you aren’t taking care of yourself and allowing your body to heal. Pushing our limits is great, but those limits will push us back if we don’t let our bodies recover. Many of us fall into the mindset that we are lazy if we take a rest day, but that’s not the case. In actuality, we are allowing our bodies to do more because they will be healthy and recovered.
If you are unsure of how to get the most out of your workout, with a proper warm-up and cooldown, get in touch with one of our trainers. We’ll keep you safe, healthy, and at peak performance for years!
Today I would like to discuss how increasing your ankle mobility can improve your squat form. While increased ankle mobility can help with multiple moves in and out of the gym, today we will key in on the squat. The first issue we need to address is some of the causes of poor ankle mobility. Some common causes include ankle sprains, high-heeled shoes, tight calves, arch pain and even genetics. When the joint and muscles around the ankle are tight and restrict your range of motion, your ankle will not be able to fully flex. This will inhibit your ability to get below parallel when you squat. Two ways to help improve this issue include self-myofascial release and static stretching. Self-myofascial release is basically a fancy word for foam rolling, you could also use a lacrosse ball or barbell to get the job done. Start by sitting down and placing the foam roller under your calf muscle and roll up and down the length of the muscle for 30-60 seconds. If you feel one spot is a little more tender than others feel free to spend extra time on that area. The second strategy involves static stretching which is holding a stretch in one position for around 30 seconds. My favorite way to incorporate these types of moves is finding a small ledge about 4 inches high, I then place the ball of my foot on the ledge and keep my leg straight. Once I'm in that position I will lean forward until I feel a good stretch in the back of my lower leg. I will then repeat the move with my knee bent because that will represent the bottom portion of a squat. If you start with these basic moves and stay consistent this will open up a whole new level of mobility which will, in turn, improve your squat depth.
Goal setting is one of the most important aspects of our fitness lives. After all, how can we know what to do if we don’t know what we want to achieve? There are countless different goals that can be set, but there is one common way to reach them all: be SMART. I’m not necessarily talking about being intelligent, although that is certainly part of it. I’m talking about making our goals smart. They should be:
Specific. When we say “I want to lose weight,” there is no endpoint. There is no light at the end of the tunnel where we can say, “I did it!” However, if we make a statement such as, “I want to lose 10 pounds,” we have a way to track our progress. This leads to our goals being…
Measurable. We need to be able to track our goal. Going back to the above example, if I weigh-in and see that I’ve lost 5 pounds, I can confidently say I’ve completely 50% of my goal. Being able to see progress helps us stick to the plan. This makes things seem much more…
Attainable. A person who has never run a mile in his or her life would be setting themselves up for failure if they decided to start with a 10-mile run. The likelihood of completing that type of mileage right off the bat is extremely low, and the effort could be damaging both mentally and physically. If someone decided that they instead wanted to start with 1 mile, it would not only be more attainable but more…
Realistic. There is a difference between challenging ourselves and setting ourselves up to fail. I’m a fan of pushing the envelope; I ask my clients and classes to do it every day in their workouts. When I ask it of them, however, I am asking them to push their limits, not exceed them. Choose a goal that pushes you out of your comfort zone, but that you can achieve if you stay…
Timely. Setting up some type of schedule or deadline is a great way to keep your goal at the forefront of your mind. Going back to our first example, setting a general 10-pound weight loss goal could mean 2 months or 2 years! Keeping our attainable and realistic mindset, we may instead recognize that healthy weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week, and choose to give ourselves 10 weeks to lose our 10 pounds.
We all have things a reason behind our fitness. Ranging from general health to weight loss to competition, we’ve got something that gets us out of bed or prevents us from going home early so we can train our bodies. Whatever your goal may be, utilize this method and you will be the SMARTest person in the gym!
Tony Robbins said the secret to happiness in one word. ... “I always tell people if you want to know the secret to happiness, I can give it to you in one word: progress. Progress equals happiness.” That's because reaching a goal is satisfying, but only temporarily. It’s a feeling of satisfaction that needs to be replenished again and again. “Did I get that thing that I want? Yes, Now I’m happy. I didn’t get what I want. Now I’m unhappy.” Happiness doesn’t stay in one place forever and that’s why we need progress over and over because progress is an onward movement towards a destination. And moving forward is the only way to attain goals.
I believe that’s what keeps people coming back to the gym and working on themselves: goals. I don’t think it needs to be totally tangible either (while many are very tangible). Some people come to the gym to work out because they need a social connection every day while some come because they want to lift a particular weight. Some come because they want to make their golf or tennis better and others want to lose 15 lbs. by summer. Some work with a personal trainer towards a specific goal and many others make it a priority to make it to a high energy class a few times a week.
I think having a goal and working towards it is a very important part of progress. And progress leads to happiness.
To everyone out there who makes a goal and is working towards it, no matter what it is, I applaud you. Keep up the great work. If you’re new in the fitness world, my advice is this: Do things you like and keep doing it. If you hate running, don’t do it. Maybe you’d enjoy walking your dog every night for an hour instead. If you want to lose weight but can’t seem to figure out how, start with looking at what you eat. Try eliminating one unhealthy thing like sugary treats, candy, or perhaps cut wine down to a glass per day or every other day. You don’t need to overwhelm yourself with adding things you don’t care for such as grueling workouts. Try the process of elimination. You’re body and mind will respond for the better by default. That’s the start of progress which will lead to happiness.
This week we asked each of our Personal Trainers to tell us a little bit more about their journeys to becoming PTs and training at Western. Learn more about what led them to this career, why they love it, and what makes training at Western special!
Why did you become a personal trainer?
Growing up I got bullied because I was smaller than everyone else. Everyday I was compared to my fraternal twin brother, who at one point was seven inches taller than me. I was lost and unhappy. Once I started working out, it honestly changed my life not only physically but mentally and spiritually. I started to love who I was. I wanted to share that amazing feeling I felt with as many people as possible. That is why I decided to become a personal trainer.
What makes working at Western unique?
Working at Western is truthfully unlike any gym I've ever been in. It has such a warm, family feeling to it. I believe that culture all starts with the owner. She really cares about each and every member and employee. It's inspiring and I am honored to be a part of it.
What's your favorite part about being a personal trainer?
My favorite part hands down is the relationships I build with my clients. Helping them achieve their goals, pushing their limits and showing them what they are capable of is extremely rewarding. Having any kind of positive impact on someone else's life is the best feeling.
Why did you become a personal trainer?
I became a personal trainer because I enjoy helping people and showing clients a way to become healthier version of themselves. I live to break barriers and show people what there bodies are capable from what they previously thought was impossible.
What makes working at Western unique?
Western is unique because we have so many different amenities under one roof. By having full access to all of these different amenities people are allowed to choose which path will help them the most. This ranges from spa, PT, tennis, cyro, fuel bar, group fitness, cardio, and strength equipment.
What's your favorite part about being a personal trainer?
My favorite part about being a pt is walking in Westerns doors every morning knowing I am going to make an impact. Being part of peoples journeys and seeing there accomplishments brings a smile to my face. I leave everyday knowing I have helped people get one step closer to there goal.
Why did you become a personal trainer?
I love program design! Taking time to learn about a person's past mistakes, current struggles and inspiration, and future goals helps me to design the most beneficial programs for that person. I really enjoy helping people find their very own unique "best practice" and then put it into place.
What makes working at Western unique?
My goal has always been to join a team that has a considerable amount of passion for their careers. WRFC has the best employees around who live and breathe this passion every single day. I love representing a company who has passionate employees like ours!
What's your favorite part about being a personal trainer?
My favorite part of PT are the text messages I get from clients saying how SORE and GREAT they feel after a workout with me. This appreciation helps remind me of why I started training others in the first place.
Why did you become a personal trainer?
I developed a passion for health & fitness very early in life through sports and weightlifting with my dad. As the years went on, I learned more and more about human anatomy and physiology and its amazing intricacies. When it comes to helping people better their lives through health and fitness, personal training seemed like the best chance to be hands-on and make a difference.
What makes working at Western unique?
Western Racquet delivers "the whole package" when it comes to improving one's overall health. There are spa services, training services, a massive array of space and equipment, and even a cafe and bar for socializing. Though these might not be completely unique from some clubs, the atmosphere and constant innovation, or drive to deliver better is what makes this club stand out. When you are at Western, you are among friends and are part of a family. At Western, everyone you meet is on the same journey of "taking life further". Because of this, the club is a constant source of motivation and encouragement for all that enter the front doors.
What's your favourite part about being a personal trainer?
My favorite part of being a personal trainer is the people I get to work with. The clients that I get to work with make every day unique and fully rewarding. I emphasize that a client-trainer relationship with me is a partnership and not a purely instructor-client relationship. Working with people is how they find lasting results and I gain a lasting relationship that often evolves into friendship. Getting to share with others in their health journey and help point them in the right direction is what energizes me every day and makes me excited to come to work.
Why did you become a personal trainer?
I became a trainer because I enjoy coaching people and helping them learn new things. Training allows me to do that in workout/athletic-based environment.
What makes working at Western unique?
Working at Western is unique because everyone is very friendly and welcoming. From the front desk to membership to the trainers, everyone cares about the members no matter what level they are at.
What's your favorite part about being a personal trainer?
My favorite part about being a trainer is seeing my clients achieve things they did not think they were capable of.
Why did you become a personal trainer?
I became a trainer and my favorite part about being a trainer are the same things: being able to see what people can accomplish.
What makes working at Western unique?
Working at Western is unique because everyone - members, staff, visitors - are friendly and enthusiastic about being here.
What's your favorite part about being a personal trainer?
It’s rewarding to see people achieve the goals they set and hit milestones in their fitness journey.
Why did you become a personal trainer?
I've always enjoyed helping people, and after experiencing successes in my own fitness, I thought it would be great to be able to help people reach their own goals. It is also really cool to have my profession be something I'm passionate about.
What makes working at Western unique?
Western is unique because of the variety of equipment, services, and community presence. Not only that, but the employees are very knowledgeable and welcoming to old and new members alike.
What's your favorite part about being a personal trainer?
In short, I like to be a part of adding quality to my clients’ lives. I've worked with clients of all levels and goals, and it adds fulfillment to my life to be able to help them. Whether it is battling a medical condition, training for an event, or adding muscle mass, I enjoy being a part of my clients’ journey.
Why did you become a personal trainer?
I became a personal trainer because I am fascinated with the human body's ability to train and adapt; I love bringing that enthusiasm to my clients and helping them to dig deep and realize what they are really capable of.
What makes working at Western unique?
I believe Western cares more about its members than the average club. We don't settle for mediocrity and genuinely care about our members’ and clients’ lives and well-being even outside the few hours that we spend with them. Western aims to please anywhere and everywhere.
What's your favorite part about being a personal trainer?
Being around and part of the outgoing staff. We are like a family.
Why did you become a personal trainer?
Initially I became a personal trainer because I wanted to work in the fitness field because it's my hobby. Now, I do it because it’s my whole lifestyle.
What makes working at Western unique?
It’s one of the only fitness clubs where you're treated more like a person instead of a number.
What's your favorite part about being a personal trainer?
I love helping people who have pain and helping them overcome it.
Why did you become a personal trainer?
In 2008, I had a Group Fitness regular tell me that she has lost 100lbs and has hit a plateau. She told me she has always wanted to learn how to properly lift weights and had all the equipment she needed at home. I quickly became Certified with NASM and was ringing her doorbell two times a week. This client jump-started me in my career as a Personal Trainer. I took such pride in really teaching and coaching clients not only how to exercise efficiently but how they can switch it up, shock it to rock it, and have FUN.
What makes working at Western unique?
100%, no question about it, THE PEOPLE! From the owner to the Directors, to the PT and Tennis staff to, of course, my Group Fitness staff, and everyone in between. We all truly love what we do and we are such a great team. Because we are a family-owned club, we are able to brainstorm and be creative with our programming and marketing. When our staff gets together, whether it is a meeting or just a quick chat in a cubicle, I am always blown away by how much everyone inside our doors wants to help not only our members but everyone outside our doors as well! We also have the BEST members. Hands down, no question. They are all so inviting. I never doubt for a second when a new member joins that they will not feel welcome with open arms.
What's your favorite part about being a personal trainer?
Besides being able to create one on one workouts that will truly help a client live a better life? I LOVE being part of the PT team. The energy, the knowledge, the passion. Nothing beats hanging out with the crew.