We tend to focus so much on our physical fitness but do you ever focus on your mental fitness? Your brain needs exercise just like your muscles do. You can become more mentally strong, healthy, and fit at any age! You just need time, practice, and consistency. Here are 10 ways to start focusing on your mental fitness today!

Remember that not every thought is true or helpful.
Our beliefs, past experiences, and feelings are an invisible filter that influences how we interpret and experience the world. We don’t have to accept every thought we have. Just because we think it doesn’t mean it’s true. A different way of seeing the world is possible if you open your mind.

Train your mind to concentrate.
Meditation is a great way to strengthen your ability to focus and tune out distractions. Some other ways to concentrate are cleaning, conscious breathing, coloring, yoga, listening to music, walking, journaling, and dancing.

Notice when you are continuously thinking the same thoughts.
When you catch yourself in the downward spiral of thoughts, bring yourself back to the present moment. These thoughts might happen when you’re stressed, worried, disappointed, angry, or nervous. It’s easy to get lost in your thoughts of overthinking and self-criticism. Use your senses to bring you back to the present moment with what you can see, hear, feel, smell, and touch.

Rest your mind.
Your mind needs to reset and recharge, just like your body does after your workout. Some may think rest equates to lazy, but getting enough rest can increase your focus, creativity, and energy to be more productive and efficient. Find something to rest your mind and give yourself a break from your everyday stressors, whether it is reading a book, crafting, or a board game.

Tune out the noise.
Digital devices are everywhere! We have notifications, messages, social media, and streaming platforms at our fingertips, which can pull us away from what’s important in life. Minimize your push notifications on your phone and practice being in the moment more.

Prioritize sleep.
Sleep is important for your body and brain to repair and recover during the night. If you want to show up the best you, get more sleep at night. It will help your memory, mood, creativity, and problem-solving skills.

Create a routine.
Creating new habits can take time, so finding a routine that works best for your lifestyle, will help you stay consistent. Start by scheduling your habits into your day until you don’t have to and they become a routine.

Let go.
Accept that you cannot control everything in life. Focus on what you can control and let go of the other stuff. Be kind to yourself if you struggle with letting go, too.

Listen to the voice within.
Listening your instincts and gut feeling is a great form of self-love and you can build a relationship of trust with yourself. Sometimes we ignore these feelings because our friends and family can influence your thoughts. Stick with what you think is right.

Take a deep breath.
Deep breathing is a powerful tool to use when you are stressed, nervous, and upset. Slowing down and deepening your breath can calm the mind, reduce blood pressure, improve memory, and settle your emotions.

  1. Take a long, slow, deep inhale through the nose while your belly, ribcage, and chest expand.
  2. Exhale through the nose feeling your belly, ribcage, and chest relax.
  3. Repeat this cycle for as long as you would like.

One thing I love is being able to look back on my journey on how I got to be where I am today. I had my daughter at the very young age of 18 so I had to grow up very fast but gosh, she was the best thing that ever happened to me! A few years later I decided to go to college and I later graduated with a Bachelor's in Criminal Justice in March of 2011. I was ready to dive into a job in the criminal justice field, make a difference, and change the whole dang world. But the funny thing about life is that you might make all the plans to go down a certain path, and life brings you down a path you never even dreamed you would go down!

 

Believe it or not, I started out at Western Racquet not knowing a single soul except for my good friend, co-worker, and boss, Kari Merrill. Her and I connected through a mutual friend and we were supposed to chat about me working at the jail where she had worked for 13 years, and we did chat about the jail, but she gave me every reason NOT to work there! So instead, we started talking about fitness and she asked if I wanted a tour and to try out a 7-day trial as a member at Western, which I immediately jumped on!

 

Before I found Western, I had never really enjoyed working out. I would start a workout routine, do it for a few weeks or if I was lucky, a few months, and I would give up because I didn't get the immediate results I wanted and honestly, I would just get bored. Working out was never fun for me, it was more of a chore.

 

My first class I took at Western was kickboxing and I literally had no idea what I was doing, but I didn’t care! I was jabbing left while everyone else was jabbing right. I was hooking while everyone else was kicking. And you know what? I did all of that with a big smile on my face, I just didn't care what I looked like because I was having the time of my life! I remember telling Kari one time that her kickboxing class was more fun than dancing out in the bars! The atmosphere, the smiles, and the ENERGY was contagious, and I knew in my heart I had found something very special.

 

I truly lived and breathed Western as a member. I loved trying out each class, I loved making new friends, and I loved the confidence I was slowly building for myself. I loved Western so much that when the opportunity was given to me, I decided to start working part-time at the front desk! Well, part-time quickly turned into full-time, which turned into me getting certified to teach classes, managing the front desk for a bit, and landed me in my current role as membership director for the past 5 years!

 

Now, what some people don’t know, is I’ve been through a lot in my life. I have suffered from depression, anxiety, and PTSD. I have had some awful things done to me, and looking back, I can finally admire and be proud of my strength for getting through them. My journey ties in perfectly with the title of this blog. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I wouldn’t have climbed a mountain to enjoy the view at the top. I'm not quite sure where I would be if I hadn't found Western. I didn't realize how much I needed this place until I felt a weight slowly lift off my shoulders. Looking back, sometimes the smile I had on my face was forced and fake, and once that weight was lifted, my smile was real and genuine and sincere.

 

One of the reasons I love my job is that I know exactly what it feels like walking into a new gym not knowing a single person. Not knowing how to use the machines, not knowing how to do a ton of exercises, or remembering even how to get to the locker rooms! It's intimidating and a little scary. But the love that surrounded me instantly by all the amazing members and staff is one of the reasons Western became so special to me and I vowed when I started working here that I would take away that uncertainty and intimidation away for anyone that felt uncomfortable or uncertain being here.

 

In life, sometimes we just need to take that leap of faith. I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t gotten the courage to take my first group fitness class or gotten the courage to ask if I could teach cycling or gotten away from the comfort of the front desk and taken my membership role. Comfortable is EASY. It's safe. Not a lot can touch us in our safe bubble we create. It's when we spread our wings and take the jump when we really find out who we are and who we were meant to be.

 

For those of you who are thinking about taking a leap, whether it be switching jobs, moving somewhere new, ending a relationship, or where my journey started, joining a new gym, I encourage you to take that leap. You may fail, and that’s okay because that is life, my friends. But man, I’m telling you, I know the journey up whatever mountain you're climbing is sometimes very hard, and sometimes you want to give up, but once you're up there, and once you look at how far you've come, it's so worth it. I honestly wouldn’t go back and change a single thing in my life, good or bad. Our experiences shape us into who we are. We may make mistakes and make some wrong turns, but we are always right where we are supposed to be, and right now, you are EXACTLY where you are supposed to be.

The average person thinks 12,000 to 70,000 thoughts a day. And we tend to judge and blame others much more harshly than we do ourselves. We all have our own beliefs, thoughts, and purpose that build our identities, so questioning ourselves can be uncomfortable. No one said change was easy, but it is almost always worth it. The following questions will challenge your purpose and beliefs and may be tough to answer. If you honestly answer them, hopefully you will be able to go forward and make different or better choices in the way you think and act.

 

What if I’m wrong?

“What if I’m wrong?” is great for managing your emotions and checking your ego.

What do you do when you are wrong? Do you get upset? Do you acknowledge it? Do you shut down?

How often do you admit when you are wrong? We have a hard time taking responsibility when we are not right because it is such an unpleasant thing to admit.

Our beliefs are based on our own life experiences, education, media consumption, and people we listen to and we all view situations through our own eyes. So, your family, significant other, coworkers, and friends may have different beliefs than you, and that is okay! Try to better understand the world around you and respect the beliefs of others.

Nobody is perfect, but it is always smart to check in and ask yourself, “What if I’m wrong?” And if you are wrong, be okay with it.

 

Is it impossible?

“Is it impossible?” is what you need for overcoming your excuses.

What do you do when you feel stuck or feel like giving up on something? Do you give in to your excuses or do you figure out a solution? This is the perfect question for when you’re feeling frustrated about something you are trying to achieve in life. It may be trying to get to sleep on time, making time for workouts, or some other significant goal you have.

We don’t like to admit when something is impossible, so our brain comes up with multiple solutions. Almost anything can be an excuse if you let it be. Always ask yourself if it’s impossible. You will almost always find that is is not and there is a solution for most obstacles.

Examples of excuses:

Once you overcome your excuses and realize that it is possible, ask yourself, “What do I have to do to make it possible?”

Are you willing to do what it takes?

 

What’s the worst that could happen?

“What’s the worst that could happen?” is what you can ask yourself to overcome your fears. This is for the stuff you are afraid to do, but you know would be good for you.

If you are scared of something, sometimes it’s best to identify what the worst possible outcome could be. Most of us are afraid of the idea of something, but not the actual thing.

What’s the worst that could happen? Maybe some embarrassment, a bruised ego, or loss of a little time or money.

Are you paralyzed with fear? Do you run away from a situation that makes you uncomfortable? Or do you face that uncomfortable situation head on and overcome it?

When you do the things you are afraid of, usually you’ll feel glad you did it.

What are you giving up on by not taking that chance?

 

Why not now?

“Why not now?” is the perfect question you need to ask yourself for getting important stuff done.

How accountable do you hold yourself? As a child, our parents hold us accountable, but when you grow up, you become accountable to yourself.

When you have important stuff to get done what do you do? Procrastinate and push it off or get it done right away? When you put things off, it’s still on your mind. You have a cloud looming over you as a reminder that you have something important to do. When you decide to tackle the task now, you save yourself time and you free up space in your mind.

Whether you want to build your own business, start a diet, or any other goal you want to achieve, you need to prioritize and start today. Telling yourself you’ll do it tomorrow or start on Monday just keeps pushing you further and further from achieving your goals. Start now. TODAY. Once the task is done, you can forget about it.

So, what are you waiting for?

 

What if I’m the problem?

What if you are the problem?

That’s is one of the toughest questions to tackle because you first have to ask yourself if you’re wrong. Nobody likes to admit they are wrong or the problem. People put meaning into comments, words, and actions of others that aren’t there, making others out to be the problem rather than looking at themselves.

If you don’t like how someone treated you, it’s your problem. They were just being themselves. Look at yourself and your actions instead of pointing fingers at others.

We live in a society with others that have different viewpoints. And we might not agree with others on every topic. And that is okay! Your success depends on yourself and your choices, not someone else’s. Learn to let go and focus on what you can control.

So, before you look at your spouse about your marriage, your trainer about your workout plan not working, or your boss about your career, look at yourself.

Ask yourself, “Am I the problem?”

 

Look back at the last few weeks and ponder on these five questions. Ask yourself these questions regularly and see how much your thoughts and actions change.

Have you ever thought about trying yoga but aren't sure if it's for you? We all have excuses of why we shouldn't try it or how inflexible we are. There are so many benefits as to why you should practice yoga.
1). Practicing yoga helps to create flexibility.
     Yoga can help release tightness, which would help bring a greater range of motion.
2). Yoga can help to build strength in your body as all poses are your own body weight.
3). Yoga helps you to improve balance. Standing on one leg or practicing a headstand - helps to build core strength and stability.
4). Yoga teaches you how to breathe.
5). Yoga helps to build self-confidence.
6). Teaches you to be present.
7). Yoga helps to reduce stress, anxiety and depression.
8). Protects our body from injury.
9). Helps to recognize self-acceptance.
10). Overall, helps to relax your whole body. Connecting mind, body and spirit.
I encourage you to start where you are and you'll be surprised where your yoga journey leads you.
Namaste.
Take some time today to follow Western yogi Amy Xiong in the video below! And remember, start where you are. Yoga is for EVERYONE at every stage of your journey!

As Stay at Home Orders are being lifted and businesses are starting to reopen, you might be thinking of your return to the gym. We are all so excited to see you when our doors open on May 26th! We hope you have been staying healthy and taking care of yourself during this pandemic. Before you return, Western Personal Trainers and Group Fitness Instructors would like you to keep a few things in mind as you head back to the gym.

 

We all just spent over two months at home with no access to a gym. Some of us are probably nervous to go back and scared to see how our bodies respond after two months of low-intensity workouts or no workouts at all. Please do not beat yourself up for how your body did or didn’t change during this lockdown period. We are all at different stages of our fitness journey. It’s not about the weight gained or lost during this unusual time - it’s about you staying healthy!

 

Some of you may not have touched a piece of workout equipment for over two months or had access to limited equipment, and that is okay! Here are some important tips to remember as you return to Western:

 

Western has protocols set in place to keep us all safe with sanitation stations in multiple locations throughout the club. Use them frequently. Please do your part and remember to not only wipe down the benches you sit on, but also everything you touch: weight plates, dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, balls, bands, handles, and pins when done. Pretty much everything you encounter! Practice physical distancing and keep others in mind as you are utilizing the club. Learn more about all the new protocols and cleaning procedures at Western by visiting westernracquet.com/covid-19-precautions.

 

In our first phase of re-opening, we will not be adding in-person group fitness classes yet! We will continue hosting Zoom virtual group fitness classes, so check those out on the Western Group Fitness Junkies page on Facebook!

Once in-person group fitness classes start to slowly get added to the schedule, here are some pointers to remember:

 

A few other reminders for when you re-enter the club:

Please be mindful of your health and the others around you. We are all in this together and we are so glad to see all of you again!

April is National Stress Awareness Month and National Humor Month. What a perfect pair!

National Stress Awareness month began in 1992 to bring attention to the health risks associated with stress and strategies for coping with it. Stress is not always a bad thing and we also cannot get rid of it completely. It is a normal reaction to everyday pressures we face, but it can become unhealthy when it upsets your day-to-day functioning.

There are several types of stress we face at different times in our lives. Everyone has their own unique stressors, and everyone handles stress in different ways. So, what works for one person might not work for the next.

Acute Stress vs. Chronic Stress

Acute Stress Chronic Stress
Occurs in response to a short-term stressor Occurs when stressors don’t let up
Car accident or argument with a spouse/friend/coworker Examples can vary widely: toxic relationship to financial issues
Responds well to coping techniques Everyone responds differently
Can pass quickly Can damage your mental and physical health

 

Eustress vs. Distress

Eustress – Positive Stress Distress – Negative Stress
Relationships/Marriage Separation/Divorce
Work promotion/raise Job change/Unemployment
Children/Grandchildren/Nieces/Nephews Death
Taking a vacation/Traveling Financial issues
Money Losing contact with loved ones
New friends Hospitalization/Injury/Illness
Retirement Legal problems
Learning a new hobby Fears
Personal achievement Worrying about future events

 

Short-Term vs. Long-Term Impacts of Stress

Short Term Impacts Long Term Impacts
Tense muscles Decreased immune system
Headaches Type 2 Diabetes
Loss of appetite High Blood Pressure
Short temper Heart Disease
Digestive issues Anxiety
Difficulty sleeping Depression

How to Manage Stress

 

National Humor Month

National Humor Month was founded in 1976 to utilize the value of humor to improve the quality of our lives and health. Humor is a therapeutic stress reliever, so it’s no coincidence that April begins with April Fool’s Day. This month is a time to remind ourselves to not take everything so seriously and to laugh more!

Laughter is the best medicine. Have you heard that saying before? There is evidence that laughter can improve one’s health and reduce stress. Strong laughter may even bring on tears or moderate muscle pain.

Benefits of Humor

Incorporate More Humor in Your Life

Think about how you deal with your stress now. Hopefully you learned some new techniques you can fit into your life to help you better manage. Enjoy April and try to make it funny and less stressful! ?

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.

Who is My Skin Buddy? My Skin Buddy is your skincare best friend and I'd love to teach you more about this amazing tool that you can (and should) add to your skincare routine!

My Skin Buddy is one handheld device with four technologies built in (which would cost thousands if you were to buy one of each). Each technology will help you get towards your skincare goals, whether that is anti-ageing, hyperpigmentation, acne, or wanting skin radiance and deep cleansing. With six different settings, you can also choose to spot treat or work all over the face or body.

What are My Skin Buddy's four proven technologies:

1. LED Light Therapy

The beneficial wavelengths of Light Emitting Diode Therapy have been proven and shown to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, fight bacteria that leads to acne, reduce redness and promote brightening and even skin tone.

2. Ion Care

Gently, yet effectively, positively-charged ions work to attract and pull impurities from the skin while negatively-charged ions enhance product penetration.

3. Ultrasonic Vibration

The power of 8000+ ultrasonic vibrations per minute, the user is able to enjoy a soothing mini massage while breaking up dead skin skills, lifting, firming and tightening the skin.

4. Thermal Heat Therapy

The combination of heat with the deep cleansing ions aids in emulsifying dirt and oil so that it can easily be swept away. Thermal heat therapy has also been shown to improve with skin tightening, promoting more oxygen to the cells by improving blood circulation and shrinking pore size.

This tool is also gentle so say goodbye to harsh bristle brush devices that can cause micro-tears and irritation or that can harbor bacteria in the bristles and underneath the brush. (Yuck!) It's also super lightweight and holds a charge for hundreds of hours with a lifetime warranty.

What are My Skin Buddy's six ready-to-go settings?

Setting #1. Deep Cleanse and Exfoliation Mode. This setting lets you experience a gentle yet deep and squeaky clean through ion care while thermal heat therapy, ultrasonic vibrations, and red LED light therapy help break up dead skin cells and promote more oxygen in your skin for an immediately brighter, smoother, and tighter complexion.

Setting #2. Acne Care. Whether you have cystic, mild or hormonal acne issues, this setting should be in your routine. Blue LED light therapy has been clinically proven to kill p. Acnes bacteria that leads to acne formation. This mode also uses ultrasonic vibration and ions to help push your acne products deeper into the skin and break up dead skin cells that may be trapping oils.

Setting #3. Calming and Brightening. This setting is wonderful for individuals who suffer from hyperpigmentation and redness. Green LED light therapy has been shown to help fade dark spots, brighten skin, and reduce redness. Take advantage of the added ions and ultrasonic vibrations in this mode as well, and use a lightening product suggested for your skin type and speed up the results.

Setting #4. Skin Rejuvenation and Anti-aging. Take your serum and moisturizer to the next level with this setting. The combination of a red LED light therapy, ultrasonic vibrations, and ions will deeply infuse your skin care into the dermal layers for optimal nourishment. Pay attention to how plump and radiant your skin will feel and look after the first treatment and see long-lasting results with continued use.

Setting #5. Multi-symptom Therapy. Most people have more than one skin issue. Do you have wrinkles, dark spots, and acne? No worries, we’ve got you! Use this setting that offers all three lights plus product infusion via ultrasonic vibration and ions.

Setting #6. Photosensitive and Ingredient Infusion. Not in the mood for a disco of lights tonight? Try this setting that offers a light-free option with ultrasonic vibration and ions to help you infuse your serum and moisturizers.

Not sure if this handheld tool is right for you? Try it out first at Spa Western! You can add the My Skin Buddy on to any facial, chemical peel, dermaplaning, or body treatment service for only $30 and a licensed aesthetician will explain and demonstrate every setting and answer all questions. Some things are too good to pass up so if you want to take one of these home with you, you are getting a killer deal for only $265! We have this stocked and ready for you in Spa Western: Wellness & Recovery.

Learn more by watching the video below and stop by Spa Western to ask any questions or pick up your My Skin Buddy today!

For those of you who haven’t noticed, there have been some great changes in the weight room in the past couple weeks. While we strive to update and repair equipment as needed, we also look to add pieces that would benefit members in different ways. The latest pieces of equipment are the preloaded barbells. They range from 20-110 and are stored near the end of the dumbbell rack.

One of the biggest benefits of this is the amount of time it saves. Instead of grabbing a 45 lb Olympic bar and having to add or take off weights, all one has to do is grab a preloaded bar, use it, quickly put it back and grab another as needed. And, for those who prefer barbells to dumbbells or those who are looking to switch it up occasionally, the preloaded barbells offer weights lower than a standard 45 lb bar.

The layout of the gym is a big change as well. We’ve rotated the cable pulley system. The reason behind this was to increase the “walkability” of the weight room. The seated row is now parallel to the windows. The power racks have also been moved to the far wall and moved the dumbbells where they used to be, along the longer wall across from the windows. The reason behind this is so the dumbbell racks and benches can be in one straight line along the wall, instead of two walls and this will increase the accessibility and walking space. Plus, there’s room for all the moveable benches. Overall, the changes will create an improved flow to the gym and allow you to gain access to the equipment you would like to use.

As always, get after your goals, lift safely, please clean put away your equipment after use, and have fun. Please feel free to ask the training staff any and every question regarding exercises, how machines work and form.

Being honest with yourself and without shame, how many of you read a magazine article, blog post, or celebrity endorsement and read about the "upcoming product" or "the must-have for your skin!" and either obsessively researched about that one thing or, you end up buying it because you trust them? Or maybe your boss suggested you try this skincare line or your cousin swears by this one mask that cured everything with her skin so you must own it! Eventually, your bathroom is filled with products that may or not be expired? If any of these sounds like you, I must look at your face! Let me explain:

 

As a licensed aesthetician it is my job to understand skin types, and skin conditions and what best will help your skin be healthy but also what will help you achieve your skin goals.  Every skin is different and it is important to understand what a skin analysis is and why you need one.

 

1.) A skin analysis is when I take a look at your skin from under my magnifying lamp and break down the skin into zones.  Eyes, cheeks, chin, jawline, temples, nose, forehead, neck and decollete all are their own zones and a lot of times, need to be treated differently.

 

2.) There are many things that can affect the skin that we talk about during the skin analysis that Youtube blogger or celebrity may not take into consideration:

These are just a few of the many questions we go over during the skin analysis to help me best determine how to proceed.

 

3.)  A skin analysis will follow with customized product recommendations for at-home care and a treatment plan that will work best for you. These recommendations will most likely change with the change of seasons as well as if any specific lifestyle changes occur such as hormonal changes, moving to a new climate, changes to medications or simply, your skincare goals change.

 

I started my skincare journey as a teenager with the mentality, "if it hurts it's working!" and "that celebrity has beautiful skin so I MUST do everything they do!" Well, guess what - what works for them may not work for me, and that is okay! The newest and greatest may be new and great but if it isn't good for your specific skin, why do it? That's where I come in, I can look at your face and tell you if that's good for you or not.  We all have our own journeys, let me help you with yours.

 

Schedule your complimentary skin analysis with me at Spa Western and let's get you on track, starting with me looking at your face!

 

Have you ever driven down the road for a while, when suddenly you realize you just went ten miles, and you don’t remember getting that far, almost like you blacked out for a few minutes? Have you ever done this during exercise? You mindlessly do a set of bicep curls until your trainer tells you to stop or it starts to burn a little bit. Performing resistance training in this manner is not near as effective when you engage your focus on the muscle group you are trying to target. This is called the “mind muscle connection,” and it is very important when your goal is hypertrophy (increased muscle size).

Most people have no idea how important it is to build a connection to the weights while you’re lifting them. They simply go through the motions of an exercise, like a dumbbell shoulder press with weight that challenges their strength and they try to use good form so they feel it in the shoulders. Reality is, you can use light weights and enhanced mental focus to achieve the same thing. Skip the sets of 120-pound dumbbell bench presses, opt for 80’s, and increase your focus on the muscle, and odds are you will be the biggest you’ve been in years.

The objective should be to make the weight feel like it weighs more than it actually does. If done correctly, you will feel sore for up to three days after you get the hang of it. If you are just going through the motions, or muscling reps with no focus, there’s no point in doing it in the first place. It’s easy to go through a bad workout even though you aren’t feeling anything in your target muscles.

When training for muscle growth your mind needs to be on the target muscle. If you don't focus on the muscle you're trying to bring up, your body will revert to what it's good at, namely letting the same muscles "sleep" and calling upon already overworked muscles surrounding the ones you're wanting to build. Doing an exercise without feeling the target muscle work will not only delay progress, it can also set you back by exacerbating muscle imbalances.

When you keep training a muscle you don't readily feel working, it's natural for your body to try to work around this inefficient, sleepy muscle by changing the motor program to recruit more efficient, ready-to-work muscles. For example, when you are performing a set of dumbbell rows and you only feel it in your biceps and shoulders, you aren’t engaging and focusing on the right muscle group.

The only way to make sure you get the most benefit from an exercise what you need is to use that powerful muscle, the one between your ears. Make sure that you feel the right muscles working as much as possible from the onset of the first rep to the completion of the last. If needed, tweak your form, alter your rep speed a bit (usually by

going slower), or consider employing a technique like isometric holds – especially in the contracted position – to make sure you feel the stress of the exercise in the right place.

If your goal is hypertrophy and you aren’t focusing in that mind muscle connection, you will not be getting the most out of you work out, plain and simple. It’s time to stop going through the motions and start focusing on the muscle group being worked.

It’s common to see people stretch both before and after a workout but which is better? When it comes down to it, both have their benefits. Pre-workout stretching is most commonly in the form of dynamic stretching, or actively moving a joint through its range of motion. These types of stretches help to prepare the body for activity by increasing muscle temperature, core temperature and blood flow to muscles. Dynamic stretching also works to increase dynamic flexibility.

Static stretching and partner stretching are the more common types of post-workout stretching. Both of these types of stretching work to increase range of motion and flexibility.  Post-workout stretching facilitates more range of motion improvements than pre-workout stretching because increased muscle temperature allows for a greater stretch. Post-workout stretching may also help to decrease muscle soreness.

In the end, pre- and post-workout stretching are both beneficial in their own way.  Pre-workout stretching prepares muscles for activity and post-workout stretching may decrease muscle soreness. Both will help increase flexibility but if this is your goal, post-workout stretching is best.

The new year is right around the corner and you may start thinking of what New Year’s resolution you are going to set for 2020. This is the perfect time to reflect on the past year’s behaviors and promise yourself to make positive lifestyle changes in the coming year. I want to help you make that resolution stick by creating some lifestyle changes!

Here are some tips to create a successful New Year’s Resolution:

RealisticThere is a greater chance that you will keep your resolution throughout the year if it is realistic. You should be able to incorporate your new behavior into your daily life. Think about what you have going on in your life right now and what is reasonable for your new goal.

Start Small
Start with setting a small goal! If you want to work out more, is it possible to workout 2-3 days a week or 7 days a week? Once you can sustain your goal, add on more to challenge yourself and progress.

Allow Yourself Time
It is going to take time to change unhealthy behaviors to healthier behaviors. Change does not happen overnight, so trust the process. Focus on changing just one behavior at a time, so it is less overwhelming.

Give Yourself Wiggle Room
Do not expect yourself to be perfect when it comes to changing your habits. It is completely normal to have a minor slipup. Did you skip your workouts one week because you were too busy? That’s okay! Life happens, just get back on track. Tomorrow is a new day.

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Being able to share your resolution along with its struggles and successes with family and friends can help you stick to your goal. It is very powerful to have someone to be accountable to besides yourself.

Ask for Support
There is nothing wrong with asking for help! If you feel overwhelmed, need extra accountability, or you’re unable to meet your goals on your own, consider reaching out for professional help.

Email me today and I can see how Health Coaching can assist you in achieving your goals. Health Coaching is different for everybody, which is why each wellness journey is unique.

I approach wellness with eight different dimensions: Physical, Emotional, Intellectual, Occupational, Social, Financial, Environmental, and Spiritual. It doesn’t matter if you are just starting your wellness journey or have been working towards it for some time, Health Coaching can benefit!

Visit westernracquet.com/health-coaching to learn more!

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.

When we talk about what technology means to the game of tennis, it really means more to the game than most people know in more ways than one. Our first piece of the technology puzzle consists of the differences in generational racket technology. Back in the mid 1900’s, tennis was a growing sport and players used wooden rackets. Due to the design and capabilities of wooden rackets, the game of tennis was played much differently than the modern game we see today. There were much more slice groundstrokes, serve and volley, and shorter points as a result. As time progressed, racket technology geared toward aluminum and graphite frames. And with each generation offering more advanced technology than the previous one, the game began to change as we knew it. There was topspin. There were extended baseline rallies. The serve and volley game began to die out. All of this was thanks to the technological advancements of the tennis racket.

Today, rackets are primarily constructed from state-of-the-art carbon fiber technology. The main brands consist of household names in the tennis world such as Babolat, Wilson, Head, and Yonex, but there are many more out there. These brands have a goal in mind not just to promote their product, but to continue to push the limits of what tennis can become. The game has advanced far from the serve and volley game of old and has entered into a new world of aggressive baseline rallies and huge serves. Once again, thanks to the technological advancements of racket technology.

Another primary aspect of the progression of tennis and technology is multimedia. Capturing the game is so much easier than it used to be with camera and video technology reaching new heights every year. If someone wants to analyze their strokes, say no more. Pull out your smart phone and have a friend record on your high-resolution camera. Due to the technological revolution, these high-quality recording devices are much more affordable than even 5 years ago. Social media also plays a huge role in the progression of the game. The easy accessibility to find out the newest tennis trends, how to develop your strokes, and even just being a fan of the game is much easier than watching the majors on your living room television set just a few times a year on local programming. Social media has allowed the tennis world to connect like it never has before, and it will continue to grow with each new phase of technology.

My name is Devin. I am a Certified Personal Trainer, a Certified Natural Trainer, and a Certified Holistic Lifestyle Specialist. I really focus on training and living in a way that promotes the health of the WHOLE - the mind, the body, the spirit, and the planet. This week, I want to take this opportunity to talk about a concept that will help you to improve almost every aspect of your health and life: wholism.
So, what is wholism?  To put it simply, wholism means taking into account the entirety of something - regarding it as a whole -  instead of reducing it down to its separate parts. I’ll give you three examples so that you can more fully understand this concept and how it can apply to your life.
Example Number 1:  FOOD
Almost everyone agrees at this point that, when possible, it is best to get the maximal amount of nutrients you can get for your body from whole foods instead of highly processed and packaged foods and supplements. This is true because nutrition represents the combined interactions of countless food substances. While science has given us a phenomenal look into what food does in our body and how vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients all interact, there is still a lot that we don’t know in regard to why the body accepts certain nutrients better when consumed as a part of a whole food than when they are isolated and consumed alone. A "wholistic” view would say eat the whole food as often as possible, not a stripped down (and often less tasty) version of the supposed best qualities of that food.
Many people have also heard the phrase: “you can’t exercise away a bad diet.” The viewpoint of wholism couldn’t agree more. Even if you look fit on the outside and are able to work off your bad diet, internally, eating poorly will still take its toll. Down the road you may be paying that toll in a way that you don’t expect to or want to.
TAKEAWAY: Taking supplements or working out enough does not make an unhealthy diet “healthy”. Eat a truly healthy diet consisting mostly of whole, plant-based foods, and then complement that diet with an active lifestyle involving physical exercise as well as additional supplementation if/when necessary.
Example Number 2:  Fitness Training and Alignment
When training the body through physical exercise, it is important to understand that everything is connected and that the body needs to be aligned properly. Alignment issues lead to very common pains. One example of an alignment issue is often found in changing posture. If you drive a lot for work or sit at a desk all day, you may notice your posture start to change because you are using the same flexion muscles every day to sit forward and drive or type.  If one isn’t careful, this will lead to features such as a rounded upper back, rounded shoulders, a forward leaning head, and tight hips. These alignment issues can cause many problems ranging from general body tightness to knee pain, low back pain, and more.
It’s important to take the “wholistic” approach when training the body’s muscles to ensure that if you are doing a lot of forward flexion work throughout your day or in your workouts you do an equal amount of counteractive extension and strengthening work for the back side of the body. As a slightly different example, if your workouts focus mainly on the chest press and other pressing motions, you will start to get much tighter in the front of your body because those muscles will be stronger, leading to alignment issues and pain such as shoulder impingement.
TAKEAWAY: Train the whole body to work in unison. Train your weak areas. Make mobility and body alignment an integral part of your workout routine, not a 30 second afterthought.
Example Number 3:  The Mind and Stress
In order to be truly successful at achieving your health, fitness, and life goals, the body and mind both need to be aligned and working in your favor towards success. Having a stressed mind is very acidic to the body and is considered one of the top precursors to disease. Stress activates the fight or flight response of the sympathetic nervous system. While that response is beneficial to us in the short term in certain situations, it can be extremely detrimental to our health if we can’t turn it off.  High stress, fast paced days in which we are unable to take even a little time for ourselves and our health - such as taking time to relax, exercise, eat a healthy meal, or spend time with friends and family - are recipes for unhappiness, and are the calling card of many of the “diseases of civilization” that are at such a high rate in our country right now.
If we never allow ourselves the time to relax and enjoy any part of the day, then aligning our minds with the goals we want to pursue will be a challenge. What we think about and the way that we live our day to day lives has a major impact on us. Eventually something will have to give. Many people find out too late after having a medical emergency that they need to change the way that they are both living and thinking.
I know that was pretty serious, but to put it plainly, we can no longer afford to take our personal wellness so lightly. I want you to understand that you have the power to achieve your goals, live the life you want, and improve your health in every way...but as with many things, consistency is key. If you don’t set aside time to better your own mental and physical health on a regular basis, then don’t be surprised when your health suffers.  This is good news, because you have the power to make the change!
TAKEAWAY: Start viewing your health as a whole, take time for you, and your life will improve.
In essence, we can no longer afford to separate everything out.  For your ideal long term health, you need to be healthy as a whole!  What happens to one part of you will affect the rest of you. After all, you’re connected aren’t you?!  If your nutrition is poor it will affect your body and mind. If your body alignment is poor and your physical activity level is low it will affect your body and mind.  If your mind is stressed constantly and you are unhappy, it will affect your body as well. View things through the lens of wholism, and understand that you can really build momentum when making positive changes. When you improve one thing, others will begin to improve along with it.
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