Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Own the Decision

Hello and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families.
This is a wonderful time of year, one where we enjoy time with family, time away from work, watching football, shopping, and EATING!
This brings me to a very important idea to focus upon.
We know that we are going to enjoy the feast.  We know that there will be food and drink available that may not be the best choices for our dietary plans and overall health and wellness.
Should we feel guilt or shame with the things we decide to put in our mouths and down our throats?
No, or even, Hell No.....  If you have studied psychology or follow Dallas and Melissa Hartwig at the Whole 9 (or have even attempted the Whole 30 Challenge), you know that there is a huge mental component not only with the foods we eat but also the decisions that go along with those choices.  The BEST thing we can do when we make a decision is to think about it, follow through with it, and be "ok" with that decision we acted upon.  Own the decision.  Have strength in your commitment.
Be positive and let your body know that it's going to efficiently take everything nutritious out of whatever you just ate and use it in an effective manner for your body.  I can assure you if you have a positive mental attitude about your food choices it will make you physically feel much better. 
Don't feel shame, don't feel like you're doing something wrong, and don't say, "I shouldn't be doing this," "this is going to go straight to my thighs," etc.  These are silly ideas that place negative energy around what should be a good experience with family and friends. 
Know that one meal is not going to wreck your hard work.  Enjoy yourselves and eat some good food.  If you have to, take a short walk with the dog or family post-meal to burn some calories (sugar).
Understand that this doesn't mean you allow the wheels to totally come off and the next thing you know you're locked in a closet with a big bag of doritos, snickers, and 3 liters of Diet Coke. 
Be smart but enjoy this holiday meal. A piece of pie is legal.
We eat healthy and move our bodies to be physically, mentally, and emotionally in a better place.  We want to feel good and be happy so we can do the things we enjoy.  And usually, being with friends and family, the people we love, is something we enjoy.  Let your guard down a little but always stay cognizant of your choices.  Own them!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Knowing Your Clients Physical Abilities

You're my new client, we talk, we meet, I MAY know what you've done on paper, but I have to see how your body moves with my own eyes. 
You see, if we are going to work together, there will be a 2-way street of communication.  I will understand, after talking with you, what it is you want, your goal.  But, the reality is, I can't formulate an effective plan until I see how your body moves and if you have the flexibility, stability and strength to get into certain positions.  This is another form of communication, you communicating through your movement and ability where we start with your exercise progressions. This is the KEY, you may be telling me one thing with your words, but your body movement may be saying another.  Movement always trumps words, unless those words are: that hurts, I can't or something doesn't feel right....  We immediately stop here.  These words require more information to be gathered.  That's when it pays to have an attentive, responsible trainer; one who can communicate.

I start my clients out with a Physical Screen and Posture Assessment.  This is my 1st meeting with a client in the gym. The screen and assessment is broken down into 4 parts and takes about 45 minutes to an hour.  I focus on the client's:
  1. Flexibility/Mobility
  2. Neuromuscular Efficiency (or Balance)
  3. Stability
  4. Functional Movement 
The answers revealed from this process allow us to intelligently begin a structured exercise program.  One where we can have structure to progress through. 

The structure follows around the basis of these Four Physical Pre-Requisites:
  1. Flexibility: of muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints so that we create a balanced body, one where we correct any current muscle imbalances. I must see that your body can get into proper positions.
  2. Static and Dynamic Stability:  1st we develop a stable body in a fixed position, after we are proficient here, we progress to having stable body segments while moving.
  3. Strength Development:  here we always start with bodyweight before we introduce an external load.
  4. Power:  the fourth and final component, and one that never starts until we have demonstrated good ability with the other 3.  Power is a combination of strength and speed and necessitates flexibility, stability, and strength.
I follow this process with my General Training Clients, High Performance Clients, and Golf-Specific Clients.  I must know or have an understanding of my client's abilities.  This allows us to be SAFE, know where to realistically begin, and have a means to both quantify and qualify progress they've made with physical ability. 
This starts us on the healthy path of Good Movement with their body.  A body that will support the things they love to do.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Find Your Tribe, Surround Yourself With LIke-Minded People

Guess what, we had some fun today.  And, it was healthy and took very little planning. 
We had 2 friends come over, a couple, friends of ours named Tim and Amanda. We wanted to share how important it is to find your tribe. Making changes in your lifestyle, or just being the ones that live a healthy lifestyle can sometimes leave you ..less social. You will probably get teased at parties for what you eat or other choices you make (know from experience)..until you are surrounded by like minded people.   There is a mindset out there that "being healthy" is hard, unrealistic. I get this.  There is planning that goes into healthy living: managing time, budgeting, cooking food, getting rest, being active, etc.  But when you think about this, is this really hard or are we brainwashed by advertising that knows how to get our attention - LET US MAKE THIS EASIER FOR YOU.  The reality is it just takes a desire to be healthy and to feel good.  It takes some work.  It takes a plan.  Having like-minded people in your life definitely helps your cause.  The question inevitably comes up, "What if there are no healthy people in my life?" Easy answer, go find them, they're out there, and they probably want to be your friend. The hardest part, if you are not yet into your healthy living habits, is getting started. Like anything.
We challenge you to pursue your healthy desires, conquer some of the goals you have set in place but may have fallen to the wayside.  Jami and I will be your "healthy, like-minded friends".  We can motivate, encourage, and celebrate with you.  And as an added bonus, you'll meet great people like Tim and Amanda along the way.

Pre-Workout with Tim, Amanda, Jami Lynn, and Keith

Post-Workout Meal - Tangy Taco Salad with homemade Guacamole and Cilantro Cauliflour Rice

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Stable Shoulder Blades Equals the Key For a Great Top Position In the Backswing

What's holding you back in your golf swing?
You go to the golf pro or swing coach, you get a great lesson, hit a few good shots, but lack that consistency on the course. You have the best brand, most forgiving clubs, but for every 1 good shot you hit, there's a couple "fat" and "thin" shots that follow.  You get frustrated. You threaten to give up the game and throw your clubs in the river. Slow down, man.... The issue here is not the club, it's not the swing coach or pro. Your body creates the motion and power that is distributed into creating that golf swing.  Anything "not working" in your game can be traced back to a body issue or physical limitation. 
Good news, this CAN be fixed!  What it takes is first figuring out which area of the body may be causing the physical limitation. There could be a few, but lets handle the major threat first.
Let's say you have not so great posture. You work a job that has you in this hunched over, sitting position for the majority of the day. We find ourselves in this position eating, driving, messing around on the computer, and reading. This poor posture becomes our norm and presents itself in the golf address position and carries over into the swing. It's very hard to rotate your torso in a flexed/hunched over position. This condition is known as Upper Crossed Syndrome (, and is a combination of muscle imbalances found in the chest and back area.  It leaves our mid-back area weak and WILL lead the golfer into having absolutely no scapular stability. The scapula or shoulder blade area (scapulo-thoracic joint) has to be a very stable area of the body in the golf swing. This area locks down and allows the shoulder ball and socket joint (gleno-humeral joint) to be very mobile to extend the club to the top of your backswing and initiate a proper swing path coming down during the downswing. If you lack this stability in your scapula you are telling your shoulder to try and be both mobile and stable at the same time. This is not going to go over that well and will not lead to consistent golf shots.
What you need are corrective golf-specific exercises to strengthen this physical limitation in the body.  If you keep the pattern above going on too long, you will continue to have muscle imbalances in the body that will surely lead to injury. It's not a question of IF but WHEN. 
Try this exercise below. It will both strengthen the shoulders and add stability in your shoulder blades. It will also improve shoulder mobility as this exercise takes each shoulder through flexion and extension.  The nice thoracic extension this exercise demands will lead to better golf posture and everyday-life body posture.
Strong scapula (shoulder blades) will help you keep a stable thoracic spine giving you a good strong turn and consistent swing path that will hopefully hit great golf shots.  This will leave both you and the golf pro very happy.  

If you're looking to get screened for any physical limitations that may be adversely affecting your golf game, contact me at  I'm Titleist Performance Institute trained.
With my screening process information and your swing analysis, I can come up with a unique plan of action to improve your golf game and personal well-being.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Engage Your Glutes!!!

Some experts refer to the Glutes (AKA your butt muscles) as the "king" of the golf swing.  Along with the core the glute muscles (Gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus) help to create a strong, stable lower body that the upper body can rotate around, allowing you to finish off a powerful, efficient golf swing.  Our Glute muscles help to provide stability in our body and generate power from the ground up.  This sequence happens in many actions: throwing a ball, punching, doing a power clean, hitting a hockey puck, and what we are talking about here, swinging the golf club.

Because of the lifestyle that many of us live this day and age, too many individuals are walking around with muscle imbalances and improper muscle recruitment patterns.  The "comfortable" seated positions that most chairs provide are keeping people in locked-up, undesirable positions for hours at a time throughout the day.  Posture is poor and flexibility/stretching drills are things that most people are not incorporating into their daily planners.  I understand that we cannot escape the seated positions that are common in so many functions that we do throughout the day; I'm guilty of it as well.  It's one of the reasons that fitness IS so important to me. I want a balanced body.  I am conscious of my posture as I walk down the hall, sit in a chair at work, or driving in the car.  It's awareness of how YOUR OWN body feels.  We must have that.  But people that lack body "feel" or awareness typically have inhibited neuromuscular systems or muscle weakness.  They suffer from issues like Lower Crossed Syndrome and instead of recruiting their Gluteus Maximus, which is inhibited or "turned-off'', they are recruiting their hamstrings and lower back for hip extension.  Other parts of their body are compensating for this physical flaw and it could eventually lead to injury and definitely affect the consistency in something like ball striking for your golf game.  This is where golf-fitness corrective exercise would come into play.  Once it's uncovered that an individual has weak Glutes or muscle imbalances in the pelvis and core, proper strength training and stability exercises can be put into place that will attack this weakness in their fitness/body that's affecting their game.
Here's a great test to determine if you have weak gluteal muscles:

Exercises like hip bridges, squats, and lunge variations are excellent ways to strengthen the glute muscles.  These muscles are incredibly important for your golf game and also for healthy movement throughout life.  Engage your Glutes! 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

The body is a complex assembly of bones, muscles, organs, blood vessels, nerves, skin, and connective tissues.  When the body moves correctly, it seems effortless. It's a beautiful thing.  Our bodies move with a symphony of bones, nerves, muscles, and joints working together synergistically to get us moving in whatever way we are asking it to perform, whether that's picking up a baby out of the car seat, deadlifting 500 lbs, or running up a flight of stairs late for a meeting.
When we are babies, we are taught by our parents to move our bodies efficiently, in a way that sticks in our brains, and doesn't get us hurt.  Imprints are made in our neural pathways.  Our motor cortex processes these things.  We learn how to operate a spoon, walk, tie our shoes, run, etc.  The point here is that our nervous system drives the movement.  Athletes may make very complex movements look effortless, but in the learning stages, a lot of time, energy, thinking, and hard work was probably put into those movements. 
Jami Lynn doing a Stability Ball Wall Squat

When it comes to exercises and moving our bodies in different planes of motios, you will be better served to take it slow.  Start with the basics and learn to just move your own body-weight efficiently.  Even if you were a high school star athlete but it's been years since you've done anything recreationally, I would start you out as a beginner.  I'd put you through the basics because we need to get sound technique down from the start.  You have to check your ego at the door and look at the big picture.  Exercise and really just moving your body without pain are things you want to be able to do until you check out of this place.  The Law of Facilitation states that, "When an impulse has passed once through a certain set of neurons to the exclusion of others, it will tend to take the same course on a future occasion, and each time it traverses this path the resistance in the path will be smaller." (Dorland's Medical Dictionary)  What this means is that when you practice moving your body in a certain way over and over again, you better hope it's in the right form.  If you are moving your body inefficiently, and repeating these bad habits over and over again, these neural pathways are imprinted in your brain.  After doing this for months/years, it's going to be hard as heck to re-write this movement.  That's why it's my opinion that it's not practice makes perfect but perfect practice that makes perfect.  
Liz performing a Lunge

Do yourself a favor, when you start to exercise your body, start slow and ease your mind by bringing in a qualified personal trainer to show you proper form for exercise.  Your health and exercise longevity will benefit in the long run, giving you many fun-filled years of functional use.   

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Most Functional Machine at the Gym: Your Body

I train clients around town at some of the "globo-gyms".  They serve a purpose for me and my clients quite well but still seem to irritate me.  My irritation lies in the fact that most of the useable floor space is eaten up by a plethora of weight machines, contraptions that lock an exerciser in very "artificial" body positions.  The machine manufacturers have done a good job marketing these products making everyone feel as if these are exactly what they need.  The exercise description is right there in front of your face somewhere on the machine, and heck, it even shows you what muscles you're working.  I get it.....It's a gym owner's dream, they are generally safe and easy to use if you can figure out how to sit in the damn thing (perfect for a minimally staffed 24 hour operation).

Here's the problem - their design does not replicate real world movement.  You are in a fixed position generally singling out one major muscle group. Paul Chek of the C.H.E.K. Institute in California has this to say about machines, "Machines in general are one-dimensional.  They guide movement such that the body need not stabilize its own joints.  This leads to over-development of prime movers relative to stabilizers." [I took that from his course, "Equal But Not the Same"].  He makes a great point here.  They are designed to primarily strengthen the prime mover muscle for the particular exercise.  The movement path is fixed by the machine's structure.  The body does not need to rely on what are known as the stabilizer muscles.  Personally, I got to know my shoulders stabilizer muscles real quick when I attempted my first overhead squat in a CrossFit Foundations Class.  The overhead squat depends greatly on shoulder girdle flexibility but you must also have strong stabilizer muscular recruitment to keep that bar solid and fixed in that overhead position.  If that bar wavers forward or backward even an inch, you have to bail.

Strengthening these stabilizer/"helper" muscles are a must.  When we get out recreationally or on the job in the real world, we use our bodies as a complete unit, muscles working synergistically together.  If I have weak stabilizers, I open up the potential for injury and that may hurt, and I don't like pain - I try to stay away from that.

I realize some machines allow more free motion than others, but speaking generally, machines are designed as a one size fits all.  And, we know that everyone is not the same size plus our bodies move in different ranges of motion.  The point here is to get you focusing on the machine that is your body and training it to move.  Here's an example:  you're a mom who is about to pick up your child from the stroller and place him in his car seat.  In this real world movement, you bend to deadlift the child out of the stroller, twist with the torso, and press the child into the fixed car seat.  These are functional movements that you can definitely strengthen in a gym setting so that they are strong and familiar in you real life.  
If you are able to, and most of you are unless you are rehabilitating an injury or a paid bodybuilder, ditch the machines and favor body-weight movements and multi-joint movements with weights.  These allow you to move the body in multiple planes of motion (just like real life!) and you burn more calories if you are trying to lose a few LBs.  As always, SAFETY FIRST..... If you don't know how to properly move your body through common exercises, hire a trainer or have a friend show you some basic movements.  Exercise is more fun with someone else anyways, and it will give you an accountability partner.  Have fun