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Mar
16

Exercises For Athletic Performance

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5 Simple Exercises that Increase Athletic Performance

As as fitness professionals, we all know that being an athlete requires many elements that include speed, body control, power, strength, core, mental toughness, conditioning, endurance, awareness, focus, determination, commitment and a strong desire to win. And that’s just a very partial list of what it takes!

Imagine what it takes to be an elite and/or pro athlete. Those athletes take all of the above and multiply it by a million. However, the one common denominator in every athlete (no matter what level they are) is that they need and want to be better EVERY DAY!

Every athlete has different strengths and weaknesses, every athlete has a set of exercises that they love and certain ones that they hate, and every athlete is always looking for an edge. Every athlete wants to win and every athlete wants to be better mentally, emotionally, and of course physically. Coaching athletes requires us to preach the gospels of “loving the daily grind” and the “love of exercise,” and we need to constantly be on the lookout for ways to push our athletes outside of their comfort zone so that they can excel to the next level.

Here are 5 basic exercises that are staples in each of my sessions for all my athletes at MZR Fitness that help maximize results and improve athletic performance.

Dumbbell Step Ups: Stand up straight while holding a dumbbell in each hand (palms facing the side of your legs). Place the right foot on the elevated platform. Step on the platform by extending the hip and the knee of your right leg. Use the heel mainly to lift the rest of your body up and place the foot of the left leg on the platform as well. Breathe out as you come up. Step down by flexing the hip and knee of the other leg as you inhale. Return to the original standing position to complete the repetition. (2 Sets of 12 Reps on each leg.)

Calf Raises (in place): Rest your hands against a wall or a sturdy object for balance. Raise your heels a few inches above the edge of the step so that you’re on your tiptoes. Hold the position for a moment, and then lower your heels below the platform, feeling a stretch in your calf muscles. (2 Sets of 25 Reps.)

Lateral Jumps: Start standing with your feet hip-width apart and sit back into a shallow squat position. Dip your knees, then hop off both feet and move to your right and then quickly hop back to the other side. Continue jumping back and forth to complete the set. (2 Sets of 8 Reps in each direction.)

Pull-Ups: Grab a bar shoulder width with your palms facing down. Hang and then raise your feet off the floor by bending your knees. Hang with straight arms. Pull yourself up by pulling your elbows down to the floor. Keep your elbows close. Pull yourself all the way up until your chin passes the bar. Lower yourself all the way down until your arms are straight. Breathe and repeat the sequence. (2 Sets of 5 Reps.)

Backpedal, Turn and Sprint (Using Cones): Place three cones, five to 10 yards apart in a straight line. Facing away from cone one. Backpedal to cone two. Pivot 180 degrees on left foot to face cone three. Sprint to cone three. Perform set in opposite direction. (3 Sets of 5.)

About the Author

Mike Z. RobinsonMike Z. Robinson is the owner of the highly successful personal training facility, MZR Fitness as well as Mike Z. Robinson Enterprises which features & highlights a myriad of options to help fitness professionals grow their businesses and careers. Mike was the 2015 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, is the author of the E-Book: “Fitness Up, Everything Up”, and he is also a Media Spokesperson for both the American Council on Exercise & IDEA Health & Fitness Association.

Feb
8

Training for Snowboarding on a Total Gym GTS

Standing Squat and Side Stretch on a Total Gym GTS

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Strengthen Your Snowboarding and Skiing Clients with these 7 Total Gym GTS Exercises.

It’s that time of the year again when our clients are looking at their calendars to find weekends where they can escape to remote locations to enjoy hours and hours of uninterrupted skiing and snowboarding on snow-laden mountain sides.

Although skiing and snowboarding are a blast, they are also very tough activities that can push you to the limit physically and mentally and we need to make sure that our clients know that and are prepared for what is coming. Oftentimes when clients think of preparing for activities such as snowboarding, it is natural for them to think that they just need to focus on their lower bodies as they start to train for their trip. However, as qualified fitness professionals, we know that the entire body needs to be trained throughout training program to help avoid injuries and deficiencies in other areas of the body. Remind your client (especially if they are new to snowboarding) that they will be pushed hard in various ways on their trip and that preparation is key to a fun and safe experience in the snow.

So let’s make sure that your clients have a wonderful and safe time on their trip by helping them master the following exercises on the GTS, so that their bodies and minds are ready for action.  Watch the video to see a demonstration of all these exercises.

Jump Squats

Disconnect the pulley from the glideboard and stow handles.  Have them push the glideboard half-way up the rails, straddle the rails and sit at the bottom edge facing away from the tower.  Place the feet toward the top of the squat stand positioned shoulder-width-apart.  Normally you would have them lie back on the glideboard to do a plyometric squat but we’re going to engage the core more with them sitting upright.  Hands can be by their side, stretched out in front, or beneath the butt.  Have them start in a deep squat and from this position, explosively jump up as high as they can with both feet and be sure that they land with both feet simultaneously on the squat stand. Repeat this sequence to complete the first rep and then repeat the exercise to complete the set. (2 Sets of 15 Reps).

Seated Two-Point Leg Swings

In the same starting position as above and with core engaged and sitting up nice and straight on the GTS, have them place the left foot on the squat stand. Perform a one legged squat on the left leg and as they come back up from the squat, they gently kick the right leg up as high as they can. Then repeat, but this time on their way back up from the squat, they kick the right leg out to the right side as wide as they can. After performing both kicks on one leg, that is considered one rep. Repeat this sequence as fluidly as possible by alternating the two directions on the leg for the desired number of total reps. Be sure to perform all reps on one side before switching and repeating with the opposite leg. (2 Sets of 10 Reps in Each Direction Per Leg).

Dips (Using Squat Stand)

From a standing position in front of the squat stand, facing away from the tower have them position hands behind them shoulder-width apart on the squat stand. Have them slightly walk away from the squat stand to incline legs out in front at a 45-degree angle. Straighten arms, keeping a little bend in the elbows to keep tension on the triceps and off elbow joints. Slowly bend elbows to lower the body toward the floor until elbows are at about a 90-degree angle. Be sure to keep the back close to the foot platform. Once they reach the bottom of the movement, have them press down to straighten elbows, returning to the starting position. This completes one rep. Keep the shoulders down as they lower and raise the body. Please note that legs can be slightly bent to modify this exercise. (2 Sets of 10 Reps).

Incline Push-Up (Using Squat Stand)

From a standing position in front of the squat stand, face towards the tower.  Place hands on the edge the foot platform, slightly wider than shoulder width and walk feet back so that the body is at a 45-degree angle. Have them stand on their tip-toes with arms and body straight. Then they will slowly lower their torso down in a controlled manner and push torso up until arms are extended to complete the first rep. (2 Sets of 15 reps).

Standing Squat & Side Stretch

Raise the rails to the highest level.  Have them begin in a standing position turned sideways from the tower and place right foot on the glideboard and left foot on the ground. Then they will need to slowly squat on the left foot so that the right foot is raising the board up towards the top of the GTS. As they come back up from the squat position the glideboard will lower into the start position. Repeat this sequence to complete the first rep and then repeat the exercise to complete the set. (2 Sets of 15 Reps with Each Leg).

Inverted Walking Plank

Remove the squat stand and with the glideboard closed have them come to a kneeling position on the glideboard, facing away from the tower. From there they place both hands on the floor below the lower rail base and get into a plank position.  Then they walk hands back towards the tower and as they do so, the glideboard should be sliding towards the tower. Once they walk in so far that they cannot go up anymore, then they slowly walk back down until they cannot go down any further. Repeat this sequence to complete the first rep and then repeat the exercise to complete the set. (2 Sets of 10 Reps).

Inverted Pike

Replace the squat stand and with the glideboard closed have them come to a kneeling position on the glideboard, facing away from the tower. Then have them place both hands on the squat stand with their head facing towards the ground. Place feet onto the bottom of glideboard, on tippy toes, with heels in the air. Their body should resemble an upside down letter “V” while in the starting position. While in this starting position, extend the full body outward so that they are completely straight, then bring the glideboard back in with feet to go back to the upside down letter “V”. Repeat this sequence to complete the first rep and then you repeat the exercise to complete the set. (2 Sets of 15 Reps).

About the Author

Mike Z. RobinsonMike Z. Robinson is the owner of the highly successful personal training facility, MZR Fitness as well as Mike Z. Robinson Enterprises which features & highlights a myriad of options to help fitness professionals grow their businesses and careers. Mike was the 2015 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, is the author of the E-Book: “Fitness Up, Everything Up”, and he is also a Media Spokesperson for both the American Council on Exercise & IDEA Health & Fitness Association.

Jan
31

Keeping Clients Motivated Through The Winter

Exhausted woman sitting on tire in crossfit gym

4 Tips to Encourage Clients/Members to Exercise at the Gym, Through Winter Months

Keeping clients active through winter is always a great point of concern for fitness professionals, personal trainers, and coaches throughout the industry. I can’t speak for all gym owners and personal trainers but the largest acquisition time for new clients in my facility is April, May and June (although many people think that it is January through March, with the New Years Resolutions crowd; and that may be the case for some gyms).  But what I have personally heard from clients in the past is that they have a hard time getting motivated through winter because it is usually cold, wet and it still gets dark fairly early. Which makes sense that they come in waves during the months of April to June, when the weather is starting to warm up, the sun is out longer and swimsuit season is right around the corner.

So knowing this and with the information above in our back pockets, we have been very proactive at MZR Fitness with planning various programs and methods in the winter to help our clientele stay motivated, engaged and active during this cold season.

Here are 4 ideas I’d like to share with you.

Offer a 90-Day Intensive Transformation and Accountability Based Program

Not many people can resist the offer to completely change their lives in 90 days. It almost sounds too good to be true for a lot of people. And at the same time, it’s very enticing and manageable for the average mindset as it doesn’t sound like too big of a commitment to make. During this 90-day period, offer live workouts, home workouts, fitness homework, nutrition counseling, health coaching, before/after photos, accountability, structure, goal setting, support, and motivation – all in a group format. And if you want to, you can even provide some sort of prize or recognition for the person who lost the most weight or shed the most body fat. You have not only created a profit center for your business but it has become a sure way to light a fire beneath the tails of your clients and get them so pumped that they don’t care what the weather is outside. All they know is that they have some goals to crush!

1283205Create a Contest to Incentivize

Start an attendance contest by giving all of your clients a goal to attend the gym a minimum of 8 times per month (twice a week). Now, us fitness professionals know that our clients need more than 2 days a week to maximize fitness results but the plan is that they are going to attend the gym for those two days each week and then their bodies will begin to crave more days and other clients will be able to motivate them as well.

For extra encouragement in the contest you can create a tracking system for your clients and place it visibly in the gym. The transparency of everyone being able to see each others’ attendance really gets the competition going.  Further incentivize with branded gear from your facility, extra sessions, money, gift certificates, or anything else that you think may motivate your clients. Get creative!

1562989Go all Tony Robbins on them!

We all need a good talking to every once in a while to help put things in perspective, get the juices flowing and help us to see the big picture with our goals and who doesn’t like a good “pump ‘em up” speech? No matter what your exact title is at your facility, we’re all ultimately coaches. So guess what? We have to coach, motivate and inspire our clients to do what they don’t want to do, so that they can look and feel the way that they deserve to look and feel. Don’t be afraid to captivate your audience with a good speech or some great quotes once in a while.

As Tony Robbins once said “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”  Remember that can apply to you as a fitness professional and to those whom you train!

1527822Reach Out in Unique Ways

As fitness professionals, we can reach out and motivate our clients in several unique ways such as:

> create a workshop and invite clients to attend

> create a podcast and upload it to itunes so that your clients can listen to it whenever they want

> communicate often through email/text/phone call.  You can even send a text while they are in the session with you so they read it afterwards.

However and whenever you want, communicate, communicate, communicate and this will motivate them! However you want to inspire and get your message across to your client is your prerogative but the biggest and most important tip is to get their attention before you deliver the message so they are focused on what you are saying. This is definitely easier said than done, but if you do it the right way, your voice will move mountains and your client will be inspired to create fitness success like never before.

About the Author

Mike Z. RobinsonMike Z. Robinson is the owner of the highly successful personal training facility, MZR Fitness as well as Mike Z. Robinson Enterprises which features & highlights a myriad of options to help fitness professionals grow their businesses and careers. Mike was the 2015 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, is the author of the E-Book: “Fitness Up, Everything Up”, and he is also a Media Spokesperson for both the American Council on Exercise & IDEA Health & Fitness Association.

Jan
19

Understanding Total Gym Progressions – Part 4

Combining Planks, Bridges, Back Flies for the Perfect Routine

 Maria Sollon

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Why not rock out the New Year with some new challenges.  Master your workouts with simple progressions that not only add a variety to your old routine, but also add the extra challenge your body may need.

Workouts would get boring pretty quickly if you did the same one every day.  Your clients would feel the same way if you never varied their routine.  As a trainer, you have a responsibility to your clients to know and understand at least two progressions for every exercise you teach.  You must know when and where to implement the different training variables.  This is an important concept that separates a good trainer from a mediocre one.

Let’s dive into the topic of exercise progression…

WHAT IS EXERCISE PROGRESSION

Exercise progression is a strategy that is developed to allow your client to advance in his or her own movement skills.  This is an important concept to understand since every client has different goals and training needs as well as his or her own set of strengths and weaknesses.  What is challenging for one may be easy for another.  Once a skill or task is mastered, something needs to be altered for further advances.   This is where proper progression becomes an art form.

PROGRESSING AN EXERCISE

There are numerous ways to progress an exercise.  Depending on a client’s needs is how you (the trainer) can plan the progression.  For example, your client may have increased strength and balance in their posterior chain.  Rather than performing a seated back row from a lower incline, they can progress to a moderate incline and a kneeling position.

It is important to understand how each progression affects the other and that slight changes can alter a movement skill.  In time, you can effectively implement the appropriate progressions for your clients when they are ready to advance.

Listed are some primary ways to progress an exercise.

> Resistance – External resistance adds a strength challenge as long as form does not suffer

> Speed – performing an exercise faster vs. slower

> Body Position – altering body position challenges different muscle angles

> Sets/ Reps/ Sequences/ Style – Manipulating these factors enhance the workout challenge

> Balance – Balance displacement increase the intensity of the exercise.

> Uni VS Bilateral Movements – Unilateral movements allow strength development be focused on the weaker side while incorporating core stabilizers.

> Lever Length – basic biomechanical principles make an exercise harder or easier by moving the weight farther or closer to the fulcrum.

> Compound Movements – Performing two exercises at once challenges multiple muscle groups simultaneously and saves time!

> Eyes Closed – Closing the eyes increase the balance and core stability challenge, especially standing on one leg.

> Range of Motion – Incorporating varied ranges of motion in all angles creates challenges for a given exercise.

Progressions keep exercises challenging and allow the flexibility for your clients to keep striving to achieve their best.  Adding these dimensions to your client’s workouts can be a successful game changer.

TOTAL GYM PROGRESSION TIPS

The Total Gym machine is an excellent piece of equipment that offers countless variations to progress an exercise by accommodating to the user.  It’s a multipurpose machine that can adapt to each client’s body structure, strength level, and training goals desired to accomplish.   Simple adjustments can make tough challenges!

Listed below are examples of how prepare your Total Gym unit for the appropriate progressions your clients may need.

Adjust the Incline Appropriately

Increasing or lowering the incline changes the feel of an exercise.  Typically, a higher incline is more challenging for extremity work and a lower incline is more challenging for core work.

Adjusting the Cables

Moving the cable pin placement allows a different range of motion to occur.  It is very effective for accommodating different body frames.

Changing the Stance Position

Adjusting the hand/ leg stance during specific exercises can challenge an exercise.   Varying the anchor placement of weight distributed on the glideboard by a seated, kneeling, high kneeling, or standing position can also challenge an exercise.

Extra Resistance

Adding external resistance along with the Total Gym provides an extra challenge for your core, balance, coordination, and strength.  A client’s form should be perfected before advancing or adding external resist.  Adding external weight is great, but if it hinders a client’s form, then the purpose is defeated.

Tempo, Sets, & Reps

Incorporating different tempo speeds along with varied sets and rep ranges can add a challenge to any exercise.

Analysis of each exercise needs to be done in order to progress your client appropriately during their workouts.  This is what will make all the difference for a successful session each time!

EXERCISE PROGRESSION EXAMPLES

Let’s discuss 3 excellent exercises you can progress during a workout by adding a variation for an increased challenge.  Planks, Bridges, and Back Flies are a great combination of exercises to work the entire body while focusing on a specific area.

Try the following exercise progressions with your client according to their strength level.  Be creative in the way you deliver the exercises as well.  For example, perform them one after the other in circuit format, add cardio elements in between each set, OR perform the exercise for a set period of time.  You as their trainer can create the best method of execution for your client’s goals.

Core – Planks

Kneeling

Open GB

Lower incline

Single leg

Legs – Bridge Press

Roll hips up/down

Open GB & press

Single leg

Dynamic motion

Arms – Back Flies

Seated

Kneeling

High kneeling

Static equilibrium

Check out the video link to view how these exercises progress.

These are just a few examples of how to progress basic exercises.  The possibilities to increase the challenge are endless.  Therefore, when an exercise become too easy or your workout needs an uplift, try increasing the intensity of the movement by making small adjustments to an exercise you perform well.

As a personal trainer, it is important to be knowledgeable on how to safely and effectively progress your clients when they are ready to advance.  Understanding the modifications, variations and specifics to each movement will help you intelligently layer an exercise for proper progression.  The most basic exercises can be some of the most challenging!

About the Author

Maria Sollon ScallyMaria Sollon Scally MS, CSCS holds a Masters Degree in Performance Enhancement/ Injury Prevention and Kinesiology. She has obtained numerous certifications in various areas of fitness and is a national conference presenter. Maria specializes in Pilates, Performance Coaching, and Corrective Exercise Techniques and Kettlebells. She is the creator of the Plyo Pilates Method and has developed a series of amazing workout DVDs. She is a Master Trainer for Total Gym, Resist-a-Ball, Body Blade, Peak Pilates, Kettle Bell Concepts and is a free lance writer for Fitness accredited magazines, news letters, and fitness blog sites. Maria demonstrates her knowledge each day and uses her dynamic creativity throughout her specialized line of work.

http://www.groovysweat.com

http://www.groovysweatstore.com (purchasable workout videos)

http://www.youtube.com/groovysweat (workout clips)

 

 

 

 

 

Dec
28

GRAVITY Classes Cater to All Fitness Levels

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GRAVITY on the Road: Tampa Florida

I recently had the chance to check out the latest GRAVITY Classes at Studio F.I.T. in Tampa, FL. This boutique studio, owned and run by Christine Simmons, is a hidden gem.

Studio F.I.T. is the love child of Simmons, who has been teaching group fitness for 28 years. Initially she taught part time group fitness while juggling a corporate job which also included a ton of travel time.   Impressive!  Then her love of fitness won out in 2006 when she left the corporate world to go for it and voilà, Studio F.I.T. was born.

Christine’s strong business background (she has an MBAsecretly she may be Wonder Woman as well) has come in handy in successfully confronting the many challenges club owners face as well as growing her business in a competitive market.  Her business partner introduced her to a Total Gym GTS back in 2006 and as soon as she adopted GRAVITY, the classes took off.  Since then, she became a big fan of GRAVITY programming which has helped her ignite her studio with image(3)specialty programing and keeps members coming back for more.

At Studio F.I.T. Christine runs a personal training studio and small group classes: clients pay for the services they want with no membership fees.  GRAVITY classes are a big part of her income stream and offer constant variety and growth for her core clients as well as being an easy-to-use system for those new to exercise.  The machines offer support for those in need while challenging the fittest with simple adjustable levels of resistance.  In addition to GRAVITY classes, Studio F.I.T offers bootcamp, Zumba, Personal Training and Fit Senior classes.  This program is not your typical “Silver Sneakers”, these are some super active, “my kids can’t catch me” seniors!  Yes, I know ‘these people’ very well, they consistently pass me on the Ironman course and are my inspiration.

My timing couldn’t have been better as the studio has recently upgraded to the latest GTS models.  These are pretty gorgeous and easy to adjust, while offering an endless variety of exercise options.  The enthusiasm of the instructor Stefanie Summer is equal to the women in the class.  When asked about how they feel about GRAVITY classes the unanimous answer was, “we love them!”  The reasons?  “The classes are so much fun” and “time flies by – the results are amazing”.  That’s about as good as it gets, especially if you are a gym owner or personal trainer.  And the classes book up.  I did sign up for a class ahead of time, but gave my space to another participant; my good deed for the day.  But it was interesting to observe the teacher and the class, as the participants were all at different levels and some had injuries.  For a class to run smoothly, successfully and address all levels is always a challenge.  For GRAVITY?  Not so much.  A good, knowledgeable instructor can really bring the class to ALL levels safely and efficiently.  And the fun quotient was a 10 for everyone – even the bystander (me).GRAVITY Classes at Studio FIT, Tampa FL

I opted for a private session later. The beauty of GRAVITY is that even with my broken toe, Stefanie was able to give me a very challenging full body workout.  My quads were screaming the next day along with my lats.  And all in only 30 minutes.  Impressive indeed!  I liked the level of intimacy you can have with your student even when it’s in a group.  As a studio owner, I left my session with a spring in my step (before the soreness crept in) and my creative juices flowing with ideas on how MUCH one can do with GRAVITY.  I’ll post about that in my next blog.

For more information about how GRAVITY can improve your ROI contact Ralph at ralph@totalgym.com or call 858-764-0078.

About the Author

Debbie Beck - Fitness Coach and Personal Trainer.Deborah Beck is a six time Ironman athlete, coach and personal trainer. For over 25 years she has combined her love of sports and fitness with her passion for travel and adventure.  Her early work as a Fitness Director moved her throughout Asia, the Middle East and the UK.  She holds multiple certifications and is currently working towards her 500 hour Yoga Medicine.  Her training philosophy incorporates Pilates, yoga, Gyrotonic and strength to produce a balanced, unique approach to high endurance training.   This fall she is launching a global training and lifestyle company and online community.  When not traveling, she splits her time between Quogue NY and Telluride Colorado.

Dec
21

How to Prevent Injuries in Group Training

6 Tips to Help You Better Plan Your Class

GRAVITY

As you know, with group training there is an opportunity to make more money while clients spend less. The motivation coming from a group is fun and can be more challenging than working alone with a trainer. It is a plus for both the trainer and the client when it comes to diversity in programming, as different styles of class can be implemented and the atmosphere lends itself to more conversation and expression of mood etc. Sometimes the group situation can even result in more consistent adherence to exercise, as people do not like to disappoint their group by not showing up. With these benefits, however, we must work harder by planning better so that we can be successful and ready to handle all limitations, individual strengths, weaknesses and imbalances.  The better we plan, the less injuries we can expect.

As trainers and coaches, we know that group training is a dynamic, fun and affordable way for clients to stay engaged and committed to their workouts. I remember back in 2009 when small group training was all the rage … fast forward to 2016 and it is still very much the “in way to train” and it’s going in all kinds of directions like CrossFit and boot camps which is exciting. That being said, it can be a lot more work for us if we want to make sure that we provide a safe environment for all concerned. There is definitely more planning needed for a group class than a one-on-one session, so it is important to have as much information as possible so that you can plan properly and everyone can benefit regardless of fitness level.

Measures to take to be preventive and stay away from injuries

Know their history

I have taken small group classes before elsewhere and was surprised to not be given a client questionnaire to fill in at the beginning of the class. As a trainer you should have as much information as possible about the people that you are coaching.  A history gives you solid information so that you can be ready to provide a good mobility warm up and accommodate limitations. Failing to plan is planning for failure. The more information available to you, the more thorough you can be. And with that knowledge you can take any exercise and demonstrate the necessary modifications, as all exercises are adaptable.

With the client’s age and past history you can cue better and plan your choice of words and tone of voice.  Safe and effective cuing along with eye contact is very important too. Injuries tend to happen when clients have to strain their ears and eyes to figure out what is going on. Cuing should be smooth and flow well with the progression of exercises. Participants should be told that they can modify their exercises at any time, and feel comfortable about alerting the trainer if they have a concern or a question.

Prepare the equipment

Having your circuit ready with all products neatly and safely placed is a must. I know that sometimes this may not be possible due to class scheduling but I think that at least for the first class, rather than have participants go and fetch their own props, there must be some preparation in place. Anything can happen, like picking up the wrong resistance band or weight, that can easily result in an injury.

Warm up and cool down

I cannot stress the importance of taking time for warm up and a cool down stretch afterwards, as we all know that these days everyone is always in a rush and people do not take enough time to warm up and stretch on their own.

Demonstrate

The introduction and warm up can demonstrate modifications for those with injuries and provide good mobility exercises. This is also the best time to mimic the exercises that will be done in the circuit / workout part of the class. I always like when circuits and exercises are shown before the class starts. Even if there is a chalk board with a list as not everyone has the same interpretation of names of exercises or were taught the same way. It just takes a few minutes to demonstrate the exercises and it lets everyone know that they are not there to compete with their neighbor but to challenge themselves.

Remind them that forcing repetitions when they are tired or trying to keep up when they do not feel right, will not accomplish anything. Although these tips may sound childish or unnecessary, providing the instruction with gentle reminders throughout the class helps everyone when the music is going and hearts are pumping.

Set the necessary limitations

If someone has decided to take your small group class with a new or persistent injury, you must help them fit in.  At the same time tell them to be mindful of their limitations. Let them know that you are there to help and accommodate. Knowing ahead of time can help you guide them in the right direction.

Plan your schedule

Plan your schedule well so that you do not have to disappear right after the class.   You should be there to answer questions – it’s professional and a great way to show your clients that you care. The more you are there for them, the stronger and healthier your classes will be!

 

Frances Michaelson

About the Author

Frances Michaelson is president of exercise equipment company Muscle Up Inc., a licensed naturopath and a personal trainer. She is passionate about helping people attain optimal health through proper diet and exercise. A self-described health-o-holic, she motivates others to move well and eat well to keep their bodies’ cells dancing and singing. Based in the West Island of Montreal, Frances is a frequent conference presenter, is author of BYOB: Bring Your Own Band and Replenish, Regenerate and Rebuild Your Cells, blogs for Total Gym exercise equipment, and is a regular contributor to IHRSA’s “Ask an Industry Leader.” With her broad knowledge base and over three decades of experience, she is widely recognized as a leader in the health and fitness field. Frances is committed to helping others make positive lifestyle choices that create stronger bodies, healthier minds and more fulfilling lives.

Dec
13

5 Ways to Strengthen Legs with a Bad Back

How to Strengthen Legs on a Total Gym with a Bad Back

Modern technology can be a total paradox. On one hand technology makes life easier, on the other hand it has caused us to become more sedentary by allowing us to push buttons for work instead of performing manual labor. The human body was made to move, not remain seated all day. In another paradox, too much time spent NOT moving could be a possible cause of low back pain.

Low back pain is no fun and can have a negative impact on the quality of life. If one experiences pain for more than a couple of days in a row it could be a sign of a serious injury and it is important to see a medical professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment. However, like many people, instead of ongoing low back pain one may experience occasional periods of discomfort. When these flare-ups do occur don’t let them interrupt a normal exercise program.

It can be difficult to identify the specific cause of lower back pain; it could be related to a lack of mobility in the hips, or overall strength in the legs. The structure of the lower back, the lumbar and sacral segments of the spine, where they meet the bones of the pelvis, is designed to provide stability. The hips, on the other hand, are designed to be mobile. One possible cause of low back pain is that sitting for too long can cause muscle imbalances in the hips which can significantly restrict the range-of-motion of the joints, changing how they move.

When the hips lose mobility, the muscles and joints of the lower back which sit above the hips, will try to create the necessary motion for many movements. Since the lower back is not designed to have an excessive amount of motion this can be a potential mechanism of injury. If leg muscles aren’t that strong when lifting an object off of the floor, one is more likely to use the back muscles. Improving mobility of the hips and strengthening the legs can help improve overall function and possibly reduce the risk of damaging the lower back.

If your Client’s back is bothersome it may be a little uncomfortable to strengthen the legs (NOTE: discomfort is okay–it means the muscles are working. STOP immediately if a feel sharp pain is felt) but strengthening the lower body could reduce the amount of discomfort. In an effort to help reduce the risk of developing lower back pain and improve the ability to enjoy one’s favorite activities here are 6 ways to use a Total Gym to strengthen legs and improve hip mobility.

When standing upright gravity pulls the upper body into the hips which can help reduce motion in the joints. To strengthen legs without harming the back or making any existing discomfort worse, it is important to remove the effects of gravity. We can’t just turn gravity off, although that might be fun if we could, but we can place our body in different positions to significantly reduce and minimize the impact of gravity. A primary benefit of the Total Gym is that moving on an inclined plane reduces the effects of gravity which can immediately help improve hip mobility.

Total Gym Squat

Squat

NOTE:  Total Gym helps keep the lumbar spine stable when lying on the back.  This allows your client to focus on the muscles responsible for moving the hips, knees and feet. The closer the Total Gym is to the ground, the less gravity will effect the body. If the back is currently bothering them, have them start with the glideboard as low as possible and increase the height of the glideboard as they feel stronger and more comfortable.

Stationary Squats: Have them lie on their back with their feet hip-to-shoulder width apart, so that their toes are close to the top edge of the squat stand. Have them lower their bottom down until their knees are about 90 degrees. They hold that for 30 seconds or until they fatigue. They then rest for 30 seconds and repeat 2-to-3 times.TIP: As they hold the squat, have them press their feet into the board and squeeze those thighs to engage the muscles.

Outer Thigh Lifts. Have them lie on their right side with their right leg straight and their right foot pressed into the squat stand.  Have them lift their left leg up in the air so that both legs are about 6-to-8 inches apart and hold for 3-to-5 seconds before slowly lowering  back down. Repeat for 10-to-12 reps and switch sides, rest 45 sec. after both sides, complete

Total Gym Sprinter Start

Sprinter Start

2-to-3 sets.

Sprinter Start. Have them kneel on the glideboard on their hands and knees so that they are facing the top of the Total Gym and their feet are close to the squat stand.  Have them place their right foot on the squat stand and keep their left knee under their hip.  Have them tighten their abs as they push their right foot into the board to move you closer to the top and return to the bottom slowly.  10-to-12 reps and switch legs, rest 45 seconds and repeat 2-to-3 times.

Step-ups. Set the rails on the lowest level.  Have them stand facing the bottom of the Total Gym so that their one foot can step up on to the glideboard pressing their foot down to move the glildeboard closer to the bottom, which will help it remain stable during the exercise.  They can pause for 2-to-3 seconds before slowly lowering themselves down.  Repeat for 8-to-10 reps, switch sides to alternate legs, rest for 45 seconds after both legs and repeat for 2-to-3 sets.

Step Up

Step Up

Squats. Have them lie on the glideboard with their feet on the squat stand so that their toes are close to the top.  Have them squat down for a 3-count, pause for 1 sec. then push back to the top. Repeat for 12-to-15 reps, rest for 1 min. and complete 2-to-3 sets

If these exercises are done at least 2-to-3 times a week there is a good chance that you will see improvement in the strength of the legs and reduce risk of low back pain.

Here’s a final paradox; yes, exercising when the back is bothersome can be uncomfortable but not exercising can actually make the discomfort worse which can turn a minor problem into a major one. Even after almost twenty years of being a personal trainer and group fitness instructor I may not know what causes low-back pain, but I do know that improving strength and flexibility in the lower body can help reduce the risk of letting it impact quality of life.

About the Author

Pete McCallPete McCall is an educator, performance coach, personal trainer, author, consultant and host of the All About Fitness podcast. Based in San Diego, CA, Pete holds a master’s degree in exercise science and health promotion, completed a Fellowship in Applied Functional Science with the Gray Institute, is a Certified Personal Trainer and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. Currently Pete is an adjunct faculty in exercise science at Mesa College, a master trainer for Core Health and Fitness, a blogger and content contributor for the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and online instructor for the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).

Consulting with organizations like the World Bank, Reebok, 24-Hour Fitness, Core Health & Fitness, the Institute of Motion and Fit Pro, Pete has experience identifying needs and delivering solutions. Frequently quoted as a fitness expert in publications such as The New York Times, Washington Post, U-T San Diego, SELF, Glamour, and Shape Magazine and featured as a fitness expert for TV news outlets including WRC-NBC (DC), Fox News, Fox 5 San Diego, and NBC7 San Diego, Pete is a sought-after media resource for accurate, in-depth insight on how to get results from exercise. www.petemccallfitness.com

 

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