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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

 

Dec
1

Power Breakfasts for your Members & Clients

Recommend These 3 Recipes for a Healthier Breakfast

As trainers we must make sure that our members and clients understand the importance of good nutrition:  what constitutes a balanced diet and how to encourage them to make each day count.

If they do not fuel their bodies properly, you can bet they will not benefit from their training as well we would like. As the saying goes, we are what we eat!

It is important however that if we are not skilled in the area of nutrition that we refer our clients to a qualified holistic nutritionist or naturopath. There is nothing worse than handing out information that is based on just the latest social media trend!1858553

We often hear that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and one that we should never go without.  I do not feel it is necessary to eat first thing in the morning, if time is of the essence. Most of my clients struggle with getting kids off to school and there is never enough time for a sit down quality breakfast. I recommend either waiting until they get to the office, or when time allows. This can either be later in the morning, after a workout, or simply when things are calm.

A bowl of fresh fruit should be the first thing that you eat to start your day.  Fresh fruit gives adequate fiber, vitamins and enzymes so badly needed for proper digestion and absorption. It is ironic that most clients are concerned about getting adequate protein in their diets, yet to break down protein into amino acids (cells can only absorb amino acids) requires a strong digestive system and sadly most people struggle with their digestion. Following the fruit, a good source of protein could be a nut butter on some sprouted bread. I like the Ezekiel brand or Manna, which is found in the freezer section of most health food stores. Any bread made with sprouted ancient grains (quinoa, amaranth, millet) are good options.   Raw, organic almond butter is a good source of protein and potassium.  For clients that do not like to eat very much after a workout or before lunch, this combination of the fruit and butters are perfect. Sun butter is a good choice as well.

For those clients that prefer a little more food , especially more protein, lightly cooked, organic poached eggs, or eggs cooked in olive or coconut oil, eaten with raw veggies or mixed greens are perfect. Having the eggs with some vegetables will offer some digestive help coming from the fiber, minerals and enzymes in the greens and other vegetables.

Sweet lovers and those that stick to a plant based diet, might prefer the following two recipes:

1914342Chia Seed Pudding

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 4 large almond milk ice cubes
  • 2-3 pitted Medjool dates
  • 2-3.5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Directions:

  • Fill an ice cube tray with almond milk. Freeze until solid. You can use leftovers in smoothies in the future.
  • To make the pudding: add 3/4 cup almond milk into a high speed blender. Now add the rest of the ingredients, including the almond milk ice cubes.
  • Blend on the highest speed until super smooth. Enjoy! You can chill it in the fridge, but will thicken even more.

AvocadoAvocado Pudding

  • 2 large avocados-peeled, pitted, and cubed
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3-4 pitted dates
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch cinnamon

Directions:

  • Place all ingredients in a blender, blend and enjoy!

For those clients that really love their hearty and filling breakfasts, I would offer this Buckwheat Pancake recipe taken from Brenden Brazier’s, The Thrive Cookbook

Buckwheat, despite its name is not even in the wheat family. It contains eight essential amino acids and is very high in Manganese, Vitamins B and E and some Calcium. It has a nice mild flavor, but be sure to buy the unroasted form.

Buckwheat Pancake

  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed
  • 1/4 cup hemp flour
  • 2 tsp. baking flour
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 banana
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup barley flakes

Directions:

  • In a bowl mix buckwheat flour, flax seed, hemp flour, baking powder and cinnamon.
  • In a food processor, process the banana and water while slowly adding the dry ingredients until mixture is smooth.
  • Lightly oil a pan with coconut oil and heat over medium heat. Pour in pancake batter to desired pancake size and cook for about 5 minutes or until bubbles begin to appear. Flip and allow to cook for another 5 minutes.

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.

Nov
8

Top 5 Reasons Why Bodyweight Training is Important

GRAVITY Class Workout

Car buffs know that performing the required maintenance and taking proper care of a car can keep it running for many, many years. You don’t need to be a car nut to know what happens if you leave a car sitting for too long without running the engine or performing the necessary maintenance; it starts rusting and falls apart. The human body functions in much the same way: regular use can keep the body operating with minimal problems for decades, while avoiding physical activity or spending too much time in a sedentary, non-moving position can cause a number of negative health consequences, accelerating the normal biological aging process.

The human body was designed to move and is the best exercise machine ever created IF you know how to use it properly. Simply using your own body can be an effective and efficient strategy for helping you achieve the following benefits of exercise:

Strengthen Muscles

Muscles are designed to control physical forces in the human body. Muscles lengthen in response to an applied force and shorten to produce the force necessary for successful movement. Bodyweight exercises can help improve how muscles function to control the effects of gravity on the body. Gravity is constantly accelerating you into the ground; strength training with your own bodyweight improves muscle force production which can mitigate the effects of the ever-present downward pressure.

Improve Joint Range of Motion

Bodyweight movements help improve joint range of motion while lengthening the involved muscle tissue, both of which are necessary for increasing flexibility and reducing the risk of overuse injuries. Bodyweight exercises like squats for the legs, pulls for the back and pushes for the chest require a number of muscles to work together in order to control the entire range-of-motion of the involved joints which are essential for enhancing flexibility.

Help Joint Stability and Mobility

Joints in the body are designed to favor mobility or create stability; the ankles, hips and upper spine all allow significant motion while the knees, lumbar spine and shoulder blades are structurally designed to provide stability by allowing only limited movements. Bodyweight training can be effective for helping the stable joints to become more stable while simultaneously allowing the mobile joints to increase mobility.

Improve Coordination

Intermuscular coordination – all of the muscles and joints in your body are designed to work with one another and bodyweight training can help improve coordination between all of the different segments. Isolation training with weights can place too much force in one particular joint or muscle group which could be a possible cause of injury. However, bodyweight strength training allows many muscles to work together to produce and distribute muscle forces making intermuscular coordination a key component of improving overall coordination and movement skill.

Get a Cardio Workout

The more muscles involved in an exercise the greater the demand for oxygen; when more oxygen is required, the heart has to work harder to pump blood to the working muscles. Bodyweight exercises that use a lot of muscles and are performed for a high number of repetitions can be considered a great form of cardiovascular exercise. Regular cardiovascular exercise can help increase the size of the left ventricle, the structure of the heart responsible for moving oxygenated blood out to the body, while improving the efficiency of how many times the heart beats per minute. Both of these are components for improving cardiac efficiency, an important marker of overall fitness.

Bodyweight exercises that involve the knees, back or shoulders could cause pain if performed incorrectly. A cursory understanding of biomechanics is required in order to move with minimal risk of injury. Because of its design, which allows the body to move with minimal impact from gravity, a Total Gym can help you to experience the benefits of bodyweight exercises with a reduced risk of injury.

If you are looking for the best Total Gym exercises for your studio or gym needs, Total Gym videos are available to help you identify the most effective exercises and workout programs for your clients’ and members’ fitness goals.

By Muscle Group

By Body Position

By Workout

Total Gym Elevate Circuit

Pilates on Total Gym

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

Nov
1

Trainers – How to Cue for Breathing

Cuing for breathing

Top Tips on Teaching When and How to Breathe.

Teaching class participants how and when to breathe during exercise can be one of the most challenging areas of our training sessions. I find that as a trainer myself, most people are very shallow breathers and sometimes if they focus too much on their technique they forget to breathe completely!

Effective ways to keep breathing

The one exception where the breathing pattern may change in weight lifting would be in the overhead press. Here it makes more sense to inhale: expand the diaphragm as you press the bar up.  Otherwise, try these breathing tips.

1. Breathing along WITH your clients/members helps tremendously.  They can hear your breath and follow along easily.

2. I do hear some trainers telling their clients to “blow out the candle” as they are forcing a movement which also works well.

3. It is standard with resistance training or weight lifting to exhale during the exertion phase. I always remind my clients to think of the letter “E” for Exertion and Exhalation.

4. In a functional setting (higher than 15 reps), it is best to just breathe naturally but I find that when a client has too much to focus on ie., breathing, technique and form etc., it can be overwhelming. I watch their lips and when I see them clamped shut, I literally say, “please open your mouth and B-R-E-A-T-H-E.”

Importance of the diaphragm

If we want to truly help our class participants achieve overall health and function, we must take a look at the importance of the diaphragm. Most people, being shallow breathers, have never learned how to breathe effectively. Breathing with efficient oxygen saturation with full diaphragmatic involvement is the cornerstone of health and well-being. Whatever muscles we are strengthening, the ideal breathing motor patterns is crucial. The diaphragm must be the prime mover in the breathing process. Because of the lumbar spinal attachments of the diaphragm, stability and mobility in and around the thoracic and lumbar spine is vital.

Through naturopathy, I am able to help my clients understand the importance of breathing even more. I explain that the more oxygen you get into the body, the more carbon dioxide poison you will eliminate from the body. When oxygen replaces carbon dioxide, there will be greater purification of the blood, cells and organs of the body, for better health and stronger results from training efforts.

Have you ever experienced suffering from “a stitch” when warming up in a jog or a run? What a stitch really is, is a sign of unused lung air sacs trying to open and receive fresh air that you are pumping in. The sharp pain is due to the air forcing these cells apart. Continuing to breathe deeply will help and the distress will pass. At this point, the unused lung cells become reactivated. Teaching our older and beginner exercisers how to use their diaphragm to breathe deeply will help them avoid these discomforts and faulty movement patterns while training.

Diaphragmatic breathing has a tranquilizing rhythm, stimulates your circulation and helps rejuvenate the body. This type of breathing is a natural method designed for the body, yet if not taught how to use the diaphragm properly, many people have trouble. We commonly see too much chest breathing as opposed to breathing deep into the diaphragm.  I use the following exercise to help my clients use their diaphragm more efficiently.

Try this warm up breathing exercise

> Have your clients stand and locate their diaphragm by placing one hand at their waistline and the other hand up with their palm facing their mouth.

> Ask them to blow imaginary dust off their palm, feeling a strong muscular contraction at their waist when they blow. This helps locate the diaphragm.

> Then to warm up and direct the focus to the breath, I often start a workout with them walking around the room on their toes while reaching high over their head.

> I ask them to raise their diaphragm as high as their strength will allow while still breathing deeply. I ask them to feel the chest and stomach muscles as they breathe deeply.

> After this, we bend over, drop the head below the heart, arms reaching towards the floor, compressing out every bit of old toxic, carbon dioxide-laden air.

This is a great way to set the tone for breathing during the workout and is a super lung cleanser. I find it also helps to rid their mind of stress they may be bringing to the workout.

On the other hand, Yoga breathing is very different. It is nose breathing and there are different types.  On of them, the Ujjayi breathing technique is best explained here.

Focusing on the breath is the best way to connect with your body before a workout. As trainers, we all have our own unique way of getting our clients to connect with the breath. Whatever your preference is, my best advice is to include some breathing exercises in a warm up.

“Just by paying attention to breathing, you can access a level of relaxation and health that will benefit every area of your life.” Deepak Chopra 

About the Author

Frances Michaelson

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, author of BYOB: Bring Your Own Band and Replenish, Regenerate and Rebuild Your Cells. She blogs for Total Gym 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.

Oct
19

5 Reasons to Encourage Your Members to Row

Indoor RowingTotal Gym Row Trainer - On the Cardio Deck is a Great Cardio Workout 

A major benefit of joining a health club is having access to a wide variety of cardio machines that can help improve health and exercise variety. How many times do members show up at their health club for a workout, only to see that all their favorite cardio machines are busy? And let’s be perfectly honest, while they can burn a lot of calories in a relatively short period of time, many cardio machines, like the treadmill, elliptical runner or stationary bike, are simply boring to use for more than a few minutes at a time.

Encouraging your members on how to use different cardio machines can give them more options for their workout. For people who don’t necessarily enjoy running in place for extended periods of time, my advice is to pick 3 or 4 machines and have them do 10 minutes on each one. This can keep their workout more interesting and reduce the risk of burnout.

Row Trainer - part of the Total Gym Elevate CircuitThe rowing machine is sometimes one piece of cardio equipment that is often sitting all alone just waiting for some attention, which is unfortunate because it can really be one of the most beneficial and effective pieces of equipment in a health club.

Teaching members how to use the rowing machine can provide some important benefits. Unless they grew up on a body of water they probably don’t have much experience rowing, but rowing is a great form of exercise that can give them a really good cardio workout in a relatively short period of time.

Here are 5 reasons why your members should row:

Rowing burns a lot of calories in a short amount of time. The body burns 5 calories of energy to consume one liter of oxygen. Any exercise that uses a large amount of muscle mass will increase the amount of oxygen consumed in the body. Because the muscles of the upper and lower body are working together, rowing is one of the most efficient ways to burn the most calories.

Rowing improves coordination between the upper and lower body.  The rowing motion begins with the legs and finishes with the arms and back which means that most of the muscles in the body are being used with one relatively simply movement. Pushing with the legs and pulling with the upper body helps coordinate the actions of the muscles which can improve overall movement efficiency.

Rowing can help lower blood pressure and improve cardio respiratory efficiency – the ability to move oxygen around the body. While it is often associated with weight loss, it is easy to forget that the purpose of cardio exercise is to improve the efficiency of the cardiovascular system responsible for moving oxygenated blood to the working muscles of the body. Because so many muscles are involved, rowing is an excellent way to increase the strength of the cardiac muscle responsible for keeping the blood circulating efficiently.

Rowing is more joint friendly than most other pieces of equipment and this can be particularly beneficial for some if not all members.   Rowing is done in a seated position which reduces stress on the knees, hips and back. Gravity accelerates you into the ground so when you jog, you can feel a lot of pressure radiate through your body. But sitting in a rowing machine means that you’re not placing downward pressure on the body, allowing the muscles to work without the effects gravity-caused impact.

Total Gym Row Trainer Group ClassesRowing allows you to measure each individual workout and overall progress with specific metrics. Rowing machines have an ergometer which measures distance, time, calories and power. Any one of these can be used to monitor your member’s training intensity and measure their progress. Encourage members to change it up: see how far they can row in five or ten minutes or time how long it takes them to burn a certain amount of calories. Challenge them to sustain a certain work-rate (wattage) for a specific amount of time. Setting quantifiable goals (and achieving them) is a sure-fire method to help establish long-term adherence to an exercise program.

If you want to add rowing to your members’ workout routine, or if you want to consider starting rowing group classes, check out the budget-friendly Total Gym Row Trainer – a new spin on rowing because you are rowing on an incline.   Adding rowing to your members’ workout program can help them reach their fitness goals without placing too much stress on the body. Call 858-764-0078 for more information on the Row Trainer.

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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