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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
8

The Best Location & Lease for Your Studio

Top Tips to Help You Find the Best Location and Negotiate the Best Lease1875261

Looking for the best location for your fitness studio can be one of the most amazing times of your life. Just think, this is going to be your home away from home, a place where you will be changing lives and creating jobs in your community AND doing all this good while making your own money.

Just hearing that should prove to you how important the research is, so the best advice to give you is to be patient, don’t over-think it and don’t rush into a bad location just to get your business started!

To ensure that you get the best location for your business, ask yourself a lot of questions:

> > What do you want out of your dream location?

> > What are the most important things that you both NEED & WANT out of this location?

> > How much can you afford to pay per month for your lease?

> > Do you have clientele already? If so, where do the majority of them live?

> > Do you want to be in a standalone building or do you want to be in a complex with multiple businesses?

> > Would you prefer to be in a small strip mall? A big retail center? A Warehouse? An office space?

> > How much parking do you need?

> > What’s your target market and how close do you want your studio to be to their homes and/or places of employment?

> > Do you need window advertising?

> > Do you need open space?

> > Do you want your studio near a local park or school so that maybe you can utilize their outdoor space?

> > When your business grows, will you have ample space to accommodate the growth or will you have to move?

> > Do you prefer to move into a building that has everything that you need or are you willing to sacrifice a few things by taking a location that works for you but needs a lot of work to be done to the inside?

> > What side of town do you prefer to be on?

> > Demographically where is the most competition in your town? Where is the least amount of competition in your town?

This list can truly go on and on so don’t over-think it to the point that you can’t make a clear decision. But definitely make sure that you put the necessary amount of thought and consideration into making the “right” decision for yourself. Just keep reminding yourself how exciting a time this is for YOU. Because then when you do that, guess what?  You find your dream location that maybe took you weeks, months or possibly even years to find. Your patience and thoroughness has paid off and you immediately begin to imagine packed classes, a strong and qualified staff working for you, and a gym fully decorated to your exact specifications.

But wait!

The building is not yours to occupy—yet.

1875257There is probably a big sign on the outside of your dream location listing the contact information of a commercial real estate agent. This is the listing agent who will help you lease the space. If this is the first time you’ve gone through this process, it can be quite daunting, but it doesn’t have to be—preparation is key. The more prepared you are, the more confident and relaxed you can be throughout this entire process. With that in mind, here are three essential tips for successfully negotiating a lease for your future fitness facility:

1. Find Your Own Agent OR Legal Representation  – A common mistake many people make when leasing a building is to allow the listing agent to handle the entire leasing transaction. The listing agent was hired by the landlord, which means that his or her number one priority is to protect the landlord’s interests—not yours. You need to hire someone who will protect your interests, rather than trying to represent both sides. If you don’t know any local commercial real estate agents, ask friends and colleagues if they can recommend a reputable commercial real estate agent who can represent you. Another option is to hire legal council to help you negotiate your lease. If this is not your first lease and you feel confident in the leasing process, hiring legal counsel instead of a commercial real estate agent could prove to be a great negotiating tool between you and the landlord. Because you’ll be saving the landlord commission fees by hiring legal counsel instead of a commercial real estate agent, he or she may be willing to accommodate more of your requests.

2. Have a Solid Letter of Intent – The purpose of a letter of intent is to make all of your requests known to the landlord. While you’re unlikely to get every single thing you ask for, this is the time to ask for everything that you want for your potential new fitness facility. Don’t be timid because you never know how desperate the landlord might be to lease this vacant building, which means that they may be more willing to accommodate your requests. You can ask for things such as free rent for a year, reduced rent for a certain number of months, freshly painted walls, assigned parking spots, new carpet, an elevator, new windows, etc. Ask for anything that you think would improve the building for your fitness location. In the letter of intent, you also need to specify the proposed terms of the lease such as:

  • 4 Year Term ($2.00 per square foot – NNN OR Gross Lease) with (2) 4-year options
  • Annual CPI Capped at 2 to 4%

17073813. Think Win-Win – When negotiating a lease, always think win-win and never be greedy. Your potential landlord will expect you to ask for a lot during the negotiation process, but you shouldn’t expect or insist on getting everything that you ask for. Make one list of things that you WANT and another list of things that you absolutely NEED for your fitness facility. Your landlord may agree to all eight of your needs, but to only two of your 10 wants. If this is the case, do you agree to those terms or do you walk away because you didn’t get everything that you requested? Only you can decide, but at the end of the day, only sign a lease that you fully understand from front to back and if you feel 100 percent confident in the decision.

Remember, everything in a lease is negotiable. By following these tips, you will be much more prepared to ask the right questions when hiring your representation and successfully negotiating a lease for your new fitness facility.

Good luck!

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.

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
16

Giving More Attention in a Small Group Setting

11 Ways to Make Your Small Group Training Program More Personalized

Elevate Line Brand Shoot_011394

“What is one of the first things that you would purchase if you woke up rich tomorrow?

That was one of the questions on the hit TV show “Family Feud”, where they survey 100 people and look for the top answers. There were 8 top answers and one of them was to hire a Personal Trainer.  Can you believe that?

That answer shows multiple key points about the fitness industry such as:

> The power of health and fitness.

> There will always be demand from reputable fitness professionals and facilities.

> That people desire a personalized experience.

One of the things that is NOT listed above is that people still think that Personal Training is REALLY expensive … and to their defense, it can be expensive depending on one’s income, who the target market is for the Personal Trainer, or what geographical area the Personal Trainer works in.  It’s all relative, right?

The fact of the matter is that not everyone will be able to afford your one-on-one service, even though they would love to have all of the benefits that come with a personal training session:

  • Motivation
  • Accountability
  • Structure
  • Customized Fitness Program
  • Nutrition Counseling and/or Diet Plans
  • Support
  • Expert knowledge

Even though there may be only be a small population who can afford personal training, offering a group fitness training program with personalized attention can become more affordable.  Maybe that potential client cannot afford $75 per session but can afford between $15 – $25 per session.

PiggyDepending on the gym and the format, you can squeeze anywhere from 4 – 10 clients into a small group training program. Now the small group training program becomes more attractive for not only the client but for you as well since you will be able to make more money per hour.  Would you rather have one personal training client paying you $75 per session or would you rather have 8 people paying you $15 each per session for a total of $120 per session?  From a business standpoint, it’s win, win situation.

However, before you start counting all of your extra money,  you will need to build up your special group of clients and figure out how you are going to add that personalized attention.  Here are some ideas to get you going:

>  Remember everyone’s name (this is a no-brainer, right?)

>  Get to know each client a little bit better. Find out their fitness goals, exercise history, injury history, medical history, favorite color, favorite music, neighborhood that they live, their strengths, their weaknesses, their favorite exercises, their least favorite exercises, organizations that they belong to, where they work, what are their favorite hobbies? Knowing all these things will go a long way with your clients because it shows you care, builds rapport, and helps keep the client/ trainer relationship strong.

Don’t just learn all of the above … remember the information you discovered about your clients and create motivational tactics from that information.

>  Communicate with your clients and really listen to them.

>  Make adjustments and modifications to accommodate them if they have an injury and/or limitation.Balloon on white background

>  Have inside jokes with each of your clients.

>  Remember and celebrate their birthdays & anniversaries.

>  Track their sessions.

>  Track their results.

>  Take group fitness related field trips such as hiking or participating in a local 5k or 10k.

Provide regular motivation and accountability to your clients on a regular basis. Use every opportunity, whether it be in person, on the phone, through email or social media.

Make every single session a “celebration” and extremely positive.

>  Have workout themes.

Take lots of photos in your workouts and hang them in frames on the walls of your fitness facility. You can also post them on social media and tag your clients … with your clients permission, of course!

>  Make sure they have lots of fun in every workout.

The unfortunate truth is that most people don’t like to exercise, so when people try your facility, they are going to need a variety of things to keep them intrigued and engaged and coming back. Just like when kids don’t like to go to school but they know that they have to, they look forward to recess, seeing friends, or even a favorite teacher.

As fitness professionals, we have to provide that same kind of X-factor for our clients to keep them coming to the gym, getting results, referring their friends, and just having a blast every time they step foot inside of your fitness facility and what better way to do that than to provide an unmatched customized fitness experience for them!

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.

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
25

How Total Gym & Pediatric Care Go Hand in Hand

Watch the video

The Total Gym GTS Helps Children with General Body Strengthening

Here at Cindy Miles and Associates, we are a private out-patient therapy practice specializing in pediatrics. We are dedicated to providing individual, high quality, hands on physical, occupational and speech therapy. One of our primary goals is to build on each individual’s strengths, allowing them to achieve their maximum potential.

Total Gym treats patients with spina bifida

Improving Muscle Strength

No matter what their ability, age, or genetic make-up, individuals make important progress with the Total Gym and have fun doing it. Our primary focus is on the pediatric population, from birth through to young adult, including young athletes with sports injuries. We strive to build on strength to allow them to achieve their maximum ability and provide accessible equipment where individuals can work on their physical performance; including muscle strength, cardiovascular endurance, functional ability and mobility. This allows each individual to be the best they can be! For us and the children, Total Gym is a huge part of that process.

We upgraded to the Total Gym GTS about 8 years ago and we made sure to purchase the extra wide Squat Stand.  The GTS is great for loading lower extremities to get the glutes to work.  We even use the GTS for babies as young as 6 months old for strengthening as they love to jump.  For the orthopedic kids that we treat with Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida and Autism we put anti-skid pieces across the glideboard so their feet don’t fall and that gives them a different sensory input.

Total Gym helps children with Cerebal Palsy

Lower Body Strengthening

We treat several different needs:

> Brachial plexus injuries

> Cerebral Palsy: Hemiplegia, Diplegia

> Spina Bifida

> Hypotonia

> Hypertonia

> Developmental Delay

> Down Syndrome

> Children with autism who need deep pressure

> Young athletes with sports injuries

We can treat patients for a year or an ongoing basis, dependent on their type of disorder.  For children with Cerebral Palsy we might see them one or two times per week or more. If they have had surgery they are going to visit more.   We have individuals who are patients from birth through to their 30s – these cases keep making progress so we continue to see them especially in their formative years.

Here are some examples of exercises/activities we use on the Total Gym.

Prone

> Hands on “uprights” with squat stand removed with nose close to hands to complete push-ups moving into elbow extension.

> Prone to pull down on triangle bars into shoulder and elbow extension.

> Prone pull ups at horizontal bar with hands pronated or supinated.

Total Gym helping children with Spina Bifida

Hands on “Uprights”

Seated/Seated lateral

> Level glideboard working on static sitting so clients can touch the floor.

> Pull across trunk, holding both triangle bars.

> Holding triangle bar pull down using shoulder adduction/abduction.

> Seated rowing, using triangle bars.

> Sitting with both legs over same edge and triangle handles held together, keeping elbows extended and rotating trunk and bringing hands together to one side to work on core activation.

Supine

> Pull down over head, holding triangle bars return.

> Total knee extensions, progress to jumps.

> Work on squat to stand with support.

> Post op – prop one leg while the unaffected leg works on strengthening.

> Introduce jumping to clients who lack the strength to tolerate full body weight jumping.

> Bilateral LE jumps, unilateral jumps, jumps while playing catch.

Kneeling

> Kneeling to perform bicep curls and seated rows.

> Tall kneel: and work on scapular retraction or shoulder extension while keeping abdominals contracted to maintain balance.

Standing Upright

> Standing next to unit, with foot on platform and lunging forward to push glideboard up incline.

> Small toddlers use the glideboard to learn to walk up the incline.

The GTS is a great adjunct to any child’s program.  I teach a two-day course around the country and I tell everybody that Total Gym is one of the most important pieces of equipment that you can buy because of its versatility.

Pediatric clients love Total Gym and Pediatric Physical & Occupational Therapists love the versatility for all ages and abilities use it in their daily treatments. Pediatric therapists can do what they do best:  invent games, diversions and make therapy fun!

About the Author

Cindy MilesHaving served the pediatric population since 1977, Cindy Miles, PT, PhD. PCS, CNDT established her pediatric private practice in 1981. Dr. Miles is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, School of Health Related Professionals and East Stroudsburg University with a Master of Education in exercise physiology. She also holds a PhD in Pediatric Science from the Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions. Her doctoral research was on potential risk factors related to the diagnosis of Torticollis. She is Board Certified by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties as a Pediatric Clinical Specialist, specializing in treating children from birth through to young adults. Dr. Miles held the title of  SOP Treasurer and Treasurer Elect and is presently the Co-Chair and Meeting Planner for the Academy of Pediatrics Physical Therapy Annual Conference (APPTAC). She presents nationally on the pediatric private practice and reimbursement as well as nationally and internationally on Torticollis, Plagiocephaly, and Fitness for All Abilities. She has published in peer review journals and written books on topics related to pediatric physical therapy.

www.cindymiles.com or www.traintotriumph.com

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