Friday, April 27, 2012

Still One of my Favorite Ads

My -butt -is -big -19158-1280160871-151

My Girls Lift Just Like my Guys...some harder!

To this day, I still don't understand why some (too many) people think women should train differently than men.  Of course there are some exceptions (figure athletes, pregnant clients, and sport-specific training vs those in the general public, perhaps), but when it comes to general health, I just don't see why women should be training differently than men.  I know the girls I train bust their butts in the weight room and equally so when it comes to their conditioning.  Personally, the only thing that changes is the language I use both during and between sessions.  

For example, a lower body power exercise such a Squat Jump is known to improve bilateral leg strength and power.  Technically, it also improves the function and aesthetics of the glutes.  Therefore, my verbal feedback to men may be something like, "this will help you jump higher and develop strong legs."  The ladies may hear, "this will help firm your thighs and make your butt look better."  In the end, it's all true but it's about relaying what I know will improve the given client(s).  

All in all, the only appreciable training difference between the sexes comes down to the language I use with them.  Both genders need to train hard, eat right, and get plenty of rest to look and feel their best.

I was looking through a few articles and found a piece from Integrate Fitness 411 that discussed this very topic.  Here is a piece of the article I really enjoyed and agreed with:

I've never trained my female clients differently than their male counterparts because everyone needs to be able to make the same primal patterned movements. If I did do things differently, it was because they were pregnant. And even then, while the intensity varied, the exercises didn't until they needed to.
With all of this being said, why do public gyms look like eighth grade dances with "Men in the weight room, women in the group class studio and cardio areas" as Lea Swenson, NASM-CPT, put it.

Why are women marketed toward classes? Why are they shown lifting lighter weights in ads? Is the emaciated model figure what Madison Avenue says a fit woman should look like? Why are women lead to believe that more cardiovascular activity burns fat? Why, for the love of Jack Lalane, can't Madison Ave just pump out factual exercise science????? Because it won't sell.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Crossfit, P90x, Insanity, etc...

Beyond the typical "what's the best _______ for _____ " question I often get (it's typically a weight loss inquiry), I do get asked a lot about "the enemy" a lot.  It usually goes like this:  "Paul, what do you think of Insanity, P90x, Crossfit, etc...?"  While I can't say I hate everything about them, I'm honestly not a fan of any of them.  I've been thinking of how to best put it into words what exactly it is I don't like about this mishmash of programs so many people are trying.  Strength Coach Mike Boyle recently had a posting on his site that I LOVED and essentially echoed my sentiments towards the aforementioned programming.  Check it out here:

The intelligent people in our industry are fighting a war of sorts. Because we 
are constantly battling misinformation, half-truths, lies
and out right stupidity we can often come across as
impatient. The enemy has many names, Crossfit, P90X, Insanity, Bar
Method, Tracey Anderson and so many others.
A new enemy constantly appears on the horizon and they all
have the same theme. The enemies simply ignore science and
empirical evidence and replace it with marketing. They ignore common sense and replace it with marketing. They prey on the uniformed.
Our job as fitness professionals, personal trainers or
strength and conditioning coaches is to con tinually try
to keep the pendulum in the center and use our common
sense. One of my favorite quotes comes from
Benjamin Franklin is:
“common sense is not very common”
This can be combined with another great quote:
”a little knowledge is dangerous”
We exist in a fitness world overpopulated by people with a
little knowledge and too little common sense. The resultant
combination of a little knowledge and a lack of common sense
is the foolish programming that we are forced to battle
What the smart people do in this industry is make the client
feel and look better while at the same time keeping the
client healthy and safe. Is that too much to ask?
The only thing that makes me feel better is that we are

Keep it up, don’t sell out.
Micro-gyms (think opposite of the Big Box, lots of equipment, 
no instruction) are thriving all over America. Don’t throw up a Crossfit sign or any other sign for its marketing value. Continue to deliver great programming and great results.

Monday, April 23, 2012

I was reviewing a recent blog post from my colleague, Eric Cressey, about the recent passing of his Uncle.  Having lost many close family members over the years, I can relate to losing a loved one.  More importantly, I try and always take a lesson (four in this case) and remember the good times.  The lessons Eric presented in his article were ones that I incorporate into my training sessions with my clients.  These include:

  • Showing up- I always make it a point to visit my clients in their special events outside of our sessions.  In the last year or so, I've been to several basketball games, dance competitions, baseball games, etc... to prove to my clients I care about them as people.  It also allows me an opportunity to assess their movement and identify areas we can address in the weight room (i.e. postural improvements, decreasing injuries, etc...)
  • Always be Calm- Eric talks about his uncle never yelling- ever.  I never liked the "screamer coaches" (i.e. Bobby Knight) who pace up and down constantly yelling at their players.  It never motivated me, and if anything, made me shut them out.  I'm constantly pushing my clients, always demanding their best, but I've never been the trainer who you hear from across the gym yelling, etc... I worked with a trainer like this several years ago and was always discouraged that he had more business than me.  Lesson learned was that I could not be someone I wasn't.
  • Always be Positive- This rings true when working with clients who need a LOT of work on their nutrition.  I often have them keep written records of what they are eating and some of what I initially see is honestly pretty bad.  However, I simply take 1 behavior at a time to work on for 2-3 weeks at a time and move from there.  This could be increasing veggie intake, incorporating more protein, or drinking more water.  The huge key is to simply work on ONE THING for 2-3 weeks.  Keep it simple and stay conservative.
  • Always be Approachable- I've had so many clients, grp. ex. participants, etc... tell me how easy I am to talk to.  This all stems from a lesson I learned early on that says "people are concerned about how much you CARE more than how much you KNOW."  The amount of knowledge I possess means NOTHING if I am not approachable.  A lot of it stems from my passion to truly enjoy helping people.  
For the full article from Eric that inspired this blog post, click the following link:

Protein Intake for all you Coffee Lovers!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Stephanie Lynn representing Swoosh

I wonder if a proposal via e-mail is acceptable?!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Minds built to go the distance

When a runner collapses in exhaustion, it’s rarely because the muscles ran out of oxygen or fuel. It’s because the anterior cingulate cortex has decided that the cost of exertion is not worth the benefit. But if the brain believes that the distance is manageable enough — and the mission important enough — we push ourselves to the max. Check out the following article about the continued trend of Kenyan domination in the Boston Marathon:

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Susan Cain's Fantastic Lecture on the Power of Introverts

Buddy System

I recently spoke to a group in Franklin, MA about various ways to improve exercise retention. Many of them were active but since the program I was teaching had come to an end, they were concerned about being able to keep up their exercise on their own without checking in with me. I suggested several options, but the one I advocate the most is engaging a buddy (co-worker, loved one, neighbor, friend, etc...) to join in your exercise & nutrition pursuits. You can help motivate each other and keep one another accountable. I often have challenges amongst clients and have held inter-office challenges with various incentives. Make it fun and keep it interesting/diversified. Shoot me an email for specific tips ( Good luck and have fun!

Penny and Lil' Penny pictured motivating each other :-)

Monday, April 09, 2012

Another Proud Moment

Take the Stairs!
One of the (random) experiences I LOVE as a trainer- and I KNOW I speak for other trainers out there- is when a client sends me an unexpected text/email telling me about something big they accomplished during one of our off-days. Tonight I got a text from a client that she hit the 38 minute mark on a difficult level on the infamous Step Mill machine that I often have clients use for conditioning workouts. It mimics actual stair climbing and engages all major muscle groups in the lower body. It's also- as we say in Massachusetts- WICKED hard. It kicks your butt and is why I prefer clients using this over easier selections such as an Elliptical machine.

Good things come to those who train their butt off for me and incorporate progressive change to their lives. Something tells me you'll be seeing this client in the near future. Stay tuned...

Slow Cooker Steel-Cut Oats Recipe and Video

Macronutrient breakdown is listed throughout the video, but I'd add a protein source (ideally pro. powder to the mixture after you select your desired serving size, but a few hard-boiled eggs would work as well).

3 Tips to Improve Strength

Strength Coach Jason Ferrugia had some fantastic tips recently on ways to improve strength. I wanted to share my favorites with you below:
  • For shoulder health do some type of pushup variation on a regular basis.
  • When doing any type of rowing or chin up variation think about driving back with the elbows instead of simply pulling with the biceps.
  • If you have shoulder issues do all of your rowing exercises with a weight that allows you to hold a peak contraction for a second or two.

    That will ensure that the load isn’t so heavy that it could lead to more potential injuries.

Gretchen Rubin speaks to Soledad on Happiness

Gretchen Rubin is someone whose work I've followed for the last 6 months. Her book, "The Happiness Project," was fantastic- and is one I recommend everyone read- even the guys!

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Strength & Conditioning Tips

It was nice to check out this interview with Coach Mike Boyle as it confirmed what I engage all my clients in (foam rolling, dynamic warm-ups, mastering fundamental exercises)....AKA applying the "K.I.S.S. Principle" that I continue to live and die by.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Dr. Weil thoughts on depression

Great piece he discusses from his book, Spontaneous Happiness, that I read last year and LOVED. Check it out.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Best Fruits and Vegetables for your Health

Incorporating fruits and vegetables into your diet can lead to a healthy lifestyle. Dr. Weil explains why berries and cruciferous vegetables should be a focal point in the diet.