Monthly Archives: May 2014

Independence Creates Identity

By | Denver Fitness | No Comments

By Bonza Trainer Katie Normile

It is never too late to create fitness goals. Age is always just a number; it’s how you feel that counts. As you age, exercise still needs to be an important part of your daily life. Exercise is especially important to maintain the range of motion in your joints, increase blood flow to important organs, and to keep bones and muscles strong. Mental and physical capabilities can decrease significantly as we grow older and the risk for fatal falls increases. Exercise is proven to maintain those functions and decrease the risk for injury.

If you know someone who has lost the ability to perform their activities of daily living you have seen how devastating it is to them not to be able to carry out the simple tasks. Keeping older adults active will keep their independence which will mean they keep their identity. They don’t need to exercise the same way they used to in their younger years but things as simple as standing up out of a chair multiple times will allow them to get up on their own. Taking the stairs or walking 10-15 minutes a day are huge measures to incorporate into their daily routine. Older adults can still develop new muscles and learn new tasks. Exercise can keep them moving and doing the activities they love doing on a daily basis!

age - numberGene, an 88 year old rockstar has been an inspiration to me. She has had a broken femur, usually a death sentence for anyone that age, severe macular degeneration, chronic heart failure, and a recent broken arm. Most people her age would have given up because her sense of identity was taken from her with these injuries and the curve balls life has thrown at her. She could no longer toilet herself, walk herself to meals, or get dressed alone. She relied on the help and compassion of those people around her.

She decided to turn to exercise after her PT/OT discharged her and it has put the quality back into her life. She is now walking alone with a 4 wheel walker, dressing herself (minus that tricky button on the pants), and using the toilet alone. Every day I watch her struggle to improve herself and push herself to her 88-year old limits. When she tires out after 40 yards of walking the next day she makes sure it is 50 yards.

Today she walked .25 miles outside. This was one of her biggest goals: she wanted to be able to enjoy the sunshine and walk the “circle” around her complex. On her 88th birthday she accomplished this goal! Her determination to not wilt away and feel sorry for the unfortunate cards life has given her has gotten her to reach this amazing goal!

It is never too late to try something new or to have goals. Exercise is a crucial component at every age. Staying active doesn’t have an age limit. Who knows what this 88th year will hold for Gene but while she is still around she is making the best of each day and the best of herself in order to remain independent and to keep her identity.

Size Matters Not

By | Uncategorized | No Comments
Kyle Norman (MS, CSCS, FMS, Z-Health Certified Movement Re-education Specialist) shared Part I of a three-part series on fitness, strength and workouts that work. Read on for some great insight!

yoda“Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you?”

– Yoda, Jedi Master

Is your workout working?

Are you making progress?  Specifically, are you moving forward in your health and fitness goals?  Are you even aware of what progress looks like?  I ask these questions because a lot of people do the same thing over and over again yet they wonder why they’re not getting in some sort of better shape.  Weight loss has stalled.  Muscles aren’t growing.  Racing times aren’t dropping…

I think everyone wants to see evidence of some sort of progress in the gym.  Otherwise, why bother? How might we observe this progress? Here are a few ideas:

  • Body weight: What does the scale tell you?

  • Body composition: How much body fat are you carrying?

  • Speed: Are you able to run, bike, swim, ski, etc. faster over a particular distance?

  • Endurance: Can you walk, swim, run, bike or ski further/longer than you used to?

  • Mobility: Can you move better than you used to? Can you reach over head? Squat below parallel? Touch your toes? Look behind you as you back out the car?

  • Skills: Have you learned anything new?  Can you clean a barbell or swing a kettlebell?  Has your swim stroke improved?  Can you perform a 1-leg squat, catch and throw a frisbee or shoot a free throw?  Are you able to get down on the ground and stand back up?  (By the way, everything on this list is a skill!)

  • Strength: Have your lifting numbers gone up?  Have you added weight to the bar?  Can you lift for more reps?  Can you do a full push-up and/or pull-up?

  • Size/Girth: Have you lost or gained in size?  Are your arms, thighs, calves or shoulders bigger? Is your waist smaller?

People often lump the last two metrics together. We often think strength equals size. Not so fast. There’s more here than you might think and that’s what this series is about.

“I don’t want to get too big.”

Every personal trainer has heard a client say, “I don’t want to get too big.”  If you’ve ever said those words then it’s your lucky day!  You, dear reader cannot get “too big.” You. Can’t. Do It.

Saying you don’t want to get “too big” is akin to saying, “I’d like to make some money but I don’t want to get too rich.”  Neither situation arises by accident.  I have yet to encounter the gym goer who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror and exclaimed, “My word!!  Where did those huge muscles come from?!”

In fact, if you said to me that you want to build very large muscles (get “too big”) I would tell you you’re going to have a very hard time doing it.  You’re going to have to change your life a lot.  You’re going to have to eat like a grizzly bear because muscle growth is determined very much by what you eat. (BTW, weight loss is also determined mostly by what you do or don’t eat.)  You may even need to take illegal drugs.

If you’re an endurance athlete who wants to put on noticeable muscle mass then you’ll have to cut way back on the riding, running, swimming, etc.  It’s practically impossible for a dedicated endurance athlete to grow big muscles. Too much energy and resources go to fueling your activity and rebuilding worn down tissues. Plus, slow-twitch muscle fibers (endurance muscle fibers) don’t grow much.

Are you a woman?  Then you’re really in luck! Women who don’t want to look “too big” were dealt a great hand of genetic cards simply by being born female. Testosterone is a major component of big muscles. Women don’t have much of it. Women who do look “too big” are very likely on drugs.

Finally, building giant slabs of muscle takes time. It simply can’t happen quickly. So in addition to all the stuff I’ve already mentioned, the process of becoming “too big” takes a wealth of patience.

My point? Building huge muscles is very difficult! It takes a lot of difficult dedicated work, lots of food, lots of time and maybe some drugs. In other words, don’t worry about it. You can get very aggressive with weights, get very strong and you’ll still be very safe from too-big syndrome.

Stronger, Not Bigger

The majority of sports actually don’t require athletes to be particularly big. American football linemen need to be big in order to shove opponents out of the way. It’s a similar situation with sumo wrestlers. Shot putters need to be big so they can put a lot of mass against the shot. Beyond that, very large athletes are often at a disadvantage. They can’t generate as much power relative to their body weight. They can’t endure as well. Thus, for many athletes, some degree of increased muscle mass may be a good thing, but being “too big” is not an advantage. Strength however is always in demand.

Most sports involve sprinting of some sort. More strength helps an athlete sprint faster. Does more bulk help? Only up to a point. A massively muscle-bound body doesn’t help.

Weight class athletes such as boxers, weightlifters, martial artists, and wrestlers must stay within a certain weight range to compete. Now, we’ve all seen the stereotypical massive superheavyweight weightlifter or powerlifter. Look at the lighter weight classes of these sports though and you won’t see such hulking physiques. You’ll see lean, strong athletic physiques. These people are always looking to get stronger and more powerful without getting bigger.

Gymnasts are excellent examples of athletes who must be very strong and powerful yet clearly don’t benefit much at all from enormous amounts of muscle bulk. Have you ever seen a gymnast that was “too big?”

So there are numerous examples of people who require great strength but have no need of excessive muscle. How exactly do they get there? We’ll get into that in the next post. Get Parts II and III here!

Top 7 Things to Never, EVER, Do In the Gym

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

I just read an awesome Facebook post from a friend who was fired up about a pair of lunks in the gym who scattered their free weights all over the floor and lounged around the equipment, gabbing about their protein shakes and (grunt) how many reps they just did. But since I know you’re not those guys, let me share a few other tips to help you survive the gym, ‘cause it’s a jungle out there.

grunting at gym1. Little known fact but, there is a thing called “Gym Science.” Don’t do it, or use it!  “What is Gym Science,” you say?  Ever see someone in the gym doing something that looks REALLY COOL, I mean super cool and you just gotta try it?  That, my friend, is “Gym Science.” Often times, a member reads about an exercise, sees it on YouTube or in magazine and decides to try it because it’s the best thing to get your (insert muscle group here) the biggest and best in the shortest amount of time. Who knows where that member learned the exercise from or why they are doing it. More often than not, their goals are not your goals and they very well could be doing the exercise all wrong. In short, don’t be a lemming.

2. Don’t hire a personal trainer! Wait, what?! Well, that’s not quite what I am getting at. I mean don’t go into a gym and buy personal training sessions and let the sales person just schedule you with anyone. It is your hard-earned money and you should be able to meet with the trainer before you have to give up one of your precious sessions just to find out you know more about the gym than they do. Ask for credentials, certifications, how long have they been training, types of clients they usually work with. If you have the time, watch that trainer on the floor with other clients to see their style and make sure it fits with your personality.

3. Ooh, supplements that you just need to take that everyone in the gym is taking to melt fat fast or give you the sought wheyafter 6-pack of abs before swimsuit season. Steer clear, and stay safe. Are there good supplements out there? Absolutely, but what does the front desk girl really know about supps when she is up there popping her gum and eating a Big Mac in front you? Do your research and talk to a dietician, nutritionist or other fitness professional you trust about feeding your body chemical supplements just to reach a goal. Ask yourself, is it really worth it? I don’t know about you, but I never remember to take supplements that MUST be taken 30 minutes before a meal to be effective. Blah! Just eat a better meal!

4. Don’t go into a gym blind. Have a plan of attack with you. What are you going to do for the day? What type of workout is going to give you the results you seek? What are you going to do if all the equipment you need is being used? Listen, if you’ve ever gone to any gym at 6 p.m. on a weekday, well, it’s like a bunch of bunnies darting about trying to get the last carrot on Easter morning. Have a contingency plan, such as, if you cannot get the cable machine, grab some dumbbells and switch things up. Don’t be afraid of the weights, especially the heavier ones. Go up a few pounds if your normal 5lb weights are not available – Jeez it’s probably time to increase anyway.

5. Don’t sit down! For heaven’s sake, chances are your job has you sitting most of the day anyway. Try to do as many exercises standing up as you can. Functional, multi-joint exercises will give you the best bang for your time. The machines you see in there give you the WOW factor but really, you’re at the gym to work out so get off your duff and get movin’.

6. Don’t go to the gym 7 days a week, even if you are trying to lose a substantial amount of weight. Your body needs time to rest and recover. When you are working out, you are adding stress to your body. No, no, no that doesn’t mean exercise is a bad thing. But, it is a stressor and we need down time. Choose a day or two to take a walk or do some easy light stretching. Catch up on a good book or much needed sleep.

7. Similar to Number 6; don’t spend all day in the gym.  We’ve all seen that person! You know, the one that was on the treadmill when you walked in, was on the bike while you were doing cardio, then lifted, then back to the rowing machine and then into the yoga class. Get in and get done. More is not always better and in this situation you could be hindering your results.

Oops thought of another one, we’ll call it a bonus number 8 – Don’t buy a gym membership. Wait, what— again? Okay, let me rephrase this: know what you are purchasing and make sure you have someone to help you along the way. All too often, new members come into a gym, think New Year’s resolutions, and start off strong in the beginning of the year. Then, they get injured, over train, lose interest, don’t see results, this list goes on and on.

kipBefore you spring for the “All Club Membership,” have a game plan: see Number 4. Make sure the gym is somewhere you want to spend several hours a week. You should feel comfortable with the staff and other members. More people see results when they continue to come to an atmosphere that is like a community. Have you noticed how many small fitness studios are opening? They offer new members a community feel and they notice when you are not there, call to check on you and give you motivation when needed. More than anything, you are valued at their studio and have a name, not just another EFT.