7 Common Kettlebell Swing Mistakes

Kettlebell swings are a great bang for your buck exercise. They challenge your core, help develop power and strength, build cardiovascular strength, and pull grip strength. 

While swings are great, when not done properly, you put yourself at risk for injury. It’s important to make sure the setup of your swing is correct. In case you missed it, check out some of the common swing set up mistakes

Here are 7 mistakes that I commonly see with kettlebell swings and how to fix them:

Mistake #1: The Lean Back
At the top of your swing, you should be in a tight plank. By leaning back, you are not using your core and you are putting extra strain on your low back. 
The Fix: Practice a hardstyle plank. Get into a plank position and give a long exhale pulling elbows towards the toes and squeezing your butt. Hold your plank for one exhale and then relax for a few seconds before your next plank. Practice this hardstyle plank 3-4 times and then go back into your swing focusing on holding that plank at the top of your swing. 

Mistake #2: Hips Don’t Follow Through
Power from your kettlebell swing comes from the hips. If you don’t get your hips all the way through you will not be able to get the maximal about of power.
The Fix: Think about being that plank at the top. If that doesn’t help, practice a vertical jump. If you don’t push your hips through on a vertical jump, you will barely go anywhere.

Mistake #3: It’s Squatty
The kettlebell swing is based on the hinge. You will be able to get the max power from this position. It becomes squatty when your knees come forward and torso stays more vertical.
The Fix: Don’t be afraid to let your chest go towards the ground. You can practice one swing at a time too. If that doesn’t help, practice your hinge with dowel/stick. Place the stick vertically down your back making sure it touches your head, upper back, and butt. Push your butt backwards keeping your knees “soft” and all three points on the stick. You can also stand with the backs of your legs touching a chair. When you do your hinge make sure your lower leg stays in contact with the chair. 

Mistake #4: Shallow Hinge
Like I mentioned, power in the kettlebell swing comes from the hips and you get that in your hinge. If you don’t get enough depth in your hinge, you are missing out on a power.
The Fix: Make sure you have a good bend in your knees, but they aren’t coming forward. Then think about touching the kettlebell to the wall behind you. You can even have someone stand off to the side behind you and hold a piece of paper a few inches behind you. When you hinge, aim for the kettlebell to tap the paper. 

Mistake #5: Favoring Toes or Heels
Movement starts from the ground up. If you don’t have a solid base, it will be really hard to be in a tight plank at the top.
The Fix: Remove your shoes. It’s harder to balance on a big fully pillow when compared to a hard floor. Our shoes are like giant pillows. They can be harder to balance and even guide you onto your toes/heels. Think about clawing your feet into the ground. This will help those toes from coming off the ground. You can practice your hinge. As you begin to stand up exhale and press though your feet. 

Mistake #6: Early Hinge
When you hinge too early the kettlebell will drop below your knees, which will pull on your back.
The Fix: Think about playing chicken with your hips. Wait until the last second to hinge. You can also think about keeping the kettlebell as high as you can on your legs as you hinge back. 

Mistake #7: All Arms– As I mentioned before, the power from your kettlebell swing comes from your hips, not the arms.
The Fix: Think about your arms as noodles and your hands as hooks. You can also try going to a heavier bell. At a heavier weight you will not be able to use your arms to lift the weight.  If you need a little more help than that, grab a towel. Thread the towel through the horns of the kettlebell. The horns should be perpendicular to you. Tilt the kettlebell back. The towel should be at the top when tilted back. Hands should be as close to the towel as possible. (The above picture is just a visual, hands should be closer to the kettlebell.) The towel will help prevent you from using your arms. 

Key points for a good swing:
1. Good set up.
2. Deep hinge.
3. Exhale and squeeze you butt at the top of each swing creating a tight plank.
4. Arms are noodles handles are hooks.
5. Power comes from your hips. 

5 Exercises Better for Your Core (and Spine) than Crunches

Who else has been doing crunches and has low back pain? This was me in high school. I was trying to be healthy and workout. I did this by doing lots of crunches. I also got low back pain. I stopped doing crunches and the pain went away. I started them again and the pain came back. I stopped doing crunches and have been great ever since.  The risk/reward for crunches just isn’t there. The Military is even ditching crunches and moving to the plank for their entry testing.

We do crunched because we want a strong core, but there are far better exercises that will strengthen your core and put you at a lower risk for injury. Your core’s main focus is stability. It’s the pillar that your arms and legs move from. The following exercises are putting your body in a position where the core is required to hold your body (spine) in a neutral position i.e. your body must resist a force pulling it from a neutral position. This force can be gravity or a weight. If you look at the picture you see a plank with a stick on the back. You can tell you are in a neutral position if when a stick is place on your back it’s touching the head, upper back and butt. 

Low Plank 
Set your plank up with your elbows below your shoulders and feet close together. Hands should be clawing into the ground. Think about if someone were to come over and try to pull a finger off the ground they would not be able to. Create some tension by pulling your elbows towards your toes. You will feel your core light up. You can also press your heels together and squeeze your butt. Make sure you stay pressed away from the ground, not falling prey to sinking into your shoulders. Hold this plank for one long breath or thirty seconds. As you exhale think about pulling your belly button towards your spine. 

Dying Bug
Lying on your back reach your hands to the ceiling. As you exhale, reach your opposite arm and leg to opposite walls. Be sure to keep your foot flexed by leading with your heel. Return to the starting position and then switch to the other side. Another thing to think about is keeping the bent leg still and not letting it come in closer to the body. This movement should be performed slow and in control. As you exhale think about pulling your belly button to the ground. 

Bird Dog
This is the opposite of dying bug. Start with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Toes should be tucked under. Exhale as you reach your opposite arm and leg to opposite walls. Stay pressed away from the ground and claw hands into the floor. Be sure to keep the moving toe pointed straight down. We don’t want it turning out to either side. Return to the starting position and switch sides. This should be done slow and controlled.

Farmer’s Carry/March
Stand tall with a weight in each hand. Shoulders should be away from your ears and elbows slightly bent. You can then walk for a designated distance or time maintaining a tall posture as you walk. You can also march in place trying not to shift your weight side to side as you pick up your leg. This should be done slow and controlled. Think about keeping your belt buckle neutral, not pointing towards the ground. You can level this up by only having weight on one side.

Lateral Band Hold
Stand tall facing perpendicular to the band with feet no wider than hip width. Reach your arms forward keeping your shoulders away from your ears. Give long exhales pulling your belly button towards your spine. After about thirty seconds switch to the other side.

As you see from these exercises the best core work comes from keeping your spine neutral and fighting the force that is pulling it from that position. So great news! You can ditch the crunches and do these exercises for a stronger core and lower risk of injury!

5 Common Mistakes When Setting Up a Kettlebell Swing

Kettlebell swings are a great bang for your buck exercise. Not only are they great to burn fat and get a nice butt lift, but they are amazing for developing power and strength. 

The set-up of your kettlebell swing can either set you up for success or put you at an increase risk of injury.   

Common mistakes include:

Mistake #1: Hips start above the shoulders.
When you start your kettlebell swing with your hips above your shoulders you are using your back to start your swing. This was my biggest mistake when I first started learning how to swing a kettlebell. Once I drop my hips I stopped having low back pain with my swing.
Correction: Drop your hips below your shoulders. Think about having soft knees. They bend, but the don’t come forward.

Mistake #2: The upper back is rounded.
One of the awesome things about kettlebell swings it that when done properly it engages the whole body. If you think about the body as a chain, when we connect the whole chain we are going to be our strongest and get the best results. When we flatten our upper back, we are engaging our lats strengthening the chain.
Correction: Start with a flat upper back. Think about breaking the kettlebell handle in half to help flatten your upper back.

Mistake #3: The kettlebell starts too far out in front. 
When you start the kettlebell too far out in front. It’s going to be harder to hike the kettlebell back. It causes you lean forward and shift weight onto your toes. Ideally when we start a swing weight should be slightly more towards your heels.
Correction: Start the kettlebell slightly in front of the feet. 4-6 inches is a good place to start. 

Mistake #4: The kettlebell in an upright position. 
When you think about the swing it is done in a smooth arch. By tilting the kettlebell towards you are creating a smooth flow of the kettlebell. By starting with it flat and the handle upright, the start of your swing jerky. It may not seem like a big deal with the lighter weights, but as the weight increases the tilt will make a smoother  initial hike and help protect your back.
Correction: Set yourself up with good habits at all weight and be sure to  tilt the kettlebell back before you start your swing.

Mistake #5: The kettlebell is too close and in line with the feet.
When the kettlebell starts in line with your feet you will not be able to use your weight to help hike the kettlebell back. The quick jerk that would be needed to get the kettlebell going puts your back in a risky place.
Correction: By starting the kettlebell 4-6 inches in front of your feet you will be able to shift your weight slightly back to your heels and hike the kettlebell back safely.  

Correct set up: As you set up for your kettlebell swing make sure the kettlebell starts about 4-6 inches in front of you. Hinge by pushing your butt back with a soft bend in your knee. This should put you in a good position with your shoulders above your hips. You may feel a little tightness in your hamstrings (upper back part of your legs). Shift your weight slightly to your heels. Imagine you are breaking the kettlebell handle in half. This will help to flatten your back. You are now ready to hike the bell back.

Babies, Sleep, Eat… Repeat

In whatever order it may fall into your day, babies, sleep, eat, repeat is basically what your day consists of when being a mother. Somehow your days and weeks all roll into one and you get stuck in this whirlwind of repetitiveness. May it be that you sleep more one day, you skip a meal (or two) the next or you have the most wonderful day of the week and your baby decides that they want to sleep through the night, halleluyah!! But most importantly those babies will come first and it is the most rewarding job you will ever have in your entire life.

Unfortunately there are other things that fall to the wayside in this rollercoaster of life. One thing that I missed the most after pregnancy was the consistency of working out. I’m sorry, did you say consistency and working out in the same sentence??? Yes, yes I did! These are the two things that I find myself struggling with even 7 months post pregnancy.

While stuck in the same babies, sleep, eat routine with twins, so many times I found myself in weird positions trying to feed two babies at once. Or holding one baby to feed while the other one is sleeping and I can’t move because heaven forbid that one baby wakes up. But the one thing I kept on noticing was the fact that I was sore. Sore??, Yes, sore from doing absolutely nothing. I was sore from not moving!

Once I got the twins into more of a schedule, I slowly found myself finding more me time. Let me tell you, one of the last things I felt like doing during that me time was working out, until I did. It may have only been twenty minutes or twenty minutes with a few runs to the nursery to rock a baby back to sleep, but it was twenty minutes. I could get a great breathing session with a  RAMP in with some turkish gets ups and kettlebell swings. It may have not been much but it was a great start to the beginning of my so called consistency of working out.

My soreness and stiffness from not moving started to decrease and I found myself with so much more energy and drive. Me not moving and staying active was my push to want to stay healthy and keep moving so that I can get up and down off the floor (hello turkish get ups) with the babies and to be able to comfortably get into positions that I normally wouldn’t just to keep a baby from walking up.

So, if you are pregnant or expecting or maybe just had the most wonderful gift of life come into this world, do yourself and those babies a favor. Take your me time and STAY ACTIVE,  KEEP MOVING. Your babies, body and yourself deserve it and you will absolutely, in no way, ever regret it!

2018 Top 10 List

Our 4th year was a memorable one, to say the least! Just look!

1.Our #ForwardFam coaching crew grew. In April Coach Cory joined the Forward Fitness team! He has grown so much as a coach and has added another fun sense of humor to the team. He truly cares about helping others achieve their goals. Coach Denise soon followed starting in June. Denise has been a wonderful addition challenging members to get the most out of classes. She is always there to cheer you on. Not only did we add to the coaching team, but Coach Cati had twins, Oakley and Sloan and Coach Cory had a daughter, Lilly!

2.We continued to take our knowledge to the next level. Coach Mike became a Certified Functional Strength Coach!  Suzanne became Precision Nutrition certified, and Coach Nick got a certification in USA Powerlifting. Mike and Suzanne continue to learn from their business mentors, Rachel and Alwyn Cosgrove, and mastermind group, Results Fitness University. 

3.We came together for two awesome charity workouts, Head for the Cure and Breast Workout Ever. We were able to raise over $450 for Head for the Cure and $1,500 for Siteman Cancer Center. Your support and kindness made this possible. It’s always amazing what you can do when you come together for a common cause. THANK YOU!

4.16 people completed our #100WorkoutChallenge! For those of you who don’t know, it challenges members to completed 100 workouts at Forward Fitness from July 1st through January 31st. Congrats to Paul Pace (first to finish), Monica Diaz, Denise Golden, Thomas Economou, Paul Balfe, Angela Lehmann, Tanya Oliphant, Jenelle Sander, Denise Johnson, Stephanie Nadeau, Linda Najbart, Aubrey Morris, Lisa Kickbusch, Stephanie Pineda, Suzanne Klaus, and Mike Klaus!

5.We created some extracurricular teams: Powerlifting, OCR, and softball. 

  • Jessica Kime completed her first Powerlifting meet, Luck of the Irish, and placed first! 
  • Our OCR team took on the Warrior Dash and the Busch Stadium Spartan Sprint. We had a blast getting muddy and conquering the Warrior Dash obstacles. We even had three top 10 finishers (Suzanne Klaus, Liz Heisler, and Tanya Oliphant).  We had a team of three rise to the Spartan Sprint, climbing countless stairs, carrying heavy loads, climbing ropes, and swinging across monkey bars. Suzanne got her first Spartan podium finish taking bronze. 
  • Our co-ed softball team took second in the Mid-County Chamber of Commerce League.

6.Members rose to the challenge! We had three challenges this year: New Year New You, Drop 2 Sizes, and Holiday Hold ‘Em.

  • In our New Year New You Challenge over 200 pounds and 220 inches were lost! Christy Byrd, Dana Merritt, and Rachel Mapp took the prize losing 9% of their total beginning inches. 
  • In our Drop 2 Size Challenge over the course of eight weeks, 18 out of the 19 participants fit into jeans that could not button in the beginning!
  • Our Holiday Hold ‘Em was a success, challenging people to hold their body fat percentage from Thanksgiving through the New Year.

7.We got an InBody machine! Why is this a highlight?! Well, it is a machine that will measure your body composition. It can tell you how much of your weight is lean mass vs. fat mass. It even breaks it down by body segment. This gives members so much more information then the scale. If you are losing fat, but gaining muscle the scale may not change that much, but your body fat percentage will. 

8.We had another successful year of the Winter and Summer Games. The Forward Fitness Games is a series of 8 events where members compete in one of four teams and challenge themselves to set new PRs.  Team Blue dominated the Summer Games only to be defeated in the Winter Games by Team Grey. A special shout out to Jessica Kime, Angela Lehmann, Catherine Sanders, and Anna Hancock for deadlifting 300 plus pounds!

9.We continued to add to our equipment selection adding sandbags to the mix. (No not the ones you use when sandbagging for a flood, but ones especially designed for working out.) Sandbags are a great training tool  from a novice to advanced athlete. You will even see our Kettlebell class is now Bags and Bells.

10.We celebrated our 4th Annual #ForwardFam Thanksgiving! This is one of our favorite events. It is a time to come together as a community and celebrate each other and all we are thankful for.

We look forward to all that we will accomplish in 2019!

Bumps in the Road to Success

We all have experienced bumps in the road. This is especially true when working towards our health goals. Whether your goal is fat loss, building muscle, feeling better, or performance based, it is sure to come with its own set of obstacles. 

At the beginning of 2018, I made the decision to become a “Beast Tamer.” In the kettlebell world that is being able to perform the following: a one-arm overhead press, pistol squat, and pull-up using a 48 kilogram (106-pound) kettlebell. No easy task. What drew me to this challenge was the fact that only 1% of certified kettlebell coaches are official “Beast Tamers.” I wanted to take on the challenge and new it wouldn’t be easy.

I am fairly certain that the pull up is the biggest obstacle of the three lifts for those attempting. This past year of training has proven that true for me. From frustration due to slow progress to lack of a systematic plan, to elbow pain, I have experienced a few bumps.

When these bumps arise, it can be easy to quit. I have not quit and am getting through my final bump before completing the “Beast Tamer.” 

How have I not quit even after a few bumps in the road? 

I hired a coach. This was one of my smartest moves. When I started training at the start of 2018. I had someone to hold me accountable if needed. I had someone on the outside helping me. It is easy when you are in the middle of a massive project to lose sight of the end. 

I had my coach  create a step by step plan for me.Random workouts and programming don’t work. You need a thought out program. This is when my progress really started to kick in. After 11 months of work,  I completed a pull up with a 44 kg kettlebell. (Only 4 kg away!)

I adjusted my plan when needed. I finally felt I was making great progress towards my goal then my left elbow had enough and it became inflamed. I couldn’t continue to train the same way. I needed to adjust my plan by adding in extra recovery time, increase my RAMP, and ice. 

I remembered my why. A year doesn’t seem like a long time in the grand scheme of thing, but when you are working towards one goal, it can feel like forever. It’s hard to stay dedicated and focused for that amount of time. Let’s face it, I don’t wake up every day excited to work out. There are days when I need to follow my plan, but just don’t have the motivation. That’s when I have to take a step back and remember my driving force.

I harnessed my growth mindset.The ability to fail and learn rather than quit because the path is not an easy one is to have a growth mindset. When I plateaued, I switched things up. When I got frustrated, I took a day off from my program to keep things fresh. When my workouts were weak, I became more dedicated to sleep and nutrition. 

What goal are you working towards? What bumps in the road are you experiencing? Have you let a bump in the road turn into an unsurpassable mountain? Everything can’t come easy. Imagine the joy and satisfaction you have once you reach your goal especially one that has been filled with quite a few bumps.  I know when I complete my “Beast Tamer” I will be proud and celebrate my accomplishment and use that momentum to quickly come up with my next challenge!

The Top 5 Exercises to Prepare for an OCR

Have you signed up for an Obstacle Course Race and don’t know where to begin your training? Or, maybe you have thinking about signing up for one, but are intimidated. If you are still thinking about it, check out Coach’s Suzanne’s reasons to take on an OCR. Aside from foam rolling and putting in some miles, below are some great exercises to incorporate in your OCR training.

 

  1. Pull/Chin Ups

Pull/Chin ups are crucial when training for OCR success.  There are many obstacles that require climbing, pulling, and grip strength. Be sure to use multiple styles of pull-ups (multiple hand positions and varied tempo) as well as multiple types of grips (fat grips, towels, balls).

  1. Carries

You are required to carry heavy objects in many races. The bucket carry, atlas carry, sandbag carry are just a few obstacles that require to move heavy loads. Like the pull-up, practice multiple styles of carries (farmer- weight in each hand, bucket, sandbag- over the shoulder, kettlebell in the rack position). This will prepare you for the required strength, endurance, and grip.

  1. Kettlebell Swings

Kettlebell swings made the list because they are fantastic for developing power, endurance, and grip strength. They are also a great alternative if your body needs a break from running.

  1. Crawls

Crawls is an amazing functional exercise that must be trained if you plan on having a strong race.  The crawl is yet another exercise that should be trained in multiple forms and direction (forward, backward, and lateral).

  1. Box Jumps

Weather your race has flights of stairs, obstacles to jump to, or obstacles to jump over, box jumps will prepare your body for the needed power, conditioning, and athleticism needed to complete many obstacles. They will also help condition you for any burpees that may need completing.

Be Active In Recovery

By: Coach Nick Lape

What do your “rest days” look like? Do your they make you look like you have zero fitness goals? Now I know some of you read that question and tilted your head like a lost puppy. How could I possibly be comparing rest days with fitness goals? Because, we all know fitness doesn’t happen on rest days, right? If you answered, “right.” Then please keep reading. I have some words that you may need to hear. You may have heard us trainers talk about ‘active recovery’ days, and we do so for a reason. We use these days to keep our bodies and even our minds active and in tune with our fitness goals. Let’s be honest, there is no way our bodies can keep up with all out training for an extended period of time. That’s like someone asking an NFL team to be prepared to play in the Super Bowl every week. It’s just not doable. Eventually your body needs a little love.

When I discuss active recovery days with people, I bring up one of my favorite fitness personalities, Mike Boyle. He talks about creating active habits. Those include doing SOMETHING everyday. It doesn’t have to be deadlifts, it doesn’t have to be kettlebell swings or push ups. It could be, working on breathing techniques. It could be doing some of your warm up or mobility work. It could simply be getting on a foam roller and giving your muscles a little love, but DO SOMETHING. When we sit and do nothing, we regress, being sedentary is the world we live in today. We just have to make doing something active a habit, just like the workouts we are trying to recover from. Staying active and reminding your body that it needs to be prepared is the best way to do that.

It is so important to create these active recovery habits if for nothing else, for this one reason. Here I’ll quote Dr. Malcolm from Jurassic Park, “Life finds a way.” This could very well be where you find your active recovery days. So you made a plan to go to the gym but hey guess what, now your child is sick. There’s a chance to get some recovery movements in. Especially with a sick child! Why? Exercise helps increase your immunes systems ability to fight infection. Then your boss calls while your child is sick and needs you to leave town for a couple meetings. Boom, 2 more days we didn’t plan. Or, maybe you had a race, event, or an especially hard training session and you are pretty sore. A day off and being sedentary is not going to help in any scenario. All of these time are perfect to hop on a foam roller, use bands, go for a walk, work on breathing, or do a RAMP just to try and stay active. It just so happens that we have any entire system built just for this and all you would need is a band.

All I’m saying here, is that recovery days don’t and really shouldn’t have to be planned. If you know you aren’t going to lift anything heavy on Wednesday because you lifted heavy stuff on Monday and Tuesday, then take Wednesday to get in some active recovery. Don’t let your body just lay dormant. At the beginning of any program, one where you are trying to create positive lifestyle changes, a rest day of doing nothing can be a huge killer of momentum. Try to prioritize and set as the same time every day for some form of movement whether it’s a work out or active recovery in. It’s the easiest way to build a habit.

There are a million different ways to make your off days or what we like to call active recovery days beneficial for yourself. I only mentioned a few above with foam rollers and bands. But each person is going to be different based on the goals they set for themselves. With all this in mind, what will your next rest day look like? Don’t just lay your goals aside. Be active! I’d love to hear what your favorite active recovery includes!

The Best Results Come from Great Recovery

By: Coach Mike Klaus

You work hard in your workouts. You push yourself. You level up. You are putting in a lot of effort so why not make sure you are getting the most bang for you buck from them? The magic happens while you are recovering. The workout is the stimulus. During a workout you are actually damaging your muscle, creating micro tares. With proper recovery, your body repairs these tares and you are ready for your next workout a little stronger. Below are our favorite recovery activities to help you thrive in and outside of the gym and get the best results!

Foam Rolling

Foam Rolling offers many of the same benefits as a massage, including reduced inflammation, scar tissue and joint stress, as well as improved circulation and improved flexibility. Our favorite places to roll, especially for those who are at a desk all day include you calves, quads (tops of your legs). By rolling during pre and post workout, you will help prepare your muscles for the workout ahead and also help with post muscle recovery.

Check out Mike’s video on foam rolling! Need a foam roller? We have them at the studio!

Sleep

Achieving adequate and good quality sleep help to provide mental health, hormonal balance, and muscular recovery. Getting enough uninterrupted sleep, which is between 7-9 hours for most people, is crucial for optimal health. No matter what your goal, performance, fat loss, feeling better, or having more energy, without enough sleep, you will not reap all the benefits of the work you are putting in during the day.

Need some ideas on how to get more sleep? Check out Coach Suzanne blog post.

Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage can help with small or large muscle injuries or aid in the healing of chronic problems. Deep tissue massage targets deep muscles, tendons, as well as protective and connective tissue known as fascia. Those with chronic muscle tension or injury are more prone to adhesions, or thick “knots” that form in muscle fibers. These adhesions may not only be painful, but can disrupt blood flow and circulation, diminish natural movements, and result in inflammation. Undergoing deep tissue massages helps break down the adhesions and restore proper body functions.

Looking for a great massage therapist? Contact Johanna Mertensmeyer at 314-409-3724. Her studio is located in the Tower Grove area.

Nutrition

During recovery nutrition we remember the three R’s: refuel, rebuild, rehydrate.

Each of these critical recovery concepts calls for a different combination of fluids, carbohydrates, healthy fats, and protein—each playing a specific role in the recovery process. After training the body is left dehydrated, drained of fuel, and broken down.  The body is in a stressed state, and the proper blend of nutrients can jump-start the body’s recovery process to help you come back stronger and healthier.

If you are looking to optimize your nutrition for fat loss, performance, or just feeling better, email our Registered Dietitian, Suzanne at suzanne@forwardfitnessstl.com.

Cryotherapy

Cryotherapy triggers the release of endorphins, helps activate circulation, decreases inflammation by clearing toxins, and ultimately stimulates cellular regeneration, resulting in overall faster healing. Cryotherapy is used by elite athletes to improve muscle and injury recovery. Celebrities use it to slow down the aging process. And, clients can benefit from pain management, weight management, and relief of stress-related conditions to improve mental wellbeing.

Looking for a knowledgable and friendly place, check out Radiance Float + Wellness.

5 Reasons to do an Obstacle Course Race

By: Suzanne Klaus RD, LD, CPT

From the Warrior Dash and Tough Mudder to The Green Beret Challenge and Spartan Races, OCR, or Obstacle Course Races are taking over! Back in February I completed my first Spartan Race in Arizona. I loved it! It had such an impact on my life that I wrote a blog specifically about it. I absolutely love obstacle course races! It’s hard to narrow down the reasons, but here are my top five reasons.

1. Have something to train for.

As Joe De Sena said in his book Spartan Up! “When you sign up for something, you’re forced to train for it. Just like in a business, you are forced to work. Just like having a kid, you’re forced to take care of it all. All of a sudden, you become accountable.” After I signed up for my first Spartan Race I took ownership of my workouts. I had some form of training every day, but Sunday. It mattered if I missed a day. You can’t fake it during a race. For me signing up for obstacle course races has made all the difference in my training, 2018 has been my best and most consistent year of training. It’s April 10th and I already have 68 workouts completed!

2. Do something you didn’t think was possible.

I am a firm believer that anything is possible. Maybe the thought of an obstacle course race is scary, but that is all the more reason to do one. With the proper training, nutrition, and mindset you CAN do it! Imagine crossing the finish line! What an AMAZING feeling to conquer something you once thought was impossible! It’s a way to break out of the monotony. It’s a whole new feeling and way of living.

3. Challenge the way you think.

During any race, there is usually a point where you think, “Why am I doing this?” You are tired and there is still plenty of race left. It is during these moments that you are faced with two choices, to dig deep and keep moving forward or to stop. When you choose the mindset to keep moving forward it can translate to other difficult situations in your life. In some of the races you don’t know what the obstacles will be until race day. This forces you to adapt to situations you didn’t plan for. Doesn’t that sound a lot like life. You are forced to put all your focus on the present obstacle in front of you. You aren’t thinking about the stress of work, the laundry that needs to be done, or any family issues. You are focused on the present task at hand. You are choosing to face an obstacle head on and give it your all.

4. Build strength.

One of the reasons I love obstacle course races so much is the fact that they require strength. A marathon is certainly a challenge, but it doesn’t require the same kind of strength that you need to get through an obstacle course race. You must be able to jump over, crawl under, and pull yourself up. Most people I meet with say they want to become more “toned,” which is basically building muscle and losing fat. Trust me, training for an obstacle course race will do just that!

5. Elevate your overall health and fitness.

Having an obstacle course race to train for automatically motivates you to make healthier choices. Not only will you have a reason to train, but you will be more apt to get your 7-9 hours of sleep, drink plenty of water, and make healthier food choices. With all these healthy habits forming, your stress level should decrease too!

What are you waiting for? Join the Forward Fitness OCR Team! We already have a few races lined up. They are roughly 5K or 3 miles.

Interested in getting all the benefits of OCRs? Email Suzanne@ForwardFitnessSTL.com to get started!