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.

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.

Warrior Dash: August 4th

Spartan Stadium Sprint (Busch Stadium): August 11th

Spartan Sprint (Nashville): September 22nd

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

Breaking Through Complacency

By: Suzanne Klaus RD, LD, CPT

Complacency was the perfect word to describe my fitness and health for most of 2017. I could hop in a FIT Camp and do great. I could also decide to skip a workout because there was too much work to do, I was tired from the long day, or I wasn’t willing to get up early. There wasn’t much of a consequence if I missed. In the past, my goal was to always have the strength to do a push up and pull up. I could do both with ease and now had nothing to focus on and work towards. My training was erratic and there was nothing to work towards.

In the early fall of 2017 I raced in the Warrior Dash. Prior to this race, I went on two runs and was not consistent in the gym. I ended up placing third. I must tell you, yes, if felt nice to place third, but I wasn’t too proud. I ended up throwing my medal (and a lot of other things) away after reading “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” It did not bring me joy.

A few months ago, Mike mentioned that he found it ‘interesting’ that I didn’t keep any of my past medals (two Warrior Dashes and a half marathon). I couldn’t give him an answer besides the fact that they didn’t bring me joy. After giving it more thought I realized I didn’t keep any of those medals because I didn’t put much work into preparing for the event. For my half marathon, I maybe ran four times before hopping into the race. A big part, for me, about being proud and excited is committing to a goal to the point where you put in the time even when it’s not convenient and you don’t feel like it. It forces you to grow.

How did I get out of the sneaky and clutching hole of complacency?

I found a new goal and focus. Mike had mentioned doing a Spartan race. I didn’t know much about Spartan races so I did some research. It looked like a challenge I was up for. The obstacles seem hard enough that if I didn’t train it would be a miserable race and I could fail, but attainable if I put in the work. I decided 2018 was the time to break through the complacency. I signed up for the Spartan Trifecta. If you are not familiar, the trifecta consists of three races the Sprint (3+ miles with 20-23 obstacles), the Super (8+ miles with 24-29 obstacles), and the Beast (12+ miles with 30-35 obstacles). I chose the date of my sprint and began my training.

With my new-found goal and focus I took responsibility for my progress. It’s so easy to make excuses. I would blame a missed workout on the fact that I have too much work to do. I would blame a missed meal on the fact that when got home dinner was not ready. If I wanted to be successful, I needed to take responsibility for me. My success was up to me. I could choose whatever path I wanted, but I knew that it was completely up to me.

I planned and prioritized my day. Working out was now a non-negotiable. It became a priority. I starting thinking about where my workout would fit into my day. For me, I needed to make my workout towards he beginning of my day. An evening workout left the possibility of me using work, hunger, or lack of energy as an excuse.


I got a training program.
One of the hardest parts about starting towards a goal is figuring out what you need to do. It’s hard to create a program for yourself. I enlisted the help of Nick and Mike and a program was crafted for me. I had a written plan. I just needed to follow it.

I kept my goal on the top of my mind. It’s easy to set a goal, write it down, and then not look at it again for a while. You think because you wrote the goal you should be making progress towards it, even though you haven’t done a single thing to accomplish it. For me the pain that I associated with going to that race without training properly was a driving force. I pictured myself in the race. I imagined the dread, pain, and tiredness I would feel if I didn’t prepare. I also visualized myself completing the race having trained. I felt the joy and since of pride I knew would come from putting in the work now.

I found support and created a mentality of support on race day. I had a lot of support from family and friends leading up to the race, but I needed to make sure I had some on race day. I like to know things in advance and if I don’t know them, it’s a lot easier for me to get nervous. Racing in Phoenix, a place I was unfamiliar, in a race I have never done had a lot of unknowns. Was parking going to be crazy? How long would it take to get through registration? Would the Spartan volunteers be nice? Which obstacles were going to be in this race and how long was it going to be? These were all questions going through my head. It helped to have my siblings there racing with me and the support of my dad as a spectator. My dad drove taking the stress of transportation and parking off me. I had my brother and sister by my side doing the same race. Knowing I was with two other racers helped me. For as much external support as I could get, I also had to create internal support. A few nerves are okay before a race, but it is very easy for me to get worked up and super stressed to the point where it is no longer helpful. Whenever I felt this happening, I told myself, “You prepared. You put in the work. You got this.” I thought about the things I could control. I took the focus off other racers and ran my own race. The comfort of knowing I put in the work even when I didn’t want to brought a since of support, comfort, and confidence.

I crossed the finish line as the 5th female in my age group with a since of accomplishment. I now have my Spartan Sprint under my belt! I learned a lot of the unknowns that I was worried about before. I know the areas I did well in and the areas I need to work on. I set my Spartan Super date for May 12, 2018 in Fayetteville, North Carolina. I am choosing to keep moving forward and choose goals that require and inspire me to better myself. Off to train for my Super!

Coach’s Corner: Do Your Shoulders Look Like THIS When Pulling

By: Nick Lape

One of the most common mistakes when doing a band pull down or row is no shoulder movement. Personal trainer and coach Nick, does a great job explaining the proper way to pull. As you watch this video you will be able to see the difference. The first time Cati pulls the band down there is no should movement. This can eventually lead to pain/injury. The second time Cati pulls down, her starting position is different. Cati reaches (without shrugging) before pulling down.

What to Look for When Choosing a Gym

By: Cati Davis CPT, HKC

If you were to ask someone what they looked for when choosing a gym, your answer would most likely be, “I don’t know, they have a lot of treadmills, I guess.” Yeah, that may be nice at times, but there are so many key factors to take into consideration when choosing a gym where you will thrive.

There are a few main things to keep an eye out for when deciding which gym is right for you. When you first walk in, who is the first person to greet you, or is there even anyone that notices you? First impressions are huge when choosing a gym, because it is what sets the standards on how you are going to be recognized while you are there.

If you are interested in a gym, step in and ask for a tour and see what happens. This is your chance to see the gym, what equipment they use and most importantly what the trainers are like. Is the facility clean? Are the trainers personable and how are they interacting with their members? They should make the time for you and have no problem with answering questions you may have.

A movement screen is a must. If a gym doesn’t know how you move how can they create a program that’s going to give you the best results? The FMS, functional movement systems screen, this is one we do at Forward Fitness! If you are looking to do semi-private training, or even group classes the trainer needs a base to build from and the FMS is the way to go. This will allow the trainer to see your strengths as well as opportunities to build a better foundation for your training. Most importantly it will decrease injury, increase movement and strength, and help get you the best results.

Accountability and motivation are key factors when working out. There are some people that are great with holding themselves accountable when working out and there are others that may need the motivation to keep themselves accountable. Either way, you can find what helps you best when sticking to a workout schedule. Does the gym you are interested in call/text you if you miss a session or haven’t been in a while? Do you have to schedule your workout or can you go anytime? Scheduling a workout can be a great tool because then you have to go at the time. You can’t keep saying. “I’ll go later today.” Does the gym that you are interested in have a form of motivation (monthly goals to create and achieve)? Do they have challenges to join to help push you that extra step and hold yourself accountable? There are many ways to help motivate yourself and others and it is a great option to have when choosing a gym.

One last (and huge part of what motivates me) is having the team or family by your side, pushing you to meet your goals and keeping that positive atmosphere. When you walk into the gym, are there members that are mingling? Does there seem to be a sense of comradery? Do the trainers seem involved with the members? If so, that is the place to be! Those are your building blocks and your foundation to keep you positive and to keep you going when you just aren’t feeling it! That is your team, your family!!

I hope you find the perfect gym to help you move forward with your goals. If you live or work near Maplewood, Forward Fitness would love to be that gym for YOU!

2 Weeks to Change My Brain

Hi, I’m Maggie! I recently joined the FF team part time to become the first non-trainer staff member, assisting with administrative, membership and miscellaneous organizational stuff. Excited to contribute and grow!

Prior to this I’ve been a member at Forward Fitness doing fit camps and challenges for about a year and a half. I’ve gotten so much stronger! Seriously, like I can’t help but make people feel my biceps sometimes; I’m so proud. I make healthy eating and cooking decisions way more often and more easily than I used to. I’ve lost weight and inches. But most importantly, I have a tool to help me stay motivated, to stay on track, and to keep making and working toward goals. This is my unsolicited testimonial for why you should start. Just start. It’ll all make sense.

2 weeks. That’s how long it took for the first light bulb to go off. I started very motivated for change, but filled with insecurity. I started worried about how I looked, and what people thought about me. Yeah, I did Pilates and yoga videos at home, but I was scared of not knowing anything about fitness.

A snapshot of my brain in those first days:

Day 1 – What should I wear?? Am I going to feel totally out of place? What If I can’t do something? Are my legs too fat for these workout pants?

Day 2 – What’s a Ladder? Oh ****. Okay, I survived. I met a Burpee today.

Day 4 – Sore.  I can barely keep up. I’m not as good at this as these other people. Do they think I’m silly for being here? But they knew my name when I walked in. I love that!

…..

Day 7 – I should be an expert by now, but I’m still getting modifications for every other exercise. Embarrassing. Well… actually, I’m kind of good at these rows. That feels good.

Day 9  – (Driving in the car I felt my arm outstretched toward the steering wheel) Umm… could my arm muscles possibly be bigger already? (Obsession with feeling arm muscles begins)

…..

Day 11 – I’m really good at wall slams. I’ve already moved up in weight on dumbbell presses. But I jiggle a lot doing box jumps. Blaaah.

Day 12 – Oh geez, the circuit workouts where you bounce around a lot are so much harder for me than the strength days. But a little easier than the first time already! And I helped someone keep proper form for a side plank.

Then at 2 weeks… I didn’t plan for it to be a shift, but it was. I walked into a fit camp and It was a class I had done a couple times already. I knew every movement, I tried heavier weights, my reps felt solid. I smiled at people I had seen a couple times, they smiled back.  I felt confidence. I felt a little success. I wanted more. I wanted to make this feeling a permanent part of my days, a part of my routine

Not all my insecurities were cured after 14 days, I’m definitely still a work in progress, but because of the trainers, the personalized attention and the super fun atmosphere, something clicked, and I started to feel like I belonged. For me that new found comfort and acceptance was the thing that made me want to keep coming back.

I let my brain allow me to believe that this was for me, and I’m still reaping the benefits of the daily motivation, accountability, and honestly…friendship.

Give it 2 weeks!

5 Benefits to 5am Workouts

By; Cati Davis CPT

There are few things better than starting off your day with an awesome workout. Cati, one of our 5am FIT Camp coaches personally loves to raise and shine at an early hour. Check out some reasons why she is such a big fan of the 5am workout!

  1. Build routine

We all know our body thrives off of routine. Waking up for a 5am workout can help you build routine. Having a set “appointment”  will help prevent hitting the snooze button in the mornings. and begin to head to the gym to get in your workout for the day. 

 

  1. More energy and focus for the day

When we exercise hormones known as endorphins are released.  These endorphins can trigger a positive feeling in your body, which can then lead to a great start to the work day. Working out helps clear your mind and set the standards for your day.

 

  1. Don’t skip it, dominate it

Have you ever scheduled a workout on your calendar for an evening after work? Sounds great at the time, right? That’s until, your boss asks you to stay late to finish a project, or better yet, co-workers ask if you want to do happy hour after work. Or maybe, your energy is depleted from the day, the couch is calling your name, and your favorite trashy tv show is on tonight.  Set the alarm a few minutes earlier in the morning to get that 5am workout in.  That way, if Suzie from 3 cubicles over wants to hang out, your schedule is free and your workout is already done for the day!

 

  1. Better night’s sleep

Back to Endorphins! When you exercise, your body excretes those energy boosting hormones.  Gaining that energy and trying to go to bed after a workout can cause for a hard time falling asleep and a restless night. This is where the 5 am workout comes into play. Your workout is done for the day and when 9 or 10 pm rolls around, your body is telling you to get some good rest for the night. This can also help build routine and make the morning a little easier to wake after a good night’s rest.

 

  1. Eating habits and hydration

Getting that 5 am workout in can help set healthy eating standards and adequate hydration for the day. Most likely you aren’t eating a strawberry filled glazed doughnut before or after  your morning run or heading to FIT Camp. You want to get a good meal that fuels your body for your day, not drag you down. You are also grabbing that bottle of water before leaving the house, which is a great way to start hydrating early in the day and continue it throughout  with water intake. Starting your day with a healthy balanced breakfast is going to help keep you going for the rest of the day with choosing better eating habits.

If you would like to make the change and be part of the #5amClub, we would love to have you! If you are not yet part of the Forward Fitness family, email Suzanne at Suzanne@ForwardFitnessSTL.com. She will be happy to get you set up to rock your 5am workouts!

Pecan Chicken

By: Suzanne Klaus RD, LD, CPT

I love this chicken dish. The pecans are a great source of healthy fat. They really give the chicken a great flavor and keep it juicy.

Ingredients

3 chicken breasts, boneless

8oz pecans

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp basil, dried

2 1/2 Tbsp olive oil

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a Vitamix, Magic Bullet, or food process pulse the pecans until they are finely chopped. (There will be a portion that is almost a flour consistency.)

Place the pecans in a mixing bowl and ad the remaining ingredients minus the chicken. Mix together.

Place the chicken on a cookie sheet. (I line mine with aluminum foil lightly sprayed with oil.)

Coat the top of the chicken breast with the pecan mixture. (I find it easiest to use my hand and pat the mixture onto the chicken.)

Bake for 30 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink in the center.

Turn the oven to broil. Broil the pecan chicken for a few minutes. It really helps to bring out the pecan flavor. Do not leave the chicken unattended as it browns pretty quickly.

Enjoy! Let us know what you think when you try it.