Not Your Average Warm Up

By: Nick Lape

I can remember my first ever P.E. coach. Her name was Coach Rowan. Every single day from Kindergarten all the way through 6th grade, I did the same warm up stretches. The sit and reach stretch was a good one back then. Oh, and the shoulder stretch where you reach behind your head and across your body was a staple back then. Luckily for us and everyone else that we train, information has drastically changed and we really don’t use those anymore, at least not in the same ways. As a matter of fact, there are very few movements where we are trying to lengthen muscles as far as we can in any warm up. Why is that?

Well, first and foremost, stretching anything cold is just not a great idea. Have you ever taken a steak out of the freezer and tried to pull it apart? If you were to do that, what happens? It just breaks apart right, like, literally right in half. Think of that as a muscle that hasn’t been warmed up. When you come to the gym, you may stretch because you feel like you need to. Does this mean we don’t want to stretch any muscles? No. It just means there are different ways that we can activate muscles with targeted movements.

In our warm ups, we are simply trying to get the core body temperature to rise so we are not working with “frozen meat.” Stretching does have a purpose in activation, but it’s really the stretch reflex. Now I could get scientific on you and start talking about the Golgi Tendon Apparatus and its function in a muscle cell, but instead I’m just going to say that stretching doesn’t create the best activation of the muscle. There are so many other movements that can prepare a muscle, even create flexibility without stretching.

When you participate in a warm up at Forward Fitness, you move through what we like to call a “movement matrix.” You start on your back, move to your stomach, then to “all fours,” up to the knees, and finally to a standing position. Through these positions, we activate muscles. We require muscles to turn on as opposed to just stretch. This allows blood to flow to the muscle and can actually create better flexibility and mobility just from warming up the tissue.

Through every position, form the ground to standing, you may also notice that we use a flexibility/mobility exercise followed by a stability/ strengthening exercise. We purposefully do this to increase the performance of a certain muscle group or area of the body. An example would be doing the side lying windmill movement on the floor, combined with a dying bug movement pattern. Here you get mobility with the side lying windmill, followed by stability with the dying bug. This allows us to wake up the body through motion as opposed to just aimlessly stretching and saying, “Alright, I’m ready to go!”

As much as I enjoyed my elementary P.E. class and Coach Rowan, things have changed. I look back and realize, there could have been so much more going on in those warm ups. Essentially, they could have been not only way more effective, but way more fun. I mean, let’s be honest, what child, heck, what adult, truly wants to sit around and just stretch? I know I don’t. That’s why a truly good warm up that creates heat and activates muscles and areas of the body properly is far more than an average stretching routine. Get your body moving during your warm up. After all it is called a WARM up.

Kettlebells (It’s Workout Time at Forward Fitness)

We are so excited to share this video with you. May it bring you some cheer this holiday season and inspire a 2017 filled with lots of kettlebell swings! A special thanks to Steve and Ranya from Top Notch Violins for their musical accompaniment, Rachel McInnis for all her wonderful work putting this video together, and all our volunteers.

Re-Centering Your Body: Ribs Down

Re-centering Your BodyHave you wondered why we start our workouts with restorative breathing, especially those last few breaths that are in through your noise and out through your mouth? Or, have you wondered why the “ribs down” cue is so important? For those of us who have the infamous desk job and feel constantly stressed, watch Nick’s video on how breathing and posture can help!

Cross Training Workout

If you are trying to prevent injury or improve your time as a runner, cross training can be a good solution. Before beginning any exercise program consult with a physician. Complete this cross training workout at your own risk. Each exercise in green has a video link showing you how to complete the movement.

Warm Up

Breathe– 2 minutes

Lye on your back and breathe in and out through your nose. Lips are sealed and tongue is on the roof of your mouth. Your abdomen should rise as you inhale and lower as you exhale.  Your chest should stay relatively still. Breathe in for a count of 3-4 and out for a count of 6-8.

Myofascial Release (foam rolling) 5-15 minutes

Dying Bug 8-10 reps (4-5 per side)

Leg Lowering 4-5 reps per side

Hip Lift 8-10 reps

Half Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch 4-5 reps per side

Ankle Mobility 4-5 reps  per side

Spiderman 4-5 reps per side

Hip Hinge 8-10 reps

Bodyweight Squat 8-10 reps


2-5 Rounds

30 seconds of work followed by 30 seconds of rest

Split Squat

Quadruped Band Row

Side Plank

1 Leg Hip Lift Hold

Push Up

For those of you who are new to circuits, you will do split squat for 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds, quadruped band row for 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds, side plank for 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds, 1 leg hip lift hold for 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds, and push up for 30 seconds. That is one round. You can rest for one minute before starting your next round. For the exercises that require you to do one side, start with the left and then in the next round do the right side. If you end up doing 5 rounds you can switch half way on the last round or do your weaker side an extra time.

If you are looking for a good timer app for your phone, download Interval Timer in your app store. It is free. If you use this app, “Interval Cycle” would be 5 sets. “High Intensity” would be 30 seconds. “Low Intensity” would be 30 seconds. Swipe Repeat to the right and set “Number of Cycles” to 2-5 (however many rounds you would like to do). Set “Rest Time” to 30 seconds.

Top Three Places to Roll for the Desk Worker

By: Nick Lape

rolling for the desk workerAs fitness professionals we see quite a few individuals who have jobs that may not necessarily be physically taxing. It’s the infamous desk job! They  spend countless hours staring at a computer screen, talking on the phone, or reading through documents all in the discomfort of their desk chair. Sitting for a long period of time can be stressful on the body in ways we can’t actually see. Now, does that mean you don’t feel what is happening to your body as you sit there? No. Of course you do! Your butt starts to fall asleep, your neck starts to hurt and your back starts to give you a bunch of trouble One day of this may not be so bad, but day after day can have a poor effect on your daily movements. Certain muscles are constantly firing and other muscles suffer from a lack of use. There are three hot spots that we see most often in individuals who have jobs that require them to sit for long periods of time. Don’t worry you will soon learn how to combat sitting with a foam roller and your choice of softball, baseball, and/or golf ball.

1. Chest

I’m going to start at the top of the body and work my way down. As you sit at a desk, your arms are usually just hanging out in front of you on the desk. If you do this long enough with a brain like the one we have, your posture starts sending signals. In this case, it will send the signal to tighten the top part of your chest (or the pec minor for you science-y people) and relax the upper back. A great way to fight against this, is a softball, baseball or golf ball (if you are into that kind of torture) and start to roll this area.

How do you roll it? It’s pretty simple, use whichever ball you’ve chosen and set it between your upper chest, just under the collar bone and in between the sternum and front side of the shoulder joint. Rolling up and down and side to side can start to loosen up the muscles attached in there as well as bring some good blood flow back into the area. One thing you do not want to do at this point is to roll over the collar bone or your sternum. Not for really any other purpose other than it will not feel very good at all. Make sure we are sticking to the soft tissues. Any time you encounter an area that is specifically sore or makes you do a double take spend more time on that area. Remember to breath in and out through your nose.  If you hold your breath you will not get the most out of rolling.

2. Hips

The second area of the body I want to focus on is the hips, both the back and front. As you sit, you start to decrease blood flow to your back side. The muscles become more and more inactive the longer you sit on them. In turn when you roll on these areas with a foam roller they may seem “tight”, when actually they are simply inactive. They have lost blood flow and therefore don’t work near as well as they should.

Another part of the hips that needs attention is going to be the hip flexors, or the front side of the hip. The same way that sitting your butt may turn off the muscles, as you sit your hip flexors are in a constantly flexed position. So naturally, what happens? Your body just keeps them tight. It’s the position they know the most, so why not, right? Rolling just underneath your hip bone all the way to the knee is a huge key in keeping your hips mobile. This area tends to be quite tender as you roll over it. Being sure to breathe and relax into the foam roller will allow the roller to do the work that it needs to do. It can be tough to relax while rolling this area but try as best as you can. Some times coupling a glute activation exercise, like hip lifts, and rolling this area with something more intrusive, like a softball or baseball, can actually start to alleviate some minor back tenderness issues as well.

3. Feet

Lastly, the feet need to be rolled. You may ask why? All they do is sit on the floor as you sit there. BUT, with hips flexed and circulation being cut off to the butt, your feet can suffer from some of those same issues. Muscles aren’t being used that help hold up the arch, and the blood flow can start to be minimal. Let me ask, have you ever stood up from the seated position that you’ve been in for a long time and had sore feet. Mostly on the bottoms? That is a tell tale sign that you have been sitting for too long. This is where a golf ball can really help. Even keeping one at your desk would be a great idea. The connective tissues in your body actually start in the balls of your feet. Which is why sometimes if you have a tension headache rolling you feet can help (head bones connected to the neck bone, etc.). Maintaining a supple mid foot as you sit can even help issues as painful as plantar fasciitis.

As fitness professionals we have the luxury of being able to move more than the average people during a work day. Our “executive athletes” spend their week sitting hunched over at a desk without many opportunities to get up, get out, and move around. This makes it hard for them to be at 100% during their recreational time if no action is taken to eliminate these hot spots. If you are one of these people and you are reading this right now I would highly suggest investing in a foam roller along with a softball, baseball or golf ball. If a softball or golf ball is too hard and causes too much discomfit try a tennis ball. Start being pro-active in your attempt to eliminate these “Desk Worker Hot Spots” and watch your free time become that much more fun.


Progress Your Push Up

Progress Push UpFor many individuals, being able to do a push up from the floor is a huge accomplishment. However, it is a goal that may require some work outside the gym. Before you begin to work on your push up you need to be able to do a plank in good form. This means if you placed a stick on your back, your head, upper back, and butt would all be touching the stick. Setting up your push up in good form is crucial.  If your set up is not correct, you are starting your push up with a disadvantage. Once you are set up correctly, good form throughout the push up is key. Poor form can lead to pain and/or injury. It is better to do fewer push ups in good form than to continue in poor form. See how to get set up and push up in good form. Nick will also show you different progressions  you can do at home to get to perfect your push up and do them form ground. Enjoy  seeing your core and arm strength improve!

Working Out on the Road

By: Mike Klaus

CoachWhen you walk into your hotel “fitness center” and see a depressing weight room, DON’T WALK OUT! You took the time to pack your gym clothes, put them on before hitting the breakfast buffet and readied your play list on your smart phone.  One look at the sad weight rack , tiny room, and carpeting and all motivation seems to be lost. Where are the battle ropes, kettlebells, and suspension trainers? Don’t worry, Below are several workouts to make the best out of this situation. (Be sure to click on the title to see the video.)

As always consult with a doctor before starting any exercise program and complete the workouts at your own risk. Don’t forget your warm up either. Breathing, foam rolling, side lying windmill, dying bug, glute bridge, hinge, squat, and jumping jacks could be a great warm up.

If you are looking for a a way to keep track of your work and rest during a workout, download Interval Timer from the app store. It’s free! You can play music and use the timer.

Core Complex 1

Low Plank – Side Plank – 1 Leg Bridge

Interval Timer Set Up

  • Sets: 3
  • High: 20-30 seconds
  • Low: 20-30 seconds
  • Repeat- this is up to you. Give yourself a minute rest if you choose to repeat.

Core Complex 2

Bear Hold – Suitcase Hold – Flutter Kick

Interval Timer Set Up

  • Sets: 3
  • High: 20-30 seconds
  • Low: 20-30 seconds
  • Repeat- this is up to you. Give yourself a minute rest if you choose to repeat.


  1. Goblet Squat
  2. Bench Row
  3. Plank Knee In’s
  4. Lateral Lunge
  5. Push Up

Interval Timer Set Up

  • Sets: 5
  • High: 30
  • Low: 30
  • Repeat: Yes
  • Number of Cycles: 4-5
  • Rest Time: 30 seconds


Burpee / Mountain Climbers

Skater / Pledge Plank

Crawl / Flutter Kick

Interval Timer Set Up

  • Sets: 8
  • High: 10 seconds
  • Low: 15 seconds
  • Repeat: No

It can be easy to think of reasons to not workout when you are travel, but it is a lot easier to stay in your groove than it is to

8 Reasons to Train with Kettlebells

By: Mike Klaus RKC

kettlbell training, Turkish Get Up, Kettle swing

  1. Melt FatKettlebells are a great tool to burn fat and build muscle. A recent study showed that kettlebells are one of the most efficient training routines, burning up to 20.3cal/min. That is an incredible 1200 calories an hour! Talk about a lot of bang for your buck!
  2. Shape the Butt –Have you checked yourself out in the mirror lately and noticed a droopy or saggy butt? Kettlebells are great for giving you a lift. The kettlebell snatch, swing and clean are hip dominant movements that require explosiveness from your largest muscle, the gluteus maximus.
  3. No Time, No Problem! –There is no need to spend endless hours in the gym when using a kettlebell in order to see results. Kettlebell training is a high-intensity strength and cardio workout that forces the body to build muscle and burn fat fast. You can get a great kettlebell workout in as little as 15 minutes (including the warm up). You really can’t use time as an excuse with this type of training.
  4. Injury Prevention – Not only does kettlebell training build an armor like layer of muscle, but this form of training focuses more on movements. Bodybuilding focuses more on targeting singular muscles as opposed to groups of muscles. Because kettlebell training enhances movement efficiency, injuries are greatly reduced by fixing the compensations and imbalances in the body.
  5. Amp Up Your Power Output – Weekend warrior? Athlete? Who doesn’t want to lead their team (or league) in scoring, hit more home runs in their softball league, or drive a golf ball as far as Happy Gilmore? The explosive movements in Kettlebell training develop your fast twitch muscles which in turn helps you have a quicker reaction time. Many of the movements in kettlebell training cannot be performed slowly forcing you to develop a quality known as power-endurance. Power-endurance is your ability to sustain fast muscular contractions over an extended period of time. This is commonly the determining factor in winning or losing in sporting competitions.
  6. Eliminate Weaknesses –Your greatest strength may be your greatest weakness! Most people who train have a favorite muscle group like chest, biceps, or triceps that they tend to train more often. This leads to muscle groups in your body that are seldom used during training. With full body kettlebell exercises, you tend to train your major muscle groups more efficiently without isolation because smaller muscles throughout your body are engaged as well.  Once the weak parts of your body are strengthened, your workouts become much more effective.
  7. Mentally Stimulating – Bored to death jogging slowly on the hamster wheel? Do you find yourself “going through the motions” in the gym? A multiple movement kettlebell complex may be just what you need. Hit muscles you forgot you had by performing multiple movements quickly using one piece of equipment… the kettlebell!
  8. “Vice” Grip Strength –The weight of the kettlebell lies outside of your hand, unlike the traditional barbells and dumbbells, taxing your grip and developing greater forearm strength. The design of the kettlebell also adds another unique component to your grip training. Since the kettlebells center of gravity is usually in motion, your grip training becomes a combination of dynamic and static muscular contractions to help control the fluctuating center of mass. Why might you need grip strength? If you want to carry all the groceries in one trip or carry your luggage without dropping it, then you need grip strength. What if you never wanted to ask your spouse or kid to open a jar? You need grip strength.

What are Your Intentions?

By: Nick Lape

Intention“I promise I did it with the best of intentions!” How often have we used this line in our own personal lives? We use it to explain a decision we’ve made and/or start an apology. In the social sense, I’d say this term gets used quite a bit. But, what if we started using it in the gym in regards to our own fitness and wellness? Do we actually have the best of intentions for ourselves while we workout in the gym? What I’m getting at is that if we are not at the gym for a purpose or we are not there with the intention of doing the absolute best for ourselves, then what are we doing there?

First, let’s define intentional or just intent. The best definition I’ve found from Merriam-Webster is, “A usually clearly formulated or planned aim or purpose.” If we have intent, and I mean REAL intent then not having a plan or purpose when we walk into the gym becomes pointless and your want to change might not actually exist. That plan starts with a general goal or destination like, “I want to lose ten pounds,” and trickles all the way down to each singular movement that leads you to this destination.

I can hear the silent questions now, “Nick, how I can have intention in one singular movement that usually only takes 30 or so seconds?” And that’s exactly how I want you to think! As a matter of fact thinking is the only way to have intention in each movement or exercise that you perform in the gym. You need to know where your head is positioned, your shoulders, your hips, your knees, and your feet. Once you begin being aware of your position and you start moving with the intention of allowing your body to master movement, your plan, or destination if you will, becomes that much easier to reach. But, with each new movement has to come an additional thought process in order to master it.

I have had the pleasure within the last few years to watch client after client have the proverbial light bulb go off in their head and finally realize why they walked into the gym. These are the people that you can see truly immersing their brain in each movement pattern they are taught. The ones that stop for a second and say, I’m tired of walking in this mindset of, “Maybe someday,” and start thinking that that someday is going to be today. They start living intentionally! Each movement, each leaf of spinach, each post workout shake and even each perfectly performed split squat (because we all know how much we love them) becomes their intent. They are giving their bodies a chance to be great and their minds a chance to be at peace. And, they will continue to strive to improve. THAT is being intentional. Don’t just promise your family and friends that you have the best intentions, prove it to YOURSELF!!