Modifications: Starting Slow, Leveling Down

Disclaimer: I’m Maggie, the Administrative and Membership Staff Member at Forward Fitness. I lovingly write this blog from the perspective of a member. I am not a fitness professional.

 Wrestling with injuries is frustrating. Whether they are new or chronic, it’s a blow to your motivation. You know you can perform better, you know you can lift more, or have better flexibility, but your body is saying “NO ma’am, not gonna happen today!”

I’ve had the same SI joint issue since I was a teenager and “threw my back out” for the first time. It took 10+ years and several injuries for a doctor to finally diagnose the source of the pain correctly. Now that I know the problem, and can clearly picture the anatomy of where my pain originates, I can pay more attention to my movement, protect that area, and be better in tune with when it’s weak and more susceptible to injury. Because of this, and other limiting factors, I have several modifications that I rely on during workouts:

Here I am saying hi to our new Darth VaderBell.

  • I do my burpees with a medium box.
  • I raise my deadlift off the ground with an extra riser so I don’t have to hinge as low to start the movement.
  •  I lower my kettlebell swing weight if I’m not feeling 100%. I level down to hinge sometimes.
  • I do Spiderman from tabletop position because any jerky lower back movement is an easy way I can “tweak” myself.
  • I put something under my heels if we’re doing lots of squats.

And there’s NO SHAME in it! I learned all these tricks from our trainers in the last 2 years of being a client here. If I didn’t do these mods myself, one of them would notice something was off and attend to making sure I’m getting the most out of the workout by accommodating my specific needs.  They correct our form or give us an alternate exercise or variant of the move because they know our limits and what’s going to be most valuable to our performance.

The same feeling of frustration can happen when you’re new, or an exercise is new. It can feel uncomfortable when you’re leveled down, like you’re being singled out.  You could be super fit already, or brand new to the gym scene, and it still takes time to get the basic moves right so you can compound on them.

Sitting at the front desk recently, I was looking at a packed fit camp of all different ages and fitness and experience levels, and realized we’ve never had any sort of emergency or serious injury in this gym. I think that speaks a lot to the attention our trainers give EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US as we progress through different stages of capability, injury or limitation. They are always there to slow us down, suggest a modification, and conversely encourage us to challenge ourselves by advancing a level.

I’ve learned that being new at a certain movement, or suddenly needing to take a step back is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s more important to do it right, to do it productively than to do it quickly or with too much weight! I like the feeling of confidence I get starting every fit camp or semi-private session, knowing that I don’t have to overdo it or risk hurting myself to be a fully present participant in my workout!

Mandatory Monday

By: Mike Klaus RKC, FMS

MondayWhat is your opinion of Monday? It is typically seen as the worst day of the week, the day most people dread. However, there are some who see Mondays as a springboard start to a productive and successful week. No matter what your profession is, you have an option to stew in misery or make the very best out of each day and opportunity. The same is true with health and fitness. Imagine the difference in your week if you do or do not workout on Monday. Are you more likely to get more workouts in? How would you sleep that week? What about your food choices? Would your mood be better?

For the most part, gyms are full on Mondays. This is a good thing! These are people who are getting a jump start on their week. This is a practice I whole heartedly believe in. Health and fitness does not happen overnight, it is a process. The work has to be put in and like anything else, getting started is the key. There are many benefits to making your Monday workout “mandatory.” Here are my top 5 reasons why you MUST train on Monday!

  1. You are more likely to train throughout the week. After starting your week with a productive workout, odds are you will continue that trend.
  2. Sleep improves. Mondays are usually packed with tasks. Having 45 minutes to an hour in a workout where you don’t think about work or other stressors will help to ease your mind. You will also be physically tired and in need of recovery.
  3. Nutrition will more likely be a priority. It has been proven in studies that people who work out make more of an effort to eat better. Are you more likely to choose fettuccini alfredo and rolls for dinner or grilled chicken with roasted veggies and goat cheese and beet salad?
  4. Your mood improves. Exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins make you feel good. A morning workout can start your day off right. An evening workout can help you burn off steam. Also, in my opinion it is a great tool to help with depression or anger. Do yourself and everybody the favor of talking your aggression out on the iron!
  5. Erase a weekend that was less than optimal for your health. Did you put down a couple of cocktails? Were queso dip and chips  on the menu for dinner? Work that wild or lazy weekend off!

Make your Monday workout mandatory and set yourself up for success the rest of the week!

No More Negative Self Talk

By: Nick Lape ACSM, FMS

Happiness concept.A few months ago if you would have said, “Nick, I think that there is a bit too much negativity in your life,” I probably would have argued with you and came back with something like, “No I don’t I just have a lot of stress in my life right now.” And then, I would have kept on living the way I was. In all reality you would have been exactly right. This is actually the case for most people when they stop and think about it for a second. We often forget that even though we say, “Oh, I don’t care what other people think or say about me,” we often tell ourselves what is wrong in our lives without even voicing a word of it. We think, “Why do all the bad things happen to me?” “Why can’t I get the job I want?” “Why am I not smart enough?”  This is what I, and a good number of other people such as Tony Robbins, would call Negative Self Talk.

Many times in our lives we think that the reason we can’t succeed in our goals is because of some sort of external source. Someone has said to you that you can’t. You don’t have some sort of training that would allow you to know how to do something. You physically feel that you can’t. The reasons can go on and on with this merry-go-round of not believing in ourselves. But, that is exactly it. WE believe it. We internalize these statements and actions see them as truth in our life. What if we said, “No, I will not believe that.” Or “How can I be successful today. That is all it takes to begin to turn things around.

Now, I said, “begin.” I use this word because it takes way more than one self-empowering statement to turn things around. Think of positive thinking as a muscle in your brain. You need to build that muscle. If you go to the gym and lift a 5 pound weight once a week, do you expect to get results? No! It is the same with positive thinking. You must do it on a consistent basis to get results. Ask yourself empowering questions every day, multiple times a day. How can I do that? Where can I find the answer? What do I need to do to accomplish my goal? What am I thankful for? What am I excited about today? If your brain is focusing on finding the answer to these empowering questions it will not have to for the negativity. Imagine all the possibilities when you let go of negative self-talk and ask yourself positive questions.

If I’m being honest, we all live in a world full of negativity. It’s a can be a constant battle some days. There will DEFINITELY be more than just one time per day, per hour, even per minute that we are faced with the choice of saying I can or I can’t. However, hitting that first test head on with a, “No, that isn’t going to be me today,” or “How am I going to succeed today?” can start a wild fire in your mind and fuel more empowering thoughts. It will take some work, but taking action and controlling your own mind can turn conscious effort of positivity into subconscious reaction. That is where the fun starts.

If you know that you tend to doubt yourself start paying attention to it. See how it makes you feel. If you have never thought about it, start thinking about your actions and interactions with those around you as well as the way you talk to yourself. How do you feel? How do they make you feel? Why do you feel that way? Being in charge of your thoughts is the first step to success. Whether it is in weight loss, job advancement, relationships, or any other trial that gets set in front of you, getting rid of that Negative Self Talk is the first step in achieving even your hardest goals.

I leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Coach K of the Duke Blue Devils: “Doubt, kills more dreams than Failure ever will.”

What is the food label telling you?

The food label can be a confusing thing. However, looking at the nutrition facts and the ingredients can tell you a lot about a food.

Serving Size

The first thing under “Nutrition Facts” is the serving size. This is one of the most important things to notice. If you are not looking at this, the rest of the information is useless. Compare what you actually eat to the stated serving size. If you are eating more, more you will need to multiply the calories, fat, protein, carbohydrates and so on. If you are eating less, you will need to divide everything. For example, this label reads the serving size is 1 cup. If you eat 2 cups you would multiply everything by 2. If you eat ½ cup, you would divide everything by two. Some serving sizes can be really small. When you look at the calories, protein, fat, sodium… it may seem like a fine choice. But, if you look at the serving size and multiply to get the amount you are actually eating, you may be shocked.

Nutrition Facts Top Part

Servings Per Container

This tells you how many servings are in the container/box/jar. In this case, if you were to eat the whole container of broth you would have consumed 4, or 4 cups. To figure out how many calories, fat, protein and other nutrients you would consume multiply by 4!

Food Label WholeCalories

This is the number of calories in 1 serving of the food. When trying to lose, gain, or maintain weight the number of calories you are consuming is important. However, choosing calories that will nourish your body and listening to your body’s hunger are even more important for success.

Calories from Fat

This tells you the number of calories you will get from fat in one serving. These calories are already included in the calories; you do NOT need to add this number to calories.  It is really not that important to look at this number. The fat section will tell you more about the health of the food.

Total Fat

Total fat is the TOTAL amount of fat in one serving of the food or beverage. Typically you will see saturated fat and/or other fats listed below. Those fats are included in the total fat. Fat has 9 Calories per gram, unlike protein or carbohydrates which have 4 Calories per gram. This explains why foods that are higher in fat are also higher in calories.

Saturated Fat

Saturated fat often gets a bad rap, but it is not a fat to avoid completely. Try to keep your saturated fat intake to about than 1/3 of your total fat intake.

Trans Fat

This is the one fat to try to avoid. It is made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil in a process known as hydrogenation. Even if you look at the label and you see 0 grams next to trans fat, your food or beverage may still have this unhealthy fat. According to labeling laws, if a food has less than 0.5 grams of a fat in one serving, it can be listed as 0 grams. This may not seem like a big deal, but if you eat four servings you could be consuming one to two grams of trans fat. Looking at the ingredient list is a good way to see if they are telling the truth. If you see the words partially hydrogenated, hydrogenated, margarine, or shortening, it contains trans fat.

Total Carbohydrate

Carbohydrates, otherwise known as carbs, give your body energy. If you are not an active person you do not need as many carbs as an athlete. It is important to choose carbs that will fuel your body, not cause it to crash. Foods that are high in fiber and low in sugar are good choices. Oatmeal, fruits, veggies, and brown rice are a few choices.

Dietary Fiber

This is a number that you would like to see high! The average healthy female should aim for 25 grams of fiber per day, while the average male should consume 38 grams per day. This is based on an Institute of Medicine equation that calculates 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories.

When you are increasing your fiber intake, do not make a huge increase all at once. If you drastically increase your fiber intake in one day your body will most likely hate you. You will probably experience bloating and gas. Try adding a little fiber one day and little more the next. Drinking plenty of water is also important when increasing your fiber! Oatmeal, fruits, and veggies are a few examples of foods that contain fiber.


Contrary to fiber, you want the grams of sugar to be low number. Foods that are high in sugar and low in fiber will not keep you full very long and will have a bad effect on your blood sugar levels. Foods like white bread, candy, ice cream, and sodas great examples of sugary foods and beverages. Other names that basically mean sugar include agave nectar, barley malt, beet sugar, blackstrap molasses, brown rice syrup, brown sugar, buttered sugar, cane juice crystals, cane juice, cane sugar, caramel, carob syrup, caster sugar, coconut sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, crystalline fructose, date sugar, demara sugar, dextran, diastatic malt, diatase, ethyl maltol, evaporated cane juice, fructose, fruit juice concentrates, galactose, glucose, golden sugar, golden syrup, high fructose corn syrup, honey, invert syrup, lactose, malt syrup, maltodextrin, maltose, maple syrup, molasses syrup, muscovado sugar, organic raw sugar, oat syrup, panela, panocha, confectioner’s sugar, rice bran syrup, rice syrup, sorghum, sorghum sugar, sucrose, sugar, syrup, treacle, tapioca syrup, turbinado sugar, and yellow sugar. Yikes that is a lot of names!


Your body needs some sodium to function, but too much is not good. If you have high blood pressure, watching your sodium intake is especially important. The average healthy person should try to limit their sodium intake to less than 2300mg per day. Soups, frozen dinners, deli meats, and canned veggies are foods that are high in sodium.  If an item says reduced sodium, that means the sodium content has been reduced by 25% of its original version. It may still be high in sodium though. Also, if a label says low sodium, it must have less than 140mg per serving. Remember to check the serving size and compare it to what you are actually eating.


Protein in your diet is a definite must. It helps to build muscle and is important to cell and organ function. It will also keep you fuller longer than just eating carbohydrates by themselves. Grass fed chicken, beef, and turkey, fish, nuts, nut butters, pastured/cage free eggs, quinoa, bone broth, Greek yogurt, and beans are all good sources of protein.

% Daily Value

If you look to the right of the grams listed, you will see percentages listed. This is the % Daily Value. This is the percent of a person’s daily needs they will consume from one serving if they are on a “2,000 calorie diet.” However, a majority of people do not need 2,000 calories a day. Some people will need more, while others will need less. Because of this, I typically focus more on the grams.

 Ingredient List


The ingredients are listed in order of predominance by weight. This means the food that is in there the most is listed first.

This is the place to catch any tricks food companies may try to play. As I mentioned before, you will be able to tell if there is any trans fat in your food by looking here. Also, if you want to make sure you are eating bread that is 100% whole grain, look to see if the ingredients following whole wheat are not enriched, bleached flour.

There is another thing to look out for here. If you are looking to make sure sugar is not one of the first few ingredients on the list, good for you! However, even though sugar might not be in the top three ingredients, a food or beverage can still have more sugar than you would think. Often times multiple sweeteners are used. Here’s the issue. If sugar is the only sweetener used in a product, it might be listed as the first or second ingredient. However, by using sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and molasses. Sugar is now listed as the fifth ingredient and high fructose corn syrup and molasses, the sixth and seventh.

It is also important to look for other ingredients to avoid. Here are some to get you started artificial colors (yellow #5,red #40, blue #2), BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene), polysorbate 60, MSG,  (Monosodium Glutamate), carrageenan, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, artificial sugar (sucralose, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, saccharin…), artificial flavors, tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ), and BVO (Brominated Vegetable Oil).

Hopefully, this has answered some questions about what the food label is actually telling you. It can be a great tool to help you make healthy food choices.

Three Steps of Stress Management

By: Nick Lape

Stress ManEvery single person at some point during their week has that moment when they think that the entire world is out to get them. Or they have so many things to do they don’t see a way to accomplish it. With work deadlines, kids’ schedules, constant connection to email/the internet, and the want for some time to relax, life can get pretty stressful. Even if you start off fine as weeks progress all of these tasks begin to wear on us if we don’t manage it. During these stressful times it is imperative that we learn to manage ourselves, our nutrition, and our physical well-being.

1. Ask yourself positive questions and get positive answers.

In order to manage ourselves we must first be able to understand what makes us tick. We spend a good portion of our day inside our own heads. We have a constant dialogue with ourselves saying, “Why does this always happen to me?” and “Why am I always so busy? I never get to relax.” What if we stopped asking ourselves negative questions and started asking empowering ones? Instead of searching for negative answers we would search for positive ones. Due to the amount of time we talk to ourselves without anyone else hearing this is truly crucial when it comes to stress management. Empowering thoughts, questions, and answers to those questions are going to be your first defense against the battle inside your head that can consume you. DON’T LET IT!!!! Don’t let it affect the other aspects of your life, especially nutrition.

2. Choose foods that will benefit your health, mind, and mood.

Why do so many people in this country choose to eat during times of stress? Well food does have a way of comforting us. To go along with empowering thoughts, why don’t we take the time to choose something that will empower our mind as well as our body? During times of stress if we haven’t mastered our inner thoughts when it comes to fueling our bodies, it is a lot easier  to choose the easiest route possible to feel better immediately. We choose donuts, twinkies, bags of chips, etc.; foods laden with sugar. Or you could go the other route and swing by McDonald’s or order a pizza. Mastering our thought processes can prepare us for this. When we know a day is going to be painstakingly long or busy planning ahead can be a game changer. Choosing foods that benefit your health like veggies, fruits, nuts, grass-fed meats, healthy fats etc., can easily satisfy your hunger cravings and make you feel better about yourself.

3. Exercise on a regular basis.

When we talk about feeling better about ourselves one of the best ways is through physical activity. Every person enjoys their “me” time. How you choose to spend it is up to you. When managing stress, doing something that is physically taxing can make you feel less of that stressful burden. Personally, I choose to lift weights, however, running, biking, hiking, or just getting outside and go walking. All of these can have drastic effects on the way you feel. Choosing the healthy road when dealing with stress in this matter can only help.

Everyone in this world goes through stressful times. Sometimes you ask yourself, “How is that person so happy?” when you know personally they have a lot on their plate. The answer is that they have probably mastered a couple if not all three of the things that I’ve mentioned previously. They probably have the ability to manage their thoughts which will empower them to eat well and exercise. The product of all of this is efficient stress management. Ask yourself empowering questions, and answer them with empowering answers. Prepare food that will benefit your mind and your body. And lastly use exercise as your escape. In addition, time management, learning to say no, muscle relaxation, and breathing can help with stress. Choose the things that make your mind and body happiest and healthiest. I can guarantee that if you master these things that you will be the person that people ask that question of “How can he be so happy with some much on his plate?”

Could Your Beer Belly Really Be Anterior Pelvic Tilt?

By: Mike Klaus ISSA, RKC, FMS,

Hi. My name is Mike, and I have an anterior pelvic tilt (APT). Most people do, but mine is excessive and has been the cause of my training plateaus and low back injuries. It also makes me look like have a gut, which is not the case. (I am right around 8% body fat.) So, if you have any of this going on then you may be suffering from APT as well.

Anterior Pelvic Tilt

Anterior refers to the front side of your body and ‘pelvic tilt’ referrers to the pelvis being tilted to one side. APT tilts forward, like in the image below.

Mike Anterior TiltWhile researching APT I came across a wide variation to “acceptable” degrees of APT in men and women. I have come to the conclusion that optimal range for men is between 8-12 degrees and 12-16 in women. Of course each individual is different and more or less could be beneficial. You can estimate your own tilt by putting your back against the wall and measuring the space between the small of you back and the wall. A hand is the ideal amount of space. Significantly more could be problematic.

Initially my remedy was to simply rotate my pelvis externally and tuck my rib cage. I did constant checks and after a couple of weeks did notice an improvement in my posture. However, when I did anything physical my body would default back to that awful APT.  I needed to do more than walk around in neutral. My body needed to be trained so that deficient muscles could hold up to the required resistance I would ask of it.

There are several causes for APT and they include weak hamstrings, weak abdominals, weak glutes, tight hip flexors, and tight spinal erectors. Hip flexors are a group of muscles near the pelvis that move the hip forward during walking and running. Spinal erectors are group of muscles in the back that supports the spine.

In order to fix the problem and bring the pelvic tilt back to acceptable levels you will need to make the hamstrings, deeper abdominals, and glutes stronger and stretch the spinal erectors and hip flexors. Here are a few exercises that have helped me. (Of course be sure to check with your doctor before you diagnose yourself or try to do these exercises.)

  1. American Deadlift – Focus on and over emphasize the pelvic motion using a lighter weight than your typical barbell hinge. The movement ends with the pelvis in a posterior pelvic tilt really squeezing the glutes at lock out. 2-3 sets of 10.
  1. The Posterior Pelvic Tilt Hip Thrust – This is simply a bodyweight hip thrust using the glutes and emphasizing pelvic motion. 2-3 sets of 20-25.
  1. The RKC Plank – Setting up like a normal plank, only the focus is the squeezing of the glutes to achieve PPT. 2-3 sets of 3-5 :10-15 reps.

An anterior pelvic tilt can prevent you from progressing past a certain point in your training, cause injuries, and make you look like you have a big gut. It may require you to take a step back in your training program it is totally worth it in the long run.

Celebrate Moving Forward

Cheers to a new beginning, to moving forward. We can’t tell you how excited we were to celebrate our grand opening. We want to thank everyone for their support and encouragement! We were blown away by the number of people who came to the celebration.

 Grand Opening Cheers

Ecstatic can only begin to describe our feelings about being Maplewood’s newest fitness facility. We offer group training, personal training, and kettlebell classes. Before you stop reading because you have already grown tired from thinking about lifting a weight know this: we are not your average training studio.

  • We pride ourselves in making health fun. Very few people will continue to work out if they dread it. You will never leave our studio without a smile or chuckle.
  • We watch how you move, learn how you move, and keep watching. This may sound creepy, but it’s not. We screen you using the Functional Movement System (FMS) before we create a training program for you. Think about this in terms of an eye doctor. When you go to your eye exam, you don’t want to be given a random pair of glasses. You want the eye doctor to exam in your eyes to determine what prescription to give you. We aren’t going to give you a random work out. We want to see how you move to write a workout that is right for you! Once you have that workout we keep watching to make sure you stay in good form. We don’t want any injuries.
  • One size DOESN’T fit all. One size usually fits no one. By screening you we can create a workout program that fits YOU!
  • We have a registered dietitian on staff. Nutrition plays a HUGE roll in results. If you fuel your body with foods that promote health, you will see great results.
  • We don’t judge you. We welcome EVERYONE regardless of his/her fitness level. Whether you have never set foot in a gym or make it part of your normal routine, we have something for you.
  • We focus on the future. It can be easy to focus on the past and why things didn’t work out. At forward fitness we focus on moving forward and creating the future you want!

If you have been thinking about becoming active or looking for a better fit, we would love to move forward with you! Please email Suzanne at to get started.