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!

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!

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!

Foam Rolling to Perform and Feel Your Best

When you are short on time for a workout or stressed and just want to get started, foam rolling is typically the first thing to get cut from your workout. Right? This can prevent you from getting the most out of your workout and feeling your best. Watch Mike as he explains how to effectively roll before a workout.


If you have never foam rolled before a workout, start. If you typically skip it, don’t. Pay attention to how you feel during your workout. Let us know what you think!

5 Tips to Handle Events When You Don’t Have Control Over the Food Being Served

By: Suzanne Klaus RD, LD

It is so easy to go to a party, wedding, or work event and leave feeling stuffed, lethargic, and disappointed in how we handled our food choices. We have every intention of making healthy choices to support our goals, but that goes out the window after we have stuffed ourselves with appetizers. Suzanne discusses five tips that will help you navigate an event where you do not have a choice over the food being served.

It is important that you know WHY you want to make healthy choices at the event and beyond. If you have not thought about that, then it is very unlikely that any number of tips will help you through the event. But, if you have identified your driving force and follow Suzanne’s tips you will have a recipe for success!

Tell us about some events where you were successful. We would also love to hear questions. Maybe you have an upcoming event. Comment below and Suzanne would be happy to help!

Kettlebell Swing Breakdown Series

The Hinge

We are breaking down the kettlebell swing! This is the first of 10 videos that will help you learn or refine the kettlebell swing. The most fundamental part of a good kettlebell swing is the hinge so that’s where we are starting. Without understanding how to hinge your swing will never reach it’s full potential.

Some of the key points to remember:

  • Maintain a neutral spine (head, upper back, and butt stay on the stick)
  • Push through the ground as you stand up keeping the whole foot on the floor (don’t lift up your toes)
  • Soft knees (knees bend, but they don’t come forward)
  • Exhale as you stand up

Let us know if you have any questions. We are always happy to help with proper form!


Comfort Lacks Confidence

By: Cati Davis

How many times have you heard us say, “you can go heavier than that,” “is that too easy,” or c’mon, one more rep, you got this?” Too many times to count, right? We don’t just say these things to say them. We say them to challenge you. Because, hey, if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. We love to see change. And, the look on someone’s face is priceless, when they have been doing dumbbell presses with 20 pound weights, you hand them 30 pounds and they pump out 3-4 reps, or when they accomplish a goal on the goal board and better yet, get their name drawn from the achieved jar.

There are so many ways that you can challenge yourself in life and step out of your comfort zone to achieve goals and become a more confident person. This is exactly what I experienced and learned when I received my HKC (Hardstyle Kettlebell Certification) and went to the Perform Better Summit in July. There were situations where I wasn’t completely comfortable, but ended up succeeding because I went out of my comfort zone to challenge myself.

Let’s look back at, “if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. When the day came to come in for the HKC workshop, I was nervous as ever because I had no idea what to expect. I am the kind of person who likes to have things planned and I definitely do not like surprises. Let’s be honest here, I had an extra set of clothes packed, along with the ones set out on the bed the night before, and of course I couldn’t forget snacks. Was I prepared? Yes. Did I use any of the things that I brought besides a water bottle? Of course not!

Obviously there were going to be 23 trainers judging me for my goblet squat, Turkish get up, and kettlebells swings. And that was if I even got through the entrance test of holding a hardstyle plank for 60 seconds. Now, was any of this true? No. I held my 60-second plank and moved on. There were several times where I was not fully comfortable with the task that I was asked to perform. But, I always pushed through, which gave me the confidence to move to the next task. The whole day could not have gone better. Thanks to two great instructors working with everyone the entire day, I was able to learn so much more than I ever imagined and was able to earn my HKC. And, I walked out of Forward Fitness with more confidence than I thought was possible.

The Chicago Perform Better Summit was next up and I was totally pumped for it! I was so ready to fill my brain with new knowledge to bring back to Forward Fitness. On Saturday we attended a Todd Durkin session where there  were 300 trainers in one room doing a conditioning workout. I’ve never seen so many people high fiving each other and cheering each other on, it was amazing! The workout was intense, but I knew I had to keep going. The push ups were getting tough, but I heard Suzanne’s voice over 300 people cheering me on to get one more in! That was it, I challenged myself to get one or two more in. I left that comfort zone and kept going. I walked out of that room of 300 people and had a complete boost of energy and felt like I could take on the world! I left Chicago with a positive mind, motivation, and confidence to help others.

People, take a step back and look at how you challenge yourself in life. Whether it be during your daily life or when you get your training in for the day at the gym, push yourself to the next level and see how much can change for you, mentally and physically. You will find yourself with more confidence than ever and hey, you are going to feel great too! So, next time you reach for the 20 pound dumbbell that you have been comfortably pressing, kick it up a notch and step out of your comfort zone, gain the confidence to help make the change, we’ve got your back!!

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!