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!

Dumbbell Workouts- Great for Travel

Dumbbells are a pretty standard piece of exercise equipment. They are the one item hotel workout rooms are sure to stock. We all know you can press dumbbells. But, how do you create a total body workout with dumbbells? Knowing how to create a great workout while traveling, whether it’s for work or fun can be the hardest part. Have you ever walked into a gym and then just walked out because you didn’t know what to do? Or, maybe you stayed and put together a haphazard workout. Our goal is to give you the tools to be successful even when you are not in the gym. Mike created two great total body workouts you can do with only dumbbells. You can take the guess work out and get a great workout!

Dumbell Workout A is pretty straight forward. It covers the basics and gets you in and out in no time.

Dumbbell Workout B is a great unilateral workout. That means it works one side of the body at a time (left vs. right). Think about it. In life we are always doing things unilaterally. We walk (or run) with one foot in front of the other.

Enjoy your workouts! Let us know what you think and how you are staying active on the road.

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 She will be happy to get you set up to rock your 5am workouts!