I Just Kept Running…

By: Cati Davis CPT

I was never a runner growing up, in fact, I despised running. I was very active in sports, but was never interested in running. I didn’t understand people that could just lace up their shoes and hit the pavement. As I got older,  I wanted something active that I could do outdoors and that was inexpensive. The one thing that came to mind was the one thing that I never enjoyed doing.

It was a spring morning and perfect weather so I decided to lace up my tennies and go. Well, easier said than done. My “go” lasted about 30 seconds and I found myself crippled over and out of breath. This was not what I had in mind. I’m pretty sure I did not look anything like the people I have seen running on the streets, looking graceful as ever and not panting from being out of breath. I am someone who doesn’t give up easily. I was out there every morning, rain or shine, hating every minute of walking then running. Soon to find myself running a longer period of time and walking less. I eventually got myself to the point where I could run one mile comfortably and actually find myself enjoying it while looking at the scenery around me and not to mention, feeling amazing after the run was over.  

Over the years, I was able to meet other people that enjoyed running as well and we would meet for weekend runs. Soon enough, I was signing myself up for my first run, which just so happened to be the St. Patrick’s Day Run. I set a goal for my first run, which was to not stop the entire run until I reached the finish line. I started the race and came to 3 miles, realizing that it was actually a 5 mile run and not a 5k. I ended up stopping one time through that 5 mile run. I was hard on myself and got a little down that I stopped during the run to break, but this  is exactly what kept me going. I pushed myself farther and ended up signing myself up for another run, then another, eventually signing up for a 10k, then making the big step and training myself for a half marathon. Running started to turn into a way for me to distress and and clear my mind, but having fun while I do it.

My wardrobe may consist of too many race shirts to count, but my heart is filled with memories of each and every run. Not every run was the same. There were days where I went out there and gave it my all and there were days where I didn’t feel like running at all, but would always make the best of it. But,  the most rewarding thing of all was to think of why I signed myself up for the run. Many of the runs are formed to help raise money for certain funds. Susan G. Komen, Backstoppers, Sarcoma, and many more. It is the most amazing feeling to know that the money you donated for the run was going to help others. What is 30, 40, or 60 minutes out of your day to be active and run for others that may not be able to?

I continue to run a few times a week. It may only be a short distance, but the feeling after the run keeps me going back for more. I started as a person who was not a fan at all of running and turned it into something that I now look forward to. By no means am I fast, but I set goals for myself while still having fun and enjoying what I do.

Are YOU interested in walking/running? Come join us for Saturday noon runs!! Running Forward into Fitness is here and we are doing group runs and/or walks. Whether you want to get one more day of activity or train for an event, this group is for you. Forward Fitness will be running in multiple races throughout the year. The St. Patty’s Day Run on March 11th and the GO! St. Louis (relay and/or 5K) on April 8th/9th will be the first ones.

If you are already an active runner or walker, come join us! If you aren’t someone who enjoys to run, come walk. Don’t like to wake up early for those morning runs or walks? Sleep in and meet us at noon on Saturdays. The more the merrier. Maybe you were never a runner, but would like to learn more and learn the correct form and training to get yourself started. Don’t want to sign up for the upcoming runs, that’s fine too, just come join us for the noon run or even get a group together to support the Forward Fitness family as they run or walk.

From now until the Go! St. Louis, we are meeting Saturdays at noon at Forward Fitness. We will have a warm up and then start training by doing some walking and running to help build endurance to get us on the right track for some good ole’ St. Louis runs. Bring the appropriate running/walking clothes and shoes so we can have some fun!

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.

Cressey Press

 

Anti-rotational movements are extremely important for not only core strength, but spine health as well. Practicing anti rotation regularly helps to defend against torque that might be put on the body. Torque is essentially any twisting motion of one part of the body against another part of the body that is trying to remain stationary. For example, if you are in your car and reach over to the passenger seat to grab something you are putting torque on the body. This can be a problem as usually this force ends up causing injuries more often than not. Anti-rotational movements can keep us stable during these times and along with proper strength training. Check out this move we learn from Eric Cressey, hence the title Cressey Press.

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

Circuit

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.

Circuit

  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

Finishers

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