Too Busy

It’s been awhile since my last entry. I’ll admit I’ve been busy and so my blog entries have suffered. I have no excuses, I certainly could have found an extra few minutes, because I always have something to say. Let me speak about being busy – I hear it all the time from clients who are “too busy to workout, to stretch, to do cardio, to relax,” always on the go not a moment to spare – they are just too busy! Frankly, I don’t buy “the too busy to” excuse. We have a choice – we can keep our frenetic busy pace or we can slow down and check in with ourself and discover that we really do have all the time in the world. It takes stopping and just being, doing nothing to notice. What’s keeping you too busy to take care of you? What’s keeping you from slowing down? Are you just too busy these day?:(

Kayaking

Learning to kayak was on my bucket list this summer, so I took a introductory course at Charles River Canoe and Kayak in early July. While anyone can kayak, there is much to learn about this invigorating and relaxing activity.

First of all, the kayak has got to fit you like a pair of pants. Once you are properly fitted in the right kayak for your adventure: recreational, light touring, sea touring…. whitewater, you can get started. Safety is key, a proper personal floatation device is a must! If you fall out, you should most definitely know how to get back in. In class, we practiced two person: T rescues and self rescues, all by rolling the kayak and performing a “wet exit.”

Kayaking is humbling, because you’re so close to nature, the water, other kayakers and boaters. You need to paddle relaxed and not muscle through the different strokes with your arms. The physical aspects of kayaking demand flexibility, stability, balance, and core strength. The emotional and intellectual aspects of the sport use both your right and left brain, making this a lifelong activity of varying degress of challenge. You must remain calm, use your common sense and be prepared for emergencies and know how to respond appropriately. Kayaking engages all of you! If you’ve never done it – give it a try!

Goddard Skilled Nursing Center Closing

Since 2007, I have been a group fitness instructor at Goddard Skilled Nursing Center, working twice a week with a diverse group of residents. Many of the residents suffered from Altzheimer’s and dementia. I grew to love them. Over the course of the years, deep bonds were formed between the residents, staff and myself. The residents often shared moving memories and stories of their long history, which were interwoven in our class. While invisible to the outside world and quietly alive within the walls of this excellent facility, they shone in their ability to cope and live with their serious medical issues, the loss of independence and being away from family and friends. They are the real and true heroes.

I was deeply disturbed and saddened by the news of Goddard’s sudden closure. During the last three weeks, I have said goodbye to more people than I have in my 55 years. One of the staff members said to me, “I never imagined leaving Goddard.” I told him that I felt the same. I always looked forward to my Tuesday and Thursday classes there. I understood the importance of my work in eldercare. We need to care for the elderly. We can do better. I have made it my mission to seek other opportunities to work with this remarkable population.

Routine, Regime is a Trainer’s Nightmare

“I just want a routine,” or “I want to update my fitness regime,” clients and potential ones often tell me. I secretly cringe at the thought of doing the same routine and regime over and over again for years.

And yet, I hear and see this all the time at the gym, people doing the same exercises that I can predict what they’re going to do. I’m not a fitness psychic, but I know how to spot routine and a regime, usually exercises or an entire program that doesn’t make sense to me and persists for months or years.

I want to politely offer some tips and suggestions. I want to ask, “What is idea behind this exercise? How can you make it more effective? How can you make it more efficient? How can you do appropriate exercises that challenge you without risking bad form or injury? How can you progress yourself to a new exercise and or program?” I wouldn’t ask why questions, because people get defensive with why? “Why have or are you doing the same fitness routine or regime for 3 months or a year?” That question would put me on the defensive with it’s judgemental tone. A possible reply would be, “What’s wrong with my routine, at least I’m working out! That’s more than what your average Joe or Jane are doing!!!”

When it’s fitness you’re talking about, if it’s a routine or a regime, it can’t be a good thing! Your body has become used to it – it’s adapted to whatever you’re doing! You need a new program every month, 6 weeks etc. depending on your goals! You need to switch it up and forget your routine, and quit the regime!

Say goodbye to long cardio workouts unless you’re an endurance athlete

During one of my mid afternoon training sessions I noticed a gal on the rowing machine reading. She rowed so slowly and turned her head sideways to read. By late afternoon she was still there, rowing at a snail’s pace while reading!

I wanted to politely ask her if she would be open to some suggestions on how to optimize her workout. First, I would correct her form so that she wouldn’t injure her neck, and second I would tell her to cut down the length of the workout by doing some moderate to high intensity intervals.

Please don’t make the mistake of spending infinite amounts of time doing cardio, while skipping strength training. Strength training twice a week and 20 – 30 minutes of focused moderate to high intensity cardio 4 -5 days a week gives you a better return on your fitness in the long run.

Back on the Bike

It’s been a while since my last entry. My apologies. I have lots to blog about but apparantly lost momentum, like many people do with their exercise plans. I’m back now! I’ll blog about getting back on my road bike a year after my accident, which resulted in an ambulance ride to the ER. I sustained a laceration to the head and a concussion. The rest of me was fine, except that I was shaken. I was riding in the city, commuting to an appointment. The last thing I remember was being airborne. When I regained consciousness, everything was slowed down. I was slower.

I needed to recover, which meant no exercise. It was a very challenging time for me, having a near fatal accident and then beginning a recovery period. My work was much more difficult. All aspects of my life were impacted. I emerged stronger and grateful to be alive!

A year later and I am back on my bike. I was initially scared, because a part of me wanted to resume riding, while another part was afraid I’d get injured again. Once I got on the bike and felt the breeze on my skin, and the familiar feel of cycling, my anxiety passed. I was not going to stop cycling because of my accident, or due to fear. The time was right and so I quickly seized the moment, grabbed life by the horns and off I rode with it!

Someone Else’s Program

A client recently mentioned to me that she wanted to incorporate her friend’s physical therapy exercises in her program. Every session this particular client tries to change the exercises that I have designed for her monthly program. The monthly program is written out and she recieves a hard copy. I consistently have to remind her that if we change the exercises we will not have a focus. We will not be able to track and measure progress and get specific results.

Before responding, I listened carefully, so that I could learn more about her reasoning and motivation. I learned that she wants more variety and core exercises. Of course, her program is varied and consists of core exercises. I told her that I appreciated her request. However, physical therapy programs are specific to the issue and needs of the person being treated. I advised her that I would not incorporate her friend’s exercise in her program for that reason. I also said that her personal training programs are specific to her and could not be used by someone other than her.

There is danger inherent in wanting to or following someone else’s program, be it a workout in a magazine, a Celebrity trainer’s DVD, a popular televsion show or a group fitness class at your gym, etc. Don’t risk your health and safety by the allure or promise of a better/varied program – in my client’s case: someone else’s program.

Weather

It has been long time since I’ve posted on my blog. Here’s a new entry for the New Year. Happy belated New Year! I find it hard to believe that we’re in a new year and the weather has been so mild! Frankly, I’m a fan of the warmer weather, probably because I prefer to exercise outdoors. It’s tough to stay motivated to get outdoors on those bone chilling winter days, unless the sun is shining. Sunny winter weather can easily convince me to get outside. I love being out in nature because it lifts my spirits and brightens my mood. Especially with the shorter days I try to get out, even if it’s for a short time. So go enjoy the mild weather! I hope there are some winter storms in store for us too!

Now Certified in FMS – Functional Movement Screen

Please check out http://www.functionalmovement.com/ as I am now certified in the Functional Movement Screen. The purpose of this excellent and useful screen is to rule out pain with exercise and to refer to qualified practioners when necessary. It is also used to identify weaknesses, asymmetries and faulty movement patterns as a result of improper training techniques, injury, etc. Most people have an asymmetry on one side of the body, which may not be apparent to them or their coach or trainer. Hence, the use of the FMS to target the client’s weakest link/s and to provide corrective progressive exercise that will address the issue. Example: client can not squat – yes this may sound strange but I see it everyday – improper form on the squat – a basic exercise that is functional for daily living and recreational sports and athletics! Bad form will only reinforce bad form. Therefore squatting or lunging incorrectly will only create more of the same and not change the movement pattern. FMS corrective exercises will!

Listen to Your Body

While recovering from my biking accident I had to make major adjustments to my exercise program. I could not strength train or do my usual cardio workouts. For two months I learned what it takes to slow down significantly and pay careful attention to my body. Post concussion I was extremely fatigued, dizzy, and slow to the point that I could not walk at my usual pace. While my brain was healing I learned the benefit of doing one thing at a time and not multitasking. Since I suffered a mild traumatic brain injury, I had to rely on my body to give me feedback. In my work as a trainer I see many people who are disconnected from their bodies. We are a society who lives in our heads, and places less value in our bodies. The wise person is one who has a healthy balance and relationship with both their mind and body. The greatest gift of this accicent was taking the time to heal, to tune in to myself in ways in which I have never had to pay attention. What does it mean for you to tune in to yourself?