Warmer weather brings a flurry of outdoor activity including gardening, walking and hiking, jogging, biking and more. Unfortunately, predators become more active too. Along with an increase in temperature comes an increase in assaults.
Over 5,600 sexual assaults are reported to Wisconsin law enforcement annually, according to the state Office of Justice Assistance. However, because more than 60 percent of sexual assaults go unreported, the actual number is probably closer to 15,000.
Eight out of ten Americans will be the victim of violent crime at least once in their lives. Nationally, rape is attempted every 1.6 minutes. According to some studies, one out of four women will be sexually assaulted.
What can you do to protect yourself and your family? According to the author of The Gift of Fear, Gavin DeBecker, having a personal safety plan is crucial. Predators will have a well thought out plan and so should you. With a plan you will react faster and be better prepared to protect yourself in any given dangerous situation.
This spring, empower yourself and participate in my self-defense personal training package called Personal Safety Training (P.S.T.), offered at Pinnacle Health and Fitness. Many self-defense courses can be confusing, teaching technical, complex moves that are quickly forgotten. In this five-session course you will create your own personal safety plan and practice simple self-defense techniques that are easy to remember.
As a fitness professional for more than 30 years, and an experienced martial artist I have been teaching self-defense for over 15 years. Personal Safety Training has been developed with the help of law enforcement professionals and a diverse group of martial artists.
P.S.T. will educate you and mentally and physically prepare you to protect yourself and your family if confronted with an unexpected dangerous situation.
You can find out more about the P.S.T. Personal Training package at the front desk or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org .
This recipe was given to me by my mentor and sister, Laura Roberts, MA - Physical Education and Exercise Physiology. I'm not sure where she obtained the original recipe, but this version is packed with taste AND nutrition. It can stand alone as a meal, or use it to curb your appetite before a meal.
The Muffin in Minutes is so simple to make. Once you have the ingredients on hand you will find yourself making your own version of this nutritious and tasty muffin every day.
Muffin in Minutes:
1/4 c Flax Meal (ground flax seed)
1-2 T Oil (canola, olive, etc.) or butter
1 T Sugar (raw sugar, honey, agave)
1/4 t Baking Powder
1 Fresh Egg
Optional ingredients to taste: cinnamon, bananas, blueberries, walnuts, unsweetened coconut flakes, craisins, etc.
Mix all ingredients in a micowave proof cup. Microwave from 1 to 3 minutes on high. Let it stand for about a minute. Then, carefully remove from microwave, turn cup over onto small plate. Your muffin will pop out. For extra moistness add bananas, strawberries, a little extra honey or agave, etc.
Calories = 265-400
Carbs = 3.2g
Fiber = 9.4g
Protien = 12.2 g
With this high fiber muffin, be sure to drink plenty of water. Sit down, relax and enjoy every bite.
I have been teaching fitness classes for over 25 years and I don't remember a class that did not include "ab exercises." Class participants not only want them, they will demand them! I remember a time when class members would brag to each other about how many crunches they could do - sometimes in the hundreds!
We all want that flat tummy and six pack abs because it just looks good. But, having a six-pack does not always mean having a healthy functional core. If you are training your abs for looks you are most likely doing yourself and your clients more harm than good. You may be creating an imbalance that will eventually cause health problems, including low back and hip issues. Remember if you are doing exercises that flex the spine (crunches), you need to include exercises that extend the spine, as well as lateral flexion and extension. A good core program will include all of those movements.
So, what is your core? The core includes all of the abdominal muscles including the outer layer (rectus abdominus and external obliques) and inner layers (internal obliques and transverse abdominus) as well as middle and lower back muscles, the diaphragm and pelvic floor muscles.
To create a healthy and balanced core, it is imperative to begin on the inside with the inner layers. Correctly activating the inner core muscles is not only beneficial to mechanically moving your body, but is essential to overall circulatory, digestive and immune system function and health.
Any core exercise should include breath work which is a great way to find and activate the inner core muscles.
Try this simple exercise:
Prepare - Start on your hands and knees, neutral spine, wrists directly under your shoulders, knees hip width apart. Keep your gaze about 4 inches in front of your fingers.
Movement - Begin by taking a deep breath, letting your abdominal area lower toward the floor. As you exhale completely, slowly draw your navel toward your spine, then hold for up to 10 seconds. Slowly inhale and release to start position. Always maintain neutral spine position. Complete five to ten repetitions.
Going back to basics, even if you're an elite athlete or fitness professional, is always a good idea, for yourself and for your clients.
Well, this subject has been high on my list of don'ts for as long as I've ever had a list of don'ts. There is only one thing high heels are good for...hold one in each hand and use them for self-defense. In fact the word "stiletto" is italian meaning small knife or dagger with a long slender blade and needle-like point, intended primarily as a weapon.
I won't go into too many details of the injuries that wearing high heels will cause, but I will tell you wearing heels will cause irreparable damage to your toes and feet, not to mention shortening of the calf muscle and achilles tendon making it more susceptible to tearing and rupture. Take a look in the mirror and check out what happens to your posture when you put on a pair of heels. You create pressure on the lumbar vertebrae due to hyper-extension of the lower back.
So, where did this strange shoe shape originate? High heels were worn by butchers dating back to 3500 BC to help keep them elevated above the blood and meat scraps on the floor. Later they were used to keep men and women elevated above dirt, mud and other debri in the streets. High heels made it easier to keep feet in stirrups while riding horses. In the early 1700s, France's King Louis XIV (The Sun King) would often wear intricate heels up to 5 or 6 inches high to appear taller.
These days, high heels are worn purely for fashion...by women. They make legs appear longer and sexier. So, if that's your goal - then keep wearing 'em. But, if you want healthy feet and legs, throw 'em out. Don't forget, your feet are your very base of support. If you have a weak or injured base, your whole body suffers. There is no "if" you will injure your feet and lower leg - injury is guaranteed if you choose to wear high heels.
So, do you want to know how I 'really' feel about high heels? We women have been duped into wearing this painful fashion accessory. They make our chests and butts stick out and they make it almost impossible to run...
Every year thousands of Americans make and break their New Years resolutions. Not surprisingly, the number one resolution made by Americans is - lose weight. If this is your resolution, think long term success, instead of short term, temporary fixes. Keep in mind, simple changes are easier to incorporate into everyday life and are more likely to become habit.
This year, include simple exercises. According to a recent survey of certified personal trainers, simple exercises, like walking, jogging, swimming and biking, are growing by leaps and bounds. These simple, low risk exercises, are non-intimidating, easy to start and easy to incorporate into everyday life.¹
Short bouts of exercise, as little as 5 to 10 minutes of walking each day, has significant health benefits including lowering the risk for cardiovascular disease, reducing blood pressure, lowering cholesterol as well as improving psychological well-being.² The current recommendation is 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day, five or six days per week. But, studies show sedentary individuals will find it a lot easier to fit in 5 to 10 minute bouts of walking rather than feeling overwhelmed by the recommendation of 30 or 40 minutes. Other significant benefits of small dose exercise include boosting bone strength and maintaining or losing weight. You can find “fitness opportunities” everywhere… skip the escalator and take the stairs, or better yet, skip up the stairs, park farther away from the shopping mall entrance, bundle up and take your dog for a walk, shovel a little snow. Be open and creative when it comes to making active choices.
Along with incorporating small doses of exercise each day make one or two simple changes in your eating habits. For example, try turning off your TV whenever you eat. You will be amazed at how much more you enjoy and actually taste what you eat. Slow down, pay attention and enjoy your food. You will eat less. Replace one or two bad eating habits with one or two healthy food choices. For example, choose whole grain pasta and bread. Try a brown and wild rice mix instead of white rice. Feel like a milkshake? Fix a fruit smoothie instead. Here is a simple recipe: in a blender combine ½ sliced banana, ½ cup Greek yogurt, 1 cup of your favorite frozen fruit (blue berries, raspberries, mango, etc.) ½ cup skim milk, honey to taste. Blend on high until blended. Enjoy.
Finally…remember to take a moment, every day, for relaxation. You can purchase or download relaxation cds or just lay back, focus on taking deep full breaths and listen to your favorite soothing music. Empty your mind of stressful thoughts, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Relaxation and deep breathing will reduce stress and its harmful physical effects.
Resolve to move a little more, eat a little healthier and take a few moments to relax every day. Keep it simple for 2012. Have a happy, and healthy, holiday season.
¹American Council on Exercise
²IDEA Health and Fitness Association, July-August, 2011
I have been involved in the fitness industry for over twenty-five years. I started teaching in my twenties. I was an athlete and already very fit. Admittedly, I was focused on giving my class participants a good hard workout. I took it as a compliment when someone told me how sore they were after taking my class. What surprises me is, I don't think things are any different today. With all of the new information out there, instructors should know better.
If I was given the opportunity to change things, it would be to teach new instructors how important it is to be able to show modifications. I would tell instructors when they are teaching a class, they should not be concerned about getting their own workout, they should be concerned about "instructing."
I have seen, time and time again, instructors who are so focused on choreography, they forget about the class participants. Or, they focus on the most energetic and able participants, and concentrate on giving them a "tough" workout. When, it is the least able and or new participant they should be concentrating on.
Instructors should be teaching to the least able participant, showing modifications for the most able, instead of the reverse.
As fitness instructors and personal trainers, we have a responsibility to encourage people to improve their health through movement and to make moving more part of their everyday life.
Arthritis and osteoporosis affect millions of Americans. These diseases continue to rise at alarming rates in America. In fact, researchers have found a direct correlation between affluent cultures and an increase in osteoporosis. This is due, in part, to a lack of weight bearing activities and poor nutritional habits.
Osteoporosis is a gradual loss of bone mass which causes bones to become brittle. According to Sherri Betz, physical therapist and author of The Osteoporosis Exercise Book, osteoporosis is not necessarily part of the normal aging process. Osteoporosis is an extremely dangerous and debilitating disease affecting 10 million Americans. The precursor to osteoporosis, osteopenia, occurs when there is a 10-20% loss of bone mass. Osteopenia affects about 34 million Americans. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 1 in 2 American women and 1 in 4 American men will suffer an osteoporosis related fracture in their lifetime. A significant number of these individuals end up in nursing homes.
Rheumatoid arthritis (inflammation of the joint lining) and osteoarthritis (a wearing away of the cartilage that cushions bones in a joint) also known as degenerative joint disease, are the most common types of arthritis. Combined, these two forms of arthritis affect over 23 million Americans, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Studies have shown that engaging in physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding joint injuries will reduce the risk and may even slow the progression of arthritis.
Participation in weight bearing, mind-body activities like T’ai Chi, Qi Gong, yoga, or a combination class, like Fusion, can be beneficial for anyone, but, especially for those affected by arthritis or osteoporosis. The poses and exercises performed in these activities can be easily customized to meet individual needs. Because of the emphasis on balance, flexibility, strength, correct spinal alignment and overall body awareness, there can be significant improvements in overall quality of everyday life. These improvements include less pain, improved posture, increased strength and balance, greater muscular flexibility and range of motion in the joints. Additional important benefits include a decrease in blood pressure and an increase in respiratory efficiency due to the emphasis on correct breathing techniques.
For those who suffer from osteoporosis or arthritis, experts agree, modifications of some exercises will be necessary. For example, forward bending or spinal flexion is contraindicated for those who suffer from osteoporosis due to an increase in the risk of compression fractures in the spine. A qualified, experienced personal fitness trainer or instructor should be able to guide clients or class participants through whatever modifications necessary for a safe and effective session. Let your trainer or instructor know if you have arthritis, osteoporosis or any other health concerns. When in doubt, watch first and ask questions before attempting exercises you are unsure of.
Participating in these mind-body forms of exercise - T’ai Chi, Qi Gong, yoga, or Fusion - is a great way to get started moving and a perfect addition to your fitness routine, no matter what your age or ability. Get to know your personal fitness trainer or class instructor and make sure they get to know you.
As always, stay well, and keep moving.
Most of us will experience severe low back pain at some point in our lives, according to the American Council on Exercise.
One common condition that causes low back pain is called “sciatica.” Your sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body that runs from your lower back, down each leg to your feet. Some symptoms of sciatica include low back pain, pain in one or both hamstrings or calves, and numbness or tingling in your feet or toes. Causes may include a herniated disc which can put pressure on the nerve. A herniated disc can be caused by sudden twisting. Other causes of sciatica may be as simple as tight muscles that put too much pressure on the nerve.
Other causes for back pain include incorrect posture and poor body mechanics. Poor posture puts undue stress on the muscles, ligaments and vertebrae of the neck and back. Most easy chairs and car seats cause a forward head position-causing the muscles in the back of the neck to shorten, and a rounded lower back-causing these muscles to become overstretched and weak. To prevent this, take a small pillow or rolled up towel and place it behind your lower back. When seated at a desk, keep your feet flat on the floor, and maintain correct upper body posture with shoulders gently back and down, chin slightly tucked in and parallel to the floor, keep lower back neutral, and arms supported on arm rests. Avoid leaning to one side.
Your phone can be a real pain in the neck. Holding your phone by squeezing your shoulder toward your ear can cause severe pain in your neck by compressing the discs on one side and overstretching muscles and ligaments on the other side. This can also cause muscular spasms or ‘knots’ in your trapezius and other upper back muscles. At the very least, use a phone adapter, or, use an earpiece, head set or your speaker component.
Proper exercise as well as flexibility training to maintain or improve range of motion will help you avoid future back problems. Because most of us spend hours each day seated in front of a desk or computer it is important to get up, walk around, and stretch every thirty minutes, or so. Some simple flexibility exercises you can do at home or at the office include:
Seated hamstring stretch - extend one leg out in front of you, flex your foot, fold forward from your hips until you feel a slight lengthening in the back of your leg, hold for 10 to 20 seconds, repeat on the other side. Be careful to keep your back extended and not rounded.
Seated Figure-4 stretch - place the left foot on the ground and the right ankle across the left knee. Fold forward, keeping your spine neutral, until you feel a lengthening of the muscles in the right hip. Repeat on the other side.
Seated low back stretch - Sit upright in your chair, feet flat on the floor. Interlace your fingers together while reaching forward in front of you (imagine you are pulling your shoulder blades apart) while pulling your navel in toward your spine, hollowing out your abdominal area and round your lower back.
Back extension - From this rounded or flexed back position, slowly lift and reach your arms up toward the ceiling, look up toward your hands, extend and lengthen your spine, while maintaining control of your core.
Lateral back extension - From the back extension, relax and lower your left arm, place your left hand on the chair seat, actively reach up toward the ceiling with your right arm and lengthen your right side. Again, keep your core engaged. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Neck range of motion - Sit upright, shoulders back and down, chin parallel to the floor, slowly turn and look over your right shoulder as far as you can, hold for a few seconds, turn and look over your left shoulder. With eyes forward, bring your right ear toward your right shoulder, reach down and away with your left arm, hold for a few seconds and switch to the other side.
Regular participation in yoga, tai chi, Pilates, core conditioning or healthy back classes will help you avoid problems by teaching you correct posture and movement mechanics. Any time you experience back or neck pain, consult with your physician. Then, find a qualified personal trainer to help you avoid future back problems.
As always, eat well and keep moving.