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Posted on July 30th, 2019

It has been a while since I explained the "whys" of our exercise program, so this is a review to explain our format and what we are trying to accomplish.

An exercise program should exist to make you feel better, move better, and look better.  It should not be so insanely tough that you feel beat up for 24-48 hours afterwards. Exercise is not a competition about who can go the longest or the hardest, instead it is about you and what works for you.
As I get older and more experienced, the more I am learning about the importance of BOTH movement AND exercise. These two things must compliment each other.
Movement is what you do daily to go about your life. If you are sitting too much, then your body and health will suffer. Movement is taking the dog for a walk, it is cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, playing with your grandkids, or whatever else comes your way. People who move a lot through their lives, have an easier time with their fitness programs because their body is more mobile and less stiff.
Exercise, on the other hand, is a focused fitness workout, where you have a goal in mind, a plan, and an area of focus. A good exercise program will allow you to move better all day long;  free of pain, with better posture and with more energy. If your workout program makes you hurt or saps your energy, then you need to re-evaluate your program’s intensity, frequency, or content.
With the Thrive Fitness program, I take much care to design the workouts to be a long term solution, rather than a frantic attempt to get in great shape overnight. I design our workouts to enhance your normal active routine. Other programs out there, like outdoor bootcamps or Crossfit are based around working “all out” every workout and tend to include more risky movements than I like to program. When choosing exercises, duration, or intensities, I always take a look at the risk:reward equation. If something gives good reward but is also very risky, I will choose another option. In my mind, there is no worse thing than to induce an injury in a client or to have other aspects (work, family, etc) of the clients’ life suffer as a result of an overly ambitious workout routine.
Our program design covers many different components of fitness each week. First of all, most of our exercises have the goal of making your core stronger and less likely to be injured outside the gym. This is the reason why I stress proper posture during all of our exercises, to engage the core and not slouch. This is why I program exercises like ball rollouts, core sliders, and some of the TRX moves; by keeping your core engaged and stable, you are building up a more robust network of muscles around your spine. With our core focus, technique always takes precedence over the amount of weight used and having body control is more important than going “100%”. Our focus is much like a professional athlete would train -- focused and under control, rather than full effort and less attention to technique.
The other components that I try to touch each week are:  1) Power - the ability to move yourself or an object quickly, 2) Strength - squat, lunge, push and pull to build muscle and slow down the aging process, 3) Mobility - the ability to move freely and without pain, with better range of motion.  Much of our warmup process addresses this component. 4) Cardiovascular fitness - in the form of interval training as well as steady state cardio activities to exercise your blood pumping system and to ensure that you can take on life activities without being out of breath so easily.
A good fitness program is also balanced, in that it doesn’t overuse one area of the body to the point of injury, and also so that there is a mix of hard days and easy days to allow for joint and muscle recovery.  Blasting your body day after day doesn’t make sense, as this would actually stress your body - aging your body and making it feel worse than not exercising at all.

On an individual basis, I also take into account each person’s fitness level, injury history, age, and personal interests/goals when designing the workout formats. The good thing about our Thrive format is that there are always great alternative movements to give you similar results without the downside or risk of pain.

Posted on July 30th, 2019

This is an example of our larger group "cardio" workout.  We include a lot of different movement types so that we don't get overuse injuries.  Our goal is to condition our cardiovascular system through a series of short work periods followed by recovery periods.  So we might get your HR up to 85%, and then recover back to 70%, and repeat.

Posted on July 14th, 2019

Rowing 101.

At Thrive, we utilize the Concept2 rowing machine because it provides a great total body cardiovascular workout with very little wear and tear on your joints. With good rowing technique, you can burn a ton of calories each workout and lose those stubborn inches around your waistline. 

There is one downside to rowing though; it is a little tricky to teach good rowing technique!  Unlike the treadmill where you simply turn it on and keep up with the belt, with the rowing machine, YOU provide the speed and the stroke cadence. The harder you push, the more resistance you will feel. 

Each time you get on the rower (for at least the first couple of months), you should start out for a few minutes of practicing proper stoke sequence without pushing real hard. Eventually it gets somewhat automatic, but you don’t want to develop bad habits. Be patient! 

Great rowing technique makes your workouts more efficient, (burn more calories each minute) more effective (better cardio fitness, better core strength, more power) and safer. (less lower back aches/pains)

Here are a few key teaching points:

Foot straps -- you want to align the strap with the ball of your foot, or the top lace in your shoe.

Sit tall w/lats engaged -- As you start your rowing session, remind yourself to sit tall with your butt (tail) sitting behind your torso. No slouching! It is also key to engage your lats (back muscles) by pulling shoulder blades down and together. 
On each rowing stroke, your legs will drive the seat backwards but your core/lats must be engaged to bring the chain/handle back at the same speed.  Good posture will limit the chance of wearing out your lower back!

Stroke Components -- Drive and Recovery.  The DRIVE is what provides the pace or speed of the “boat/machine”  The faster and harder you complete the drive, the “faster” the boat will go. You push (legs) and pull (upper) the handle away from the console during the drive.
The RECOVERY is the relaxed slide back to the front where you started the drive. There should be no rushing the recovery unless you are in an all-out sprint. Typically, the recovery takes twice as long as the drive.

Stroke sequence:   The key is to emphasize the power in your legs.  Your legs should provide about 70% of the drive power, and should be engaged first in each stroke.  Your core/torso will go from 11:00 at the start, to 1pm at the end of each drive. 

Drive:  Legs push first, then Core swing, then arms pull 
Recovery:  Arms release first, then Core swing, then Legs/bend knees

Handle grip:  Most recommend a loose/overhand grip and keeping the shoulders/elbows down and relaxed.  There is no need to pull UP on the handle, it should hit you in the stomach area. In general, you don’t want to waste any energy with your rowing stroke, so keeping your body as relaxed as possible will help.

Cadence (strokes per minute):  Sliding back and forth fast on the rowing machine is not ideal. Remember, what makes the workout tougher/more efficient is the force or speed of your DRIVE, NOT the RECOVERY. Take your time on the recovery portion of the stroke to breathe, save energy, and get ready for the next DRIVE.  For most people - unless they are in a hard sprint - the cadence should be between 22 and 28 strokes per minute. 

If at anytime you feel a need for a rowing technique refresh, please talk to us.  There are also a ton of great information videos online at Youtube. I especially like the “Training Tall” page on Youtube, as it has a lot of great content.

Posted on July 30th, 2017

​When I see people dealing with nagging aches and pains - often times lower back pain - I often think of the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. 

Keep in mind that MOST cases of lower back pain are caused by doing something repetitive in nature or keeping yourself in a bad posture position for an expended period of time. 

So take the case of a typical "desk job" person.

They sit in a rounded posture position for 8-10 hours a day at work, not incorporating much movement into their work day. Eventually they start to experience lower back pain or tightness, or even pain that runs down one of their legs. It gradually gets worse until they can barely function, and then they schedule some sessions at the local chiropractor. Through a series of adjustments, they feel better again and go about their normal routine. Unfortunately, their normal routine consists of lots of sitting with improper posture and a lack of movement,

Sure enough, weeks later (or maybe months later if they are younger or more fit) they start to experience the same nagging pains as they did before.  This time they are a little bit worse and they debate over going to see a chiropractor or an orthopedic doctor. They might even get an MRI done that tells them that their back "has issues" and they start to worry that maybe they need to get something done more drastic than an adjustment or two.  They start thinking: "Am I so screwed up that I need surgery"?

I have seen people go through these cycles multiple times, going back to the same daily habits that were the root cause of the issue in the first place. Basically life turns into a series of bouts of lower back pain and "fixes", without ever really getting healthy. The fact that there are now membership based chiropractor franchises popping up around the country tells us that we have truly lost our way in terms of incorporating movement and exercise into our lives. We have let modern life take over our health by creating a sedentary environment in which we live.

The bottom-line of my rant today is that engaging in a core-based fitness program at Thrive Fitness COMBINED with a life environment that includes frequent movement and an awareness of proper posture is a much better solution to maintain a healthy lower back. 

The exercises that we prescribe at Thrive Fitness will make your core stronger and more stable, so that injury and pain is less likely. With consistency and proper coaching, I am confident that almost everyone can cure their lower back pain.

I urge people to break out of their current cycle of mistreating their core/back, patching the issue, and repeating the lifestyle over and over again. Invest in your health and fitness with Thrive Fitness - it can be life changing.

Posted on July 28th, 2016

After reading a recent study about strength training and whether you need to lift heavy weights to build muscle, I got to thinking about my clients and how they strength train. 

The study showed some evidence that rather than worrying about lifting real heavy weights, we should consider simply lifting the weight until we reach failure or close to failure. In other words, if one can lift a weight 8 times until reaching failure, we can expect similar results compared with choosing a lighter weight and lifting it about 15 times until failure.  What we are really trying to do is stress the muscles to a point of fatigue or failure.

As we move into August, one of our focuses is to work at each exercise until we reach this muscle fatigue instead of simply counting to 10 reps and stopping no matter how we feel. I think there is some benefit to this focused drill, as we will be more aware of how hard we are working on each exercise.  For practical purposes, we will still pick weights we can lift for between 8 and 15 reps, otherwise each move will take too long to get to failure. 

If I post a workout routine that calls for an effort of 9 out of 10 or 9/10, that means that you will stop just short of failure for that exercise. So perhaps you could do 1-2 additional reps before failing or messing up your form.  A 10 effort level means you can do NO more reps with good form. We will usually save the 10 effort level for the final round of each circuit. 

I look forward to using this method as a teaching tool to help you get the most out of your workouts at Thrive.

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