proper exercise form self check

It can be difficult to know when you are doing an exercise correctly.  Having a trainer is probably the best place to start.  Looking in the mirror is usually really bad because if you are trying to see if your back is aligned you probably have to turn your head.

A method that helps maintain form is to check your breathing.  If you are breathing in a manner that maximizes air flow from your nostrils to the very bottom of your lungs you are probably maintaining proper form.

A neutral neck is one that is neither flexed forward nor extended backward.  There is some curve but the windpipe is at max diameter.  Flexing or extending the neck won’t necessarily crimp the windpipe like a bent hose but will reduce the diameter from the maximum diameter at neutral.

A flat back is a little more difficult to maintain- many people arch their back when they believe they are “sitting up straight.”  Again there is natural curve in the spine but instead of crimping the windpipe, an arched back reduces the maximum volume of lung expansion.  Most people, when “taking a deep breath” raise their chest in an effort to expand their lungs up and it works a little.  But breathing down into the belly gives the lungs more room to expand (full diaphragm use, soft abdominal tissue vs. hard rib cage, shape of lungs and a few other reasons).  Breathing down also helps feel the flattening of the back and rotation of the hips.

By exaggerating both inhaling and exhaling through the complete motion of an exercise a person can have a better idea if they are in proper form and identify the range to which they should conduct the exercise.

One of the many safety checks I tell people during a squat is to only squat as low as they can maintain a flat back.  It is easy to look from the side and determine if an individual has a flat back- but if someone is trying to watch themselves in a mirror they have to turn out of alignment, and turning out of alignment can be worse than arching the back.  If a person has a tendency to arch their back they will need proper coaching to understand how to correct their form safely.

If you are new to exercise I highly recommend talking to a trainer.  Many of us do assessments for free and I usually end up teaching diaphragmatic breathing as part of the assessment.

If you have any questions please ask.  I’m always open to new ideas on how to better explain and teach proper exercise techniques.

Group savings

Save money training in small groups.

It’s less expensive for individuals to train with a partner and we’ll train a small group in one session.  Each individual still gets a free assessment. If someone wants to watch a session before they decide to start training they are welcome to observe.

We encourage people to train with others that are doing similar routines and we don’t do boot camps or large group training.

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Quitting chewing tobacco

I hope all the recent media about Tony Gwynn, Curt Schilling and Jim Kelly brings the dangers of chewing tobacco into focus.

This is a very raw post- I’m not taking much time to edit because I hope people read it while the topic is trending.  If you want to suggest edits, please do- I really want others to stop using, or just not start and I want to do so as effectively as possible.

I wish I could say I knew exactly how I finally stopped using the stuff but it took many tries.  Sometimes now, years later, the only reason I don’t buy a tin is because I remind myself how horribly bad that first pinch tastes after taking even just a few days off.

I quit years ago- but I’m ashamed to say it but my closest loved ones either didn’t know I dipped or thought I had quit even earlier.  I was pretty discrete about it.  I had to be ready to quit for me- not for them or any other reason.

I had picked a date to quit (I chose the date of the beginning of Daylight Savings Time one year).  I chose a date that was more than just a day on the calendar- it was one that would have a physical change associated with it.  Previously I had used moving to a new time zone as my “quit day” and made it a long time before starting again (maybe a year).  Anyway- I had this date picked and I got a “wake-up call” (too cliche, long story) and decided to start quitting earlier than I anticipated (a few weeks).  Nicotine gum helped me a lot.  I had a few people very close to me that were also helpful and supportive.  But, like I said earlier, I was quitting for me.  I appreciated their support but they weren’t why I quit.

I was even challenged very early after I stopped- a significant emotional event- and I thought about buying a tin.  But the thought of how horrible that taste would be and how I would feel so dehydrated so fast (like having a vacuum suck all the fluid out of my body) helped me stay away.

Why no details?  I’m still ashamed to tell people when I actually did quit.  Maybe writing this bit will encourage me to talk about it more with them.

But, if they did know, they were right not to pressure me to quit.  Their added pressure would only have fed my need to dip more.

I read an article a long time ago that stated something about 3 days, 3 weeks, 3 months, 3 years as being the major milestones one must overcome before they can really consider themselves a former tobacco user.  It was a great short article- but it really only enabled me to have more reasons why NOT to quit– it’s too hard.

I was in the first Ranger School (Army, Fort Benning, GA) that was not allowed to use tobacco products.  I recycled Benning for those who care, so it was 3 months without dip and being around a bunch of other nic-fitting guys.  But I made it.  But I picked it up again later (a few months, maybe).

I can’t tell someone to quit, I can’t tell someone to not ask a loved one to quit.  It has to be their decision.

What I can say is, just don’t start.

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Savings for parents

Parents often get left out of back-to-school deals. From now through September 30, parents are eligible for our student discount rates- and those rates are further discounted for individuals if they train in a group.  Only one member of the group needs to be eligible for the group to use the discount.
Everyone’s first session is free.

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no pain . . . no pain

No, really there is no reason to hurt yourself exercising.  It is common to feel lactic acid and have some muscle soreness (especially when trying something new) but really, if you’re feeling sharp pain or any other symptom that just doesn’t feel right STOP.

Pain is the body’s way of saying “you’re doing it wrong.”  Maybe it’s over-training, maybe it’s bad form, whatever it is stop and fix it before injury.

I did A LOT of over-training in the Army and definitely didn’t use good form all the time.  Fortunately I still enjoy exercise.
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