I took a good look at myself … and didn’t like what I saw.
I thought: “it’s time to do something about this.” As a coach for the past 13 years, that’s the same line I’ve heard a thousand times, when a client is ready to take a leap of faith and actually do something about their weight, health or fitness. Strange, coming from my own mouth, but with the same resolve as all my clients before me I found myself ready to jump. Forced to change my lifestyle due to circumstances outside of my control, I could no longer take part in any physical activity for 6 months. That, along with a mix of painkillers and a loss of appetite, changed not only my body but my emotional well-being. I decided the day I had doctor’s clearance I would resume activity and get back to being and feeling in shape.
I tell all my clients that they really need to know where they are now to get to where they want to be. My initial assessment – with eyes wide open, for the first time in 6 months, I actually saw just how far back I fell, how much I lost, and the realization that this journey was not going to be easy. Ugh. 160 pounds (10 pounds lighter than my normal), 16% bodyfat (4-6% higher than my normal), and I felt weak and lethargic.
My overall goal was simple; get into better shape than I was in prior to my accident. I like to go extreme, so with the help of my coach/nutritionist (Dr. Charlie Seltzer, http://drseltzerweightloss.com/) I devised a two-part plan:
Step 1 – build as much strength and muscle as possible in the shortest amount of time, without regard to body fat. This would involve a heavy weight-training program, with minimal cardio, and a very high caloric intake, resulting in weight gain (hopefully mostly muscle).
Step 2 – maintain muscle and reduce as much body fat in the shortest amount of time possible. This would involve maintaining a moderate to heavy weight training program and variable cardio intervals, while restricting calories to the lowest possible intake, resulting in weight loss (hopefully mostly fat).
While one might regard gaining weight as easy, I actually found it extremely challenging. I started with a menu full of kale and spinach, brown rice, oats, potatoes, avocados, eggs, chicken, peanut butter and olive oil. My meals were planned, measured and portioned. Calories were counted, and added as the days wore on. I soon realized stuffing my face all day with highly nutritious foods did nothing for my weight gain. I just couldn’t eat enough healthy foods without feeling full. I eventually had to supplement my diet with milk, pizza, cookies … pretty much anything with high calories. It took close to a gallon of milk a day, entire pizzas for dinner, and high calorie snacks between meals to eat 4,000-5,000 calories. Trying as hard as I could, 200 pounds was just out of reach, I had to settle for a weight of 190 pounds.
The good news, I had never felt stronger in my life. I could lift the heaviest weights with ease, including a 355 pound squat, a 405 pound deadlift and a 285 pound bench press. The bad news, along with the added muscle I had gained an excessive amount of fat, measuring 21% at my highest. Although I had gained 30 pounds and “felt” strong, my cardio was horrible and I just “felt” fat.
Good thing by that point I was sick of gorging myself and eating endless amounts of food.
I began revamping my fitness program. 4-5 x per week cross-training to include heavy weights, cardio intervals and stretching (I was really starting to feel stiff all over). I cut my calories to the lowest possible level, 1200 calories a day. I normally would not recommend that for a guy, but by monitoring my body fat levels regularly I could make adjustments to my program if I needed. My nutritionist, Dr. Seltzer, monitored my meal plan and did periodic blood work to make sure that I was getting enough nutrients from my food and was eating things that were satisfying me. In order to keep full I was filling my plate up to the brim with vegetables each time I ate.
My progress was better than expected. I lost 20 pounds in 30 days and cut my body fat to 12%. I know most people would wonder why I would work so hard to put on 30 pounds just to take off 20 pounds. But the stats don’t lie:
I started at 160 pounds, 16% BF, 25 pounds fat, 135 pounds lean, felt like shit!
I ended at 170 pounds, 12% BF, 20 pounds fat, 150 pounds lean, feeling great!
And I’m not done yet. Next time I hope to reach 8% body fat or less.
Some things I learned along the way:
1. Get excited! It’s not going to happen unless you are totally dedicated, ‘cause damn it’s hard to eat the way you’re supposed to without second-guessing or sabotaging yourself.
2. Make a plan. Know what your weight and body fat is before you start. If you don’t know then get help. I do this all day-everyday for others and I still got help from friends and colleagues.
3. Get support. The last thing you want is to come home on your first day of a diet to a pizza party at your house. That’s what happened to me and it was not easy eating my carrot sticks watching the delicious feast at the table go down.
4. Meeting goals is a dynamic situation. Even the best made plans inevitably end up getting scrapped as everything changes. Don’t get depressed, you’re still making progress towards your end goal.
5. Gaining weight while eating all the right foods is almost impossible. I tried it and could not stuff myself enough to gain weight … on purpose. Be honest with yourself, if you’re having trouble staying away from these foods, try this: every meal stuff yourself with veggies, brown rice or sweet potatoes and lean meat, then treat yourself to a slice of pizza (or whatever it is you still want).
6. Losing weight sucks, so do it efficiently and under supervision of a coach (I’m a coach and couldn’t have done it without the help of my all my coach, Dr Charlie Seltzer). You’ll have a higher chance of success and will actually have less of a risk of losing muscle/lowering your metabolism. And don’t be a naïve about it, you can really just end up losing muscle (not fat) and wreck your metabolism for a long time. Know exactly what your protein needs are, what your body fat % is and what your lean muscle % is. When the weight you are losing is no longer fat but muscle too, then stop dieting and go back to a normal weight maintenance plan.
7. When maintaining your weight, eat as much food as you can without gaining weight. Yay! This will not only prime your body for another round of fat loss (if you want) but will also keep your metabolism and spirits high.
At Unite Fitness we can set up an Assessment, which allows us to see exactly where you are now, set goals and tell you how to get there. Take it from someone who did it and used the information to not only zero in on the exact calories needed but to also motivate to get major results. Sign up any time with a coach of your choice.
Numbers and statistics have the ability to change the world because they show us the big picture that we cannot perceive in our own daily lives. Furthermore, their power is greater than mere opinion pieces because it’s harder to bias numbers that come from sound studies. As I have done my own research for Unite’s blog in the last year, I came across several charts that have dramatically changed my perspective on the “right” food choices. You have to see it to believe it!
These charts opened up my perspective from a narrow “ME” focus to a “wider WE” focus. For years, I’ve read studies and experimented with my diet, always looking for what to eat that will balance optimal health and personal enjoyment. While I have always cared for the environment and other people, I had no idea just how much my daily food choices where impacting the earth and society.
Here are the 5 charts that sent me on a path to creating the soon to be released, Sacred Six Diet. This new diet manifesto takes into account not only what is best for our bodies and minds, but the environment and society as well. We can no longer just think of ourselves because there are dire consequences given the size and connectedness of the population and world food industry. I’d like to note that I do not subscribe wholly to any concept listed below. these are great learning tools that provoke us to think about what we eat and why.
1. Food Efficiency Factor
I love this chart because it ties together the energy needed to produce foods with the energy gained by consuming them (calories) into a ranked list that really makes you think differently about the term “luxury food”. That is assuming you care about the success and health of our society as a whole and feeding all its 7 billion people. What the efficiency factor tells us is what foods are most efficient for a growing society to produce and consume. Knowing these factors we can start to put some smarter structuring to our diets that limits the poor efficiency foods (meats) and focuses more on the highly efficient ones (grains, dairy).
2. Food’s Carbon Footprint
A recent study showed that 2/3 of Americans now fully believe in human driven climate change and think we should do something about it. We hear a lot about clean versus dirty energy sources, but we don’t hear about how much our dietary selections impact greenhouse gases. Did you know that the largest producers of greenhouse gases are the cows we require to meet our increasing demand for beef! This is true mainly because of how much methane gas cows produce (25 times more potent than carbon dioxide) as well as the amount of feed they require. Check out this chart detailing the drastic differences in greenhouse gas emissions from the production of various foods. Interesting to me that the top offenders also have other health risks: toxins in farmed salmon, nitrates in processed turkey/ham, saturated fat in cheese etc.
3. Total Impact of Meat Eating
As the last two graphs show, meat, especially lamb, cows, and pigs, come up as the big offenders on both greenhouse gas and societal eating efficiency, but the story actually gets worse for beef production. Producing beef requires 28 times more land and 11 times more irrigation water than any other animal product. I have enjoyed meat my entire life and don’t plan to go vegetarian. However, looking at the total impact of producing beef and to a lesser extent pigs, I have reduced my meat consumption and supplemened that protein with cleaner, more responsible choices.
4. Mineral Content Organic vs. Conventional
I notionally figured that organic produce and grains are somewhat healthier for you nutritionally, but these numbers show that organic has significantly, and in some cases exponentially, more mineral and vitamin content. Our bodily functions need those minerals and vitamins to facilitate the chemical reactions needed to work properly. Roundup, #1 pesticide used to kill weeds, does so by stopping the uptake of needed minerals from the soil, which has a similar albeit lesser effect on the actual crops. We also know that the longer produce takes to go from picked to eaten (unless frozen), the more it breaks down naturally with less nutrients. That is also why many seem to experience local, organic as better tasting produce as well. Not to mention the extra green house gases and energy used in transportation.
The organic movement started as a movement not to get more nutritious food, but to avoid toxic chemicals in our foods. When the crops use pesticides, the water, meat and fish all get pesticides too. The US alone uses 1 billion pounds of pesticides and the long-term effects have not been understood. We are freely putting toxic and unnatural chemicals into our environment and expecting it to stay balanced and healthy.So eating organic produce is definitely the way to go.
5. Antibiotics and Hormones in Meat
According to the FDA’s data we are pumping our animals full of antibiotics and hormones to enhance growth, milk production and prevent disease, but to what end. Bacteria are everywhere (our stomachs have millions alone) and can help humans or hurt them. Things like anti-biotics can help us, but when we over use them the bacteria evolve to be resistant, exposing us potentially to deadly outbreaks. Additionally, the bovine growth hormone has been banned in Europe and 27 countries, yet the US still allows it. More reasons I have gone to organic dairy and meat, but unfortunately that doesn’t solve the antibiotic issue.
I’d love to hear what y’all think about this topic! The world needs some new voices.
Before I started my first fitness studio and cross-training concept, I was on the road to business school. I went through the entire process following many of my friends to grad school. I even got as far as giving money to hold my place at a school before I chose to travel and start a business instead.
What I learned going through the process is that the highly motivated, go getter type that attends business school is also the type that is into fitness. The new business school peeps understand that to be able to take on the physical, mental and emotional demands of a high responsibility, longer hour executive role that most aspire to, they need to be in great shape with outlets to clear their minds and retain their creativity and sanity. Put those two things together and there is a demand for a all-inclusive cross-training program that is highly effective and convenient for people’s lives. That is why Unite Fitness has such an amazing professional clientele and why we see a large crew of bright young Wharton students every September.
What executives have you seen lately that are overweight and low energy? The only one I recall in the news was the obese McDonald’s exec that died of a heart condition surprise, surprise. In our modern society, the research and stories from successful executives clearly show that the people that exercise regularly, eat nutritious balanced diets, and make time to quiet their mind and be social with others excel in the workplace. I was listening to Peter Sage get interviewed about what he does to drive his personal success and he explained his morning routine of meditation, exercise, reading and diet. For more on this topic read the recent blog about the research of the critical health habits of wealthy people generally.
While Wharton is the top place to be for business school, the principles of holistic health and fitness being the central driver for our professional careers is relatable to anyone and especially the executive bound. Unite pledges to help all Wharton, business school students and professionals achieve more through fitness, nutrition and mindset.
The key in what we are talking about is that these are habits, as in daily, weekly habits, which is why they have such massive repercussions for a persons success and wealth. Another over arching theme is that the rich habits are all basically sane and positive, whereas the poor habits are illogical and lazy if health, wealth and prosperity are your goals.
These critical habits are all based on primary research of wealthy and poor people. The patterns and results of this research clearly show the most defining categories of difference between wealthy and poor habits. If you are interested in reading more about this, the source is Tom Corely who wrote Rich Habits and soon Rich Kids http://richhabits.net/ and I just pulled out those pertaining to their health habits. Fascinating research and easy to digest and make a plan to assess and change any of your poor habits into rich habits!
- Regular Cardio Exercise – stimulates body and brain function and contributes to long-term health
- Eat < 300 Junk Calories Per Day – sugar, processed, hydrogenated fats, etc.
- 30 min Self Improvement Per Day – podcasts, audiobooks, reading on career or personal development
- No > 1 hr of Recreation Per Day – includes TV/internet used just for entertainment
- Get Up Early – this is how they get the self improvement, exercise and healthy eating done right off the bat
- Nurture Relationships Socially – who you know has always been at the crux of many people’s opportunities but also creates health and happiness through emotional support and connectedness when done with good heart.
The science shows that the simple but disciplined act of meditating enhances mental performance, emotional stability and physical health. So how do you learn and stick to a practice?
Like anything else, the best way to create a new healthy habit is to find a class that meets regularly, connect with the coach and students, and practice several times per week. Sounds like your fitness training right? Well training your mind is just like training your muscles. Below I provide some of the introductory courses I recommend at the local Shambhala Center, which is largest free, public meditation center in Philadelphia.
Personally I have found meditating and studying Buddhist-based psychology to be profoundly transformative in my life. Meditation slows me down so I am more mindful of my behaviors and other people, allowing me to break out of conditioned responses and turn my mind towards healthier, helpful thoughts and behaviors. Meditation is the best foundation for being able to make any upgrades in your life, be they dietary changes, athletic performance or emotional/relationship work. We must have a correct and experiential understanding of how our minds work to be able to use and enhance or minds effectively.
Everyday Life Series - this is the best course series to start with as it spans 5 weeks, meeting 1 evening a week which helps to create a repetitive habit of meditation with readings and practice in between classes. This is a series of 5 courses, each with 5 week night classes. The first two courses, listed below, you can enroll in without any prerequisites.
- Meditation in Everyday Life - starts Sept 2nd, fills up fast
- Contentment in Everyday Life – starts Nov 11th , guaranteed break thru!
- Art of Being Human - starts Sept 18th
Shambhala is a secular meditation community and publisher spanning North America and Europe that is based on Tibetan Buddhism but reframed for Western life with a plethora of sequential course in meditation and related arts.
- Coach Gavin McKay
It’s already mid-summer and your supposed to be rocking that beach body by now. Instead you’re wishing it wasn’t 90 degrees out so you could hide under more layers of clothes. You’re doing everything you’re supposed to, hitting the gym like crazy and eating more salads than ever (after all who wants to eat hot food in this humidity), yet none of it’s working and that six-pack’s looking more like a two-pack. It might even be fair to say that you had a better body pre-summer. How is this possible? Here are 5 reasons you’re getting fatter in the summer time and some natural ways to remedy them!
1) You’re eating more frozen treats. Fro-yo anyone? Even though this dessert is no fat/ low fat and a so-called “healthier” option it is packed with sugar and horrible chemicals. And let’s not forget about all the delicious toppings you put on there. What started out as an innocent low calorie dessert has now become more calories than eating half a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. Let’s stop being delusional people! A great way to fix this craving is by buying your own frozen yogurt from the store. Stony Brook Farms makes a delicious frozen Greek yogurt and it’s more natural and I guarantee you’ll eat less than you would at a yogurt shop. You can also try making your own “ice cream” by freezing a banana and putting it in a blender (banana-whip). Try mixing with cocoa powder and a little peanut for a take on a “chunky monkey” for a great organic treat.
2) Drinks anyone? When the weather’s warm there’s more happy hours and outdoor functions to attend. Who wants a low sugar, dry glass of red wine in this heat? Most of us opt for sugary white wine or a mixed drink, like a frozen margarita (a whopping 280 calories and 42 grams of sugar). Check yourself before you wreck yourself! It’s fine to indulge once in a while, like on a tropical vacation, but this kind of behavior on a school night is a recipe for the a muffin top. If you must drink, switch to vodka club with a splash or orange juice or cranberry, or my favorite a mojito without the sugar. Believe it or not the mint and lime juice flavor it enough.
3) Do you have a Starbucks Gold Card? Who doesn’t? I can’t wait until my points build up and I earn a free drink. Have you noticed though, that the lines at 3pm in the summer time at Starbucks have doubled? There’s nothing more exhilarating to get you through the last couple hours at work than sipping on an iced Frappuccino. If the previous statement is really true, it might be time to look for a more exciting job. But seriously there are better ways to cool your body down and don’t knock these ideas until you actually try them. First of all drink more water throughout the day so that you don’t constantly crave other kinds of beverages. The craving for a sweet drink is actually your body craving WATER! Try an unsweetened iced green tea and if you have to have a sugar fix, put in a packet of honey. When the honey gets hard from the ice it’s way fun to suck up little balls of sweet deliciousness through a straw. Mint tea also has incredible cooling properties to calm your sweat down.
4) Eating out more. Summer, summer, summertime, time to sit back and unwind. It’s so much more fun to head out to a restaurant in the summer, than it is in the colder months. On a great breezy night, sitting outside with great company and food can be heavenly. One problem is you seem to be doing this more and more, meaning your scale is now hidden in a dark corner afraid to be used. Try not to let summertime be an excuse to eat out at a restaurant more than twice a week. If you love socializing over a meal, invite people over and cook something healthy for them. If you have access to outdoor space and a grill, then you have no excuse not to have most things you enjoy at a restaurant right in your own home.
5) I’m so much more active in the summer! Oh, you mean you walk to and from work or you go to the park more often? Yes, that is more active than sitting on your ass watching TV, but it doesn’t quite make up for the ice cream and beer you had the night before. Moving more is fantastic and I encourage you to do as much as you can, but a 1 hour leisurely walk only burns 200-300 calories, while the plate of french fries you just ate has 400-500 calories (let’s not forget about all the extra calories from the ketchup). How about being more active and working out traditionally, by doing cardio and weights.
So no more excuses in the summer, it really is the time to show off your hot bod!
My wish for this blog is to convince those clients who are choosing to leave cross-training workouts before yoga stretch or final rest to rethink their poor judgment.
Stress opens the door to illness. I say this to people who get sick a lot, but they often don’t believe me or not enough to actually do something about it. The irony is that what people need to do to create a healthier immune system is to actually stop and do nothing.
Our mind-body systems have the most amazing abilities to heal and fight off disease, and these internal sensors are triggered when under any kind of stress. It is like our internal security system and it’s worse than any airport pat down. When stress triggers the survival impulse of fight or flight, we cripple our immune systems and essentially unlock the doors to disease.
The nervous system reacts to stress by secreting hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) that mobilize the body’s muscles and organs to face a threat. The problem is every day worries, such as deadlines at work, financial pressures and family concerns are not the type of emergency that can be helped by these physiological responses. As humans we haven’t evolved much past our cave men days. Shifts flow from the limbs to the organs and blood pressure increases, among other biological responses that tax our system and redirect energy away from non-essential functions such as immunity and digestion.
When we experience deep relaxation conversely we release muscle tension, lower blood pressure and slow breathing and heart rate. Clinical studies have shown that this creates shifts in hormone levels such as serotonin and growth hormone. These hormones help to repair cells as well as increase levels of helper cells that defend against inflammation and infectious disease. This has in fact been known for many years through the pioneering work of Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, director of the Stress Reduction and Relaxation Program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. His programs which use basic breathing and visualization techniques were once called “New age medicine” but are now recognized in tons of hospitals around the world.
“Many studies have shown that the relaxation response can reduce stress and enhance wellness in healthy individuals and counteract the adverse clinical effects of stress in conditions like anxiety, diabetes and aging,” says Herbert Benson, MD, director emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute.
Did you hear that? Regular relaxation counteracts aging! So save money on expensive eye creams and surgery and slow the aging process at the source by taking a load off and learning to relax. Seriously, relaxation is a skill and practice just like exercising and the better you are at relaxing, the healthier and younger you will remain. Did you know that Siddhartha, the first Buddha and devote meditation teacher, lived until about 80. According to the National Center for Health Statistics,the average male lifespan is only 76 currently, and was as low as 58 in 1930, so can you imagine what it was 2500 years ago. I think maybe we should consider he was on to something.
Rest is not enough because we can rest without really being relaxed. When we cannot sleep because our mind is burning with thoughts, excitement, panic, etc. we are resting our body, but not our mind. Relaxing is a deep state of mind and body where we let go of our fears, our plans, our anxieties and settle into the feeling of the present moment without resistance. We need some form of meditation.
Now the power of relaxation isn’t achieved by just a few experiences either, it needs to be a regular practice. At least a couple times a week for 10-20 minutes. Furthermore, studies have shown that the more regular and long-term the practice of relaxation the greater the benefits.
Yogis and meditation practitioners have known the power of relaxation forever, but now Western science is finally learning exactly how this takes place. Just recently, researchers at Harvard Medical School discovered that, in long-term practitioners of relaxation methods such as yoga and meditation, far more “disease-fighting genes” were active, compared to those who practiced no form of relaxation.
In particular, they found genes that protect from disorders such as pain, infertility, high blood pressure and even rheumatoid arthritis were switched on. The changes, the researchers say were induced by what they call “the relaxation effect”, a phenomenon that could be just as powerful as any medical drug, but without the side-effects.
While relaxation techniques can all be very different, their biological effects are essentially similar. “When you relax, the parasympathetic nervous system switches on and that is linked to better digestion, fertility, memory and immunity, among other things”, explains Jake Toby, hypnotherapist at London’s BodyMind Medicine Centre. I personally have found yoga and meditation to be immensely healing, enjoyable and I rarely get sick since I became a regular meditation practitioner several years ago.
These are just the benefits on immunity from the relaxation associated with yoga and meditation, not to mention benefits to your body structure, happiness, and creativity. Often we need a sense of permission or justification for taking the time, even if only for 5 minutes, to truly relax. That is why it was so important to me to include yoga stretch and final rest in Unite’s cross-training. Unite gives you permission, the directive and techniques to relax every workout.
Please be conscious of all these benefits to deep relaxation. If you are interested in creating a meaningful meditation practice, my best recommendation is utilizing the Shambhala centers found in most cities. In fact, there is a beginner course I highly recommend starting in September called Meditation in Everyday Life. Check it out @ www.philadelphia.shambhala.org
Relaxation is sacred, healing and provides personal time. Embrace it and practice.
You’ve just been through nine months of pregnancy – all the changes, all the anticipation – and, now, you are reading this in between late nights, early mornings and every-hour-of-the-day-attention to your precious bundle of joy. First of all, congratulations! What an amazing journey you are on! Second of all, your body and mind feel like they’ve been through the wringer, right?
If you are like 99.9% of new moms, the idea of starting or re-starting a workout program to “bounce back,” is right there on the back burner, waiting for you to make a move. And, if you are like most new moms, you are also feeling unsure of how or when to make that move. Or too tired to make that move. Or too pre-occupied with making sure you are even eating enough to make that move. If this sounds familiar, relax. I have a 4-step plan that will help you get into (or back into) your best shape!
Talk to your doctor. If you are less than 13-24 weeks out from delivery, had any complications whatsoever during labor and delivery or you are experiencing more pain than expected during recovery, have a conversation with your doctor about kicking off your post-pregnancy workouts. This is your chance to field any medical questions or concerns to avoid injury or developing chronic pain. I would highly recommend being as specific with your doctor about the type of workouts you would like to start or re-start. Gentle flow yoga versus high intensity cross training will probably warrant a different opinion. If you are struggling with bladder incontinence and/or Diastasis Recti (fancy word for the common separation of the abdominal wall during pregnancy to make room for baby), contact a physical therapist who offers rehab for these two specific issues.
Talk to a personal trainer. This might require some research, but, like me, there are certified postpartum fitness instructors out there who are happy to meet with you to talk about safe and effective ways to rebuild a strong foundation for you to get into (or back into) your best shape. In my opinion, two keys to reaching your goals are consistency and creativity. With a personal trainer or coach on your side, you are much more likely to persist with your routine without allowing it to become a rut. A good trainer will never repeat a workout (I probably should never say never!), will pay attention to your reaction to certain exercises to know which to cut and which to keep pushing and will keep you on your toes. This is all nearly impossible to do on your own, especially when you have important responsibilities other than exercise on your mind.
Get serious about sports bras.
No kidding! I am serious about this step for two reasons: 1) You will thank me when you feel the difference wearing a sports bra that actually supports you brings to your workout. There are now labels for sports bras that will tell you the type of activity they are best for. For the time-being, mama, stick to “high impact” sports bras. Stock up on a few. And, 2) The simple act of going out on a mini shopping spree for yourself will feel so rewarding. Let’s face it: you deserve it! Call it “retail therapy.” Whatever you name it, you probably know the feeling I’m talking about. A new outfit, a new hair style or treating yourself to a nice lunch can make a big difference in the outlook on your day. If you are feeling the least bit anxious about this new fitness journey, simply buying a few new pieces of workout clothes can be a motivator and shift your mindset from resistant to ready!
Do these 3 moves as soon and as often as possible.
1) Dynamic Bird Dog: In one move, you’ll release tension in your back while strengthening your core, arms and wrists. Set up in table top (on all fours), making sure your knees are in line under your hips and your wrists are in line under your shoulders. Extend one leg behind you, squeezing your butt cheek. At the same time, extend the opposite arm in front of you. Begin drawing your knees and elbows in toward each other, creating a tucked position in your body. Extend back out to the starting position. Repeat 10-15 times on each side. If your wrists are in pain during this exercise, drop down to your forearms and do the leg extensions and knee tucks only.
2) Supported Roll Backs: In a seated position, pull your knees in close to your chest with your hands behind each knee. On the exhale, pull your belly button as far back toward your spine as possible. At the same time, slowly straighten your arms and lower your back toward the ground. Stop when your arms are completely straight. Inhale and return to the start.
3) Chest, Shoulder & Upper Back Stretches: Bring relief and mobility back to these tired and achey areas for most new moms (feeding, holding, feeding, holding, etc.). You can do these stretches standing, sitting and lying on a stability ball or a foam roller. Pick a position that feels really comfortable to you. Here’s one that I do all the time with my clients: Stand with feet parallel, about hip width apart. Open
both arms out to the sides, draw your shoulders down and back, and try to squeeze your shoulder blades together as you try to press your arms closer together behind you. Hold for 5-10 seconds and then slowing bring your arms together toward the front until your hands touch. Interlace your fingers into one fist and try to push your arms forward without leaning forward, drawing your shoulders forward, feeling a gently pull in the upper back and a hollowing out in your chest. Hold for 5-10 seconds. Repeat the entire sequence a few times or as many times as you want as long as it feels good!
Written by Kate Jesuele (Unite Fitness trainer)
Ever since I opened my first fitness studio I was in search of the best method of testing a client’s body composition, i.e. the percent of body fat to muscle mass to water. I’ve tried lots of methods from calipers (human error) to electronic impedance (way off) to straight calculations (no test data) and even a unit that was adapted from testing cattle (too expensive), but nothing has impressed me until our partner weight loss specialist Dr. Seltzer introduced me to the Ultra Sound Body Composition testing system.
Weight is a good indicator of your body composition levels, but only when your height, sex and other factors like hydration are taken into account. Given the plethora of heights and body type combinations of ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph, weight really doesn’t turn out to be the best measure. The body fat/body composition measurement has always been the preferred choice for doctors, trainers and athletes to be able to really understand what you are made of. Body composition testing has simply been inaccurate, unscientific and inconsistent to measure or difficult and unaffordable.
You won’t be able to “see” your abs until your body fat is below a certain threshold. If you don’t know your current body fat measurement “abs” become a rather unmotivating goal. Imagine you know your body composition and trusted that the next measurement would be accurate too, then you can truly track it and motivate to achieve that goal.
- Real, scientific body fat/muscle thickness readings
- Accurate and consistent % body fat calculations
- Requires no pinching or human error
- Cannot be swayed by hydration/exercise/eating/etc.
You can get your body composition tested as part of Unite’s Phase 1: Assessment, which we highly HIGHLT recommend for all new members and anyone looking to decrease their body fat. This is an essential step to ensuring faster success because Unite’s Assessment also includes:
- Full Body Measures
- Functional Movement Screen
- Unite Diet Scorecard
- Goal Planner & Recommendations
- 1 Body Composition Retest
To schedule your Phase 1: Assessment contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Why The Nation Needs Unite
Who is the voice in the fitness industry taking a stand for training that is truly complete, safe and social?
What business is always trying to inspire a balanced, integrated approach to exercise and eating?
What brand is open enough to incorporate what others are doing, yet pure enough to not sell out to gimmicks?
The answer is simple: Unite Fitness.
The fitness landscape has changed a lot since Unite Fitness was born as Fusion Cross-training, but we have stayed very true to our core principles of balance, openness, long-term, healthy, friendliness and personal challenge.
When you look out on the fitness and nutrition marketplace in the U.S., what you usually see and hear about are the extreme workouts and diets; the singularly focused approaches; and the trendy, gimmicky, image-centered brands. Barre methods, Spin studios, Paleo meal services, Crossfit studios and Bikram Yoga have their specialties but the workouts are mostly cardio or mostly strength or mostly stretch. The diets are none of this or only that. If you mix and match these programs, you could come up with a complete fitness regimen with a balanced diet—but not if you’re only following their strict instructions. Some programs try to insert cross-training, or a few minutes of weights on the bike, or running around the block, but nobody really does it in a healthy, safe way that is accessible to most people.
Unite Fitness does all that and more. And Unite is not one of those ELITE fitness studios.
Who wants to experience PRETENSION when trying to get into shape? Who needs extremist attitudes telling them the only RIGHT way to eat? Who cares about doing MORE THAN the person next to you if you are only looking to improve yourself? Shouldn’t a fitness brand, model and studio be about working with clients as they are? Shouldn’t the focus be on uplifting clients to become their best selves instead of feeling bad about being less than some ideal image, diet or performance level?
Unite is also not just a gym.
On the other end of the fitness industry, gyms have to be everything to everybody, so they lack a personal connection, viewpoint and consistent structured training. The nation has seen an exponential rise in the amount and types of gyms and gym memberships, but has it had an impact on the health and fitness of America? Hardly. We are as chubby and inactive as ever. Most people get memberships and never go, or when they do, they fumble about on their own without a motivational setting. It is a waste of their time and money.
When I train in Mt. Laurel, I look out our studio door into the bigger gym and there is hardly any movement going on at all, yet inside our walls we are killing it! We get to know each other, we get a complete workout every time and most importantly we enjoy working out together and sharing our healthy lifestyles. A gym can be a good place for people who have established a regular regimen and have learned how to workout properly, but let’s face it, America, that is not most people … including me. I am addicted to the studio community culture and the power of group training to motivate me to work harder than I ever would on my own. Gyms have had their chance; it’s time to invest in the movement toward coach-led, social and inspiring training studios.
As a savvy consumer and a fitness enthusiast, you need to ask yourself two questions:
- What fitness model do you see changing more people’s lives for the better?
- What brand do you trust to lead this industry and nation toward a balanced, integrated and sustainable way to live with more confidence?
My partners and I can guarantee you that Unite will remain balanced and pure as we expand with franchised studios, online/smartphone programs and our Decathlon race. It means we have to turn down more sponsors, franchisees, investors, etc. but it also means Unite stands for something bigger than money and fame.
Contact me (email@example.com, 267-337-4365) with interest in franchising our studio model, sponsoring UFD 2014 or using our Virtual Boot Camp or 10 Step Eating Experience in your employee wellness program.
- Coach Gavin McKay