From the Trainer

Beauty & Health, From the Trainer

Keeping It Cool with the FitBall Plank

By Ryan Unverzagt Welcome back all you faithful readers! I hope you enjoyed the Weight Plate Lunge from last month and are managing well in the heat. This month’s exercise is the FitBall Plank. This is an isometric exercise (no sweating with this one) in which the objective is to hold your muscle contractions to prevent movement. Typically when you think of exercising, you think of moving. However, you might be surprised how difficult this is with minimal movement. The FitBall Plank is a challenging exercise for not only your core, but also the triceps, shoulders, hips, and quadriceps. Here is the setup: Lie face down on top of a FitBall with your forearms underneath your chest. (see photo). Place the feet about hip-width apart. Slowly push yourself up off the ball until your elbows are beneath your shoulders. The hips should also rise even with the rest of the body. Hold this “plank” position for at least 20 seconds to start, then progress to longer holds. Remember to breathe normal and do not hold your breath. You can crank up the intensity by adding small (2-3 inches) forward/backward or side-to-side forearm movements. You can also try “drawing” shapes such as circles, squares, triangles, or even spell the alphabet. Another way to change difficulty level is to adjust your foot width. A wider base will provide more stability and narrow placement (feet together) will be less stable. Because the FitBall is such a versatile piece of equipment, I will be sharing more of these exercises in future articles. I urge you incorporate more FitBall training into your workouts.

Beauty & Health, From the Trainer

Weight Plate Horseshoe

By Ryan Unverzagt Welcome back to another edition of From the Trainer! Hope everyone has enjoyed the summer so far with plenty of sunshine, heat, and humidity on the way. July has a couple of important dates to note. The first is the celebration of our nation’s Independence from Great Britain. The next day is my father’s birthday! There are plenty of reasons to celebrate this month which generally involves burgers, brats, and beer. Keep your health & fitness goals in mind while enjoying the summer BBQ’s. Eat and drink in moderation. Take advantage of all the local farmers’ markets by purchasing the fresh fruit and vegetables while supporting the area farmers as well as your health! My family farms in Wyoming and I know they appreciate when people support and recognize all the hard working families that bring food to your table. With that said, I’ll move on to another exercise that can help you stay fit. I call it the Weight Plate Horseshoe. It targets the shoulders and upper trapezius muscles. I really enjoy this exercise because it challenges your balance, abdominal strength, and provides resistance from multiple directions. Many variations of this exercise exist, but I’ll describe just one version. Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart holding a weight plate at one side with your arms straight-(Figure 1). I suggest using a 10lb plate for women and a 25lb plate for men. Using your shoulders to lift, bring the plate up and out to the side of your body while keeping the arms straight-Figure 2. Continue to rotate the weight above your head, and then slowly let it down on the opposite side in the same fashion-Figure 3. A few things to remember during the exercise: Control the weight at all times. Avoid twisting your…

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Beauty & Health, From the Trainer

Keeping It Cool

By Ryan Unverzagt This month officially marks the start of the summer season. I hope all of you have cool vacations planned that include lots of physical activities. As the temperatures rise through the summer, it becomes extremely important to monitor when, where and how much exercise you should be doing along with hydrating properly. Did you know that water accounts for more than 60% of the human body’s volume? Water is so vital to life that we can survive only about three days without it depending upon climate conditions. The hotter and more humid the environment, the faster we become dehydrated. It takes as little as a two percent change in body weight to negatively affect exercise performance. For a 150 lb person, that equates to only 3lbs! There are many factors that affect your hydration status such as: Ambient Air Temperature (Outside) Humidity Individual Sweat Rates Body Temperature (Internal) Exercise Intensity & Duration Fitness Level Individual Body Fat Percentage Existing Health Conditions such as cystic fibrosis, diabetes, kidney failure, etc. Dehydration can have several negative effects during exercise such as decreased muscle strength & endurance, coordination, mental acuity, and impaired thermoregulation. One of the most important functions of water within the body is to help regulate body heat. When the body is properly hydrated, exercise will feel easier and you will typically have a lower heart rate at the same intensity than you would if you were in a dehydrated state. This is due to optimal blood volume and cardiac output to deliver nutrients and oxygen to your working muscles. There is no single “Gold Standard” for measuring hydration levels because too many factors play into how your body stores water. However, here are some general exercise and hydration guidelines to follow this summer: Try to workout during…

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Beauty & Health, From the Trainer

Let’s Turn That Keg Into A Six Pack

By Ryan Unverzagt Welcome back to another edition of From the Trainer. It’s that time of year when we need to start trimming down before swimsuit season hits and focus on transforming that keg into the six-pack we always dreamed of! This month’s exercise is a Sit-Up with a twist using a decline bench. It targets the abdominal muscles (rectus abdominis, internal/external obliques, and transverse abdominis) and also works the hip flexor muscles including the rectus femoris of the quadriceps. This is another great body-weight exercise that you can add to your abdominal repertoire. The advantages of using a bench is the ability to adjust the decline angle to your fitness level and securing your lower legs and feet for a more effective sit-up. A flat bench is for the beginners and an increased angle is for the seasoned vets. Before you begin, adjust the bench to your comfort level. After that, climb on and secure your lower legs and feet into the position shown in figure 1. Notice how my hips and knees are bent while my feet are anchored behind the top pad. Ab benches will vary in design, but the better ones will allow you to secure the feet and lower legs and position the knees above hip level (as in these pictures). This position will help protect the lower back and spine from extreme shear forces during the sit-up. When the hips are flexed, the less your hip flexors are involved, which means the abs do the grunt work. For the start, place your hands on the back of your head with the elbows bent, but avoid interlocking the fingers. You do not want to pull on the back of the head during this exercise because your neck will not appreciate the strain. Contract those abdominal…

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Beauty & Health, From the Trainer

Spring Is In The Air!

By Ryan Unverzagt April is one of my favorite months because the weather is making a turn for the better (my birthday is in April too!) and if you like the warmer weather, chances are you will be spending much more time outside, which means less time at the health club; but don’t let your fitness routine melt away like the winter snow! If you are a weekend warrior who loves to compete in various sports throughout the year, or just an “Ordinary Joe” who’s looking for something new, you should consider adding plyometrics to your exercise program. Plyometrics is a form of jump training that has been proven to increase the muscle’s ability to produce power. Why is this important? An increase in power results in an increase in speed, strength, or a combo of the two, which means you will have an advantage over your competition and be lighter on your feet. Another benefit of plyometric training is it can be performed outside with minimal equipment needed. There are a few things to remember before even trying plyometric exercises – age, strength, body weight, previous injuries and training experience. Because of the intense nature of plyometrics, the National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA) recommends a lower-body strength prerequisite before starting any jump training. A person must be strong enough to free-weight squat at least 1.5 times their own body weight. For example, a 180 lb person must be able to squat a minimum of 270 lbs! Don’t worry; you will need about six months of progressive resistance training to reach this strength guideline. The minimum age requirement depends on the physical and mental maturity level of the adolescent. Please check with your family physician to help determine if your child is physically ready to start with basic plyometric…

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Beauty & Health, From the Trainer

Take a Dip!

By Ryan Unverzagt Welcome to another edition of From the Trainer! This month’s exercise is the Parallel Bar Dip. As I have mentioned in previous columns, body weight training can be just as effective as using dumbbells and weight plates for resistance. The dip is as “old school” as jumping jacks, sit-ups, pushups, and chin-ups. Several versions of the dips exercise include seated on a machine, triceps dips off the edge of a bench or chair, or utilizing weight plates for added resistance by either using a belt with a chain or on the lap using two flat benches. With the parallel bar dips, the bars should be about shoulder-width apart. This width will target the lower chest, front of the shoulders, and the triceps. The narrower the width, the more triceps and shoulders are involved. Ideally, the bar height will allow you to lower your body so that the elbows are at 90 degrees without your feet touching the floor. If not, just bend the knees so that your feet are behind you. I like to cross the lower legs, but this is not necessary. Most parallel bars are part of a station that you can perform multiple body-weight exercises that include parallel “steps” that help you get set for the start without having to jump up into position. At the top, your arms are straight supporting your body weight through the hands. As you lower yourself, lean forward to make the chest muscles perform most of the work. The shoulder blades should come together as the elbows reaches 90 degrees. Push yourself back to the top without pausing at the bottom. Going down should be a little slower pace than pushing up. Try two sets of 10 reps initially, and then add either another set or more reps….

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Beauty & Health, From the Trainer

Sweetheart Workouts

By Ryan Unverzagt I will admit that sometimes exercise can be boring, but working out with a friend is always better. As in years past, since Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, I would like to share a few “Sweetheart” exercises designed to keep you and your significant other from falling out of love with working out. Medicine Ball (MB) Sit-Ups: This exercise is done with both people on the floor. Sit facing each other with your knees bent about 45 degrees. Then interlock your feet behind each others lower leg. There are many variations to this exercise, but start in the upright or top position of the sit-up. You can hold a medicine ball at chest level. Both you and your partner lower yourselves to the mat until the upper back touches, and then perform a sit-up toward your partner. Hand the MB off to your partner at the top of the sit-up. Keep exchanging the MB until you have completed at least 15 reps. Partner Leg Pushdowns: If you want to turn up the intensity in your workout, try this ab exercise. Lie on your back with your legs straight, hips bent to 90 degrees, and the bottoms of your feet toward the ceiling. Your partner will stand with his or her feet at your shoulders and beside your head. First, grab your partner by the ankles so you have some leverage when performing this exercise. Next, have your partner push your feet or lower legs away from them and towards the floor. Your job is to tighten up the abs and hip flexors to resist the pushing forces and keep the back of your heels from touching the floor. You also want to keep the legs straight and bring your feet back toward your partner during…

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Beauty & Health, From the Trainer

Get SMART!

By Ryan Unverzagt Get SMART! It’s time to start putting those New Year’s fitness resolutions to work again. If you were lucky enough to receive a “fitness gift” as I recommended in my last article, now is the perfect time to put it to good use. Did you know fifty percent of people who decide to start exercising will drop out within the first six months? Why does this happen? Because it does take a little effort and worth-while time to develop a habit. I have a few ideas that can set you up for success this year. Use the SMART Principle to set Goals: (Specific- Measurable- Attainable- Realistic- Time oriented) When setting your goals, be sure to consider all five of these principles, especially the time oriented one. If you don’t nail down a time frame, you are not holding yourself accountable and that’s when your exercise routine begins to fade away. Keep an Exercise Journal: Writing down every workout may seem like a lot of work, but it will pay off in the long run. This provides a visual so you can actually look back at all the hard work you put in and bring you a sense of pride and accomplishment. Your journal should include specific things such as your goals, the time and date of the workout, list of exercises or lifts, amount of weight used, sets, repetitions, duration and intensity of your workouts, as well as how you felt that day. Another great asset of keeping an exercise journal is that you can track your progress (or lack of progress) to help you stay on track of your goals. You may discover that a change is warranted if you are not progressing toward your goal and that’s ok. Expect Bumps in the Road: Nobody is…

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Beauty & Health, From the Trainer

Gifts for Your Health!!

By Ryan Unverzagt Gifts for Your Health!! It is “that time of year” and it sure feels like it snuck up on me way too fast. I’m still recovering from pulling together my kids late summer birthday parties! But….here it is, December, that time for finding that perfect gift for the holidays. If you are one of those people who struggle to think of gift ideas, you might want to consider something fitness-related. In this covid-era, being vaccinated is the smart thing to do but also maintaining good health helps stave off many seasonal ills. Each year I try to compile a list of gifts that won’t break the bank but will let your loved ones know you care about their health. Here are a few things that I recommend: Heart Rate Monitor: This is a tool that I think everyone should own. Heart rate monitor prices can vary anywhere from $30 to well over $300 depending upon the brand and type. The best thing about having one is that it will track the intensity of your workout no matter where you exercise! You don’t need to rely on a cardio machine at the health club to check your heart rate. It’s also easier than stopping in the middle of your workout to feel your pulse and count while watching the clock. Exercise Ball: (A.K.A. Fit Ball, Swiss Ball, or Stability Ball) I’m talking about the big ball you can sit on at the office or perform multiple exercises for the “core”. However, you can do much more than abdominal exercises with a Fit Ball such as squats, stationary lunges and pushups. Every ball should have an exercise sheet included to show you how to use them. They also come in different sizes and colors, so which one should you…

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Beauty & Health, From the Trainer

Get Ready for the Holidays!!

By Ryan Unverzagt Get Ready for the Holidays!! The holidays have arrived in quick fashion and for many of us it’s probably one of the busiest times of the year. Whether you’ve made travel plans to see family and friends, trying to find that perfect Christmas gift or attending multiple holiday parties, this time of year is fun, but can also be stressful. As we get wrapped up in the holiday madness, it’s easy to let your fitness routine slide, which can mean unwanted weight gain. However, there are a few simple things you can do to avoid the extra pounds. Choose Snacks and Drinks Wisely at Holiday Parties: Holiday parties are a great way to unwind, but they can also set us up for easy weight gain. You want to try to limit sweets, juices, and alcohol. Instead, opt for tea, coffee, and water. If you choose to drink alcohol, stick with the light beer. You should stay away from high-fat meats and cheeses such as salami, mini-dogs, and cheddar and jack cheeses. Look to eat turkey breast, ham, low-fat cheeses like mozzarella, Swiss, or provolone instead. Always fill your plate with plenty of fruit and vegetables and eat them first! Stay Active: This might be the most difficult task to achieve, especially when the weather is bad. If you can’t make it to the gym for a workout, there are some activities you can try at home. Hold a contest between family and friends to find out who can perform the most sit-ups, pushups, crunches, squats or jumping jacks (Do this only before eating, of course). Walk up and down the stairs during the commercial breaks of your favorite TV show. If the weather is nice, go for an afternoon walk or bike ride around the neighborhood. Don’t…

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