From the Trainer

Beauty & Health, From the Trainer

Cast a S.P.E.L.L on Stress!

By Ryan Unverzagt I hope all of you had a memorable holiday season and happy new year! After all of the hustle and bustle that the holidays bring (gift returns, credit card bills, writing thank you notes, tolerating shopping crowds), it’s very easy to accumulate stress.  Everyone has their own unique way of handling stress, but I would like you to consider these healthy ways to cope with it all. Stretch Your Muscles: Flexibility is one of the most neglected aspects of staying healthy. It’s not only good for your muscles, tendons, and joints, but it also can have a calming effect. Take a few minutes each day to gently stretch the major muscle groups of your body (Neck, shoulders, chest, torso, low-back, hips & legs). Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds several times a day. Your local health professional can show you safe, effective stretching techniques to help relieve that stress. Practice Progressive Relaxation: This is a relaxation technique that you can do sitting in a chair at work or lying in a bed. It involves tensing particular muscle groups for 10 seconds, and then releasing that tension for 20 seconds to help reduce anxiety. It will take some time and practice before you really notice the benefits. For example, clench your fist firmly for 10 seconds then slowly release that tension and remain relaxed for 20 seconds. Do not hold your breath during any of these exercises (flexibility too). Progress your way to other muscle groups and focus on releasing the tension completely. A quiet place is helpful to practice progressive relaxation. Ease in To the New Year: Approach the New Year slowly. Give yourself time to get back into a new routine or return to your pre-holiday mode. Listen to Your Favorite Music: Music is…

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Beauty & Health, From the Trainer

Holiday Stress….What?

By Ryan Unverzagt December is a great time to exercise because exercise is a great way to relieve some holiday stress. This month’s exercise is the Cable Row. This is a machine resistance exercise which targets the back and spinal muscles, mainly the rhomboids, trapezius, latissimus dorsi, rear deltoids, and biceps. Many variations of the cable row exist because of the numerous cable handle attachments that you can use. In this example, I chose to use a narrow-grip handle. Before you begin, select an appropriate weight in which you can pull through a full range of motion without the need to lean backwards. Most cable row machines will have a flat bench to sit on with an angled foot-plate to position the legs and feet. Others might have an adjustable seat and chest-pad to lean against without a foot-plate. The start position for this exercise is shown in Figure 1.     What I do first is grab the handle with both hands and then place one foot on the plate to help scoot back on the seat. The handle will be too far forward to reach if you sit down in position and then try to grab it. Once you secure the handle and pull it away from the machine, both feet should be placed on the foot-plate, knees slightly bent, arms extended straight in front of you, and seated in a good, tall posture without leaning backwards. Now you’re ready to begin. Pull the handle toward your abdomen using your upper back muscles (not just your arms) until the shoulder blades come together and your elbows are slightly behind the torso. Stay in the upright position (Figure 2) throughout the row. You can pause for a moment before controlling the weight stack back to the start position by…

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Beauty & Health, From the Trainer

Food For Thought!

By Ryan Unverzagt Welcome back faithful readers! I’ve decided to skip the regular “Exercise of the Month” in this issue of the OTC to focus a little more on food and nutrition. November can be a difficult month to control our eating habits with the Thanksgiving holiday upon us. We seem to let our eyes and stomach get the best of us and give into temptation. So what advice can I give you to stay on the fitness track this month? Put down the fork and back away from the table! Just kidding, but we could all use a little bit of will-power when it comes to eating. I think the biggest issue to address first is portion control. Eating the correct amount of food can save you a ton of calories. Sounds easy enough, right? Let’s review how much a serving size actually is: 1 fruit serving = 1 small to medium fresh fruit, ½ cup canned or fresh fruit or fruit juice, ¼ cup dried fruit 1 vegetable serving = ½ cup cooked veggies or vegetable juice, 1 cup raw veggies 1 starch serving (carbohydrate) = ½ cup cereal, grain, pasta, or starchy vegetable such as corn, potatoes, beans; 1 slice bread, ¾ to 1 ounce snack food 1 dairy serving = 1 cup milk, ¾ cup yogurt, 1 ounce cheese (about the size of 4 dice), ½ cup ice cream or pudding, 1 medium egg 1 meat serving = 3 ounces chicken, turkey, shellfish, beef 1 serving pumpkin pie = 1/8 pie and 1 serving fruit pie = 1/6 pie As you can see, it doesn’t take much to constitute a serving. If you truly took the serving sizes listed above, a normal Thanksgiving Day plate and glass would hardly be full. Therefore, choose to grab a…

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Beauty & Health, From the Trainer

It’s All About the Latissimus Dorsi

By Ryan Unverzagt Welcome back all you faithful readers! October’s exercise is the “Lat Pulldown”. This exercise strengthens the largest muscle group of the back called the latissimus dorsi. A wide grip will help make this muscle work even harder which is why a longer bar is more beneficial. In this example, I used a Fitball to sit on. Most lat pull machines will have an adjustable seat and/or knee pads to anchor your legs during the pull down. Traditionally, this exercise was performed by pulling the bar behind the head and neck. I recommend pulling the bar to the front side of the body to protect the head, neck, and shoulders from potential injury. Whether you use a Fitball or not, the start position should look like Figure 1. A wide, overhand grip (as opposed to underhand used for a chin-up) should be utilized with your upper body slightly leaned back. Keep good posture and don’t let your lower back “round out”. Pull the bar down toward the upper chest – Figure 2. A common mistake is to pull the bar down past the chest into the lap. If you can do this before the weight stack hits the top, you need to select a heavier resistance. Try to touch the bar on your upper chest. It’s obvious that you need to use your arms to perform the pull down, however, you should also focus on using your back by squeezing the shoulder blades together, especially once the bar passes the chin. Maintain the same body position as you did when you started, meaning don’t lean back as you pull on the bar. If you find yourself doing this, choose a lighter resistance. Control the weight on the way back up. This part of the exercise is the most…

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Beauty & Health, From the Trainer

Put Your Weight Into It!

By Ryan Unverzagt Bodyweight training is nothing new, but I would like to discuss how you can integrate this type of training in your fitness routines. For centuries, man utilized his own bodyweight as a means to get stronger for battle which is one reason why our military still uses this type of training today. Bodyweight training uses the forces of gravity as a means of resistance without the need for barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, etc. If you are searching for a change in your exercise routine, just try using your own bodyweight. The best thing about training this way is that you can do it anywhere. No more excuses of why you didn’t get to the gym this week. Below is a sample bodyweight workout: Jumping Jacks……………..  3 x 50 repetitions Squats………………………  3 x 25 Mountain Climbers…………  3 x 50 Pushups…………………….  3 x 20 Situps………………………  3 x 25 Front Hover (Plank)……….   3 x 30 seconds Alternating Forward Lunge… 3 x 24 repetitions Squat Jumps………………… 3 x 15 Let me explain a few of the exercises above. Mountain climbers are performed in the pushup position by bending your hip and knee with one foot forward and underneath you while the opposite leg is straight. Bodyweight should be evenly distributed through each hand and foot. Next, switch foot positions rapidly by “jumping” and alternating the landing position. Try to keep your hips level with the rest of your body. Arms stay straight as your feet do the work. Each alternation counts as a repetition. Make sense? I hope so because that’s a hard one to describe on paper. The front hover or plank is similar to the pushup position except that you will support your upper body with the forearms (elbows directly under the shoulders) and your feet together. Try not to…

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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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