Archive for category Fitness

No such thing as TMI

When it comes to providing the best possible service to my clients, I need to know as much as I can about them as a whole.  The first time we meet, I ask a lot of questions.  This means health history (both their own and possible family), medications, current/past injuries, nutritional habits, goals, aspirations, experience with previous trainers, their likes/dislikes for certain exercises.  The more I know, the more individualized a program I can create.


Often times clients will leave out information, thinking that it is irrelevant, maybe a little embarrassing or they just forget.  Below are a few key things to share with your trainer/wellness provider so they can best serve you.

  • Any chronic or acute discomfort, injuries, physical limitations, medical conditions or procedures.
  • Changes in nutritional programs such as cleansing, supplement use, testing out a new format such as vegan, Paleo, etc.
  • Modifications to time committment, daily responsibilities, or additional stress.
  • If you are unhappy with the results you are getting, have the conversation about what changes can be made to make sure you are moving in the right direction.

The reason it is called personal training is because it is specific for you.  Help to create an open dialogue and share what you can.  You will see results that much faster.

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Even a weed turns into a Flower

Last night I came across a video portraying scenes around Baltimore and all that has been happening this week. Unlike most of the violent acts taking place, this was something different. Several clergy from all denominations were linked arm in arm, marching down the street. A true sign of peace and compassion. Ahimsa is a Sanskrit term for “non-violence,” and that is exactly what these men and women were practicing.

The following is taken from an article written by Dorna Djenab called Ahimsa: The Yoga Practice of Non-Violence-

The essence of ahimsa is non-violence of our own heart. The violence we inflict on each other is only the outward manifestation of the war raging inside ourselves and it is only by stopping the war within that we can stop the war without.

Violence is manifested in actions, in words and in thoughts. We may consider ourselves non-violent people but violence can work on very subtle levels. It has many disguises.

Thoughts of guilt, shame, resentment, disappointment all have a seed of violence within them. Words like *should* and* must* are the same. When we are unable to forgive ourselves or someone else, when we carry resentment; when we expect far too much of ourselves and put the responsibility of the whole world on our shoulders; when we expect the whole world to run according to our liking we are being violent towards ourselves and the rest of the world. When we don’t act according to our truth, but out of our fears, we are being violent to ourselves… Truth and nonviolence are inseparable. As Ghandi said: When I look for Ahimsa, Truth says, ”Find it through me.” When I look for Truth, Ahimsa says, ”Find it out through me.”

Non-violence is unconditional love, it is true compassion. We achieve that non-violence by learning to love and be loved; but how is it possible to love and be loved if we choose to escape or ignore some aspects of ourselves?

Yoga encourages us to meet our inner darkness impartially and compassionately, so that it can be transformed without being acted out in the world. We practice how to meet our inner violence nonviolently and how to express our negativity without hurting anyone, including ourselves. When we learn to discharge our negative energies with the positive intention to transcend these aspects of ourselves, we contribute to spreading peace in the world.

On the mat, intend to practice non violence in action and perform the poses gracefully without force. Intend to respect and love your body’s limitations. Have the intention to practice non violence in your mind. Watch and become aware of your thoughts and see if there are any that contain seeds of violence towards you or another. Once you’ve become aware, you won’t need to push it away, just recognize it, watch it come to your awareness and watch it leave. Thoughts come and go. It is by holding onto them and repeating them over and over that they become the source of our violent actions, or violent words. If you just observe them, without reacting to them, you’ll see that they will leave your awareness as easily as they came.

When we allow ourselves to fully experience the hate and pain within us without cringing, violence, hatred and pain will disappear and open doors to new understandings and liveliness. Just as a flower begins its journey from a seed beneath the earth, non-violence begins out of self acceptance and love of the true Self, deep within the human heart. Yoga leads us to a peaceful reconciliation with our own true nature.

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What matters to you?

I would like to give a shout-out to my sister and her colleagues as April is OT Month.

Occupational therapists play a vital role in helping individuals participate in things they want and need to do and to help manage their health to be as active and independent as possible.  One of the first questions they will ask is What matters to you?, rather than What is the matter with you?  Common interventions include helping children with disabilities to participate fully in school and social situations, helping people recovering from injury to regain skills, and providing supports for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes.

Many people question the difference between physical therapy and occupational therapy.  PT deals with pain, strength, joint range of motion, endurance, and gross motor functioning, whereas OT deals more with fine motor skills, visual-perceptual skills, cognitive skills, and sensory-processing deficits.

Occupational therapy is often thought of for adults only.  But that is not the case.  According to the AOTA, kids with these medical problems might benefit from OT:

  • birth injuries or birth defects
  • sensory processing disorders
  • traumatic injuries (brain or spinal cord)
  • learning problems
  • autism/pervasive developmental disorders
  • juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
  • mental health or behavioral problems
  • broken bones or other orthopedic injuries
  • developmental delays
  • post-surgical conditions
  • burns
  • spina bifida
  • traumatic amputations
  • cancer
  • severe hand injuries
  • multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and other chronic illnesses

The “occupation” of children is to thrive, and occupational therapy practitioners work with children and young adults, from infancy through college, and their families to facilitate participation and independence.

Thank you to all OT’s as they help to improve our lifespan.

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21 Miles, all Smiles

Signs of spring are popping up all over the place.  The snow is melting, a few flower buds are sprouting and many of the runners preparing for the Boston marathon likely had their “last long run,” before Marathon Monday.  Today’s weather conditions were much like what I ran through last year at this time for my last long run prepping for Boston, with my dear friend, Alex.  A few layers needed but the sun was shining.  Here is a before and after picture at the beginning of our 21 mile run.

With running season ramping up, I asked my running expert friends and family members for some race day tips, whether you are training for a 5k, marathon, ultramarathon, or an event like Ragnar.  Here’s what they had to say.

  • Trust in your training.  If you have followed your training plan, trust that you are able to finish the race.
  • Come race day, DO NOT CHANGE anything!  This includes nutrition, pace and clothing.  Do not buy any special shorts, pants or tops to wear race day.  If you have not trained in it, do not wear it – you don’t know if any discomfort or chaffing will result in new clothing and you don’t want to deal with pain caused from new hot spots.
  • Don’t get caught up in the hype…ie, don’t let the atmosphere and other runners alter your pace.  You have trained to run a certain pace, don’t end up bonking because you went out too fast.  You want to have a negative split, meaning your second half of the race is faster than your first half.
  • If you have friends/family attending the race, have them spread out throughout the course.  If they are able to get to desolate/isolated parts of the course, even better.  It’s great to see familiar faces in lonely parts of the course.
  • Many races have a camp to hang out at before the race.  Bring toilet paper, you don’t want to get stranded.
  • Even though you may not feel thirsty, it’s usually a pretty good idea grab a drink at the rest stops.  Alternate between water and sports drinks.
  • Have fun and enjoy the experience.

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Practicing what we Preach

Ambitions have started to fade for many people as we head into the lull of new years resolutions.  Motivation, or lack of, affects every one of us at some point- including fitness professionals.  I thought it might be a great idea to reach out to some friends and family in the health and wellness industry to get their strategies for keeping motivation and practicing what we preach.  Here’s what a few of them had to say-

Kelly- Director of Healthy Living, Minnesota
I always have a water bottle with me, I get 7-8 hours of sleep each night, I lift weights regularly, and enjoy hiking and biking outdoors (particularly at state park trails) any chance I get with my husband and 1-year-old son.
It’s important to me that I lead by example so that I can influence others daily so that they can live their lives to the fullest! Many times I share my passion and excitement for outdoor adventures my family has recently done and others want to do the same which is great!

Kelly hiking at Grand Portage State Park on the MN North Shore/Canadian border.

Kelly hiking at Grand Portage State Park on the MN North Shore/Canadian border.

Lynda- Trainer and Group Exercise Instructor, Virginia

Every day is a struggle for me and I know that there are many worse off than me. I used to be able to jump out of bed, go for a run, work out, look after my job hold down a full-time job. But now I force myself to do something. It bothers me a lot that I do not have the energy or enthusiasm I once had. In fact it depresses me.Today was a bad day. I felt so tired. I went to the gym…walked in…looked at the treadmill…and walked out. I felt so hungry, so tired and I went to bed. Tomorrow is a new day.


Lynda looking great after teaching a spin class.


Courtney- Professional Wellness Coach & Personal Trainer, Virginia

First, some clarification on “wellness coaching.” Where personal trainers and nutrition counselors (who are sometimes now referring to themselves as “health coaches”) address the physical aspects of their client, a coach addresses the behavioral aspects. Wellness coaching is much like life coaching with a more specific focus, i.e., incorporating exercise, changing eating patterns, stress management, weight loss, work-life balance or any lifestyle factors that will increase a client’s health and wellbeing. Most clients know what to do and how to do it. They just can’t seem to figure out why they can’t do it on a regular basis. Coaching helps the client uncover behavioral patterns, self-talk, beliefs and perceptions that are keeping them stuck. It helps them shift their paradigm from the lifestyle they are living to the lifestyle they desire.

How I practice what I preach: I understand that living a healthy life is a choice. It’s not always an easy choice and there are many things that can get in the way. However, it is still a choice as is everything we think, say, and do. I practice what I preach by:

  • Working out most days of the week on a regular basis. I don’t love working out, but I love how I feel because of it. I do some sort of cardio (run, power walk, elliptical, or bike) for 30-40 minutes and an integrated weight-training circuit for 10-30 minutes. The time depends on my schedule and how I feel. The key is to “Just Do It!” even if it’s for only a few minutes. You’d be amazed how much you can get in just 10 minutes.
  • I keep up with the LATEST research on food and nutrition. As a result, I eat mostly vegetables, fruits and lean meats, fish, eggs, and poultry. I limit grains (white flour especially) and processed foods.
  • I meditate most days of the week for 20-60 minutes. I mostly use guided meditations.
  • I try to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night. I say “try” because my body doesn’t always cooperate.

Why is it important to practice what I preach?  It’s important to practice what I preach because the only one that can affect my level of health is ME. I am 59 years old and I don’t believe aging has to mean physical decline. I believe I can be as healthy at 80 as I am today if I continue to keep up with the latest breakthroughs in neuroscience, diet, and exercise and practice what I preach.


Courtney, Professional Wellness Coach and Personal Trainer

The last few weeks have been difficult for many people because of grey skies, cold weather and record-breaking snowfalls.  Reignite the flame, find what motivates you to keep moving forward.

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Tuning the Body like a Guitar


There are a lot of clichés used in the fitness industry.  While attending a workshop last week, I heard another and this one really stuck with me because I can relate to the analogy.

Rather than just picking up the guitar and start jamming away, I need to make sure it’s in tune.  Likewise, when I begin a workout, the body should be in tune before starting the workout.  This will help reduce the risk of injury, whether during exercise or in everyday life.

90% of injuries are soft tissue injuries; sprains, strains, contusions, tendonitis, and stress injuries.  Injuries can happen as a result of a single episode such as a fall, sudden twist or blow to the body.  They can also happen over time from repetitive motions such as carrying a child on one hip, swinging a golf club or tennis racquet, or prolonged use of the computer keyboard and mouse.

Each person is unique and therefore, how we tune our body is going to be unique.

Below are a few examples in how we can do that.

Nerve Glides- Nerve gliding exercises encourage the nerves to glide normally as you move your joints. A nerve may not glide well if it is injured or inflamed, as it can get entrapped in the surrounding soft tissue.

Neural Glide Video

Foam Rolling/Self Myofacial Release- SMR focuses on alleviating adhesions (also known as “trigger points” or “knots”) to restore optimal muscle motion and function.


Dynamic Mobility- This helps to get the joints unstuck and warm the muscles, fascia and connective tissue.

Reach Across and OpenIMG_3406



Open and CloseIMG_3413



Hip SwingsIMG_3416



Side Step and Overhead Reach



Low Lunge with ReachIMG_3432


Side Lunge with Reach







Stag Stance Back Bend


Using any or all of these techniques will help tune your body to reduce risk of injury, decrease pain and improve performance.

be well-

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Simple doesn’t always mean Easy

I had a recent conversation with a new friend about my journey into yoga.  Nearly ten years ago I started my own practice as a way to supplement all the physical work I was putting my body through training for triathlons.  My muscles were tight, my posture was compromised and my mind was a bit chaotic.  Through yoga, much of that changed.

Fast forward a few years, I attended my first 200 hour training.  Here I learned much more in-depth about philosophy, the eight limbs, meditation, sequencing, anatomy and the asanas (the physical practice).  This training set a strong foundation in what I do and how I approach my own practice and as an instructor.

We tend to over stretch where we are bendy and collapse where we are dense.  Finding correct alignment rather than always taking the path of least resistance is a challenge.  So this is where we set the foundations for future poses.  Simple doesn’t always mean easy.  Learning to breathe.  Creating space.  Taking time.  Allowing ourselves to really explore.  Instead of using the body to get into a pose, use the pose to get into our body….

During the conversation I had with my friend, I said that I still was not super flexible and that’s why I teach beginners.  I love teaching to students who come to their mat for the very first time and can be in the same room as someone who has been practicing for 20 years.  Taking a basics yoga class is something we all need.

I think it’s great that people try to challenge themselves with new and more difficult poses.  But at the end of the day, a true yogi will say, “Great if I can, Great if I can’t.”

The pics below are me exploring off the mat at Mt.Chocorua in New Hampshire.




Screen Shot 2014-11-21 at 7.25.06 PM


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