Recent Posts

Understanding Your Shoulder Pain

by Meaghan posted August 13, 2015

Our students currently taking Advanced Concepts learned all about the influence of scapulo-humeral rhythm on impingement this week. Here is a bit more of what we talked about:

The shoulder is probably the most misunderstood joint in the body, especially among those who don’t have a good foundation in human movement – which, unfortunately, includes the majority of people who work out. This, coupled with its inherently mobile/unstable nature, also makes the shoulder the most commonly injured joint in the body – which is why you see so many people in the gym doing stuff like this:

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Filed under: exercise programs, fitness-related injuries, tips for trainers

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Forgotten Training Variables: Connective Tissue

by Meaghan posted July 30, 2015

I ran a version of the post below a while ago, but our Advanced Concepts students just finished up knee anatomy and injuries so I thought I’d run it again. Among many other issues, the topic of strength as pertains to running in order to prevent knee problems came up in their activity yesterday. The class did a great job not only planning a progressive program for a runner with patella-femoral syndrome, but also articulating the plan so that it made sense to the client (AND her running coach). Here is more or less what they discussed:


Running is a plyometric activity. Therefore, your joints have the potential to take a beating. As you may or may not know, plyometrics place a lot of load on your connective tissue (cartilage, bone, fascia, tendons, ligaments and the joint capsule), especially if muscles don’t effectively absorb the force of impact. So, the risk of injury is quite high when sufficient levels of strength are not first established, and/or when hip/knee/ankle alignment is off. As the old adage goes, “You can’t run to get in shape; you have to get in shape to run.”

There seems to be a bit of controversy regarding the best way to do this, however. A lot of people think that since you’re doing endurance work when you run, training for muscle endurance (i.e., 2-3 sets of >12 reps with little rest) is the way to go. And for a new trainee, someone with a pre-existing injury, or as part of a periodized program for an endurance athlete, this may be good advice. But your body adapts pretty quickly to low-load training; and if you’re running regularly, chances are you’re probably getting plenty of that already. So why continue to overuse your muscles and joints?

Enhancing muscular endurance really shouldn’t be the main focus of your program after the first few weeks of training. For most people, the bigger concern is getting strong enough to avoid injury. You see, your connective tissue adheres to what’s called Wolffe’s Law. Much like a muscle, if you systematically overload connective tissue, it will adapt and grow stronger. But it also has a “physiologic limit.” When you exceed this limit, the structure ruptures.

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Filed under: fitness-related injuries, strength training, workout tips

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Is “Agility” Training as Productive as We Think?

by Meaghan posted May 13, 2015

To cut straight to the chase, my answer is NO – at least not the way we typically perform it.

Before you get all excited, hear me out. Let’s start by looking at some of the most common “agility” drills that we do with our athletes and clients.

First, we have side shuffles, purported to improve agility in athletes like basketball players:

But what is agility really? Agility is defined as the ability to start, stop, slow down, speed up or change direction. And I would add that in order to actually improve agility, we’d have to do these things in response to an unpredictable cue, as this is how things work in sport and in life.

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Filed under: exercise Q&A, fitness commentary, sports, tips for trainers, workout tips

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More Powerlifting PRs for the FPTI Team!

by Meaghan posted April 30, 2015

This past weekend, FPTI took another team out to South Brooklyn Weightlifting Club to compete in the Powerlifting Spring Classic… and returned with 2 gold medals and several PRs!

Moreover, FPTI alum and Focus trainer Louie Tejada lifted a combined total of over 1,300 lbs. and qualified to compete at the national level! Oh, and he also beat a former WORLD champion…

Louie wins gold!

That’s him (John) in the background. He had to settle for silver.

Louie and John were neck-and-neck until the last lift: The deadlift. John was up for his 3rd and final attempt just before Lou and we had all the math figured out: Even if John made his lift and Louie didn’t, Louie would still win the weight class. But at the last second, John changed his attempt so that if he made it, he’d still have a shot at gold.

John stepped up to the platform and approached the bar. He set up (sumo style!) and the crowd went silent. He attempted the pull…but the bar wouldn’t budge. Great effort though!

Louie stepped up next and pulled 529 lbs. off the floor like it was nothing!

He went upstairs for a drug test and walked away with a gold medal for the most total pounds lifted in his 185-lb. weight class, with the former World Champion just behind him in second place.

Louie’s final numbers were:

Squat: 357.5 lbs.
Bench: 314 lbs.
Deadlift: 529 lbs.


FPTI alum, instructor and Focus trainer Jen McCombs also won her weight class with a heck of a grind in both the squat AND deadlift!

She racked that 155 lbs. a little early but she got it!

Jen’s final qualifying numbers were:

Squat: 146 lbs.
Bench: 77.5 lbs.
Deadlift: 198 lbs.

That’s also after dieting crazy hard the last 6 weeks to make the weight class… Not easy!!


FPTI alum and Focus trainer Nick Law-Yue also did exceptionally well for his first meet.

Judges seemed to think he was just shy of depth on that 310-lb. squat… His 290 was unquestionably deep, though, and came up with ease!

Nick’s final qualifying numbers were:

Squat: 290 lbs.
Bench: 250 lbs.
Deadlift: 375 lbs.

Not too shabby at a body weight of 155!


Great job all around, team! Can’t wait for the next meet!!

In the meantime, we’ll catch you on Fridays at the FPTI Barbell Club and training on the Focus floor!

Lou and Jen

Filed under: sports, strength training

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A Day in the Life of a Trainer in NYC

by Meaghan posted April 9, 2015

Tomorrow, we’ll graduate yet another class here at FPTI. And once again, it’s our biggest graduating Master Course class to date! We’ll be sending 23 extremely educated and skillful new trainers out into the working world to help us on our mission to elevate the personal training field. Many of them have landed jobs at Equinox, Crunch and even here at Focus Integrated Fitness, Inc. (shout out to Pete Keriopoulos!), and are already making us proud with their first real clients.

proud teacher

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Filed under: tributes

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Getting an Interview: Resume Dos and Don’ts

by Meaghan posted February 25, 2015

As you may know, this quarter’s FPTI Career Fair is coming up on Wednesday, March 4th! From 1-2:30pm, FPTI will host representatives from gyms across New York City – including Equinox, Crunch, 24-Hour Fitness, Boom Fitness and more – for both students AND alumni to make contacts, ask questions regarding employment in the fitness industry, and drop off resumes.



But your resume can make or break your ability to get an interview, so you’ll want to make sure you put the right things on paper. Here are a few resume DOs and DON’Ts to keep in mind while you prepare yours for fitness employers:

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Filed under: employment, tips for trainers

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How to be a Better Mentee

by Meaghan posted February 10, 2015

Today’s post comes from FPTI Master Course student, Jeff Harse. If you’ve found a prospective mentor that meets the criteria laid out in THIS POST and are wondering what steps you can take to help ensure a positive mentoring experience, read on…


In the aforementioned post, Meaghan lays out five important traits that “will set the stage for a strong, successful and lasting relationship.” From communication and candor to strong character and more, Meaghan provides a fantastic checklist on what to consider when seeking a mentor – so be sure to check it out if you’ve not had a chance to read it!

The flip side to this is what you, the mentee, brings to the table. Finding a mentor to help advise you on your career path and provide honest, positive and constructive criticism is a two-way street. You must be genuinely open to receiving feedback on your goals and performance. You must be open to new perspectives and trains of thought. You must strive to build trust and show appreciation.

thank you mentor


The idea of having a mentor in the fitness industry came up many times in our Theory and Application class at FPTI. Our instructor, Adrienne Lufkin, would occasionally dole out pearls of wisdom, remarking on how her mentor helped influence everything from her warm-up design and exercise programming to how she balanced daily demands. Years later, Adrienne said that she is still appreciative of her mentor and her perspective is still influenced, in part, by her time with this mentor.

That said, here are five things that you can do to help ensure a mutually respectful and beneficial relationship with a mentor: Continue reading »

Filed under: tips for trainers

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Q&A: What Should I Look for in a Mentor?

by Meaghan posted February 2, 2015

I want to thank FPTI Master Course student, Jeff Harse, for suggesting this idea for a post. It made immediate sense to me given our large student and new trainer audience; and, if there’s one thing Focus does well, it’s mentor.


And if there’s one thing all potential mentees need to determine, it’s whether or not they can trust someone they may not know that well to guide them at this crucial time in their careers. That said, when you’re in search of a mentor, here are 5 important traits to look for that will set the stage for a strong, successful and lasting relationship:

1. Communication and candor. When first starting out in any field, arguably the most valuable asset is a mentor’s feedback. And as much as you love receiving positive feedback from someone you respect, your mentor loves giving you genuine positive feedback even more! But the key word is genuine. In order to truly help you, your mentor must also care enough about you to be honest – even when it means telling you things you may not want to hear.

Those of you who have been mentored probably know what I’m talking about. And I’ll let you in on a secret: Mentors HATE having to give criticism! But truly dedicated ones will lose sleep over seeing their mentees struggle. So, they set expectations and ultimately do what needs to be done if they aren’t being met – because, in the long run, they care more about seeing you succeed than about sparing your feelings. Your mentor’s actions when you’re struggling are what will tip you off to whether or not you can trust their words. Be sure to pay attention not only to how well they listen, but to whether or not they pick up on other signs and respond to your real needs. Continue reading »

Filed under: tips for trainers

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10 Fitness Resources to Check Out in 2015

by Meaghan posted January 21, 2015

Every January, a list of the “Top 100 Most Influential People in Fitness” makes its way around the Interweb. You can find the 2015 list HERE.

But while this list is certainly great for exposing our industry leaders, “influential” does not always guarantee positive influence…Granted, I think most of those who made this year’s list are both well-rounded and well-respected in fitness. The bigger problem is, there are A LOT of names on that list and “fitness” is a broad term…


That said, I wanted to compile a smaller list of respectable resources more specific to personal trainers. So, here it is:

1. The Personal Trainer Development Center. Much like what we aim to do at FPTI, this comprehensive site aims to improve the fitness industry through education. With a collection of relevant articles and videos for personal from personal trainers, it’s a great go-to site to learn from others who share the goal of raising the bar in this field. And with wonderful contributing coaches like female strength advocates Neghar Fonooni and Cassandra Forsythe, and the innovative and practical Nick Tumminello, you’ll have access to a host of useful information from highly successful industry professionals.

2. PT on the NET. This is a similar comprehensive site with contributions from top personal trainers. From programming to client communication strategies, this site covers all you need to be successful as a personal trainer.

3. The Strength Coach Podcast. Though slightly more specific to strength and conditioning, Mike Boyle and Anthony Renna have done a fantastic  job getting top coaches on the podcast to talk about the day-to-day demands of a fitness coach. If you want an audio option for education, I highly recommend listening in to the biweekly interviews.

4. Strength and Conditioning Research Review. If you’re a research nerd like Bret Contreras, great. If you’re not but want applicable, peer-reviewed evidence to make  you a better coach, this is the source for  you. And at previously $10/month for a summary of 50 relevant studies per month, there is now also a condensed option for FREE.

5. Eric Cressey’s BlogThis has always been and continues to be my go-to site for fast information from one of the most educated, well-rounded and successful young trainers in the field. Between coaching teams and clients, and running the renowned and growing Cressey Performance, I’m not quite sure how Eric manages to keep up with his blog – but he seems to do an even more fantastic  job the busier he gets!

6. Mobility WOD. Run by former CrossFitter Kelly Starrett, this video blog covers all things mobility. From dynamic stretches to voodoo bands to whether or not we should really use ice, this site has information applicable to banged up athletes and desk jockeys alike.

7. Precision Nutrition. Whether the goal is sports performance or body composition change, if there’s one thing that blunts the effects of a good training program, it’s good nutrition. Fortunately, Dr. John Berardi understands this and is aiming to bridge the gap between fitness coaches and nutritionists with a certification specifically  geared to help personal trainers improve their behavioral coaching skills with clients when it comes to compliance with nutrition.

8. Todd DurkinHaving won ‘Personal Trainer of the Year’ titles on multiple occasions, I couldn’t exclude Todd from my list. With influential books, DVDs and a true passion for people, Todd has influenced everyone from elite athletes to stay-at-home moms with his positive energy and motivating attitude.

9. Starting StrengthWhere would be without Mark Rippetoe to make us stronger? His influence through the growing Starting Strength organization and simple philosophy of training continues to spread through the masses and improve the quality of life of those who follow.

10. Gray CookRegardless of your thoughts on his Functional Movement Screen (FMS), it’s hard to argue that Gray is one of the smartest men in the field, and one of the few to successfully run the gamut from physical therapist to strength and conditioning coach. And now that he’s increased his online presence in recent years, it’s a lot easier to gain access to his wealth of knowledge and experience.


Filed under: recommended resources

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A Look Back at 2014 and What to Expect in the New Year

by Meaghan posted December 16, 2014

As we approach the holidays and get ready to graduate our final class of 2014, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on the past year and thank all of our students, alumni and faculty for their efforts in making this our BEST year yet. thank_you

Seriously, we could not have done it without you.

Why was it our best year? Well, for starters, we successfully grew our Master Course from just five graduates at this time last year to 11 grads last semester, 12 graduating this week and an incoming class of 25 for January! We have also sustained a 100% placement rate for our Master Course students, largely due to the acquisition of 11 new internship sites (bringing our total to 24), most of which hire their interns immediately upon completion of the course. In fact, we here at Focus Integrated Fitness hired six FPTI grads in 2014 alone. Not too shabby for one year’s time!

With the growth of our courses here, you can expect to see additional FPTI campuses opening up soon as well. What you can also expect in 2015 is a greater focus on nutrition in our continuing education, as well as even more emphasis on our underlying core values when it comes to decision making and actions. The fact is, as we grow and manage a larger volume of students who will ultimately represent the face of change in the fitness industry, our ability to stay true to what we believe in will determine how well we achieve our mission:

“To educate and develop personal trainers who demonstrate technical proficiency, integrity and professionalism.”

That said, here are our five core values, how they apply to you and what you can expect from us:

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Filed under: Uncategorized

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