Archive for Did You Know?, fitness-related injuries

This is Our 400th Post!

by Meaghan posted August 6, 2013

And I think that’s worthy of a wee bit o’ celebration.

So, I thought I’d bring you all a wee bit o’ entertainment.

But before I do, I should preface the discussion by noting that, shortly after I wrote THIS post on one of my less than favorite exercises (the lunge with trunk rotation), some of us here at FocusNYC were asked by a magazine to contribute to a list of “exercises you should never do” and explain why. The list included but wasn’t limited to:

1. Upright rows due to impingement;

2. Sit-ups and hyperextensions due to the compressive loads on intervertebral discs;

3. Kipping pull-ups due to the risk of labral tears; and

4. Behind-the-neck lat pulldowns due to the stress on the anterior shoulder.


Mike Boyle recently posted a few more HERE.

And a BIG thanks to FPTI Admissions Counselor, Jason Patterson, for sending THIS link with things you should NEVER do at the gym. (Jason is the man; just ask this semester’s class). Unless, of course, you’re trying to screw with people.


Obesity is Now a DISEASE

by Meaghan posted July 15, 2013

Until a few weeks ago, obesity was merely an aesthetically unpleasing “condition” with adverse health implications that brought about some bias. Now, however, it has been officially declared a disease by the American Medical Association – and with much controversy.

As mentioned in THIS insightful article, some think it’s an outrage and will only promote further weight bias, while others argue that not qualifying obesity as a medical disease leaves the doors open for more gimmicky supplements and “cures.”

So, what do you think?

Personally, I see both sides of the argument: While leaving the diagnosis of obesity up to a trained medical professional may make people who are actually obese realize that their “disease” has serious health implications (not just aesthetic ones), I’m worried this may backfire in the action stage. With “disease” usually comes prescription medication and, regardless of how we classify it, the best treatment for obesity will always be lifestyle change through proper nutrition and exercise interventions, not pills.

I am hopeful, however, that many people do realize this, and that the personal training industry will therefore see an influx of clinically obese clients to help by empowering them with the self-efficacy to improve their health.

But we’d also love to hear your stance on the matter, so leave a comment!

Assessments Are Important For More Than Numbers

by Meaghan posted April 7, 2013

A couple of weeks ago, we were lucky enough to have fitness educator Chris McGrath here to present on fitness assessments.


While formal V02 max tests might not be practical for most trainers, gathering and tracking progress in a variety of fitness categories (strength, power, body composition, etc.) is important for a number of reasons, many of which Chris discussed. Some of the main takeaways from his presentation were:

1. Assess movement first because, without good movement patterns, performance numbers don’t matter.

2. Before we can decide which assessments to choose, we need goals. Aside from SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound), trainers should help clients set goals that are action-oriented rather than focused just on the outcome. I talk more about that in THIS ARTICLE, for which I was recently interviewed.

My teaching example is usually the use of a timed work density circuit as a performance measure for clients who want to lose fat. Decreasing the amount of time or increasing the amount of sets of the circuit are action-oriented process goals that feed nicely into the outcome (or product goal) of body composition change (more work = more calories burned).

3. We need to start defining “results” as feeling better, stronger, etc., and assessing via these parameters is important when we don’t have DIRECT control over aesthetics. And using multiple assessments increases our likelihood of getting buy-in for our programs.

4. The assessments we choose should depend as much on the client’s lifestyle as they do on the goal (e.g., the client who wants his butt kicked gets an FMS but the client undergoing a lifestyle change should probably just track attendance).

5. Not every assessment should be an exercise but we can turn any exercise into an assessment, so we don’t need to stick to just the traditional tests and protocols – but the devil is in the details: Without good technique and consistency in measurement, numbers don’t matter.

6. Don’t be afraid to start doing assessments just because you haven’t always done them; starting the process is as simple as a conversation about revisiting goals – you just have to own that conversation.

Chris and I also spoke a lot about the motivation/accountability factor as well, and that might be the biggest reason to make sure you’re doing assessments with your clients. It’s much easier for someone to stay motivated and accountable to a goal that he/she knows is going to be evaluated. Moreover, it increases feelings of accomplishment – for the client AND trainer. After all, a trainer’s successes are his clients’ results.

Bottom line: Make sure you’re continually setting goals with your clients and using assessments to monitor progress – for both your satisfaction and theirs.

Berries May Reduce Your Risk of Heart Attack

by Meaghan posted February 19, 2013

At least that’s what findings from a study published in the American Heart Association’s recent Circulation Journal seem to suggest.

The study tracked 93,600 women aged 25 to 42 years and, after 18 years of follow-up, found 405 cases of myocardial infarction and an inverse relationship between heart attacks and regular berry consumption. Women who ate three servings of blueberries and strawberries per week were 32% less likely to have an MI than those who consumed these fruits once per month or less, and this was true even among those whose diets were rich in other fruits and veggies.

Study authors attribute these findings to the fact that berries are rich in flavonoids, which help dilate arteries and decrease risk of plaque build-up.

So for all you fitness enthusiasts, if you don’t do so already, consider making more of your post-workout shakes with berries, and drink up!

Santa Monica Wants to Charge Trainers to Use its Parks

by Meaghan posted January 8, 2013

That’s right. As per THIS REPORT from CBS,  the city of Santa Monica is considering charging fitness pros for use of its parks to train, and potentially banning training from being conducted in some parks.

The major con I see is that this may result in fewer people exercising if trainers are forced to raise their rates to offset the cost to the city. BUT, the increased competition may force Santa Monica trainers to up their games, possibly by earning additional education credentials to justify their price increases. Only the smart will survive!

What do you all think?

Personal Training is the 18th Best Job in the Country

by Meaghan posted November 16, 2012

At least according to Forbes. Check it out HERE.

Of course, it’s at the top of the charts in our opinion – and we have a few more things to add to what the Forbes article mentions regarding personal trainers:

What they do all day: Aside from providing motivation and accountability, we spend a great deal of our day planning programs and figuring out how to implement them in a way that is effective for each individual person – taking into consideration physical, psychological and logistical (time, space, equipment, etc.) issues.

How to get the job: Education from a recognized school is definitely a good starting point (of course, we have a bit of a bias toward FPTI…), but an innate ability to communicate, good interpersonal skills and a solid work ethic are also essential, and usually can’t be learned. It may be expected to grow by 24% in the next 10 years, this job definitely isn’t for everybody.

What makes it great: We have the power to change a lot more than health; we change LIVES. It isn’t always roses, but if you’re in it for the right reasons, the reward is worth it.

What’s the catch: Long days and difficulty maintaining benefits are real issues at many places in the industry, but if you constantly work to refine your craft and get good at what you do, you can be successful at a good company or on your own and avoid them both. There are pros and cons to any job, you just have to know what the priorities are for you.


Our Youth Exercise Efforts Aren’t Working…

by Meaghan posted October 4, 2012

As you may have recently read in THIS ARTICLE from the New York Times, a recent review of 30 studies – published between January 1990 and March 2012 – regarding exercise interventions in children shows that for the most part, all of our efforts have been in vain. While the interventions were well designed and implemented, and may even have produced some initial positive results, at the end of the day (and more importantly, at the end of the interventions), kids really weren’t moving more.

You can check out the full review HERE.

My question to all of you is, where are we going wrong??

Formal interventions (e.g., Michelle Obama-led Let’s Move!) clearly aren’t working, but educating adult parents about the importance of exercise doesn’t seem to be working either. I think it’s pretty well-known at this stage of the game that childhood obesity increases the likelihood of being overweight or obese as an adult. Knowledge just isn’t power in this case.

The NY Times article posits a change in environment and an adjustment in the time of the interventions as potential solutions, but I’m curious to hear other ideas – so bring ’em on!

Daily NOT Weekly Stretching Frequency May Matter Most

by Meaghan posted August 16, 2012

We all know where the research usually stands on stretching: Right smack in the middle of nowhere.


There is little evidence that stretching of any type reduces injury risk; some evidence that static stretching may decrease power output in the lengthened muscles (though possibly not in explosive muscle actions lasting less than 100 milliseconds…); and the optimal modes of frequency and progression are still unknown.

The 2011 ACSM guidelines state that “flexibility exercise is effective in improving joint range of motion when performed at least 2-3 days per week, with the greatest gains occurring when stretching is done daily to the point of discomfort (but not pain);” HOWEVER, a more recent study in the NSCA’s Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research suggests otherwise.

In this particular study, authors tested joint range of motion at the hip after stretching either daily or three times per week, and either once or twice per day. After eight weeks, they found that hip ROM was increased equally in people who stretched daily and those who stretched only three days per week but TWICE on those days.

Conclusion: Three days per week of stretching may be as beneficial as daily stretching, provided the stretches are performed twice on those three days.

This may be good news for people with hectic schedules, and those used to stretching before and after a three-day training split. As always, one study doesn’t tell us much…But with stretching, thousands of studies haven’t told us much either! So we might as well try the protocol for ourselves if it’s a better fit for our lives. The one thing we do know is that anyone who needs to increase joint ROM will likely benefit from some stretching than none at all.


Time of Day Affects Your Training

by Meaghan posted July 26, 2012

Ever wonder why you seem to perform better at a particular time of day? Or whether or not you should be exercising in the morning or evening? A recent review of research on the matter may help you answer these questions.

An article in this month’s Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research suggests that there may, in fact, be an optimal time to train – at least for some types of exercise. Without belaboring the science too much, the consensus in the literature seems to be that high-intensity, short-duration exercise that relies heavily on neuromuscular efficiency (e.g., sprints, jumps and other power movements) is best performed in the afternoon or early evening for optimal performance.

It isn’t completely clear why this is, but we think it may have something to do with the fact that the natural circadian rhythm of core temperature results in a passive warm-up effect at this time, enhancing metabolic reactions, increasing extensibility of connective tissue, reducing muscle viscosity and increasing conduction velocity of action potentials (that is, the speed at which our brains can tell our muscles what to do).

Interesting stuff!

What does it mean for you? If you’re [not Usain Bolt…] training for power or neuromuscular efficiency, you’ll probably get better results if you train in the afternoons. BUT, according to the review, regularly training in the morning can improve typically poorer morning performances to the same (and possibly greater) level as the peak observed later in the day. So if you have some type of power competition that will take place in the morning, training in the morning is probably your best bet for success on that day. Not sayin’ you’ll beat the fastest man alive…but you may get slightly closer to a PR.

Similarly, strength training adaptations seem to be greater at the time of day at which training is typically conducted. Interestingly, training in the morning produces favorable performance in both the morning and evening, whereas evening training sessions do not seem to have the same carryover to morning performance.

As for the consensus on the effects of time of day on aerobic training…well, there isn’t one. As far as we can tell, it’s mostly individual. But something tells me we’ll keep looking for any edge we can get.

That said, bring on the Olympics!

Cooking Increases Calories in Food

by Meaghan posted June 28, 2012

It’s thought to be a survival mechanism: The more energy we can extract from food, the longer it will sustain us. Thanks to Brent for sending me THIS ARTICLE, which discusses research showing that cooking food increases its energy value.

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