At Urban Athlete, we frequently program our workouts with either sets and reps, or with timing intervals. With interval training, we work for a certain amount of time and rest for a certain amount of time – whether we get in 5 reps or 30! What is great about intervals is that depending on your fitness goal, whether it is to get stronger, become more powerful, or increase your endurance (three of UA’s favorites) – you can alter the work to rest ratio to help get your desired result.
Rest in a workout is extremely intentional. It is programmed with great care to either give our muscles plenty of time or just barely enough time to reset. For strength and power training, we typically rest for longer periods of time than we would when focusing on endurance.
What happens in our muscles when we rest? (Tune in next week for our blog post on Muscle Contraction!)
With interval training, we specifically program rest for 10, 15, or 20 seconds after each period of work. Unless our workout is every minute on the minute (EMOM), we don’t say, “If there’s enough time leftover, we’ll rest.”
But how often do we say that in other areas of our life, when we’re not at the gym?
What if we were as intentional with our rest throughout the day, as we are throughout a workout?
Just like our work to rest ratio changes depending on our goal at the gym, our work to rest ratio can change depending on our goal at home or at work. The key is that we’re still always resting, whether it’s for 5 minutes or 30, so that we come back to the workout or activity more alert and energized.
Sometimes rest needs to be programmed, and that’s okay! At Urban Athlete, we write in on the whiteboard. Maybe you need to write it on a Post-it or set an alarm on your phone. Or, use one of the apps you use for intervals at the gym, for intervals at work!
You can imagine how tired you would be at the end of a 45-minute workout, if you hadn’t rested! No wonder we’re tired at the end of a project or day, when we haven’t taken a step back to reset – our brain is a muscle too!
Rest comes in many shapes and sizes. During a workout, some people might grab a drink or talk with a friend. During the day, you might read a book or go for a walk.
We’re all different! What makes you feel the most rested?
Here at Urban Athlete, we are passionate about health and wellness and the positive impact that a gym setting can have on our lives. In 2020, we are spreading our love for health and wellness to the youth in our area, and we couldn’t be more excited!
How are we going about this?
One of the main determinants of exercise adherence is whether the type of exercise is enjoyable! With the mindset of starting lifetime habits early, we have created a pre-programmed workout for kids that is fun, interactive, and effective. The adults at Urban Athlete are provided with a different workout each day to create varied stimuli for our muscles and prevent boredom, so that is what we have done for our youth!
Whether your child comes every Monday in the semester or twice a week, they will always be engaged in different exercises! One day, they might be doing partner tennis ball planks, medicine ball carries, or a bear crawl relay. The next time they come in, they could be doing a farmer’s walk, push-ups, or rope jumping pull-ups!
Each exercise is chosen purposefully. Our mission is to be a small part of your child’s health and wellness foundation, both physically and mentally.
As we were designing our youth curriculum, we specifically wanted to create a time and space that would serve homeschool and cyber students, as well as their families.
In line with this, we are offering an hour and a half program every Monday and Wednesday from 1-2:30 PM for children ages 8-13. Our hope is that parents would be able to use this time for themselves, while their children participate in game based activities, body weight movements, and agility exercises.
Here’s what that time will look like:
At 1 o’clock, we will begin with a meet & greet, before we get going with our 15-minute warm-up. This is an important part of our programming – getting our blood flowing! We will spend the next 35 minutes running, jumping, and balancing our way through the workout, before having our 10 minute snack break. Then, we’ll finish the day with more relays, partner games, and body weight exercises. Most importantly, we’ll be having fun while getting a little stronger and a little healthier each day!
Our older youth, ages 14-18, have the option to meet every Monday and Wednesday from 4-5PM. Here, we will focus on strength and conditioning, mobility, and injury prevention. This is a great opportunity for students who already play a sport or are looking for a way to get active!
Have questions or want to get to know Team UA? We are holding an Open House from 12-2 PM on Saturday, February 1stor check out the “Meet the Team” page of our website!
When I was 10 years old, my doctor told me that I had a curve in my back called scoliosis. My curve is roughly thirty-three degrees and looks like a question mark. As you can imagine, an already awkward period of adolescent growth was made even more difficult. My back muscles were trying incredibly hard to compensate for the curve in my back, and it was physically noticeable. Here are some anatomical changes (all noticeable to my friends) that happened in my body, due to the curve in my back:
- My left hip was higher than my right hip – which caused my right leg to be longer.
- My right shoulder was higher than my left shoulder.
- My left ear fell towards my left shoulder – which caused my head to tilt.
- My upper body muscles were incredibly stiff – which caused a pitch change in my voice.
All of this because of that curve in my back. Oy.
At the time, I didn’t have the schooling that I do now to understand the changes that were occurring and why. However, when the specialist we were seeing could have prescribed a brace or back surgery, he prescribed physical therapy. After 6 months of core exercises (mostly planking, if I’m being honest), I was on my way to standing straight. To this day, you can hardly notice any alteration in my posture, unless I bend over to touch my toes to show off my curve. Usually, I am the first to notice my own “crookedness,” and the very first thing I do is workout.
Here is something that you can do at home to understand exactly what I mean:
Sit or stand with both of your hands on your hip bones. Keeping your hands on your hips, gently roll your hips forward – being mindful of the arch that you feel in your lower back. Now, tighten your abdomen, pulling your belly button to your spine and notice how that arch in your lower back disappears. You might have noticed that your glutes also contracted – screaming “Finally! Man, I was getting bored!”.
Have a desk job? No problem. Here at Urban Athlete, this is the very reason that we incorporate the movements that we do into our workouts. To counteract tight hip flexors (the muscles at the front of our hips used when sitting), we work our gluteal muscles and our hamstrings (all the muscles in the back). In addition to our bodyweight exercises, we accomplish this through a variety of extremely effective kettlebell exercises, such as the RDL, swing, high pull, and clean – just to name a few.
Here’s the scoop: Back pain occurs when our back muscles are working too hard, often as a result of sitting. If we engage/strengthen our core muscles, gluteal muscles, and hamstrings, that workload is taken from our backs – often with a nearly audible “Thank you.”
It is my belief that one of the biggest detriments to the health and wellness industry is the abundance of information that is available on line, specifically nutrition (likely fitness too but I’m going to tackle nutrition today)… And here I am adding to that information. It’s also a detriment to consumers because it’s hard to tell who is telling the truth and what really works.
First: my disclaimer is that I am not a registered dietician or nutritionist and this is simply my opinion.
If you seek out information online about how you can be a healthier person and make better decisions when it comes to nutrition and exercise, then I’m sure like the rest of us – you’ve encountered more ways than you can count on what works. Not only that, I’m sure you’ve read success stories on each of those ways and now the big question you ask yourself is which one will I try?
It’s confusing to say the least. If you’re struggling with wanting to achieve any type of goal it’s also frustrating.
Here’s my take on all of it.
Most of us, even if we eat healthfully, don’t do so consistently enough for a long enough period of time to know if what we are doing is working or not working for our bodies.
Second to that, we are all different humans and some of us need different protocols to follow than others to see and more importantly feel success.
If you believe you eat relatively well then I encourage you to track your food and beverage consumption for just 3-4 days from the minute you wake to the minute you sleep. Here’s why…our mind tends to push aside the less important things to make room for those items that are more important. It’s easy for the best intentioned of us to assume we are following a smart nutrition plan 90-95% of the time. When in reality it’s closer to 65-70% of the time, simply because we forgot about the piece of chocolate after lunch on Tuesday or the glass of wine with dinner on Wednesday night.
Tracking will also show you if you are eating enough variety of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats and non processed carbohydrates. Like I mentioned above, this post is adding to the info that you can find online but in my opinion it’s important to evaluate. The objective here is to uncover if you are eating healthfully or if you just think you are.
By that, I mean no disrespect but it’s too often that we aren’t doing as well as we think we are so an honestly documented food journal will confirm that. It will also tell us; that before you decide to jump into the next, most talked about nutrition option that has the best success rate, if you’re eating enough whole foods on a consistent basis to start playing around with a different plan.
Trust me, if there was a way to push a button or have a magic nutrition plan and all my health and fitness goals would be an instant reality, I’d jump all over it. The true reality is that most of us do not eat enough healthy, whole foods, balanced throughout the day to even consider fancy supplements let along invest in the “next best nutrition miracle on the market.”
Let’s not worry about which meal plan you should be following until you’ve confirmed that you’re eating well balanced, whole foods at least 90% of the time for a specific period of time first. We’d be happy to help you review your results once you’ve tracked them!
We all have habits – good, bad, and less than desirable. Habit formation is overwhelmingly a psychological concept, because of its roots in learned behavior. In our case, going to the gym or maintaining a healthy lifestyle would be considered a learned behavior. Here are four terms that psychologists use to describe how people learn or acquire a behavior:
- Positive Reinforcement
- Negative Reinforcement
- Positive Punishment
- Negative Punishment
*Try not to think of positive & negative in terms of good & bad.*
Positive = adding something
Negative = taking something away
Reinforcement = to increase a behavior
Punishment = to decrease a behavior
Here are some health & fitness related examples of each:
- Positive Reinforcement: your coach praises you for your efforts during class & you are seeing physical results in the mirror, so you keep coming to the gym
- Negative Reinforcement: you are no longer tired or out of breath during typical daily activities (walking the dog, playing with your kids, etc.) so that increases your gym attendance
- Positive Punishment: sore muscles from a new exercise routine or comparison at the gym keeps you from coming to the gym
- Negative Punishment: the absence of weight loss keeps you from coming to the gym
It is arguably “easier” to form a habit, when we are being positively reinforced – but what happens when we receive negative punishment? Do we just stop coming to the gym – something that we know will help our bodies, as well as our minds?
Some practical advice for when that happens:
- Create your own positive reinforcement: Whatever your reason was for attending the gym in the first place, praise yourself not for the final outcome (weight loss, inc. muscle mass, health, etc.) but for taking a step in the direction of your goal. This is something that we must do consciously & intentionally. Thank yourself for being on the journey.
- Write down or make a mental note of what you are going to tell yourself when you have to combat the forms of punishment that we talked about earlier. What are you going to say to yourself when you notice someone is lifting heavier than you & you are still tired from a long day at work? Have this ready to go ahead of time, as some variation of slow results, physical comparison, and body aches will inevitably happen to all of us – myself included. I personally say, “I am here because I love being around active people, and I know I will feel better physically and mentally afterwards.”
- Some important advice that was given to me long ago was to focus on what you like, not on what you don’t like. If your favorite part about the gym is getting to catch-up with a friend, then focus on that, rather than not being able to do more push-ups. This could also be the opposite for you – you LOVE trying out new exercises, but you don’t love how another person in your session is acting. Focus on getting to do those new exercises and catching-up with that friend, and your whole perspective at the gym will change.
Did I mention you’ll be getting healthier too, because all of these things kept you at the gym?
Thinking of you as wrestle with the uncanny nature of behavioral change – you are most certainly equipped to do it.
~ Jennifer B.
We’ve run various challenges and programs at Urban Athlete over the last 13+ years. Our most successful program outside of our membership commitments is our Lifestyle Challenge.
The foundation of the program is to make healthful and mindful habit changes that support lifestyle commitments that are sustainable for the long term, rather than short term with yo-yo effects. This 6 week challenge begins on Monday, October 14th and runs through Friday, November 22nd.
The 6 week challenge is open to non members (and members) of Urban Athlete and includes:
- starting and final measurements using InBody technology
- nutritional guidelines
- supportive recipes
- four scheduled group workouts a week
- participation in the member’s only November active challenge, along with other member benefits for the duration of the challenge
All guidelines and recipes will be available in advance of the challenge start date to be able to do shopping and food prep. Starting measurements should be scheduled (will only take about 5 minutes) and will need to be completed during the following days and hours:
- Saturday, October 12th 11am – 12pm
- Sunday, October 13th 9am – 11am
In addition to the guidelines, there will be a recorded webinar of what to expect, how to plan, scheduling your workouts and more to be assist in making the Lifestyle Challenge as successful for you as it can be.
Non-Members: the Lifestyle Challenge is a $159 investment for the 6 weeks of training and accountability, with the option to upgrade to semi-private training sessions for $399 (3 sessions a week).
To register for the Lifestyle Challenge simply call us at 215-248-2130 to set up your measurement appointment time and to confirm enrollment in the challenge.
Mental health is tricky. Just like our physical health, we all find ourselves at a different place along the mental health continuum, depending on the day, hour, or even minute (like myself). Unlike physical health, the topic of mental health is frequently only discussed with a close friend or professional.
But what would happen if we started talking about mental health, in conjunction with physical health, while at the gym?
We frequently hear clients say that they didn’t want to leave the house to go to the gym, but they were so glad that they did. Why is that?
We like to think that we are pretty cool here at Urban Athlete so that’s why you want to come hang out with us, but there is more at play here than simply coming to the gym in order to feel stronger. If you want your muscles to “feel” stronger, that is both a physical and mental health goal, and here’s why:
There is a feedback loop between our muscles and our brain, where our muscles are constantly telling our brains how they are holding-up, and our brain is constantly telling our muscles to get a move-on or quit altogether. Seriously. We would not be able to bench, squat, swing, high pull, jump, tire flip, and you name it if our brains weren’t telling us to do so. In fact, when we begin a new exercise, the very first improvement we see is in that neurological pathway between the motor neuron in our brain and the specific muscle that it innervates (i.e. the quads for a squat)! That is the first to happen! Before you could ever dream of getting stronger, that specific pathway from our neuron to our individual muscle fiber needs to fire over and over again!
I say all this, because when we go to the gym, our brains are working hard – arguably harder than our muscles. Not to boo-hoo on any Netflix bingers out there, because I am certainly one of them, BUT it is a very practical and relatable example. When we are lying on the couch watching TV or sleeping, what are our bodies doing? Our hearts are beating and our lungs are breathing and that’s about it. Arguably a very important job for our brain to have, but it does this job involuntarily and with incredible ease. These pathways also require very little energy, because they are incredibly well established and don’t need our help in order to happen.
As a result, we (myself included) have all this extra energy (our brain needs glucose in order for its neurons to fire) to spend thinking about whatever we want.
~ Here’s what I’m suggesting ~
Spend your brain’s available glucose stores on telling your quads to squat, hamstrings to deadlift, or shoulders to do a push-up.
At least until you eat your next carbohydrate-based snack, your brain won’t have the energy to think about anything else.
Have you ever sat for too long at your desk or watching TV, go to get up and you find yourself stiff and uncomfortable?
Ever been tired, on more than one occasion, on the days when you’ve had plenty of sleep and nothing occurred that day that was overly exerting?
How about catching a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and noticing that you’re a little more pale or gray than the last time you walked past a huge glass window while peaking at your youthful reflection, never mind either a few pounds heavier or a little jiggly?
There are, of course, plenty of things that exercise cannot cure…but when it comes down to it, movement is better for us than no movement. Movement helps to keep our joints lubricated. Movement decreases our risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Movement keeps us agile, allows us to improve balance, get stronger and increase bone density. Movement is by far one of the best things you can do for the health of yourself.
(The others are eat well and sleep appropriately.)
I’ve been exercising consistently for almost 20 years. I have had several injuries that have set me back but despite those, consistent exercise or movement has helped me feel less cranky, more confident, more mobile, stronger and overall I often forget what my biological age is. I also owe a big thanks to consistent exercise for maintaining mostly the same physical size as an adult, bouncing back from my first pregnancy (c-section nonetheless) with more ease than expected, a factor in keeping my type 1 diabetes in check and in general having the energy to keep up with my life which includes running two businesses, having a toddler-aged boy and a little girl on the way, consulting part time as a fitness business coach and volunteering.
Of course, life isn’t perfect so there have been times when I haven’t been as consistent as I would prefer or when I’ve even just taken some time off from exercise, but the reality is those are the times when I’m at my worst. I don’t sleep as well. My bones feel achy. My joints get a little restless. I don’t eat as well. I feel tired.
These are all the reasons I remind myself to move each day. This is the key, moving each day doesn’t mean beating myself up in the gym until I have nothing left in the tank. Some days it means a walk, 10-15 minutes of Original Strength resets, dance parties with my kiddo, heavy lifting at the gym, endurance sessions, high intensity interval sessions, etc. My point is – there’s moderation to movement but the common denominator is mindful and purposeful movement that happens every day.
I don’t know about you but I don’t particularly care for the times when I’ve felt stiff, fatigued or older than my age. My intent for all of us is to feel less about those three things and to feel more inspired to spend time in the opposite spectrum; agile, rested and youthful.
Want to see what I’m talking about? Give us a call or stop in to schedule a success session.
I know there have been times in my life when I’ve said this.
Just as I know, there have been times in your life when you’ve said this too! Maybe you’ve even said it recently.
Unless there is some sort of underlying factor, chances are in order to have more energy you simply need four things to get you started and keep you going on the path to having more energy.
- Consistent Activity
- Supportive Nutrition
- Quality Sleep
- Better Life Balance
Don’t get me wrong…None of the above are either easy right out of the gate, nor are they going to be game changers overnight. When done with purpose and consistency, you will begin to see noticeable differences in your energy levels, your mood, and likely your body composition, among other things. At Urban Athlete, we like to think about this like Lifestyle Design.
It shouldn’t feel like you are making all the hard changes all at once. It shouldn’t feel like you can’t enjoy yourself, whether it’s having a relaxing day or an indulgence of food or drink. It should feel like you make good choices the majority of the time so that when you want to treat yourself you are able to without guilt.
There is no one right path for all of us to take. There is no one right nutrition plan or exercise plan. Or waking time. Or bed time. Or career path. Or number of hours worked. (I think you get my point.) There is no simple equation that balances out to the perfect answer. Above all else there are no quick fixes. I don’t write any of this to discourage you. In fact I write all this to encourage you to take the next step because change is good, and small change should feel manageable.
What is the one thing you could do today to move you closer to having more energy in your day?
Perhaps it is:
- drinking more water
- going to bed 15 minutes earlier
- taking a walk
- creating sleep specific space, free of electronics
- eating a vegetable with every meal
- starting a morning stretch routine
And the list can go on. Eventually we would aim to do all of these things, but for today…in this moment, pick just one thing that you can manage to start to make an impact on your own quality of life and gain some energy back. Each day keep with the same one thing, make a promise to yourself that you will stick with it. Notice I didn’t say for how long…That’s intentional, for now at least. The goal is to create a daily, small success that lets you believe in yourself to encourage you to do more.
As you start to master this one task and eventually more you might choose to make larger commitments like:
- getting a personal trainer or joining a group training program close to home or work
- scheduling your day to make sure you get at least 7 full hours of sleep each night
- doing food prep 1-2 days a week for optimal nutrition even on your busiest of days
- knowing when to say no to the things that aren’t a priority to you
When you’re able to make these larger commitments and incorporate them into your lifestyle you find you will have created a new path to walk in. One that likely feels better to you and is how you will gain more energy in the long haul, along with many other benefits.
I think there’s a little bit of a stigma to when you hear someone say they have a personal trainer. There tends to be an underlying misconception that there is a title status one is seeking. While this could be the case in some instances I believe that having a personal trainer really can propel your fitness forward.
It ranges from a wide variety of goals like simply just getting committed to a routine and having the accountability of another person to meet for appointments, to someone who is guiding you along the path of either working around injuries or really pushing you hard so you can’t talk yourself out of doing something that you know deep down you can do. Personal training is just that, personal, it’s tailored to your specific wants, needs and goals. While group training, like ours, can be scaled down or progressed to be more accommodating to what you need. Personal training should always meet your needs. It’s equally as important to communicate with your trainer to let them know how the workout and the exercises within the workout feel to you.
Please don’t confuse this with every workout should leave you crawling out of the gym. That too is not the desired goal, but open communication from both of you will help your trainer progress your program along in an effective way to meet your goals and then be able to set new ones!
Can personal training be expensive? It sure can but think about it… It’s one on one or small group dedicated time with one person who’s studied anatomy and physiology, who has also had experience in helping others reach their health and fitness goals and who most importantly is interested in seeing you reach your goals. When you find the right person, think of the wealth of knowledge you obtain without having to learn all the knowledge yourself! Not to mention the benefit of doing some exercise over others and why… but that’s a topic for another time.
If personal training is out of your price range you can look for places or trainers who offer semi-private training or small group training. Simply put it’s still personal training, it’s just that 1-2 other people are also doing their own workout at the same time as you. Often these sessions and monthly memberships can be significantly less expensive than one on one personal training and have a little extra bang for their buck; like camaraderie, additional accountability and support and a social component – all while focusing specifically on what you need to succeed.
Here are some things that we offer with our semi private training at Urban Athlete that you might want to consider when you are looking for a coach or trainer to help propel you toward your goals.
- Flexibility in scheduling – Often times a static schedule is a far greater option from an accountability standpoint but if you have a little wiggle room to make changes based on your busy schedule, that is an added plus.
- Additional gym access – If you’re doing training in a big gym this shouldn’t be an issue but if you’re at a smaller facility this might not be an offering. If you have the option see if the gym space is accessible to you outside of your training time for an additional workout during the week. Your coach or trainer should be suggesting what you do on your off days to help move you along toward reaching your goals.
- Travel workouts – Whether it’s work travel or vacation, continuing to move while you are away is one of the key factors in continuing to reach those goals! Im’ not saying that you have to pack a gym in your luggage when you travel but you do want to plan to be moving even if just for 10-15 minutes in your hotel room before the day starts or once it’s over. Daily movement should feel like therapy to your muscles and joints not a chore.
- Nutritional guidance – While most of us might not be registered dietician’s you can seek our guidance on the direction of what your nutrition should look like as well as get some feedback on all the crazed nutrition / diet options that exist out there today. This might be tough to digest but your nutrition is more important than the exercise you get in. One of our favorite sayings; “You can’t out train a sh!tty diet.” This goes a little further into detail but for the most part, food and exercise really shouldn’t be transactional. You can however prepare differently on the days that you will / will not exercise as well as on the days that you will / will not indulge with your calories.
Those are just some considerations for you when thinking about adding in personal training or semi-private training into your weekly routine. Remember that movement really is important and once you start with it consistently, you’ll feel better and start to see results. This shouldn’t be an endeavor that you decide to do for a month or two as a sprint to get ready for either a trip or big event. This should be a lifestyle consideration for the long haul to assist in longevity and quality of life.
If you still have questions about personal training or exercise, reach out and let us know what they are. We’re happy to help!
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