“After being a part of Urban Athlete, I am more motivated and more fit! The ever changing variety of workouts keeps me interested and challenged.” ~Sally P.
Several weeks ago, we had a client show us an article from The New York Times, “How ‘Muscle Confusion’ Might Help Your Workouts.” The article was a summary of a research study done with two groups of people:
- Same exercise routine each time they came into the gym
- Randomly generated exercise routine each time they came into the gym
At the end of eight weeks, researchers used ultrasound to measure the size and strength of the participants’ leg muscles from both groups. The researchers hypothesized that if the group who received randomly generated exercise routines had stronger muscles, then this was evidence of muscle confusion.
However, the researchers did not find a significant difference in physical strength between the two groups. What they did find, however, was a difference in motivation.
The group who did a different exercise routine each time they came into the gym had significantly higher motivation to continue exercising at the completion of the study.
There are a slew of factors that contribute to exercise adherence. (Hmm..Maybe we’ll talk about that in a later post?) However, if workout variety is something that keeps people coming into the gym, then we can definitely control that.
Every Monday at Urban Athlete, the coaches take the time to discuss the workouts for the week. Why? Because they’re different each and every day! This way, coaches can stay up to speed on the many different movement variations and patterns that we use.
A little more time and energy creating different workouts
A lot more motivation from the clients who complete them
If you’d like to check-out the article that we referenced, please follow this link! https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/08/well/move/muscle-confusion-exercise-workouts-fitness.html
Whether it’s been at a doctor’s office or in the comfort of our homes, we have all stepped on a scale at one point in time! Within seconds, a number pops up that tells us how much we weigh.
But what if we had something where not only a number popped up, but also a detailed analysis of what exactly made up that number?
In October 2019, Urban Athlete integrated the InBody scan into our lifestyle design. The InBody is a two minute scan that uses eight electrodes to determine your body composition – skeletal muscle mass, body fat mass, and water.
The InBody scan is well known for its reliability, or its ability to produce consistent results on consecutive scans. When pre-scan protocol is followed, the InBody removes the human error often seen in traditional body composition methods that require the use of equations.
If you choose to use the InBody scan at Urban Athlete, here is an idea of what you can expect:
- First, you will be asked to step on the scan with bare feet, with your heels aligning with the heel electrodes.
- Next, you will be asked to provide your height, age, and gender. These will not affect the results, but they will be used to create normative ranges from the World Health Organization.
- You will then be prompted to take the handles with electrodes designed for your thumbs.
- Lastly, you will see a percentage at the bottom of the screen. Once this reads 100% (in roughly 30 seconds), you can step off the scan!
Once the scan has been completed and printed, a coach will take the time to discuss the results with you. This is a great time to ask questions about what different measurements mean, as well as come up with a plan of action!
As mentioned earlier, the InBody scan will break down your weight into body fat mass, lean body mass (muscle and bone), and total body water. However, the InBody scan will also provide you with a segmental lean analysis – my favorite part! This section tells you how much skeletal muscle mass you have in each limb and if it has the capability to support your body weight. You will find answers to questions, such as, “Is my lower body stronger than my upper body?”
Urban Athlete is excited to provide clients with more than just a number on a scale, and we would love to answer any questions you may have about our InBody machine! Scans are complimentary with our Urban Athlete membership and are taken every six weeks.
Interested in having a scan, but aren’t a member of Urban Athlete? Contact us at 215-248-2130 or firstname.lastname@example.org to set-up a time to meet!
How many times have you heard a coach at Urban Athlete say, “Inhale down, exhale up”?
Probably too many times to count…
But, why do they say it?
We all know that breathing is important! Our lungs play a critical role in our circulatory system. They release carbon dioxide, or waste from our muscles, into the atmosphere and in turn bring oxygen into our system, specifically into our bloodstream.
Our blood transports this oxygen to our working muscles and then picks up its waste products to be released from the body.
It is a super important system that allows our muscles to continue working.
So, why inhale down, exhale up? Why not exhale down, inhale up?
Coaches say, “Inhale down, exhale up” during exercises where at one point the movement is working with gravity, and at another point the movement is working against gravity.
Here are two key terms:
Eccentric – muscles are lengthing, working with gravity
Concentric – muscles are shortening, working against gravity
Think about the Romanian Deadlift (RDL), for example. At the start of the movement, you hinge at the hips with a flat back, letting gravity take the weight towards the floor. This is when “inhale down” applies, because this is the eccentric part of the movement. Next, you come out of the hip hinge – full hip extension. You are working against gravity, as your hamstrings and glutes tighten to bring you back to upright. This is “exhale up.”
We breathe in during the eccentric phase, in order to prepare our muscles for the subsequent contraction. During the contraction, or concentric phase, we exhale all of the waste products that our body accumulated during the lift.
Are you super aware of your breathing right now? I know I am!
Ever walk into a gym and think, “Whoa, what’s going on in here?”
You keep thinking, “How am I supposed to do all of this, when my back hurt just getting out of bed this morning…”
You’re a little stressed from the morning you’ve had and now you’re at the gym where it’s supposed to be fun, right? But now it’s not looking all that fun, and the idea of trying to work out like everything is okay seems pretty miserable.
So instead of walking-out, you speak-up. You need an alternative. You want to be in the gym with your friends, but the pressure to complete a workout, that your body is telling you is too much, can no longer be ignored.
Cue Restorative UA!
At the start of 2020, we launched Restorative UA, a low impact workout designed to keep people, who needed an alternative, coming into the gym. Not necessarily easier, but definitely different. In this way, Restorative UA helps to bridge the gap between physical therapy and functional fitness, or High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).
Let’s answer a few questions you may have:
- Is this for me, if I haven’t done physical therapy? We say physical therapy, but insert any word to describe what has kept you from the gym or your recent health and wellness goals. This could be nagging aches or difficulty with everyday tasks, such as standing or picking-up little ones.
- What is functional fitness? Functional fitness encompasses all of the movements that we do in the gym that you also see in everyday life. For example, hip hinging in Restorative UA is bending over to get something out of the fridge at home.
- What is a low impact workout? Exercise is a stressor on the body – an external stimulus that causes the body to adapt, or make physiological changes. A low impact workout is designed to put less stress on the body, allowing it greater time to make adjustments.
- What can I expect from a Restorative UA workout? Every Monday and Wednesday from 11AM-12PM, you can expect gentle strength training, mobility, flexibility, and balance exercises.
Have a few questions or want to try some FREE classes? Simply call us at 215-248-2130 or send an email to email@example.com !
Kids have always had an affinity for Urban Athlete. Maybe it’s the stability balls, ropes, and rings that cause their eyes to light-up. Or maybe it’s the open layout that adds to the charm – space where any game or obstacle course can be imagined.
At the start of the year, we launched a program that allows youth to experience this excitement in a structured class.
The purpose of our STARS program for ages 14-18 is athletic development. STARS stands for Strong, Team focused, Agile, Resilient, and Successful – characteristics of a well-rounded athlete who is ready to take on the season. To accomplish this, we’ll use speed and agility exercises, along with variations of our functional movements – squat, hip hinge, shoulder push and pull. This class is offered:
- Mondays & Wednesdays from 4-5PM
We designed our Young STARS program after learning that homeschool and cyber school students needed a fun, social space to fulfill physical education and activity requirements. In preparation to one day join our STARS class, ages 8-13 will have fun with game based play that incorporates foundational, bodyweight movements. This class is offered:
- Mondays & Wednesdays from 1-2:30PM
During the final two weeks of February, both of these classes are FREE! Come get a taste of what it means to be a member of Urban Athlete and meet some new friends along the way!
To register for the STARS program, simply call us at 215-248-2130 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org !
We’ve started our last few blog posts by talking about rest. Why do we rest? Simply put – we rest because we’re tired and crave more energy. In our bodies, energy has a name – adenosine triphosphate (ATP)! We’re going to spend this blog post briefly discussing where the ATP comes from for the specific exercises that we do while at the gym.
If you recall from last week, actin and myosin are the smallest parts of our muscle, but arguably the most important. In order to contract our muscle (think hamstrings in UA’s hip hinge movements), these fibers slide past one another, but they cannot do so without ATP, or energy. They also cannot relax, or return to normal, without ATP.
ATP is incredibly necessary!
Here is a brief overview of the three systems in our bodies that provide us with ATP. As we discuss them, keep in mind that all three systems are at work at the start of any exercise, it’s just a matter of how long each system stays working, or “drops-off,” if you will.
ATP-PC (Phosphocreatine) System
This system is the most short-lived. It supplies ATP for only about 10 seconds, so it is frequently seen in explosive movements, such as a sprint or 1RM of a squat, bench, or deadlift. ATP is formed by the energy collected from breaking down phosphocreatine.
This system is our main source of energy from that 10 second mark to a few minutes. Exercises that rely on the glycolytic system are still high-intensity but last longer than a sprint or 1RM. Glycolysis means the breakdown of glycogen – our storage form of glucose in our liver. Each time this system runs, we have a net gain of 2 ATP.
We use this energy system for sustained, low-intensity exercise that lasts longer than a few minutes. This is the energy system at play when we think of endurance – such as long sessions on the rower or bike. This system generates the most ATP – 36, but at a much slower rate than the other two systems. Unlike the glycolytic system that can only use carbohydrates, the oxidative system can also use fats at the start of the reaction.
In conclusion, ATP goes hand in hand with our nutrition. It is also the fuel that our bodies operate on, and it is the same energy that allows us to complete a workout or grab a cup of coffee.
In last week’s blog post, we talked about the intentionality of rest in workouts and everyday life. This week we’ll talk about muscle contraction and the reason why we rest!
Anatomy and Physiology just happened to be my favorite class!
Let’s start from the beginning. The parts of your muscle that actually do the contracting (or shortening) are buried deep within your muscle. Try to think of the following as nested within one another.
From largest to smallest:
- Myofibril (Actin & Myosin: the parts of your muscle that contract)
Actin and myosin are two strands that slide past one another, in order to shorten your muscle. Think about one of the largest muscle groups in your body – your quads. These small fibrils which are embedded in your muscle fibers, which are embedded in your fascicles, which are embedded in your quad muscles, are responsible for your ability to squat, run, and jump – to name a few!
Muscle contraction is incredible, isn’t it? So why do we rest? We rest, in part, because actin and myosin cannot contract repeatedly on end. We would need an endless supply of calcium and ATP (energy) to make that happen!
Calcium makes our actin and myosin filaments ready for contraction, and ATP sets it into action! Better yet, this whole process is triggered by our brains!
Some additional food for thought: We need ATP for both contraction and relaxation.
Want to learn more about ATP? Tune in next week for our blog post on different energy sources for different types of exercise!
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!
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