Monday, December 28, 2009

Add Olympic Lifts to Your Workout

Olympic-style weightlifting is a long-established and commonly misunderstood form of resistance training. When performed correctly, Olympic lifts can be some of the most beneficial exercises that exist today, and may likely have a place in your regular workout routine.

What are “Olympic-Style Lifts”?

Olympic lifts are exercises where you move relatively heavy weight over your head in a quick, concise movement.

Traditionally only the snatch and the clean & jerk are considered to be Olympic lifts, as they are used for Olympic competition. In non-completive environment, however, similar lifts such as the power clean, push jerk, as well as many variations involving subtle shifts in grip and body position also qualify.

Do not be afraid!

Olympic lifts often take a backseat with the general population because of fears surrounding accidental injury. Fear not! When done correctly, Olympic-style lifts are some of the safest activities available in the weight room, including those sit-down resistance-training devices.

Olympic lifts have unique advantages: they utilize the entire body, require complete core involvement, promote strength and power development, teach you to generate force utilizing muscles in sequence, and accustom the individual to distribute and accept force correctly.

Also, the extension of the hips, knees, and ankles utilized in Olympic lifting exists in virtually all athletic activities. For those who value power production, which translates to moving quickly, jumping higher, hitting harder, and the like, Olympic lifts are right up your alley.

Before you get Started…

You need to log some serious hours training in the weight room. If it is your first week back to the gym in a few years, Olympic lifting may not be best for you. It takes a certain amount of structure (created with hypertrophy training) as well as requisite strength to perform an Olympic lift effectively. It is a good idea to become proficient in some simpler exercises that utilize the components of the Olympic lifts, like the back squat, deadlift, Romanian deadlift, bench press, and overhead press before beginning an Olympic-style routine.

Safety First!

As stated earlier, Olympic lifting, when done correctly, is a very safe activity. As with all exercise, there are risks inherent to the performance of Olympic lifts, so do your research! To mitigate the risk, ensure you put in the necessary training hours prior to beginning an Olympic program, begin with a reasonable weight, make sure you have enough room, familiarize yourself with appropriate spotting and escape techniques, and attain the correct equipment.

There is no substitute (this article included) for instruction from a qualified professional. If you are interested in learning about Olympic lifting consult a strength coach or an experienced and qualified personal trainer.

Written by Damien K. Krantz, CSCS, NSCA-CPT
Personal Fitness Trainer, Seattle Athletic Club Downtown

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Detox in the New Year!

While the holiday season is full of big meals, parities, and celebrations it typically comes at a price – bigger bellies and tainted eating habits! Now that the traveling and baking have come to a hault take some time to detox your mind and body with healthier eating.

When we hear the word “detox” many of us imediately think of consuming gallons of mysteriously flavored water; or being confined to a very limited, restricted, and bad tasting diet. This is not the type of detox I am talking about. I would like to suggest a simple and healthy way to detox this New Year.

Let’s detox this January by cutting out “processed foods”. Technically speaking, most of the foods we eat are in some way processed, whether it is a pealed orange or sauted vegetables. These are not the foods I am speaking of. The “processed foods” I’m talking about are foods chemically altered through additives like preservativves, colors, fillers, flavor enhancers, etc. Cutting these foods out will force us to consume more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fresh and natural meats and poultry, and more water! While it may take your body some time to adjust, this detox is sure to help purify your body and teach healthier eating habits that can transfer into your normal daily routine.

Processed foods are typically lower in nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein; and higher in harmful fats, refined sugars, and preservatives. You know the ones I’m talking about…the breakfast bars, doritos, packaged dinners, and white breads that seems to last for YEARS in your cupboard and freezer. It seems difficult to know where to start, so start by being whole food oriented. Whole foods are things like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and unprocessed meats. Things that are still in their original form. Here are some simple ways to begin cutting out processed foods throughout the day:

Instead of a bagel and cream chesse – choose – Whole grain oats with fresh fruit

Instead of a granola bar, candy, or potato chips – choose – Veggies dipped in hummus, small handful of walnuts with a piece of fruit, or baked veggie chips dipped in pure avocado guacamole.

Instead of a white bread sandwich with processed lunchmeat, cheese, mayo, and veggies – choose – Ezekiel 4:9 bread (flourless) with grilled chicken breast, avocado, mustard and veggies. Or try making a homemade soup full of fresh veggies, organic chicken or vegetable broth, whole grain brown rice, and beans/legumes.

Instead of a frozen or prepackaged dinner – choose – Frozen veggies, a whole grain (brown rice, quinoa, pearl barley), and fresh poultry or meat. Doctor it all up with herbs and spices! Or try making a delicious salad topped with fresh vegetables, black beans, corn, hard boiled egg, hazelnuts and topped with a simple dressing of olive oil and lemon juice.

Instead of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream - choose - Fresh or frozen berries topped with 2 Tablespoons of fresh whipped cream (sweetened with honey).

Remember that as you begin to incorporate more fruits and vegetables your fiber intake will increase significantly. Make sure you get at least 2 liters (8 cups) of water each day to ensure adequet digestion and filtering of toxins out of your body.

As you start the journey toward healthier eating this New Year remember to make small, acheivable goals. Do not expect yourself to change a lifetime of habits overnight! Start by adding one more fruit or vegetable each day and go from there.

Written by Alison Wilson
Wellness Director and Nutritionist, Seattle Athletic Club Downtown

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Understanding the Essentials of the Lymphatic System

Lymphedema is a type of swelling that can occur anywhere in the body, but most commonly occurs in the limbs. It is often discussed in the course of care for women who have been treated for breast cancer, but it is not unique to this population. In fact, the condition is an issue for individuals with many types of cancer and also for people who have never had cancer at all. Anyone with insufficient lymph transport abilities, either because we were born that way or because we have been through medical procedures that compromised them, may develop lymphedema. The reason people who have had cancer are at increased risk is that surgeries and radiation are likely to damage nodes and lymphatic pathways.

The vessels of the lymphatic system run parallel to the blood vessels. Their job is to transport the body’s cellular waste. Lymph nodes along the way screen out the large particles. This is an important part of our body’s ability to heal localized injuries and clear infections. Lymphedema is the result of impaired transportation within this system.

Looking at traffic flow provides an excellent analogy to the problem of lymphedema. When our local highways get overloaded with cars, traffic slows, gets backed up, and then cars on the highway may exit and spill over into adjacent streets. In the case of lymphedema, the fluid traveling up through lymphatic vessels gets trapped because of insufficient pathways. Just like the traffic jam scenario, the fluid transit gets stopped and then seeps out into the nearby tissues, causing swelling.

Many people do not have full-blown cases of lymphedema, but have a tendency to have some sluggishness in their lymphatic system that is manifest as ankle swelling or other mild impaired fluid transport. There are some simple strategies we all can use to help support and enhance our lymphatic flow. Gentle exercise helps, as does one of life’s great joys: laughter!

When lymphedema occurs it is usually recognizable by chronic swelling. Sometimes people feel heaviness or a dull aching in their limb. This is not an emergency unless it is also accompanied by redness, fever, or any other signs of being ill. Even though it is not an emergency, promptly informing your healthcare provider will make it easier to address and begin to manage the situation. Untreated lymphedema worsens and has the potential to be a serious condition.

Treatment of lymphedema must be performed by professionals who have special training in evaluation and treatment of the condition. Currently, there is no nationally recognized certification process, though many institutes that train therapists issue a certificate. The people who might market themselves as lymphedema therapists are physical therapists, occupational therapists, and, occasionally, massage therapists. Massage therapists are generally not covered by insurance for treating this diagnosis, and they are not licensed to assess for range of motion deficits or give any exercise prescriptions.

A visit to a lymphedema therapist includes a thorough discussion of your history, including exercise habits, past orthopedic injuries, recent surgeries and treatments, and what your lifestyle is like in terms of hobbies, job activities, and other elements. Assessment includes range of motion, measurement and palpation of swelling, and inspection of surgical incisions. Depending on findings, patients may need treatment in the clinic or taught how to care for themselves independently. The three major elements of lymphedema treatment are lymphatic drainage massage, compression, exercise and education about self-care. Each of these elements needs to be specifically tailored to the individual.

If you are experiencing lymphatic swelling, or are at risk for the condition, make a point of learning about it from reliable sources. There are many simple strategies for managing it, and the research in the field is progressing at an exciting pace! The more you know, the better you can care for yourself.

Written by Peg Maas, PT
Seattle Athletic Club Northgate

Monday, December 21, 2009

Quick and Dirty of Stretching - Part 2

In part one of the Quick and Dirty of Stretching, the essentials of stretching were identified, marking key points to reaping the benefits of stretching. Now let’s take a look at what to stretch and where to begin?

A complete stretching routine can take as little as 10 minutes, so no excuses! The best time to perform your flexibility routine is after exercise, this being when the muscles are warmest and when you can use the relaxation after your strenuous workout. Because everybody has unique needs, a stretching routine can be designed specifically for you based on your current activities and range of motion. If you find yourself stuck on where to begin, below are basic sample stretches from head to toe, allowing a fluid transition through the routine.

Neck stretch: Lateral Flexion- Ear to shoulder:
Gently bend your neck in attempt to touch your left ear to your left shoulder. Stop when a stretch is felt in the right side of your neck and hold that position for 30 seconds. Return to starting position and repeat for the right side.

Posterior Shoulder Stretch:
Pretend you have an itch between your shoulder blades. Hold your left arm across your body and grab the back of your left elbow with your right hand. Pull the left elbow in as far as you can so that your left fingertips can reach your upper back. Repeat for the right shoulder.

Anterior Shoulder Stretch:
Hold a towel with both hands behind your back, or if you can, grab your hands with elbows extended. Now stick out your chest while you raise the towel/hands back away from your body and hold.

Chest/Biceps Stretch:
Place the palm and inner elbow of the right arm against the wall. Keeping the right arm in contact with the wall, exhale and slowly turn your body around, to feel the stretch in your biceps and chest. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat with the left arm against the wall.

Triceps Stretch:
Standing up straight and keep shoulders even as possible for this stretch. Bend your right arm at your elbow, lifting your arm next to your head. Position right fingers so they touch the shoulder blade area. Place your left arm across top of your head, and left hand on the right elbow to gently support the arm during this stretch. Hold and repeat for the other arm.

Back Stretch (Childs Pose):
In the kneeling position, place your arms extended out in front of you on the floor and shift your hips back towards your heals. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat if necessary.

Hip Flexor/Psoas Stretch:
Lie on your back. Bend your left leg and bring it toward you. Grasp your left knee gently with your right hand and pull it slightly down and to the right until you feel a stretch. Turn your head to the left. Your right leg should stay flat on the floor. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat with the other leg.

Standing Quadriceps Stretch:
Stand on one leg (grab onto something solid if you need support). Bend your knee and bring your heel toward your buttock. Reach for your ankle with your hand. Stand up straight and feel a slight pull along the front of your thigh and hip. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, release and repeat on the other leg. Be careful not to strain your knee - the goal is not to touch your heel to the buttock, but rather to stretch the thigh.

Hamstrings Stretch:
Sit on the floor with one leg straight in front of you and the other leg bent (with the sole of the foot touching the inside thigh of the outstretched leg). Keep your back straight and lean forward from the hips. Slide your arms forward toward your outstretched foot. Stop when you feel a pull in the hamstring. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat with the other leg extended.

Written by Jamey Peters
Personal Fitness Trainer, Seattle Athletic Club Northgate

Friday, December 18, 2009

Is the Treadmill Taking Advantage of You?

Many people love to hold on to the treadmill while running or walking, and it is common to see a gym-goer clinging on for dear life when the treadmill is revolving at top speed! But what is this really doing for you and your progress? The answer is "not a lot." In fact, it increases the risk of injury and burns fewer calories.

When you consider your normal gait while walking or running off the treadmill, you can begin to see how gripping the hand rails becomes a bad idea. With any exercise, posture is critical in avoiding injury. When you grip the handrail while running or walking, you partially raise your body from the tread. This creates a lighter body weight than what your body is used to while off the machine. While your legs wistfully work through the motions, your upper body sways to and fro, placing the shoulders in a hazardous position. This sort of behavior can lead to injury and compromise spinal alignment (especially for taller individuals) because it increases the tendency to slump over, allowing the head to jut forward. Another issue that develops from gripping the hand rail is the limitation your legs have to fully extend prior to your feet contacting the tread. This results in shorter step lengths, which most people attempt to correct by taking longer strides. By doing this they create ballistic action in the hips that raises the risk of repetitive stress and/or injuries.

The reason that you burn fewer calories while gripping the hand rails is that it eliminates a majority of the workload from the legs and shoulder girdle. If you take away the work from the legs and the gluteal muscles (the biggest muscles in the body) you decrease the total calorie burn tremendously because big muscles require more energy.

So next time you consider gripping the hand rails, just slow down, focus on your posture and reap the benefits of burning more calories. Your body will thank you later!

Written by Jamey Peters and Paul Nelson
Personal Fitness Trainers, Seattle Athletic Club Northgate

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Yoga for Your Immune System

There is a wonderful and potent practice we often do at the end of yoga class for a few minutes. The benefits of this pose increase when we schedule an extended time to practice, and the quieting effects on our nervous systems have tremendous benefit to the health of our immune systems. The pose is: yogic relaxation or savasana. Aaaah, savasana. Different than sleep, savasana is a conscious process of connecting to the earth energy, and gradually letting go mentally and physically so that our bodies can take in the message that all is well. This message is powerfully communicated to every cell in our body, and so we leave the practice, restored and at peace; rested and uplifted. So, rather than “relaxing” by turning on the T.V. and zoning out, or with too much food or drink, try adding savasana into your daily routine.

How to Practice:
Pick a 25 minute period where you can lie down undisturbed. Lie on your back on a yoga mat or blanket. If you like, place a folded blanket under your head. If you have an eye pillow and like to use it, place it over your eyes. Lie with your knees bent, and feet wide, knees resting together, hands resting comfortably on your lower belly. Wiggle around a little until you are really comfortable.

Begin by consciously feeling gravity, the pull of the earth underneath you. One teacher I know calls gravity the earth’s love for us, pulling us closer. Sense the energy of the earth, through the floor you are lying on. Feel all the parts of your body that are touching the floor and begin to relax there. Let your eyes relax, your ears, your mouth. If you have injuries in your body, or areas of chronic holding, give them a little extra attention and cue to let go now. Feel any tension in the body, and continue to invite it to let go into the earth below you. Allow your thoughts to settle. Pay attention to your breath. Feel the spaces between the breaths, and let your mind and body rest into those gaps. Let go completely. If you fall asleep, it is okay. You probably need the rest. Just continue to stay present to your breath, your body, allowing deeper and deeper layers of letting go. If you like, you can work with an affirmation such as: “all is well.” Let your body know you are safe and supported. Feel the support of the earth, the support of the moment. Simply be.

At the end of the time, take your time opening your eyes, stretching out, and feeling the good effects of your practice.


Written by Shannon McCall
Yogi, Seattle Athletic Club Northgate

Pilates for Squash Players: How to Improve Your Game

At Seattle Athletic Club, we are widely recognized for our superior squash program. More than 500 members compete in tournaments, and many people seek out our club to study with the legendary Khan family. Coincidentally, Seattle Athletic Club also has an excellent authentic Pilates program. All of the instructors have graduated from the most rigorous authentic training program, under the tutelage of master teachers hand-picked by Joseph Pilates and his protégés. The common denominator here is the availability to receive the best cross-training method in addition to the best squash instruction.

So, how can Pilates improve your squash game? Racket sports, by nature, are repeatedly one-sided. Half of the body, generally speaking, is used more than the other half. Also, the rotation required in the torso, let alone the extremities, is significant in the game of squash. Furthermore, the mental focus and physical stamina required in squash is crucial to the outcome.

Pilates is designed to work the body evenly, building strength in the torso to aide in the mobility of the entire body. A program of specific exercises will work the body more uniformly in order to prevent overdevelopment of one side. The custom Pilates workout will also strengthen the deep abdominal muscles providing a stable base from which to hit the ultimate ‘kill shot’. The range of motion through the middle of the body is improved upon during every Pilates exercise, as the core initiates all movement. The shoulders and upper back, typically a difficult region to stretch, will gain flexibility through precise movements that will subsequently enhance far-reaching swings, and your ability to reach that drop shot.

The focus required for your Pilates workout will increase your focus on the court. The ability to decelerate in your Pilates workout in order to develop the specificity of the work, will inherently improve your concentration in any fast paced sport. You will, perhaps, be able to anticipate and prepare shots that were once more hurried and less skillful. Also, the breath control that is essential to your Pilates workout, will enhance your innate ability to find that last energetic lungful in order to successfully complete the game.

The benefits of Pilates will follow you through your daily routine, condition your body so that you stay injury-free, and will clearly aide in the mastering of your chosen sport. Squash is a challenging game of athleticism, and Pilates is clearly a ‘straight drive’ to your success!

Written by Amy Sommer, Pilates Instructor
Seattle Athletic Club Downtown

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Keeping Kids Active Indoors

Winter is upon us and that means freezing rain, wind and snow. Unpredictable weather like this can make it unbearable for kids to play outdoors as often. You may hear your kids say, “There is nothing to do” or “I am bored”. On the contrary, there are many fun activities to do indoors. These cold months can be a great way to spend some quality time with the family and get kids to use their imaginations and be creative.

According to the American Heart Association, exercise and increased physical activity are important for kids not only for decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, such as obesity and diabetes, but physical activity promotes overall physical, psychological and social benefits.

It is recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine that kids get at least of 30 minutes a day of physical activity. This can be broken up into 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the afternoon, not all at once. One way you can make this fun for them, is to join in and be a role model. The more you are active with them and physical activity is valued, they will see the importance and start forming healthy habits. They look up to you, so be the change you want for them. The old adage holds true, “Like mother like daughter”. Still stuck? Here are some idea’s!

Indoor Activities at Home
• Build indoor forts with blankets, pillows and cushions. Gather empty cardboard boxes and let their imaginations run with it.
• Play “Follow the Leader” and lead them up the stairs, crab walk on the floor, jumping jacks and hopscotch, etc.
• “Duck-Duck-Goose” and “Musical Chairs” are fun with a few extra kids in the house.
• Hoola Hoop.
• Invest in a WiiFit.
• Have a Dance Party. (My girl’s favorite.) Make a dance routine to a favorite song.
• Play “Charades”. There is so much energy and fun trying to act out animals and objects.
• Have a Scavenger Hunt.
• Get creative and create an obstacle course for the family.
• Play Dress Up.
• Clean out a clothes closet or toy closet and donate any extras to charity.
• Set up a mini bowling alley or golf course in your basement or garage.
• House work help can be fun with music.
• Practicing T-Ball with squishy Nerf balls by hitting them against the garage walls.
• Play indoor soccer or hockey by setting up plastic cones or anything around as goals.

Indoor Activities away from Home
• Visit an indoor swimming pool for swimming or take swim lessons.
• Rock Climbing Gym
• Roller Skating Rink
• Ice Skating
• Check out your local gym youth programs.
• The library and library activities.
• Go to the movies.
• Go to the Mall and walk around.

Written by,
Crystal Kennedy
Seattle Athletic Club - Northgate
Wellness Director

Monday, November 16, 2009

Don’t Let the Holidays Derail You, Start Now!

A common occurrence seems to happen every year for typical health club members and even dedicated ones. The holidays come and they start to slack off from their exercise routine and good dietary habits. Then they make the excuse that’s its too hard during the holidays and they will start over again after new years.

As humans sometimes we don’t realize how much control we have over our lives and with proper decision making and planning we can foresee and overcome obstacles that may stand in our way. With the holidays coming, its time to make a plan and stick to it, and create the momentum that will carry us through.

The first step is believing that you can do it. Believing in oneself has a huge bearing on behavior. You have to believe in yourself and use daily positive affirmations. One example could be “I am a healthy, lean and vital person. I will eat that way and live that way. I am in complete control of my health and well being.” These affirmations should be said in the present tense and with meaning.

Secondly, you must look into the future and anticipate the challenges and obstacles that may come your way and create a plan of action for you to be successful. If you know you will be at several holiday parties with many desserts, create a plan to eat a balanced meal beforehand so you will not be hungry and tempted to get sidetracked from your fitness program. If you know you have a certain amount of gifts to buy, plan to do a little shopping each day so that you still have time to make it to the gym. These are just examples and the solution lies within each of us. Remember every little bit you do each day is beneficial for your health and fitness, even if you can only do 20 minutes on the treadmill or in the weight room. The key is consistency and avoiding the on again off again fitness lifestyle that makes those goals so hard to reach. Failing to plan is a plan to fail.

Finally, you must execute your plan each day and each week. Everyone experiences minor setbacks now and again but you must remember that you are in control. Each week you should review how things went; celebrate your successes and make revisions if necessary. Focus on your goals and how your life will be different if you achieve them. As you become more successful your beliefs and identity will be reinforced, shaping your lifestyle!

Monday, November 2, 2009

No Marathon Necessary

Exercise has proven to increase the chances of breast cancer survival. A study done by Dr. Michelle Holmes, MD, Dr Ph of Harvard Medical School found that “after 10 years of follow-up, 92% of the women who exercised 3-5 hours per week (or about half an hour per day) were still alive, compared to 86% of those who got less than an hour a week of physical activity” (JAMA Vol. 293, No. 20: 2479-2486). The benefits are limitless for both physical and psychological function for the current fighter as well as the ongoing survivor.

Cancer hits close to home for many and it seems that you always know at least one person affected if not yourself. So whether you are the fighter or supporter there are many physical and psychological benefits of incorporating physical activity to your life. Improvements include an increase in functional capacity, decreased nausea and fatigue (if currently going through treatment), improved mood, self-esteem and quality of life as well as a decreased risk of lymphedema and osteoporosis. Activity combined with healthy choices made in your diet can help manage weight gain often associated with treatment, providing physical and psychological healing for optimal health.

So now what? Your exercise program will vary depending on where you are at in your journey. Incorporating strength training, cardiovascular training and stretching into your daily routine will help you find the physical and psychological benefits talked about above. Before beginning your exercise program, consult with your doctor or physical therapist for release in activity.

Range of Motion: Scar tissue can continue to develop up to two years after surgery thus it is important to maintain the range of motion in the hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder. Begin movement as early as possible in your diagnosis.

Sample Exercises include:

Wall climbing
Child’s pose
Chest and Tricep stretch

Cardiovascular Exercise: Mode of exercise and duration should be modified depending on the side effects caused by treatment. Generally walking or biking are beneficial modes of activity. It is best to start with 5-10 minutes taking into account your body’s reaction to movement From there you can increase your duration as necessary with a long term goal of 20-30 minutes of continuous activity. It is OK and you most likely will start with bouts of 5-10 minutes working your way to continuous activity.

Strength Training: Once range of motion of the hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder are achieved, strength training can be incorporated. Depending on your situation, wearing compression sleeves is recommended. Starting with light weights (i.e. 1 pound) an emphasis should be placed on the back, shoulder girdle and arm. Two sets of 10 repetitions is a good start then gauging your body’s response, increase or decrease the number of sets and repetitions. Strength Training of the lower body can be conducted as usual and tolerated.

Sample Exercises include:
Frontal Raise
Rotator Cuff External Rotation

It is important to understand that by adding activity into your journey does not mean running a marathon; even the smallest bouts of activity can make a difference. Adding exercise is one part of the process you can control without the horrible side effects the rest of your treatment may bring.

Link to Journal of the American Medical Association article mentioned in opening paragraph

At the club we offer Focus on Healing classes based on the Lebed Method. This method focuses on stimulation of the lymphatic system reducing the risk of lymphedema, increase energy and weight stabilization. See our group exercise schedule for class times and days.

Click here for more articles in our Resource Library.

Friday, October 30, 2009

TRX Suspension Training

TRX is an incredible new training tool we have at the SAC. It was invented by former navy seal Randy Hetrick . He and his seal teammates needed a way to stay in peak condition no matter where they were and suspension training was the answer.

Advantages of using the TRX
The TRX can give you an edge over conventional strength training because of the high degree of core strength, balance and flexibility that it involves. However, anyone can learn to use the TRX to rapidly and safely improve these three components and increase functional fitness, which is required in sports and daily life. You can adjust the difficulty level just by walking closer or further away from the anchoring point. That means you don’t have to go grab a different set of weights or add more weight to the machine, you just simply adjust your foot placement. This minimizes wasted time in your workout and allows you to accomplish more.

TRX vs. traditional styles of training
Traditional resistance training using machines, and even free weights limits the planes of motion and core recruitment possible during an exercise. The TRX is a single piece of equipment, can be attached anywhere, and is designed to engage the body as a single coordinated system. It has incredible variation in planes of motion and movement angle for virtually all exercises. By integrating these movements into a workout muscle mass increases proportionately and in balance, which reduces your risk of injury. It is also said to be “all core, all the time” because it intentionally displaces your center of gravity forcing your core musculature to work hard whether you are doing a row, chest press, lunge, atomic push-up or bicep curl! Maintaining this core engagement and postural alignment helps to strengthen and control the stabilizing musculature with improved posture as a direct result!

So whether you are looking to dramatically improve your fitness, look and feel better or increase performance, the TRX can help you get there quick.

Click here for more articles in our Resource Library.

Children and Sports: Choices for All Ages

Children's sports promote fitness and prevent obesity, but not all children thrive in formal leagues. Help your child find the right sport and venue — school, recreation center or backyard.

Want to give your child a head start on lifelong fitness? Consider children's sports and other kid-friendly physical activities. With your encouragement and support, chances are a few sports will spark your child's interest. Fan the flame by taking your child to local sporting events and sharing your own sports interests with your child. Then, when the time is right, provide opportunities for your child to try out equipment and experiment with various sports.

What are age-appropriate activities?
Your child is likely to show natural preferences for certain sports or activities. Start there, being careful to keep your child's maturity and skill level in mind.

Ages 2 to 5
Toddlers and preschoolers are beginning to master many basic movements, but they're too young for most types of organized sports. At this age, unstructured free play is usually best. Try:
• Running
• Climbing
• Kicking
• Tumbling
• Dancing
• Playing catch with a lightweight ball
• Pedaling a tricycle or a bike with training wheels
• Supervised water play

Ages 6 to 7
As children get older, their coordination and attention spans improve. They're also better able to follow directions and understand the concept of teamwork. Consider organized activities such as:
• T-ball, softball or baseball
• Soccer
• Gymnastics
• Swimming
• Tennis
• Golf
• Track and field
• Martial arts

Ages 8 and older
By age 8, nearly any sport — including contact sports — may be acceptable. Carefully supervised strength training is OK at this age, too.

Of course, organized athletics aren't the only option for fitness. If your child doesn't seem interested in sports, find other physical activities. Take family bike rides, check out local hiking trails or visit indoor climbing walls. Encourage active time with friends, such as jumping rope, shooting baskets or playing tag. You can even encourage fitness through video games that prompt dancing, virtual sports or other types of movement.

If several sports are available in your community, allow your child to sample a range of activities before settling on one or two — perhaps both team sports and individual sports. When you're comparing sports, consider the:
• Amount and cost of equipment
• Amount of physical contact
• Emphasis on individual skill vs. team performance
• Opportunity for each child to participate

Also consider your child's schedule. Children who are already signed up for music lessons or other activities may feel overwhelmed if athletics are added to the mix. Above all, make sure your child really wants to play. Organized athletics have many benefits, but a healthy lifestyle doesn't have to include sports. What's most important is helping your child realize that physical activity is fun.

Click here for more articles in our Resource Library.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Healthy Snacking On-the-Go!

We are all looking for fast, easy, and good-tasting snacks that fit into our fast paced lifestyle. With fall approaching and summer fruits and vegetables still in season, use this time to begin developing healthy, quick snacking habits that will stick with you year round!

Here are some ways to make healthy snacking part of your daily routine:
• Prepare in advance. When you make something yourself, you get to control the ingredients and put in what's good for you. Try making your own trail mix or cutting up melon or vegetables in advance and keeping them in single serving bags in the fridge.

• Keep healthy snacks on hand.
Make it a habit to stash fresh fruit, whole-grain crackers, or baby carrots in your or workout bag or desk drawer so you always have some healthy food nearby.

• Variety is key! Healthy snacking doesn't have to be boring as long as you give yourself a variety of choices. Whole-wheat pretzels with spicy mustard, whole-grain pita chips with hummus, or low-fat all fruit yogurt are healthy, tasty, and easy.

• Take a healthy approach. If your sweet tooth is taking over and chocolate is on your mind, try a hot chocolate drink instead of a chocolate bar. An 8-ounce mug of hot chocolate has only 140 calories and 3 grams of fat. A chocolate bar, on the other hand, has 230 calories and 13 grams of fat. If you’re craving something savory, snack on baked tortilla chips instead of regular corn chips and pair with salsa instead of sour cream.

• Read the label. What looks like a small package of cookies can contain 2 or more servings — which means double or even triple the amounts of fat, calories, and sugar shown on the label!

Simple Snack Ideas
• Ready-to-eat veggies*
• Multicolored bell peppers (sliced or miniature)
• Grape tomatoes
• Sugar snap peas
• Baby carrots
• Pre-cut broccoli florets
• Celery sticks
• Hummus*, nut butter, or low-fat ranch dressing on hand for dipping. You can buy individual containers of humus or dressing at Costco (check at your local grocery store as well) so you don’t have to worry about portion sizes or the temptation to eat the whole container!
• Eat with veggies, a handful of whole grain crackers, or 1 large rice cake
• Fresh fruit*
• 1 small apple, pear, orange, or other tree fruits
• ½ cup berries
• ½ papaya or mango
• melon
• Fresh fruit with 1 cup plain yogurt
• ½ cup low-fat cottage cheese w/ fruit slices or bell peppers
• Newman’s Own Natural White Kernel Popcorn (Microwavable) – 3 cups is a serving and is a great source of whole grains! Air or stove top popped in olive oil are also great options!
• 1 Mozzarella cheese stick*
• A handful (about ¼ cup) of almonds, walnuts, or other tree nut for a quick burst of energy*
• 1 piece of whole grain toast with ¼ sliced avocado

*Can be purchased in the SAC Café

Click here for more articles in our Resource Library.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Stay Motivated in the Change of Seasons

With the transition in seasons, some of us start to revert back to hibernation mode. We are no longer able to enjoy the sunny outside weather that motivates us to get out and move, zapping our energy and in some instances dragging us down with feelings of depression. With the winter months and holidays quickly approaching don’t get caught in the downward spiral of getting too comfortable, missing workouts, or sacrificing your nutrition “just because of the holidays”. As the days get shorter and weather starts to change, it’s a great time to set resolutions early to beat the cold weather blues and keep your motivation running. Don’t lose sight of your fitness goals; try these tips to help keep you motivated!

1. Make an action plan. Set specific, manageable goals. While you should always keep your eye on your long-term goals, you have to break them down into bite-sized, short-term goals. Set goals by the week so that you don't lose focus or become frustrated because things aren't happening as quickly as you think they should. Always write your goals down and revisit them often.
2. Use a support system. Discuss your goals with loved ones.
3. Try something new. Try a different class instead of your usual. Maybe there's an activity you've always wanted to try, like a triathlon, snow skiing or Tai Chi. Experimenting with different pieces of equipment such as bosu balls, core boards, medicine balls, kettlebells, etc will keep things interesting!
4. Use extrinsic motivation. When you reach those goals, reward yourself! Treat yourself to a massage or buy a new pair of shoes. You can even reward yourself on a daily basis by soaking in the hot tub at the gym or taking a long, hot shower after your workout.
5. Find a workout buddy. You'll be more inclined to show up if someone else is depending on you, plus you can pump each other up. Work out with a friend, co-worker, parent or spouse. You can also join a group class, sports league or team.
6. Download new music! Make a new playlist with your favorite upbeat music!
7. Visit the blog! Our blog is full of helpful tips to stay on track with your fitness program. Reading and staying updated with insightful and useful fitness information can help remind you of your goals.
8. Make it a competition. Join the Lose It! Program and challenge your friends, family members or co-workers to a weight loss or fitness contest.
9. Choose a workout you enjoy. Change your mindset and look at working out as a hobby rather than a chore.
10. Let your emotions inspire you. Mad at your spouse? Maybe you just got a promotion at work and you can't contain your excitement. Whether you're sad, angry or jubilant, exercise is an excellent release for all those emotions and can improve your mood and mindset.
11. Be a role model. By working hard and setting an example, you will not only motivate yourself to keep going but will also help motivate others around you.
12. Chart your progress. Monitoring your daily, weekly and monthly progress will help you reach your short-term goals and set new ones along the way. Besides your physical appearance, keeping a written record is another visual reminder of your hard work and progress.
13. Think about the Longer Term. Think about the warmer months to come: the bikinis, the pool parties, etc. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to not have to shed your winter weight to be in great shape for them? Focusing on the longer term, whether the summer season coming in the future or your overall long term health, is a great way to stay motivated to continue with your exercise program.
14. Adjust with Daylight. As daylight changes, so may your attitude towards what is the best time of day to workout. You may find that your normal evening workout isn’t as easy to do as a morning time workout, or vice verse. It is best to find the time of day that is going to keep you motivated.
15. Remember the end result - improving your health. Whether you are exercising to lose weight or to stay in shape, remember it will improve your overall health - physically, mentally and emotionally - and help you live a longer, more fulfilling life.

Everyone will have their own methods for what keeps them focused and determined to keep working towards their goals, so find something that works for you! Just because seasons change is no excuse to put your fitness on the back burner, utilizing these concepts will help you stay motivated to reach your goals in a productive and pleasurable manner. And, if you still find yourself lost and lacking motivation don’t hesitate to contact one of our fitness professionals to help ignite your fire within!

Click here for more articles in our Resource Library.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Gain the Edge: Pilates Boosts Cycling Performance

If you take regular cycling classes or are an avid cyclist, Pilates can be used as a cross training tool.

Whether performed on the mat or specialized equipment, Pilates increases core strength and stability. If your core is stable, your body can devote energy and power to your legs. When flexibility improves, risk of injury to neck, spine, knees, and lower back is lessened.

Benefits specifically related to cyclists include:
• Greater effectiveness of pedal stroke
• Increased upper body strength
• Prevention of lower back pain
• Better endurance through focused breathing
• Correction of muscle imbalances

Next time you ride, think about how your body is positioned on the bike. Proper alignment helps you power up hills and sprint past opponents. Most common postural faults are:

• Rounded (hunched) shoulders
• Excessive curve of spine
• Forward head posture
• Tight calves, hip flexors, hamstrings and low back muscles

Pilates can help correct these faults. It promotes proper body mechanics and postural awareness. Joseph Pilates believed that “the mind moves the body”. Pilates gives you the tools to create that body awareness.

Regular Pilates also helps prevent common injuries and discomfort. For example, cycling works mainly the quadriceps (front thigh). This can lead to a strength imbalance in the leg muscles and to muscle injury. Therefore, having balance between the quadriceps and the ‘opposing’ muscle group--- the hamstrings -- boosts the recruitment of those under used muscles. The body works as a unit, giving you the edge.

Consider adding Pilates to your workout regimen—it can pay off big; enhancing your performance and enjoyment of cycling as well as the activities of daily living.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Eat Breakfast to Help Lose Weight!

Did you know eating breakfast is great for weight loss? Starving yourself is not the answer even though it is a common strategy practiced by most. Eating breakfast helps reduce your hunger later in the day, making it easier to avoid overeating or turning to those quick fixes such as candy, pastries or chips. Prolonged fasting or skipping a meal can increase your body's insulin response, which in turn increases fat storage and weight gain. A healthy breakfast refuels your body and replenishes the glycogen stores that supply blood sugar (glucose).

Starting with breakfast, refuel your body with the nutrients it requires to stay focused and energized throughout the day.

  • Eating breakfast reduces your hunger later in the day, making it easier to avoid overeating. When you skip breakfast, you may feel ravenous later and be tempted to reach for a quick fix, such as candy from the vending machine. In addition, prolonged fasting — which occurs when you skip breakfast — can increase your body's insulin response, which in turn increases fat storage and weight gain. In fact, skipping breakfast actually increases your risk of obesity.

  • Eating breakfast gets you on track to make healthy choices all day. People who eat breakfast regularly tend to eat a healthier diet — one that is more nutritious and lower in fat. When you skip breakfast, you're more likely to skip fruits and vegetables the rest of the day too.

  • Eating breakfast gives you energy, increasing your physical activity during the day. A healthy breakfast refuels your body and replenishes the glycogen stores that supply blood sugar (glucose). Skipping breakfast is associated with decreased physical activity.

  • Thursday, September 24, 2009

    Self-Myofascial Release Techniques or Foam Rolling

    Self-Myofacial Release or SMR is simply a self deep tissue massage on a round foam roller. This will work out the knots in your muscles, improving muscles imbalances and reducing injuries.

    By performing the SMR techniques on a simple piece of foam, you will improve flexibility, correct muscle imbalance, increasing joint range of motion, develop proper length tension relationship of your muscles throughout your body, and decrease risk of injuries. In a nutshell, you use your own body weight to roll on the round foam roll, massaging away restrictions to normal soft-tissue extensibility. And you can perform this program at home as well, maximizing your recovery time.


  • Correct muscle imbalances

  • Reduce risks of injuries

  • Reduce muscle soreness and relieve joint stress

  • Increase joint range of motion

  • Maintain normal functional muscular length


  • Spend 1-2 minutes on each side (can do more)

  • If there is a tender spot stop rolling and hold on that area for 20-45 seconds or until the muscle relaxes.

  • If you continue to roll when pain is present you will activate the muscle spindles casing increased tightness and pain.

  • On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the worst pain you want to stay between a 3 and a 7

  • Maintain proper Draw-In Position to support the to the spine and hip complex

  • Draw-In Position: Simply pull your belly button in and towards your spine. Try to get your belly button all the way to your back hold this while foam rolling in every position.

  • Can perform 1-2 times a day


  • Wednesday, September 23, 2009

    Good Form = Great Results!

    It seems in this great nation of ours, volume is the flavor of the week. More reps and more miles = better results right? This isn’t always the case. No matter your goals or activity quality of movement is paramount.

    Volume without proper form can lead to overuse injuries. Every time you squat and every stride in your run that you do incorrectly slowly damages your joints and soft tissue. The idea of “no pain no game” isn’t always the wisest path to follow. You may burn some calories by limping through your long run and busting out 20 more squats but the price you pay down the road is hardly worth it.

    Doing a quality sprint of 400 meters and doing 10 picture perfect squats is far more beneficial than doing 3 miles of inefficient and joint pounding jogging and 20 partial range and ugly squats.

    Whatever your sport of choice is (eg: weight lifting, running, swimming, squash, etc) learn how to do it right. Efficient movement results in healthy tissue. Find a coach, trainer, or anyone with a deep understanding of your activity and let them guide you to healthy and lengthy future of fitness.

    Friday, September 18, 2009

    How to Properly Timetable Exercise

    What are your goals? Are you training for an event? Trying to stay healthy and fight off coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, or type 2 diabetes? Or are you training to excell in whatever life hands you? If you are training for a particular event you will want to be on a program designed specifically for that event and hiring a personal trainer might be the best option. But if you are training to stay healthy and combat life’s tasks, let us help you organize your schedule.

    It can sometimes be difficult finding the time to incorporate exercise into our everyday lives, but by scheduling your workouts you are more likely to stick to it. It’s just like that “to do” list you make everyday for chores or errands and appointments. Exercise needs to be a incorporated into this schedule. Seasons are changing once again, it’s getting cold outside and everyone is running back indoors. Work schedules change, kids head back to school and before we know, the holidays are here. Once you reorganize these seasonal changes and set your new schedule your set for months. Now is the perfect time to integrate healthy goals and commit yourself to adding workouts into your new schedule. To get started, focus on the basics: strength, cardiovascular, and flexibility. It's recommended that you incorporate 2-3 cardiovascular sessions per week, 2 or more strength sessions per week and flexibility work as often as you can!

    Below are some scheduling examples you can use to make sure you are working to the recommended minimum. Be sure to make time for flexibility as much as possible along with your cardiovascular and strength workouts!

    Using our group exercise schedule, below is a sample of a good program getting in all the basics.

    Check out our newest articles, tips and videos in the Resource Center

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009

    Why Organics?

    Why should we choose organic?

    Choosing organic products may offer superior health benefits and safety than conventional products. Organic farmers use methods that grow plants with lower levels of nitrogen and nitrate. High levels of these compounds have been linked to the development of cancer in animals (though research is not yet conclusive of the effects on human health). It has also been shown that plants with lower levels of nitrogen tend to have higher amounts of antioxidants!

    In addition, organic products are almost always a safer option and significantly reduce your exposure to pesticide residue. Conventional products contain levels of pesticides and hormones that may pose health risks. New studies have shown that certain pesticides are linked to ADHD, obesity, diabetes, and learning disorders; but at this time there is no concrete evidence.

    Choosing organic in the supermarket

    Sometimes labels in the supermarket can be confusing. We see "all-natural", "free-range", or "hormone-free" and immediately think organic. These terms are still important, but are not synonymous with organic. There are also different levels of organic material in products. Here is a quick guide to interpreting the term "organic" on food labels:

    • "100 percent organic": Products that are completely organic or made of all organic ingredients.

    • "Organic": Products that contain at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients. The other 5 percent are ingredients that aren't available in organic form or that appear on an approved list.

    • "Made with organic ingredients": Products that contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients. The organic seal cannot be used on these packages.

    Whether you choose organic or not, here are some things to consider:

    • Buy in season and local produce whenever possible

    • Reduce the amount of pesticides on food by washing and scrubbing all produce under running water

    • Pealing fruits and vegetables (just take note this reduces the fiber and vitamin content)

    • Discarding the outer leaves of leafy vegetables

    • Trimming visible fat and skin from meat and poultry (pesticide residue can collect in the fat)


    By Alison Wilson, Wellness Director / Nutritionist - Seattle Athletic Club Downtown

    Friday, September 11, 2009

    How To Recover From an Exercise That Makes You Sore and/or Stiff!

    Many people ask “why am I so sore and stiff after some of my exercises?”The soreness or stiffness we feel after performing an exercise we are not used to doing; or from pushing our muscles to their limit is called DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). People usually feel a decreased range of motion in their joints, as well as pain and discomfort with DOMS. The soreness and discomfort usually is delayed and peaks 24 to 48 hrs after the exercise. The discomfort will begin to decrease and subside completely in about 7 to 14 days.

    How can I get back to functioning status or lessen the discomfort before it starts?There are many techniques that will help someone get rid of the discomfort associated with DOMS. These techniques are inter-individual and vary, meaning what works for one person might not work for someone else, so try each one and figure out what works best for your body.

    • Stretching after the exercise and/or while you have any discomfort allows the muscles to get the range of motion back as well as helps to break apart the damaged muscle faster, aiding in the repair process.
    • Massage/Foam Rolling is much like stretching in that it makes the joints, as well as muscles more pliable and flexible. It also removes any waste products from the muscle while supplying them with the nutrients that they need to recover and repair themselves.
    • Ibuprofen will decrease the swelling and help ease the discomfort.
    • Hot Tub/Sauna will help loosen up the muscle and increase blood circulation; increasing nutrient supplies and takes away the toxins.
    • Use those same muscles, yea that’s right, using the same muscles and doing light exercises will get the muscles moving and more pliable as well as circulated that healing blood. It will also cause you to stretch and contact the muscle in some of the same movements, which caused the discomfort, allowing for faster results.
    • Water is utilized by the body for almost all of its actions and processes. More specifically the muscles use it for burning energy as well as during muscle contraction and structure. Drinking plenty of water during the discomfort stage should help in the muscle repair process.
    • Ice packs help decrease the swelling of the affected area, while heat packs help increase

    The discomforts of DOMS can be discouraging, making you want to quit doing that exercise, but DON’T. The benefits of getting these discomforts out weight the negative aspects because it means that the muscles are being repaired and built up, creating that toned and defined body most of us are seeking. Using one or more of these techniques could help your body get back to normal quicker, allowing you to be stronger and more comfortable in your next workout or daily activities.

    By Jacob Galloway, Fitness Director - Seattle Athletic Club Downtown

    Thursday, September 10, 2009

    What’s All This Talk About My Core?

    You may have read an article or heard people talk about the importance of exercising your core. That sounds like something we should be concerned with, but what does that really mean? What is your core? How do you want to exercise it?
    To truly understand how to exercise your core, it helps to know what your core is and what it does for you. Your core is fundamentally your torso or trunk. This basically means your spine and ribs, as well as the major joints attached to them—your hips and shoulders. Your core’s primary function in exercise is to safely transfer force from your feet to your hands and vice versa. Forces acting upon your body travel through your arms and legs and into your core. Your core is also from where your body produces force through your arms and legs. Your core is also your center of gravity and plays a significant role in your posture and balance.

    What does this mean for exercise? Aside from “targeting” the core with abdominal and back exercises, you actually train your core whenever you do “full-body” and “body-weight” exercises. This includes exercises like squats, lunges, push-ups and pull-ups. Even lifting free-weights while kneeling or standing trains your core. Because exercises like these train your core’s role in arm and leg movements, they are the best exercises to improve your arm and leg strength. You also use your core extensively with common aerobic activities as well. Imagine how your core controls the rotation through your body as your arms and legs swing when you run. Or consider the way your core alignment affects your stroke and kick when you swim.

    Your core is also essential for preventing injury while imposing the stresses of exercise and activity on your body. This is where things get complicated fast, because your core’s function involves the coordinated actions of scores of different muscles. Physical therapy research shows that imbalances of these coordinated muscle actions lead to poorly aligned joint movements, which in turn can lead to wear and tear in the joints. Poorly balanced movements in your core can injure not only your back, hips and shoulders, but also your knees, neck, elbows, hands and feet. The core is also implicated in many cases of soft-tissue injury like hamstring tears.

    If you experience pain or discomfort while doing common exercises like squats and push-ups, you core’s function may be an issue. If this is the case for you, it’s best to get the problem evaluated by a medical professional or physical therapist before exercising. Not all core exercises are appropriate for all kinds of core-related injuries. As you can see already, the core’s function involves an incredibly diverse number of movements. What this means is that abdominal crunches, for example, are only one of many exercises for your core. In fact, doing too much of one exercise for your core can throw its function out of balance. This is what lies behind many, if not most, non-contact related injuries. Since a great many orthopedic injuries have their root cause in poor core function, often these problems don’t seem to resolve without addressing the core.

    By Eric Pranzerone, Personal Fitness Trainer - Seattle Athletic Club Northgate

    Tuesday, September 8, 2009

    Am I Too Old for Swimming Lessons?

    The obvious answer is no! As we age, we tend to forget what the benefits of a “helpful eye” from a qualified teacher can be. Such as what muscles we have favored vs. which one’s we’ve neglected, changes in body type, and range of motion.

    Over the last 10 years alone there have been major modifications in the evolution of the swimming stroke, as well as what is currently legal/ acceptable in competition. One look at 42-year-old Olympic medallist Dara Torres, and you can see how dry land drills, diet, training techniques, and improved stroke analysis can aid even the most seasoned vet.

    Allow our WSI certified swimming instructor’s help you regain some of the past, improve for future competitions, or simply change your workout regimen with a non-impact high cardiovascular exercise routine.

    By Dan Lavin, Aquatics Director - Seattle Athletic Club Northgate

    Friday, September 4, 2009

    The Real Cost of Not Exercising

    With the current financial epidemic our country is facing, it seems practical that we go through our bank statements and cut back on any extra spending. But, should your gym membership be one of them? Many publications have been suggesting that the gym is one luxury that you can do without. Although, canceling your membership may seem to save you money, it will cost more than you can afford in the long run and not only in terms of your bank account.

    On the surface, an “at-home” routine may appear like a good idea. Before you make the leap, you need to consider the complete ramifications of your actions. After all, a gym environment has a lot to offer. The gym offers structure, and the motivation you get from working out in a group. Exercising with and around others can greatly improve your exercise adherence. Accountability comes from your trainers, friends, and peers, and they often push you during your workout as well. Your home workout will inevitably become less of a priority since you “can do it at any time”. We all know this leads to one place: procrastination. The gym also provides a great deal of equipment that will not be available to you at home. Attempting to replicate your routine outside the gym will leave you without the motivation, community, and the expertise provided by a professional exercise facility.

    There is a cost associated with not exercising! Physical activity is necessary for life’s everyday functions, as well as stimulating the body’s own natural maintenance and repair system. By not exercising you increase your risk for many health issues. Research shows individuals who are physically active have substantially lower cancer rates, have fewer heart attacks, are less likely to develop diabetes, have healthier blood pressure levels, lessened risk of stroke, and overall are generally healthier. A variety of studies have shown that exercise combats low energy, stress, and depression and those who participate are more optimistic, sleep better, have stronger bones, and are less likely to be overweight or even catch a cold or the flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), inactive adults have considerably higher direct medical costs than active adults, and the costs associated with physical inactivity increase with age. If you take into consideration the costs of maintaining your health without the help of exercise, you are factoring in increased health insurance costs, food costs, pharmaceuticals, and visits to the doctor. The costs of exercising are unmistakable: exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy body can save not only your life, but your money as well.

    So, even though your gym membership may cost you every month, think about the savings your membership is actually providing you. If cutting back expenses is what you are attempting, try cutting back on your morning coffee or save by packing your lunch regularly rather than buying. Most importantly, cut back on the things that will not short-change you in the long run. You cannot put a price on your health and personal well-being.

    To learn more on these health issues or for info on how to improve your medical situation please download our free e-books in our Resource Center

    By Christine Moore, Personal Fitness Trainer - Seattle Athletic Club Downtown

    Wednesday, September 2, 2009

    Experts Debunk Myth About Exercise Weight Loss. Research Proves Value of Exercise, Nutrition

    INDIANAPOLIS – Leading experts in exercise and weight management have taken strong exception to assertions that exercise can inhibit weight loss by over-stimulating the appetite.

    According to John Jakicic, Ph.D., FACSM, “There is strong evidence from the majority of the scientific literature that physical activity is an important component for initial weight loss.”

    Responding to a statement recently published online and in print, Jakicic added that “The statement ‘in general, for weight loss, exercise is pretty useless’ is not supported by the scientific evidence when there is adherence to a sufficient dose of physical activity in overweight and obese adults.” Jakicic chairs a committee on obesity prevention and treatment for the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and helped write an ACSM Position Stand on strategies for weight loss and prevention of weight regain for adults.

    According to Jakicic and other experts, overwhelming evidence belies the assertion that exercise doesn’t necessarily help people lose weight and may even make the task harder.

    “Again, it is clear in this regard that physical activity is one of the most important behavioral factors in enhancing weight loss maintenance and improving long-term weight loss outcomes,” Jakicic said. In fact, his own research, published in 2008, showed a high dose of physical activity ( 275 minutes above baseline levels) contributed to the greatest observed weight loss after a 24-month intervention. He noted that the scientific literature includes additional evidence to support physical activity, adding that a growing body of literature suggests the importance of physical activity to improve long-term weight loss following bariatric surgery.

    Another noted expert and ACSM member, Timothy Church, M.D., Ph.D., described how his professional opinions were misrepresented in a recent news article. According to Church, the article should have touched on the following key concepts:
    • Weight maintenance is different from weight loss, and should have been discussed. Virtually all people who lose weight and keep it off are exercising to maintain weight.
    • Comments about children and physical activity were misleading. Studies have shown that kids are not necessarily more active after school (and therefore need good in-school physical education program), and that the focus with children should be on physical activity and prevention of excess weight gain. (Adults, however, more often must deal with losing excess weight.)
    • Exercise and diet go together. Weight management is most successful when careful attention is given to both physical activity and proper nutrition.

    Janet Rankin, Ph.D., FACSM, an expert in nutrition and exercise, supplemented the bountiful scientific evidence with a simple observation: “A practical response to the claim that exercise makes you eat more and gain weight is to look around. If this were the case, wouldn’t those who regularly exercise be the fattest? Obviously that isn’t the case.”

    ACSM experts stressed that, particularly when so many struggle with the health consequences of overweight and obesity, it is important that Americans have accurate information based on science and evidence.

    The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 35,000 international, national and regional members and certified professionals are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.

    Is Exercise for Weight Loss Really Pointless?

    Doctors React to the Claim That Going to the Gym May do Nothing for Weight Loss

    By LAUREN COX ABC News Medical Unit Aug. 11, 2009—

    The idea that the way to lose weight is through diet and exercise is ingrained in our society.

    But an article in last week's Time magazine created a buzz in the blogosphere by questioning the value of the exercise part of the weight-loss formula.

    Doctors who treat overweight and obese patients were not pleased -- even if there was evidence to support the claim.

    "Yes, we have a magic drug for cholesterol, we have magic drugs for high blood pressure, but we don't have a magic pill for weight," said Dr. Martha Gulati, associate director of the Women's Heart Center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

    "To bring out a public health message that we should not exercise? That's absolutely the wrong message," Gulati said.

    The article, "Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin" by John Cloud, argued that in the real world, exercising vigorously may just increase a person's appetite and use up their natural reserves of self-control. After a hard workout, it's just human nature to eat back those calories with an extra treat, or burn fewer by taking the elevator instead of the stairs, Cloud argued.

    He pointed to a study published in February in the online journal PLoS One to back up his claims. The study followed 411 women who were divided into four exercise groups -- no exercise required, 72 minutes per week, 136 minutes per week and 194 minutes per week of monitored exercise.

    Doctors found that at the end of the six-month study, the women who exercised the most didn't lose as much weight as the researchers predicted. The group with the moderate amount of exercise lost an average of 4.6 pounds while the group with the most vigorous of exercise lost just 3.3 pounds, though they had been predicted to lose an average of about 5 pounds.

    "No matter how much exercise you do or don't do, your diet matters -- it's extremely easy to eat back more calories than you burn," said Dr. David Katz, "Good Morning America" medical contributor and director of the Yale University of Prevention Research Center.

    But Katz said the "ah ha, exercise is not good for weight loss" idea troubles him and many other doctors who counsel people trying to lose weight.

    Is Weight All Americans Care About?

    "What do people care about? Do they simply care about their dress size or do they care about their health?" Katz said. "If you care about your health, exercise is your best friend."

    Katz pointed out that three behaviors -- not smoking, exercising and eating right -- have "a massive influence on your medical destiny."

    If people care only about losing weight, Katz quipped, "Why don't you just infect yourself with cholera? It would work for weight loss."

    Katz and many others who treat obesity agree exercise must not be ignored because of its importance for overall health, even if it doesn't make as big of an impact on the scale as people believe.

    Exercise for Weight Loss or Weight Maintenance?

    "The diet has the biggest bang for the buck initially, but when it comes to weight maintenance, but there's no doubt that exercise keeps it off," said Gerald Endress, a clinical exercise physiologist and fitness director at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center in Durham, N.C.

    "I exercise so that I can eat more. I think a lot of us do exercise so we can maintain our weight," he said.

    Yet while Endress could see why excessive exercising may lead some people into a tailspin of overeating to compensate for hunger, he has seen the opposite in his fitness center every day. The people exercising there, Endress said, always lose weight.

    "If you look, shows like 'The Biggest Loser,' they're overexercising them [the participants] tremendously and they're losing weight," Endress said.

    Even if the people in Endress' fitness center didn't lose weight by exercising, diet and nutrition experts point out that the gym-goers would likely be losing fat and gaining muscle.

    The Scale Is Not the Only Measure of Health

    "It's one of those things where everybody would like to believe that, people will say 'I don't lose weight but I'm exercising,'" said Keith-Thomas Ayoob, director of the nutrition clinic at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

    "I say, 'Are you losing inches?'" Ayoob said.

    Ayoob and Katz pointed out that many people gain weight when they embark on an exercise program because they are gaining muscle.

    Katz recounted the story of a man who weighed 400 pounds when he first came to him for a fitness regimen.

    "He'd work hard and the loss of body fat was huge, but he'd step on the scale and see no change," Katz said. "But if I am converting body fat into muscle, that's spinning straw into gold."

    Ayoob added that while exercise alone might not trim pounds as fast as diet alone might, the mere change in lifestyle when someone adopts a workout routine may lead to fewer calories ingested.

    "What exercise also does in terms of weight loss -- it can make you more sensitive to when you're hungry and when you're not," Ayoob said. "And it does something else: It gets you out of the house; it gets you off the sofa so you're not having the temptation of going back and forth between the refrigerator."

    Friday, August 21, 2009

    Burn more calories; turn your walk into a run!

    If you are already walking for 30 minutes at least 3 days a week, you are ready to turn your walk into a run! By adding interval training with running to your workouts, you almost double your caloric burn. Alternating this high-intensity work with moderate recovery greatly increases your fitness level, and will help break through plateaus.

    Running is an achievable goal for most as long as you take the proper steps. First thing first, don’t go out and just run for 30 minutes, ease in to it! Add intervals of running to your current walking routine by using the work to rest ratio method. The work to rest ratio method is simply setting a set time for work and a set time for rest. Typically you rest for one, two or three times the length of work. For example, start by warming up for 5 minutes, and then increase your speed for 1-2 minutes. Return to your usual walking pace for 4-5 minutes to recover. Continue with short bursts of running to your walking routine for 30 minutes. When you are ready to progress, make the work part (run) of the interval longer and decrease the recovery time. For example, you could do 5 minutes of running and rest for 3 minutes.

    Everyone is different as to what he or she can handle and what function of exercise so tailor your interval burst to your fitness level. Before you know it you will be running 30 minutes straight! And who knows, one of these days you may find yourself training for an organized event like a 5k, 10k or half marathon!

    Written by,
    Dana Hansen
    Seattle Athletic Club - Northgate
    Director of Fitness Operations

    Monday, August 17, 2009

    A "fishy" alternative to your typical summer BBQ

    Do you ever get tired of the same old hamburger and hot dogs? Why not fire up the grill with a salmon burger or halibut fillet?! Not only is fish a healthier alternative, but it is great if you are in a hurry or want a quick after-work meal. It can take only minutes to prepare!

    Health benefits

    In addition to containing an abundance of high quality protein, fish is generally lower in fat, saturated fat, and calories than beef, poultry and pork. Fish is also loaded with vitamins and minerals like iron, zinc, calcium, and vitamin D. The American Heart Association recommends we eat fish two times a week to help prevent health risks.

    The most important health benefit of fish is its high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids. This type of fat has shown to reduce the risk of developing heart disease, reduce blood pressure, help prevent arthritis, prevent abnormal heart rhythms, and promote healthy brain function. In addition, an 800-person study done for the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging revealed that men and women ages 65-94 who ate fish at least one meal per week were significantly less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those who ate none.

    Omega-3’s are also a great source of mono- and polyunsaturated fats which help lower “bad” cholesterol, while saturated fats actually increase “bad” cholesterol levels. The best sources of omega-3’s are oily fish such as salmon, sardines, anchovies, and herring. Whether or not you are eating a fish high in omega-3’s, you are still consuming a high protein food that is low in saturated fat and cholesterol.

    See for yourself how a 4-ounce salmon fillet compares to a 4-ounce ground beef patty and Ballpark frank:

    4oz Salmon Fillet: 245 Calories,12g Fat, 2g Sat. Fat, 31g Protein, 98mg Cholesterol, 75mg Sodium, 1.5g Omega-3.

    4oz Beef Patty: 310 Calories, 20g Fat, 8g Sat. Fat, 29g Protein, 104mg Cholesterol, 85mg Sodium, 0g Omega-3.

    Ballpark Hot Dog: 180 Calories, 16g Fat, 7g Sat. Fat, 6g Protein, 35mg Cholesterol, 620mg Sodium, 0g Omega-3.

    The Fish Grilling Basics
    One of the main reasons people avoid cooking fish on the grill is because it takes some finesse. Take a chance and conquer your fear today using these basic fish seasoning and grilling techniques!

    Basic fish seasonings: Try rosemary, lemon, dill, garlic, ginger, onion, basil, pesto, mustard, marjoram, parsley, salt or pepper. If you are feeling creative, work with different combinations of these seasonings to create your own delicious variation. Also see 3 delicious recipes below!

    Grilling the fish:
    1. Remove any leftover charred particles from the grill
    2. Make sure the fish doesn’t stick by wiping the grill with a lightly oiled towel or brushing the fish with a little oil before grilling.
    3. For grilling methods and cook times of different types of fish check out tips from Cattlemens BBQ
    4. Turn fish only one time! Turning the fish multiple times will cause the fish to break apart.
    5. Take note that fish can cook very quickly. Don’t leave it unattended unless you are sure of the cooking time.

    For some more great examples of fish recipes you can try, please follow the link below to be diverted to our resource center.

    Click here for our Fish Recipes!

    Written by Alison Wilson, Nutritionist/Wellness Director at the Seattle Athletic Club Downtown.

    Friday, August 14, 2009

    Quick and Dirty of Stretching

    You pedal through a vigorous terrain on the bike as the instructor pushes on. You bear down and work through your personal training session. You even add a few minutes on the rowing machine for good measure. With a smile of satisfaction, there is nothing left to do but hit the showers and go on with your day.

    Not so fast! Did you think about those muscles that pulled you through the workout you just completed? Stretching is so often something people neglect to do at the end of a training session because they are too tired or in a rush to their next appointment. Consider the following as an explanation of why stretching matters and how to do it correctly.

    The benefits of stretching are plentiful. However, did you ever think what would happen if you did not stretch? By not stretching, your joints lose range of motion and mobility, your posture is compromised, and you can experience decreased circulation to your muscles and joints. In addition, you can experience increased muscle tension, decreased muscular coordination, and an increase in injuries.

    Here are the basic stretching essentials you should consider when you are hitting the mat to relax and lengthen those tired muscles.
    Target major muscle groups. When you are stretching, focus on your neck, shoulders, lower back, hips, thighs, and calves. In addition, always stretch the muscles that you use in your everyday routine at work or play. For example, if you sit all day at work make sure you stretch those muscles that are shortened and under used. The calves, hamstrings, hip flexors, chest and abdominal muscles become weak and tight when sitting for prolonged periods of time.

    Don’t bounce. Bouncing as you stretch can create tiny tears in your muscles and leave vulnerable to injury. The tiny tears also cause the muscle to tighten further, leaving you less flexible than before.

    Take your time. It takes time to stretch and lengthen your muscles correctly. Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds before switching to the other side.

    Stretch until you feel tension but not pain. When you are stretching your muscles, you will feel a slight tension but this should not cause pain. If you do experience pain, it is likely you have gone too far into the stretch and need to ease up just a bit.

    Breathe! It is important to breathe and try to relax while you are stretching. By taking deep breaths, it allows you to take your stretch deeper.

    You may wonder how often you should stretch. This is entirely up to you but as a general guideline, you should stretch every time you exercise. If you experience tightness in certain areas, stretch that area more often. Stretching is an activity that can be performed daily with no equipment needed. It will not be long before you start seeing results!

    Written by,
    Jamey Peters
    Seattle Athletic Club
    Personal Fitness Trainer

    Friday, August 7, 2009

    Hydration: Beating the record Seattle Heat!

    New Record!! The temperatures in Seattle have beaten the record from years past and we have all felt the heat! But did you ever think about how much water your body has lost in the past two weeks from hitting your a.m. spin class or the boot camp on the pier? How about the amount of fluids lost walking to lunch with coworkers or swimming with the kiddos? Since water is essential to every cell, tissue, and organ in the body, it is important to understand how much water is lost during the day and how to replenish it before its too late.

    Water is the largest component of the human body, accounting for nearly 60% of total body mass. It is important for regulating the body’s temperature, joint function, digestion, and the removal of waste products. And, because water composes more than half of the human body, it is impossible to sustain life for more than a week without it! On a daily basis, the human body loses approximately 2.5 liters through normal activities, sweating, exhalation, and elimination. However, in one hour of exercise the body can lose more than a quart of water, depending on exercise intensity and air temperature. If there is not enough water for the body to cool itself through perspiration, the body enters a state of dehydration.

    So grab that water bottle and take a gulp! It is very important to drink before the signs of thirst appear. Thirst is a signal that indicates your body is already on the way to dehydration. Drink before, during, and after your workout to ensure fluid replacement in your body. Water is the best fluid replenisher for most individuals, but if you find yourself to sweat excessively and your sweat contains a lot of sodium (you may see salt rings in your athletic gear) than it is wise to replenish your body with a sports drink that contains needed electrolytes. It is easy to prevent dehydration and replenish your body with refreshing options, so drink up!

    Helpful hydration hints:

    Before exercise
    • Two to three hours before the start of activity or training drink 16 ounces (2 cups) of fluid.

    During exercise:
    • Drink 8-10 ounces of fluid every 15-20 minutes of strenuous exercise.

    After exercise:
    • Drink to replace sweat
    • Weigh yourself before and after the activity, for each pound lost, drink 16 ounces of fluid.

    Written by,
    Jamey Peters
    Seattle Athletic Club Northgate
    Personal Fitness Trainer

    Check out our newest articles, tips and videos in the Resource Center

    Friday, July 31, 2009

    LIQUID CALORIES...What’s Your Intake?

    By Alison Wilson, Wellness Director/Nutritionist
    Seattle Athletic Club Downtown

    Over the last 37 years the total daily intake of calories from beverages increased 94%, now amounting to an additional 222 calories per day. Note that in one year, just one daily 12-ounce soda can increase your weight by 16 pounds!

    Tips for reducing intake of high calorie beverages
    When keeping track of calories don’t forget that everything you eat and drink counts!

    When watching your calories water is always the best option. It has zero calories and will keep you hydrated!

    A plain cup of coffee contains only a few calories, so consider this when drinking youdaily cup of joe:

    • 1 tablespoon of cream adds more than 50 calories
    • 1 tablespoon of sugar adds nearly 50 calories
    • 1 tablespoon of fat-free milk, on the other hand, adds only 5 calories
    • 100% fruit juices and low-fat milk are good high calorie beverages since they supply other nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, and calcium.
    Check out our newest articles, tips and videos in the Resource Center

    Friday, July 24, 2009

    How do I choose the best running route for me?

    Whether you are a casual runner looking for a quick and easy jog, or you are an experienced marathon runner looking to tackle a lengthy, challenging course, Seattle has much to offer to help you achieve your fitness goals.

    Although it may seem easy enough for some to just get out there and hit the streets, there are several obstacles that may discourage many individuals from achieving their fitness goals. Here are some things that all runners should keep in mind while searching for the right running course:

    • Make sure while running at night, you are in a well-lit atmosphere.
    • Avoid running in high-crime neighborhoods and/or parks.
    • Get familiar with new courses and its surroundings. You are likely to get lost in unfamiliar territory.

    • Be very cautious while running in the rain. Your chances of injury rise considerably while running on slippery surfaces like manhole covers and street grates.
    • Running in extreme heat may cause heat exhaustion and/or heat stroke.

    • Gravel and outdoor trails me be unfamiliar surfaces to many individuals. Be cautious while running downhill and avoid taking long strides. This will decrease your chances of sliding and causing serious injury.
    • While running along busy city streets, keep clear of potholes and construction sites.

    Hydration and proper footwear
    • Staying hydrated is crucial while undergoing any kind of cardiovascular exercise.
    • Running in parks and neighborhoods with designated water stations would be ideal.
    • Having the right footwear is also a very important element while running. Cross trainer or running shoes are a must. Don’t wear your casual everyday sneakers while running long distances.
    • Consult your local shoe store for questions and concerns about what shoe works best for you.

    Keeping all of these factors in mind and with a little research from the helpful sites listed below, finding the best running route no matter where you live should be quite easy. These sites will include course length, terrain, and a detailed map for your convenience. If you are not looking for a running route in Seattle, these sites will still be able to help you chose the right course.

    If you live in or around Seattle, The Seattle Athletic Club - Downtown is a great point to begin your cardio workout. Here are some recommended routes to consider:
    • Myrtle Edwards Park: head down Lenora St. and walk down the flight of stairs; across the street you’ll find the great Puget Sound; start heading north and continue until you hit the Sculpture Park and eventually Eliot Bay Park.
    • For an intense, uphill climb, make your way up to 1st. Ave; continue south until you find Madison St; this is a steep and challenging hill that will eventually take you up to Capital hill.

    Check out our newest articles, tips and videos in the Resource Center

    Thursday, July 16, 2009

    What to Eat When You Workout

    In order to maximize your workout it is important to eat both before and after you exercise!

    REMEMBER: your body requires calories to burn calories! Here are some guidelines for effectively fueling your body and recovering from exercise.

    If you have 3-4 hours before exercise…
    It is best to consume a meal rich in complex carbohydrates (whole grain bread, beans, or baked potato), lean proteins (tofu, lean poultry, or nuts), and healthy fats (olive, pure vegetable, or soy). At this point your body has enough time to digest a more complex meal before your workout.

    SUGGESTION: Try a turkey sandwich with avocado, tomato, spinach, and mustard on whole grain bread!

    If you have 2-3 hours before exercise…
    This may not leave enough time for a full meal, but a small meal containing both carbohydrates and protein will stop hunger and fill your glycogen stores (your muscle’s primary source of energy).

    SUGGESTION: Try some yogurt with low fat granola or some cottage cheese with fresh fruit.

    If you have 1 hour or less before exercise…
    This is the time to eat foods that are easy to digest, low in fat, and rich in carbohydrates.

    SUGGESTION: Try a piece of fresh fruit, an 8oz fruit smoothie, or a small granola bar.

    Foods to avoid right before exercise…
    Any food with a high fat content should be avoided right before a workout. High fat foods stay in the stomach a long time because they are difficult and slow to digest. Our bodies put a lot of energy into digestion, causing the blood flow to the stomach to greatly increase. This can result in cramping or discomfort during exercise.

    *Remember that each body is different and what works for you many not work for someone else. Test a variety of foods and see what works best for you!

    After exercise…
    Refueling your body will encourage recovery and guide you toward a better future workout. Timing is important for recovery because your muscles replace their glycogen stores within the first few hours after you exercise. If your next meal is within an hour of exercise, use that meal to refuel. If your next meal won’t be for an hour or two, eat a small snack of around 200 calories within 30 minutes after workout. Make sure to include both protein and carbohydrates for maximum recovery!

    Don’t forget to hydrate!
    (For more hDrink 2 cup (16 ounces) of fluid up to 2 hours before your workout. During exercise drink 8-10 ounces every 15-20 minutes to replace lost fluids and prevent dehydration. After exercise make sure you replace all fluids lost during your workout. To determine how much you need weigh yourself before and after exercise, and drink 2 to 3 cups (16-24 ounces) of fluid per pound lost.