Geek for Print

Please humor me while I geek out just a little over seeing my name in the October print edition of Men’s Journal.

FullSizeRender (6).jpg

I’ve been contributing to MensJournal.com for well over a year, and it’s been great. I’ve written about everything from training plateaus and Olympic weightlifting to hand care and tattoo cover-ups. I’ve interviewed experts in experts in exercise science and nutrition, as well as the fittest man on earth. I’m excited every time one of my articles goes live, but I was particularly giddy to see a condensed version of a story I wrote on resistance training make it to print.

I’ve been hearing that the print magazine industry is dead for at least 15 years, and I’m sure there were rumblings way before that. When I worked in PR and marketing, I saw both new publications with tons of promise and old books with extensive histories fold. In less than two years of freelance writing, I’ve witnessed the same thing firsthand.

But, I refuse to think the industry is “dead.” I think it’s a hard industry, and maybe one that’s been too resistant to change and evolution. But I can tell you that there are some really smart, creative people in charge (at least on the editorial side) and tons of writers who are stoked to claim just a tiny corner of print real estate. Print is special for that reason – unlike the internet, which is limitless and dynamic, print is a carefully planned experience. And one that can’t be changed after the fact. I think that kind of curation and permanence is unique and appealing at a time when so much content feels instantly disposable.

I suppose I’m one of those hardcover-reading Luddites with piles of magazines on the kitchen table who can’t get used to a Kindle and still values a more tactile reading experience. Maybe we’re slowly dying off and taking the industry with us, but I really hope not. I hope I keep seeing my name in print. In the meantime, I”ll keep buying magazines.

New Cert Alert!

I’m excited to share that I’ve added a new certification to my personal training arsenal: Training the Pregnant and Postpartum Client!

IMG_3059

This topic is addressed by NASM in the section on training “special populations,” but it’s pretty high-level, and there are so many common misconceptions about exercising during pregnancy. I wanted to be able to confidently train a pregnant or postpartum person safely and effectively.

Annette Lang’s workshop and certification was worthy investment of both time and money. She did a great job of combining lecture, group discussion, and hands-on application. She also had a great attitude and approached the topic with humor and enthusiasm. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this. I’ve now had a couple experiences with continuing education courses, and I’ll just say that not everyone has the right personality and temperament for this type of education. Thanks, Annette!

Personal Training, Featuring Jason!

There are dozens of health and fitness assessments a trainer can use to help clients track their progress, but I don’t like to bombard people in the first session. It can be overwhelming, and I want to make sure we have enough time to get in a solid workout.

However, if one client can handle a barrage of assessments, it’s my buddy Jason. I once told Jason that he had a real “affinity for tedium,” and he took it as a compliment. He likes details, metrics, measurements, scores, and stats. I’m sure he would have patiently stood by while I pinched him with my skin-fold caliper, recorded all his circumferences, assessed his heart rate, and tested his maximum strength. But 60 minutes goes fast, so I decided to stick to the overhead squat assessment (read more about that in this post) and the Davies Test, which assesses upper body strength.

After a warm-up and some stretching, I tapped into Jason’s love for minutiae (and reasonable amount of like for running – he ran track in high school, and it’s still his go-to cardio) with a highly specific series of timed 200-meter sprints, all to be performed at various rates of perceived exertion (RPE). We started with a warm-up run with an RPE of 50% and then dialed things up with a second 200-meter run at 75% RPE. The final 200 meters was an all-out sprint.

FullSizeRender (4)
Next time we’ll address form and Jason’s heel strike.

After a couple minutes of rest, I explained the next portion of the workout, which was comprised of kneeling get-ups, ball slams, sit-ups and burpees, which elicited this response:

FullSizeRender (3)
Burpees.

I know, I know. Burpees = ugh. But they’re the ultimate full-body exercise. I somehow convinced Jason to crank out a few.

And we’re still friends.

FullSizeRender (2)

Check out more personal training posts, and learn about personal training in Brooklyn.

Personal Training, Featuring Peter!

When it comes to my personal training style, I aim to stay positive, encouraging and helpful. I know some people respond to more boot camp-like coaching, but that’s just not me. I’ll correct your form, keep you moving, and won’t let you get away with half-assing anything (I want you to get as much as possible out of your 60  minutes!), but this is health and fitness, not war; barking just feels mean and counterproductive.

However, considering Peter is a drummer, I thought about trying to embrace by inner J.K. Simmons ala Whiplash and getting all hardcore about the tempo for things like pike pushups.

tempo

But Peter is a nice guy, and he already works hard. I wanted him to walk away from our session feeling stoked about getting strong, not upset.

imupset

We started our session with an overhead squat assessment, which revealed some movement compensations. Peter’s knees moved inward a bit during the squat, which (often, but not always) indicates overactive (tight) adductors, TFL (hip flexors) and/or quad muscles, and underactive glutes and hamstrings.

ohs
Not Peter or me. source

To help address this potential imbalance, we did some banded “monster walks,” and I showed Peter a few self-myofascial release techniques using a foam roller and tennis balls.

IMG_2907.JPG

Peter’s goals included improving his posture and building core and upper body strength. We were in the park and using my “mobile gym,” so we did some ball slams and a challenging circuit that used bands and bodyweight movements.

IMG_2910.JPG

To work on Peter’s core strength, we did a couple rounds of cobras and tuck-ups and finished with a two-minute plank hold.

We both had fun and sweated a lot (carrying a 15-pound slam ball up to the park is no freaking joke).

IMG_2915

And nobody cried.

milescrying

Question: What coaching style do you prefer? Are you motivated by lots of feedback? Or do you prefer to keep things low-key and just get to work?

Personal Training, Featuring Anna!

Full disclosure: I’ve been friends with Anna since I was a wide-eyed college freshman straight off the turnip truck. She’s one of my closest pals, which made our first training session a lot of fun.

IMG_2682

Even though we’ve known each other for (ahem) 18-ish years, and I had some idea of what she was looking for in a workout, we still began our first session with a frank conversation about goals. This is a crucial part of the personal training experience. Sure, we could have jumped into a high-intensity circuit right away, or started with some treadmill sprints. But Anna can go for a run on her own or sign up for a group fitness class any time. The benefit of working with trainer is getting a program that addresses your unique needs and goals. Communication is key!

We also talked a bit about the concept of “toning.” It’s impossible to change the quality or shape of your muscle, and “spot reduction” is a weight-loss myth. But you can increase the size of your muscles and decrease you overall body fat percentage, which can give you a more “toned” look.

Based on Anna’s goals and exercise preferences, I designed a program that utilized tabatas (eight rounds of 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest) and circuits. Quickly moving from one movement to the next (e.g. push-ups, banded rows, banded good mornings) incorporated resistance training, while keeping her heart rate elevated. Anna also had concerns about strengthening her back and shoulder muscles, as she spends a lot of time at the computer and struggles with slouching and rounded shoulders. So I threw in some banded pull-aparts (a CrossFit staple!).

Another consideration was Anna’s day-to-day life. She has a full-time job and two kids; there’s not a lot of time for the gym or lengthy workouts. My goal was to create a workout that could be replicated at home, broken up into shorter segments, if necessary, and completed with minimal equipment and space. We skipped bars, kettlebells, and dumbbell (all of which I LOVE, don’t get me wrong) in favor of a variety of resistance bands, which are versatile, portable and inexpensive.

littlebands

Anna was a model client; she put in 100% effort and was up for everything I threw at her, even monster walks, which are just funny looking. We’re already strategizing our next session, which we may move to the park for some running intervals!

anna muscles

Have you ever worked with a personal trainer? What was the experience like?