(Guest post)--Hey TruFit readers! April is National Stress Awareness Month, which means it’s a wonderful time to talk self-care. To help us, we’ve handed today’s post over to Amanda Tarver, LMT. She is the owner and practitioner of Women’s Massage Therapy in downtown Evanston, where she offers a variety of women’s therapeutic bodywork, and pregnancy and postpartum services. We are thrilled to be sharing her self-care wisdom and tips here on the TruFit Blog!
What Is Self-Care?
Self-care can involve any regular activity (or activities) that we do specifically to take care of our physical, mental, and emotional needs. Self-care can mean different things to different people, and your own self-care needs may change many times throughout your life. Examples of self-care can include:
Self-care is not the same thing as pampering. Although treating ourselves to something special can be good for our emotional, physical, or mental well-being, pampering is generally something that we engage in rarely or inconsistently (Example: Enjoying a glass of Champagne on a Tuesday; spending an entire morning in bed with some aromatherapy and a good book; splurging on a piece of art or a pair of shoes that you love). Good self-care, on the other hand, requires regular practice, even though that practice may change.
Why Should I Practice Self-Care?
When we take the time to regularly care for ourselves and recharge, we are able to be our best selves. Think about it… do your best interactions with others occur when you are feeling well or when you’re feeling poorly? People who engage in regular self-care tend to be more productive, happier, healthier, and may even live longer. Their interactions with others tend to be more positive because they feel good, which leads to improved relationships, and fewer instances of anger, frustration, irritation, etc.
Good stuff, right? So how do you get started?
Bad health and fitness advice is, and always has been, plentiful and pervasive. Wanting to look and feel our best is a universal desire, so it’s no surprise we’re constantly being inundated with recommendations for pills, products, exercises, and regimens purported to help us achieve that goal. But how many of us can separate fitness myths from the facts?
Some fitness myths and falsehoods are harmless, even well-intentioned (Aunt Wendy swears drinking raw vinegar and lemon juice will boost your energy...except no, and yuck). Many false claims and trendy products will cost you time and money (Fat-burning belts? Weight-loss sunglasses? Umm, no) and leave you with poor results. In the worst-case scenario, trusting a false health or fitness hack can be downright dangerous (Tiffany Haddish recommends turpentine. P.S. DON’T DRINK TURPENTINE!).
At TruFit Personal Training Studios Evanston, we are blessed to have a diverse group of personal trainers (with an equally diverse knowledge base) sweating it out and sharing their wisdom under one roof! So we asked them: What are the most common fitness myths you hear or get asked about? Check out their answers below!
10 Common Fitness Myths (Debunked by TruFit)
Fitness Myth #1: Lifting weights makes women “bulky”
The Truth: While lifting weights gives muscles more of a "shape" (which some people call "tone" or “definition”), women do not have the hormonal makeup to get "bulky" like male lifters do. And just like lifting heavy weights won't "bulk up” women like a bodybuilder, doing exercises like Barre Method will not create "long dancer muscles" either. TruFit trainer Izzy Libmann points out, “Your body's reaction to your training loads is largely based on genetics! So if you’re looking for a certain type of body shape, you may be out of luck depending on your genetic makeup.” But with all of this being said, if getting bulky is a concern, we won’t turn a deaf ear. Always discuss this with your trainer! The best you can do is perform your exercises and monitor your progress.
Fitness Myth #2: Eating throughout the day quickens your metabolism
The Truth: While digesting a meal does temporarily spike your metabolism, there is no evidence that eating more frequently will increase your metabolic rate. The REAL difference-maker is the total number of daily calories consumed. Also, individuals who eat several small meals per day tend to consume MORE total calories (and feel less satiated after eating) than those who eat 3-4 square meals per day. So unless you’re a rockstar calorie counter, you’re probably better off just eating three healthy meals per day!
Fitness Myth #3: High intensity is the only way to get results
The Truth: While high intensity exercise has its time and place (we're talking sprints, Tabata training, CrossFit, high-intensity interval training), overdoing it can lead to overtraining and injury. We recommend mixing in "light" and "medium" days during the week to complement the "heavy" day(s). And remember, the harder you train, the harder you have to recover (eating well, sleeping enough, meditation, getting massages, etc). If high intensity is your jam, do watch for signs of overtraining. Some of these are: Feeling more tired/wiped out than usual; feeling dread before a workout; chronic soreness, like you can’t get over your last workout; a sudden drop in your training performance; getting sick more often. If you’re experiencing these, it might be a good idea to back off of the intensity to ward off an injury that will sideline you for weeks or months.
Fitness Myth #4: Lots of crunches or sit-ups will give you a six-pack
The Truth: “In order to see a six-pack, you need to lower your body fat percentage with proper nutrition and workouts, not with 1000 crunches or sit-ups,” says TruFit trainer Marco Gonzalez. We’re talking a combination of a variety of exercises (not just exercises targeting your six-pack itself) and a HUGE dose of nutritional support (eating mostly whole foods, watching your carb/fat/protein ratio, consuming little to no sugar or alcohol). We highly recommend checking out this Precision Nutrition infographic to give you an idea of how much six-packs cost. In fact, crunches and sit-ups are likely doing you more bad than good when it comes to your lower back! If you want to train your “core,” perform more anti-rotation exercises like this or this or do total-body exercises like deadlifts, push-ups, squats, etc (yes, those ARE also core exercises).
Fitness Myth #5: Running is the best way to lose weight
The Truth: Losing weight will happen when there is a calorie deficit (meaning more total calories are burned than consumed). While running does burn some calories and helps people lose weight, the bigger bang for the calorie-burning buck is actually in lifting weights! The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism will be. That does not mean you shouldn't run if you like it and it makes you feel good! "It's always best to cross-train," adds Izzy. "When we do too much of one thing, like only running without strength training for example, we may be asking for trouble." So do try to get a good mix of movement in throughout the week for overall health.
Fitness Myth #6: Regular sugar is less fattening than high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
The Truth: The amount of fructose found in regular table sugar and HFCS is almost the same. The difference between the amount is negligible; the body processes them the same way, meaning that if we have too much of it, it gets converted to fat and can lead to type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. A very important note: While, yes, fresh fruit does contain some fructose, that fruit also has plenty of fiber and other nutrients to offset the absorption of fructose into your bloodstream! Also, one serving of fruit has a LOT less fructose in it than, let's say, juice or a candy bar. In other words, added sugars--all added sugars--aren’t doing you any favors, so try to consume them as little as possible and stick to whole, unprocessed foods.
Fitness Myth #7: You can spot reduce problem areas
The Truth: “When a client says, ‘I want to get rid of the fat on my thighs,’ they are expecting to target this area with exercise and think the body fat will go away from that area only,” explains TruFit trainer Megan Davies. “When you lose body fat, your overall body will reduce fat, not only in specific areas. We all tend to gain and lose weight in certain areas and that can be dictated by our body type. The cool thing is, while we can’t target fat loss in one specific area, we CAN strengthen every single body part!” Getting lean and burning fat requires a diet of mostly whole foods (with little sugar and alcohol), getting your heart rate up multiple days per week, and a combo of total-body exercises (think push-ups vs just doing tricep kickbacks, or squats vs only the leg extension machine)!
Fitness Myth #8: Training to “failure” is good for you
The Truth: You know the saying "keep a quarter in the tank" so your car doesn't run out of gas? Same goes for training. “The biggest negative effect of training to failure is how it affects your central nervous system,” explains TruFit trainer Kathryn Lehner. “It has the potential to overload your CNS, making it hard to train frequently, causing lots of fatigue, and making recovery time last longer. As a result, it can affect the rest of that workout as well as workouts later in the week. Also, form has the potential to break down when fatigue gets too high. Might as well end on a good rep!” Aim to feel like you can do 1-2 more reps in your set at the stopping point. If you want to keep a good relationship with exercise and stay free of injury, keep a quarter in the tank.
Fitness Myth #9: Squats and lunges are bad for your knees
The Truth: To quote Dan John, “It's not the squats that are bad for your knees; it could be the way you're doing the squats that's bad for your knees.” TruFit trainer Brian Kirshenbaum says, “When properly executed, the squat and lunge (in its various forms) are terrific for strengthening your quads and glutes. It’s these very muscles that when strong, help prevent problems with our knees in the first place!” If squats and lunges have hurt you in the past, it could be good to get a trusted pro to help you out!
Fitness Myth #10: There's no point in strength training until you lose that extra 5, 10, or 15 pounds
The Truth: “First off, strength training does burn calories,” says TruFit trainer Sarah Laspas. “It does NOT have to be slow-paced, and depending on how you structure your workouts, it's possible to sweat A LOT. Second, unlike cardio, you'll continue to burn calories for 1-2 days after a solid strength training session--basically, you're shedding fat and building muscle at the same time. Hooray for efficiency!”
We hope this information was helpful, or at the least, gave you some tidbits to ponder on your health and fitness journey! Regarding other health and fitness claims, we strongly suggest you exercise (pun intended!) caution. Seek out reviews or conclusions from credentialed medical experts, fitness professionals, and peer-reviewed research studies to help you make smart choices.
Got a fitness question that you need help with? Want to bust some more fitness myths? We’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Original Strength's Press RESET Workshop: What the Heck Is It and Why Does Izzy Keep Talking About It?
TruFit Personal Training Studios is hosting an Original Strength Press RESET workshop and I keep talking about how excited I am. But what the heck is Original Strength, anyway? Why is the workshop called “Press RESET” and are we supposed to yell “RESET” because it’s in all caps? Why should you care and why should you go? I’ll address all of this in bulletpoints.
So let’s say your body (or a client’s body) isn’t cooperating, isn’t moving the way it should, is in daily discomfort or pain. You want to reboot that body, press the reset button. Here is how a Press RESET workshop works:
What Sets OS Apart From Other Systems?
As a fitness professional, I’ve gone through a bunch of certifications that are aimed at teaching people how to get stronger, how to move better, how to get other people stronger and moving better. But, and without badmouthing any of those other systems, here is what I appreciate about OS:
OS believes that by helping one person move better, you help communities of people around them. If you’ve ever been in chronic pain, think about how that has affected you and the way you treat the world around you. If you can help ONE person (or yourself) move through their world more easily, how might that affect their partner? Their children? Their friends? Their parents?
So come to the workshop, see how you feel and decide whether or not you want to yell RESET because it’s in all caps ;) You can sign up here!
Ah, the kettlebell swing: Such a POWERFUL exercise that's often misunderstood... and butchered.
There are a few different styles of kettlebell swings (Russian, American, CrossFit to name a few) and, we think it's safe to say, some are safer and more effective than others. We've seen our fair share of butchered swings in our time which give swings a bad name! When done *properly*, though, kettlebell swings can do wonders for your strength gains and health! This is why today, Kathryn Lehner, Strong First kettlebell instructor and one of the awesome trainers who works out of TruFit Personal Training in Evanston, is going to give us some quick dos and don'ts when doing this booty-firming, heart-pounding, hard-style version of one of our favorite exercises: The kettlebell swing.
Here is Kathryn's own story about why the swing is so freaking awesome:
1. Want to get your butt strong and look good doing it? Swing a kettlebell! Why you ask? Because it is a great way to get your butt strong! But getting a stronger rear is only one of many benefits to the kettlebell swing. In addition to your behind, the swing helps to strengthen your entire posterior chain and core. When done properly, the swing is a high-power, full-body explosive movement with weight. It involves activation of most back muscles, explosive strength, rhythm, and provides a high level of conditioning. Total. Body. Exercise.
2. The swing is a dynamic hip hinge. The body movement in deadlifts and swings -- when done properly -- is the best way to pick something up! It also happens to be the most efficient way to jump. The hip hinge is technically the strongest movement we can make as it encourages and ensures the center of the body is strong and stable.
3. Since we recognize that the kettlebell swing is a hinge movement, this means it is NOT a squat. There is a big difference between the hinge and the squat. In a squat the knees and hips move at the same speed and the same rate. At the bottom of the movement, one's hips and knees are about the same height. In a hip hinge, the butt goes back first, allowing the knees to bend naturally. At the bottom of the swing (and deadlift), the hips are above one's knees and below the shoulders.
4. While performing a swing, the kettlebell makes a pendulum type motion in a steady rhythm. If it doesn't, there is most likely energy leakage happening somewhere throughout the body. Check in with the video to make sure you're doing the dos and not doing the don'ts. :)
This awesome movement strengthens your posterior chain, helps with fat loss, and aids in back health -- all good things!
Want to know more? Come swing with us!
To get in touch with Kathryn, email her here or give TruFit a call!
TruFit Personal Training Studios is happy to announce it will be hosting a women’s self defense workshop on Saturday, March 3, from 10AM-12PM at 610 Davis Street to benefit the Evanston/North Shore YWCA.
Everyone deserves to feel safe and empowered. In this workshop with American Women’s Self Defense Association-certified instructors Michelle Courvais and Aaron Christensen, participants will learn valuable non-violent de-escalation and avoidance skills, as well as fundamental defense tactics against physical and sexual assault.
More specifically, attendees will learn skills like environmental awareness and situational control, boundary setting, wrist grab and choke releases, striking techniques and targets, as well as your legal rights following an assault. All skill levels are welcome.
Proceeds from the event will benefit the Evanston/North Shore YWCA whose mission includes to empower women. Participants can sign up by donating to the event’s GoFundMe page: https://www.gofundme.com/selfdefense-workshop-trufit. Signing up ahead of time is encouraged! The suggested donation to participate is $25.
TruFit’s own mission is to be a fun, safe and inclusive space for Evanston’s diverse community to work on their health and fitness goals. “Fear of judgement is a major reason people don’t seek help to get in shape,” explains owner Isabelle Libmann. “We work hard to cultivate a culture of fun and empowerment while still offering the best personal training services.” TruFit has committed to raising $4000 as well as volunteer hours to give back to the Evanston community for 2018. In 2017, TruFit ran charity events for local organizations including the Center for The Independent Futures, The Ted Fund, The Evanston/North Shore YWCA, ESCCA and the Evanston Food Pantry.
I’m a HUGE fan of rocking for a variety of reasons:
Let's break it down:
You can play with the direction you go in (you don’t have to go forwards and backwards, you can also go side to side, in a circle, diagonally; go nuts!).
You can play with tempo (go slowly or quickly).
You can play with taking one limb off the floor while you rock (so, for example, reach one arm straight out in front of you and do a few slow rockbacks and then switch arms; does it feel different from one side to another? You can also do this reaching one leg straight back. You get the idea.)
You can also lift your knees off the ground an inch and slowly go back and forth (again, make sure you’re breathing!). The first time I did this variation, my quads were so sore!
The rockback is also a great, safe way to either warm up your squat pattern or to reestablish your squat if your body’s had a really hard time getting into that position during training sessions.
Rockbacks can be really great to help with mobility in arthritic knees, hips or shoulders! Don’t go into pain but slowly play with the range of motion you can manage. If you have tender knees, make sure there’s padding underneath them and if kneeling on the floor is still too much, elevate yourself by placing your hands on a steady chair or bench and your knees off the ground.
In terms of how to incorporate this into your own workout, there are a few things you can do:
So play on and warm up, friends!
When I say that TruFit's biggest core value is to provide a fun, safe and approachable space to exercise and that my own training company's purpose is to help clients feel empowered to take back control of their bodies, it's because I meet so many people (men and women) who, because of bad experiences in the past, feel like exercise isn't for them.
I got to meet with a woman in her mid-50s this week who, after years and years of saying away from it, has decided to give the gym and training a try. The first thing she told me when we sat down was that she was the last kid picked in gym class. I had a visceral reaction as soon as she said that because I, too, was the last kid picked in gym class and WOW is that a feeling that comes right back to you: Hot tingling in your solar plexus like tiny pins poking at it; clammy hands; the unstoppable urge to look down. Those moments when you're so young can have a lasting impact on the health decisions you make as an adult! Legions of us last-kid-picked humans have made uncountable excuses for why working out just isn't for us. (I even failed at the solo sports in gym class!)
So, you know, it's January and YOU might be looking for a new gym or trainer or program to do and I thought it would be a good idea to list out how finding said gym/trainer/program SHOULD go and when to run in the opposite direction.
What to look for:
The woman I met with today told me a story about how, when they played softball in that dreaded gym class, the teacher gave her a ball and said, "Throw it." She did and the kids laughed and made fun of her. They did this because, as she said, no one took 15 minutes to teach her HOW to throw the ball.
We all know WHAT we need to do. Look for the people who will take the time to teach you HOW to do it.
Happy New Year, friends! Please let us know if I can be of any help in 2018! Shoot an email to email@example.com or call 312-497-8999!
This month's Do-It-At-Home exercise is a scorcher! TruFit Evanston trainer Sarah Laspas takes us through this compound plank exercise that you can use as your whole workout OR work into a routine.
Here's what Sarah has to say about this exercise:
"While sit-ups and crunches may get you 'vanity abs', they aren’t particularly effective when it comes to strengthening your entire mid-section, which is the make-or-break step in laying a solid fitness foundation. Since trading in traditional sit-ups and crunches for exercises like the one I demonstrate in the video, my core is the strongest it’s ever been, I no longer dread doing ab work, and I don’t experience lower back pain anymore.
I recommend doing core work throughout your workout rather than saving it all until the end, otherwise it becomes way too tempting to skip it all together. One way that works for me is to do a core-centric exercise in between sets of another exercise that doesn’t work the same muscles. For example, I might do the exercise shown in the video in between sets of squats with hammer curls, but I would not do it in between sets of push-ups or shoulder presses because the plank variations in the exercise require your chest and shoulder muscles to do some work."
Ok, are you ready and intrigued?? Let's watch!
Let's recap the exercise directions:
Now, for an at-home circuit like the one Sarah was suggesting, here's a little something you could do (click on the exercise names for videos):
Exercise 1: Goblet squats 10-15x (if you don't have weights at home, try holding something like laundry detergent or a big book)
Exercise 2: Prone swimmers 15x each side
Exercise 3: Single leg reaches 10-15x each side
Exercise 4: SARAH'S AWESOME EXERCISE!
Do each exercise back to back as a circuit for 20-30 minutes! And you'll be SMOKED and ready to conquer the world!
Try it out, let us know what you think by leaving us a comment!
One year ago, on December 1, 2016, I became the new owner of TruFit Personal Training Studios. And, holy cow, what a year it has been! We’ve added five new trainers, redecorated a bit, held six different charity events, held a ribbon cutting with our alderman… The list goes on (and will be filled with photos below!).
Now, in case you don’t know how TruFit works, let me give you a quick run-down before I dive deep into more highlights of 2017:
TruFit wouldn’t be TruFit if it weren’t for the incredibly smart and talented trainers and their awesome, hard-working clients. Our culture is everything to us and I firmly believe that THIS is why our clients get results: Because we do everything we can to make our little Evanston gym a place where people look forward to coming (both to work and to work out). AND, now I’m tearing up. Sigh…
So, as I look back over these last 12 months, here are the biggest lessons I've learned:
I’ve learned it takes a village... to create a village! There are a lot of gyms out there where clients feel anonymous (and for some that’s perfectly OK) or where they’ve felt completely misunderstood or made to feel stupid. Even way before I took over, TruFit has always been a little bit like Cheers: A place where everyone knows your name and they’re always glad you came. But that’s not something that just *happens*. At TruFit, clients and trainers take the time to get to know each others' names! Clients talk to other clients and some become friends! Trainers aren’t afraid of other trainers stealing clients from them! Taking the time to say hi, to listen to each other and to cultivate a place where everyone’s input is important helps people feel like they have ownership in the place. They become, for lack of a better word, villagers!
I’ve learned turf is really heavy to get up to the second floor of your gym. Thor is really strong.
I’ve learned our clients and trainers are really, really generous. This year we’ve donated clothing to the Evanston School Children’s Clothing Association; we’ve raised close to $2500 for local Evanston organizations such as the Evanston/North Shore YWCA, the Ted Fund and the Center for Independent Futures (blowing our initial $1500 annual goal out fo the water) and we’ve donated food to the Evanston Food Pantry. We’re already getting ready for some awesome charity events for 2018! (Sign up here if you want to be kept in the loop!)
I’ve learned our trainers are super talented outside of being great trainers. For example, Symphony is a podcast starlet; Christina, Gabori and Kathryn are great photographers; Tony is a fantastic writer and happens to also be really good with Photoshop and burning paper (as evidenced in this wanted poster):
I’ve learned white boards are really fun:
I’ve learned that when you ask for your trainers’ expertise on a topic, you’ll be blown away by what they have to say. Primo example: This blog post we put together about how to find the right trainer when you want to get fit after 50.
I’ve learned how to lay down a new floor (and that I truly have great friends and loved ones who helped put it together):
I’ve learned TruFit is a great place to throw a shindig, from client appreciation parties to ribbon cuttings to pop-up shops. It feels really good to show off our space :)
But above all I’ve learned that, in order to have a gym that runs well, where personal trainers can do their best work and clients can get the best results, my biggest duty is to provide a space where everyone can feel confident and competent in their abilities; where trainers feel like they’re part of a community of like-minded people (even if they have different training modalities) and where their authority isn’t being questioned or micro-managed; and where every client is met where they are at any stage in their fitness journey. TruFit as a business and fitness facility are certainly not perfect and I love that because that means is it’s only going to keep getting better.
Holiday season is here and a lot of us will be traveling! And, you know, we all WANT to work out but sometimes we have hurdles: We don't know where to work out, we don't know what to do, we don't have equipment, we don't have time.
We at TruFit Personal Training Studios want to remedy that for you! Below you'll find a workout that you can do almost anywhere, that's spelled out for you, that doesn't really require equimpent and that should just take you 30-45 minutes (after a quick warm up)!
Check it out below (with the sound on)! Do it, share it, love it, share it, leave your comments below, share it... Enjoy!