May 21

What’s the Deal With Shin Splints?

Running, Shin Splints, Pain, Recovery, HealthIf you are a runner, or play any kind of sport that involves running, there is a very good chance you’ve experienced a strange, mild-to-moderate pain in your shins the day after a heavy workout or game that persisted for a few days afterwards. Depending on the severity of the discomfort, some continue exercise, while others have to back it off or completely shut down their routine. For some, this pain appears only when there is a sizeable increase in workload, while for others, it seems to be almost constant. This very common malady among athletes and fitness enthusiasts is called the Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS), and is known colloquially as Shin Splints. Let’s get right into it.

Cause

The cause of the pain comes from extra stress and fatique put on the lower tibia — that’s your “shin bone,” due to an improper point of contact of your foot to the ground. over-pronation or supination causes your ankle and foot to “roll” every time it hits the ground, thereby improperly absorbing the shock from the ground strike. With the shock from striking your foot to the ground with every step being improperly absorbed, it travels up your leg, to your tibia, putting undue stress on the bone and attached ligaments. While an exact cause of this condition is not known, the likely culprits are our shoes. From a very early age, the bones in our feet are shaped by the tight, binding shoes that we wear day in and day out. Improper, ill-fitting shoes (how many times have your parents bought you shoes to “grow into”) during our growth phase could lead to improper foot mechanics. As adults, most of the walking and running we do happens on hard surfaces such as asphalt, concrete, and, if you have a very nice office, marble. These hard surfaces do not have nearly the same give as the soft soil/ground we evolved to walk around on, thereby putting much more stress on our feet, arches and lower leg.

Treatments

The treatment is fairly straightforward. If experiencing discomfort in your lower tibia, discontinue the activity, rest, and ice the area. For a more long-term solution, get into a good stretching routine to loosen up the muscles in your lower leg. The more give they have, the less fatigued they’ll get from the stress. Having the right shoes can also be of great help. Keep in mind that miles upon miles racked up in your service pair of running shoes or cleats will beat them into the improper shape your foot is enforcing, so be sure to replace worn-out shoes or cleats. When buying shoes or cleats, do some online research prior to purchasing to find out what works best for your foot and arch type. Some shoes work better for flat feet while others work better for a high arch. Good luck, and keep exercising!

May 19

So, How “Covered” Is a Personal Trainer/Instructor?

Insurance, Liability, Malpractice, Fitness, WellnessIf you work in Wellness and Fitness, chances are, Liability Insurance is not something that is on the forefront of your mind. After all, Liability Insurance is reserved for doctors in case they prescribe the wrong pill or amputate the wrong limb, and lawyers who sleep through a deposition and land their client behind bars, right? Not exactly.

Doctors and lawyers could be sued for malpractice regardless of whether they actually did something wrong or not. Lawsuits cost time and money, on both sides. Liability insurance protects the defendants from catastrophic monetary losses not just in case they are found liable, but sometimes, protects them from the process as well.

It seems that Personal Trainers and Instructors don’t have to worry about any of this. After all, the gyms, CrossFit centers and yoga studios where they train or are employed have iron-clad liability waivers they make all the members sign, along with the trillion-year membership commitment. Once again, not exactly.

In truth, these liability waivers are not as iron-clad as they seem. Most gyms employ something called a Total Liability Waiver, basically meaning that no matter what happens at the gym, regardless of negligence, fault or intentional misuse, the gym is not in any way, shape or form, liable. It sounds pretty ludicrous that such a legal document can actually exist in our legal system. US courts tend to agree — many cases involving an accident at a gym had the Total Liability Waiver thrown out, ruling that the broadness and vagueness of the waiver made it unenforceable.

Also, keep in mind that although a Personal Trainer may be working with, or even for a gym, upon the precipice of a liability lawsuit, the gym can very quickly cut ties and leave the trainer to face the full brunt of the lawsuit. After all, the gym’s liability waivers and lawyers are concerned with only one thing: protecting the gym, not the Personal Trainers. If they can prove that it was the Trainer and not the gym that should be held liable, the gym’s liability, and responsibility ends right there.

Having supplemental liability insurance is always a good idea if working in the Fitness and Wellness Industry. If gyms can prove that it is the Trainer and not them that is responsible, they will most likely take that option, and without their lawyers and liability waivers, it will be just the instructors’ burden.

May 14

WellFit: What’s Your Story? Aaron Manheimer

Wellness, Fitness, Personal Training, InterviewAs a celebration of our launch of the WellFit Wellness and Fitness Liability Insurance program, over the next months, we will be featuring Fitness Instructors, Personal Trainers, Nutritionists and many others in the Wellness and Fitness industry, and interviewing them on the rewards, challenges and motivations of their vocations. Our first interviewee is Aaron Manheimer, a Personal Trainer from Chicago, IL.

 

Aaron Manheimer

Business Name: Wattage

Location: Chicago, IL

Certification/Occupation:  Personal Trainer – NASM – CPT, NASM – PES, EXOS – XPS

Photo Courtesy of Neil John Burger Photography

 

CPH: When did you start working in the field?

AM: I started learning how to train the body in college when I started playing club rugby in 1993.

 

CPH: What made you decide you wanted to pursue this career path?

AM: After many desk jobs I pursued a career as a pro rugby player. When I came back to the states the last thing I wanted was to go back to sitting at a desk.

 

CPH: Who/what was your biggest influence when you were starting on your path?

AM: My family and friends. I never seriously considered training as a profession. I come from a family of academics, no one I knew did this for a living. However, the people close to me saw that I enjoyed and convinced me to try it.

 

CPH: What is your favorite aspect of your career? Figuring out what works for each person.

AM: Clients come in and usually have things that they are good at and things where they are deficient. I love creating a plan to correct those. I also enjoy learning about the different aspects of life. You learn a lot from people and you get to see people in different times of their career/life.

 

CPH: What do you consider to be the most challenging aspect of your career?

AM: Time management. When I was single I didn’t mind working 14 hour days. Now that I am married and about to have a family, it takes a lot of planning and creating a great team so that you can spread the workload. Owning a facility is a lot like having a second home and a second family to take care of.

 

CPH: What sets your practice apart from other professionals?

AM: We don’t compromise. Our facility is spotless. Someone walks in and thinks the place is brand new, even though we opened two years ago. Cleanliness is greatly valued by our clients. As strange as it seems, we really pride ourselves on that. We hold that high bar throughout everything we do here. Do it right or don’t do it at all. We do the same for our clients. We take our time with each one.

 

CPH: Since you’ve began working in the field, what is the strangest health fad you’ve encountered?

AM: Super slow training. They promote that you can do their workout without breaking a sweat.

 

CPH: Who is an athlete or fitness professional who inspires your fitness career?

AM: I am a big fan of the All Blacks Rugby Team, New Zealand’s national rugby team. They run an amazing organization and are the fittest team on the planet, have a great work ethic, and make it a point not to be egotistical. I also enjoy learning from Mark Verstegan of EXOS and Mike Boyle of MBSC. To greats in the field of training athletes.

 

CPH: What advice would you give someone just starting out in your field?

AM: Everyone comes into the field wanting to train athletes. Change your mindset, make all your clients athletes, from the stay-at-home mom, the middle aged computer programmer, to the grandmother of 85 years.

May 12

There Is a Diet & Exercise Plan That Works for Everyone, Right? Wrong

Diet, Exercise, HealthWe suppose we can just finish right here, but let’s elaborate. We’ve spoken many times about misconceptions in the fitness industry — this includes preconceived ideas on certain workout routines, fitness goals or diet plans, and ideas that some follow religiously that may not work for others, or may not work at all. We’ve been working hard to clarify and/or dispel some of these misconceptions. The “One Diet Fits All” and “One Exercise Plan Fits All” misconception is one of the stronger ones.

The biggest reason to understand this is so that you don’t get down on yourself when a diet and exercise plan seems to be working for everyone else, but not you. Remember, it’s not your fault, and there isn’t necessarily something wrong with you.

 

Metabolism

Everyone has that one friend or family member they secretly hate.  It seems that no matter what this friend eats, or how much of it, they never seem to gain a pound of fat… they seem to perpetually stay toned and fit despite appearing to do nothing to achieve it. They always seem to be full of energy, athleticism, and gusto… can’t help but be a tiny bit envious. This friend, or family members likely have very high metabolisms, and although very high metabolisms get rarer and rarer as the years tick, some people keep it their entire lives. It’s simply the luck of the draw, and if you follow their dieting advice (or lack thereof) you are not likely to achieve the same results.

 

Health

Watch any medical drama on TV, and you are likely to turn yourself into a hypochondriac. While most of our mild health-related warning signs may not be related to some exotic strain of an exotic virus from the television show, poor health may be another factor that makes diet plans and exercise routines fail.

Consider that common phrase we all often hear: “Consult a doctor prior to…” While most of the time, it sounds like something a lawyer inserted to cover all bases, it is actually good advice. If your health is not up to par; if you have an underlying condition that has not been properly diagnosed or treated, you may actually do yourself more harm than good by getting into a strenuous exercise routine or going on an extreme diet.

 

So, if you feel like your diet and exercise plans are not working for you, remember that it is most likely just the wrong plan. Consult a doctor to make sure you are healthy enough, and are getting enough vitamins and nutrients to diet and exercise, and be sure to not be discouraged by the de-motivating examples naturally high-metabolism individuals.

May 07

Too Much Cardio Can Make You GAIN Weight?

Cardio, T3, Fitness, Fitness GoalsMost of you have probably already taken a baseball bat to your stationary bike and treadmill and threw them down a flight of stairs just after reading the title. Don’t despair just yet… for those with functioning exercise equipment, or those who prefer outdoor running, listen up! This is important.

We are used to misconceptions in the fitness industry. Most believe the very simple correlation to the more cardio we do, the more weight we lose. We get on a treadmill or bike, and just go at it for 30 minutes to an hour, the more the better, and watch the pounds shed. Although cardio does give tremendous results, too much cardio may actually reverse them!

According to Noah Abbott, a CrossFit coach in Brooklyn, prolonged, steady-rate cardio can deplete our body’s Triiodothyronine, or T3 hormone. This hormone is responsible for metabolism, and a depletion of this hormone can cause the body to go into a mode where it stores and gains more fat than usual. This hormonal change is also not affected by the intensity or frequency of activity… at that point, your body will gain fat regardless how much cardio you do.

The answer to solving this terrible dilemma is, ironically, a very CrossFit-type answer: cross training. Combining steady cardio with explosive cardio, weightlifting and CrossFit can not only prevent T3 depletion, but challenge your body in many, different and unique ways. A well-balanced workout routine will strengthen muscles, tendons and ligaments, lowering the risk of injury, while improving overall fitness endurance.

So run downstairs, apologize to your stationary bike and treadmill, beg for forgiveness and repair the damage… cardio is still an extremely important part of a complete workout routine, so keep it up!

 

May 05

Lifting Heavy Weights is NOT Just for Men

Workout, Gym, Fitness, Heavy LiftingWhen it comes to fitness and personal training, there are a lot of misconceptions that everybody from the casual gym visitor to the professional personal trainer have to battle daily. After all, fitness is more like medicine than math. Often, there isn’t one right answer but instead many theories and preferences on how to go about solving the problem: in medicine’s case, treating an illness, in fitness’s case, reaching individual fitness goals. If one asks two personal trainers the very same fitness questions, they may have completely different answers, and both of them may be right.

Misconceptions happen in any vocation where more than one answer is acceptable and/or right. Many theories spring up, sprouting many versions of one theory, leading to interpretations of those theories by people not qualified to make quality interpretations. This is how we arrive from many right answers to a many wrong ones.

One of the biggest misconceptions in fitness is that women should not lift heavy weights — that heavy weightlifting is only for men. There are many false interpretations and cultural stigmas that fall into that misconception, and we are here to dispel them all.

“I Don’t Want to Look Like the Incredible Hulk.”

A valid concern. Unfortunately, lifting heavy weights is most often associated with huge, hulking muscle men who grunt, sweat and destroy unsuspecting shirt sleeves with their 20″ biceps. Keep in mind, however, that this look is not “accidental” — these guys didn’t just puff up one day after pumping iron at the gym for a while without meaning to. These body builders have specific goals, work extremely hard and diet to achieve the massive level of muscle you see, and although they should be commended for their work ethic, that look isn’t for everyone. For most people, a well-balanced heavy lift routine will lead to a nicely toned body, without the huge mass.

“I Don’t Need to Get Strong, I Just Want to Lose Weight.”

Muscles need food in form of protein, and some carbs. The more muscle you have, the more food your body will need to properly feed the muscle. What happens when your body is using up more food than before? It doesn’t need to store as much. Since or bodies store food as fat, more muscle = less fat. Gaining more muscle is a great way to help your body lose weight, and keep it off. Be warned though, muscle weighs more than fat, so as you gain muscle, be sure to use hip/waist/chest/arm measurements to accurately assess how much fat you are losing.

“I Don’t Want to Get Hurt Lifting Heavy Weights.”

Another valid concern. Improper technique or too much weight without proper preparation can lead to serious injuries. However, with proper technique, a heavy lift routine can actually strengthen joints, ligaments and, of course, muscles, thereby reducing the risk of injury down the road.

As is the case with any workout routine, be sure to work with a personal trainer to determine the right workload, and always, no matter how light or heavy the weight, use proper technique.

Apr 30

How to Tackle That Scary, Intimidating Gym Part 3

Gym, Fitness, Health, Workout Buddy, Fitness GoalsWe are continuing on the path of getting you from the couch and into the gym, while making the experience the least intimidating it could be. If you have not been following along, be sure to catch up and check out Part 1 and Part 2 of How to Tackle That Scary, Intimidating Gym.

Now that you picked the most convenient gym for you, negotiated the contract, and signed the paperwork, it’s time to start going. We certainly hope you took advantage of a personal trainer like we suggested — a complimentary “assessment” session is included with a lot of new memberships. If it isn’t with yours, be sure to ask for one. At the session, share your personal goals weight loss, toning up or muscle gain with your trainer, and most of the time, they’ll be able to point you in the right direction.

However, once the training session is over, it up to you, and only you, to keep coming back and reaching your goals… or is it?

Get a Workout Buddy

Working out with someone will make going to the gym a lot more fun, and a lot less intimidating. Maybe you could get a friend with similar fitness goals to join the same gym and go with you, or maybe you could meet someone at the gym. If no one with similar fitness goals is available, there is nothing wrong with partnering up with someone with in better shape, with more experience — they’ll motivate you, and help guide you to reach your goals. Either way, having someone to work out with creates many positives. First, there may be days when you just don’t feel like going — those are the days you will HAVE to go because your friend is going. You’ll do the same for them. Second, our human competitive nature will push you both to meet and exceed your fitness goals. If you just can’t find a workout buddy, bring some music and headphones — something that will pump you up and motivate you to work out.

Treat the Gym Like a Hospital

This is a weird one, but bear with us. Perhaps the most intimidating aspect of any gyms are the giant, grunting guys who lift 100 lb weights like they are made out of Styrofoam, and the women whose waistlines would make Barbie jealous. It may feel like the gym belongs to them and you have no place in it, but keep in mind, although everyone has different fitness goals, they are there for the same reason… to improve, to get better, to fix something they believe could be better about their bodies. When you go to the hospital, everyone is there for the same reason, to get better, to fix a problem. The gym is the same.

Ready to go? Gym on!

Apr 28

How to Tackle That Scary, Intimidating Gym Part 2

Gym, Exercise, Health, Membership, Fine PrintLast week, we wrote about what it takes to get over the fear and intimidation of gyms, and how to make going to the gym as pain-free and convenient as possible. Since the entry was wildly popular, we thought we should probably expand on what we know, and share more steps with you.

When we last left off, we talked about how to negotiate when signing up for a gym membership, and be very careful to read the fine print when it comes to leaving the gym or severing the contract, so that you are not locked into a membership forever. While some, typically high-end gyms have options for month-to-month memberships where you can cancel anytime, most require you to sign a lengthy contract and have the membership fees automatically taken out of your bank account or credit card, and also make it next to impossible to get out of it.

Why is Being able to Leave the Gym Important?

Simple: lives change, and gyms change. A new job may take your daily route away from the previously convenient gym, or out of town altogether. Maybe a friend of yours who got a sudden inspiration to lose a few pounds joined a nearby gym, and you would like nothing more than to work out with them. Perhaps avoiding the gym may come from doctor’s orders, where a nagging injury or an illness may force you to skip the gym for a few weeks to a few months. If you can’t go to the gym you have a membership in, there is no reason for you to have to keep paying for it.

On the other hand, changes in management or sudden influx of new memberships in your gym may quickly turn it from your preferred workout spot to a somewhere you dread going. Maybe your favorite equipment is not getting fixed for months, maybe the stink in the locker room is getting to biohazard levels… or maybe you spend more time waiting for piece of equipment than you do exercising because the gym is so crowded — regardless of the reason, being able to jump ship and move on is important, so be sure to read through the fine print, and insist on an easy, straightforward process for contract termination.

Apr 23

How to Tackle That Scary, Intimidating Gym

Fitness, Gym. Getting Started, HealthRegardless of what the reason is, whether it’s to look a bit tighter in the midsection with summer coming up, to get in shape for that dream tropical vacation, or just to lose a few pounds for health reasons, this spring, many are considering joining a gym. For many of us who already have a gym membership but have not been there in so long, we don’t remember exactly where it is located, getting back at the gym is a matter of actually getting use out of the membership fee that gets deducted from our bank accounts every month.

Regardless of whether you’ve never been to the gym, or have not been to the gym in a long time, getting in and coming back consistently is tough. After all, the gym can be a pretty intimidating place.

Getting In

If you are joining a gym for the first time, be sure to do your research and shop around. Gym membership fees vary greatly from gym to gym, sometimes based on the equipment and amenities, and sometimes, based on absolutely no reason at all. Make sure that the gym is in a convenient location to you, either next to your home, next to work, or somewhere along the way. If a gym is too out of the way, you’ll be much less likely to go there consistently. Be sure to ask your friends and coworkers — you could get the inside scoop on which gym is better, and get a workout buddy at the same time (more on that later).

Signing Your Life Away

Most gyms require an upfront fee plus a 100-billion-year contract assuring that you will be getting charged a membership fee for eternity, regardless of whether you go or not. Be sure to negotiate! Most gyms will be running some kind of special where they’ll waive some fees, or maybe shorten the length of the contract. Always ask about the procedure for terminating the membership contract — if it seems unnecessarily or unreasonably complex, think twice before signing. Be sure to ask about a personal training session: most gyms will offer a complimentary session with a personal trainer upon signing — take advantage of it. A personal trainer can help you figure out a workout routine based on your fitness goals, and you’ll look very cool working out with a trainer!

Apr 21

Weightlifting — The Myths

dumbbells-290378_1280The days are getting longer, the allergies are starting to show their seasonal faces, and the temperature is getting warmer. The winter clothes are starting to make their way back towards the harder-to-reach places in your closet. Major League Baseball’s regular season is back in full swing. All these pieces of evidence could only mean one thing… Summer is coming up.

Keeping in shape during the winter is tough. We featured a blog on this topic several months ago. Cold weather, crowded gyms, decreased metabolism due to decreased physical activity can make anyone pack on a few extra unwanted pounds. With warmer weather comes the desire to show a little more skin, and the desire to look awesome doing it!

Getting back in shape can be an ordeal. For most, simple cardiovascular exercise is the go-to for pound-shredding. Treadmill, Stair Master, the Stationary Bike… all good options. But what about that other area of the gym that you rarely venture to? The area with all the dumbbells, kettle bells, bench presses and stacks of intimidating weights? If you are thinking about adding weight training to your workout regimen, here are a few myths that may get in the way of making the right decision.

Weightlifting = The Most You Can Lift, All the Time

Wrong, wrong, wrong! If you want to tone up your arms, legs and core, you are among the majority of those who lift — most people who weight train typically do not want to get as big as a house, so lifting your maximum constantly will not only fail to tone your muscles, but can also lead to serious injury. A starting point is picking a weight that you can use for 3-4 sets of 10 to 12 reps. If you can barely muster 6 reps, go down in weight. If you barely break a sweat, go up.

I Can Get As Big As I Want

Short version: you may not be able to, and that’s completely ok. Bottom line is, people’s bodies, genetics and bone structures are all different. While we can train our muscles to get bigger, our bones, tendons and ligaments do not change. At some point, they simply reach the limit of how much weight they can support without damage. Keep your goals reasonable, and don’t get disappointed if your hard work does not make you look like the local gym rat with 20″ biceps. After all, it is possible that they are achieving their immense size with unnatural means.

I Will Never Have the Cut, Lean Bodies of Celebrities I See in Movies

A few things to keep in mind: 1. Famous actors get paid to look their absolute best, and have the time and resources to put into it. 2. They undergo intense workout routines designed and monitored by professional trainers for months to achieve their peak shape. 3. Their workout routines typically involve radical, closely-monitored diets. 4. Actors typically “pump up” by doing a few reps right before filming. With all that being said, yes, it is possible to achieve the cut, lean look of celebrities, but it takes a lot of work, time, commitment and resources.

As is true with any “get-in-shape” plan, avoid going on any self-invented radical diets or lifting routines… you may do yourself more harm than good. Consult a nutritionist to create a proper diet, and grab a personal trainer for the weight lighting.

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