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Stiffness and Foam Rolling

When you think about the average person’s day in terms of movement, it looks a bit like this:

7:00 a.m.—wake up (was sleeping in the fetal position)
7:20 a.m.—sit to eat breakfast
8:00 a.m.—sit to drive to work

9:00 a.m.—sit at work
12:00 p.m.—sit to eat lunch
1:00 p.m.—sit at work
5:00 p.m.—sit to drive home
7:00 p.m.—sit to eat dinner
8:00 p.m.—sit to watch TV/Read/Relax
11:00 p.m.—go to sleep (in fetal position)

As you can see, we do a lot of sitting! Areas of our bodies that are more commonly affected by this include the hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings, and the back. If someone sits all day, day after day, week after week, little fibers actually grow around these compressed areas. This is what happens when there’s that feeling of stiffness after sitting for several hours or after a long night’s rest. The stiffness can be from the inactivity and the growing fibers. Luckily, this is very common and with a little movement this feeling and those fibers will melt away! This is where foam rolling can provide massive relief in these areas!

So trainers, here are a few pointers for what to look for and suggest to your client(s):

 

Feet Turn Out
If their feet turn out during the overhead squat, suggest rolling out the calves.

Knees Cave In
If the knees cave in, suggest rolling the adductors.

Pelvis dips forward
If their pelvis dips forward, suggest rolling out the hip flexors.

Arms Drop
If their arms fall forward, suggest rolling the upper back.

Foam Rolling

Foam Rolling came from a hands-on technique that’s been in use for years and has a technical name of self-myofascial release (SMR). Therapists would apply pressure and drag the force on the body for a long period of time. In doing so, the body releases the tissue tightness and restores mobility. From this tactic, the foam roller was born to allow one to be able to do this to themselves. What an inexpensive deep tissue massage, am I right?

At Ellipse Fitness we encourage members to foam roll for 5 – 15 minutes before and after each workout session. Foam rolling can inhibit overactive muscles by breaking up adhesions and loosening up muscle knots. Before a workout, foam rolling hydrates the tissue and gets blood flowing. After a workout, rolling over tight spots and trigger points can relax the muscle. By rolling them out, you help to clean up some of the lactic acid that builds up when you exercise.

Foam Rollers do not break the bank, but even so, a tennis ball will also do the trick. Heather Trevarthen, Owner and Trainer of the Allouez location, says they keep tennis balls at the studio and hand them out to members to use at home.  Heather says, “Tennis Balls help to grind into those hard to reach areas of the body, like the Piriformis.” These inexpensive rollers are a great habit to implement before and after a workout and help to reduce muscle soreness.

 

Healthy Snacking

Coach Cujo at Ellipse Fitness Allouez started with us only last month! Since his first day, he has wowed us and graced us with his great knowledge. Cujo is ACSM certified as a Exercise Physiologist. Today, we’ve decided to share with you this awesome information Cujo brought to his studio in Allouez. Here’s what he had to say about HEALTHY SNACKING! (Save this information and use it to your advantage during cravings!)

“Healthy Snacking is almost imperative to master if you want to achieve your health and fitness goals. If you go through your workout with little or no food before and/or after exercising you won’t get the full benefits of the workout, and you’ll likely have more soreness and fatigue than you should. If your body begins ‘starving’ it will go into survival mode and pack on more fat from the meals you do eat. And finally, if you mentally deprive yourself of all your cravings you will eventually quit whatever routine you are building – or you will go crazy trying to stick to it!”

Here are a few tips for things people commonly experience:

1. Are you feeling light-headed or weak during or immediately following your workout?

Try having a snack with some healthy fats and carbs, but also a high level of protein 1 – 2 hours before your workout. This will ensure your body has the proper fuel to engage in rigorous physical activity

2. Are you suffering from extreme soreness for 24-48 hours following your workout?

Supplying your body with a source of complete protein immediately after exercise – within 1 hour, and the sooner the better – can often drastically reduce muscle soreness. If time and convenience are a limiting factor for you, try a BCAA (Branch-Chain Amino Acid) supplement that can quickly be mixed with water. During strength/power exercises your muscle fibers are literally tearing, and protein is required for them to recover and grow to prevent future muscle soreness.

3. Are you having a hard time putting your finger on what exactly it is that you are craving?

You may just be thirsty! Keep water near by and easily accessible at all times! Sometimes when you are dehydrated your body will send signals to eat what is in front of you, because it contains water! Water is 100% integral to a properly functioning body. If you are dehydrated, nothing from working out to excellent nutritional habits will help you achieve your goals!

Craving this? Substitute that!

Salty! (french fries, potato chips, etc)
Try some edamame (boiled and sprinkled with sea salt), raw snap peas (snow peas), or raw nuts! (roasted/salted nuts are ok too as long as you can control portions)

Greasy! (burger, hot dog, fried cheese)
Instead reach for smoked salmon or beef jerky – both of which don’t require refrigeration before opening! Also, a slice or two of cheese with some grapes or apple slices can just as well satisfy that craving!

Sweet! (you get the picture)
Chocolate? Try a couple small pieces of 50% or more Dark Chocolate! Cookies? A couple of figs or dates might do the trick. Ice cream? Try blending chick peas or frozen bananas with peanut butter and a few semi-sweet chocolate chips and vanilla extract for a healthier alternative.

Alcohol! (also bread)
Oatmeal or granola, nuts, or dark leafy greens can provide good substitutes for the micronutrients you might be craving.

Maybe you are just bored or need to unwind? Try a bath (add Epsom Salt for sore muscles!), go for a walk at sunset or any other activity that gets fresh air into your lungs, and if it’s too cold? Play a game with a friend, child or spouse that forces you to think a little!

If you find that nutrition is one thing that you keep getting stuck on, ask about our Results in 42 program! 6-weeks of working with a coach to get back on track and pick up some new tips along the way.

Healthy and Easy Grill Recipe

What’s even better than Summertime?

Summertime Grilling!

We just can’t get enough of being outside this time of year, especially those of us in the Midwest who understand how cold it can get. So when it’s July and August, we are not complaining!

Here’s a great recipe for on the grill to keep your Summer hot! This is not your typical grilled steak or chicken breast recipe . What’s the best about grilled shrimp is that it feels fancy! It’s unlike “the usuals” for most families. Check it out…and this one is made easy with no mess! Thank goodness for the geniuses at Food Network, right!?

Ingredients

2 large bell peppers, sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 large onion, sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 bunch scallions, quartered crosswise
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Kosher salt
1 1/4 pounds extra-large peeled and deveined shrimp, tails removed
2 limes, halved
Twelve 6-inch flour tortillas
1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves and tender stems
Salsa and chopped avocado for serving is optional, but oh so good!

You’ll also need: 18-inch-wide heavy duty foil & a GRILL.

Plan of Action!

  • Prepare a grill for medium-high heat.
  • Throw together the onions, scallions, bell pepper, oil, chile powder, cumin and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl.
  • Tear two 18-inch pieces of 18-inch-wide heavy duty foil. Spread the vegetable bowl mixture on one piece of foil, leaving a few inches of exposed foil as a border.
  • Arrange the shrimp on top of the veggies in a single layer and then squeeze limes over the entire thing.
  • Top with the remaining piece of foil, lining up the edges. Fold the edges and crimp tightly to make a leak-proof packet.
  • Tear two 18-inch pieces of 18-inch-wide heavy duty foil. Arrange the tortillas, overlapping slightly, on one piece of foil. Top with the remaining piece of foil, lining up the edges. Fold the edges and crimp tightly to make another packet.
  • Put the shrimp packet on the grill, close the grill lid and cook 12 minutes (do not turn the packet over). The packet should puff up and look like a pillow.
  • Slide from the grill onto a baking sheet using tongs. Set aside and let rest while you heat up the tortillas. Put the tortilla pack on the grill and cook until warm, about 2 minutes per side.
  • Carefully open the shrimp packet (hot steam will escape). The shrimp should be pink and cooked through and the onions and peppers just tender.
  • Scatter the cilantro over the shrimp.
  • Serve with the warm tortillas and salsa and avocado, if desired.

 

This recipe is from Television Food Network. Checkout Food Network Kitchen for more amazing recipes and tips from the kitchen.

Self-Love

Last week we spoke about confidence and how we, as trainers, deal with issues surrounding this topic. If you missed it, read here and then come back! When a person comes to Ellipse Fitness and has low confidence, it could be a number of things that are at the root of this. Often, and unfortunately, it stems from having low self-love. We’re usually the ones that beat ourselves up the most and are concerned about what others are going to think.

Why are we hard on ourselves? It seems many people have a hard time with balance. We all have experience with someone who is eating junk food one minute, then counting calories the next. People go back and forth with these extremes, sometimes for years. When we fail at these impossible expectations we set, then our confidence takes a beating as well. At Ellipse Fitness, we try to teach balance. Balance is the goal to a successful life! Let’s face it…we are all crazy busy, so one extreme probably won’t last long. These extremes that people set are not healthy and honestly, living that way is just not that fun!!!!

“I am the greatest. I said that even before I knew I was.” -Muhammad Ali 

I asked coach Bryanna Tremillo from Ellipse Fitness Allouez, How do you react to a client who is too hard on themselves? “Of course, during our initial meeting I would never say “Hey, you should stop talking that way about yourself,” because I don’t know how they would react at that point. But as they continue working in the studio, I make sure that I get to know them to build a relationship and THEN address it when I feel the time is right and they are more comfortable.”

A lot of the time, clients or members don’t see their progress the way we see it. It’s so obvious to us when certain things become easier or their confidence is changing and they have not noticed there’s a difference from when they started. But believe us, there is and we will tell you!

How can we help our members improve confidence? Heather Trevarthen of Allouez states, “Beyond helping them meet their physical goals, we meet with them before a workout and make sure to check in with them after.  If it is someone that needs a lot of positive feedback, we continue to check in with them regularly to see how they are feeling.  A couple times we’ve had to have a heart to heart with clients and remind them about the importance of self-love.  You CAN do this!  You ARE worth the work/effort.  YOU are not a number on a scale!”

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Confidence

Nobody’s perfect, yet many of us are perfectionists, pushing for what feels like a means to no end. A lot of people who want to get into shape have been spinning their wheels for years, trying to achieve “the perfect body.” Here’s the truth: We’re are all imperfect, wonderful, messy human beings. We have jobs, fears, wants, kids and pets. We have families, houses, responsibilities, dreams, and hopes. We mess up, we make mistakes, and we triumph. These are human basics that are over looked so often when we look into the mirror.

True confidence is about being real to who you are and having fun doing it. Many times, as trainers, we deal with the occasional client who simply states that their goals are that they want to look like “that girl or guy,” or “be skinnier.” This mindset is not ideal when working with a client and looking to help motivate them to make a change.

SKINNY AND HEALTHY ARE NOT THE SAME THING. “Skinny” indicates nothing about a person’s well-being and health. “Skinny” is merely an objective measurement used, solely based on appearance. Ashley Haag, owner of Third Ward location says, “I think women confuse these words all the time. They aren’t interchangeable. They are completely different. You can be skinny and not very healthy. You can be a larger person and be rather healthy. I think healthy is defined as someone who takes care of themselves and ultimately…is strong!”

Skinny and healthy are not synonyms. Being thin is not the goal or the outcome we are looking to reach with our clients, but rather healthiness is. Framing your conversation with a client to be driven by “healthier and stronger” as the goal over “weight-loss” can make all the difference.

I WANT TO LOOK LIKE “THAT GIRL.” Jon Mojock (“Cujo”), our new coach at Ellipse in Allouez says it best, “I find it helpful to remind someone with this mindset if “that girl” is a celebrity or model, etc. that even THAT girl doesn’t look like “that girl”. There are a lot of techniques including photoshop and airbrush to make a person appear that way. In addition, it is important to talk this out further with your client. Help that person to readjust what their image of “that girl” truly means to them, and from there you will be able to make up some more personal goals.

SO WHAT ABOUT GUYS? This topic is often overlooked for males. Coach Josh Mac from Darboy touches on this one for you. Josh states, “It’s important to get males to check their egos when it comes to lifting weights. Far too often we sacrifice technique in order to massage our ego with heavyweight. For males there seems to be a correlation between lifting heavy, and a confident male…versus lifting correctly and a confident male. To combat this, I often try to work with males off to the side and discretely help them to decrease weight and emphasize the form. Once they feel all of the muscles on fire, they literally will exude confidence.” Feeling that difference, can make all the difference! Josh also says that this then lets guys realize that change is coming and in return, they’ll willingly exchange weight for technique.

“CONFIDENCE IS THE SEXIEST OUTFIT,”  says Ashley Haag. She continues, “Exercise increases your “feel good” endorphins and makes you feel better about yourself but also helps you to feel better (and look better) in your clothes.  To increase your confidence you have to work at it (literally) and get in the right mindset. It’s a win-win in my book!”

Healthy Summer Options

Summertime is all about being outside…at least in the Midwest! We cherish our Summer months and we head out to the patio whenever possible. The issue with our frequency of grilling out with family and friends is that these settings almost always come with potato chips, dips, sugary snacks or cocktails, and beers. Today, I’d like to give you an alternative for these Summertime classics.

The Potato Chip & Dip Dilema

Potato chips can, and should, be avoided when you want to live a healthy lifestyle. The switch is easy, for any starchy chip…turn to a vegetable instead. A common mistake is that when snacking on vegetables, many go overboard with its counterpart….the dip. Instead of the cheese, sour cream, or dill dips that contain unhealthy fats, hummus is the answer. To be honest, it’s smart to skip the snacks all together and wait for your main dish! If you’re going to have it anyways, there’s no need to over indulge while you’re hanging out on the patio.

Sugary Snacks

If you’re going to eat something sugary, make it fruit whenever possible. Alternatively, here are some delicious recipes for your sweet tooth.

Triple Berry Yogurt Bark

Adapted from: The $5 Dinner Mom

Yield – 8 snack servings

Preparation Time – 15 minutes

Cooking Time – 2 hours in the freezer to freeze

Ingredients

  • 32 oz. plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 pint raspberries
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • about 1 cup strawberries, sliced
  • Parchment paper

Directions

  • Line a 9×13-inch baking dish with parchment paper.
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt and honey.
  • Pour and spread the yogurt mixture into the base of the lined baking dish.
  • Sprinkle the different berries and gently press into the yogurt.
  • Freeze for at least 2 hours or until completely frozen.
  • Use a knife to make the first “break” and then you can break with your hands. Break into serving size pieces and serve cold.

Banana and Peanut Butter Bites

Use browning bananas before they go to waste! Make little peanut butter and banana bites and put them in the freezer for 2 hours. Sweet, salty, cheap and easy to do!

Cocktails

If it’s a cocktail kind of night, you’ve got to eliminate the sugars. Stick to sugar free options, avoid mixers other than club soda or flavored sparkling waters with zero calories. Here are some options:

  1. Cucumber Fizz Cocktail: Replace the high carb tonic water in this drink with either a sugar-free tonic water that uses artificial sweetener for a no-carb version. For a lower-carb version, use an agave-based tonic water like Q-tonic that has 5.5 grams of carbs per 4 ounces compared to the 16.5 grams of carbs per 4 ounces in regular tonic.
  2. Healthy Green Tea Martini: Green tea’s benefits are endless. In a mixed drink, it’s a light way to bring some antioxidants into your party. Directions: Combine equal parts green tea (brewed and chilled) with vodka or gin in a martini shaker. Add in juice from a whole lime and 1 tbsp. of agave nectar. Stir ingredients until blended. Strain into martini glass. Garnish with a slice of lime.

There are endless healthy bites you can find and use as alternatives to the fatty and sugary snacks that are usually at patio parties! Being healthy doesn’t mean you have to skip the fun. Being healthy means you need to think ahead, plan accordingly, and practice self control. Enjoy the weather!

Trainers Are Worth It!

Why should someone work to reach their goals with a trainer or a coach, instead of just “working out”? It’s easy for us at Ellipse to suggest using a trainer…it’s our business, but what is true is that we KNOW there are results when a trainer steps in. We’ve seen time and time again people thinking they’ll get to it and years pass. Having a trainer is not a lifelong commitment if you don’t want it to be and it certainly doesn’t mean you aren’t self-motivated enough. Sometimes you just need someone to get you started and show you a few things.

After asking some of the trainers and Ellipse studio owners their thoughts on the matter, I found that Trey, owner of the Neenah location, said it beautifully. “Trainers are not just here to instruct trainees on the form and movement of the exercises, but we also play a key role in the overall stability and mental aspects of the trainees. It’s easy to pick up a magazine and follow a plan, but not all plans are equal and one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to fitness. As a trainer you’re able to differentiate the different body types from endo, ecto and meso and what plans are appropriate to put into action, in order to assist that trainee and help them reach their goals. We are also in many cases the nutritionist, the therapist, and the friend that keeps you focused and motivated. The relationship between a trainer and their trainee is like a partnership, a team!

What often happens when you workout without a trainer?

  • Overuse of any given movement and underuse of another
  • Missing balance of metabolic strength, heavy strength intervals, mobility, correctives, and metabolic cardio. Balance of these activities is needed for safety and effectiveness.
  • Poor form! Quality trainers ensure your form is on point.
  • Motivation and accountability is extremely difficult to find on your own. This does not mean it’s not possible, but it’s not easy.

Working out is exhausting, but training is rewarding!

10 Ways to Measure Success

10 Ways to Measure Success

There are plenty of “measurements” used to mark the progress of our clients. Contrary to popular belief, the scale, is the least important form of measurement. Too many people rely on this number to feel good, and then find great disappoint when they don’t see what they want. This happens all too often, though you may be eating perfectly, there are a lot of factors that go into achieving your goals in fitness and health. Here is what we look for at Ellipse Fitness, in no particular order.

1. Scale – As stated above, the scale is a form of measurement. Though we do not base results off of weight, we simply take note of these numbers.
2. Body composition – Ann Morrow, owner of St. Louis says it perfectly, “Measuring the amount of muscle and fat is so much better than weight. Weight doesn’t account for muscle. The more muscle we have, the leaner we appear!”
3. Reduced cravings – You know you’re on track when you push yourself extra hard in a workout because your reward is a protein shake! When motivation increases and someone is pushing themselves to reach goals, things like junk food, desert, and treats become less important and less desirable.
4. Increased Energy – With hard work in the gym and reduced cravings, healthy sleep is more prominent in our lives. With quality rest and nutrition, energy levels rise.
5. Increase in weight (of equipment) – You can tell a lot about progress when a client increases the weight in dumbbell, kettle bell or barbell.
6. Increase in level of body weight exercises – Lead Trainer at ThirdWard Milwaukee, Doug Mueller, explains it best, “Pushups is a great example of this, when a client first comes in and only is capable of doing a limited number of pushups from their knees and now they are doing a high reps from their toes. Also, going from a simpler move to a more complex move is another measure of progression. Going from floor glute bridges to a full kettle bell swing is an amazing progression on the glutes muscle group.”
7. Daily life – Reduction in out of breath moments and increased functionality in daily life. For example, performing yard work, caring for a loved one, more steps on a fit bit, or climbing the stairs. Heather Trevarthen, Owner of Allouez, says, “We had a recent short term program in which a participant’s goal was to feel better. Her knee would bother her and crack going up the stairs. 21 days of training later, her knee does not bother her going up the stairs.”
8. Decreased rest time – After the heart rate is increased, progression is measured by the amount of time needed to recover and be ready for action for the next round.
9. Clothes – Jeans or clothing size in general. This does not mean smaller sizes, but it does mean better fit! In the past, we’ve had a program at Ellipse called “Rock My Jeans.” Participants bring in a pair of jeans that don’t fit them anymore, and by the end of the program, the goal is to be able to zip and button them on comfortably!
10. Self-Esteem – The personal favorite of Ellipse is self esteem. We truly want people feeling better and happier. A new found appreciation for the image in the mirror, and not just because of results, but because of the smile on your face!

So there you have it! Don’t forget, quality of life far outweighs any numbers on a scale. Find your nearest Ellipse Fitness, you won’t regret it! 🙂

Ellipse’s Take On Periodization

Periodization is a technique that trainers and coaches use to vary intensity, duration and volume of workouts from period to period..hence the word periodization! This is what is used with most athletes when they are ramping up for a specific challenge or event. Creating a program using this method always depends on the goals of the client. A big factor to consider when writing training programs using periodization is if the client has a specific event coming up that they are getting physically ready for. (i.e. a triathlon, not their wedding 🙂 ) In this case, we want them to be in peak shape at the time of the event.

To explain periodization further, we spoke to the trainers.

Lead Trainer Doug M. of Third Ward says, “Periods can be as long as a couple months, to every week.  One period could be focused on higher volume of exercise, and the next period could lower volume but higher intensity and heavier weights.” This is just an example to show how training periods can vary depending on the athlete and their goals.

At Ellipse, this type of training also comes in handy for any member and our group sessions. Often times we have long time members that plateau in their workouts.  This is where splitting their workout regimen into periods could help them “get out of their rut” and see great results again. In terms of group sessions, this is part of the reason you never see the same workout twice. We want to avoid plateaus and rather provide workouts that insist on progression.

Continuous progression in our programs at Ellipse is another important aspect of why planning a training program with periodization is a positive idea. Once the specific event is finished or an athlete has reached desired outcome, we don’t want anyone to just stop. We’re always looking for opportunities to help client’s continue progression and periodization training aids in that.

So how do you know that it’s time for a client to move to the next period of their training? Our very own Josh Mac of the Darboy location explains it best, “There are several quantitative measurements we use: body measurements, increase in strength/cardio, lack of gains, medical markers (cholesterol levels, blood pressure, heart rate, etc.). There are also qualitative measures such as “burnout”, which is an indicator for a new cycle to re-motivate.”

Owner of Neenah, Trey, states he uses periodization for 100 % of the programs that he writes. He says he designs the program on a basis of building blocks of periodization from mini to macro cycles in correlation with the individual’s goals and when they are looking to achieve them. Trey says, “Depending on the starting condition of the individual and the activity level outside the program of that person is where I start, also the monitoring of the progress would, in addition, be pending the program length and is different for each individual but would normally run every four to six weeks.”

So you see, periodization depends on the client’s goals and when they want to achieve them. Trainers design their programs based on time periods, leading up to an event and so that athletes will continue progression afterwards. Periodization is used in the designing of any training program at Ellipse Fitness, personal and group.