All posts by A|M Fitness

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Ice Cream or Your Goals

I was having a conversation with someone the other day and we were talking about why we weren’t seeing the changes we wanted to.

 

By: Mike Harland

They were working hard, eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and seemed like all the stars were aligned.

We had to dig a little on this one… and we found a few reasons why her body wasn’t responding the way we wanted it to.

1. When we looked at pictures of her meals, they weren’t built completely right. They were abundant in some areas and deficient in others. Not a big deal if it’s one meal occasionally, but when each meal is, it skews our numbers too great for the body to change the way we want it to.

2. The social life was more social than we thought. I always encourage our clients to enjoy themselves. If they’re going on a vacation they should eat and drink whatever they want. Party to attend Friday night? Go ahead, get crazy. But the rest of the time we need to focus on our priorities.

So it brought me to this question:

What’s more important – ice cream or your goals?

We then talked about the long term satisfaction of reaching our goals, changing our body, ultimately changing our mindset, and completely transforming ourselves.

We then compared this with the short-term satisfaction of a few drinks on Tuesday night. Not even drinking to get drunk, just drinking to be social. So I asked, will your friends not like you because you didn’t have alcohol and just hung out with them? Guess what, they would still be friends… and if they wouldn’t have, it probably would have been time to find new friends.

The last part to this was making sure that the client knew there wasn’t an in-between. If they were going to commit to their goals, they needed to commit to them and only “cheat” when it was allowed. If they were going to continue to be social, then accept that their body wasn’t going to change the way they wanted it to. Most importantly they had to accept, embrace, and be happy with that.

So what’s more important to you? Is it a fun Tuesday night or the long-term, life changing accomplishment of reaching your goals?

Back Pain From Sitting All Day?

People frequently experience back pain and every so often they’ll interpret SI (sacroiliac) joint pain as well.

 

By: Coach LeighAnn Clark

You of course always have the option of seeing a chiropractor or an orthopedic to try to set yourself straight again, but nine times out of ten, back pain and “SI joint” pain, or perceived SI joint pain, is caused by other muscles that have been affected around the area of pain. A lot of times the symptom and the cause are actually not the same things. If we are experiencing pain in the back, it is likely another muscle or muscle group that is tight. A lot of times, the piriformis is the culprit of this pain. The piriformis attaches to the sacrum, and if the muscle is tight or overactive, it can pull on the sacrum and cause discomfort in the back and potentially on that SI joint. I’ll show you how to address this tightness in the following video.

Having said that, tightness or overactivity in the piriformis needs to be addressed on the opposite side of things too because something is causing this to happen. Typically the hip complex is the culprit. Tight hips can come from a myriad of lifestyle aspects, but most often hip tightness occurs in people who sit all day. If we think about what happens when we sit, the hip flexor is constantly in a shortened state because we are keeping the hip at a 90-degree angle instead of keeping it straight. This can cause the muscles to shorten, and they can actually start to pull on the pelvic bone, which can potentially tilt the pelvis forward so we wind up with this hyperextension in our back where it looks like we are sticking our butt way out behind us, putting undue tension on things like the piriformis, and ta-da! we have come full circle.

Bottom line, everything is attached, and we have to acknowledge this whenever we go to work on solving a problem because the pain we are feeling may not be residing where we think it is. We also have to acknowledge that one or more muscles need to be addressed to relieve our discomfort. Check out my video on how we can address our piriformis. If you’re curious about hip stretches, check out any of our previous hip mobility videos and stay tuned for even more!

Back Pain from Sitting All Day?

Desk Hack

The sedentary workstyle that many of us have had to adopt, especially in the workplace, has led to a lot of back pain, hip pain, and generally poor posture.

 

By: Coach LeighAnn Clark

Of course stretching and foam rolling will help to alleviate some of this pain and help us to sit with better posture, but what if we could make the workstation itself more comfortable?

First thing you need to do is ditch the chair. When we sit with our hips at 90 degrees for hours a day most days out of the week, the muscles shorten, so when we try to stand back up again, they’re so tight that they really can’t return back to their natural position. So what happens? As we try to stretch them out to stand, they pull the top of our pelvis down into that anterior pelvic tilt which forces our back into an extremely uncomfortable position, and over time, sometimes even right away, we experience pain in our low back and tightness in our hips which can be especially noticeable during our training time.

One position we can assume anytime we need to be on the computer is a half kneeling stance. In this position, the hip flexor is allowed to lengthen because the hip is at its natural 180 degrees instead of 90. And bonus, we can squeeze the glute off and on to try to loosen up the hip flexor even more, and even bring it into that hip flexor stretch by pushing our hips slightly forward to loosen them up a bit more. You can spend a minute or so on each side, switching as much as you need throughout the day.

Another one we can try aims to get after the piriformis a little bit more. If we know that our piriformis is tight, it can have a tendency to pull on our SI joint and make us feel even more discomfort in our back. We can just hook the leg over the desk, let the knee fall along the top, oscillate the hips back and forth or lean into it; whatever we need to do to feel that muscle loosen up. Say you’re taking a long phone call or reading a long document and you don’t need to type for a couple of minutes. This is the perfect time to give it a little stretch, again switching up the leg every minute or so as many times as you can throughout the day.

If we can successfully find a way to make our workstations better suited to the “Corporate Athlete” lifestyle, then we can start focussing on our mobility to prepare ourselves to train, instead of stretching to get rid of all of the pain of the day. Check out the video for more info!

Desk Hack

Personal Coaching – Connie

Personal coaching is a great option for a lot of people.

 

By: Coach Greg

One of the greatest benefits of personal coaching is the ability for the coach to help the client overcome their mental hurdles.

I’m going to share a story with you. This is just one small example of the power of the mind and how it can either hold you back or propel you forward.

I have a client that I have been working with for several months. When she first came to us, she had a very hard time moving in life, let alone exercising. After a serious car accident about 20 years ago, she was left with a crushed pelvis and nerve damage on her right side. After meeting her, we determined that one-on-one training was going to be the best option.

It was slow in the beginning; just learning to activate muscles and working on basic movement patterns. One thing we worked on was stairs. Years ago, as an undergrad, I learned a simple little phrase to help our athletes who were learning to use crutches and/or had lower body injuries: “Up with the good, down with the bad.”

For years she always wanted to use her left side to do everything, so I applied this phrase to help her come down the stairs. After a few weeks, we no longer needed to use the phrase and had actually begun to climb and descend the stairs with a normal gait pattern. The problem was, though, that the reference of good and bad continued.

Fast forward a few weeks and we are working on a single leg step up. After demoing and explaining the exercise, we started. The first words out of her mouth were, “Okay, I’ll start with the good leg”. Seems innocent enough, but when we went to use her other leg she had trouble and kept saying her “bad” leg couldn’t do it. Now in my head, I knew that she could do it. She had walked up stairs carrying weight, without using a handrail, so I knew she had the strength and the coordination. The problem was that no matter how many times I told her that, it never changed the fact that she felt she couldn’t, and in turn wouldn’t.

The problem wasn’t her legs – it was in her head, and me saying one thing wouldn’t change how she thought. I noticed that each time this exercise came up in our workout, she would huff and puff and complain about her bad leg. So, without trying to pump her up or tell her she could do it, I casually told her to “start with your right leg”. She groaned a little about the exercise, but just started and did a full set of 10. Again, I said nothing and just told her to switch sides. When she started her left side she gave me a startled look, and said, “wait this is my good side!”. She had done an entire set unassisted and with confidence, because she didn’t think of good or bad, she only thought of completing the task. For weeks she had held herself back by labeling herself, limiting her potential and her abilities.

We all do this to an extent. We label or define ourselves by our injuries, pains or past failures. Sometimes we notice it, work to change it, and get around it on our own. Sometimes, it takes someone from the outside to trick you into seeing just how bad ass you truly are.

Reward Yourself

Today I’m going to talk about something we sometimes forget to do, which is rewarding ourselves.

 

By: Coach Mike Harland

When someone walks into our facility, it’s usually with a goal in mind. Those goals could be related to weight loss or gain, strength gains, health related issues, or a list of many other things. They commit to changing so many aspects of their life, work hard day after day, and sometimes see no reward from their efforts.

It can become discouraging, especially in a world that relies on instant gratification.

The reality is, accomplishing a fitness related goal is typically a lengthy process. It can take months at a minimum and even years for some goals. After that, we have to maintain what we’ve accomplished. It really is a life long decision we make when committing to this new lifestyle.

So what happens when we don’t immediately see results?

People tend to get discouraged and burnt out. They sometimes feel their efforts don’t matter and the reality of how hard lifestyle changes are sets in.

I like to encourage our clients, and would also like to encourage you, to reward yourself through that process.

Why? Because there is a level of satisfaction and pride when we complete a task and get something for it. It has also been something proven to work since we were babies.

Learned to use the potty, here’s a reward.

Did good in school, here’s a star.

All of those rewards made you feel happy and want to continue to do the things that earned you the reward.

So why not do that now?

Start by setting small goals and giving yourself small rewards. Here are a few examples:

If you’re committing to eating better, make every dinner Friday night be whatever you want it to be. By the time that meal comes and you’ve been sticking to the meal plan, you will love having your cheat meal and really feel you’ve earned it.

How about committing to exercising 3 times per week and setting a massage appointment every 4th or 6th week. Not only will you feel great for accomplishing this, but your body will feel much better after the well deserved massage.

One I like, is to have clients buy a shirt one size down from what they are now. Their reward is getting to wear it once they’ve reached a certain change in body composition.

How good would that make you feel?

So remember, you work hard and deserve to show yourself some love for all of that hard work. Sit down, write out a goal, write the reward for reaching that goal, and go make it happen!

Everyday Is Chest Day

Everyday is chest day.

 

Soooo yeah, about that…

By: Coach Mike Harland

When I was younger I hit a point where I wanted to get in shape. School was over, my lifestyle habits were shit, and it showed.

Going from a childhood full of sports and activity to McDonald’s and hanging out was beginning to show (a lot).

I needed a change.

The thing is, I had no idea where to start. I knew I should join a gym, but not what to do once o got there.

I knew what healthy foods were, but had no idea how to cook them.

I started by trying a couple of different free trials with some friends that “knew what they were doing”. They just kicked the snot out of me.

Not fun.

I gave up.

More time passed.

I felt worse.

And finally, I just signed up for a gym.

I walked on the treadmill since that was self explanatory. While I was on there I watched what other people were doing. I then started to do the things the people that were in the best shape did. Or the things I watched trainers do with their clients.

Has to work, right?

So I did what I saw everyone else doing; bench press… Incline bench press… Decline bench press… More bench presses…

I also did bicep curls.

Lots of them….

But that was all I knew how to do. So I continued to do it.

Well years later (no, I won’t say how many. Don’t start guessing how old I am either!) and choosing this as my profession, I understand all that was wrong with that.

Sound familiar?

If so, why go through that?

A|M Fitness provides a program that is safe, effective and has a proven track record of success (check out our transformation tabs).

http://amfitnessonline.com/home-photos/

We also have a highly educated coaching staff, with years of coaching under our belts.

Lastly, we have an inviting community atmosphere, where our clients help our other clients to enjoy their time and stay committed.

So, if you’d like a little help getting to your goals, just say the word and we will be here for you.

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Fix a Winging Scapula

Your shoulder blades are more important than you may realize.

 

The movement of your scapula is responsible for the final 1/3 of the movement of your arms overhead. That means if you have a winging scapula you are missing out on some very important range of motion!

The problem is almost always created by a weak Serratus Anterior, but all of the strengthening in the world won’t do you any good until you address the issues that caused the weakness to begin with. In today’s video we are going to discuss a couple reasons for winging scapulas and how to address each cause and then the exercises we can do to fix the weakness.


Fix a Winging Scapula – Part 1


Fix a Winging Scapula – Part 2


Fix a Winging Scapula – Part 3

 

Top 5 Ways to Keep Healthy Eating Fun


What’s one of the hardest things for someone making big lifestyle changes? Nutrition. Getting an understanding of what to eat, how much to eat, when to eat, how to cook it, etc.

 

Let’s fast forward through the learning phase of it all and assume we’re ready to eat what we’re supposed to, when we’re supposed to. The next difficulty becomes “I’m tired of eating the same thing”.

Have you ever felt or said that? Yeah, me too… So here are 5 of my favorite ways to keep my eating fun:

1. Varying Fats Fats are full of flavor. Since they have tons of options, fats are an easy one for me change at each meal. I eat a total of 5 meals each day – Here’s how I’ll use them with each meal:

Meal 1 – Peanut butter (in my oats)
Meal 2 – Cheese (on an egg sandwich)
Meal 3 – Infused olive oil in a pasta or rice dish
Meal 4 – Guacamole spread over one of my food items
Meal 5 – The type of protein I’m eating; hamburger, steak, pork

That’s the simple breakdown. Within everything listed above, there are still multiple ways modify your meals. The olive oil for me has become a big variant, as I can use a different flavor every single day.

2. Varying Seasonings – Seasoning can help to keep your food fresh and tasty, and there are a million of them out there. Simple salt and pepper will go a long way, but picking up some Flavor God seasonings will get you to the next level with taste options.

3. The Way You Cook – Let’s use chicken as an example. I can bake, broil, grill, or fry my chicken with some olive oil. All of these different ways give the same piece of chicken a much different flavor profile, while allowing my taste buds some enjoyment each day.

4. Mixing Your Food – I can put that same piece of chicken in bread for a sandwich, in rice for a little stir fry, in pasta with some veggies, on the side of a sweet potato with salad or veggies, or a million other combinations. Again, this is just for the sake of variety. The combinations are endless.

5. The Type of Protein – Referring back to meal 5, varying the protein is a huge one for me. When I was younger I didn’t know how to cook anything. My meals were literally plain baked chicken and broccoli. Now I make sure that I have a large variety of protein options and change them every single meal. Staples for me are (of course) chicken, chicken or turkey sausage, ground chicken or turkey – made 2 different ways; ground or burger form, steak, pork, and a seafood option once or twice a week.

With all of these options, I can have a different meal every meal all week. It doesn’t get boring and the more I play with my ingredients, the better my meals become. So next time you’re in the kitchen, start experimenting and have some fun cooking!

Published on: Jul 18, 2017

Squat Tip: Chest Up


There are a lot of pieces to our squat and a ton of ways to improve our squat form, as well as depth and strength.

 

One common mistake we tend to make is allowing the chest to fall too far forward. We need the chest to come forward a little to be in a good position, however we do not want to collapse and fold in half. We can reinforce the chest staying tall by squatting in front of a wall. This will force us to keep the chest up tall because we will avoid as hard as we can putting our face into the wall.

If we are new to squatting, this is a great way to learn about how we squat and to reinforce proper form. If you’ve been squatting for a while, it’s a great technique for you to use to make sure that you have been squatting properly and will continue to do so. This can be used during a workout or as a technique outside of class to practice your bodyweight squats. However, if we are finding that our form is suffering in other ways, we have to address these problems as well, to ensure that we have good mobility while squatting and that we are using a proper range of motion.

For more tips on how to foam roll and stretch to increase mobility and ROM correctly, check out some of your coaches videos on hip and ankle mobility!

Squat Tip: Chest Up

 

Published on: Jul 13, 2017

Quad Stretch


We’re always working toward building up our mobility, whether in our ankles, hips, etc.

 

These are all important to focus on, but sometimes we find we have some tightness in muscles that we haven’t talked about as much, and you may not know the best way to get after those muscles. One muscle group we sometimes overlook are the quads, so here’s a couple fun ones to try out when you’ve been doing a lot of squatting and the quad-squad is feeling tight!

 

Quad Stretch with Coach LeighAnn

 

Published on: Jul 10, 2017