Functional Fitness

Joint by Joint Approach

Written by Michael McCarthy – March 27, 2018

Michael working through the Joint by Joint approach with Emily

We all have nagging aches and pains (well at least most of us) that have snuck up on us over time. Sometimes it comes rudely and unexpectedly, like the time my distant cousin drove down from Canada unannounced and stayed with us for a week. Either way, these aches and pains are annoying and sometimes hard to get rid of.

To help get rid of these aches, we need to discover the source of the problem. You might say, “Well that’s obvious. The source is where the pain is coming from.” Now that’s not entirely false, because that is where the source of the pain is, however we need to take a look at the bigger picture.

As Certified Functional Strength Coaches we use a method called the Joint by Joint approach that we geniously stole from the original creator of this method (it’s ok, he steals stuff from people all the time). This approach allows us to gain a better understanding of human movement and function, and the roles that our joints play.

Specific joints have a primary need for either being mobility joints or stability joints. Mobility joints such as the ankle and shoulder require the range of motion to properly propel the body through movement. Stability joints such as the knee and lower back need to be stable to support the structure of their associated parts through movement. When a mobility joint becomes too stiff or a stability joint becomes too mobile, it will send a chain reaction up or down the body to the next joint.

For example, if someone has injured their ankle multiple times and it now has adapted to become very stiff, this joint that is supposed to be mobile has now turned into a more stable joint. This joint now does not function with the range of motion that required, but the body still needs to move through Mike’s Spin and Strength class. To compensate for this lack of mobility, the knee joint on the same leg will start to become more mobile. It will twist and turn to adapt for the lack of mobility in the ankle, which without intervention can lead to long term damage in the knee.

As you can see with this example, there is a bigger picture to our aches and pains. The source of the problem can be coming from either above or below where we feel pain. As fitness professionals it is our main goal to improve the performance of all our clients. We look for compensation through functional movement assessments and monitoring movement patterns in attempt to discover the source. Once identified we develop a plan to improve as much function as we can and keep our clients on the path to achieving their goals.

Click here to read our article on how Cardio Affects your Body



Body Composition, NOT Weight Loss

Changing the Conversation:

Body Composition, NOT Weight Loss

Personal Training Director, Jay McWilliams

What is body composition, and why is it one of the 6-focal points of 50/50’s balance approach to health and wellness?

Over the years, I and many of my training clients and members of our gym have discussed dreading stepping onto the bathroom scale.  Most of us can relate as it is very frustrating to exercise and eat a healthy diet only to see the number on the scale stay the same.  However, just because your bodyweight on the scale isn’t changing doesn’t mean that your hard work isn’t paying off. If you are exercising, most likely your body composition may be improving.

So, what is body composition?  Body composition refers to everything in your body, generally split up into: fat mass and fat-free mass.  Fat mass refers to all the fat tissue in your body. Fat-free mass is everything else, including muscle, organs, bone and fluid.  If both change at once, you might not see any changes in bodyweight on the scale.  For example, one of my training clients started exercising to lose weight, he may have gained two pounds of muscle in the first month. At the same time, he may have lost two pounds of fat, due to burning more calories through exercise, and changing his diet.  In those first few weeks, he began to get discouraged because his bathroom scale showed that he was not losing weight.  I had to change his way of thinking by educating him about the importance of body composition over bodyweight on the scale. I reminded him that his fat-free mass may have increased by the same amount as his fat mass decreased, making his “scale body weight” unchanged. With some doubt, he asked me: “How do you know?”

One technique 50/50 utilizes is tracking the circumference of different body parts (Shoulders, chest, waist, belly, hips, buttocks, thigh, and biceps). We make these measurements using a flexible tape measure. Along with body circumference measurements, we also use fat caliper readings. We measure the skinfold of seven sites on the body that gives us an average body fat percentage, and then calculates the total fat mass and fat-free mass in pounds.  Taking progress pictures of your body every few weeks or months can be another way to assess how your body is changing.  While none of these tools give us exact information, these do give us some general idea of the changes taking place.

So, why is body composition one of the 6-focal points of 50/50’s balance approach to health and wellness?  If you have too much fat, especially at your waist, you’re at higher risk for health problems such as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and diabetes. That increases your risk for heart disease and stroke. Obesity is now recognized as a major, independent risk factor for heart disease. If you’re overweight or obese, or simply have an excess of fat mass, you can reduce your risk for disease and increase longevity by starting a 50/50 Training Program.

The personal trainers here at 50/50 understand that stepping on the scale will only tell you how much you weigh. You can get a more accurate picture by considering your body composition (percentage of fat mass vs. percentage of fat-free mass). Your body composition is affected by your nutritional habits, exercise, sleep and other factors. For this reason, improving it can sometimes feel complicated and unrealistic.  That is why 50/50 offers a body composition service, where we can measure your body circumference, conduct a fat caliper reading, and take pictures if you so wish.  For ONLY $15!  This service is included free for those participating in our Training Programs.

I like the way you move it…

As I get deeper and deeper into the realm of assessments, I am increasingly becoming aware of the ways in which muscle imbalances affect our overall fitness and health. Many of you are working hard in the gym: spinning, TRX, Targeted, Tabata, Cardio Kick, etc! But, do you take the time to think about how you are moving (or in some cases not moving) when you are not inside the walls of 50/50? Our posture and movement patterns carry through our day to day life, and for most of us, there are 23 hours a day that we are not at the gym.

One of my mentors, Dr. Brent Brookbush, has a lot to say (and write) about postural dysfunction. Much of his research is based on creating exercises and techniques that improve posture, and thus movement and performance, to reduce injury and pain (both chronic and acute). We spend a lot of time thinking about improving our cardiovascular capacity, strength, and maybe even balance and flexibility, but most of us spend little time and energy on improving our daily posture and movement patterns.

This week I encourage all of you to actively think about your posture and movement when you are not at the gym. Are you slumped over the computer? Do you spend too many hours sitting? If I were to look at your foot-steps in the sand would they be straight or would one side toe-out or in? The first step to correcting these postural dysfunctions is awareness. Many of you will be able to correct some of these patterns once you are mindful of them. If the dysfunction is deeply ingrained in our muscle memory, maybe it is a good time to think about personal training Beyond providing you with a butt-kicking workout, our personal trainers specialize in providing corrective exercises to address muscle imbalances, postural dysfunction, and issues with movement patterns.  Also, we now offer Functional Movement Screening (FMS), an objective screening tool that measures seven movements that are key to daily life, and determines if those movements are optimal, acceptable, or dysfunctional. Ask us about this cool new service.

I know you’ve heard me say it in spin class, but this week I want your motto all day to be: “Proud chest, shoulders back, breathe!”

More on Outdoor Fit Camp

Director of Strength & Conditioning, Jay McWilliams

We are so excited about the new facility, we have developed a whole new program to fit the space! Outdoor Fit Camp incorporates the best of Metabolic Bootcamp, and builds on it with a focus on strength and an all-inclusive design for all fitness levels. We have a huge new space, and we plan to make the most of it! I have already designed and built some permanent fitness stations so we can all develop our skills on push-ups, pull-ups, and triceps dips. The new stations allow progression for all levels, so even if you are far away from doing an unassisted pull-up or a full push-up we can get you there safely!
Outdoor Fit Camp differentiates itself from Spin and Strength, Tabata, and Cardio-Sport by being more focused on strength training, while still reaping metabolic benefits from interval training, agility drills, sled pulls, and our new favorite, medicine ball wall-slams! These are incorporated with dumbbell and body-weight moves to create a full body work-out that is guaranteed to engage your muscles. The great part about this kind of training is you also benefit from a killer after-burn effect, and your metabolic rate stays amped for the next 24 hours. Outdoor Fit Camp is a great way to begin to incorporate strength training into your workout routine in a fun group exercise environment!
For our members who are looking for a highly effective, structured program to safely build strength and improve lean muscle mass, Targeted Strength and Conditioning is a great fit! In this small group format you will work your way through structured strength progressions. There is a greater emphasis on form and more individualized coaching that allows you to progress to much heavier weights for greater benefit. Some of our female members are regularly deadlifting over 150 pounds now! Also, many of our Targeted participants can now complete unassisted chin-ups. The progress made in this program is so much fun to watch and be a part of! If you can commit to two sessions a week, you will get stronger and fitter!

Check out our new location!

We’ve made it through our opening weekend, with the help of so many of you!  Click to view some footage from our first few classes at the new space.
We showcased our Outdoor Fit Camp stations, unveiled our new state-of-the-art Spin studio, and got to see the fitness community at it’s finest. So, again, a big thank you to everyone for showing your support, coming together, and making all of this possible. None of it would be worth it without you, and the life and presence you bring to the gym, every single day.
We now have a whopping 70 classes on the schedule! If you haven’t experienced our back yard yet, the Outdoor Fit Camp is a must try. It’s fun, motivating, and has all of the components of an exceptional workout…functional strength, just enough cardio sprinkled in to ignite your metabolism, and creative combinations designed to challenge you in unique ways, week after week.
We offer the Outdoor Fit Camp every morning at 5:30AM, and most evenings as well. The course was designed with shade in mind, to keep you as cool as possible, all Summer long.
In addition to the Fit Camp, we have a new 7:30 and 8:00AM wave of classes, all at the new space!
We’re bringing Spin & Strength to Monday night, Lights Out Spin EVERY night, and more Barre and TRX have hit the schedule, per your request.
Lots of new things to try, plenty of opportunities to succeed! Sit down with one of our Health & Fitness Specialists today and schedule a consultation to review your schedule, your plan, and your goals. We’re here to help and we’re excited to share this brand new experience with you!

Set your intention

Katie’s Corner
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My goal as an instructor in every class is to provide an avenue for students to actively participate mentally and physically in their workouts, rather than to passively go through the motions. Physical exercise is often viewed as a chore, when it has the potential to be extremely gratifying and uplifting. One of the best ways I’ve found to cultivate this frame of mind is to encourage the act of setting an intention at the beginning of class. In doing this, the person is immediately mindful of the present moment and can begin to weigh what is meaningful and relevant in their lives.

There are many ways to go about setting an intention, but one of the methods that works best for me is to think about what I’ve been experiencing, enjoying, or stressing about in my own life. I look for themes and let that help guide my focus. For (probably the most conspicuous) example, work can be a big stressor for me. As many of you know, I am at the studio much of the day. Don’t get me wrong and let me be clear, I am living my dream and would not change what I do for the world, but it’s easy to get caught up in the little details of making the studio run smoothly. And so, if I’m feeling erratic, I may approach my workout with an intention of sharp focus and attention to my form. If I’ve had a less productive day than I wanted, I may set a measurable goal of reaching a specific number of watts on the bike. Even on the days when I experience extra positive feelings of creativity or contentment, I will set an intention of sustaining that positivity in my workout.

My challenge for you this week is to set an intention in each of your workouts, whether it’s in a spin class or in Outdoor Fit Camp. Fully “embrace the shake” in a barre class or do one entire Tabata set to completion without stopping. In my experience, the benefits are considerable, with feelings of purpose, direction, and centeredness being the frontrunners. And as always, if you are having trouble figuring out how to set your own intentions, let me or any one of our other Health & Wellness Specialists help you, as we realize this activity may not come naturally to everyone. Meanwhile, move with intention, ya’ll!

Meet your Health & Fitness Specialist

70 Classes?!

With 70 group exercise classes on the schedule, and 9 amazing health and fitness specialists, we have everything you need to reach your true potential. Need some added attention, accountability, and a structured plan inside the gym and out? Give personal training or small group training a try! With so many options, so many avenues, and decisions to make each and every day – why not set up a complimentary consultation? Katie, Jay, Jamie, and Justin are available to meet and mentor you on all of those little decisions you’re forced to come by. They do matter and we’re here to help!

So take advantage and sign-up for your consultation today!

Click to schedule

Insecure Much?

Katie’s Corner – As many of you know, Mindy Theroux has started teaching many of her Pilates classes, previously based out of her home studio, at 50/50, and we are adding several more in the Fall. We are thrilled about this partnership with Mindy, as she has a wealth of knowledge about the body that is second to none, as well as thoughtful and intentional ways of communicating with her students, helping them to gain that knowledge of their own bodies. Mindy plans to vacation in Florida for the Winter months, and so she needs someone to fill her role when she is gone. I am humbled and grateful that she has asked me to teach in her absence, and we have been doing Pilates-based sessions together one or two times per week.

I have become so used to being the teacher, that I find it very challenging to be the student, learning strengths, weaknesses, imbalances, and compensations that my body has made for several years. My feet turn in, my right side takes over when my left feels weak, my core is strong, my pectoral muscles are very
tight which is causing my shoulders to pull forward, etc. I think I know my body pretty well, but I’m discovering Pilates is much more mindful of practice than I originally assumed. I am truly enjoying it, though I also recognize my lack of confidence–in the placement of my body, how I look when I’m doing an exercise, in the jumbled
connection between my brain and my body while doing an exercise .

This week, as you do your workouts, think about the insecurities that arise when you are exercising . Do you have a sense of humor about these insecurities, or is it something that really gets you down? If it’s the latter, I would suggest making room to accept yourself in whatever capacity you are able to do the exercise, and if it’s not quite at the place you would like it to be, set a goal around it. If your hips sag when you do planks, set a goal to find that straight-line plank. If you are not able to hold 80rpms on the bike with a resistance of 7 for longer than 30 seconds, try to increase your time to 45seconds over the next month. Meanwhile, try to find humor and accept your flaws and imperfections. We’ve all got them, so recognize them, accept them, andchange them. My hope is that I will be a suitable substitute for Mindy while she’s away; meanwhile, I will continue to learn and grow in the Pilates practice, imperfections and all.

Stay Fit on Your Vacation

Leaving town for a Summer get-away? If you’re not careful, your trip could quickly derail that momentum you’ve worked so hard to create!

We don’t want your your will-power and enthusiasm to disappear before you return home. It’s far too easy to settle into relaxation mode and far too difficult to get that ball rolling again.

There are plenty of strategies and techniques out there for staying fit on vacation, but most are fairly complicated. We’re not going to give you a list of 27 things to remember in order to avoid those vacation pounds – you are getting away to relax, after all! We’ll keep this simple and effective.

The following 2 steps are all that you need to take with you on your vacation to ensure that you come back looking and feeling amazing.

Step #1: The 1/3 Rule Most vacation pounds are gained as a result of constant indulgence. Each meal becomes an opportunity to eat your heart out to the tune of “I’m on vacation!”

Look, we get that you’re on vacation and want to enjoy the richer tastes of life, but doing so at every meal is ultimately going to do a lot of damage. Irreversible? Of course not. Frustrating? Hugely! Not only will your body respond to the excess food, it will also respond to the inconsistency that is your vacation. Timing is off, food content is different, sleeping patterns change. That’s a lot to take on!

Rather than indulging constantly, I want you to adopt the 1/3 Rule. This means that only 1/3 of your meals ought to be eaten with the mindset of “I’m on vacation.” At this one meal each day you are allowed to eat things that are normally off-limits. Enjoy your favorites and do so with no guilt and no added stress.

At your other 2 meals, you’ll keep things lean and green. Fill up on lots of greens, veggies, and lean proteins. Pass on the breads, grains, potatoes and anything with sugar. Drink water, and avoid beverages that contain calories.

Step #2: The Exercise Rule

This step is just as important as the first one, so don’t drop the ball on this one: Each and every day you must do some form of exercise.

Notice I said some form of exercise. I didn’t say that you had to go to a gym to do a traditional workout. While on vacation, exercise should be diverse and exciting.

Your vacation activities can become your workout. Take a hike, go exploring on foot, swim in the ocean or bike through a foreign town. If you aren’t really able to fit a vigorous activity into your day, then start by doing this body weight routine:

  • 20 push ups
  • 30 seconds of jump squats
  • 20 walking lunges
  • 30 seconds of plank hold
  • 30 seconds of rest
  • Repeat from the top 3 times

Enjoy your vacation! And when you get back into town, call or email us for your Complimentary Fitness Consultation, to ensure you’re well on your way to achieving all of your Summer goals. It’s not an easy time to make big changes, but as always, we are here for you!

No Time to Workout?

The number one reason why you don’t exercise is that you don’t have time.

At least that’s what you tell yourself.

I know we are all busy. Between getting to and from work, balancing responsibilities and having time for yourself, there’s little left over for workouts.

With summer in full swing, your busy schedule is sure to get even busier. There will be vacations, cookouts and family gatherings. It’s no wonder that exercise quickly takes a backseat to summer activities.

You don’t have to succumb to weight gain this summer. Escape the time crunch excuse in three easy steps:

Step One: Schedule Your Workouts: You’ve heard this before, and it makes so much sense. If you treat your exercise time with the importance of a work meeting then you’d never skip a workout and you’d be in amazing shape.

While the scheduling concept is brilliant in its simplicity, you have to put it into practice to reap the benefits. Pull out your calendar and a pen. Don’t laugh, I’m serious! Just do it. If you want to get into shape it starts with committing to a revised schedule with a set exercise time.

Identify three 45-minute time slots and mark them on your calendar. That is when you’ll exercise.

Remember this: if the thought that you should exercise this week is floating around in your head, but you haven’t anchored it down to a specific time and date, then it will quickly disappear.

Step Two: Get the Most from Each Minute: The days of endless, mind numbing cardio are over. A great workout can take place in under an hour, when done correctly. The idea is to burn more calories each minute. This is done through short, intense bursts of exercise.

Use the following three tips to bring your routine up to the next level:

1. Be Unstable: Use your entire body, and target your core, by performing exercises that engage stabilizing muscles. To do this use an exercise ball, a balance board, a balance disk, or you could simply stand on one leg.

2. Add Resistance: The more resistance that you incorporate with your routine translates into higher intensity and more calories burned. Some ideas for adding resistance include: carrying dumbbells while doing lunges, carrying weights up and down the stairs, or simply using a resistance band (great for traveling) for a quick, dynamic upper body sequence!

3. Use Intervals: Interval training is an amazing tool for creating short yet effective workouts. Don’t worry, it’s not complicated. Interval training is simply alternating between different short bursts of activity.

Here’s an example: Let’s say you want to focus on your legs and abs, all while getting an effective cardiovascular workout. This would be a great, simple interval routine for your goals:

  • Lunge while biceps curl, 15-20 repetitions/side
  • 30 seconds of intense cardio: sprint, jump rope, or jumping jacks
  • Squat while pressing dumbbells overhead, 15-20 repetitions
  • 30 seconds of intense cardio: sprint, jump rope, or jumping jacks
  • Crunches on an exercise ball, 15-20 repetitions
  • 30 seconds of intense cardio: sprint, jump rope, or jumping jacks
  • Leg raises off the end of an exercise bench or from the ground up, 15-20 repetitions

Step Three: Twice the Results in Half the Time: What if I told you that we have a proven way to deliver twice the fitness results in half the time? It’s simple really… When you attempt to lose weight or meet a fitness goal on your own, the odds are stacked against you. Sure, you could do it over time – but it’s a long and trying road. A road lined with detours that threaten to undermine your progress.

When you start a program with us, you suddenly have the upper hand on weight loss… You have one of our Health & Fitness Specialists in your corner, coaching you each step of the way, keeping you accountable to workouts inside and outside of the gym and giving you that dose of encouragement went the going gets tough.

Call or email today to get started on a fitness program that will put exercise firmly on your calendar, and results squarely in your future.