Our Blog - 50/50 Fitness/Nutrition

Let’s talk about rest! Ahhhh….

Once Halloween hits it seems like life becomes a roller coaster ride until the New Year. Many of us are in the go-go-go mentality of maintaining our work and/or school commitments along with having the added responsibilities of holidays, family, and entertaining. While there is a lot of joy this time of year there is also an equal amount of stress. One of the great lessons we can take from strength training is that, in order to push hard, we need to make time for recovery. Traditional strength training work-outs are divided into sets of exercise consisting of a certain amount of repetitions, each set is followed by a period of rest. The rest period is just as important as the working period. Taking the adequate rest between sets is absolutely essential to making progress with our strength training. Often we fail to give the rest period in our life the importance it deserves. This is detrimental to the progress we make both in and out of the gym.

There are a myriad of different strategies when it comes to work/rest intervals. The ratio will often depend on your goals for strength training: some people lift to improve muscular endurance for long distance events, some people lift to increase there lean muscle mass and rev up there metabolism, some people lift for muscle hypertrophy and developing a particular body part of interest, others lift for pure strength building. A general rule is that the heavier you lift (or the higher percentage of your one rep max to be technical about it) the longer your rest period needs to be. For example, power lifters may rest for upwards of five minutes between sets. Most of us at 50/50 aren’t lifting heavy enough to require this much rest, so typically a 1:1 work:rest ratio is very effective when we are lifting. This will seem like a lot of rest to many of you, but I promise it is effective. The key is truly picking a weight that challenges you in the 6-12 rep range, meaning the last two reps are very difficult (but not impossible) to complete with proper form. For those of us who thrive on pushing ourselves to the max every second of every day this rest thing can be very challenging at first, but I swear that the endorphin rush you get from a well executed dead-lift or bench press will rival any runner’s high.

When we think about our body’s need for rest and recovery our mind often go towards yoga and stretching, which are great for your body and I highly encourage you to participate in these activities. But, I want to challenge you to think of this need for rest and the importance of rest in all your work-outs, particularly your strength training. Use this rest time to mentally prepare your body, coach yourself through proper form in your head, visualize yourself executing the move, and congratulate yourself on making progress towards your goals. Mindful strength training is effective strength training, and rest is an essential part of this equation. Take a deep breath and say ahhhh……

Jay McWilliams C.S.C.S

Targeted Strength and Conditioning gets a New Look!

Targeted Strength and Conditioning: Looking back and the road ahead!
Wow, I cannot believe this small group offering Targeted Strength and Conditioning has been taking place for a year and a half now! What a time full of positive experiences and transformations.  Thank you to everyone that has and still is participating.  I am excited to offer some new changes and developments to this program.
It is quite amazing to think that this program started with a couple of you that needed a strength training session that worked with your schedule.  This program began as one Small Group Training that took place outside with a few 8lbs and 10lbs dumbbells.  In just several weeks, that small group began to grow; the sessions began to resemble nothing that many of you had experienced before at 50/50.  That Small Group Training began to get a “following”, it grew, another group later developed and Targeted Strength and Conditioning was created.  In a year and a half, I have trained approximately 30 individuals without injury, and with much strength, fun, and camaraderie.   In this article I will give a brief overview of the new structure, some information on strength training, and how to use this program to better meet your strength goals, using the pull-up, one of our core moves, as an example.

Targeted Strength and Conditioning is now a six-week strength-training program, where it had previously been a sixteen-week program.  This will allow for those interested in participating in the Targeted strength training program an opportunity to join sooner.  This program has eight core movements throughout the six weeks: Core, Arms, Vertical Push, Vertical Pull, Horizontal Push, Horizontal Pull, Knee dominant, and Hip dominant.  Also, I have freed up 15 minutes at the end of the session to allow each group to work on their own unique six-week goal. For example, one group has chosen to spend the next six weeks focusing on lateral movements to strengthen their legs for the upcoming ski season! The main exercises will change within the six-week program every two weeks to keep everyone engaged, while maintaining the effectiveness of Progressive Overload.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) published an official-position paper in favor of progressive overload for resistance training in healthy adults, and a 2015 study published in the journal Frontiers in Physiology found that the best endurance athletes in the world follow progressive overload’s principles.  Using Progressive Overload you work a specific muscle or function (i.e., squat or pull-up) in a specific manner, progressively adding intensity and/or duration over time. We use these principles in Targeted to safely build strength. For success repetition and consistency are key. Results don’t occur overnight but after months, and for some even years.  The pull-up provides a great example of this principle.
How can I develop the strength to do an unassisted pull-up? How do I know how many reps to complete? In general, a goal of 8-10 reps of a weight is a good rep range for three sets of an exercise.  A rep range of 6 reps of a heavier weight is better for gaining strength.  It is important that at the end of each set, you feel as though the last rep was challenging to complete, but not impossible.  We use a thirty-second rest period for recovery, you should need to use that rest period.  The pull-up/chin-up is one of the hardest exercises to complete.  We use assistance with resistance bands.  The blue band offers the most assistance, and the green band a bit less.  Beginners should strive to complete the 8-10 rep range with proper form, to create muscle memory, better prepare the joints, ligaments, and tendons for heavier resistance.  As you gain the ability to increase your number of repetitions past 10, use a lighter resistance band and work your way back up to 6-10.  Continue this, along with eccentric pull-up/chin-ups, and practicing holding your body weight unassisted in the top and middle part of the pull-up and chin-up movement.  With pull-ups and chin-ups it is imperative to practice attempting an unassisted pull-up sooner rather then later.   It is so gratifying to me to see our members progress to unassisted chin-ups and pull-ups. Many of you have and many are so very close; keep up the great work!

There’s No Place Like Home

Katie’s Corner

There’s No Place Like Home 

Vacation is a time to relax and rejuvenate from the stressors of life, and for many, that means sipping strawberry daiquiris on a beach while lying in the sun. Don’t get me wrong, getting sun-kissed and eating the famous local dessert are two of my favorite pastimes, though I usually research the closest gyms and running trails and pack a few sets of workout gear when I visit a place as well. Because much of my work is demonstration  and I’m constantly on the move, I often neglect my own full 45 minute workouts, and taking exercise classes while I’m away re-centers me and allows me to embrace the role of a student, rather than that of a teacher. And, with the studio not far from my brain at any given moment, I take the opportunity to do my homework on what other gyms are doing to facilitate their own classes and workouts.
Last weekend, I had the pleasure of taking a trip to Brooklyn to take three spin classes at various spots throughout the city. The first two classes I took were at larger, very popular spin studios with several locations across the country. Their operations systems of shuffling people in and out of classes by a team of 10-15 staff members was impressive, and their classes amp up students to the equivalent level of three energy drinks. I felt as if I were in a dance club, which was fun, though I missed the sense of alliance that I’m so used to at 50/50.
The third studio was similar to ours in that it was a small business operated by an owner, a manager, and several staff members and instructors. Located in the heart of Brooklyn, it had an urban buzz, but as soon as I walked in, they welcomed me as a new student and acclimated me to the space. I immediately felt at ease and had an excellent spin class where I could ride to the beat of the music and push myself like I hadn’t in a while. I truly appreciated the fact this local business recognized the value of personalization, even in a city of near anonymity.
I had a blast at each of the classes I attended, and I am eager to share tips and tricks I gathered with the staff here at 50/50. There are an abundant amount of notable business models in the fitness world, and it’s exciting to think about the hordes of people who are actually enjoying exercise on a daily basis. Above all, though, my trip helped reinforce that we are doing things right at 50/50. We have a strong, community-centered studio with top-notch instructors and trainers who are committed to building the best experience possible for our clients. How exhilarating to have the 50/50 studio right in our own backyard, and to be a part of such a health-conscious movement! See you in class, y’all.

The End of an Era

Energia 2012
The True Essence of Community.
In March of 2010, Energia opened it’s doors as a first of it’s kind fitness facility in Western Mass, focusing solely on Spinning and yoga. Jennifer Siddall, of Amherst, founded the studio with a strong passion for health & wellness. She carried this passion and vision for a true mind-body connection through, year-after-year, making consistent changes and ultimately building the foundation for a successful business. She showed everyone that in one small room, truly remarkable things could happen.

Early in 2012, a nervous, awkward 22-year old UMass graduate stumbled across the facility, while job searching in the area.

He strongly disliked his current job, especially after this happened:


But, he at least continued to keep himself entertained…

And, so the story continues:

Jennifer hired Justin as a personal trainer, and he got started with his first clients, a young couple from Granby, several weeks later. On the side, he began Pioneer Valley Fitness, an in-home personal training business, with a small office in Sunderland. Justin quickly quit his Raggedy Ann position, to focus solely on personal training. As Justin matured (many would say that’s debatable), he began to take on more responsibility…both within Energia, and his own business venture, as well.  Without the expertise, guidance, and wholehearted faith his clients continued to exude on him, the journey would have stopped there.

Several months later, while walking through the UMass Dining Commons, I received a phone call from Jennifer. Robert (shown below), was going to be traveling for work and she needed a new spin instructor. “Uhhhmm, let me think about it”, is all I remember. For days, I deliberated. Me, a spin instructor? I had barely gotten over the broccoli days, which damn near sent me to therapy. How could I get in front of a huge group (by huge, I mean 12) people? But, this was my chance. I needed to branch out, to make a name for myself. Shortly after my certification class, I was put on the schedule for a Saturday Spin class. Ironically, it’s the same class I teach to this day, now four years later. Anyways, Friday night rolled around and I went to Dick’s to buy a new outfit (awwww). I returned home to find that my roommate had invited about 15 people over, music blasting, drinks everywhere. Horrified, I left and rented a room at the hotel up the road. 6 hours later, I had crafted (what I believed to be) the perfect workout. By crafted, I mean I went to Michael’s to buy a poster board, Popsicle sticks, and markers (you can’t make this stuff up). My goal was to write the entire workout onto the poster board and bring it with me onto the bike. How could I screw up if I wrote down all of my lines on the sheet? Oh, and don’t worry, just in case the sheet were to bend, I bought the Popsicle sticks for extra security.

Within about 4 minutes on the bike, while I was introducing myself and going over the positions, my sweat must’ve continuously dripped down onto the poster board…because when I looked down to start my cueing, all I could see was a bigggg old smear of magic markers. At this point, all I could do was smile. “Really Justin? You buy yourself an outfit, you remember the damn Popsicle sticks that look ridiculous taped to the back of this page, but you couldn’t think to laminate the sheet”.

So there you have it Jennifer, there’s the true story of what happened that day!

Oh yeah, and here’s Robert, back in the old studio! If Robert didn’t go away, I wouldn’t be here today. I still don’t know where you went, but THANKS Robert!

Needless to say, I survived. My success was SO wild and apparent, the next day I bought the business. KIDDING!

Before that could happen, there was a whole lot of this:

And this:  

 
Don’t worry, don’t worry, that isn’t the true story either. The true story is… I, we, all of you, couldn’t be here without Katie. Her energy and passion, her raw and uncanny emotion, are truly second to none. With Katie, our second location came to light. And with Pat, Jay, Lindsay, Jamie, Ryan, Pam, Ali, Sarah, Mindy, Ashley, and Brittany, our third location now comes to light.  

So without further ado…
We are Moving!

251 Russell Street, about 3 minutes down the road from Energia

We expect to move early in July, once our renovation is complete. With this move, comes the end of an era. We’ll be saying goodbye to the Energia name and starting anew. Moving forward, we’ll represent one brand, one name, and one identity!

I know, I know, you guys are full of questions! Don’t worry, we are taking the same experience you have all grown to love, and improving it ten-fold! The new space will house a state of the art sound system, 14′ high ceilings with central air, two spacious bathrooms, one spacious shower room, permanent lockers for all monthly members, and much, much more.

The bikes will be adequately spaced, with brand new mats for Spin & Strength. We’ll have an information station with info on all of your favorite class offerings, and a retail room as well.

Lastly, we’ll have an incredible outdoor space with room for obstacle courses, killer boot camps, TRX and all of your favorite programming, all Summer long (and beyond!).

We’ll be keeping our original 50/50 space for Pilates, personal training, and some of your favorite nightly classes.

Stay tuned for further updates on schedule additions and our grand opening celebration, announced in the weeks to come.

If you have any questions at all, and I mean anything, please direct them to katie@5050fitnessnutrition.com. Okay, okay, I promise that was the last joke!

My email is info@5050fitnessnutrition.com

I would love to hear from you…questions, comments, suggestions…I’m here!

FINALLY, thank you, thank you, thank you to all of the amazing people I’ve been so fortunate to meet along the way. I know I can speak on behalf of the entire 50/50 team when I say, you all have been more than any business, any staff could ever ask for. Change is scary, sad, and inspiring at the same time, but we’re in this together. Here’s to an exciting, fun and sweat-filled future. 

“All is connected … no one thing can change by itself.”

More on Outdoor Fit Camp

Director of Strength & Conditioning, Jay McWilliams

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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!

The Future Begins Now

Katie’s Corner
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Have you seen the new studio yet?! If you have, we are thrilled that you have shared in the infectious energy that is filling the space. If you haven’t been able to make it just yet, know that we are looking forward to welcoming you to your first class and (hopefully) seeing your face light up when you walk through the door. Justin and I have wanted to bring you a bigger, fancier version of Energia for a long time-a gym that has more room, more options, and more function. And that time is now.
With the transition, there is change. (I feel the need to insert the colloquial “obvi” here.) Most of it will be very positive, as we are adding new waves of classes in the mornings at 7:30am and 8:00am, as well as the afternoons at 4:30pm and 5:00pm. We have redesigned the outdoor programs, bringing you obstacles and profiles that will keep you challenged and on track with your fitness goals. And of course, we are keeping most of the classes you and your body have grown to love. In order to have the best experience possible, we encourage you to sign up for consultations with us to discuss your new schedule, new plan, andall of our offerings.
Finally, on behalf of the 50/50 Fitness staff, I want to take a minute to thank each and every one of our fabulous members who pitched in and helped out with the move, whether you moved bikes, helped construct the outdoor equipment in our spacious backyard, assembled furniture, etc., know that we appreciate your efforts in making the soft opening such a rewarding experience for everyone, now and in the future. There is no question how strong of a community we’ve all built together, and this weekend was a tangible testament to that. I must have pinched myself over 500 times in the past week, reflecting on how very lucky I am to be a part of this experience-this community.
Now let’s forge ahead, together.

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!

Happy Valley Half Marathon Running Clinics

Sign up for the free Happy Valley Half Marathon Running Clinics!
 
 
You might already know that we are bringing you the Happy Valley Half Marathon on October 23. Did you know we are hosting FREE weekly running clinics to help you get ready? 
 
Our Free Half Marathon clinic schedule is now live! Follow the link below and register for our first clinic, scheduled for Thursday, August 4th at 6PM. The group will meet at 226 Russell Street, in Hadley, MA. 
Each clinic will feature a group run led by running coach Grant Ritter. Along the way we will talk about the type of runs, training plans and gear that you need to know about. Are you in? Sign up now!
Wait you didn’t sign up for the Happy Valley Half Marathon or 5K yet? Register now and use coupon code RUNLOCAL to save $5.

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

We Don’t Know Squat:

Director of Strength & Conditioning, Jay McWilliams

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There are a few simple movement patterns that are as old as humankind. Just now, research is showing us how these primal movements are key to our health and longevity. One of these movements we do every day and in countless classes but we probably take for granted; the squat. The squat (along with the deadlift) is an excellent way to improve leg strength. A recent study from Brazil found that lack of leg strength is closely linked to higher mortality. In fact, people with weak legs were at a 5-6 times higher risk of death than those with strong legs! To build greater leg strength, we need to focus on performing squats with good form and added resistance (weight). In Targeted Strength and Conditioning we master Goblet Squats, Split Squats, Rear-Foot Elevated Split Squats and Squat Thrusts. In time, our participants build up to heavier and heavier weights to really get strong. Time to get squatting!
Beyond the strength building benefit, performing a deep squat (also called a “third-world squat”) improves flexibility, by loosening the all-important hip flexors. Modern life has put many of us in an anterior pelvic tilt, due to lots of time spent sitting: at the office, in the car, and in front of the TV. Performing deep squats, along with stretching and foam-rolling, is a great anti-dote to this condition. To perform a deep squat, picture a toddler squatting while playing or (pardon the crude image) how you would squat to use the bathroom without a toilet. This is the position you need to be in to reap the benefits. Practice getting into this position and holding your balance to up to a few minutes at a time. Your body will thank you, and you may even live longer!

Meet your Health & Fitness Specialist

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