Month: August 2015

Why Does That First Mile Feel So Difficult; The Importance Of The Warm-Up Before Doing A Cardio Workout.

imageAs a personal trainer and coach, one of the questions I am asked is; why does that first mile feel so uncomfortable? The same question is asked by people doing 1/4 mile interval track workouts or any track workout for that matter. In fact this phenomenon is experienced when participating in any cardio activity.

The reason this happens is because of something called steady state. When you are sitting, your heart and lungs are supplying the muscles with adequate oxygen to do their job. You are in steady state. If you start walking you are taken out of steady state so your heart and lungs have to work harder to supply the muscles with the increased demand for oxygen. However, you really don’t notice it since the change of steady state is so small.

But when you start jogging, your muscles have to work significantly harder. But they don’t have enough oxygen to perform at this higher level of intensity. This puts you into oxygen debt. You go anaerobic. That is what causes the uncomfortable sensation. Your heart and lungs now have to work harder to get adequate oxygen to cover the new load. The length of time it takes to catch up depends on the intensity of the activity. Once your heart and lungs do catch up, you go aerobic again and now become more comfortable. You are at a new steady state where your heart and lungs are supplying enough oxygen to the working muscles. This is what they always called “getting your second wind.”

The warm-up is essential. By slowly increasing the physical stress on your body you gradually increase the demand for oxygen by your muscles. Your heart rate and breathing are able to adjust and supply enough oxygen to cover the increased demands of your working muscles and help prevent that uncomfortable feeling associated with the start of your cardio workout. However, the warm-up isn’t just to increase the blood flow to supply more oxygen to the working muscles. The increased blood flow also helps increase the core temperature of your working muscles and connective tissues, making them more pliable.

So what should you do? An active warm up, also called a dynamic warm up, is the key. Some suggestions include but are not limited to:

  • Walking or easy running for 5 to 10 minutes. If you are walking, throw a few easy jogs for 10 to 20 seconds every minute. This will help to kick start your cardio system.
  • Jogging or running in place.
  • Jumping jacks are great for the whole body and also will kick start your cardio system.
  • Swinging the arms for arms and shoulders.
  • Arm circles for your shoulders.
  • A few push-ups or modified push-ups for the chest, arms and shoulder.
  • Trunk twists for the core.
  • Leg swings side to side and forward and back for your hips.
  • Pretend you are stepping over a fence forward and backward for your hips.
  • High knee jogging or bringing your heals to your butt for your legs.
  • A few lunges and squats for the legs.

It is important to remember that during the warm-up the key is to keep the intensity low. If you are preparing for a running event or workout, gradually pick up the intensity or add some strides the get your body ready for the increased oxygen needs your body will require. Don’t skip the warm-up. It is as important then the workout itself.

Sometimes You Have To Stop And Enjoy Listening To The Rain.

imageIt is a Sunday morning and a gentle rain shower is passing through. I can hear the soft rumbles of thunder in the distance. I am sitting here contemplating what I should do first this morning. I have already made the comment that I am such a lazy slug. It is that kind of morning. I momentarily allow myself to succumb to the gentle rhythms of the falling rain. As I waffle back and forth between enjoying the rain and planning my day it hits me like a bolt of lightning followed by gentle thunder. Sometimes you have to stop and listen to the rain rather than obsess about getting a workout in.

I hear it time and time again. “I don’t know how I am going to get my workout in.” “I feel guilty because I missed my workout”. Working out becomes another negative stressor in your life. If you are training towards a goal or counting calories, the stress of missing a workout can bring about anxieties so severe, they can ruin your day and the day of anyone near you.

So how do you cope with this stress. First, sometimes you do have to stop and listen to the rain. I know what you are thinking. That is easy for you to say. I have goals that I must reach. My response is it isn’t easy for me to practice what I am preaching. My wife will be more than happy to attest to that fact. So what does one do? Here are some suggestions on ways to cope.

The first thing you can do is be proactive. Look at your up coming week. What do you have on your schedule? Some days are packed full and you know you will end up being exhausted. Other days may be lighter. On the days where you know you have a full work schedule, plan your rest days or make this day a day where you will just go for an easy walk or an easy run or do just one set of strength training in the gym. Use this easy activity time to unwind and process the day. On your lighter days plan your hard workouts. You will have more energy and focus allowing you to get in a quality workout.

If you look at the week and know the whole week will be rough. No problem. A strong exercise program always includes low intensity weeks. This can be a maintenance week. This gives your body a chance to repair and recover allowing you to come back strong and excited to get back at it. A maintenance week will also prevent you from over training.

What if something unexpected keeps you from your workout. Again, no problem. Even with careful planning you will still have “the dog got his leg stuck in the tub drain and we have to cut the drain off and bring the dog to the vet” kind of day. On these days, you can almost be assured you won’t be getting your workout in. Skip the workout. Tomorrow do the next day’s planned workout. There is no need to make up the missed workout. You won’t lose any conditioning.

It is okay to miss workouts, but be honest and don’t look for excuses to skip workouts. Instead look for reasons to workout. Place motivational notes in prominent areas to remind you why you are doing this. If you are tired, don’t cancel completely. Tell yourself you will go easy for a little while. Once you are into the workout, you may feel better and you will complete the workout as originally planned. Most importantly, if you are not honest and you continue to search for excuses to skip workouts, the guilt will sabotage your chances of success. We all don’t feel it some days, however something is better than nothing.

But remember, sometimes you have to stop and enjoy listening to the rain.

You Don’t Feel Like You Measure Up When Exercising? This Is How The World Sees You.

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I run a fitness Bootcamp. My Bootcamp is for all levels of fitness. Some of my attendees are beginners. However, as the Bootcamp progressed, the attendance of my beginners was spotty. For some it was because of life, but some of it was because of feelings. There was continued communication on Facebook and with time their concerns became clear.

As I listened to, or actually read their posts and messages I tried to understand their feelings. It then hit me that there are two realities. One realty is the feelings and perception of the beginner trainee. The other reality is how the rest of us perceive these beginners. Our perception is much different then what the beginning trainee thinks it is and this is what I want to address.

I want to address this because it is this reality that can actually strangle someone’s ability to pursue their fitness goals. By participating in a fitness event a person becomes totally exposed. If you are proficient at the activity, this exposure can be a positive boost to your confidence. However, if you are new to the event, this exposure can result a feeling of inadequacy. Just like beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is that inadequacy one feels when working out side by side with more fit individuals.

Before I talk about how the rest of us perceive your efforts, I want to assure you that your perceptions are valid. If someone fails to understand that, it means they have never tried to pursue an activity they don’t excel in with others who do. No matter what the pursuit, the feelings are the same.

So let me tell you how the rest of us perceive you. We see you as a warrior because you fight the hardest. We see you as an inspiration because your effort encourages greater effort from us. We see you as a champion because a champion isn’t someone who wins, but someone who never gives up. We see you as a winner because you don’t give up. We see you full of courage because you have over come your fears. We see you as strong because you surpass physical limitations. We see you as invincible because you will not be beat. We see you for what you are. You are a person who will no longer let life control you, but is taking control of life.

I realize you may think these perceptions I have stated may not be shared by others who are participating in the world of fitness. So I encourage you to go to a local 5K run. Listen to the cheers given to the first place finisher and the last person to cross the line. I can assure you everyone there knows who the real winner is. When you feel inadequate about your fitness abilities look at yourself through my eyes and I can assure you there is much admiration and respect.

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Why Raise The Bar

Raising The Bar

Why Raise the bar? If you think about it, anytime you perform an activity (achieve a goal) you put forth the minimal amount of effort to complete that activity (achieve that goal) as illustrated in the above image. In the illustration it is clear I would not have cleared the highest bar with the effort I used to clear the lowest bar. Your goal usually is to achieve that goal with minimal effort. This really isn’t a problem and it makes perfect sense.

So why raise the bar? Raising the bar will motivate you to achieve more than you currently are achieving. I remember an episode of the sitcom Taxi where Jim Ignatowski, played by Christopher Lloyd, remembered that someone once told him it doesn’t matter what you do in life as long as you’re the best at it as you can be. Jim Ignatowski went on to provide services above and beyond the minimal services of a New York City taxi driver. The results were amazing tips.

So how does this apply to your health and fitness? To achieve better health and fitness you set goals. If your ultimate goal is to run a 5 K, or lose weight you start with a low bar such as running a block or losing 1.5 to 2 pounds the first week, which is the recommended weekly weight loss. You then come up with a plan that systematically raises the bar. Each time you get over one bar, you raise that bar. But set achievable early goals. Success is important.

As you continue to raise the bar remember, each time you raise the bar, it will require more effort to get over the new bar. If you set each bar just a little higher, success is achievable. Each time you get over the bar, you will have new confidence. If you knock the bar off, don’t give up. Success often come after putting the bar back up and trying again. Think about why you knocked the bar off and learn. Getting over the next bar may require help. Don’t be afraid to seek out the appropriate resources. Following these steps will bring results and success.

So you have gotten over that last bar of your goal. Now what? We need to continue to find new bars. They may be a different bar, but we need to have challenges. Our body needs to be active to maintain our strength or become stronger. If we don’t stay active, our muscles will atrophy, we will lose strength or we will gain back that weight.

As humans we have to have challenges to grow. After I turned fifty I decided I needed a new bar. I enrolled in Karate. It has been a challenge and at times I have wondered if I will be able to achieve my Blackbelt status. However, when I started, even though becoming a Blackbelt was my ultimate bar, that was not my first bar. My first bar was to fulfill the requirements needed to receive my Yellowbelt status. Next I worked towards and achieved my Orangebelt status. Well, you get the picture. I am now roughly two months away from my Blackbelt test. I am confident that getting over the earlier bars have prepared me for this bar. I am excited about getting over this bar. In fact after two months I will be looking for a new bar. Suggestions?

One last thought. Remember your bar should be to become the best you can be. Be defined by your the bars you overcome and not by comparing yourself to the bars other people overcome.

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I could never run a mile without stopping, could I?

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Of course you can run a full mile without stopping. There are two things you need to be successful. You need to set a goal and develop a plan to help you reach your goal. I can help with that. However I must remind you to make sure you are healthy enough to safely partake in a fitness program.

First let’s talk about goal setting. When embarking on any fitness journey you significantly increase your chances of success if you set a S-M-A-R-T Goal.

  • S= Specific: You want to run a mile with out stopping.
  • M= Measurable: You will run the distance of a mile.
    A= Attainable: A mile is a reasonable distance compared to running a marathon (which by the way is also attainable). However a mile is a great start.
  • R= Relevant: You want to get into better physical condition and building up to running a mile will get you in better physical condition.
  • T= Time-Bound: Here you decide the goal date you want to set where you will have met your goal. For example, you will run your mile without stopping in 30 days or maybe 60 days after you start working toward that goal.

Now that you have your S-M-A-R-T goal you need a plan. Here are suggestions on how you can reach this goal.

How to run a mile without stopping.

  • If a track is available, that would be the best place to train. If not measure a mile route with your car.
  • On the days you don’t run, you can rest completely or cross train by bike riding, swimming or doing a different activity.
  • Make sure you do take one full day of rest with no cross training on your rest days.
  • Go every other day, taking two days off at the end of your training week.
  • If on a 400 meter track, start by walking 350 meters and jogging 50 meters. Do this for 4 laps which is very close to a mile.
  • After 2 days on the track, decrease the distance of your walking bouts and increase the distance of your running bouts. Depending on how far out your goal date of completion is, will determine how quickly you adjust your walk/run ratio.
  • Set a realistic goal, but if life interferes, don’t be afraid to change your goal date.
  • If you are training on the streets, use time to mark when you walk and run or use land marks to indicate when you should walk or run.
  • If you do use time as your indicator of when you should walk and run, start by walking for 45 seconds and running for 15 seconds. After a few sessions decrease your walk time and increase you run time. Note that time is the better way to measure when you should walk and run

If you follow those steps you will be on your way to starting a fitness journey full of achievements you never thought you could accomplish.

Congratulations! You ran a mile without stopping. Now as a reward, go buy that dress or new suit you were looking at. Be warned though. You may have to buy it in a smaller size.

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I Just Can’t Get Around Like I Use To. Why?

Ashland Marathon 20 copyIt’s simple, Sarcopenia. Sarco-what, you ask?

Sarcopenia is the term associated with the degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength associated with aging. After the age of 35, the average person loses about five percent of their muscle mass every ten years. By age seventy we have lost twenty to forty percent of our strength. This actually has a number of implications for us older folks. I am including myself because I’m 55 years old. However today I am just going to focus on functional mobility.

Functional mobility is the ability to move from one place to another while performing activities. For most people, functional mobility is the ability to walk, get in and out of bed, and get into and out of a chair or the ability to get around independently.

What are the effects of Sarcopenia on loss of mobility?

  • The risk of disability is 1.5 to 4.6 times higher in older persons with sarcopenia than in older persons with normal muscle.
  • Age‐related muscle weakness dramatically increases the risk for elderly falling. Elderly who fall have a significantly greater chance of not being able to continue living in the community.
  • One half of accidental deaths among individuals age 65 and older are related to falls.

Can you combat the effects of Sarcopenia and its negative impact on your functional mobility? The short answer is “YES!” The great news is no matter how old you are, your body responds the same to exercise. Although age‐related muscle loss is unavoidable, an exercise program and interventions can halt or reverse Sarcopenia. In fact researchers have reported that resistance exercise is an effective way to fight age-related declines in muscle mass and function.

Can you be in such a state of decline that you can no longer benefit from resistance training? With the proper modifications and working with your healthcare professional, everyone can benefit from some sort of resistance training. The key is not to wait untill you get to that point. It is easier to maintain then regain.

So what is your next step? Just start something. Get moving, but include resistance training. Join a gym. Get a personal trainer. If you are older get a trainer experienced in working with seniors. If you are not sure where to start see my earlier blog entitled “Getting Started On Your Fitness Journey.”

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Getting started on your fitness journey.

At some time in your life you will have something happen which will get you thinking about your current level of health. The thing of it is, your health is directly affected by your level of fitness. The good news is new research clearly shows that people who are more active, no matter what their body composition (the amount of fat tissue in relationship to the amount of lean tissue in your body) are not only fitter but they also reduce their health risks more than non-active people with the same body composition.

Don’t get me wrong because carrying around extra weight still places extra stress on your body, but you don’t have to make weight loss your primary focus when deciding to make healthy changes in your life. Focusing on your weight loss may sabotage your fitness progress. Your primary focus should be make small changes that you know you can commit to until they become habits and then build off of that.

So what should you do:

  • Start off with a small amount of easy exercise and build up the amount and difficulty over time. Five minutes a day of easy to moderate exercise is a great start.
  • Gradually build up the amount of exercise and the difficulty level of the exercise.
  • Monitor by logging or journaling the amount and difficulty of your exercise sessions to assure you are progressing at a rate that suits you.
  • Avoid massive increases in exercise volume in short periods of time.

Questions to ask before you exercise for the first time:

  • Has the doctor ever told you you have a heart condition?
  • Do you feel pain in your chest during physical activity?
  • Have you recently suffered from chest pain at rest?
  • Do you suffer from dizziness?
  • Have you ever lost consciousness?
  • Do you suffer from joint problems that may be made worse by exercise?
  • Are you currently taking drugs for high blood pressure, high cholesterol or a heart condition?
  • Do you know any other reason why you should not participate in exercise?

Remember, your goal is to start out easy. Shoot for 30 minutes of exercise a week for 3 to 4 weeks. Work your way up to the recommended 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. By following these suggestions you will be on your way living a healthier and longer life.

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Hello world!

Welcome to Pro-Move Fitness’s blog by Gary Wondrash. Hopefully I can enlighten you on health and fitness. It would be great if my blog can help people live a fuller life.

It would be awesome if I can help people over fifty years old, which I am one of, live a great life in their retirement years.

As Spock use to say, “Live long and with great health.” I know that is really not what he said, but it fits here.