When I implement a training plan for my clients, I do so with a sound understanding of their physiological needs and how certain exercises will help them. So when I find that there are additional benefits to my training methods, I am thrilled!
Recently I had the chance to sit down with Dr. Eldred Taylor, who along with his wife Dr. Ava Bell Taylor authored "The Stress Connection" and "Are Your Hormones Making You Sick?". Dr. Taylor practices functional medicine, which emphasizes maintaining wellness over just curing illness - something that I feel our current medical system often fails to address. The information he shared with me is available in an in-depth interview he did with the EliteHRV podcast, an informational podcast that focuses on the importance of understanding heart rate variability (HRV). I will link to that podcast at the end of this post.
In 2016 we have seen a number of food trends in the spotlight. There has been a big jump in veganism as more people become aware of the harm of industrial farming. And for those who can't part ways with their beloved steak, it is far easier than it was even a few years ago to find and order from organic, humane, sustainable farms. Clean eating continues to be a popular buzz phrase, and goes beyond eating organic as it eliminates all processed foods and refined sugars.
Pinhoti was my "A" race for the year, the culmination of nearly two years of physical and mental preparation. Following is my incredibly lengthy and boring race report, if you so wish to read it. To current and prospective clients, a couple takeaways I'd like you to consider:
What is or was your "A" training goal? What doubts have you overcome to get there, or what do you know you need to conquer to achieve it?
Do you have any tricks when your thinking takes a turn for the negative? How do you get out of that funk?
What physical feat might make you say "I have surpassed everything I thought I could ever do"?
Now - on to the story....
“WHAT?! We’re how far from the start?!”
This was the panicked cry I sent out into the dim early morning air as my husband informed me that we were 4.5 miles from the starting line of the Pinhoti 100 mile race.
That started at 7:00AM.
It was 6:50.
Grace wants to gain muscle but not gain weight. Gloria wants to trim down specifically in her midsection. George wants to bulk up but not change his diet. Gina wants to lose weight without sweating or getting sore.
From a customer service standpoint, I, as the hired professional, should deliver on my clients’ wishes. But what if their wishes are misguided? What if they heard they could achieve a result doing something that is actually counterproductive- or worse, completely unsafe?
When a client first comes to me, it’s not their current weight or state of physical health that creates the biggest challenge for me as a trainer- it’s the plethora of misinformation they have absorbed and held to be true before finally realizing that maybe they need a new approach or additional support. And I don’t blame them for soaking up everything the internet spews out! All it takes is one catchy headline to make us second guess the food we eat, the fabric softener we use, whether to get the flu shot this year, or if we’ve been breathing properly our whole lives.
Editor's Note: Here at Jen Raby Fitness dot com I like to maintain an air of professionalism. That being said, the story as follows is a personal account from yours truly, the certifiably insane ultra-runner, and not necessarily Jen Raby the personal trainer. There will be colorful words and rude gestures because trail runners are nothing if not brutally honest. Enjoy!
Before I’d had a chance to absent-mindedly peel off all my scabs while sitting in Atlanta traffic, before my right big toe had stopped yelling at me with every hill or stair case, before I had even had a chance to sit down and start writing this race report --
-- I found myself in front of a computer, clicking “Register” for the 2017 Barkley Fall Classic.
Last week I introduced the areas of fitness I feel are vital to any comprehensive cross-training program: Stamina, stability, and flexibility.
Today, I want to talk about stamina. Staying Power. Grit. Fortitude. Perseverance.
Whatever you call it, one's stamina will dictate the upper limits of one's physical and mental abilities. I want to talk in a little more detail about what happens when we reach those limits, and the tricks I use to help clients - and myself - break through those walls to accomplish more with every workout.
As you know, I am no stranger to physical or mental challenges. Recently, I completed an eight-hour endurance run. The purpose of this run, other than the sheer enjoyment of tasting my own sweat and basking in my stench all day, was to "tune up" for other, longer events I will be participating in this fall. The primary focus was time on my feet, but to even get to the point where I'd consider this kind of run, I had to get on a training plan that would address every challenge I'd encounter.
While it is true that to perfect a sport-specific skill, it must be practiced repeatedly and with precision - "perfect practice makes perfect" as the saying goes - it is also important that all areas of fitness are challenged. Simply put, you can be an athlete just by participating in a sport. But to improve your game, you must do more than ONLY that one sport.
Whether you're getting active for the first time by joining your company's kickball league, looking to move from the middle of the pack to winning an age group award at the next race, or trying to make it to the regional tennis competition, you will need three things:
Through high-intensity intervals, I help my clients improve stamina by gradually working them towards longer periods of work and shorter periods of rest. For highly dynamic sports that require explosive movements, such as sprinting or tennis, we do shorter intervals at "threshold". That's trainer geek-speak for going from aerobic to anaerobic exercise, where 10-30 seconds of an activity will cause lactic acid to accumulate, creating that fun deep burn that we love and know so well. This burning goes away after a few moments of rest. By working through this burn we can train the body to withstand higher levels of lactic acid. This level of activity typically involves "fast-twitch" muscle fibers, which are exactly what we use when we sprint, jump, or do explosive lifts. Improving stamina helps my weight-loss clients optimize their burn for their buck, and helps my athletes outlast their opponents in a game.
Stability is a concern for athletes who must move quickly in multiple directions. It is also a concern for clients prone to joint issues or rolling their ankles. By having clients perform resistance exercises that require balance, we work the "big mover" muscles (such as glutes, quads, chest and back) while also challenging the smaller stabilizer muscles. Exercises on the BOSU ball activate all the little muscles on the lower half of the leg, like the Tibialis anterior and Fibularis, two of the muscles with tendons that cross the knee and the ankle. A strong Tibialis anterior can help prevent "shin splints" while a strong Fibularis can help prevent ankle rolls.
For flexibility training, I address the client's needs by first determining if they are stretching, what stretches they perform and how often. There are conflicting studies on the effectiveness of stretching, but in my experience with running, rock climbing, lifting, dog-walking, child-bearing... you get the idea... stretching usually helps me feel as though I am recovering quicker from strenuous effort versus when I forget to stretch. It is important to note here that stretching won't prevent soreness. However, what flexibility training can do is help improve and maintain posture by relieving the tension of the muscles we just worked. Through that release of tension, we help the muscle return to it's normal length and take pressure off of its point of origin. By teaching my clients a variety of stretching techniques, we can also prevent future injury. The tighter a muscle is, the shorter it is, causing it to be more prone to injury the next time it must be exerted against a force. Lastly, it's just a really nice way to wrap up our workouts. My clients know I love to stretch with them, and it gives us an opportunity to talk about the workout and plan for the next one.
So whether you or someone you know is starting a brand new activity, or looking to take that competitive edge to the next level, consider how a personal trainer can help you reach your goals. I take the guesswork out of getting fit, and assign workouts that will compliment a variety of sport-specific training programs. Stamina, stability and flexibility are key components of nearly every sport and activity, and I have the tools and education to help those interested in improving these crucial components of fitness.
Contact me today to get started!
Today I'm taking a break from my usual fitness-related posts to get a little more personal. Before I broke into working for myself as a personal trainer, I was a run-blogger, in the loosest sense of the term. That's to say that I never had sponsored posts, nor did anything I wrote ever stand out in the ever-growing sea of health and fitness bloggers. I started writing to share my journey of maintaining fitness while pregnant and getting back on a training plan after having my child. As the years went by and the races came and went, work took priority over writing race reports, which is why I haven't posted one since this time last year. Which is what brings me here today.
For starters, this race report is going to read a bit differently than last year's, as I felt like a completely different person running this time around. At one point I was actually asking myself, "Who ARE you?? How are you running like this?!" as I gleefully bounded down the final descent. I want to share just how much difference a year of learning and training can make, especially because all the changes that took place could not be seen on the surface.
I want to share the changes I made with nutrition, hydration and training that not only brought me to the starting like of this year's Quest for the Crest 50K with confidence, but carried me through to a strong finish with a big smile.
At the private studio where I train there is no real New Year's rush; it's business as usual until it's finally warm enough for people to shed layers, look forward to summer break, and of course, wedding season! This is what gets people thinking about starting a fitness routine, or kicking their old routine in the rear.
The first thing I do with a new client is establish what routine she had before and her level of success with previous trainers. If this is her FIRST time working out, then we are laying the groundwork and starting with the basics. This can be tough for some new clients to hear, as they may only be focused on the swimsuit or dress hiding away in some deep drawer or corner of the closet. But fast results diminish quickly, and it's time to make those changes stick for life!
So if you're looking at your calendar for the next few months and find yourself stressing yet again about getting ready to bear it all on the beach or being on display as part of ANOTHER wedding party, ask yourself if you would rather look and feel ready for anything, all year round.
Spring fever may be what first brings you to my door, but it's turning that short-term goal - be it a bikini or a bridal gown - into a long-term fitness plan that I will use to keep you coming back!