Friday, August 29, 2008

New Training Facility in Scottsdale

I have moved locations in Scottsdale (same company, we just expanded one of our locations) and we are now much more accessible to everyone in the east valley; just off the 101 at the corner of 90th st. and Via Linda.

In light of the move, I am offering free movement and posture assessments. I will not be providing you with a training program during this session. I will gladly watch you move and look at your posture and determine how things could be potentially better or ‘more efficient’.

I am opening this up to anyone who is interested in doing some personal training and may be on the fence about how to get started or who to work with and where to go. This is a great opportunity to get an introduction to me, my system, and my philosophies/thought processes to determine if we would be a good fit together.

If you are just coming to get a free assessment and think that I will give you a free program or tell you what to do with all the information, this is not for you. This is how I make my living and I have clients who pay for this service. It would not be fair to them (or to me) to just give it away for free. We do offer a variety of different training plans; everything from 1-on-1 training to the most affordable option, group training.

If you are interested, please contact me at 480-272-7638


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Impact of Training

I was at the gym working out this morning and happened to watch this trainer training one of his female clients. I always see them training together on Wednesday mornings. Wednesday happens to be leg day!

I see him put her through a whole bunch of smith machine squats (the legs are strategically placed way out in front of her center of gravity to ensure that spine is loaded in poor position) and then they go outside and do some sort of nonsense with a sledge hammer. Then they do RDLs and then they superset leg press and hack squats and finish with leg curls.

They pretty much do the same thing all the time and vary the rep range. Today was 50-rep day on all exercises (for whatever reason I don’t know).

Now, at first glace, some of the things that are strange with this workout are:

a) 50 rep sets for all exercises (heck, 50 rep sets in general!)
b) All bilateral work and no single leg work
c) Aside from the RDLs, everything was on a fixed machine
d) This lady doesn’t have great movement patterns at all and it doesn’t seem that they are doing things to help correct this.

One thing that seems to be a little hard for people to grasp is the concept that training has a very profound impact on our bodies. I am not talking about the impact of weight loss or muscle gain here. I am talking about the impact it has on our posture, our movement patterns and potentially our pain.

That last part there is probably the easiest of the three for people to understand as when we do something foolish in the gym (let our technique get a little sloppy, over train or sustain an overuse injury), our body lets us know about it in the form of pain. This usually leads us to taking some time off or maybe seeking some sort of physical therapy or chiropractic care and then once that is all taken care of, we are back at it again.

The other two examples though (posture and movement patterns) are really the critical ones to grasp, as oftentimes, if they are taken care off, example three (pain) can be avoided.

Something that I would really like trainers to consider (or anyone who work out for that matter) is the fact that every workout, every set, and every rep, we are making changes in our posture and movement patterns. We are directly impacting soft tissue and creating changes in our posture and those changes can be either good or they can be bad. This is one of the reasons why a good assessment is so critical before beginning a training program. You want to make sure that what you are doing in the gym is moving you closer to your goal and not pushing you further away.

When we go to train someone (or ourselves), we really need to understand the possible implications that certain exercises will have on our individual posture and movement patterns. Are we doing too much of one thing and not enough of another? Maybe we need to drop a few exercises from our program for a few weeks as we focus on something else? These are questions you need to ask yourself when you are determining the best exercise protocol for you. Remember, exercise is not cookie cutter! We can’t go onto a website and download “the daily workout”, or pick up the latest “insert your favorite exercise magazine here” and jump right into a workout program they are suggesting for the masses. We need to determine what our body needs and what is appropriate for us as individuals.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT) Seminar

This weekend I attended my first Neuromuscular Therapy seminar, focusing on the torso and pelvis. There are 4 courses (upper extremity, lower extremity, pelvis/torso, cervical/cranium) that need to be taken before one can test to become NMT certified.

The courses are conducted by the NMT Center (aka NMT American Version) and are based on the teachings of Judith DeLany. Those who have read things that I have written elsewhere may recognize that name as I have recommended two books that she co-authored with Leon Chaitow, Clinical Application of Neuromuscular Techniques Volume 1, Upper Extremity and Volume 2, Lower Extremity. Both books are a MUST HAVE if you are in this industry.

Neuromuscular therapy is a type of massage/manual therapy, which addresses the causes of neuromuscular pain patterns. It is a very specific type of massage and is centered around six factors that may create pain:

1. Ischemia
2. Trigger Points
3. Nerve Entrapment/Compression
4. Postural Distortions
5. Nutrition
6. Emotional Well Being

This weekend we focused on the muscles of the pelvis and torso (specifically those muscles which attach to the axial skeleton). Teacher Don Kelley was excellent. He had a lot of education and experience and it came through in his lectures, demonstrations and instruction of how to properly treat the body’s soft tissue. There were two things that Don said that I felt were incredibly professional and honest. The first was the fact that “There are lots of different types of soft tissue treatment and ALL of them are effective. NMT is one tool but it is not the only tool.” I felt that was important because often when I attend seminars (and I have attended a ton), no matter what field (massage, strength and conditioning, or nutrition) the speakers will often times speak as if what there are presenting is the ONLY way to do things. The speakers can be very dogmatic and very defensive of the way they do things, failing to acknowledge that there is more than one way to skin a cat. The second thing that Don said that struck me was when he told us, “I don’t tell you stories about people that I have helped to make you think that I am some great therapist that can help anyone. I tell them simply to show you how powerful this type of work can be. In all honesty, there are a percentage of people that I help, a percentage of people that I can manage their pain better than other health care professionals, and a percentage of people that I can’t help at all.” I really appreciated the honesty in that statement as again, when attending seminars, lecturers will go out of their way to talk about and tell you stories about those that they have helped or “cured”, and they fail to give you the honest truth and say “While I can get some really great results, it doesn’t work all the time.”

This type of work is highly specific and is incredibly valuable for anyone who works in a rehabilitation setting, with people who have pain or faulty movement/posture. This work is also extremely helpful if you are working in a sports performance setting as athletes beat their bodies down like no one else and need this sort of specific soft tissue work to address their issues.

Whether you are a massage therapist, physical therapist, chiropractor or doctor, if you are serious about helping people, I highly recommend the courses from the NMT Center as part of your continuing education.


Well, after 2 weeks of continuing education (Friday-Sunday this weekend and Thursday-Sunday last weekend) and being totally sleep deprived from staying up to watch all the Olympic action, I realize I have not had much time to post regular blog entries. This week I hope to get back on track and post some information on movement training (based on some things I have been doing with a few teenaged girls soccer teams I have been working with) and reporting on some research on interval training for karate athletes (since everyone seems to be so into mixed martial arts these days). As always, I welcome reader’s questions, so feel free to send them in!


Monday, August 18, 2008

Active Release Techniques - Upper Extremity

It has been awhile since I have made my last entry (a full week in fact!). I just got back in town last night from the Active Release Techniques (ART) Upper Extremity course in San Antonio. I am happy to say that I passed the hands on portion of the exam which certifies me to pracice ART on the upper extremity.

It was a lot of fun. I learned some really cool things and I am pretty excited to add the things I learned to my "soft-tissue tool box."

The learning doesn't stop there though! This weekend I am attending a Neuromuscular Techniques (NMT) workshop specific to treatments of the pelvis and spine. This should be really interesting and I hope to take the other 3 (upper extremity, lower extremity, cervical/cranium) NMT workshops with in the upcoming year.

All of these techniques are various ways to appoach soft tissue treatment and the whole goal of this, for me, is to have a systematic way of approaching a client that allows me to analyze faulty movement patterns and posture, correct movement asymetries with exercise, and use soft tissue work to decrease pain and improve stucture and balance.

I am really excited to put all these things into play as I slowly come up with my own methodology of how everything will work together.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Becoming a Better Coach….

One of the greatest things you can do to become better in your profession (whether it is strength and conditioning, sports coach, personal trainer, physical therapist, etc) is to seek out those whom have more knowledge than you and learn from them.

For as long as I have been working in the health industry, I have always tried to find people to “talk shop with”. I strive to get better every day and by communicating with those that have more experience than me and who are great at what they do is one way in which I have enhanced my knowledge in this field.

This past Saturday was one of those incredible opportunities. This Saturday was the Trevor Brown High School/AZTECH training group running clinic. It was a full day (7am-2pm) of workshops and exhibitions.

Coach Bill Strachan, the director of the AZTECH training group has been training runners for more years than I have been alive. He has worked with some of the best of the best in terms of athletes and coaches in the running and track and field industry. Obviously the man is a tremendous resource and I have had tremendous opportunities over the past 2 years working with him personally and the runners of the AZTECH team. I am truly grateful for these opportunities as they make me better at what I do.

This weekend was no different! I helped out with the event by doing some speaking and question and answer sessions for parents and coaches. However, the real treat for me was the 2 hours I spent outside on the track with Coach Bill videotaping runners and then critiquing their form and technique. We would have the individual run about 50 meters and video tape them from the front, the back and the side. As the person was running, Coach Bill was running the video and he and I would make comments about things we were seeing (or weren’t seeing). It was an amazing opportunity to learn from someone who has really perfected his skills in watching people run. I would comment on and pick up a lot of things, but Coach Bill was a juggernaut. Nothing would get by him and oftentimes he would see something, comment on it and then follow up the comment with “but why is that happening?” Then, he would look longer, have the person run the 50m again, look harder and all of a sudden he would say, “I got it.” Once the person was done getting video taped and we had made our comments, we would talk to the person about what we were seeing and why it was happening. After that, Coach Bill would make some recommendations on how to begin to fix the problem and then have them run the 50m again. It was awesome to see him make corrections and give his technical cues. I learned a ton.

If you are in the industry of strength and conditioning, personal training, physical therapy or sports coaching, I urge you to seek out people like Coach Bill. People who can help make you better at what you do.

I think one of the reasons I love the Olympics so much isn’t just because of the incredible athleticism, but because of the incredible coaching behind the athleticism. Unlike American sports (baseball, basketball, football), where the coach is fired after a season or two if the team doesn’t do well or were strength coaches may take a more short sighted view of sports preparation (IE, we have 12-16 weeks to get ready for this season). Olympic coaches are there for 4 years with the athlete. The are there for the long haul and they understand what the long term goal is. To be able to take an athlete and visualize those 4 years of training leading up to the Olympic games is truly amazing and a real gift.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Preseason Football and More Olympics Stuff…

Coaches in NFL are notorious for bombarding the athletes with tons of training in the pre-season. Two a day workouts have been around since football existed, and the philosophy behind them seems to be one of “increase mental toughness” and punishment (if they can’t run fast enough, then we will make them run more!

However, it seems that this season there are some coaches wising up to two-a-day practices after looking into more research on human performance. A Sports Illustrated article talked about how Eric Mangini, head coach of the NY Jets, has actually lowered the amount of practice time for the athletes this offseason after analyzing some research from the researchers at the Australian Institute of Sports and the Tour De France. My only hope is that some of the high school coaches read this and actually realize how stupid and potentially dangerous their programs are.


Speaking of the Australians and the Olympics, check out this link and click on the picture that is titled “winning edge” to read about some of the cool things going on at the Australian Institute of Sports.

The Australians have some cool stuff going on. I wonder if it will translate to more medals? Only a few days to find out!!



Monday, August 4, 2008

Olympic Stories...

I always look foreward to the Oympics and I would be lying if I didn't say I am pumped that the opening ceremonies are only a few days away!

I especially can't wait to see how the 100m turns out as it is setting up to be something very exciting.

Aside from the amazing athletics displayed in the Olympic Games, one of the other reasons I love watching is for the stories. The things that some people endure to become an Olympian is just incredible and inspiring.

This story came into my inbox today and I thought I would share it with everyone. The situations that the athletes' in Sudan are training under are extremely less than adequate and the fact that they are "using paint cans and cinder blocks for the exercise", speaks volumes about their dedication and determination.

The Olympics are about more than just athletics.

More on the Olympics later,