Thursday, March 18, 2010

Balance Training

In the past couple of years I've worked with personal training clients who vary in age and condition from 18 year old track & field athletes to 80+ year old people who are trying to make better use of walkers. The central theme that runs through training for all ages and activities is balance. And where does balance come from? It's not from having highly developed muscles on any particular part of your body; it's developing the stabilizing muscles around the spine and joints.... and that highly misused sports word of the moment - "core".

But think about it. What keeps you upright? What keeps your spine straight and your posture erect? Muscles around the spine... abdominals and lower back... What keeps you from falling when you are losing your balance? (I've been observing a lot of this recently with rollerskating as we attempt to build a roller derby team!) A myriad of muscles around your knees,  ankles and hips. An amazing and seemly innate ability to "right" ourselves?

Balance can actually be learned and/or improved by putting ourselves in positions of instability and "dealing" with these situations as much as possible. This is why running on a treadmill will never replace running outside (especially on uneven terrain such as trails); and why using weight machines in the gym will never be as good for getting us ready for "real world" activities as using free weights--especially combined with stability challenges. We don't often lift something through a single isolated plane of motion with every other muscle completely stationary.

So, for today, let's all stand on one foot at a time periodically throughout the day and repeat this mantra: Balance.....

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Why Bootcamp?

I started teaching bootcamp classes a couple of years ago (wow, it doesn't seem that long!) for a couple of reasons:

1 - I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world with spaces that are ideal for outdoor activity--quiet beaches minutes from my house with beautiful views, lovely running trails, gentle breezes, mild weather...

2 - Classes are an affordable way to stay motivated to get in shape with a group of people!

People hear the words "boot camp" and images come to mind of a relentless slave driver of an instructor in camo garb barking orders in your face... "whimp!" and "drop and give me 20!"... or some such. And I suppose there are instructors like that. I'm just not one of them.

To me it's just great to utilize the natural outdoor beauty and weather of the coast and be able to get out of the gym and do something fun and help people at the same time. I really do love the results people get--and the loyal bootcampers who keep coming back month after month (it's really quite addictive!) telling me how great they feel; how much more energy they have; their pride at being able to do push-ups or not feel winded going up stairs; and yes, losing weight... And having a group of motivated people around you can also help keep you motivated. They keep me motivated to keep looking for new things to keep them motivated. I'm also probably in the best shape I've been in in my life.

Another reason I love it is it allows me to show people how little equipment they really need to get/stay in shape! Honestly, you can do a class with nothing more than a decent pair of runners (a mat is nice to have though). There are endless possibilities of challenging body weight exercises -- you could stay in decent shape doing a selection of a few of them--isn't that a great thing to know when you're short on space, time, and/or money?

I'm excited to be starting bootcamps again in the next month (we've started an early morning indoor/outdoor one for the time being)--the beach, the invigorating sea air... have I mentioned the wildlife? Last year, in addition to the eagles and cranes, we saw bears, otters, and seals!

Hello Spring! Welcome back beach and bootcampers!