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The ONLY Thing You Need to Get Fit EVER

Now that we have your attention, it’s about time we talk about this one thing that you need to get fitter, healthier and dare we say, happier:  SLEEP.

I am sure you have read or heard before how important sleep is.  Well, we are saying it’s the ONE AND ONLY thing you need to live a healthier and fitter life.  Big claim, right?  Well, we dare to say it because if there is one consistent factor we see in clients that affects their performance, mood, food choices, mental clarity, stress…it is LACK OF SLEEP.  Everyone wants to get more done in a day, and with our hectic lives, sleep is usually the first activity to be sacrificed.

We see a lot of people at SVPT and can honestly say that the one issue that keeps coming up with clients is their lack of sleep, or living in sleep deprivation.  They think it’s their training program or diet that is not working but actually it’s the fact that they just simply are not getting enough sleep! 

Proper sleep means normal energy levels. If you are trying to get in shape and sculpt your body you will definitely need energy. People who feel sleepy can’t find the energy to work out, prepare a healthy meal or simply take a walk.

On top of lack of energy, sleep deprivation also means that your body won’t have time to recover from training. In case you didn’t know, your body needs some time to repair muscle tissue after a workout and also restore chemical balances.

Here are a few other things that can happen with a lack of sleep (no citing sources here, but you can ask your doctor and the internet):

  • Memory Issues
  • Mood Changes
  • Weakened Immunity
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Accidents
  • Weight Gain
  • Poor Balance
  • Risk of Heart Disease
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Decreased Performance/Endurance
  • Injuries Won’t Heal 

You cannot crush fitness goals in a consistently sleep deprived state.  Normally we would say that consistency is the real key to fitness success, but without sleep you can’t apply consistency.  

Sleep is one of those things that needs to be trained, and made into a routine.  The body loves routine and homeostasis.  Make a plan to go to bed at the same time for 2 weeks.  Yes, even on the weekends.  Commit to getting a solid 8 hours for 2 weeks and see what happens to your energy, recovery and quality of life. 

We dare you.

A well-rested body (and mind) is a force to be reckoned with! 

 

Shara Vigeant, BA, NSCA-CPT*D, CFSC

F*ck Burpees!

Literally. Please stop the madness. STOP.

We don’t burpee. Ever.

On the heels of some of the top trainers in the world, including Ben Bruno and Mike Boyle, we too are saying NO to burpees. #justsaynotoburpees

I know, I know – there are no bad exercises, only bad application. The fitness industry is awesome at fear mongering when it comes to certain exercises (squats are horrible for your knees, don’t you know??!!), but this demonizing of squats, deadlifts, or any number of other legitimate exercises is generally unwarranted and unnecessary.

However, we believe that burpees are one of those exercises that is an exception to this rule and should be retired. While ANY exercise can be dangerous if performed incorrectly, we as trainers can teach and reinforce proper technique to reduce injury risk, as well as scale the difficulty level and choose appropriate load for the trainee. But…burpees are neither coachable nor scale-able.

Simply put, there is no good way to perform a burpee! Too many things can go wrong, as instant fatigue quickly leads to a breakdown of form and feelings. Excessive fatigue leads to sloppy movement, and the resulting floundering, flapping, and flopping that is commonly observed during a set of burpees is a little bit hard to watch, if we’re being honest.

Let’s be real for a moment. There are not too many humans on this planet who actually truly enjoy doing the movement. Why push a client to do something they don’t like, when you can find something they dislike a lot less and you will get far better work QUALITY? After all, isn’t training primarily about learning proper movement and constantly improving the quality of this movement?

Why does a trainer even consider a burpee? Most trainers (and by most, I will say those that are using them regularly) use burpees to ‘punish’ or to raise the heart rate, as a conditioning tool. And of course, it works ‘every single muscle’ in the body. More bang for your buck, right? The huge downside is that as the client gets fatigued, form becomes absolutely atrocious and their risk of injury increases – especially in the lower back. All for the sake of making them tired.

Full disclosure here. Did I program burpees in the past? Absolutely. But once you know better, you do better. As a new trainer, I thought my job was to kill the souls of my clients, and what better way to do that than burpees and all the variations of burpees known to mankind!

Once I started getting more experienced and educated I thought to myself…there has to be BETTER options for the same effect (whole body movement, conditioning, energy system development). After seeing clients butcher the burpee and literally just stop having any productive or high-quality movement, I cut the exercise from my programming for good.

In summary, we free you of burpees for the rest of time. You do not have to do burpees to get in shape, to be fit and to crush goals – there are so many other options and exercises that, when programmed properly, can crush your soul all the same.

Shara Vigeant, BA, NSCA-CPT*D, CFSC

The Muddled Meaning of Mobility

“Mobility” has become a huge buzzword in the area of fitness and health. The term gets thrown around quite often in online articles, but rarely is its true meaning explained. What exactly is mobility, why is it made out to be such a big deal, and why is it so good for me?

The general definition of mobility is “capable of moving, or being moved freely and easily.” The word mobilityas it relates to the human body refers to a joint’s ability to actively achieve a certain position – that is, to move the joint using the body’s own muscular strength and control, without any external assistance. This is the joint’s “usable” range of motion, the range of motion that you are able to access at any given moment, during any day-to-day activities.

This is in contrast to flexibility, a term that is often used interchangeably with mobility, despite not meaning the same thing. They sound similar, but they are not synonyms! Flexibility means “capable of being bent, usually without breaking.” When talking about the body, it refers to a joint’s ability to passively achieve a position – that is, to use no muscular effort or activation to get there. To get an idea of passive movement, picture a yogi grabbing her foot and pulling it up behind her head. While her joints can obviously get into those positions, it requires the external help of her hands to do so. It is very unlikely that she could lift her leg into that position completely on its own, without her hands pushing it into place. In this example, she has great flexibility but limited mobility. The crucial difference between the two is the way in which her body’s joints achieve the position. Any joint position that requires external help to get into is not a usable position, but is “un-usable” range of motion.

Despite the “un-usable” label, passive flexibility is not bad. It is actually needed in order to have mobility, but it is only one part of the equation. Mobility is a combination of flexibility, strength, and control. To have mobility, you need:

Lots of available passive range of motion (flexibility)  +  lots of strength throughout that range  +  great control over that range

From this, we can see that we have the potential to convert passive flexibility into active mobility through training. Using our yogi as an example, we could train her joints to have the strength and control to lift her leg behind her head unassisted, thus giving her the active mobility to match up with her great flexibility. All of her passive range would become “useable”, which is a very good thing!

Now that we have a better understanding of what mobility actually means, we can dive into why it is so important to have it, as opposed to just having flexibility. Mobility is the key physical ability of the body. If we know that having good mobility means having active control of joints, being able to move them into a ton of different positions, and having strength in all of these various positions, then it’s easy to make the case that having mobility in your joints is the single most important prerequisite to any activity that you do in sport or life. Without the ability to move your joints into the positions needed to do a squat, to take a shot in soccer, to reach overhead and paint the walls in your house, or to bend down and pick up your toddler, your ability to perform those activities safely and effectively is severely compromised. No matter how strong you are, no matter how fit you are…if your joints cannot physically get into the positions that you repeatedly ask them to, your performance and your body will suffer.

Mobility is the base of the training pyramid, and it undergirds absolutely every other physical quality that you can train for (aerobic capacity, strength, power, speed). Mobility is what allows you to pursue and train for all of those other qualities without getting injured, without wearing joints down, without spending undue amounts of time and money on trips to the doctor or the physiotherapist. Mobility is what keeps your joints healthy as you age and prevents you from losing the ability to do the activities you were once able to do.

 

 

Maintaining the necessary mobility to do all of your favorite activities into your later years doesn’t just happen on its own, though. Joints don’t maintain themselves – it takes time, intention, effort, and a lot of movement on our part. Consistently challenging and constantly using the active ranges of motion that you currently have in your joints is the key to keeping those ranges over months and years and decades. Think of a person you know who is older than you. Have you ever heard him or her say something like “these knees/hips/shoulders just don’t move the way they used to” or “I used to be able to [insert activity here] but my [insert joint here] just can’t do it anymore”? Most people would chalk this up to simply getting older, but in many cases the main cause is actually disuse rather than age. Losing mobility in your joints is only a consequence of natural aging if you let it be. The best way to prevent this from happening is to never stop using your joints through the biggest possible range of motion you can.

Is training for mobility fun? Not usually. Is training for mobility easy? No, it is in many cases much more difficult than strength or endurance training. Is training for mobility important and rewarding? Absolutely. It should not be overlooked, or skipped, or disregarded as less worthy than lifting weights or going for a run. Mobility training is an investment in your body, a very long-term one. If you prepare your body to its very best ability to handle the tasks that you throw at it, you put yourself in the best possible position to not only crush life’s daily physical demands, but to keep your body as pain-free and injury-free as possible while doing so.

 

Erica Saunders, BPE, CSCS, FRCms

Social Graces of Stair Season

The weather is finally nice, and stair season is upon us.  This is where all Edmontonians take advantage of the beautiful river valley and get their fitness on the stairs.  Did you know Edmonton has over 40 sets of stairs of all sizes for you to utilize for free for your workout?

Top 3 Sets of Stairs (most well-known):

  1. Glenora (202) – Ezio Faraone Park
  2. Fox Drive (242) – Whitemud Park
  3. Wolf Willow (200) – Access from Westridge Park (*steepest in the city)

Whether you are a newbie or a veteran, there are some common sense rules that we feel need to be followed to ensure everyone has a great experience, especially when the stairs are jam packed on a hot sunny day!

  1. Head Up.Watch where you are going.
  2. Stay Right. Rules of the road. This is the most simple rule to prevent chaos.
  3. Be aware of the people around you.  I get that you are in the zone with your headphones while crushing your personal best, but pay attention to people in front and behind you.  Turn down the volume of your motivation mix so you can hear people coming up behind you.
  4. Mid-Stair Stop. If you have to stop mid-stair to catch some wind, do it off to the right side, and make sure you aren’t disrupting someone else’s goal crushing (refer to #3).
  5. It’s awesome you have brought your best fur friend to workout with you. Keep them on a close leash next to you, not a long retractable leash that allows them cut people off.  (I have actually seen people TRIP up and down the stairs from dogs cutting them off and tripping over leashes.)
  6. Single File. You and your bestie are hitting the stairs, chatting up a storm while you suffer the burn together – love it.  However, when you are going up and down side by side, you are disrupting the space of others (especially when the stairs are packed).  It’s hard to pass team bestie on the stairs when you are shoulder to shoulder.
  7. Respect.  Some are walking, some are jogging, some are sprinting, some are jumping, some are sightseeing, some are dancing.  You don’t know everyone’s goals and history.  Respect everyone’s workout goals. Someone might be just starting, someone might be back from an injury, someone might be training a different energy system, someone might be crushing their second workout of the day. You don’t know everyone’s story – don’t be so judgy and think your workout is more important or better than yours.
  8. High Fives. Ever just high 5 a stranger?  Try it.  You are both there working your butts off, and sometimes you just need to celebrate. Or try it because sometimes you see a person there struggling, and maybe they need it!

We get that stairs should have no rules, its free, its open to anyone to enjoy and no one owns them.  But if we all follow a few of these rules, then everyone’s experience will be more positive.

Shara Vigeant, BA, NSCA-CPT*D, CFSC

Functional Fitness

All fitness is functional.  All exercise is functional.

All exercise will help you do daily activities with greater ease, and therefore allow you to live a more full and adventurous life.

When most people see the words “functional fitness”, one of two things usually comes to mind:

  • Some type of circus-act exercise that makes you look absolutely ridiculous.
  • Exercise that looks exactly like the movement you will be doing in life.

We have all seen the crazy circus-type exercises on social media. Cringe.  And I am sure you have seen our commercial, where you will see people doing exercises that mimic everyday activities.

Sled pushes will help you mow the lawn, but so will any well-rounded fitness program that includes general lower body, upper body, and core strength exercises.  Landmine squats with a press will help you lift your child over your head, but so will dumbbell presses and squats, performed independently as part of a complete workout plan. Farmer’s carries will help you carry your groceries, but so will planks or chin-ups.  What we are trying to say is – full disclosure – the people in that video do other exercises too! And those other exercises are no less functional than the exercises they so expertly demonstrate for us on camera.

Functional fitness is typically considered to be less about isolation and more about integration –   all the body parts and systems working together seamlessly to accomplish a task. The more you can train your body to work as a whole, the more you will benefit in everyday life and the more injury-resistant you will be.  When you work your entire body in multiple directions of movement and ranges of motion, you can avoid overuse injury in a single direction or range and instead allow your body to be strong and functional in all of them. This style of training prepares you for anything unexpected that might occur in your day-to-day life. It’s about being proactive, rather than reactive.

Isolation exercises such as bicep curls are often criticized for not being ‘functional’, but if your biceps are a weak link in the chain of your body, then they might be an incredibly functional exercise for you. What counts as functional exercise all comes down to the individual – what is functional for one person might not be for another.  Getting an assessment from a qualified trainer to find anything that may be preventing your body from working as a strong, complete unit – and finding out what exercises are therefore ‘functional’ for you – is a great idea.  Eliminate the guessing game, save time and invest in a proper program (Shameless plug: svptfitness.com)

All consistent fitness and exercise will help you fend off those injuries that happen simply because your body is not strong enough or fit enough to handle the activities you are trying to do every day.  For some, like an older population, that means preventing falls and creating physical independence, and for the younger population that might be preventing a knee blowout at a weekend flag football game, or on that impromptu ski trip.

Finally, functional fitness is a bit more fun and a lot less boring than bicep curls!  Exercises that tend to involve more movement, in multiple directions and range of motion, can add more challenge. Because let’s face it, moving all the parts of your body at once is harder! Think about a bear crawl – fun but hard, and working EVERYTHING – co-ordination, legs, shoulders, arms and all the core in the land.  Does a bear crawl translate into everyday activity? Not straight across (unless you have to bear crawl for a living), but all the things happening when you are doing it will help you – carry groceries, play with your kids, go for a hike, help a friend move…all that great stuff.

So is running on the treadmill or sitting on the bike functional fitness?  YES! Cardiovascular health is super important for heart health and the ability to be able to sustain physical activity and daily activities longer (i.e. mowing the lawn without breaks ). Is chest and bicep day functional fitness?  YES! If upper body strength is your weak link, chest and bi’s will certainly help you in that regard. Of course, what would be even more optimal would be to include additional training that ties those muscles in with the rest of your body.

The takeaway point is – all fitness is functional and all fitness will improve your quality of life!

Shara Vigeant, BA, CPT, CFSC

Myths and Truths: Strength Training for Runners

The way to get better at running is to run.

This is a sentiment that many runners subscribe to.  While there is truth to the need to run to become a better runner, cross training and strength training can improve your running without the high impact.  Let’s be real for a moment, running is extremely hard on the body, so anything you can do to keep your body injury free WHILE improving your running without further impact on the body is a win-win.

A well-designed strength program will supplement your run training by adding strength and durability.  This means you will get faster, stronger, and less likely to incur an injury.

Here are a few common myths and truths about strength training as part of a runners training program:

 

Myth: You only need to do strength exercises when you’re injured to fix the injury.

Truth: As a general rule, runners exist in a vicious cycle of chronic injury. The cycle begins with an injury. The runner might then see a physiotherapist or other professional, do their prescribed rehab exercises, then jump right back into the program that injured them while letting the exercises fall to the wayside because the injury is “fixed.”

Injury occurs when the external load exceeds the load bearing capacity of the tissues. Put simply, if your joints, tissues and muscles are not strong enough to perform the tasks you’re asking of them, an injury is inevitable. When an injury occurs, it is because the tissues can’t handle the training load. When an injury is rehabbed fully and properly, it means that the tissues have been restored back to their normal functioning capacity – equal to pre-injury capacity, or ideally even higher. If you do not rehab fully, and jump back into the same running program with tissues that have lower load bearing capacity than they did before, it is no wonder that the injury reoccurs.

Strength training will increase the load bearing capacity of your muscles and tissues in a way that running can’t. This translates to being able to handle a higher training load, with a reduced chance of injury. Strength training will allow you to run more!

 

Myth:  Strength training will make you big and bulky.

Truth: Strength training will add lean muscle mass. Trust me, as someone who actively tries to gain visible muscle, I would love to be able to run everyday and also have the physique of Hugh Jackman in Wolverine. The reality is that this isn’t what happens when you lift weights unless you train very hard and very specifically.

In distance running, the goal is to get from the start to the finish as fast as possible. For many, weights equal muscles, which equal more mass to carry, and this translates to slower times. There is some truth to the idea that the heavier you are, the slower you will be; however, a gain in lean muscle mass is not the same as a gain in adipose or fatty tissue. Adipose tissue is useless weight that you have to carry, while muscle tissue can help do the work. Think of strength training as adding hands to help do the work.

 

Myth: Strength training takes away from your run training.

Truth: A proper strength routine should add to your run training, not take away from it. Your program should be designed to prepare you for your sport. Running is about efficiency, so a training program designed to strengthen hip extension, arm drive, and rotational core, will make you more efficient in your sport. If you find yourself doing a program that includes biceps curls, ditch it. Favour a program that includes functional movement (i.e., exercises that will carry over into your running ability) over isolated exercises.

You don’t have to spend hours in the gym to get strength benefits. It can mean as little as 30-40 mins 2-3 times per week. Your time in the gym should also shift as your running program shifts, meaning less time doing strength work during the high volume weeks and as you get closer to competition. Strength training is your side dish, while running is your entrée. Neither is complete on its own!

 

Kristen Hansen, BA, CSEP-CPT, PFT-NAIT, NASM-CES, FRCms

New Year, Same You?

Now that we’re a month deep into 2018, there’s a good chance one or more of your planned resolutions for the year have already bombed. Harsh, I know, but statistics for 2017 showed that only 58.4% of people had maintained their resolutions after the first month of the year and that percentage dropped another 13.6% past 6 months. Why is that? Well, there are a few plausible explanations.

Right from the get go, a New Year sets us up to set unrealistic goals. For many people, the month of December stands out as a time we are thrown off our usual routines. Holiday parties, festive dinners, additional time off of work separate December from the other 11 months.  Although the holidays aren’t a relaxing and recuperating time for everyone, the change of pace usually leaves us craving some sort of structure come time the last holiday event finishes. This desire for structure is liberating for many, especially coming from a place of exhaustion and burn-out after the past year of consistent hard work devoted to our jobs, families, and lives in general. The holidays oftentimes serve as a gas tank fill for our mental, emotional, and physical energy tanks left drained from the past year of, well, living on earth. So how does that set us up for failure? Well, this recharged state leads us to feeling on top of the world come January 1st (or maybe January 2nd, once the hangovers have subsided from your New Year’s Eve festivities). So, when you sit down to map out your goals for the coming year, you’re very likely to overshoot what you’re truly capable of and forget about all of the day-to-day stresses that are going to block you from achieving your shiny New Year goals.

So, let me ask you: Are your goals for 2018 realistic? Let me help you figure that out.

Imagine a week in 2017 where several things didn’t go as you planned. Maybe you got stuck in traffic for hours, you had to stay late at work, you forgot your lunch at home, your child played hockey 3 times per week, your basement flooded, your household got attacked by this year’s flu strain…..on, and on, and on!   With all of these events piling up on you, do you truly think you’d make it to the gym seven times for a 2-hour workout and manage to find a reasonable replacement for the healthy prepped meal you left at home? Chances are, your mind will tell you there’s no point in going to the gym because you don’t have the originally planned 2 hours in your day to dedicate to training after having to re-do the project your computer lost, and you’ll end up stress eating three donuts from the staff room because you got hungry and were too distracted to navigate your way to a healthier alternative. If that sounds like a familiar event to you, don’t worry – we’ve all been there.

So, during our time of lofty goal setting and 2018 resolution lists, we must remember: life happens. We all have things that throw us off course. It may sound totally achievable to get in 7 killer workouts and delight in your healthy meal prepped dishes every day when you’re glowing from the extra time off work and delicious holiday treats, but realize you aren’t always going to be living the post-holiday high. Sure, it’s great to aim high and have great expectations for yourself. However, a week where you’re blown completely off track is likely to damage your self-efficacy and confidence and, ultimately, derail your big plans.

So, next time you sit down to map out the steps you are going to take towards your goals, make sure you can check off those steps more often than you can’t. On weeks where you’re feeling on top of the world, do more! On weeks where life is a little more hectic, at least you have those small, achievable steps and habits you can still take towards the bigger picture.

 

Reference

Statistic Brain. (January 1, 2017). New Years Resolution Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/.

 

 

SVPT Trainer, Kelly Gifford

What is the SVPT way?

Welcome to our first blog!  We are excited to be starting a blog and video blog series to share what we are about, and what we do.

You will see in our posts we hashtag #theSVPTway.  Maybe it’s time to explain.

Simply put, #theSVPTway is our fitness philosophy and our culture.  It’s what sets us apart from our competitors and makes us #1 in Edmonton.

We believe in bringing out the potential of every individual who walks through our doors.  We recognize that not everyone is at the same ability level, and that progressions and regressions need to be made accordingly. We do this by simply caring about our folks as people first.  Every person is different, and every person has different needs, goals and lifestyles.

We start by building you from the ground up.  Every well-built house has a solid foundation.   Our foundation starts with teaching the basics, and that’s where we separate ourselves from those who simply deliver workouts rather than teaching movement.  But our philosophy doesn’t stop with just teaching the basics, it then becomes about mastery, and doing these ordinary things extraordinarily well.

It’s not about being flashy or sexy, cool, or stylish – it’s about these core fundamental skills, built around challenging fitness fun.  Mastering the basics prevents injury, slows aging and builds a body that allows you to live a fuller life. When you move better, you live better.  Isn’t that what fitness is supposed to be about? Living a better and more full life, because you are physically able to.

The SVPT way is not a rigid system that stifles creativity and fun.  While our fitness philosophy is about mastering the basics to build a foundation, once that base competency is there, it opens up a huge selection of movements to then explore and play with.  Fitness can be challenging, as it should be, but it can also be enjoyable.  It’s our job to make sure you enjoy what you are doing and teach you why you are doing it.  Don’t get us wrong, teaching proper movement is serious business, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be both fun and rewarding!

When you walk through the doors of SVPT, you feel welcome, motivated and inspired to become a better version of YOU, in a training environment that is not intimidating or exclusive.   No matter what your fitness level is, you will feel like you belong there because all fitness levels train together – from beginner to athlete.   Every client of ours is on their own journey and we have created a positive environment for you to get there.

We welcome you to give #theSVPTway a try and see what we are all about.