Fit Tip of the Week

Fit Tip
Where's My Ab's
Terry Johnson

Strengthening Abdominal Muscles

Abdominal muscles are naturally weak and small. You may think you can lift piles of weights with just your abs when using a crunch machine loaded with plates.

What’s really happening is that you’re moving that weight with the yanking motion of your shoulders all the way down to your tightly gripped hands. And don’t think your legs aren’t part of the act.

If you want to chisel out your abs, you must lose overall body fat. Forget the loaded down crunch machines and instead do some heavy bench pressing, barbell squats and leg presses, and throw in some mean but brief bursts of sprinting, squat jumps and mountain climbers.

This approach will tear down fat all throughout your body. Grunting on a crunch machine loaded with plates won’t change your physical appearance.

All of that sitting leads to weak abdominal muscles and when that is combined with a workout program that only strengthens certain muscles of the core musculature, muscle imbalances start to develop. When the core muscles are weak or there's an imbalance (say you work your rectus abdominis with crunches but fail to strengthen your TVA), a common side effect is back pain.

All too often individuals are faced with back pain and the prospect of surgery or medication to alleviate the problem. Next time you're at the club talk with a trainer about a structured core exercise program that can help eliminate muscle imbalances and might just get you back to feeling good again!

Call me with any questions. Thanks!

Some thoughts on Barefoot or Minimalist Running - Written by: John Raoux, AP Originally Published in USA Today, May 22, 2012

Swept by the barefoot running craze, ultramarathoner Ryan Carter ditched his sneakers for footwear that mimics the experience of striding unshod.

The first time he tried it two years ago, he ran a third of a mile on grass. Within three weeks of switching over, he was clocking six miles on the road.

During a training run with a friend along a picturesque bike path near downtown Minneapolis, Carter suddenly stopped, unable to take another step. His right foot seared in pain.

"It was as though someone had taken a hammer and hit me with it," he recalled.

Ryan CarterGreg Farris takes a break while wearing a protective boot as he helps set up for a weekend triathlon event in Lakeland, Fla. Farris injured his foot while running in barefoot running shoes.

Carter convinced his friend to run on without him. He hobbled home and rested his foot. When the throbbing became unbearable days later, he went to the doctor. The diagnosis: a stress fracture.

As more avid runners and casual athletes experiment with barefoot running, doctors say they are treating injuries ranging from pulled calf muscles to Achilles tendinitis to metatarsal stress fractures, mainly in people who ramped up too fast. In serious cases, they are laid up for several months.

Many converts were inspired by Christopher McDougall's 2009 best-seller "Born To Run," widely credited with sparking the barefoot running trend in the Western world. The book focuses on an Indian tribe in Mexico whose members run long distances without pain in little more than sandals.

While the ranks of people running barefoot or in "barefoot running shoes" have grown in recent years, they still represent the minority of runners. Some devotees swear they are less prone to injuries after kicking off their athletic shoes though there's no evidence that barefoot runners suffer fewer problems.

In some cases, foot specialists are noticing injuries arising from the switch to barefoot, which uses different muscles. Shod runners tend to have a longer stride and land on their heel compared with barefoot runners, who are more likely to have a shorter stride and land on the midfoot or forefoot. Injuries can occur when people transition too fast and put too much pressure on their calf and foot muscles, or don't shorten their stride and end up landing on their heel with no padding.

Podiatrist Paul Langer used to see one or two barefoot running injuries a month at his Twin Cities Orthopedics practice in Minneapolis. Now he treats between three and four a week.

"Most just jumped in a little too enthusiastically," said Langer, an experienced runner and triathlete who trains in his barefoot running shoes part of the week.

Bob Baravarian, chief of podiatry at the UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, Calif., said he's seen "a fair number" of heel injuries and stress fractures among first-timers who are not used to the different forces of a forefoot strike.

"All of a sudden, the strain going through your foot is multiplied manifold" and problems occur when people don't ease into it, he said.

Running injuries are quite common. Between 30 to 70 percent of runners suffer from repetitive stress injuries every year and experts can't agree on how to prevent them. Some runners with chronic problems have seized on barefoot running as an antidote, claiming it's more natural. Others have gone so far as to demonize sneakers for their injuries.

Pre-human ancestors have walked and run in bare feet for millions of years often on rough surfaces, yet researchers surprisingly know very little about the science of barefoot running. The modern running shoe with its cushioned heel and stiff sole was not invented until the 1970s. And in parts of Africa and other places today, running barefoot is still a lifestyle.

The surging interest has researchers racing for answers. Does barefoot running result in fewer injuries? What kinds of runners will benefit most from switching over? What types of injuries do transitioning barefoot runners suffer and how to prevent them?

While some runners completely lose the shoes, others opt for minimal coverage. The oxymoron "barefoot running shoes" is like a glove for the feet designed to protect from glass and other hazards on the ground. Superlight minimalist shoes are a cross between barefoot shoes and traditional sneakers — there's little to no arch support and they're lower profile.

Greg Farris decided to try barefoot running to ease the pain on the outside of his knee, a problem commonly known as runner's knee. He was initially shoeless — running minutes at a time and gently building up. After three months, he switched to barefoot running shoes after developing calluses.

Halfway through a 5K run in January, he felt his right foot go numb, but he pushed on and finished the race. He saw a doctor and got a steroid shot, but the pain would not quit. He went to see another doctor, who took an X-ray and told him he had a stress fracture.

Farris was in a foot cast for three months. He recently started running again — in sneakers.

"I don't think my body is made to do it," he said, referring to barefoot running.

Experts say people can successfully lose the laces. The key is to break in slowly. Start by walking around barefoot. Run no more than a quarter mile to a mile every other day in the first week. Gradually increase the distance. Stop if bones or joints hurt. It can take months to make the change.

"Don't go helter skelter at the beginning," said Dr. Jeffrey Ross, an associate clinical professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and chief of the Diabetic Foot Clinic at Ben Taub General Hospital in Houston.

A year and a half ago, Ross saw a steady stream — between three and six barefoot runners a week — with various aches and pain. It has since leveled off to about one a month.

Ross doesn't know why. It's possible that fewer people are trying it or those baring their feet are doing a better job adapting to the new running style.

There's one group foot experts say should avoid barefoot running: People with decreased sensation in their feet, a problem common among diabetics, since they won't be able to know when they get injured.

Harvard evolutionary biologist Daniel Lieberman runs a lab devoted to studying the effects of running form on injury rates. He thinks form matters more than footwear or lack of — don't overstride, have good posture and land gently.

In a 2010 study examining different running gaits, Lieberman and colleagues found that striking the ground heel first sends a shock up through the body while barefoot runners tend to have a more springy step. Even so, more research is needed into whether barefoot running helps avoid injury.

"The long and the short of it is that we know very little about how to help all runners — barefoot and shod — prevent getting injured. Barefoot running is no panacea. Shoes aren't either," said Lieberman, who runs barefoot except during the New England winters.

Carter, the ultramarathoner, blames himself for his injury. Before he shed his shoes, he never had a problem that kept him off his feet for two months.

In April, he ran his fourth 100-mile race — with shoes. Meanwhile, his pair of barefoot running shoes is collecting dust in the closet.

3 Upper-Body Moves to Get Rid of Bat Wings

Summer is just around the corner and there's nothing sexier than a flirty sundress when temperatures start to rise. Alas, if you're one of the countless women covering up because of less-than-tight upper arms, you're not alone.

"Many women suffer from 'bat wings' because of biology so, without regular toning, fat deposits tend to gravitate there," says Jennifer Williams, founder of Pop Physique, the L.A.-based barre studio frequented by Hollywood celebs including Liv Tyler and Zooey Deschanel.

Luckily, toning up your triceps for warm weather isn't by any means a lost cause. "Arm toning is an essential part of Pop Physique," says Williams. "We spend a good part of every class utilizing various isometric holds to create the burn that turns into beautifully sculpted, lean muscles."

To get movie-star results at home, incorporate these three moves into your regular routine three to four times a week. "Using resistance will help you create muscle without creating bulk," says Williams. "Stick to this routine and the results can be phenomenal!"


Tricep Squeezes

[Note: May use optional 2-pound weights] Take your arms behind you and bend your elbows high behind you (top). Extend your arms straight back from there. Turn palms to face each other and squeeze your upper arms in towards one another (bottom). Squeeze the triceps in towards the body. This is a small movement! Repeat this bend, extend, squeeze pattern 16 times.


In and Up

Begin in the same start position as triceps squeezes (top). Keep your arms extended straight back at a 45-degree angle with palms facing towards each other maintaining your inward squeeze. This time, reach your triceps up towards the ceiling (bottom). Continue lifting reaching higher every time. Repeat 16 times.


Microbend and Stretch

Return to the original start position (top) lifting your elbow and then lengthening it straight behind you and repeating in tiny bends. Continue to squeeze your upper arms inward as you bend then lengthen your arms straight (bottom). This movement should be very small but you should feel it in your triceps. Repeat 5 times slowly then 10 times faster.

Fit Tip

Stretching for Skiers

Stretching all parts of the body is crucial before any workout, and skiing is no exception. Before heading for the lift, you may want to pay particular attention to these certain areas by doing yoga or pilates stretches:

THIGH MUSCLES: Your upper legs work like shock absorbers in skiing. By stretching your quadriceps (front of thighs) and hamstrings (back of thighs), your body will be better prepared to handle bumps and mogels.

SHOULDERS: Stretches can help improve shoulder rotation and overall performance.

HIPS: Because they rotate the lower body, flexible hips are critical.

Fit Tip

The Sugar Verdict

Sugar has been blamed for everything from hyperactivity to heart disease. Yet despite their efforts to pin the rap on this supposed villain, scientists have been unable substantiate many of the claims against sugar.

Complex carbohydrates (found in starches, whole-grain breads, vegetables) do contain sugar, but it's the simple-carbohydrate sugars -- often found in candies, cakes, white breads, and some fruits -- that cause nutritionists the most concern.

Some of the verdicts on sugar to date:

Sugar doesn't in and of itself cause obesity. But if your calorie intake increases because you're indulging in sugary foods, you're going to gain weight. Many sugary foods have little nutritional value. So if you're eating them instead of more healthful foods, you could be cheating yourself out of important vitamins and minerals.

Medical studies have so far failed to establish a direct link between sugar intake and these conditions: cardiovascular disease, hypertension, hyperactivity in children.

Sugar is associated with tooth decay. Sugar has been associated with lower levels of "good" blood cholesterol.

Sugary foods eaten before a workout or athletic competition can provide energy.

Fit Tip


The National Academy of Sports Medicine says in order to decrease body fat you should be training your body with higher repetitions and lower intensity more often. The key is, consistency. “More often” not “more intense” They go on to say that the research indicates training at least 1-2 times per week is sufficient in only maintaining physical, physiological, and performance improvements that were previously achieved.

So what’s the plan?
You want to see results, more than just maintaining where you are currently, but you don’t have time to get into the gym for two hours every day of the week? I have switched my clients to 30-minute sessions more often throughout the week. Instead of once or twice a week for an hour, they are now coming in three to four times a week for 30 minutes. And they are seeing even better results than before! Just as exciting for me is that they are finding time to workout on their own in addition to our workouts together.

So, make time in your day for at least 30 minutes of exercise six days a week – at the club, at home, around the park, in the pool, playing with your kids – just get it in. And then rest, relax, and get back to it consistently hard next week. Steady climbing, no more peaks and valleys.

Alcohol and Your Weight

If your social life is on the upswing and you find yourself having a few more cocktails than usual, it could be working against your efforts to lose weight. Alcohol is full of calories! It can be the difference between weight loss, maintenance or gain. For example, one glass of beer or wine can contain close to 100 calories. If you're having a couple of drinks with your pals a few nights a week, you could be adding 1,000 unexpected calories to your diet.

Also, alcohol acts as an appetite stimulant, and thus can lead you to indulge in foods that aren't consistent with your diet plan. So, if you're dieting, keeping your alcohol intake to a minimum can help you keep your eating habits on track.

Fit Tip

A Little Dehydration Has a Big Impact

If you want to perform at your best in sport or exercise, you've got to keep your body adequately hydrated throughout your activity. Sweating away even just 1 percent of your body weight (a pound and a half for a 150-pound person) can place added stress on your cardiovascular system. Losing 2-3 percent of your weight can impair your physical performance. Dehydration can also affect your mental sharpness and hand-eye coordination putting you at a disadvantage on the court, playing field or other competitive arena. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends the following guidelines for keeping the body hydrated:

  • BEFORE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY: Drink at least 16 ounces of fluid about two hours beforehand.
  • DURING ACTIVITY: Drink 5 to 10 ounces every 15 to 20 minutes.
  • AFTER ACTIVITY: Drink 16 ounces for each pound of body weight lost during activity.

Improve Your Health, Improve Your Mood

Regular exercise has been associated with more health benefits than anything else known to man. Studies show that it reduces the risk of some cancers, increases longevity, helps achieve and maintain weight loss, enhances mood, lowers blood pressure, and even improves arthritis. In short, exercise keeps you healthy and makes you look and feel better.

Fit Tip by
Terry Johnson
Terry Johnson

Core Work to Reduce Back Pain

Some studies estimate that 4 in 5 people will suffer from some form of lower back pain in their lifetime. Lower back pain is typical in individuals who spend a great deal of time sitting at a desk or in those who do not have a balanced core exercise program.

All of that sitting leads to weak abdominal muscles and when that is combined with a workout program that only strengthens certain muscles of the core musculature, muscle imbalances start to develop. When the core muscles are weak or there's an imbalance (say you work your rectus abdominis with crunches but fail to strengthen your TVA), a common side effect is back pain.

All too often individuals are faced with back pain and the prospect of surgery or medication to alleviate the problem. Next time you're at the club talk with a trainer about a structured core exercise program that can help eliminate muscle imbalances and might just get you back to feeling good again!

Call me with any questions. Thanks!

Fit Tip by
Cindi Herdt Clarke
Certified Clinical Flexibility Coach
Terry Johnson

Can You Really Stretch Wrong?

Feeling like you can’t perform like you would like in your workouts?  Perhaps you aren’t gaining size with your lifting routine or just maintaining the size you feel  is right for  you.  Do you keep getting injured?  Did you know that the traditional way of stretching –bounce, hold, hurt, hold longer – actually makes muscles tighter and more prone to injury?  You should look into Active-Isolated Stretching!  The AI -stretching technique was developed by researchers, coaches and athletic trainers and is now not just for Olympic athletes, it is for all of us.

AIS is great, first you prepare to stretch one isolated muscle at a time.  You stretch it gently – for 2 to 3 seconds – releasing it before it goes into its protective state, then you repeat.  It’s about repetitions and not long holds.

In my experience with clients in the AI-stretching have been so amazing.  I had a woman come to me believing that she needed major hip surgery, when I did her consultation and stretching treatment I showed her that her hips were locked and could be easily unchained with AI-stretching.  This salvaged her skiing, tennis and biking.  She was astounded to realize increases of 40 degrees in her hip range of motion.  I could go on with more testimonies but I would just like to continue with the greatest strength of AI-stretching is its ability to make you feel so much better.  As we age, and we all age day by day, our muscles become increasingly inelastic.  AI-stretching can make substantial improvements in muscle elasticity, adding renewed life and spring into your muscles.

AI-stretching reduces your work load in most sporting activities by removing tightness so you can swing your limbs more freely.  It transports oxygen to sore muscles and quickly removes toxins from muscles, so recovery is faster.  AI-stretching works as a deep massage technique because it activates muscle fibers during stretching.

Check it out and feel better!

Fit Tip by
Terry Johnson
Terry Johnson

Strength Training Benefits for Women

Too often I’ve heard from women at the club that they are afraid to train with weights for fear of “bulking up,” when the reality is that strength training is a key component to a weight loss program and will help you to “tone up.”

The fact is most women lack the higher levels of testosterone needed to produce a significant growth of muscle tissue. What strength training will do is produce a greater caloric burn, which can facilitate weight loss when combined with proper nutrition. In fact, strength training can raise metabolism for up to 48 hours AFTER your workout has finished. Whereas, typical cardio workouts see only a temporary increase in metabolism and quickly return to normal after your session is completed. That means that your seeing the benefits of a strength training session while your sleeping or working in the office the next day.

The next time you head to the gym, think about hitting the weights rather than just the same cardio workout. You might just enjoy things a little more when you know you’ll still be burning calories the next afternoon!

Fit Tip by
Derek Semple
Derek Semple

Train Your Abs for Stabilization And Get Better Results From Your Core Workouts

The vertical orientation of the main abdominal muscle fibers suggest that they are responsible for flexing the spine, which is where we get the basic sit-up or crunch from. However, our abs’ most critical role is to stabilize the spine and, together with the lower back muscles, keep us standing tall. Focusing on good posture and keeping a tight midsection during each exercise is the best way to never have to do another sit-up.

Test Yourself! Get in the PLANK position.

  1. Start by lying face down on the ground.
  2. Place your elbows and forearms underneath your chest.
  3. Prop yourself up to form a bridge using your toes and forearms.

Hold for time, and watch yourself in the mirror. Your hips, lower back, and shoulders should all stay in line. You should be able to easily hold this for an entire minute. Your ultimate goal should be 3 or more minutes.

  • Less than 1 minute: You’ve found your new most hated exercise! Hold the plank for as long as you can. Rest 15 sec then complete the remaining time for 1 minute total. Repeat for a total of 3 sets 2 times a week until 1 minute is a piece of cake
  • 2- 3 minutes: Great Job! Your spine is well protected.
  • 3 + minutes: If you don’t already have a rock hard stomach, you’re on your way!
Fit Tip by
Abigail Rink
M.Ed., M.E.S.
Abigail Rink

Mega Omega Confusion?

We all know that we’re supposed to include Omega fatty acids in our diet. But if you’re like me, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with all the information circulating the supplement aisle….What kind of Omegas are best? 3s? 6s? From which sources? How much is healthy? And more importantly…why?

In the middle of this debate are the most common Omega fats, 3 and 6. The typical mentality of “more is better” may not apply to both of these nutrients, and similar names don’t necessarily mean similar physiological effects. Omegas-3s, found in fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, anchovies, and some kinds of tuna, have been linked to beneficial inflammation reduction pertaining to heart disease as well as dementia. Omega-6 fatty acids, on the other hand, have demonstrated the opposite effect and increase inflammation. The catch here is balancing the amount of Omega-3s consumed in your diet versus the Omega-6s. From an ancestral history view, early man ate an equal amount of each, while today we tend to eat 25 times more Omega-6s than 3s. This imbalance is mainly due to our soybean, safflower, and corn oil consumption. A few modifications in your menu can help even the score: Olive oil keeps the Omega-6 levels low. Try to avoid salad dressings, mayos, pasta sauces, crackers, and breads made with Omega-6 rich corn, safflower, and soybean oils. Beef and eggs from pasture fed livestock contain a lower Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio than cattle and chicken fed corn and soy. Flaxseed is a great source for a precursor from which the body can convert into Omega-3s. Even more benefits of Omega-3s may be immerging from up and coming research. The idea that Omega-3s may reduce depression and improve mental health is currently under investigation due to Omega-3 fat’s ability to maintain brain cell flexibility, an important protein property for efficient function. It is also suggested that Omega-3s may delay cancer development and slow the rate of tumor growth1. So what’s the conclusion? Although you should consult your physician or nutritionist prior, consumption levels of 900 mg – 2,000 mg of Omega-3s per day are the general recommendation, whether it’s from your diet or via supplements. If taking a supplement, check the source of the fats – smaller fish like sardines and anchovies as well as algae sources minimize exposure to toxins. EPA and DHA, specific forms of Omega-3s, have been shown to contain the most health benefits.

1. Rolfes SR, DeBruyne LK, Whitney EN. Life Span Nutrition, 1998 Wadsmorth Publishing Company, 358
2. Gebauer SK, Psota TL, Harris WS, Kris-Etherton PM. N-3 Fatty Acids: Recommendations for Therapeutics and Prevention. Am J Clin Nutr 2006 Jun; 83 (suppl): S1526 – 1535S.
3. Groman RM. New Science Links Food and Happiness. Eating Well Magazine 2010 Jun.
Fit Tip by
Terry Johnson
Terry Johnson

Should you work out on an empty stomach?

Many people believe that working out on an empty stomach will burn more calories and more fat than a workout done after consuming a snack. The premise is that the body will have lower blood sugar levels and this will in turn promote more fat burning. While it is true that you do burn more fat while on an empty stomach, you also break down more muscle tissue at the same time. This causes a negative result for your workouts.

Instead of working out on an empty stomach, try having 8-16 oz. of water 60 minutes prior to your workout and have a snack of 100-300 calories. This will give you carbohydrates that will be energy for the workout so you don't bonk, and the carbs actually help with fat loss. The water will help your muscle to work at optimum levels so you receive the greatest possible benefit from all your hard work. Finally, each individual is different and trying a few different pre-workout snack combinations will help you to find the best plan that works for you!