Category Archives for "Training"

Are You Getting, or Growing?

Another New Year has started, and with it comes one indisputable fact; You, and I, are getting older. 

But ask yourself this question.

Do I want to merely get older, or do I want to grow older?

There is an enormous difference.

As long as you are above ground you are going to get older. But growing older is an entirely different animal. 

There are a few things I want to grow in as I get older. 

Kindness. Wisdom. Grace. Understanding. Compassion.

In the physical realm I want to keep growing as well. It's a well known fact that even older adults can increase their muscle mass and mobility. I want to stay as strong as I can for as long as I can. My training goals in the last 10 years have definitely changed. Sure I still want to look good in the mirror, but it's become more than that. I look around and see people my age (53 - not all that old, unless you are teenager) losing physical abilities and capabilities. And I am not talking about feats of endurance or strength. Losing their ability to stand up straight, or get up and down off the floor, or walk a few flights of stairs. In their fifties!

That's why my goal is to keep my legs strong and my hips mobile for as long as I can. Don't lose your legs! It's why keeping my shoulders intact and my knees healthy is so important. 

Here's the rub; As you age you need to work harder at these things than you used to. CONSISTENT strength training and mobility work. Good nutrition and sensible supplementation. You can't stop any of those things, even when it's uncomfortable, you don't feel like it, and it hurts.

The alternative is to just passively atrophy, lose strength and mass, get weaker, and lose basic abilities. Doesn't sound like fun to me.

It's your choice. Get. Or Grow.

Choose Wisely,

Coach Dean

Being Engaged In Life

I recently watched an interview with Colin Milner, CEO of the International Council on Active Aging, and I was inspired by listening to this really smart and passionate man talk about what he has learned being on the front lines of active aging. I would highly encourage you to watch this short interview included at the end of this article (click the pic). Here are some highlights that really stuck out to me. 

1. Active Aging is about "Being Engaged In Life". It doesn't mean you have to climb mountains or run farther. It's about getting off the sidelines and participating in this crazy wonderful thing called life. 

2. While government involvement can be important at times, it about "changing lives, not passing a bill". I love that. What can we do personally to stay healthier and help others get active? 

3. It's about the individual saying "Me, I want to live a better life, here's what I am going to do to achieve that. Very few people can change your mind without you participating." BOOM!

4. "Start Moving, Don't Stop". Colin cuts through all the confusion about exercise with those four simple words. Get active, stay active. Start small, start big. Doesn't matter. Just start, and never stop.

5. "You Earn Your Health Span". You want to be healthier? You have to work for it. Health is not in a pill or potion. Health is earned with movement, eating nutritious food, and getting good sleep. Those things all take some effort. And you get to control that effort. No really, you do. 

Call this a sales pitch if you want, but here's my ask. What are YOU doing as an individual to get and stay engaged in life? Many of you train with us as a part of your efforts, and for that we are grateful. Do you know someone else that needs a little Cr8 Fitness in their life? We would sure appreciate you sharing how we have helped you, and then send 'em our way.  

Or maybe you have been on the fence for awhile about getting started with us. NOW is the time to take the leap and get started. 2019 is almost over, 2020 sits wide open in front of us. Take action now and fill out a training registration. 

Being Engaged In Life Starts With You. And if you let it, it starts today.

Make It Happen!

- DC

Thanksgiving Week Schedule Here!

It's almost unbelievable that the Holidays are upon us, and for me they really start with Thanksgiving. I just love everything about it. Food, family and football about sums it up!

Just a heads up on our schedule for next week. I know y'all are busy (so are we), but you'll want to make plans for your training. Yes, it IS that important. 🙂

Training Schedule Thanksgiving Week:

Mon, Tue, Wed: Regular Training Schedule All Classes

Thu, Fri: No Training

Sat: World Famous "Pies Off Thighs" Post-Thanksgiving Day All Family Training at 8:00am

If you have never been to Pies Off Thighs, you don't want to miss it!

Nancy and I are so grateful for you being part of our fitness family. You have been patient with us as the house is being built and I have no been in the gym as much, so thank-you. I feel very inadequate when trying to express how much it means that you put your trust in us and choose to train here.

I've been reading the board of all the things YOU are thankful for, and I am reminded we need to count our blessings more often!

Pacing yourself is one thing…

The picture below from our friends at Growing Bolder made me laugh. A geriatric Bruce Wayne and Peter Parker is just not a pretty picture, right?

I've never really been one to "pace myself" very much. The alternative approach I prefer is to "work hard...rest hard(er). And when I neglect the second part of that for too long, there are consequences. Recovery is important, and as you age you need more rest and recovery. 

BUT...

You have to consistently do something to rest and recover from. As we age FREQUENCY of exercise is actually shown to be more important than INTENSITY of exercise. In other words how often we exercise is more important than how much weight we lift. As we get into our fifties and beyond the whole "use it or lose it" concept is heightened. Missing workouts is very counterproductive; strength and mobility start to be lost after only a couple weeks. And we all know how hard it is (and how sore we are) when we miss time and then try to get started again.

So here's my encouragement to you. The holidays are coming. You are going to be busy - you already know this. DON'T miss your training. YOU are as important as anything else that is tugging at you. My goal is as that as we age together, we defy the "normal" and do what it takes to stay active, mind, spirit and body. 

Never stop climbing (and smashing through) walls.

Keep Making It Happen!

- DC

Lessons from My Uncle

My mom brought my Uncle David over for a visit yesterday, and it was a great time. David lives in California, and I haven't seen him for 5 years or so. He was in New England for his 60th high school reunion, to put some affairs in order, and to visit mom and some friends.

He and mom came in and checked out the house we are building, and it was really fun for me to watch a guy who has been around a while just "get" what we are trying to accomplish with the design and layout. We talked about everything from the nautical look of the railings (and why) to the viability of solar powerin the Northeast, to the type of floor we chose to use. One of the lessons I learned is that those who have gained wisdom don't necessarily have all the answers, but they know how to ask really good questions. 

After the tour of the house we sat down on the couch and I just got to listen to him. Sure, he talked about some of the ailments that come with age, but we decided that getting old could be a lot better than the alternative (NOT getting old, if you catch my drift). He shared stories from his youth, and I learned some things about my mom's side of the family I never knew. We talked about the land he owns in Canterbury. He told me what he's up to now back home; how he helps his neighbors with their electrical issues, and his friend with the big chicken farm that he works on. We talked about tractors (which I have been looking at), what he has, and what I should look for and why. Another lesson I learned; Experience matters, but using that experience in the service of others matters more. And another; having the humility to actually listen to those with experience is pretty big too.

And in spite of all the health issues, and the advancing age, I also witnessed the fruits of staying active in mind and body for his 78 years. As he was leaving with my mom, I watched him head around the north end of the gym, disappear for a brief second, and then almost instantly reappear at the south end of the gym. He was headed behind the new house to go take a look at the backhoe we had been talking about. But what struck me was how fast he was moving, over pretty rough terrain (that part of the yard is pretty torn up from the construction and tree roots I have dug up). This is a guy who is clearly reaping the benefits of not sitting on his behind during his retirement years. The lesson I was reminded of; use it or lose it. 

Such a great visit, such good lessons.

So what does all this have to do with you? While we could the lessons I learned many different ways, here's one way we could apply it to taking care of ourselves and aging proactively.

Ask Good Questions. A really good question to consider; what positive thing can I do today, even right now, that will make my tomorrows brighter? Get more sleep, go to training, train hard once I get there, learn to cook something new? 

Learn from Experience. Don't be a know-it-all. Be a lifelong learner. And when you learn something new that matters, apply it and keep applying it.

Use It or Lose It. Getting older? Celebrate, don't whine about the aches and pains. I went to a funeral of a 53 year old friend a couple weeks ago. I am guessing you don't want to trade places with him. And while you are here, make the most of it. Get off the couch. Get active. Live, love and laugh. You are an amazing human being with talents and gifts the world needs. Don't hide them, use them. Enjoy the journey, even though so often it is hard. There is a big difference between being alive and really living.

Thanks Uncle David. Let's not wait another 5 years to do it again.

- DC

Take The “Toenail” Fitness Test

Can you cut your own toenails?

What is the matter with you Dean?

Long story, but stick with me here.

To be honest, I never even had thought about it before. Of course I can cut my own toenails!

So how did my new found interest in foot hygiene get started? When I started reading the book "Spring Chicken: Stay Young Forever (or die trying)".

The author, Bill Gifford, is talking about some of the things that indicate how well we are aging, and how such things are tested. One of those tests we have talked about a number of times, balance. Specifically the ability to balance on each foot for 30 seconds each is a validated measure of aging. Blah, Blah. Heard it all before.

But the toenail thing caught my attention.

He was talking about another huge indicator of where we are in the aging process; Mobility.

And while we've talked about that too, I just had never thought about it in quite those terms. Not being able to touch my toes? I've had that challenge my whole life.

But not even having the flexibility to reach and cut my own toenails? Is that even a real thing?

Ummm yeah, it is.

That frightens me. I don't want to have to subject someone else to that task, never mind anything having to do with other bodily functions and hygiene tasks.

And for those of you who like your pedicures, I get it. But not being able to cut your own toenails is different than enjoying a bit of pampering.

It's funny how your goals and priorities change as you get older. I mean I still want to hike and bike, and lift heavy weights. 

But now I've added to that list.

I want to be able to cut my own toenails until the day I drop dead, which will hopefully be doing something really fun. 

And it ain't going to happen on it's own. I know that I am going to have to consistently work on my strength, balance, mobility, and flexibility; now and always.

I don't have the luxury of taking days, and weeks, and months off from training at a time. The older we get the faster we lose those things and the harder they are to get back. Gotta stay ahead of the curve.

Nobody wants to cut your nasty toenails either. 🙂

We are in this getting older thing together. So keep making it happen.

Don't quit. Don't ever give up. Don't ever stop trying.

We are with you.

- DC

Settle Down and Pay Attention (to your strength training)

dumbbell

Anybody that walks into a gym to train for the first time, or the first time in a long time, deserves a lot of credit.

Unfamiliar place, all these weird looking instruments of torture, people standing around gawking at the "newbie". And dumbbells? That's how you are left feeling sometimes. Who needs that mess? (In reality nobody, which is why Cr8 Fitness is the real "anti-gym")

All that weirdness, and you did it anyway - really cool. As for results? In the beginning just about any workout will start to get you at least some results. But regardless of how long you have been training, you need to pay attention if you want to make the most progress, the quickest. 

Good training design incorporates progression. "Progressive Strength Training" isn't some political thing, it simply means that you need to be continually increasing key training variables, usually volume and/or intensity, to continue making progress.

And that's why you need to settle down and pay attention when you are training. For instance the most common "progressive" variable our training cycles here at Cr8 Fitness uses is volume. The work periods increase over the 4-6 week cycle; from 30 seconds to 60 seconds, or even more at times. That's the easy part for you, at least from a "paying attention" standpoint. Load selection, or how much you are lifting, is where we miss the boat at times. If you are not paying attention and tracking, at least mentally, how much you are lifting on a weekly basis you will not progress as fast. 

Here's an example why it matters:

Let's say we are working on single arm overhead presses. In week one we do 30 second sets, and you use a 30 pound dumbbell. Our speed of movement is 3-1-x, so you are getting about 6 reps per side. The next week you come in, notice we are doing 45 second sets, so you drop the weight to 20 pounds, because the work period is longer (not an ideal strategy, but I'll get to that). Or you simply don't remember what you used last week. In the 40 second set you get about 8 reps. That's more reps than last week, so that' good, right? Well if you add up the total work you are doing, in week one you lifted 180 pounds total (6x30), and in week two you lifted 160 pounds (8x20). You see where I am going with that? Even though the set took longer, you did less work. Dropping back only to 25 pounds would have been better, and in reality staying at 30 would have been the best strategy. 

The take home on this? You have to know week to week what load you have been using, so you can track how much work you are actually doing. This is the key to progress. Smartphone, moleskin notebook, permanent marker on your forearm. Any of those will work. 🙂

I was talking to another "athlete of aging" this weekend and we were commenting that the older you get, the faster you have to peddle just to stay in place. It may not be "fair", but it is pretty accurate. And you need to keep track of how fast you are peddling somehow. Speedometers on a car, thermostats on an oven, numbers on the scale. They all give us crucial information, and let us know how we are tracking and if and when we need to make adjustments. Keeping track of how much you are lifting does the same thing.

And to put it bluntly, that's about the only thing you are responsible for when you train here, besides showing up. Our training design and coaching takes care of the rest; proper exercise selection, coaching your form, number and length of sets, rest periods, macro and micro-recovery strategies, the whole gamut. This one piece is where we have "co-responsibility", which is why we are consistently encouraging you to increase load, where appropriate. (Coach Nancy is SO mean, right?) 🙂

We have a recovery week coming up next week (July 1-5). This too is by design as part of your overall plan. You can check out why here: You Are Not A Unicorn. Recovery Matters.

So now that you know, how are you going to keep track? It might just be the piece you have been missing to making even better progress.

Need some help? That's what we are here for!

See you soon, 

Coach Dean

My New Favorite Website

Besides Cr8Fitness.com of course! 🙂

Seriously though, a huge shout out to my friend and fellow gym owner Ryan Morgan of Pursuit Fitness in St. Louis for turning me on to GrowingBolder.com

From the very first time I visited I knew I had found a kindred spirit in the founder, Marc Middleton.

Why?

Here's one reason:

As Athletes of Aging (and if you are reading this you are one or want to be one 🙂 ) you know how important exercise is. But what if you haven't exercised in decades? Are in bad health and lousy shape? Is it still possible?

These two stories show us the answer is a resounding "YES!"

Sister Madonna Buder (The Iron Nun) started in her 40's and is now the oldest living person, man or woman, to finish an Ironman Triathlon when she did it at the age of 82.

And while you (like me) may never dream of being on a bodybuilding stage at age 75, you'll find Jim Schaeffer didn't either, and then decided "What have I got to lose?"

Stories like these give the little extra push I need sometimes when I just don't "feel like it".

If Sister Madonna and Jim Schaeffer can do it - Why can't we?

If you are ready, click here to claim your free 2-week tryout.

Let's Make It Happen!

- Coach Dean

Can You Enjoy Life Without These Things?

How would you feel if you could not do these things?

Stoop/Kneel

Reach Overhead

Write

Walk 2-3 Blocks

Lift 10 lbs.

Any of These

Check out this chart from our partners at InBody and the CDC:

Does this chart surprise you? Scare you?

I don't care what the average teenager thinks, 65 years of age is not that old. 

Certainly not to have your quality of life degraded to the point you can't walk a couple of blocks. Maybe there are a couple on there you have trouble with?

I have some great news!

It's never too late to get started. That's not just me saying it, I see it every day. Women and Men who have not exercised for years absolutely killing it in the gym. Not the first day, maybe not even the first year. But they keep with it and make it happen. Seeing it is my favorite part of being a coach. Sometimes there are very good reasons you are not able to do some of those things listed above, but I have never seen someone who dug in and really tried to improve their physical well-being fail to do so. 

As I share this I am approaching my 53rd birthday. I am grateful that I can still do all the things listed above. But I also know that this is not the time to start "taking it easy" when it comes to maintaining my health and fitness. As our bodies get older they actually require more appropriate activity and better recovery strategies to make incremental gains, or even just stay the same. Nobody said life was fair!

I've had the privilege to train some older adults in their 70's, and they are amazing. In fact they give me hope that I too can continue to lift heavy things and be active as I reach those years. I also have an advantage to younger coaches when training older clients; I know firsthand what a body in its sixth decade goes through, what it feels like after a heavy training session, and how it needs to recover. It ain't getting any easier, but it is being done every day, by people just like you.

I would invite you to read the entire article from InBody "Strength Training Has No Age Limit"

But even if you don't, here's the take home quote from the article.

Resistance training in older adults also increases power, reduces the difficulty of performing daily tasks, enhances energy expenditure and body composition, and promotes participation in spontaneous physical activity.

Sounds pretty good to me!

It really is never too late to start, so if you have been putting it off, now is the time. If you want to be an Athlete of Aging, you gotta get in the game, and you gotta play to win.

We can help.

If you are ready to get into the game, check out your Free 2-Week Tryout Right Here

Let me know how I can help.

Coach Dean

What Kind of Exercise?

In part 3 of our "Athletes of Aging" series we learned that exercise truly is the best medicine.

Do you remember why?

  • Exercise is rarely contraindicated. Almost everyone can do some form of exercise
  • Side effects? If you are training smart and with injury prevention in mind, some soreness from time to time is about it.
  • Exercise goes to the root cause, not merely covers symptoms.
  • And insurance can't tell you "no, you can't have that".

But what kind of exercise should we be doing?

First let's take a look at what a comprehensive exercise program should be trying to accomplish. Our exercise program should have a positive health effect on all the systems of the body we have discussed in prior articles:

Musculoskeletal

Cardiovascular

Metabolic

Neurological

Psychological

There are also the specific physical qualities we are trying to influence with our exercise program:

Strength

Power

Speed 

Endurance

Flexibility (to include mobility & stability/balance)

Body Composition

And there are various different types of exercise, or exercise modalities we can use to accomplish our health, performance and proactive aging goals, broadly categorized as:

Strength (Progressive Resistance) Training

LSD (Long Slow Distance) Training

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)

or various combinations of those.

If you like biking, running, or swimming, you are going to gravitate toward LSD. If you prefer more time efficiency and are more of a sprinter than jogger, HIIT will probably be your preference. Either are a very positive step in the right direction. However neither one of those is complete enough, by themselves, to check off all the boxes of a well designed training program that affects all health systems AND addresses all the physical qualities. In fact Strength Training is the only one of the three which in isolation can influence the entire spectrum, even endurance (albeit to a lesser degree).

The real magic comes when combine strength training with either LSD or HIIT, with Strength Training and HIIT having the advantage when it comes to the time factor, which is huge for most of us. 

For those of you endurance junkies, it is also wise to consider this; 99.9% of you, by the time you are in your sixties and seventies, will just not be able to run 10 or more miles anymore. In fact it is likely even a 5k will be out of reach. But you will still need muscle, healthy bones, balance, mobility and yes, a measure of endurance. You don't want to be the one who falls and can't get up, and all those things will matter in accomplishing a task your probably take for granted now. 

It is no accident that when we design training programs here at Cr8 Fitness we focus on the exercise modalities that are the most comprehensive and are also time efficient. It's why we incorporate Strength (progressive resistance) Training and Metabolic Resistance Training (HIIT) into our Program design.

I use the words Training and Program very purposefully. Exercise and Training are not the same thing. Any type of activity that gets you up and moving can be considered a form of exercise; push mowing the grass, playing golf, walking the dog (or cat, if that's your thing). But Training is a whole different animal, (a unicorn maybe?)

Training uses specific types of exercise and manipulates variables (load, speed of movement, rest periods, to name a very few) as part of a long-term effort to improve one or more of the physical qualities.

The program is that long-term effort designed in a way to deliver the training exercises at the right dose at the right times, in order to elicit a positive response as measured by improvements in the physical qualities.

"Going To The Gym" and a "Training Program" are not necessarily, and not usually, the same thing. Good program design is rarer still. The necessity of good program design is why I am not a fan of gyms that offer a "pick and choose" menu of classes that you can drop in and out of at any time. Exercise - yes. Training - not likely. I'm too old to waste my time and effort in the gym on things that are less than optimal at best, and downright harmful at their worst. Injury in the gym may be unavoidable, but it better be rare, and it better not be happening by doing stupid stuff. Life is too short, I'd rather do what works, not just the latest craze.

And when it comes to that, Strength Training is King and Queen, which is why Strength Training rules! 🙂

Get Strong. Stay Strong. Live Strong.

See you next time,

Coach Dean

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