Winter-Proof Your Workout

Winter-Proof Your Workout

The winter months provide enough challenges with shorter days and stressful commutes in the rain, ice and snow; do not let your fitness goals become victim to the dreary weather. Here are 3 steps for winter-proofing your workout.

1. Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals

S.M.A.R.T. = Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Relevant. Timely.

As you embark on, or continue on, your fitness journey- it is imperative that you set goals. Whether they are short term or long term, these goals should follow some simple parameters. The S.M.A.R.T. system was established by Paul J. Meyer in his book, Attitude is Everything, and it is a wonderful guideline for helping you to choose your own personal fitness goals.

Let’s look at an example of a well thought out goal that uses the S.M.A.R.T. system: “I will be able to do 30 pushups in 60 seconds by my 30th birthday.” First and second, is it Specific and Measurable? Yes, this goal is clear and unambiguous. There are a specific number of pushups that you will be able to execute in a particular amount of time. Third, is it Achievable? Yes, as long as your birthday is not next week and the number of pushups that you can do right now is zero! If you can already do 10 pushups or so and your birthday is a few months away – you can achieve this goal with a proper training schedule. Do not go to extremes because you set yourself up to fail – choose something that is within reach. Fourth, is the goal Relevant? Determine if it is worthwhile to you. If you have been wanting to improve your upper body and core strength, this goal may be a way to help get you there. If you can already do 25 pushups in 30 seconds, maybe you want to reassess this goal or the timing for it. Finally, is this goal Timely? Giving your goal a target date or deadline helps to keep you focused and allows for you to plan. If your goal starts off with, “Someday I might be able to…” You are setting yourself up for failure.

2. Be Held Accountable

Once your goals are set for the winter – share those aspirations with others. If you tell someone else your goal, it increases your chance of successfully completing it. Family, friends, and co-workers are all wonderful catalysts to keep you moving and hold you accountable to your goals. One of them might even want to join you on your quest. These people can also help you to eliminate excuses. Excuses can be crippling to a goal can and destroy any chance you have of achieving success. It is easy to make excuses to yourself, but when you have to give an excuse out loud to someone else- it often sounds silly.

3. Branch out

Try something new. One of the worst things you can do during the winter is get too comfortable with your habits. Enjoying your soy latte from Starbucks™ and performing the same old routine at the gym may not be enough. Find a class or small group training you have not tried before. Sign-up for a session with a personal trainer. Get in the pool for a few laps. Tap into your inner Federer or Williams’ sister and take a tennis lesson. Register for Pilates and find your center. Use a new piece of equipment that you have been curious about, like the TRX. Whatever you choose- challenge yourself. Push yourself beyond your comfort zone and the results just might amaze you.

Bobby Sorensen, Fitness Director, CAC- Silver Lake

Wellness and Thanksgiving

Most of us already know the health risks we all have around Thanksgiving. Even though we all recognize these health risks we seem unable to resist. Face it. It’s nearly impossible to scroll through social media and food websites showing you photos of the most delicious (and possibly the most evil) desserts and comfort food meals you’ve ever seen and not make them.

The cycle starts around Halloween:

  • We increase our calorie intake and, perhaps, gain some weight.
  • We eat foods that we know will not make us feel very good.
  • We increase our consumption of sugars and processed foods…Thank you Aunt Mary and your office co-workers for all the cookies and fudge.
  • Our dinners may lean more toward more comforting foods that may contain a higher fat and calorie count.
  • We over-schedule ourselves and can’t take a walk or go to the gym

According to the Calorie Control Council, the association that’s been around since the 60’s to study calorie intake for the diet food industry, they estimate that the average caloric intake on Thanksgiving Day is 4,500 calories. The average caloric intake on every other day is 2,000.

On Thanksgiving most of us older folks have figured out that we are definitely going to overeat and try to plan our day based on how much LESS uncomfortable we can be this year over previous years.

Here are some suggestions to navigate your Thanksgiving this year:

Start your day active and stay active: You probably don’t have to work today so stretch out and take a brisk walk. Go to CAC in the morning on Thanksgiving. We offer special group classes to prepare you for the day. Don’t sit for long periods of time. Get up and move around if your surroundings allow for it.

Don’t skip breakfast: Eat a normal breakfast and a few snacks before the big meal. You’ll be less likely to consume as many overall calories plus your body will have a much harder time digesting a high calorie meal after skipping your normal meals.

Drink Water: Drinking a large glass of water before your meal can help fill you up and help you feel fuller sooner.

Use a smaller plate: This equals smaller portions in most cases. You can focus on smaller amounts at a time and possibly less calories overall.

Take a walk after your big meal: Many studies suggest that taking a 15 to 30 minute walk after your meal will help aid in digestion and help improve your blood sugar levels

Focus on others: Many organizations and churches need volunteers for helping to feed the less fortunate every Thanksgiving. Putting things in perspective have a way of making your heart fuller than your stomach could ever be.

-Dan Engle, Membership Director, CAC – Silver lake

Tennis for Beginners

How long will it take to learn tennis?

Beginner: “I would very much like to play tennis on a regular basis but, I’ve never played any sports outside of gym class. I don’t expect to ever be a professional. But I’d like to play competitively some day. Just wondering how much I should play per day, how many times per week. Approximately, how long will an average person take to get the hang of the game?”

Former UW baseball star, a NASCAR driver’s dad: “I win – I don’t lose. If I am not first – I am last. What kind of training should I start with? What types of abilities and physical assets should a tennis player have to win?”

The questions are fair – get ready, here are the facts… Tennis is a SKILL-BASED sport. This puts it in the same category as learning other skills like typing, reading, or driving a car. It is true that the more you practice, the better you get, and the faster you›ll learn. However, you want to really stress QUALITY of instruction at the beginning. Tennis lessons are expensive, but you want to get put on the best path possible, because bad habits in tennis are close to impossible to break. You don’t want a friend, who might be a good player, but has no teaching experience, teaching you how to hit like they do. You want to find a teaching pro who specializes in PLAYER DEVELOPMENT. This person can put you on track to maximizing your inherent ability, and can assure that you will become the best player you physically are capable of becoming.

Also, remember that there are really only SIX shots in tennis. Once you are taking lessons and have good fundamental strokes in place, play as much as you can! Experiment and try to play matches and compete. Every ball you hit increases your sensitivity to the ball (your “feel”), and this will give your fundamental stroke more power, spin, depth, and accuracy, as you continue to play.

Something about the “next level”… Do not try to progress to the “next level” until you get the basics down really well: proper, uncompromised stroke technique, how to judge the ball, how to play with an arc, how to vary the speed of the ball, etc. I would very highly recommend attending one of the Bollettieri, Macci, Newcomb, or similar tennis camps, that are available in all regions of the U.S. They typically run in single week sessions and amount to about 9 hours of tennis per day. They are expensive and intense, but the benefits of attending one are tremendous for new or already semi-competitive players. This is where you will learn to be a more competitive player in a relatively short amount of time.

So to answer the question, ”How long will it take?”, you will never master tennis to your satisfaction! Even Federer misses shots, and that is the essence of the challenge in this sport. You will feel satisfied and happy with your playing level, when your technique and skill level will allow you to maximize your athletic ability, in order to win matches. Whatever level that happens to be, depends on your athletic ability, your competitive spirit, and your talent level.

I have played both at the local, low competitive level, and against excellent players from different parts of the world, and nowadays I teach others how to play. Whether as a player or as a tennis teaching pro, I have never shown up to court and felt like I didn’t have something to learn that day!

Enjoy the process of learning the game the best you can be.

Dusko Andreic, Head Tennis Pro, CAC – Pine Lake

Why Triathletes Should Try Masters Swimming

The triathlete may be tempted to avoid a Masters swim group for a number of reasons. Perhaps they feel that Masters groups are for former high school and college swimmers, or perhaps they feel that they should follow their own swim training program, prescribed by a triathlete coach. I’m here to tell you differently, a triathlete in training should absolutely join a masters swim group and here are six reasons why:

1. The Importance of Knowing More Than Freestyle
It’s doubtful that any triathlete will break into butterfly during a triathlon. But, there are actually several benefits to knowing all four strokes. When conditions are rough in the open water, or when an athlete takes in an unexpected gulp of water, swimming backstroke or breaststroke for a minute or two could be a life saver. Getting your head out of the waves for some survival swimming, some sighting or to regain your composure and settle down, could be critical to even completing the event. Another reason to actually swim a few strokes of breaststroke or backstroke during a triathlon is to switch up the muscle groups. If an athlete encounters an unexpected muscle cramp or muscle fatigue during their open water swim, it may be necessary to give those freestyle muscles a rest and switch to breaststroke or backstroke for a portion of the swim. As for butterfly, you probably won’t need this one in the open water, but practicing this stroke in the pool will improve your overall fitness and prepare you for your swim, bike and run.

2. No One Will Push You Harder Than Your Lane Mates
Swimming your triathlon driven workouts in the pool is not only lonely, it is not the best you can do! Even if you follow prescribed intervals, you simply will not push yourself as hard as you would if you were leading a group of 5 swimmers in a set in your lane, or racing the guy next to you in his lane, or trying to keep up with the other 4 swimmers ahead of you in the set in your lane. Bottom line – swim with others and you will train harder!

3. Embrace the Waves
Any triathlete or life-long swimmer enjoys hopping into an empty pool and being the first and only to make waves as you cruise down the lane; no water splashing in the face, no choking, no waves, just you and the clear calm waters. But, in reality, this is not how your triathlon is going to go and it also isn’t how a typical masters swim workout goes. Swimming with others during a masters workout is a great way to embrace the choppy waters and get used to feet in your face and the occasional hand hit.

4. Improve Your Stroke Technique
Swimming speed has been said to be 80% efficiency and 20% fitness. The point here is your stroke technique is critical to your speed. Your swim workouts should focus on improving your efficiency just as much as they focus on improving your strength in the water. Having a masters swim coach to share drills and technique tips is key to your success in the open water.

5. Variety
Let’s face it, swimming laps can be boring. Swimming with a masters program is a great way to keep your swimming interesting. Most programs focus at least 20% of their workouts on drills, utilizing these drills not only helps to improve your technique, it also keeps things fun. Additionally, masters workouts typically include pull buoys, paddles, kick boards, fins and other gizmos. Using these correctly and effectively in a masters workout will add a ton of fun to your swims.

6. Consistency
Be accountable for you swim workouts! Masters programs meet the same times every week, this is one way to help you stick to your workouts and ensure consistency in your training! – Laurie Jones

Please refer to our Pine Lake, or Silver Lake Aquatics Departments for more information on our current Masters Swim Programs.

Exercising Techniques to Ease Joint Pain

It’s hard to describe joint pain to those that don’t know how it feels. Let’s focus on some exercise that may help with easing joint pain and can also help you sleep better at night and feel better the next day.

Rhonda Reininger, associate director of the physical therapy and occupational therapy department at NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases, tells us that “Exercise can be a key component in keeping joint pain at bay. It can also give you more energy and improve your mood. Walking, cycling, swimming, and light weight training done three times a week for 30 minutes can offer these benefits, but check with your doctor to make sure they are safe for you.”

She also recommends that we start with short exercises, avoiding heavy weights, in order to assess how we will feel when we workout. And that if you experience pain for more than an hour or so after, you may have overdone it.

The most important thing to keep in mind when considering exercise with joint pain is to avoid strenuous exercise if it is painful. Try a short walk or easy peddle on a stationary bike instead. Additionally, if you start to feel joint pain during your workout, try changing your position or activity. And, as always, stay hydrated!

Here are some things to consider when exercising with joint pain:

Stretch – Stretching allows your muscles to better take the weight and strain of your workout. Otherwise, they may pass it on to your joints. Here are three easy stretches to get you started (remember — don’t bounce):

Hips – Lying on your back, bend your knees upward then cross one leg over another. Pull them toward your chest for 20 to 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.

Knees and Quads – Kneeling on your right knee, place your left foot ahead of you. Keep that left knee over your left ankle. Hold that position for up 30 seconds and feel the stretch in your right quadriceps. Switch legs and repeat.

Back – Starting on all fours, lift your butt into the air, creating an upside down V with your body. This is a yoga position called “Downward Facing Dog”. Hold this position for up to a minute.

Warm Up – As we get older, our joints and muscles stiffen up and lose some flexibility. After your stretch, go for a short walk of 5-10 minutes.

Cardio – If you’re just starting out, it’s best to first find out where your limits are. Begin with a recumbent stationary bike. If you find that you’re completely comfortable after 10 minutes or so, move to a traditional upright stationary bike. If you start to feel strain in your joints, that’s a good place to stop. Note your progress as you go. Eventually, try moving on to an elliptical or a treadmill.

Yoga and Pilates – The slow, gentle, low-impact activity that Yoga or Pilates provides may be just the thing you need. Yoga and Pilates focuses on, among other things, the mobility, stability and flexibility of joints. Additional benefits include increased body awareness, improved balance and better body alignment. A study by the Arthritis Foundation found that a one hour yoga class, twice each week, helped eased pain and swelling associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

Dive In – As well as reducing the perceived weight of your body, the buoyancy of the water takes much of the impact of a workout off of your joints. The deeper the pool, the better support you get. Water provides resistance. This will build and strengthen the muscle, which (as above) supports and protects your joints.

Hiking with Kids

Enjoy the longer Spring and Summer days with your kids enjoying all the beautiful scenery our Pacific Northwest has to offer. There are so many kid friendly hikes in our area that are breathtaking and would be perfect for an adventure with the whole family. We reviewed some websites, blogs and recommendations from local families for a list of favorite hikes. Most are day trips but some are under three hours and right here in our backyards. This is a great opportunity to teach your kids about nature while getting some activity and setting foundations for an active and healthy lifestyle.

Here are some tips when hiking with kids:

  1. Bring a backpack: Having a backpack with you is crucial. Find something lightweight that an adult or older child could carry. You will want it to have straps that cross your chest for good support. It’s also a good place to store all those treasures they might find.
  2. Pack snacks and water: Make sure to fill a water bottle or two to bring along on your adventure. You will also want some snacks; mixed nuts, raisins, granola bars, trail mix, and energy bars are great to take along.
  3. Wear the right shoes: If you’re hiking near water, you want shoes that are sturdy, but can get wet. If you are hiking near mud or on a long hike, you’ll want to wear socks with a good pair of hiking shoes. Another great idea is to bring a second pair of shoes to leave in the car and change into when you’re done hiking.
  4. Find a good stick: You’ll be finding a lot of fun things on a hike, but a good stick is of utmost importance! It can be used for so many things – as a walking stick, for sword fighting, for poking at plants, pointing at things far away, and more!
  5. Keep a look out: There are so many treasures to search for on a hike. We love to keep our eyes out for the following fun things:
    Plants – Ferns, flowers, and trees make for a diverse forest in Washington State, a great teaching opportunity for young ones
    Bugs – Spider webs and creepy crawling things are all over. Make sure to spot them on your hike.
    Holes – There seems to be a lot of holes from trail to trail. We like to find them and guess what might live inside!
    Critters – Keep your eye out for animals on the trail. We’ll often see squirrels and keep our ears open for the sound of birds.
  6. Watch for things on your path: It’s fun to look for the roots that pop up all over the pathway. When you’re on a hike with lots of trees, you’ll be sure to see the tree roots pop up. Make sure you look out for them and try not to get tripped.
  7. Talk about what to do if you see berries or poisonous plants: Get familiar with common poisonous plants. Make sure to point them out and talk to your kids about NOT picking any berries or leaves off trees and bushes.
  8. Look for the unexpected: It’s the best on a hike when you come upon fallen trees or other unusual sights.
  9. Make sure you bring camera: There are always good photo opportunities on a hike. Take a picture at the top to show your view or even create a few fun photos of your own, like pretending to be a bear on a log!
  10. And last but not least, have fun in NATURE! If you come prepared with the above items and hiking ideas, you’ll be on your way to a fun family hike.

-Camila Bomfim, Programs Director CAC - Pine Lake

Keeping your Teen Healthy and Active

Keeping your teen healthy and active can be a challenge for most of us parents. Many teens would prefer to sit down to a video game, their smart phone or favorite TV show rather than be physically active. The challenge, as a parent, is to find activities outside of the house that they enjoy and be around people that they like. It’s a huge added bonus when they realize that the rules of these sports can be applied to their everyday life.

Here are some ideas for your teen to stay healthy and active while potentially learning many life lessons in the meantime:

Swimming: There are many health benefits to swimming. It’s never too late to take swim lessons if your teen has not yet learned how to swim. There are many health benefits, aside from lowering the risk of drowning, from swimming. It provides increased cardio vascular health, an increase in stamina, flexibility, strength and calorie burning. It is a good social activity as well as a sport. Unlike many other sports there are many fewer injuries associated with it than others and can be enjoyed for a lifetime. Many people that have disabilities or medical conditions that prevents them from doing other sports can enjoy the sport of swimming.

Tennis: Tennis has many benefits for a teenager. It is a great way to spend time with friends and create a healthy competitive spirit. It is also a fantastic opportunity to stay fit by increasing your Cardio Vascular health, improving flexibility, bone density and muscle strength; all of which will aid in reducing risk of heart disease and obesity. Playing tennis helps improve coordination and balance. It provides a good workout for your brain function as well. Tennis requires planning, coordination of different body parts and tactical thinking and etiquette.

Golf: Did you know that walking an 18 hole round of golf is roughly the equivalent of a 5 mile walk? Did you know that you can burn up to 2000 calories if you carry your clubs during the round? Golf also helps develop coordination, balance and muscle strength. It is a great way to socialize with close friends and enjoy the beauty of nature at the same time. Learning the rules of the game will help your teen to learn things like Humility, Respect, Punctuality, and Honor. For the most part it is a self-governed game so Honesty and Gratitude is a huge part of the game as well.

Group Exercise: Group exercise is a very popular way to get your teen to participate in an exercise program. Many studies show that working out with one or more people net more results than if they exercise on their own. There are many different options for all exercise levels. If your teen is just beginning there are introductory classes that teach the basics and allow them to feel more comfortable until they move on to a regular class. Your teen may be more likely to stay interested due to the social environment and the music choices of the class. There is a feeling of acceptance and accountability once they’re accustomed to the class and attend on a regular basis.

Teen years can be challenging on many levels but can also be an amazing opportunity to for them to find an interest or a lifestyle that can last a lifetime.  Introduce them to something outside of their normal routine. They may thank you for it.

Looking to keep your Teens active this summer?

Columbia Athletic Clubs offers Summer Camps for teens as well as younger ages all summer long.

Each week will offer theme-based activities (indoors or outdoors) that typically include arts, science, sports, swimming, and games. We will have all of your kids favorite camps, plus ones thrown into the mix. No matter what the activity, your child will have a great time.

Click here for more information

Four Healthy Exercises To Lower Blood Pressure

First of all, let’s look at some high blood pressure facts from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM):

  • High blood pressure (also referred to as Hypertension) is defined as a chronically elevated blood pressure greater than 140/90 mmHg. Also stated as “one forty over ninety”.
  • Elevation in blood pressure increases chances of a heart attack or stroke
  • More than 75 million Americans have high blood pressure
  • Three out of every four people over age 60 has high blood pressure
  • Many men and women don’t even know they have high blood pressure
  • High blood pressure can be controlled
  • Death rates from heart attacks and strokes in the United States have decreased by 40-60 percent over the last 30 years

That’s good news. And those who are physically active tend to live longer, healthier lives. But let’s explore how you can lower your blood pressure with some simple exercise.

In 2011, the ACSM recommended for healthy adults at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (working hard enough to break a sweat, but still able to carry on a conversation) five days per week. Or 20 minutes of more vigorous activity three days per week. Combinations of moderate and vigorous intensity activity can be performed to meet this recommendation.

The ACSM also states that a well-rounded physical activity program includes Aerobic Exercise and strength training exercise, but not necessarily in the same session. Let’s focus on Aerobic Exercise:

According to the American Heart Association (AMA), with an average weight of either 150lbs or 200lbs, adults can expect to burn the following calories with the following exercises:

Walking at 3mph: 320 – 416 calories/hour

Running at 5.5mph: 660 – 962 calories/hour

Cycling at 12mph: 410 – 534 calories/hour

Swimming at 25yds/min: 275 – 358 calories/hour

Most of us find it difficult to add exercise to our already busy day — even if it will improve our health. However, the physical activity required to lower blood pressure can be added without making major lifestyle changes. The ACSM suggests these simple measures to increase activity as a part of your existing daily activity:

  • Park your car further away so you can add some walk time to and from work
  • Take the stairs, instead of the elevator
  • Take a 10-15 minute walk during your lunch break
  • Choose a restaurant with low-fat, low-cholesterol options and walk to it for lunch
  • Take your children or grandchildren to the park
  • Take a 30-minute window-shopping walk around the mall when weather is bad
  • Wake up 30 minutes earlier in the morning to start your day with exercise (Most people find they look forward to their exercise time!)

You can vary all of these activities to make exercise interesting!

Before You Exercise

The ACSM recommends that, prior to beginning any exercise program, you should see your doctor and ask for an medical evaluation. It’s important for your doctor to clear you for strenuous activity. This keeps them in the loop as to your daily life and goals, but also allows them to provide critical, personal advice on how to go about your activities.

The ACSM warns, “Not all exercise programs are suitable for everyone, and some programs may result in injury. Activities should be carried out at a pace that is comfortable for the user. Users should discontinue participation in any exercise activity that causes pain or discomfort. In such event, medical consultation should be immediately obtained.”

Columbia Athletic Clubs provides everything you need to achieve your health and fitness goals. Talk to a Columbia staff member today!

American College of Sports Medicine

American Heart Association

Achieving your New Year’s Fitness Resolution

January 1st seems to be a magical date in some of our lives. Millions of Americans take this opportunity to decide, with good intentions, to change our unhealthy behaviors and bad habits or just simply want to feel better from the previous year.

Unfortunately, for most of us, our good intentions fade and by March we fall into the same behaviors. So we procrastinate and start to rationalize with ourselves and set the next special date to begin our goals anew. “I’ll start my diet on Monday”, “I’ll start my workout program after ‘Walking Dead-Pizza-Night-Sundays’ are over”  You get the point. Your new starting point leads to another and pretty soon January is on the horizon again.

Here are some tips to help make your 2015 transition to a healthier you more successful:

1. Set smaller goals that are attainable. We have to stay realistic. If exercising more frequently is your goal, schedule 3 or 4 days per week at the gym to start instead of seven. If weight loss is your goal then set weekly or even daily goals of exercise and dietary intake to achieve your much bigger goal.

2. Take more steps to achieve your goal. Go the extra mile when it comes to your everyday life. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. Stand and walk around while you’re on the phone. Park further away when you go shopping. Take your dog for an extra walk per week.

3. Avoid sabotage. Be aware of your environment. If your goal is to get smaller then avoid social settings that revolve around unhealthy food. Instead of meeting friends for a meal, meet them for a brisk walk. Avoid the aisles at the grocery store that tempt you. You know which aisles I’m talking about. Remove those tempting foods from your pantry.

4. Support and accountability. Enlist friends and loved ones that may have the same goal in mind and help one another. Countless studies show that you get far more success from an exercise program when you have a workout partner. They can motivate you and you can motivate them. Hold yourselves accountable.

5. Get help. Stay humble and never assume that you know everything. If you want or need help… get it. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice. There are countless sources in bookstores and on the internet that specialize in what your ultimate goals are. Study up. Hire a personal trainer or coach to help you with proper form to avoid injury.

There are many important things to consider during your New Year’s Resolution process but the main thing to remember is that your unhealthy behaviors didn’t happen overnight and changing them won’t happen overnight either. Your new healthy choices require time to develop into habits. Remember that the changes you seek are for a positive reason so be patient in the process. You’ll love the outcome.

You’re taking care of yourself and that’s always a good thing.

Dan Engle, Membership Director CAC – Silver Lake