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Team 9Fit 2017!

A new year is upon us again! After dealing with some WordPress issues, I have made some long awaited updates to the site. Look for more regular updates soon, with fitness tips!

2016 was a solid year for us! While we are a small program, 9Fit has been used to help athletes here in MN and as far away as Virginia, where I helped a runner with a speed program and got him prepped for a half-marathon. Members of Team 9Fit ran the 2016 Warrior Dash, where we conquered mud and storms to pull through to the finish.

This coming year, we are looking forward to doing even more to stay fit and have fun doing it!

I’ll see you in the Lab!

New Year’s Resolutions- Setting up for failure

It is that time again!

The New Year is an important time for businesses in the health and fitness industry, especially gyms! Every year there are a few waves of sign-ups and just after the New Year is one of the biggest.

The thing is, big box gyms couldn’t actually support the number of members on their books if they actually all show up. What this means to you is that your big box gym is counting on you to fail in your New Year’s resolution. That is why it is unreasonable to expect them to properly support your fitness efforts, lifestyle changes, or overall goals… At least not in any -actually- effective way.

The problem is that the current message regarding health, dominated as it is by big industry fitness, focuses on short term, externally driven results. In other words, losing a few pounds, getting your “beach body” back, how you look.

There is no doubt that carrying around extra weight can have negative health effects, but what most people don’t realize is that the challenge of extra poundage to your heart persists whether or not your extra pounds come from fat or muscle. Extra fat usually  comes with higher blood triglycerides  and cholesterol, which is why it gets all the press, because there are other common risk factors associated with it.

However, extra muscle also forces the heart to work harder, so cardiovascular health becomes even more important for someone with extra muscle weight. Also, the hard truth is that many very muscular folks out there are in terrible cardiovascular condition.

So rather than learning what to do for your health from an industry that has a vested interest in your fitness failure, perhaps looking into a new fitness model, one that is sustainable for a lifetime, is warranted.

The functional fitness movement is very popular right now, as any YouTube or Google Search will tell you. However, sorting through these can be daunting and many of them are just competitive or “hardcore” versions of the same old ideas. If an exercise is to be “functional” it must reflect the way the human body moves and interacts with objects in the world. To understand how this woks, we must understand planes of movement and functional muscle groups.

I will address these functional groups in a later post, for today, let’s look at planes of movement.

This image shows the three basic planes of movement. Imagine an arrow pointing along one of these planes, then follow the arrow from tail to point. This would be how movement on the plane would travel. When you look at the sagittal plane, you will see that most traditional exercises, (i.e. bicep curl or chest press) actually use movement ONLY in this plane.

But think about how you interact with the world. How frequently do you find yourself with your feet shoulder width apart, side by side, as you push with both hands against a weight without moving anything else?

Humans move with our feet, we are bipedal and usually have to stabilize our trunk against the force we produce with our legs and torso as we overcome the inertia of the object. The result is that we must fire a series of muscles in different parts of our body. Think of it like dominoes all lined up to be knocked over. If the timing of the falls or the distance between them is not just right, then the chain will not fall correctly. This kind of neuromuscular organization can be developed and improved by engaging and challenging your balance, strength and stability while working under a load.

That is what we do in 9Fit! We act upon loads in multiple planes with balance and stability challenges. A wide body of research tells us that we can see improvements in posture, long term reductions in chronic pain and a greater ability to adapt strength to different activities with this kind of training.

So, let’s stop playing into the hands of corporate fitness by making New Year’s resolutions. Instead, let’s make sustainable commitments to long term health. Instead of setting a goal like losing a certain number of pounds, let’s set a goal like moving a certain number of pounds, making movements that are stronger, better supported and more balanced.

Keeping up with these kinds of goals, plus caring for heart health by getting adequate cardiovascular exercise will also have the side benefit of shedding fat and changing body composition if it is combined with a good nutritional program. The main difference is that sustainable goals don’t have end points, just sign posts. they scale according to our level of ability and have the potential to continue driving us forward.




November Mileage Challenge

As you might already know, 9Fit is not simply a fitness program, it is a fitness community. Using free apps like Runkeeper and MyFitnessPal, community members watch for each others workouts, cheer each other on, and share both troubles and triumphs.

In the month of November, we are encouraging anyone who wants to be a part of the 9Fit Community to participate in the November Mileage Challenge. To take part, you don’t have to come to the Lab workouts, but perhaps sign up for a consult and we can at least help you get focused for success!

All you need to do is set a goal for your mileage for the month of November. I tried to make 30 miles in September and failed, largely because of schedule restrictions with my school demands. I succeeded in October however, and I am now encouraging the community to set their own goals.

Look at what you normally do for a cardio workout, (walking, biking, swimming, running, whatever you prefer. Though running helps maintain bone density better than the others when done properly) figure out your usual mileage, then figure out how much that will be if you get in at least 2 30 minute sessions per week if you have 2 other strength training days.

Lab workouts are done in a way that we get a cardio component as well, so if you don’t come and workout in the 9Fit lab, try to go for three cardio workouts.  Post your mileage goals on our Facebook page, or on Runkeeper and share it with us. We will root for you too!

Functional Fitness vs. Body Building

A quick internet image search for “functional fitness before and after” and “Body Building will yield pictures that show the results of two very different kinds of training.

The point that I want to drive home here is not the muscle definition but rather the proportions of the athletes depicted here. You will get what you train for and the proportions of the first image are not the results of functional training.

The training done in the first image yields results that match a particular visual aesthetic, but actually interfere with many daily activities. The guy in the first image might be cast in a movie to play the intimidating henchman in an action film, but we all know he would be beaten by the hero, who’s physique will look more like the second image. However, we will still identify the first physique with strength and power.

The truth is that while the first athlete is very strong, his strength is not always the kind of strength that is useful. When we look at the physique of a person that wins strong man competitions, for example, which are all about moving objects from one place to another, pushing pulling, lifting, and so on… we see a very different type of physique emerge:

The man on the left is the winner of a strong man competition, the man on the right is his trainer.

You will note that neither of these men seems to have the definition of the previous photos, though their outlines seem to be more similar to the second one. Both of these men are quite likely to be functionally stronger than the man in the first photo.

The point is, different kinds of training yield different results. Functional training will yield muscle development that is similar to the last photo. The definition shown in the second photo is achievable only through a combination of diet AND exercise rather than one or the other. The first is impressive, but very disproportionate and ultimately rife with dysfunction in terms of movement patterns and long term, pain free health. The career of competitive body builders is only a few years at best, no one can keep up that level of training for long without health consequences.

That is not to to say that they can’t follow the same training model, but training for competition can’t be maintained.

So, what do you want out of your training? Want to look a certain way? Want to be able to interact with the world in a more efficient manner? Want to train so you prevent injury and stave off the degradation that comes with age?

All of these goals require differences in training methodology. 9Fit is all about tailoring specific  training to your body, but we lean towards the last two goals. We want to make people strong in the real world. We train to help clients overcome dysfunction, build a balanced physique and make people durable in the real world.


Why consults?

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The fitness industry is a multi-billion dollar business. Large gyms count on contracts, member apathy and drop-out rates to see to their profits. People join in droves just after the New Year, just before summer, and just as winter approaches.

Little to no instruction is given to new members so a vicious cycle is started that is more designed to aid people in failure at an exercise program that success, which I believe can only be defined as a change in lifestyle.

Results for particular goals in fitness can only be expected if an individual understands what their goal is, what they must do -specifically- to achieve that goal, and what challenges they face on the way.

The 9Fit consultation is a key component to laying a foundation for health and fitness. I personally work with each 9Fit client  to assess for strengths, weaknesses, dysfunctions and goal orientations in order to dial in specific understanding of how to approach working out. The difference between a consult and personal training is that the consult is designed to educate and empower, so an individual is armed with the knowledge of what they need.

I will be there with you during 9Fit labs, often working out right alongside you, providing cues and encouragement. However, 9Fit’s Fitness Community design means that you also learn how to workout on your own. Consults provide the specific information you need to address your unique challenges, gives you the freedom to program creatively in your workouts and help keep your fitness journey engaging and effective.

In a world full of fitness business models designed to promote apathy and failure, 9Fit provides the empowerment, knowledge and guidance to take your health into your own hands.

Welcome to the new 9Fit blog

As our site comes together, look to this blog for all of our informational and inspirational posts. Information like this will also be shared to the 9Fit Facebook page, but here, you can subscribe to our RSS feed and receive updates as they come out.

Here, 9Fitters and those interested can also post questions, if you are not comfortable doing so on Facebook or if you just prefer to interact with us through this site. Use comments to direct questions or spark discussions regarding specific topics that are posted.

Today’s message, in line with the 9Fit Functional Fitness philosophy: