Taking Fitness Outdoors: Be Prepared!

Photo by Chris Elias
Photo by Chris Elias

This last Tuesday, I wrote a little about places to explore when you get an urge to get outdoors during one of our sunny days. It’s all well and good to talk about exploring in good weather, but the elements have to cooperate if we want to go outside.

If I’ve learned anything about the weather in the Pacific Northwest, its that the only thing certain is rain. Case in point, the beginning of this last Tuesday was beautiful! But by the end of the day, it was gray, wet, and not quite hiking or cycling weather.

But that’s one of the great things about life isn’t it? We can learn from our challenges. Even though we might plan for blue skies and warm weather, there could be anything in the forecast for tomorrow. You never know what life is going to throw your way.

So to make sure we’re ready for whatever weather might be headed our way, we have to prepare for the challenges at hand.

This is especially important when we head outdoors for our fitness. If something happens at the gym, you’re surrounded by fitness professionals who can help you out, and know when you’re pushing yourself too far. But if you run into an issue on a hike to see Multnomah falls? There may be others on the trail. but you’ve got to take care of yourself and know when you’re pushing yourself too far.

Here are a few tips you can remember before headed to the trailhead:

Plan ahead – I like to say “Expect the best, but prepare for the worst.” It might sound pessimistic, but think about it this way: When you’re a mile away from your car dressed for a warm day in the sun and it starts to drizzle, it’s going to get cold and wet awfully fast.

So make sure you are prepared for the trail before you set out. I highly recommend you take proper clothing for the occasion when you head out. If you’re going hiking, wear hiking boots, light, breathable clothing, and take some light rain gear in a backpack. Don’t forget to prepare for sun, either, so wear sunscreen and a hat.

Calories and Water – Always, always, always take water with you if you’re going to be spending some time outdoors! As you go hiking or biking, your body is going to be using a lot more fluids, which means you’re going to need more water than you might for a day in the office. The last thing you want to experience when you’re on a trail is dehydration.

Another thing many people tend to overlook while headed outdoors is trail mix. Like water, your body is going to be burning quite a few more calories than normal. Trail mix will provide your body with the energy it needs to keep going, so you don’t burn out halfway through the hike.

Know where you’re going – Even if you’re headed to a well defined path, it’s very important that you know exactly where you’re starting, where you’re headed, and how long the trail is. On a map, trails may look very easy to navigate, but sometimes maps don’t always include forks in the road, or unmarked trails. Know where you’re going, so you at least have a fair idea of what to expect on the trail.

Stretch – I cannot stress this enough for anyone who is planning on travelling outdoors. Unlike spending some time on a treadmill or an elliptical, outdoor trails are going to vary in exertion with every step. Some portions will be level, others will be fairly steep, and some might shift both uphill and downhill.

Make sure you’re doing your stretches for your legs, so your body is prepared for a little extra exertion than normal. The last place you want a cramp is on the trail.

Don’t overexert yourself – If this is one of the first times you’ve gone on a trek, remember to take it easy, and don’t feel compelled to go too far. Just because there’s something to see at the end of the path doesn’t mean you have to get there in record time. Pushing yourself at the gym is one thing, but remember that you still have to make it back to the trailhead once you get to your destination.

Grab a camera – Maybe not an essential, but you’re going outdoors to enjoy the view in addition to your fitness. So grab a camera and take some shots so you can share! I love to hear about where everyone is going on the weekends, and would love to see pictures of your latest experience!

When you do get a great shot, be sure to share it with Boomer Fitness on Facebook, and tell us about what you’re doing outdoors!

The Traits of a Good Personal Trainer, Part II

10431670_755150081200338_3174578138695952538_nOn Tuesday I wrote about the important qualities you want to look for in a personal trainer. Some are obvious traits you want to keep your eyes open for, but other traits seem to slip under the radar, especially if you’re just entering the world of fitness for the first time.

Boomer Fitness does training a little differently than larger corporate gyms. To me, personal training is not just a side benefit of signing up for a gym membership. Instead, I find personal training to be one of the most important tools you can utilize at the gym. Of course, learning from a trainer is only worthwhile if we, the personal trainers, know what we’re talking about.

Here are four more traits you should look for in a personal trainer, and traits that you will find here at Boomer Fitness:

Multiple Certifications – When done correctly, becoming a Personal Trainer takes a lot of training. It requires hard work, reviews, tests, and experience. And after enduring this work, we get certifications proving that we know our stuff.

But it doesn’t stop there. Just like the physical side of fitness, education is an ongoing experience that requires constant upkeep. Nothing replaces lifelong experience, but multiple certifications go a long way in showing a Trainer has the experience and the knowledge.

Boomer Fitness puts a lot of value in the certifications our Trainers carry with them. To me, Personal Training is the perfect combination of physical and mental knowledge. You cannot have one at the gym without having the other.

Healthy Lifestyle – It might sound vain to say your personal trainer should look good. But if someone can’t walk the walk, why should you listen to them when they talk the talk? Trainers that take their work seriously live and breath personal fitness. It’s an all encompassing goal we want to achieve and help you achieve.

It’s not just about looking good, either. Having a healthy lifestyle goes much deeper, spanning to a healthy diet, healthy habits, and even a healthy outlook on life. These traits can be found here at Boomer Fitness, and we love to share this lifestyle with you!

Different Plans for Different People – Every single person is different. It’s not just a phrase we learn in elementary school, but rather a truth a good Personal Trainer should take to heart. So why do some corporate gyms allow for for simple, generic plans to be used for multiple clients? It’s like they expect a cookie-cutter fitness plan to work for anyone.

A good Personal Trainer will recognize that every fitness plan needs to be tailored to each individual. A plan that is set up for Carol isn’t going to meet the needs of Susan, who might have much different goals in her future. At Boomer Fitness, we recognize different people have different goals. That’s why the trainers here go to lengths to make sure we get a fitness program dedicated to your specific needs.

Personal Connection – Let’s be honest. If you’re going to be working with someone, especially when it comes to something as important to your fitness, you want to make sure you work well with that individual. You don’t want to dread coming into the gym because you don’t like the trainer you’re working with. But you also want someone who can help push you, to help you reach your goals.

You will recognize that the atmosphere at Boomer Fitness is a lot friendlier than anything you’re going to find at a corporate gym. Members of Boomer Fitness recognize each other from past seminars, or from past group training sessions. Trainers reach out to all members of the gym to catch up. We aren’t just any gym; we’re your gym.

Good personal trainers can be hard to come by at times, and I know how lucky I am to have such a great team here at Boomer Fitness. Give me a call today to get yourself a tour of the gym, and we’ll get you started toward fitness today!

The Traits of a Good Personal Trainer, Part I

DSC_1198Most fitness blogs talk about the right nutrition you need to look for in a diet plan. Most will write about the kinds of exercises you need to be focusing on to properly work your biceps, triceps, glutes, core… Any muscle you might want to focus an exercise on.

My own blog features a long list of these subjects. I’ve got write-ups and videos detailing the most important nutritional aspects of any good diet. I’ve got a long list of write-ups and videos detailing various workout routines you can do at home.

But how do you know that what I’m saying is true? Or for that matter, how do you know if any personal trainer is worthwhile? If you’re going to be spending a lot of time making progress with your own personal trainer, you want to make sure he or she knows what they’re talking about, not just blowing hot air.

Not all personal trainers are created equal. True, we all go through rigorous training. We get certifications and credentials. We’re required to endure years of reviews, self appraisals, and tests before we begin training. But even after all this, some bad trainers still manage to slip through the cracks at larger corporate gyms. It only takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch.

So what do you look for in a good trainer? At Boomer Fitness, I put a lot of pride in my team of personal trainers. I know they are some of the best trainers in the area, and I wouldn’t invite them to the gym if I was not 100% sure of that fact. Take a look at some of the things you should look for in a personal trainer, and some of the things we do here at Boomer Fitness:

Assessments – I love recording data. To me, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing quantifiable results when coming to the gym. But more importantly, it is a sign of a good trainer to make assessments of your improvement. This includes the initial measurement, and standard measurements every few weeks to record change.

At Boomer Fitness, we take this measurement process very seriously. The very first thing you do when starting work with a personal trainer is an assessment of your body. This gives us a baseline to judge your improvement every four weeks. During one of our assessments, we measure your range of movement, weight, diet, and even your willingness to make changes to your daily life. If it’s quantifiable, we will record it.

Want a quick telltale whether a personal trainer is measuring you? See if they’re carrying a clipboard with them through the gym. If they’re not, they aren’t measuring nearly as much as a trainer should be.

Planning and Setting Goals – One of the most important aspects of heading to the gym is having a goal for the future. Without a goal, we don’t have a direction to align ourselves toward, or a rudder to steer us. With a goal, we know where we will be in 3 months time. A good trainer knows how important planning is, and will sit down with you in the beginning of your fitness regimen to help you plan your future.

At Boomer Fitness, we always discuss goals as a part of our initial assessment. When we know where you want to be down the road, we begin planning out 4 week milestones to gauge your success factors. No matter how well trained we are or how sophisticated the gym equipment is, we cannot make progress without a game plan.

Integration of Training and Nutrition – Exercise alone does not get you results. You can spend hours each week at the gym, but if you don’t make the change to your diet as well, your time is going to make little to no change on your lifestyle. A good diet will ensure you’re getting the nutrition you need, without excessive sugars or carbs that usually are found in unhealthy diets. Good trainers know the relation between nutrition and fitness, and create dietary plans as well as fitness plans.

Trainers at Boomer Fitness don’t stop their work when you leave the gym. We make sure we outline a dietary plan to accompany your total fitness plan. This way, your fitness plan will be the most effective at helping you reach your goals.

This isn’t even half of the traits found in good trainers. Be sure to check my blog next week for more traits you want to look for when choosing a Personal Trainer, and all the traits you will find at Boomer Fitness. And when you’re ready to make a healthy change with some of the best personal trainers around, contact us for more information!

The Relationship Between the Gym and Your Health

Progress in Action - Road Barricade Improvement and Change for FLast week I wrote about the dangers of not working out. It might have sounded a little harsh, but I meant every word. Too few people know the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle, especially when paired with the unhealthy foods so many of us find on grocery shelves.

With an unhealthy lifestyle comes heart disease, plaque in the arteries, a proneness to diabetes… the list can go on and on. It’s scary to think about what can happen if we choose to do nothing. But like I wrote last Tuesday, I would much rather you hear the truth than hiding behind a set of lies.

Sometimes, we all need a kick in the pants to get started on our long journey. But on the other hand, we always hear about the doom and gloom surrounding an unhealthy lifestyle. What about the positive effects of a mobile lifestyle? And not just the long term effects, either.

Believe it or not, your body starts changing the exact moment you start working out at the gym. Big results take a long time, but that doesn’t mean you’re accomplishing nothing when you start doing lunges for the first time. Take a look at what’s happening to your body when you first start working out:

Metabolism Boost – Minutes after you start working your body, your metabolism is going to get a huge boost in energy. As your body starts to recognize that it’s using more energy than normal, it’s going to start producing neurochemicals responsible for metabolism to compensate for this new motion. This boost can last anywhere between a few hours and a few days. To get the best results, you will have to continue exercise so your body continues to boost.

Improvement in Mood -After a workout, you might notice that you’re having a better day now compared to when you walked in. It’s not just in your head; those same neurochemicals I talked about boosting your metabolism are also responsible for boosting your mood. Working out at the gym will produce these neurochemicals, and you will feel more relaxed, more confident, and have more energy to hit the day.

Regulate Blood Sugar – Blood sugar, or glucose, is used as an energy source throughout our body, but we can’t have too much of it floating around in us. Your body produces insulin to control the amount of glucose found in our blood stream, but having too much glucose can lead to Type II diabetes. So how do we balance it? Exercising goes a long way to combating excessive blood sugar, burning it as you move more. As your body burns more energy, it will compensate less.

Lowering Blood Pressure – You might be thinking “how does making my heart work more cause blood pressure to drop?” As we get older, our blood vessels start to get stiff, causing more pressure throughout our system. While it’s true that your heart might be beating more frequently during your time in the gym, you’re also flexing and moving your blood vessels, which loosens them up and allows blood to move freely. You might not notice a difference in how you feel, but your blood pressure monitor sure will.

These improvements don’t take months to acquire. Your body is designed to move, and doing so means it will react positively! The first day at the gym is always tough, but just showing up and doing something is better than sitting in front of the TV. I like to think that no matter how slow you’re moving, you’re still lapping the version of yourself on the couch!

But don’t think you can get away with minimal time at the gym. While small improvements are a good stepping stone, ramping up your effort at the gym is an important aspect of winning back your health. As we like to say at Boomer Fitness, you only have your health once!

Email me when you’re ready to start getting your body in motion! We will start getting you on track to a healthier tomorrow.

Reaching the End Goal with Small Steps

Man on top of mountain

Last week I talked about the issues around setting extreme goals. I love to talk about long term goals, about where we visualize ourselves in a year, two years, or five years down the road. It gives us a destination, something to see ourselves at in the long term.

There’s nothing wrong with setting high standards for yourself, but it’s important to take into consideration the path we have to take to get to the destination. The end goal is only a small part of the journey you will take to get there.

Sometimes, even just setting big goals can seem impossible. Surmounting your obstacles and achieving your goal can seem as difficult as reaching the peak of Everest. It’s a long way to the top, and there’s going to be a lot of difficulty on the process. For some, this is the hardest part of starting at the gym; just making the plan to start on the journey.

So how do you reach these big goals? To answer that, I want you to think way back to your time in school, or perhaps during a particular job you had to be trained for. I like to think about a math class in grade school, where we were introduced to basic multiplication tables.

Now I don’t know about you, but I remember multiplication tables were extremely confusing to me. We had to write out and memorize hundreds of tables, and just when I was starting to get the hang of the 7s (7 times 3, 7 times 4, 7 times 5…) the teacher would throw 8s at us. It was a huge challenge, and sometimes it felt insurmountable.

But a year later, I had it. And my class and I were moving on to division. And then basic algebra, and then geometry, and so on. Today, it might take a few seconds to recall the numbers, but doing basic math is second nature anymore.

Boomer Fitness does the exact same thing with fitness. We think about your end goal, and we plan a roadmap of how we’re going to get you to your exercise destination. We break up the time you’re coming into the gym into 4 week segments, and discuss what the short-term goals are for each particular segment.

When you come into the gym, we don’t automatically start exercising with the 45 lb. dumbbells. We start you at 10 lbs. And then if you make progress with those, we move up to 15 lbs. And then when you make progress, to 20 lbs. After a few months, you’ll notice those 10 lb weights don’t feel like anything anymore, especially when compared to the weights you’re lifting now.

Achieving something doesn’t happen in a 2 minute montage, like most 80s action movies lead us to believe. It takes a lot of time and a lot of work, and sometimes it seems like progress is insubstantial. But when we look at where we’re going, and where we’ve come from, we start to see how much progress we’ve made.

So make those long term goals. Plan on climbing a mountain, but make sure you reach base camp first.

Ready to start climbing your mountain? Email Me, and we’ll get you set up with a tour of the gym!

Setting Goals, and Knowing What it Takes.

DSC_1194I love setting goals. Giving us a target to aim for is the very first step of visualizing ourselves at the end of the journey. It allows us to see how much progress we’ve made, and how much farther we need to go to complete our journey.

Whether it’s running a marathon, summiting Dog Mountain, or walking up the 3 flights of stairs unwinded, each long-term goal is equally worthy of your time.

But what about setting goals that push us even farther? What if you have bigger dreams, like running in the next Iron Man. Maybe you see yourself competing in a bodybuilding competition, or just getting down to 10% body fat. How hard could it be?

Far be it from me to tell you what you cannot achieve. If you can set your mind to it, you can and will become the next Iron Man or Woman. But what about the other side of getting lean? We see movie stars and bodybuilders who have the 6-pack abs, the enormous muscles, and the extremely low levels of body fat percentages. What does it really take to get to that level of fitness?

What I want to do is make sure you’re aware of what you’re getting yourself into before going down that long road, and determine if you even want to go down that road to begin with. Let me tell you a little bit about my experience getting to a low body fat percentage.

During my time as a Personal Trainer, I’ve seen a lot of colleagues go through the difficult process of getting ready for a bodybuilding championship. Keep in mind that this is with personal trainers who live and dream personal fitness. As they get closer to the big day, the competitor must make their fitness the most important part of their daily lives. Diets become extremely restricted, with a big focus on high protein and no excess carbohydrates.

Instead of just visiting the gym when it’s convenient, bodybuilders must be prepared to dedicate a lot of time to exercise. Resistance training and cardio become daily activities, making sure the body is working to its highest potential.

Time dedicated to working on their body starts to cut into their social life. Hobbies and personal time will start to get pushed aside for more time that could be spent at the gym. Socializing at events where food is involved becomes more difficult, as dietary needs take a higher priority.

Let me tell you that this is from personal experience. During my time getting ready for a show, the time I normally spend socializing with friends and family was profoundly affected. The time I wasn’t working was almost entirely dedicated to prepping for the show. Eating wasn’t something I could enjoy anymore; it was entirely dedicated to making sure I had enough proteins and nutrients, and absolutely nothing in excess.

Take a look at this diagram from Precise Nutrition, which outlines what you can expect when you start to reach the upper limit of personal fitness. The more fit you become, the more time it requires to maintain your physical standard. The lower body fat percentage you are aiming for, the less margin for error.

Why am I telling you this? As a personal trainer, aren’t I supposed to be keeping it positive? Why tell you about the negative parts of body building?

As a personal trainer, I want you to know what it’s going to take to attain your goals, good and bad. I don’t want to scare you away from attaining any of your goals. You might be willing to go on a severely restricted diet. You might be willing to put in the extra time and extra repetitions required. And I can tell you right now that when you’re walking on stage at the next Bodybuilding competition, or when you’re crossing the finish line at the next Iron Man Triathalon, I will be cheering the loudest at the sidelines.  What I want to do is make sure you know exactly what’s required.

Keep you eyes open for my next blog, where I’ll write about setting healthy goals, and how even small steps can pave the way for big changes.

Mixing it up at Boomer Fitness

DSC_0943Last Tuesday, I had a bit to say about breaking up routine. Doing the same exercises every time you head to the gym will get easier, but that doesn’t mean it will be better for your fitness growth.

Like a lot of fitness advice, sometimes it can appear to be easier said than done. Routine is hard to break – it’s natural for your body to want to take the easy way out. How to we shift our focus from doing the easy program to doing the correct program?

At Boomer Fitness, we know that taking the easy way doesn’t help us reach our goals. Progress becomes an illusion as our bodies exert less energy each time we repeat. You have to exercise new muscles and make your body find new challenges.

So enough about why. How do we break up routine? How to we get out of the rut of doing the same work-out over and over again?

The first thing you have to do is stop watching the calorie counter on the treadmill. To this day, I don’t understand how these fitness machines can claim they know the exact number of calories you have burned. Every single person walking on that machine has a different background, different fitness goals, different body types. No digital calorie tracker on a workout machine is going to accurately measure how much energy you have burned.

Instead of letting a machine record it’s version of the truth for you, it’s important to keep track of your past history in the gym yourself. If you spent some cardio time on the cycle machine the last time you were in, try the elliptical. If you were on the elliptical last time, challenge yourself with the stair master.

At Boomer Fitness, we can help you break out of your routine even more. All of our trainers track our members weekly progress including the exercise schedule, the repetitions, and the amount of weight used. Each program is unique, which means we will base the days workout on what needs to be focused on to reach your pre-determined goals.

When we’re starting you on your fitness plan, we will usually break up your schedule so we work on a different part of your body each time you come in. Each program is broken up into four week intervals, which allows us to mix it up a little and get all of your muscles involved.

The next day you come in, we might focus primarily on legs. We can do squats, burpees, lunges, and other workouts best suited for your legs .The next day might be arms with some weight machines. Next time, we might focus on your core. And then the next day we might work with your back, your chest, your shoulders… every day is a new variable.

It’s difficult, and your body will certainly resist changing up your schedule every time you come in. You’re going to want to work on the things you know, because doing something different means learning how to use new muscles. No one ever said making the change is easy. But you know it works because you are working for it. You will feel better knowing that you put in a solid day of work at Boomer Fitness.

Email me when you’re ready to make a positive change in your life. The hardest part about making a difference is taking this first step.

What Happens When I Sign-Up for a Fitness Plan?

DSC_1218Congratulations! You’ve just finished the hardest step of starting a workout regiment: telling yourself that you can make a change in your life.

I’m completely serious in saying this. Lifting dumbbells and doing burpees are small potatoes when compared to making yourself realize that now is the best time to start. That making a change in your life starts at this very instant.

So now what? You’re ready to make a change, but maybe the next step is a bit daunting, especially if you’re not familiar with gyms, or personal fitness. If you’re reading this blog, you probably know a little about Boomer Fitness and what we do, but you might not be clear on how we get you started.

I want to tell you a little bit about what you can expect from our sign-up process, so you don’t feel anxious about coming in. This way, you will know what to expect from the minute you walk in the door.

When you first come in, you’re going to meet with me, Brian Stecker. I’m a friendly guy, I promise! During our initial talk, I like to get to know a few things about you, like your past history in fitness, your current physical status from your point of view, and why you want to make a change in your fitness regimen.

We’ll talk about specific goals you have, any injuries we need to look out for, and discuss how we can fit in your busy schedule.  When we’re setting goals and building nutritional plans, we break up your schedule into 4 week blocks. This gives us just enough time to make progress in manageable, measurable blocks of time. We’ll take some initial measurements to get a baseline to measure your improvement as we move forward.

During our talk, there is absolutely no such thing as a stupid question. The whole reason I’m here is to introduce you to a healthier lifestyle, and there’s no better way to do this than by learning.

Think about it this way: Even Body Builder Lou Ferrigno, famous for portraying the Hulk in the 70s, had a first day at the gym. There was likely a time where he had no idea what kettlebell was, much less what you do with one. Everybody has to start somewhere, and I’m here to help you get that start.

Once we’ve finished planning your fitness regime, I’ll give you a brief tour, and show the various stations we will be using. We’ll take a look at our cardio machines, the free weights, and the host of other tools we have in the gym.

After that, we’ll introduce you to our host of friendly personal trainers here at Boomer Fitness! We’re a family here at the gym, committed to getting you the attention you need to achieve your fitness goals.

And then from there? You start changing your life for the better.

Have some questions about getting started? Shoot me an email with any questions you might have, and we’ll get you on your way to a healthy life.

Boomers, Training, and Olympians

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do baby boomers and the Olympians have in common? For those baby boomers who want to live life to the fullest, a lot! It may seem like baby boomers are just living their lives and going through the motions to some people, but for many of them their heart is filled with the same thing that fills the heart of an Olympian. And I mean beside the blood that’s pumping through it.

I’m talking about passion, drive, and perseverance. A baby boomer who wants to live a healthy lifestyle, train and get fit can learn a lot from an Olympian. No, they don’t have to become an Olympian, but picking up the attitude is going to make a world of difference.

The attitude of an Olympian is passion for what they are doing. They could not put in the time training that is required to make it to the Olympics if they were not passionate about what they were doing. They have a drive that keeps them going. If someone tells them they can’t do something, they push past it and keep going. They continue to persevere at every turn and every time there is a challenge that steps in their way. They don’t come up with excuses. Instead, they come up with plans, routines, and solutions that will take them from where they are to where they want to be, which this year is Sochi.

What does this have to do with baby boomers who want to be healthy? Adopt the same attitude and you will succeed! You have to want it, you have to work for it, and you have to let nothing stand in your way. If you continue on in your journey for the quest to be fit and health you will make it. You won’t let anything stand in your way.

There is a lot at stake for an Olympian. If they don’t make the cut they will have to find another job and the dreams of their passion may die. But there is a lot at stake for a baby boomer, too. If they don’t follow the plan to get fit and persevere, their health is at stake. They will likely experience a weakening of their body as they age, they will have more difficulty getting around, and they will probably not live the quality of life that they want to. Both the Olympian and the baby boomer have a lot at stake and following through with their goals, plans, and workouts are what is going to help them be successful.

Nobody can hold back an Olympian with a goal and a dream. The same can be said for the baby boomer on a mission to be healthy. It’s like the old saying goes… those who want to do something find a way. Those who don’t really want to will find an excuse!

One of the best places to start for your fitness goals is right here.