Leave a Comment

Ladies, I’m sorry. Truly sorry. On behalf of every Fitness Professional – sorry.

Let me start the discussion with a brief overview of the fitness industry. The vast majority of gym memberships are never used – somewhere between 70-80%. This is how your standard big box gym membership is so cheap – for every 1 person that uses their membership, 9 people pay for them to do so. Of the 20% or so of Americans that go to a gym, 10% of those do so under the guidance of a coach or trainer – either 1-on-1 or in a small group class. As you can see, the pie of people paying for fitness professionals dwindles quickly.

Enter: Differentiation

Because this space is tremendously competitive, it is important for fit pro’s to differentiate themselves. From experience, I can say that is it very costly and difficult to differentiate on the basis of customer services. So, we need to find other means of differentiation.

Fear is a powerful motivator.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that fear will cause people to throw all logic and science out the window. In the case of resistance training and women, it’s the fear of getting “bulky.” Side note: God forbid we celebrate what our bodies can do instead of some weird aesthetic ideal, but plenty of people more qualified than I have written on this. 

Toned; long and lean.

If I can say that my type of lifting gives you toned and lean muscles, I can say that the other gym gives you a big, bulky, and hulk-like physique. Differentiation.

So what actually affects physique.

When it comes to how someone puts on muscle tissue, there are three factors at play:

  1. Genetics
  2. Diet
  3. Type of resistance training

If we were to give each of these a score equal to 100 to indicate the importance of their role in whether or not you will get “bulky” or “lean” muscles it would be: Genetics – 40, Diet – 40, Type of resistance training – 20.

Since you can’t change your genetics, don’t lose sleep. If your genetics pre-disposed you to put on an inordinate amount of muscle mass when lifting, you likely played sports at a high level in high school or college. Genetics tend to pre-select high caliber athletes. And, if this is you – you’re probably in the I’m more into what my body can do camp.

When it comes to diet the main thing is calories in vs. calories out. If you’re taking in more calories than you’re burning you will gain weight and vice versa. To achieve a “bulky” look you must be consuming a surplus of calories. So unless you’re purposly trying to put on muscle mass this will be extremely hard to achieve while on a caloric deficit.

 

 

We’re left with type of resistance training.

Even though this only accounts for about 20% of your “bulkiness” or “toned and lean” muscles, I’ll address it to. Honestly, it doesn’t even need to be addressed because it is so insignificant when compared to your genetics and diet, but people are way hung up on this.

Training Volume and Hypertrophy.

Muscular hypertrophy is what causes muscles to grow. It is important that your muscle mass increases because that will increase your metabolism. But, we’re here to answer this fundamental question: Do your muscles know the difference between different types of resistance training? Will they become long and lean if you do bodyweight resistance and short and bulky if you touch a barbell? The answer lies in volume. Higher volume = more hypertrophy. Hypertrophy = muscles growth.

Volume = Total Reps x Weight Moved.

Any time you get up out of a chair, do a lunge, do a plank, or do a bench press you’re moving an external load. This load can be a barbell or your own body weight. Your muscles don’t know the difference between a push-up and a bench press (we can argue semantics, but for the purposes of volume accumulation assume all things are equal).

I’ll use myself for this experiment and we’ll use the push-up and the bench press as our examples. I’m an adult male who weights 195 pounds. Let’s say – when doing a push-up – I move 70% of my own bodyweight. That’s 136.5 pounds.

Workout A: I do 5 sets of 25 push ups. 125 repetitions @ 136.5 pounds moved – Training Volume = 17,062.5

Workout B: I do 5 sets of 5 bench press at 225 pounds . 25 repetitions @ 225 pounds – Training Volume = 5,625

Workout B will certainly make me stronger – especially if I progress that training volume. Workout A will cause greater muscular hypertrophy (i.e. grow my muscle size). My chest, arms, shoulders, and triceps don’t know the difference between a barbell and my bodyweight. They only know volume. 

Takeaways

  • Your genetics and diet play a much larger role in your muscle appearance than the structure of your workouts.
  • Training Volume plays a much larger role in your muscle size than the implement you happen to be using to accumulate that volume.
  • Find something you love to do, have fun doing it, eat reasonably, and you will see a positive change in physique.

 

Leave a Comment

Is CrossFit Expensive?


The fitness industry is notorious for having very confusing pricing, facility fees, sign-up fees, specials, contracts, and renewals. Unfortunately, gym pricing has become so convoluted, the general public really doesn’t understand the value of fitness or coaching.

At first glance, many coached class-based services like CrossFit, Orange Theory, Spin, or Yoga can seem really expensive. Sometimes these can cost as much as $30/class. But, millions of people are moving toward instruction-based fitness by professionals and seeing an incredible value in the service.

To understand pricing you need to know a little more about the industry’s history.

Historically, there has only been one basic business model in fitness – what I call the “rental plus up-sell” model. You’ve probably been a part of this one. Here are the major points:

  • You join Gym XYZ for a super-low monthly rate with a 1 or 2-year contract.
  • You go to Gym XYZ for about 6 weeks then attendance becomes…well… spotty.
  • If you decide you want to really get in shape this time you may take advantage of a free personal training session from one of the 20-somethings walking around Gym XYZ with a clipboard.
  • This good-looking 20-something sells you a 30-pack of personal training sessions for a $500 special

Historically, these have been your 2 options: Access to space and Personal Training. Gyms bank on millions of people rushing into long-term contracts on January 1st knowing full-well that about 90% of those people won’t be using the gym in 6 weeks. Think of it like over-selling a flight. But, instead of overselling by 2 or 3 seats, they’re over-selling by almost 10 times capacity. 

If you wanted some guidance in your training, the only option you had was personal training. The average personal training hour will run you $40-$100. Let’s say you want to get the recommended 3 hours/week of exercise with a trainer – now you’re looking at a whopping $500-$1,000/month!

So, there are your options – 20 bucks a month for a membership you’ll never use or $1,000 to have access to a coach. 

Enter: Small Group.

Personal Trainers, realizing they could only work a 10 hour day and keep their sanity, began to bunch up their clients by ability levels and goals. Sometimes in groups of 3, 4, or 5. These trainers were able to increase their hourly rate, while effectively reducing the rate to their clients. So, instead of 1 person paying $80/hour now 4 people are each paying $30/hour. It’s a win-win.

This is where CrossFit and other group fitness models were born. Clients would start 1-on-1, learn the movements, see some consistency, then get paired up with other like-minded clients in a small group.

Formerly, the only way that you could walk into a gym and have a coach know your name, know your goals, know your lift numbers, know your injuries and mobility restrictions, and know your health history was to pay a personal trainer somewhere between $40/hr (for those fresh out of Community College) and $100/hr (experienced professionals).

The introduction of the small group class model has given participants the personalized touch of a personal trainer at a fraction (often times 10%) of the price. So, while it may seem on the surface like small group training is an expensive gym membership, a better way to frame your understanding is to view it as inexpensive personal training in a group environment.

Leave a Comment

Body Fat Loss > Weight Loss.

Weight loss doesn’t matter. Body composition matters. Increasing bone density, better hydration, increased lean tissue, and reduced body fat are the things you should care about. Weight loss is useless unless you know what you’re losing. If you’re losing more than a couple pounds a week, it’s likely lean tissue or just water.

You don’t need cardio to lose body fat.

One of the biggest myths in fitness is that you need to do things you don’t like to lose fat. Mainly cardio – long runs, endless hours on the elliptical, and long bike rides. If you truly enjoy these things – by all means – don’t give them up. Fitness that’s fun is the fitness that works. Do what you love.

Lifting weights is key to fat loss

Most of my conversations with new athletes usually go like this: “I just want to tone” or “I want to look lean.” Well, I hate to break it to you but you’re either building or losing muscle. There is no such thing as “toning.” Ultimately what they are saying is that they want to lose body fat and have that “fit” look. Well, guess what? You have to have some muscle mass to achieve this. How do you get muscle mass? You guessed it! Lifting weights. Ultimately your caloric intake will determine how quickly someone will gain muscle mass. But, the more muscle mass you gain the more calories you burn at a resting hear rate! More calories burned = more fat loss.

Nutrition is simple  

We tend to complicate things. Simply maintain consistency in a couple key areas:

  • Keep your caloric intake in check.
  • 80% of your diet should be micronutrient foods. Ex: Meats, Nuts, Seeds, Veggies, Fruits. 20% foods you enjoy a little more.
  • Eating adequate protein

You don’t need to do anything drastic. You just need to maintain some semblance of consistency. It’s easy to be die-hard for 2-3 weeks. But, you won’t see any results in 2-3 weeks. Week 6 is where things really start to build up steam. Keep it simple, but keep it consistent.

There’s no magic “program”

Despite what every Instagram Coach tells you, there’s no magic combination of reps and sets that will help you look better. If you want to be generally fit, look good in a bathing suit, and feel better you just need to move consistently every day, recover from training, and eat reasonably. That’s about it. No magic bullet or “6 Steps to 6-Pack Abs.”

Leave a Comment

“That’s crazy. I could never do it.”

After interactions with well over 1,000 people along their fitness journey, I’ve heard literally every reason why someone can’t do this or that. Honestly, there’s not much new under the sun. The unfortunate fact of the matter is most people have resolved to fail something before ever trying it. It’s unfortunate but true. Instead of trying for the thousandth time to talk someone down, let’s just face it head on. Yes – CrossFit is scary. Hell, life is scary. Here are some reasons why.

1. You’ll try something new.

Just because it’s fitness and exercise doesn’t mean that you won’t have some first-time jitters. You have them for anything. It goes away after 2-3 times through the door. But understand it’s not the exercise method, brand, or style. It’s simply the fact that you’re trying something new. New things are always scary – scary helps you grow. Embrace it.

2. You’ll be using your body…

And all the baggage that comes with it. And – trust me – there’s a lot. Past feelings of physical abilities, looking in the mirror, being picked last (or first) at recess. It’s all out there. This is probably one of the biggest areas that hamstrings people from starting up a healthful habit. Past feelings are just too much to deal with.

I’m not going to try and talk you out of this baggage. In fact, I advocate that you embrace it. But, more powerfully, I encourage you to embrace the baggage of others. It’s so easy to try something new and replay the broken record in your head of: You don’t understand my situation. I was born with _____. Everyone will be looking at me. 

We’ve heard it all. The path forward is clear: No more “I’s” “me’s” and “my’s.” Think “how,” “why,” and “when.” That’s where you’ll find success.

3. But the people are in such good shape.

Yes. They all woke up that way. No one ever put in hard work, planned their meals, or had been grinding it out for years. They were all born with chiseled bodies and an uncanny athletic ability. Seriously?

Since diving head first in this industry, I’ve found it quite interesting that there are essentially two types of marketing imagery in fitness: Fitness Models and Actual Members of a Gym. Wouldn’t you prefer to be a part of a gym that actually delivers results instead of one that pays models who have never stepped foot in the facility?

It’s an ironic juxtaposition, no doubt; people are more intimidated by a gym that delivers results.

4. But the women are so…

They’re what? Strong? Capable? Confident? More concerned about what they’re body can do than what it looks like?

Yes. Those are all true.

5. I know a guy who ____ at a CrossFit gym.

Here’s the deal: CrossFit is an affiliate business model. One CrossFit affiliate is as similar to another as one restaurant is to another – they both serve food. But, beyond that, just about everything is different.

Programming, community, coaching, cleanliness, business systems, cost, quality, members. All different.

I knew a guy who got food poisoning at a restaurant. Are they all dishing out e Coli on the daily? Of course not. We’re all smart enough to understand nuance in nearly every area of life – don’t throw your blinders on with your health and wellness. Do some research.

Here’s the funny thing about how scary CrossFit can be – never has anyone tried it at Hurricane and still felt that way. Give it a shot. It could absolutely not be for you – it’s certainly not for everyone. But at least you gave it a shot. Trust me – you’ll be glad you tried something new.

Leave a Comment

Importance of Mobility

By: Pat Palombo 


Range of motion, or ROM is a term that gets tossed around almost daily. Most of us are very aware of some type of personal limiter we have in terms of our flexibility or mobility which causes us to have limited ROM as well. We try a few stretches, we don’t get better, so we give up on those supple leopard dreams and settle for stiffness. But increasing our mobility does more than just allow us to do inch worms in the warm up easier, it’s still a vital component of our fitness and wellness and if we don’t pay it due attention we could wind up injured in the long run. So let’s look at why mobility is important across the fitness board and ways we can make our efforts to get more mobile more effective.
Firstly, as Cody has displayed in a previous post, mobility is built upon a foundation of FLEXIBILITY. Flexibility basically is your body’s ability to be moved to end range. For instance, if you have a partner pushing on your back in a forward fold you can touch your toes. Mobility is your body’s ability to move itself to that end range, so if you were in a forward fold and you could reach and touch your toes with no outside resistance. We still need that prerequisite flexibility before we can work on getting mobile there.
Secondly, before we dive into some flexibility and mobility methods, none of these practices will induce change without repetition and consistency. The only way to really make a difference is doing these things on a regular basis and with purpose. Just like programming, we do at Hurricane, or effective nutrition, your plan for mobility can’t be haphazard with no structure. Have a plan, consider the protocols you need most, and stick to that plan consistently to see the adaptation. That being said, let’s look at some methods to increase that mobility.
Static stretching can be an effective practice if used correctly. If you take notice before workouts we generally stretch for about forty-five seconds to a minute per movement. This type of short duration stretch potentiates muscles and boosts blood flow to that area while getting tissues to glide over one another. This is great for preparing the body for intense movement. Post workout is where some major soft tissue change can happen with the long duration stretches. So these stretches are generally prescribed for ninety seconds to two-minute durations. That is because it takes longer for those excited worked tissues to elongate and relax. Two minutes is the blanket rule for soft tissue change, with ninety seconds or so being the time it usually takes for a muscle to fully release. It’s in these times post workout when you can capitalize off your body’s parasympathetic state to really affect change and get yourself closer to increased mobility.
Smashing, compressing, and trigger point targeting sticky muscle tissue can be an effective course of action as well. When we break down muscle tissue in training, sometimes it gets stuck together in the healing process. Foam rolling or more targetted rolling like onto a lacrosse ball increases localized blood flow and mashes tissues together so that when you move them while compressed, they are forced to unstick if they are in fact adhered. Much like stretching it takes around two minutes or even longer to really get a knot or adhesion to release and go away. If our tissues are unstuck and able to glide over one another, like intended, we are more free and able to move through full range of motion. Just stick to rolling and mashing actual soft tissue muscles and not tendons or ligaments, like the IT band. There is very little blood permeability in those tissues so other than increasing your pain tolerance, rolling it is ineffective.
Lastly, the keystone to all of these is mobility drills. The unfortunate part about getting mobile and increasing our range of motion is that we must actually move through that range even if it’s tight and even if we have to fight for good positions. Stretching and rolling and the like facilitate us to move better through full range but we still have to get reps out there at our end range. So this means after stretching or rolling or both, you have to do the drills. You have to try and move through the wall facing squats, single arm overhead squats, light weight deadlifts or good mornings, front rack holds. Really whatever movement it is that gives you trouble you have to try and get to that range, even if it’s unloaded, just body weight movement with a focus on quality is essential to gaining that healthy range of motion.
Movement quality does more than just make it easier to hit judging standards in competition, without healthy and correct movement quality you open a door for injury. When we move badly, our joints are out of sequence, our body is resisting an already resistance style of training, and over time that kind of undue stress on the body can rear up as injury or debilitating pain. The whole point of working out is to make the rest of life easier. If we strive to move to the best of our ability then we can stay in this fitness game longer and in turn increase our results. So emphasize, nitpick, and geek out over your movement and strive for perfection there whenever possible, even if that means you have to not do prescribed weight for a workout. We don’t have to move perfectly all at once, but fighting for that good movement quality helps prevent injury and over time you’ll get closer and closer to virtuosity.