PFTL News April 2021

We hope everyone is faring well and looking forward to some nice spring weather. A couple of things are on the horizon:

Masks and the Vaccine:  we are currently discussing a safe way to allow clients to train at the studio without wearing masks.  This would not happen until probably July when most everyone will have been vaccinated. We may be requesting proof of having been vaccinated before this will be allowed.  In the meantime, masks are still required for entry to the studio.

Walking Clinic: we will once again be offering our free walking clinic, starting in June (social distancing will be observed).  Notices will be sent to former participants, and new participants are always welcome.

STRETCHING (excerpted from IDEA Fitness Journal)

When it comes to physical fitness, many of us focus on improving our endurance, strength and cardio capacity, and tend to put limbering up on the backburner.

So how bad is it really to skip stretching altogether? Stretching is the basis for flexibility, so if you want to enhance it, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) says those side bends are essential. Not to mention, flexibility is a core component of physical fitness.

What Happens When You Stretch a Muscle – Whether you’re doing a spinal twist, hip opener or side bend, stretching helps your body move more freely. After about 7 to 10 seconds of stretching, your muscle will release some tension, at which point the spindles — long lengths of tissue within each muscle — extend, enhancing your range of motion.

In the short term, the increased range of motion will last for 10 to 20 minutes after you finish stretching. But if you stretch regularly, then over time you will grow your overall range of motion. “This allows you to move effectively and properly in daily life.

What can happen if you don’t stretch?

You Can Develop a Rounded Upper Back – Folks who never stretch are more likely to eventually take on a hunchback appearance. If you are not maintaining your flexibility, it can lead to poor posture. Gravity will hunch you forward — your shoulders will round and your chin will stick forward.

And improper alignment not only leads to issues like lower back and neck pain, but it can also cramp your lifestyle as you age. “As your posture gets progressively poorer, it impacts your ability to perform normal activities of daily living.

While skipping stretch sessions probably won’t have much of an impact when you’re in your 20s, your flexibility declines each decade thereafter. Stretching resets our posture and is one of the ways to combat the negative adaptations associated with aging.

You’re More Likely to Get Hurt – The primary reason flexibility declines with time? The content of H2O in your body decreases as you age. As a result, not only will you feel stiff instead of supple — but you are also more injury-prone.

A lower concentration of water within your muscle, ligament and tendon cells can lead to tears and injury. Case in point: When your tendons aren’t as spongy, it’s easier for them to pop under strain. And as the discs cushioning the vertebrae in your lumbar spine (lower back) become friable, they can cause pain.

With many Americans leading increasingly sedentary lifestyles, this becomes more of a concern. A June 2017 study in the ​Saudi Journal of Sports Medicine​ found that the longer students spent sitting, the more contracted their hamstrings were. Since joint mobility is also a driver of balance, people with tight muscles are at a greater risk of falling.

In addition, neglecting to stretch before working out may lead to sports injuries. A ‘cold’ muscle will fatigue faster, which puts extra strain on the fibers around each muscle group and the tendons and ligaments attached to those muscles.

It’s also a good idea to stretch after exercise. You run the risk of feeling sore if you don’t allow your muscle fibers to recover gradually [via stretching]. You can damage your muscle cells, leading to bursitis or tendonitis.

You Might Not Be as Fast or Strong – Increased flexibility can improve strength, endurance and sport-specific training, according to the ACE. If your muscles are too tight, then you might not be able to activate the fibers necessary for explosive movements, the ACE says.

It’s kind of like a rubber band; pulling the muscle back and then releasing it allows it to fly forward with greater speed. Stretching a muscle to its maximum length gives it more energy to contract, leading to increased force, agility and a faster reaction time.

Stretching also boosts circulation. “When you stretch, you bring blood back into the muscles. That’s important because when you activate a muscle, blood needs to come into the muscle to help facilitate that movement.

So, How Bad Is It Really to Never Stretch? – It depends on what activities you do. If you play tennis, tight muscles put you at risk of a ligament or tendon injury. In terms of your general lifestyle, it might make you feel less stiff when sitting at your desk or riding in the car for long periods of time.

Age is also a factor. If you’re in your 20s, not stretching might not present any issues at the moment, but I’m a strong proponent of thinking about what you want the back half of your life to look like. Eventually, you will see the cumulative effect of decades of not stretching — and it is much more challenging to increase your flexibility when you are in your 70s.”

LAST CHANCE TO SIGN UP

WEBINAR – WHY YOU SHOULD BE HIKING

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 10 AT 7:30PM

PFTL is pleased to offer a 60-minute webinar where you will hear from Mountaineer Martin Pazzani who discovered that walking up hills – hiking – might just be the Fountain of Youth and the pathway to a much longer, happier and healthier life.

Trainers Debora Morris and Susan Thomson will follow his presentation with tips on how to prepare for extended walks/hikes and how to overcome the most common reasons for not hiking.

There is no charge for this webinar. Registration is required.  Click to register below.

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_eY5SaJILTiCl3X_ExIakQg

PFTL NEWS March 2021

WEBINAR – WHY YOU SHOULD BE HIKING

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 10 AT 7:30PM

PFTL is pleased to offer a 60-minute webinar where you will hear from Mountaineer Martin Pazzani who discovered that walking up hills – hiking – might just be the Fountain of Youth and the pathway to a much longer, happier and healthier life.

Trainers Debora Morris and Susan Thomson will follow his presentation with tips on how to prepare for extended walks/hikes and how to overcome the most common reasons for not hiking.

There is no charge for this webinar. Registration is required.  Click to register below.

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_eY5SaJILTiCl3X_ExIakQg

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We are offering TWO FREE VIRTUAL SESSIONS FOR FORMER IN-HOME OR STUDIO CLIENTS. Contact Debora at (847) 722 -2115, if you are interested.

PROMOTIONAL OFFER FOR NEW CLIENTS

  • 2-hour Comprehensive Fitness Assessment at no cost ($80 value).
  • 20% discount on first two IN-HOME OR STUDIO  training sessions (Regular $90 studio, $100 in-home)

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OUCH! WHAT CAUSES MUSCLES TO CRAMP (Excerpts from article by Rogelio Realzola, M.S. and Len Kravitz, Ph.D.)

Muscles cramps are abrupt, harsh, involuntary muscle contractions that can cause mild-to-severe agony and immobility (Minetto et al.,2013). Minetto and colleagues add that muscle cramps usually self-extinguish within seconds to minutes but may be accompanied with a knotting of the affected muscle. They occur in healthy people during exercise, sleep, pregnancy or after vigorous physical exertion. There is no gender difference with skeletal muscle cramps. However, they appear to occur more frequently with endurance athletes and in the elderly (Giuriato et al., 2018). According to Giuriato, the occurrence rate of muscle cramping is 50-60% in a healthy population. During endurance exercise, muscle cramps are correlated with long duration workouts, as well as harder workout intensities. While they are widely discussed by fitness pros, until recently, little has been known about the actual physiology of cramps.

Types of Muscle Cramps – Muscle cramps are multifactorial that Giuriato and colleagues (2018) have categorized into three groups: (1) nocturnal cramps, which occur during sleep without any clear causal mechanism; (2) pathological cramps, which are a consequence of having diabetes, nerve dysfunctions, or metabolic disorders in the body; (3) exercise-associated muscle cramps (EAMC), the muscle cramps that occur while exercising or post-exercise.

What are the Risk Factors Associated with Muscle Cramps? – With marathon runners, Schwellnus et al. (1997) summarize research that shows certain risk factors are more associated with the occurrence of a muscle cramp. These risks include a longer history of running (i.e., running years), older chronological age of the individual, higher body mass index, shorter daily stretching time, irregular stretching habits and a positive family history of cramping. With marathon runners, Schwellnus summarize that the two most important observations from the research are that EAMC are associated with longer running conditions (which lead to muscle fatigue), and poor stretching habits.

Early Theories of the Causes of EAMC – These include electrolyte imbalance, dehydration, and increase in body temperature due to hot, humid environments.  Studies have shown that there is no direct correlation between these causes and exercise-associated muscle cramps.

Current Theory on the Cause of Muscle Cramps – The newest concept of muscle cramps is a neuromuscular theory (Giuriato et al., 2018). Currently, this theory has evolved to have two different origins: a central (i.e., spinal column) and a peripheral (i.e., neuromuscular junction) origin.

Cautions to Protect Against Cramps from Occurring – It is clear that intense, extremely long duration workouts (for the level of fitness of the exerciser) leads to more skeletal muscle cramps. As well, lack of training and/or training in a hot, humid environment predisposes a person to muscle fatigue and possible muscle cramping. Research also shows there is a greater incidence of muscle cramps with the elderly, a phenomenon which needs more research, but important for fitness pros to be aware. Although the research shows that poor or inadequate stretching may predispose a person to muscle cramps, we do not have an evidence-based recommendation for what type of stretches and how much stretching should be done to reduce cramps.

Take Home Messages and Muscle Cramp Reflections – From a health perspective, the results of this new research show that we no longer have the evidence to state that a cramp is due to electrolyte imbalances or water depletion in muscle. Further, recommending particular supplements in the hopes that it impedes cramps also appears not to be rooted in any current literature. Performing too intense and/or long-duration workouts when not properly prepared to do is, should be avoided. Proper stretching exercises, particularly of the limbs is also essentiaL

PFTL News February 2021

PFTL UPDATE  &  NEW OFFERS

The clients who  have returned to the studio have reported that they feel very safe in the space. We will continue to monitor all people who enter the studio, require masks and wipe down all surfaces constantly.

Several clients have opted for virtual training.  This can be done easily using Zoom or Facetime.  If you want to get back into a fitness routine, this is a good way to do this while in your own home. Let us know if you would like to train virtually (no mask required)..

We are offering TWO FREE VIRTUAL SESSIONS FOR FORMER IN-HOME OR STUDIO CLIENTS. Contact Debora at (847) 722 -2115, if you are interested.

We are aware that several clients would like to return, but do not feel comfortable wearing masks while exercising.  I hope we can relax this requirement sometime in the future, however, it is too early to do that yet. 

PROMOTIONAL OFFER FOR NEW CLIENTS

  1. 2-hour Comprehensive Fitness Assessment at no cost (an $80 value).
  2. 20% discount on first two IN-HOME OR STUDIO  training sessions (Regular $90 studio, $100 in-home)

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TRAIN YOUR FEET

TRAIN YOUR FEET  ( from IDEA Fitness Journal, January 2021)

Making your feet more functional can help the rest of your body.

Do you know how critical healthy feet are to a successful training program? Your feet and ankles make up your body’s foundation and act as “shock absorbers” when your body interacts with a surface (Price 2006). The feet transmit weight from our body to the ground, allow us to balance in static posture, and propel our body forward, back and laterally in dynamic activities (Lillis 2019).

To improve feet function and help prevent dysfunction in other body parts, perform these foot exercises from Eileen Byrnes, a Connecticut-based registered yoga instructor (RYT 200), fitness instructor, barefoot enthusiast, certified reflexologist and creator of Solely Wellness.

Why Exercise Your Feet?   While feet are our base for all movement, it isn’t common practice for many exercisers to consider foot function. Nick St. Louis, an Ottawa-based physiotherapist and founder of The Foot Collective, says this needs to change.

“A house will collapse if built on a weak foundation. Many of the problems you see upstream are very much related to the foot,” he says, adding that hip, knee and ankle discomfort or pain often starts in foot dysfunction. Being barefoot allows you to increase balance, engage muscles, improve mobility, transfer stability from one side to the other and offer efficient force transfer to the ground (Shaffer 2020).

Foot Exercises – You can perform foot exercises alone, as part of a warmup or in the stretch section of a workout. Inactive foot muscles may fatigue quickly, but daily exercise will build strength and endurance.

Toe spreading:

  • Stand on a stable surface.
  • Extend and simultaneously move your toes away from each other.
  • Create as much space be–tween the toes as possible.
  • Repeat several times, each foot.

Marble pickup:

  • Put a pile of marbles on the floor.
  • Pick up each marble with your toes, creating a second pile.
  • Repeat several times, each foot.

Toe yoga:

  • Extend the big toe while toes 2–5 stay on the floor.
  • Alternate, lifting and lowering toes 2–5 and then the big toe.
  • Do each foot separately and then both feet together.

Beginning and end: 

  • Extend all your toes.
  • Alternate pressing the big toe and fifth toe to the floor, keeping the ankle centered.
  • Extend all toes and simultaneously press the big toe and fifth toe to the floor, keeping the middle toes lifted.
  • Repeat, each foot.

Band work: 

  • Fasten a resistance band to a secure point, placing the other end of the band on the top or dorsal side of the foot, below your toes.
  • Dorsiflex the foot (raise it up toward the shin) and then relax.
  • Repeat several times, each foot.

Foot stretch: 

  • Kneel and tuck all toes under the buttocks.
  • Press the toe pads into the floor. Place a blanket or cushion under the knees if you feel discomfort.

Stretching Class – First Try

Below is a link to our first attempt at recording an instructional video. Please realize it is not a professionally produced video. It shows some basic stretching techniques which you may find helpful. As we become more experienced at this kind of recording, our videos will look a bit more polished. We welcome feedback.

https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/YNMQoeyCw2zg84p32vTvH8b9a2dBXz4ivnY2XrupRFsfvblU36cTl38ujio57PBh.CqynMsbAx5qadJSX?startTime=1610819791000

PFTL News January 2021

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Good riddance to 2020.  Years from now we will look back on 2020 with disbelief.  How could we have lived through all that? COVID 19, political upheaval, high unemployment, racial tension, isolation and heartache, environmental disasters, international unrest to name a few of last year’s challenges. But most of us did live through it. Human beings seem to have the ability to cope with adversity in many forms.

Let’s plan to thrive in 2021.  Physically, emotionally, and hopefully, financially. We are all in this together, so we need to take care of ourselves, so we can help others as best we can.

PFTL UPDATE  

Clients who have returned to the studio have reported that they feel very safe in the space. We will continue to monitor all people who enter the studio, require masks and wipe down all surfaces constantly.

Several clients have opted for virtual training.  This can be done easily using Zoom or Facetime.  If you want to get back into a fitness routine, this is a good way to do this while in your own home. Let us know if you would like to train virtually.

We are also developing a free stretching class that will be available through Zoom and later Youtube.  It will require registration, but no cost.  We hope to have this ready by next month or sooner.  It will be appropriate for all fitness levels.

We are aware that several clients would like to return, but do not feel comfortable wearing masks while exercising.  I hope we can relax this requirement sometime in the future, however, it is too early to do that yet.  COVID is still very active in Cook County (and the US, as well), so it will be some time before we will change that precaution.

SOMETHING IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN NOTHING  (excerpt from Livestrong.com Nov 2019)

First off, it’s important to realize that, when it comes to movement, every rep, set and second will move you that much closer to your goals.

In fact, according to an August 2019 analysis published in the British Medical Journal, any exercise, for any duration and at any intensity, comes with a substantially lower risk for early death. Also, in the review, researchers note that the dose-response pattern between exercise and longevity is non-linear, meaning that going from zero to 10 minutes of exercise per day may be much more beneficial for your health than going from 60 to 70 minutes.

An October 2019 study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine came to a similar conclusion. Researchers found that any amount of running was associated with a lower risk of early death from all causes, specifically cardiovascular disease and cancer. People even benefitted from a single run a week that lasted less than 50 minutes at a pace below 6 mph.

Meanwhile, a March 2019 British Journal of Sports Medicine study shows that even 10 minutes of exercise per week is associated with a lower risk of death, including from cardiovascular disease and certain forms of cancer.

A little bit of movement can truly change the course of your day, and over time, even small, but consistent, bits of it can make big improvements in how you feel and your overall health.

KEEP HOME WORKOUTS INJURY-FREE  (Excerpt from Health.com March 2020)

It’s true: Amid all the social distancing due to COVID-19, your workouts have probably started to look a little different—say, with a view of your living room, kitchen, or bedroom. But as at-home workouts become all the rage (or at least the necessity), it becomes even more important to take the proper safety measures to avoid workout injuries.

1. Clear the space – Step one: make sure you have the room—including nothing on the floor around you—to exercise. Check that you have at least 3 feet in all directions when standing or lying on the floor. Make sure you check the floor for kids’ toys, books, weights, and anything else that could get in the way and cause you to trip.

2. Slip on some sneakers – While you can work out barefoot, experts recommend sweating in sneakers—but not ones you wore outside. You want to make sure you’re not bringing in outside germs, especially at the time of a pandemic.

Your next safest bet after sneakers is going barefoot, sans socks. There are benefits of working out with naked feet—all the nerves in your feet help you get a better sense of the ground beneath you and you can better push off for moves like squats and deadlifts.

3. Know your body –  There are so many free workouts available, which is great, but each individual has different goals, priorities, and different fitness levels. If you find a free workout and it doesn’t feel good on your body, then that’s a sign to skip it. Start with something you know or a first timer-friendly workout and then go from there.

Something else to keep in mind: know you can’t bank exercise. That means, if you hit it hard for the next few weeks or months, but then stop completely, you’ll go back to baseline. You want to exercise to build habits so you can keep exercising in the long-term. You don’t want to get injured in the short-term.

4. Switch it up – It’s easy to work out every day, especially now that everyone’s locked up inside and not feeling like venturing out to gyms. But if you’re trying to exercise every single day, try not to repeat the same movements. For instance, avoid doing weighted squats every day of the week and maybe add in some reverse lunges or jumping jacks instead. For cardio, try alternating biking, running, and jumping rope.

5. Consider exercises to counteract desk culture – It’s easy to get comfy working on the couch, or sitting and staring at the computer on your desk all day. But that’s exactly why you want to do some moves that reverse the forward-facing, typically hunched-over position that causes tightness in your neck, shoulders, and middle back, says Tampa. To do this, focus on posterior chain exercises like deadlifts, bridges, bent over rows, and band pulls.

Stand up every hour and do some quick exercises like squats or lunges. Try doing 30-second plank holds throughout the day or moves like bird dog.

6. Have fun with it– No matter what type of work out you do, experts agree it’s most important to have fun with it and enjoy the movement.

Also, know that the benefits of exercise of any type outweigh the risks. Keeping ourselves healthy is something we can do along with social distancing in order to get through this.


In Memoriam: Julie Cohen, our beloved office manager and friend, passed away on December 17. All those who knew Julie fell in love with her smile, good-nature and kindness she showed to everyone. She was the heart and soul of our business. Julie will be greatly missed by all of us.