Archive | April, 2012

May Client of the Month Spotlight: Cheryl Kershner

30 Apr

Client Name: Cheryl Kershner

Age: 53

FIT member since: 9/15/11

Goal starting your fitness program at FIT: After over a year of competing in sports through chronic pain, in Oct. 2009, I was diagnosed with severe overuse injuries from hips through achilles. The Dr. told me to quit 70% of my activities. Not willing to give up my beloved outdoor activities, I figured I could winnow a few days, subtract a few miles & eliminate the more extreme hills, intervals & competitions. As I cut back more and more activities without lessening my pain, I realized I needed a professional to guide me. So when I started with Rick, my physical conditioning was at its lifetime worst.

Results: I am grateful to have Rick, with his vast knowledge and abilities set my work-outs. I am having a great time, wholly enjoying the uplifting, collegial atmosphere Tracey and Thom have created in FIT.

Cheryl Showing Off

Exercise Likes: All

Exercise Dislikes: None

What motivates you to come back each day? Enjoyment of the entire process.

How has your attitude towards strength training changed? As time (rarely) permitted, I used to do some resistance/weight work as rest breaks between intense aerobic activities. Due entirely to Rick, my regime with him is my priority & I fully intend for it to remain so.

Cheryl is an incredibly humble hard-worker. And if you ask Rick, she has shows up to every training session ready to work with a smile on her face. She is an excellent representative of the many hard-working people that come into FIT each day to take one step closer to their goals.

We’re proud to be a part of the process, Cheryl. 

Jeff and Angelo Revel In PrimalCon 2012

25 Apr

Recently our fearless FIT coaches Angelo dela Cruz and Jeff Samson visited Mark Sisson in Oxnard, CA for the third annual PrimalCon, a three day weekend total immersion experience of the primal lifestyle that includes expert-guided workouts, play, leisure, classroom education, camaraderie, and massive Primal feasts.

Now, you might be saying, “Primal-what!?” Well, if you haven’t read Mark’s blog or read his book “The Primal Blueprint” then primal-living can most easily be summarized as a paradigm of health and wellness that looks to the past of how our ancestors ate and moved. Sisson’s comprehensive health paradigm covers everything from diet to exercise to stress management to sleep to posture and so on. The basic idea is that our human genes are best expressed when we balance eating, exercise, play, and leisure in many of the same ways our ancestors did.

In the realm of fitness, the workshops were able to expand on Mark’s basic philosophy which was covered in last year’s recap and is worth the quick read.

Angelo presented for the third consecutive year. Angelo worked with people the entire weekend in small and large groups teaching them dynamic, full body mobility work as a fun, active way to lubricate joints, increase flow of oxygen and nutrients to the cells. As central to his VitaMoves program, Angelo conveyed the importance of effective movement preparation for high physical and mental performance.

Jeff Digs In

Jeff admits he was mostly there for the massive feasts on pulled turkey legs and fresh macadamia nut butter. This being Jeff’s first year, he was amused by the sheer number of people wearing Vibram toe shoes. When I asked what Jeff took away from the from the weekend, he recalled Sisson’s keynote theme: choices. Jeff explained to me, “There are a lot of ‘experts’ out there that claim they know the secret to living and eating well. And a lot of theme seem to garner near cultish followings. But Sisson wasn’t interested in making converts. He wanted to emphasize the importance of our choices.  In his keynote speech, Sisson explained, ‘When it comes to our health, it’s not about right or wrong answers. It’s about choices.’”

Sisson underscored the importance of taking personal accountability and responsibility for the choices we make. He joked about putting sugar in his coffee. He knows what makes his body tick. He’s paid close attention to how his body responds to the sugar and knows how much he can and should tolerate.

So, Jeff’s takeaway from the weekend? Figure out what works for best for your body. This is one of the keys to finding an optimal balance in your life. Consider keeping a journal. Except don’t treat your journal like an accountant, rather be more like an investigative reporter. Track what you eat (the content, not the calories), and then monitor how your energy levels respond combined with your stress, exercise, and sleep quality. It can be a long process, but this kind of investigative research can reap long-term benefits in living, moving, and eating optimally.

How do the Trainers Eat

18 Apr

Here are a collection of my more recent culinary endeavors to get your mind going in the kitchen.  Please email me at for recipes or for nutrition/cooking consultations.  Enjoy

Chimicurri Salmon with Sauteed Cabbage

Sirloin Strips and Braised Greens

Garam Masal Pork Chop with Cumin Spiced Boc Choi and Asparagus

Roast Leg of Lamb with Tarragon Mint Butter served on Garland of Spring Vegetables

Danielle Durante medals at Weightlifting Championships

15 Apr

You may know a lot of things about Danielle like her expertise as a trainer or her unmistakeable laugh that occasionally echoes through the gym. But you may not know that Danielle is one of the strongest women in the country.

In March, Danielle traveled to Columbus, Ohio to compete in the 2012 USAW National Weightlifting Championships. With a third place finish at last year’s Nationals, Danielle was set on fighting her way back into the top three and improving on her performance from the previous year.

If you’re new to the sport, Olympic-style weightlifting involves two lifts: the snatch and the clean and jerk. And the competition is simple. You get three attempts to successfully lift the most weight in each of the movements. The lifter with the highest combined total of their best snatch and clean and jerk wins.

Day in and day out, after being on her feet all day, Danielle stayed late at FIT hitting lift after lift under the close supervision of coach Rob. The work was hard and progress was slow. Still she had to show up each day and be mentally ready to do it all over again. By the time Danielle showed up to Columbus for the meet, she had reached her mental and physical limit. But Danielle is a fierce, seasoned competitor who knows how to block out the discomfort and perform at the right time.

Describing what it’s like before she went out on to the stage, Danielle explains, “You hear the fans. It’s motivating. You get that nervous energy. I was pacing beforehand. Rob had to sit me down and force me to relax while I visualized making my lift.”

The competition didn’t start according to plan. Danielle missed her first snatch attempt at 65kg. She quickly recovered and nailed her second attempt at the same weight. Then, needing a big lift, Danielle nailed her final attempt at 68kg for second place at the end of the snatch phase.

But Danielle had more to come. After easily making her first clean and jerk attempt at 80kg, Danielle missed her second at 83kg. Under tremendous pressure, and long break, she hit a new personal best on her third and final clean and jerk attempt at 83kg to solidify her spot once again in the top three of the 53kg weight class.

Coach Rob recalls that, “We had done a lot of work to get her mentally prepared. We had done a lot of work to get her mentally prepared. Danielle was a true professional. She was confident and in control.”

After all the results were tallied, Danielle stood on top of the podium rightfully proud of what she had accomplished. “I set a new personal best in the clean and jerk as well as my total. It’s been a long time coming,” said Danielle.

When asked what was next, she replied, “I still have personal goals I have yet to reach. I want to snatch 70kg and clean and jerk 90kg in competition, be in the top three of the American Open in December, and make the Olympic Trials.”

As impressive as those goals are, Danielle is already proud of what she’s accomplished. When asked about what it’s like to compete as a female strength athlete, Danielle explains, “People don’t expect it. But when they hear what I can do, I gain their respect.”

Danielle has certainly earned our admiration and respect and we here at FIT look forward to supporting at the American Open in Palm Springs this winter.

Road trip anyone!?

What’s for Dinner?

12 Apr

Thompson River Ranch’s Prepared Meals in the Freezer at FIT

When you know you will not have time to cook or your day gets away from you, stop by FIT to pick up dinner.

What we currently offer:

  • Beef Bourguignon

                   – Suggestion: Pair with cauliflower mash or mashed potatoes

  • Bolognese Sauce

                   – Suggestion:  Serve over spaghetti squash or sauteed greens

  • Braised Brisket

                   – Suggestion:  Serve over cauliflower mash or rice and pair with a vegetable of your choice

  • Beef Carbonnade

 Enjoy!  For more information visit Thompson River Ranch

What lessons do we teach our kids in the cafeteria?

11 Apr

We tell our kids to go to school to learn. And they do. Even in the cafeteria.

In a TED talk a few years ago, renegade lunch lady, Ann Cooper made an impassioned appeal for attention to the lessons we actively and passively teach our kids every day in the school cafeteria. Cooper, the director of nutrition services for the Berkeley Unified School District, is on a mission. When she was hired only two years ago, she had 90 employees and no one knew how to cook. How is this possible? Literally everything served in the school cafeteria came packaged in plastic, a can, or frozen. Burritos, pastries, canned fruit medley, peculiar dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets.

Salad Bar Revolution

Cooper shifted the entire paradigm. Instead of cheap, pre-packaged, processed and frozen foods, Cooper set out to teach kids the value of eating regional foods that are organic, sustainable, and fresh.

This meant eliminating all foods containing high fructose corn syrup, using organic produce, and cooking everything–yes, everything–from scratch. But a shift in thinking about food requires more than just changing the menu. So she instituted cooking classes in all the schools in the district to give the kids hands-on experience cooking and preparing these foods for themselves to support academic classroom curriculum to tie it all together.

What inspires Cooper’s mission? This issue is not just for the schools, it is for us because, simply put, it is about us. There is a great need in most schools to change the way we teach our kids about diet and lifestyle. And when we change what we feed our kids, we start to change what kinds of foods our kids think are healthy and acceptable.

Knowing that change is possible, we also know that it doesn’t happen overnight. Perhaps then we should begin with small steps.

Fresh is always better!

First, a good place to start is by finding out what is served regularly in the school cafeteria. Most schools usually have a printed menu available for the week. Stay up to date on what is being served. Compare the number of items on the menu that are fresh versus the number of items that are packaged and frozen.

Second, voice your opinion to the school board or PTA. These bodies exist to support the child’s development in every way possible and this topic is definitely worth the attention and discussion.

Third, model these lessons in the home. The parent and family unit are the most significant influences on the child’s development. Model healthy eating choices in the home by feeding your kids healthy, sustainable, fresh foods that are rich in colorful vegetables and clean proteins.

And if you have already implemented other strategies for fostering healthy habits, please share that with the rest of our FIT community by posting to our comments section along with any other thoughts you may have on the topic. Happy eating!

Less sedentary time crucial for children’s health

3 Apr

When you teach high schoolers, as I did for a number of years, there are very few things that they do that will really surprise you. But spend a day shadowing any student and you will be astounded at how much sedentary time they have: they sit on their way to and from school, they sit for hours on end in class after class, they sit down while they eat lunch with their friends, they go home to sit down and spend hours cranking out homework and updating their Facebook status.

Play time!

Perhaps the student gets a moment of rest from all this sitting to spend an hour or two at a team practice for a sport. Perhaps not. But with how much sedentary time children and students have, we have to wonder how this affects their health.

A recent study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) examined the association between vigorous physical activity and sedentary time amongst healthy children. Examining cardiometabolic measures–i.e. waist circumference, systolic blood pressure, fasting lipoprotein, and fasting insulin–across more than 20,000 children and adolescents, the study suggests that minimal sedentary time, or more movement through the day, is more important to health than brief bouts of formal, intense exercise in the gym, during a practice, or in a PE class. In other words, time spent in sedentary behavior all day can undo the benefits gained from formal exercise.

The point? Moving more throughout the day–even slow and unstructured movement–is more important to your child’s health than living mostly sedentary with occasional exercise.

It’s important to note that activity is not necessarily just another thing that we do–another box we check off from our to-do lists–but a way of living. Activity is an underlying characteristic to the things we do day to day. To live an active lifestyle does not necessarily mean joining all kinds of teams and clubs and gyms, thus making ourselves even busier than we already are. Living actively means enjoying movement throughout your day.

But what do we do with this? With the pace that we can run in life and the number of things on our plate, sometimes it feels like it is all we can do to get our children out of the chair for those few moments of activity during their PE classes or team practices.

So, take small steps. Here are some ideas. If your child enjoys video games and you own an Xbox Kinect or Nintendo Wii, encourage them to take a “brain break” every 30 minutes or so from their homework for a quick game of ping-pong or tennis. Create challenges for your children each month such as walking or riding their bike (if possible) to and from school. Encourage your children to read their school books while standing up for 10 minutes instead of hunched over the text. Or think up quick five minute games to do during the commercial breaks of your children’s favorite TV shows like playing paddy-cake with your feet instead of your hands (don’t laugh, it’s actually quite difficult).

Perhaps you have already taken steps to encourage more unstructured movement time in your children’s daily routines. If so, please post to the comments to share your ideas and keep the dialogue going. Slow and steady wins the race.