The Year in Transformation

It’s that time again. For some it’s been a challenging twelve months; for others a time of growth or personal achievement. For most, I expect, it’s been a bit of each. This week, as the more fortunate among us begin a well-earned break from the normal chaos of our lives, the end of the year offers an opportunity to reflect and take stock.

2014 has been a year of transition for me, with many fork-in-the-road moments. These have given me no choice but to pay more attention to what’s going on around me and to take actions that may offer greater risks – while also (it is hoped) offering greater rewards.

I have been lucky to see clients make significant breakthroughs in their acute or chronic problems, and recognize that the bigger frame of their issue often stems from a smaller one that has gone unchecked and undiagnosed. This has been the key to their relief from pain, and the doorway into strength they never realized was possible.

These past few years Transform Fitness has adopted and applied a strength system called Gymnastic Strength Training, made popular by it’s founder Christopher Sommer. As we move into 2015, our plans are for a gym re-tool and re-design that allows us to pursue this system more completely in all its applications. This will mean, for instance, more dedicated group-based training such as the amazingly successful seminar we hosted a couple of months ago with Kit and Olivia from Stretch Therapy.

We’ve also been busy bringing our staff up to speed, helping familiarize them with Transform’s newest strength and mobility training systems. After much diligence and hard work on their part, they’re now ready to provide the same incredible level of service that our members have grown used to. I’m so proud of them – and I’m excited to see all the great things they’ll achieve with us in 2015!

All these successes will also free me up to take care of a few management priorities. Though this means I won’t be taking on more clients myself, the good news is that it will allow me to spend time pursuing further training and education so that we can continue to explore new ways to build health, wellness, and fitness. As we grow, and continue act on our broader vision, this looks to be a year of great promise. A Happy New Year, everyone  – we’ll look forward to seeing you in 2015!

Before December 31st we’re offering five sessions for only $500 at Transform Fitness NYC. Or come in for a free consultation, and let us help you reach your fitness goals in 2015. info@transformfitnessnyc.com Call or text: 917 804 1866

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Messages from the Inside (Ankle Strain)

Messages from the Inside

How’s your day going today? If you’ve been sitting down for longer than an hour, get up and move around. If you’re a guy, try a Downward Dog into ten to-the-floor push-ups, or a Downward Dog into three push-ups if you’re a woman. How did you feel? If you noticed foot or wrist pain, chances are the problem has been there for a lot longer than you realized.

Recently I had some ankle strain brought on by overzealousness while pushing myself through a ballistic acrobatic move. Needless to say I was in pain – the kind of pain where you berate yourself for ignoring your body’s warning signs. I watched helplessly as the pain transferred to other parts of my body, and I realized that I had allowed my adrenaline to take over my decision-making. As a fitness professional, I was guilty of not taking my own advice!

Pain in our muscles and joints has profound physical effects on our ability to move. Suddenly, everything becomes a negotiated calculation: how to get up out of a chair, how to stand up from the ground or go up or down stairs. Every action takes on a new and unfamiliar dimension. And then there are the mental and emotional repercussions – irritability, frustration, weakness. For those of us who have taken our bodies for granted, it’s a watershed moment, and we might wonder if it will ever get better.

I have decided to think of this as an opportunity, akin to a huge STOP sign – although I should add here that the solution is not about taking a break from the gym. We can consider ourselves at a crossroads where we can choose to ‘push through it’ and accrue more injury – or – opt to change-up our approach. In other words, we can choose to address the problem directly, and in the right way. This is a very important point because studies have proved injured athletes heal better by strengthening the original spot that contributed to the injury.

In our last blog post we talked about how practices like meditation help us to notice our thoughts. As I have always told my clients, bringing awareness to our bodies has benefits as well. One of these is to bring physical problems to our attention and prevent needless injury. Although injuries, as I learned last week, give us plenty to think about. — Paul Watson

What do you think? Do you have an injured athlete in your life? Until December 31st give the gift of health and strength with our Transform Fitness NYC ‘Five for 5’ holiday gift card. You’ll get a fitness assessment and five sessions with an expert trainer for only $500! Call or text: 917 804 1866. Or email: info@transformfitness.com And talk to us on Twitter and Facebook. Photo courtesy of Rodrigo Quiroz.

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Mind, Wine, and Enlightenment

Wine Graphic

A copy of ‘Scientific American’ appeared in the gym recently. The cover story? ‘The Neuroscience of Meditation’. If only I had the time to read it, I thought, as I sped past.

The weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year seem to fly by very fast. We barely have time to catch our breath, let alone delve into arcane explications about how to achieve enlightenment. There’s shopping to be tackled and office parties we can’t avoid, so it’s no wonder that some of us feel as if we’re losing our minds.

Over the years I must have had hundreds of discussions with friends about meditation and mindfulness. (If I’d used this time to actually meditate instead I’d have achieved nirvana approximately ten years ago.) We all nod, and agree how beneficial it is – how it clarifies the mind and aids focus, and so on – and that we should do more of it. Afterwards, full of resolve, I’ll go home and crash out in front of the TV.

Meditation seems to require special effort, not to mention all manner of accoutrements – a quiet room, a cushion, a candle, and some soothing New Age music. When I’ve managed some facsimile of this, I’ve also managed to get hung up on how well I did and what I ‘achieved’. When I’m feeling stressed out, a big glass of wine or a stiff drink can seem way more practical.

The problem is that we tend to equate meditation with ‘achieving enlightenment’ or reaching some particular ‘destination’. We’ve made it too precious. Yet if we look at the concept of mindfulness in general, it means nothing more than being fully ‘present’ in whatever we’re doing – whether that’s wrapping presents or taking out the trash. (I suspect this is why a workout or certain types of sport can leave our minds feeling so amazingly calm afterwards.)

Opportunities present themselves during the day in the most unexpected of places, and in situations where it’s impossible to multi-task. I might find myself standing on the 6 train or brushing my teeth – and with nothing else to be done in that moment, I can choose to simply notice my thoughts. This is easier said than done, I know, and inevitably I’ll get dragged down into labyrinthine trains of thought. But once I realize this, I can also choose to gently and firmly bring myself back to the task at hand.

I don’t always remember any of this, of course. Half the time I’m much too busy being annoyed with others or by my surroundings! Yet mindfulness and meditation offer us an opportunity not to feel aggravated or to be a high-achiever, or to tick things off the list, but to simply observe our busy minds and, most of the time, to feel a little less worse afterwards.

Incidentally, once I made time to read the magazine, I discovered that someone else got there first and torn all the pages out. What to make of this? On the bright side, I’d say it’s good to know I’m not the only one seeking enlightenment. But if you’re the culprit, maybe you can enlighten me while you’re at it.

How do you keep mind and body together during the holidays? Let us know on Twitter and Facebook, or leave us a comment below.

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Defining Your Strength, or, How to Sit on the Floor

Adam Swartz

Adam Swartz

For many years as a trainer I pursued the most efficient means of making clients stronger. The reasons for pursuing strength were abundant in terms of their benefits: a faster metabolism, better muscle tone and definition, increased circulation, improved bone density, and higher cardiovascular conditioning.

Clients were thrilled to feel stronger and more energetic – not to mention looking better. Our workouts were also incredibly time- efficient: usually one or two workouts a week for no more than 30 minutes at a time. We moved slowly and controlled those movements, and no one got hurt, either. Not much downside.

I practiced what I preached as well, watching the amount of weight I could safely handle grows exponentially over time. I felt lean and strong and frankly kind of smart. Like I had it all figured out.

There was just one little problem. And like many great life-insights, it was actually my kids who brought it to my attention.

You see, I couldn’t sit on the floor.

Whenever it was time to play with my kids on the floor I would have to anchor myself against a wall or a couch. Even then, I would have about 10-15 minutes before I just couldn’t handle it anymore. My back, hips and legs would be screaming. I could leg press well over 500lbs quite handily, but for some reason I couldn’t survive a game of Chutes ‘n’ Ladders with kindergarteners.

My response to this conundrum? Denial, of course. It couldn’t be that I needed to change anything, could it? After all, I was a trainer. I was strong (and smart!). People looked to me as an exemplar of health and fitness. So I just shuffled along doing the same old thing – and avoided the floor like the plague.

After my kids, the other great instructor in my life is my business partner, Paul, who in most matters is generally a few steps ahead of me. He had been quietly seamlessly weaving disciplines such as yoga, gymnastics – and, yes, strength training – for years. In fact he and several friends were practicing yoga on a weekly basis right in the middle of our studio. And I had an open invitation to join them.

After several New Year resolutions to start, I finally made an appearance. That marked the beginning of a journey that I’m still on, a journey that typifies what Transform Fitness —and transformation— is really about. I still help people to get strong, but it’s a more balanced strength. I’ve kept a lot of the strengthening techniques I used before, but I have woven in the best practices that I’ve picked up from yoga, as well as from our resident acrobat Jan Manke. These days my clients are spending more time on the floor, and you can often spot me very comfortably sitting next to them.

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‘Seasons Feedings’

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Thanksgiving is the unofficial kick-off of the feeding season. Not surprisingly it comes towards the end of the year when, let’s face it, we’re all feeling pretty worn out with elections, economies and world calamities and are eagerly looking for an excuse to celebrate – You’ve earned it! Why not??

From leftover Hallowe’en candy, followed by holiday parties, family gatherings, and those ubiquitous bowls of M & Ms left by ‘well-meaning’ folk all over the office, it’s hard to exercise self-control. In fact, a recent study shows that not only do we eat more in the company of other people, the more people there are, the more we eat!

Of course, one biscuit is not going to break the bank, but weeks of eating and drinking is a recipe for the January blues. Too many of us wake up New Year’s Day feeling bloated and tired, and resolving – as ever – to do better next year.

For the NYC gym this sets up a huge post-holiday boom in business, but in the spirit of a happy and healthy New Year for us all, we offer some tips and tools for making it through to January 1st with health and waistline intact:

  • Be aware. (And now you’ve read this far, need we say more?)
  • Set realistic goals. Maybe a 5 pound increase is worth it. But how about 10? How will you feel having to lose it afterwards? How did it feel last year?
  • How will you achieve your goal? Set yourself strict limits – and keep to them.
  • Which brings us to our last tip: Enlist support! That’s right, tell your trainer, make a pact with a spouse or co-worker, and if others try to goad you into excess (and they will!) refuse to take the bait. After all, come January, you’ll have the last laugh…

How about you? What’s your seasonal strategy? Scroll down to the Comments section below, or share your tips on Twitter and Facebook.

Want to get a jump on your New Year resolution? We’ve extended our October Promotion! Schedule a free consult and get 20% off any package of training sessions. Call or text: (917) 804 1866 Or email us at: info@transformfitness.com

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‘Turn Your World Upside-Down’

Do you remember learning to walk? Possibly not, yet somehow all of us mastered the technique of supporting our whole body weight through our feet and the narrow area of our ankles – and we’re all so great at it that we now barely give it a moment’s thought.

Let’s imagine for a moment turning this whole process upside down and balancing yourself through your hands and wrists? What happens to your body when you’re trying to maintain your balance in this precarious position? And more importantly, are there any advantages to doing so?

Just as walking on our feet supports the whole leg hip, and knee area, learning how to balance on your hands strengthens your shoulder, chest, back – and core. Yes, that four-letter word that gets thrown around a lot in personal training circles, though we use our body’s core muscles constantly in our everyday lives. Like walking upright, we barely notice, but turn yourself upside down and that same area is forced to work really, really hard! Here’s someone who’s mastered it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yiq3MEw8tNw&sns=fb

Like any skilled performer, Mikael Kristiansen makes hand-balancing look simultaneously simple and impossible. Learning takes time, but the good news is that from your very first lesson the benefits are immediate. Your body gets a complete workout due to the massive effort involved in maintaining your balance in a physically unfamiliar position. In other words, it’s an extremely learnable skill with huge pay-offs.

Want to see the benfits for yourself? Come learn with us at Transform Fitness NYC in a class taught by handstand master Jan Manke. Sign up here.

And while we’ve got your attention, what would you like to see covered in our blog? Let us know in the Comments section below, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. Text or Call for info: 917 804 1866

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Even Trainers Get Lonely

photo 3

Did you catch the recent New York Times article about the 7-Minute Workout? It’s a great idea for when you’re stuck on your own in a confined space, but like some other heart rate-elevating activities (that we’re too polite to mention here), we think it’s more fun doing it with someone else. It also gets us way better results. Yep, even trainers get lonely.

This was just one of the factors we kept in mind when we teamed up with the super-innovative MBH Fitness, Inc. to create ‘Metabolic Fundamentals’. We knew that muscles need to be challenged in both their long and short positions (a reality that traditional workouts tend to miss). And of course we all know that stronger muscles rev up the metabolism and burn more calories. So we wondered:

Can we combine all these elements to build a dynamic workout which engages the entire core, provides a warm-down stretch to increase mobility, AND… is also really, really fun?

The answer is YES!

It was a tall order, but we can now present ‘Metabolic Fundamentals’, a high-intensity, circuit-based class led by our very own Sal Lozado. We’ve limited numbers to a small group so that Sal can modify each exercise to challenge you at your current fitness level and help you develop stamina to go farther next time. So if you’re not getting the results you want on your own, drop into Transform Fitness NYC and work out with us – we’d love to have you!

$40 p/class. Weds, Thurs & Fridays: 7pm & 8pm. Saturdays: 1pm – 5pm. Sundays: 9am – 5pm. Sign up here. Text or Call for info: 917 804 1866

Have you tried our other classes? Questions? Suggestions? What would you like to see covered in our blog? Let us know what you think in the Comments section below. And find us on Twitter and Facebook.

This week’s photo/tableau courtesy of Rodrigo Quiroz.

 

 

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The Tortoise and the Hare

Tortoise2

Imagine if in our small but determined brains as babies we spent only a few hours trying to walk upright before giving up and calling it a day?

This thought came to me recently when I had the opportunity to assist a great Coach and mentor, Christopher Sommer, in a weekend seminar for a strength and conditioning program called Gymnasticbodies. I was struck by how many of the students expected immediate progress - and I thought, why is it that we expect spontaneous mastery of a skill that we’ve never attempted before?

We live in a world that promotes immediate gratification and the desire for everything to go faster can be the result – especially in New York! As we discussed last week, in the course of our lives there are profound changes to how we move and feel, and we can’t always perform as we used to. Of course, remedying the situation is not an overnight process, and it’s all too easy to feel frustrated the minute we embark upon it. Could we take a different approach?

As fitness professionals we provide expertise and measurable results. We also act as coaches, helping our clients transform their limitations into strengths. In my own journey with Coach Sommer I’ve learned that progress takes time, and also, that having a little patience with myself (as well as others) goes a long way to achieving the results I want. As with the tortoise in ‘The Tortoise and the Hare’, our progress may appear agonizingly slow, but with patience and an experienced personal trainer, we’ll get to our destination a lot quicker than we thought!

Paul Watson
Founding Partner
Transform Fitness Group

Are you a tortoise or a hare? Tell us about your experiences, both in the gym and out, on Twitter and Facebook. If you’d like to share this with a friend, simply go to the bottom of the page to forward it.

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Transform Fitness NYC — It is NOT Too Late!

A Word of Hope Before Things Get Scary

As younger people it can feel so much easier to make fitness a regular part of our lives. We’re motivated by performance improvement for our sport or wanting to look good to attract a date. Others of us might not worry too much at all, of course! Either way, as our bodies mature lifestyles change as well, and this reality brings a few changes of its own…

Twenty-something

‘Woo! Shots! I feel great!’ Okay, so you’ve probably never have said such a thing (or not that you’d remember). The point is, we all peak physically somewhere in our mid to late twenties. It’s crucial now to stay on top of things, because this too will pass – and fast!

Thirty-something

‘I’m so freakin’ tired!’ Family commitments and careers take priority. Time passes in a haze of exhaustion. Without our barely realizing, fitness has been put on the back-burner.

Forty-something

‘What happened??’ Our bodies come to a screeching halt. Busy lives, childbirth, taking care of others…all these can leave our bodies feeling in disarray. We are shocked – shocked! – and a little indignant, frankly, to find ourselves with bum shoulders and bad backs, dodgy knees or ballooning stomachs. We stand in front of the mirror and wonder if there’s anything to be done…

But it’s not too late.

The answer is that at Transform we’ve all been there (really), and solving fitness conundrums is just part of what we do best. Every day we work with our clients – and with ourselves – to conquer shoulder pain, neck and arm weakness, rotator cuff problems, weak muscles, strength imbalances – and yes, since you’re wondering, wayward stomachs!

We’ve learned that though it’s never too late to start, it’s worth taking that little bit of time for yourself right now – in other words, taking the time to invest in that healthier, stronger, leaner,  future you – which means the present you, the one that’s reading this now – whether you’re 18 or 80. Here’s how:

Until Hallowe’en new clients of any age receive a free consult + an unbeatable 20% off on any session package, for savings of up to $1,150! If you’re already a Transform Fitness NYC client, refer a friend and we’ll say thank you with a free session.

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Transform Fitness NYC — Hips Don’t Lie

The Hips Don’t Lie

…or Do They?

Low back pain, difficulty getting out of a chair, pain down one leg, difficulty sleeping on your side, while the thought of running for a bus or anything else feels like a commitment to a marathon!

Any of these sound familiar?

We tend to equate painful hips with old age and being two steps away from a hip replacement. It’s not that your hips lie, exactly, but if you’ll allow me to use my own hip as Exhibit A, here’s why it can be worth taking another approach:

Many years of sports and neglect have given me a tight and achy pirformis muscle. ‘A what?’ you might ask. The piriformis is one of those small-but-important muscles, located in your hip, and it allows you to rotate your leg laterally or to the outside. You might know it as the lacrosse ball muscle. Needless to say mine is tight.

For many sufferers the problem is compounded by daily sitting. This causes the piriformis to remain short and tight for most of our waking hours, while long term disuse then creates muscle weakness. At Transform Fitness we build stronger muscles every day, of course, but we can’t achieve this before healing the connective tissue.

So what’s the solution?

I use some very specific hip stretches – a short routine which gives the piriformis a rest and helps heal the connective tissue. The result has been a good deal of relief and has let me move more easily and with less discomfort. By applying this routine regularly, my piriformis will soon be back to being just another of those little muscles I barely notice.

If you’d like to try out a strengthening routine for your own achy back drop me a line at info@transformfitnessnyc.com and we’ll be happy to provide a free consult – no hip replacement required!

 

 

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