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’


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:

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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:

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


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…


‘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!


‘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.


‘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 and we’ll be happy to provide a free consult – no hip replacement required!



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Transform Special Offer + New Blog

Welcome to the all new, revamped, super-inspiring, Transform Fitness NYC blog! Every Thursday we’ll be helping you jump-start your day with bite-sized tips on health and exercise, spilling all our secrets from healthy eating, how to rev up your metabolism, dealing with back pain, and more. We’ll also keep you on trend with our newsletter – a quick, monthly round-up of Transform’s key happenings and events.

But first…the promo!

How often have you heard that friend or colleague say, “I HAVE to start working out!” or “I NEED to get back to the gym!” This October at Transform Fitness we’re turning all those Haves and Needs into Can-dos with an amazing new offer:

Until October 31st new clients will receive a free consult + an unbeatable 20% off on any session package, for savings of up to $1,150!

Already a Transform NYC client? Refer a friend and we’ll say thank you with a free session. Choose from personal training or yoga, or if you’ve always dreamed of running off to join the circus, try our acrobat class.

Join the Conversation

Want to know about the best ab workout? Or the skinny on the latest exercise fad? You don’t need an app for that when you’ve got us! We’ll be Tweeting up a storm on Twitter and flapping our gums on Facebook, so head on over and tell us what you think. Ideas? Suggestions? Ask us all the questions you’ve wondered about but never dared ask, and we’ll feature the best ones in a future blog!

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Client Spotlight: Novelist Alan A. Winter








Congratulations to Alan Winter, long-time client at Transform Fitness Group, whose most recent novel Savior’s Day was just published and is now available at Amazon. I had the privilege of reading an early draft and it is a phenomenal read.

For more information about Savior’s Day and Alan’s other novels, check out his website. One of the great things about working at Transform is the quality of people we get to work with everyday, and we are proud to have Alan among them.  Congratulations again!

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Rest and Repose

A recent blog post on the New York Times points to a deeper truth for all of us who are pursuing excellence in our fitness.  From the article:

“For years researchers have known that adults who sleep less than five or six hours a night are at higher risk of being overweight. Among children, sleeping less than 10 hours a night is associated with weight gain.

Now a fascinating new study suggests that the link may be even more insidious than previously thought. Losing just a few hours of sleep a few nights in a row can lead to almost immediate weight gain.”

Our health and fitness is embedded in the lives we lead, the choices we make.  So often, we think of everything we “need” to do in order to achieve, and yet if there isn’t a counterbalance to this, we ultimately will be spinning our wheels, or even going backwards.  Check out the full article here , and get some sleep.


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