Fitness, Health, and Business Blog

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Fitness Walking

By Dave Johnson

The landscape of the fitness industry has changed dramatically over the past few months. A staple of most communities, fitness facilities have been ordered to close, trainers have been furloughed, and people have openly stated that they aren’t sure if they’ll feel “safe” in facilities when (and if) they reopen.

This, of course, comes at a time where the need to live a healthy life has never been more important. COVID-19 has really raised the focus on public health and, as trainers, we play an integral role in helping people! Consider the co-morbidities most often associated with complications from COVID-19: obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. These are all things that we help people with on a daily basis. We’ve been talking about the importance of battling these conditions for decades but, now that the spotlight is on them, people are taking notice and want to improve. It’s important to note that this includes potential new clients, as well as those who may have suffered from the dreaded “Quarantine 15” weight gain.

The issue facing trainers, however, is clear – how do we train our clients when they are hesitant to come to our facility or, even worse, our facilities are closed? The answer lies in improving and diversify our offerings. Trainers must be innovative and look for ways to help people outside the normal confines of a fitness facility. Both social distancing and outdoor activity are proven ways to minimize the spread of COVID-19, so seeking activities that accomplish both are essential to our success.

Fitness WalkingOne exciting option for trainers is to encourage Fitness Walking. An underrated exercise activity, fitness walking can yield a multitude of benefits for your clients – both new and established. It’s low-impact, provides both physical and mental benefits and, most importantly, can be done virtually anywhere by anyone! W.I.T.S. Fitness Walking course covers proper techniques, skills, and content used in designing, implementing, and evaluating individualized and group programs in fitness walking for a variety of clients and their fitness levels. You’ll learn about nuances such as gait deviation (which can play a huge role in stride rate/length and injury prevention) and how the principles of physical fitness directly relate to fitness walking. You’ll learn about specific flexibility exercises that can benefit walkers and even some basics about proper clothing and footwear! In short, this course will give you the necessary skills to add this style of training to your offerings so you can continue to be profitable during these trying times.

As mentioned earlier, this pandemic has forced us to be innovative and there are some really fun new concepts that have emerged that would pair nicely with fitness walking, such as virtual races. Obviously, given the times, the idea of getting large groups of people together for a 5K, 10K, half- or full-marathon, is one that should remain just that: an idea. Instead, the market for virtual races has exploded since February! There are races of almost any length and many of them have fun (or customizable) themes that award medals and gear much like their physical counterparts. Think about how fun it would be for a new client to have the pride of accomplishing a goal without the usual nerves or hesitation associated with a live event. It could just be what they need to make this a lifelong activity and you’re the perfect trainer to help them get started.

Swing by the W.I.T.S. store to check this course out, as well as our other sport-based CEC offerings. Check back in often as we are beginning to develop a new line of courses specific to the current needs of trainers.

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Nutritional Concepts

By Dave Johnson

Picture this: it’s been a great workout with a relatively new client. They’ve pushed themselves hard in each of their workouts but they’re not quite seeing the results they had hoped for. The client finishes their last set and you’re right in the middle of your concluding conversation when the question pops out: “what should I be eating?”

Sound familiar? This is a scene that plays out all across the personal training stratosphere fairly regularly. The vast majority of personal trainers are questioned about dietary advice at some point in their careers and, when we look at the data, it’s not all that surprising!

The obesity epidemic in the United States is well-documented. Over the past 20 years, the rate of obesity in adults has grown from 30.5% to 42.4% and, when you include the number of Americans who are overweight, that percentage grows to 71.6%[1]! If you’re curious about the trends in your own state, here’s a link to the CDC’s Obesity Prevalence trends from 2011 through 2018. (more…)

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Finding Your Customers: Listen, Define, and Think to Increase Your Social Media Presence

It’s hard to imagine what life would be like without the various forms of social media that influence our lives each day. Do you have a social media presence? Is it for your personal use or strictly for your professional use? If you do, you’re part of an ever-growing population that is adopting the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms. Over the past ten years, the use of social media has exploded. According to Forbes, there are now 5.2 billion individuals with cell phones on this planet and there are 3.8 billion social media users. That means that, in all likelihood, 2020 will be the final year where less than half of the Earth’s population will be using some form of social media. That’s a pretty shocking statistic!

Looking back at the first paragraph of this post, if you answered “yes” to the question posed, you’re already on your way! What matters most to you is whether or not you’re truly maximizing your presence by understanding the role of social media in the promotion of your brand or business.

If you answered “no” to the question posed in the opening paragraph, what is it that is holding your back from tapping into this massive pool of potential revenue? Most people who avoid social media cite a lack of tech savvy or fear of “misuse” as their primary reasons for not getting their brand or business online. Consider, though, the potential revenue you may be missing out on.

A large part of proper social media use is increasing your visibility. The more visible you become, the more likely you are to monetize your online presence. Did you know that, in 2020, companies are expected to spend nearly $43 billion on social media advertising and, by 2022, companies will invest $15 billion on influencer marketing? Influencers, by definition, are people who have built a reputation for their knowledge and expertise on a specific topic. These people, through their posts, have gathered such a following that brands and companies are willing to actually pay them for their exposure!

Social media newbies and veterans alike can benefit from the introductory concepts taught in this mini-course. For example, one of the most important things about using interactive social media is “likeability”. Do people who view your content find it to be worthwhile? Do they like viewing your content enough to follow you or give your post the cherished “like”? Whether you’re using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, or one of the many other platforms available, Finding Your Customers: Listen, Define, and Think to Increase Your Social Media Presence will give you the necessary tools to help you increase your social media presence and, more importantly, become more “likeable” online.   You will learn how to listen online, how to target markets using different social media outlets, and develop more authentic online relationships that will increase business and sales.

Click here to visit the W.I.T.S. store and explore our Online Business Management Success Series course offerings!

[1] Koetsier, John. “Why 2020 Is A Critical Global Tipping Point For Social Media.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 19 Feb. 2020, www.forbes.com/sites/johnkoetsier/2020/02/18/why-2020-is-a-critical-global-tipping-point-for-social-media/#120e135b2fa5.

[2] Cooper, P. (2020, April 23). 43 Social Media Advertising Stats that Matter to Marketers in 2020. Retrieved from https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-advertising-stats/

[3] Schomer, A. (2019, December 17). Influencer Marketing: State of the social media influencer market in 2020. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/influencer-marketing-report

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Preparing for Basic Training in the Era of Social Distancing

By Mark S. Cassidy, MS and Joe Giandonato, MS, CSCS

Weeks ago, our lives and our society as we operate have indelibly changed.  In the months preceding widespread lockdowns, the insidious and highly transmissible pathogen COVID-19, stealthily coursed the globe. This virus has infected millions and contributed to an extremely high number of deaths worldwide.

Mark Cassidy - Certified Personal Trainer InstructorWhile the COVID-19 pandemic has paralyzed a continuum of industries and businesses, our nation’s great military charges on.  They have assisted in erecting temporary hospitals, bolstering our nation’s law enforcement and security functions, distributing rations to displaced and needy citizens, and joining healthcare professionals on the frontlines.

And for those who have recently enlisted or are contemplating enlistment, preparation cannot cease. Just because local gyms and athletic facilities have temporarily closed, that doesn’t mean one should abandon their physical preparedness.  Each recruit, irrespective of their branch, will be called upon to complete a physical fitness test.

One can adequately prepare by incorporating a full-body resistance training regimen along with high-intensity cardiovascular activities that can be performed at home with minimal to no equipment.  This will ensure increases in muscle strength, lean body mass, and cardiorespiratory fitness needed to meet the rigors of basic training.

Although there are some slight variations, all branches of the military have some form of physical fitness requirement for entrance into their respective community.  The following is a list of these requirements for each branch (as of January 2020).  The scoring for each test is determined by the particular branch; along with the order or substitutions of exercises.

Marine Corps

  • 2-minutes of abdominal crunches
  • Pull-ups for maximum repetitions
  • 3-mile run
  • Push-ups for maximum repetitions

Navy

  • 2-minutes of push-ups
  • 2-minutes of sit-ups
  • 5-mile run or 500yd/450m swim

Air Force

  • 1-minute of push-ups
  • 1-minute of sit-ups
  • 5-mile timed run

Coast Guard

  • 1-minute of push-ups
  • 1-minute of sit-ups
  • 5-mile timed run

Army

  • Standing Power / Medicine Ball Throw
  • Deadlift for a three-repetition maximum
  • Hand release push-ups for 2 minutes
  • 50-meter sprint (3 x), 50-meter drag of a 90 lbs. sled, 50-meter carry of two 40 lbs. kettlebells
  • Hanging leg tucks for 2 minutes
  • 2-mile timed run

 

Service Academy Fitness Assessment 

The Service Academies of the Air Force (USAFA), Navy (USNA), Army (USMA), and the Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) use the Candidate Fitness Assessment (CFA)

  • Kneeling basketball throw for distance
  • Cadence pull-ups for repetitions
  • 120 ft. shuttle-run for time
  • 1-minute of crunches
  • 1-minute of push-ups
  • 1-mile run

Although there is no direct substitute for performing any of the actual testing exercises, performing a holistic resistance training program will help with the preparation of the actual test.

The resistance / full-body workout, will hit each major muscle group.  The initial program will go for 30 days (4 weeks), with 5 workout days and 2 light/rest days per week.  If you do not have access to free-weight equipment, you can substitute in something else while performing the movements. (Example: therapy bands, kettlebells, medicine balls, or even bricks, jugs of water or buckets of sand could work)

It is up to each individual to determine the amount of intensity, resistance or repetitions they can handle on each day.  Keep in mind that the military is a physically and mentally demanding profession, so working until a point of fatigue (or failure) can be a good guideline.  However, never use a workout intensity or resistance load that causes you to become injured.

Taking into consideration any nutritional / meal requirements, staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water and attempting to get seven to nine hours of sleep a day, is also important during your training.

If necessary, contact a certified Athletic Trainer, Strength Coach, Fitness Professional or Health Care Provider for additional guidance.

Resistance Program

Monday:
(10 – 15 minute warm-up and stretch should be done to start the program)
(The rest time between sets can be 30 – 90 seconds)
Dumbbell Shoulder Squat: 4-5 sets 10-12 repetitions
Dumbbell Bench / Lat Rows: 3-4 sets 12-15 repetitions
Dumbbell Lifts / Back Extensions 4-sets 8-10 repetitions
Dumbbell Bench Press: 4-5 sets 10-12 repetitions
Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 3-4 sets 12-15 repetitions

Cardio Work: 15 – 20 minute light jog / walk

 

Tuesday:
(10 – 15 minute warm-up and stretch should be done to start the program)
(The rest time between sets can be 30-90 seconds)
Seated Knee Tucks: 4-5 sets 15-20 repetitions
Wide Hand Push-Ups: 3-4 sets 10-12 repetitions
Full Sit-Ups: 4-5 sets 15-20 repetitions
Pull-Ups: 3-4 sets 10-12 repetitions
Mountain Climbers: 4-5 sets 15-20 repetitions

Cardio Work: 10 – 15 Sprints for 40-50 yards

 

Wednesday:
Active Rest Day
15 – 30 minutes of stretchers for the entire body
15 – 30 minutes of cardiovascular work by a light-brisk walk

 

Thursday:
(10 – 15 minute warm-up and stretch should be done to start the program)
(The rest time between sets can be 30-90 seconds)
Barbell Bench Press: 4-5 sets 10-12 repetitions
Barbell Dead Lifts: 3-4 sets 12-15 repetitions
Barbell Up-Right Rows: 4-sets 8-10 repetitions
Dumbbell Bicep Curls: 4-5 sets 10-12 repetitions
Dumbbell Triceps Extensions: 3-4 sets 12-15 repetitions

Cardio Work: 15 – 20 minute light jog / walk

 

Friday:
(10 – 15 minute warm-up and stretch should be done to start the program)
(The rest time between sets can be 30-90 seconds)
Full Sit-Ups: 4-5 sets 15-20 repetitions
Narrow Hand Push-Ups: 3-4 sets 10-12 repetitions
Standing Oblique Twists: 4-5 sets 15-20 repetitions
Lying Supine Back Extensions: 3-4 sets 10-12 repetitions
Mountain Climbers: 4-5 sets 15-20 repetitions

Cardio Work: 10 – 15 Sprints for 40-50 yards

 

Saturday:
(10 – 15 minute warm-up and stretch should be done to start the program)
(The rest time between sets can be 60 – 120 seconds)
Jumping Jacks: 4-5 sets 15-20 repetitions
Walking Forward Lunges: 3-4 sets 10-12 repetitions
Jump Squats: 4-5 sets 8-10 repetitions
Side Steps: 3-4 sets 10-12 repetitions
Depth Jumps: 4-5 sets 8-10 repetitions

Cardio Work: 15 – 20 minute light jog / walk

 

Sunday:
Active Rest
30 – 60 minutes of Stretching / Yoga / Meditation

 

Substitute Exercises

In the event that you would not have access to the type of resistance exercise equipment necessary to perform the movement or for some reason you found the exercise too difficult, below is a list of substitution exercises that you can utilize in any of the program’s daily workouts:

Narrow Stance Body Weight Squats: 4-5 sets 12-15 repetitions
Single Leg Body Weight Squats: 4-5 sets 5-8 repetitions on each leg
Stationary Lateral Lunges: 3-4 sets 5-8 repetitions on each leg
Single Leg Standing Calf Raise: 3-4 sets 10-12 repetitions on each leg
Clapping Hands Push-Ups: 3-4 sets 8-10 repetitions
Non-Symmetrical Hand Placement Push-Ups: 3-4 sets 8-10 repetitions
Single Arm Push-Ups: 3-4 sets 5-8 repetitions on each arm
Side Plank: 3-4 sets hold 30-45 seconds on each side
Bicycle Abs / Knee to Elbow: 3-4 sets 10-12 repetitions on each side
Superman: 3-4 sets 10-12 repetitions
Chair Dips: 4-5 sets 10-12 repetitions

 

Summary

It will be best to begin training 3 to 4 months in advance of the actual fitness testing date.  This will allow time for a certified Athletic Trainer, Strength Coach or Fitness Professional to make recommendations on when to change intensity, time and exercise variations, to help the probability of your success.

To find out when a particular branch of the military is scheduling fitness tests, contact your local recruiting office for specific details.

Here are websites that can be used for reference:
https://amops.org/
https://www.military.com
https://www.todaysmilitary.com

 

Thank you in advance for your service to our country!

 

Mark S. Cassidy, MS has been an educational instructor with the W.I.T.S. organization since 2000. He has held professional positions with The Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Philadelphia 76ers, YMCA, Delaware Blue Coats, Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, and American Heart Association.  Mark has an Associate’s degree in Business from Delaware County Community College, a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology from Temple University and a Master’s degree in Organizational Development/Business Psychology from The Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.  He has professional experience as a Fitness Instructor, Strength Coach, Sports Coach-Counselor, Exercise Therapist, Sales Manager, College Professor, and Athletic Facility Director.

Joe Giandonato, MS, CSCS is an educational instructor with the World Instructor Training Schools, fitness and recreation specialist at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, and an adjunct faculty member at Eastern University and Chestnut Hill College where he teaches exercise science electives. Previously, Giandonato served as the Manager of Health Promotion and Wellness at Drexel University, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Germantown Academy, and Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at Saint Joseph’s University.

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Insurance & Coverage In The Age Of COVID-19

CPH & Associates is committed to supporting our clients during the Covid-19 pandemic. We understand that many of you have had to alter the way you practice in order to face this unprecedented challenge.

As you shift to providing training sessions via online platforms, we are pleased to assure you that your professional liability policy covers online/video services, per the terms and conditions of the policy. There is no additional “rider” or endorsement that you need to add to your policy to be covered for these services. We encourage you to confirm that you are providing services legally within the scope of your state’s laws.

It is important to ensure you are protected while you continue to see clients during this time. Injury and mishaps can still occur, especially with the limitations of online/video training and the lack of hands-on instruction. A policy with CPH provides peace of mind while you and your clients adapt to unfamiliar methods of working together.

Questions about your policy? Please call us at 800-875-1911 or send us an email at info@cphins.com.

Interested in learning more about our coverage for W.I.T.S. members? Please click here for our Coverage Highlights.

Please let us know if you need anything else!

Sarah HolionaCPH & Associates insurance COVID-19

Phone: 800-875-1911
Website: www.cphins.com
Address: 711 S. Dearborn St, Ste. 205 | Chicago, IL 60605

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Maintaining Your Cardiorespiratory Fitness while Maintaining Your Distance

by Joseph Giandonato, MBA, MS, CSCS

Disclaimer: The content disseminated in this article shall not be constituted as medical advice, nor should any of the suppositions set forth supersede the time-sensitive directives enacted by government organizations and public health agencies which are both empirically driven and continually evolving.

The decree of social distancing has now been embedded in our lives, influencing how we tackle mundane tasks we formerly took for granted.

COVID-19 and the resultant societal shutdown have grinded virtually every aspect of life to a screeching halt, but that doesn’t mean your workouts should be shelved. In fact, with a little introspection and a modicum of creativity, one can still maintain, or even elevate their game during these otherwise trying times.

Here’s some encouraging news, in the few weeks since your gym or fitness studio closed its doors, it’s doubtful that you’ve lost everything you worked so hard for.

Aerobic endurance can be maintained for a period of up to (30) days. Though, among highly trained endurance athletes, slight decrements in aerobic power and capacity are observed within three weeks of total inactivity. However, these losses can be attenuated by incorporating cross-training, or a combination of exercise modalities to develop fitness qualities, or in this case, maintain one’s fitness level.

For those unable to safely venture outside due to a dearth of running trails nearby or residing within an area with a high population density, these workouts should do the trick in keeping you in shape. Additionally, the inclusion of traditional strength exercises, involving your bodyweight, or household objects and fixtures, something most recreational runners already eschew, can improve your running economy, a term that describes the efficiency your body utilizes energy at a given velocity. Strength training adeptly strengthens muscles and tendons, enabling them to absorb, store, and redirect forces sustained during running gait.

Here’s a circuit that lengthens and strengthens muscles while keeping your heart rate at or near the pace you’re maintaining during your runs.

Circuit

Perform each numbered block (i.e. “1, 2, 3” for as many rounds as desired, or possible with little to no rest between exercises).

1a) Alternating Heel Grab with Overhead Reach 1 x 10 repetitions (each side)
1b) Alternating Reverse Lunge 1 x 10 repetitions (each side)
1c) Shuffle Steps 20 repetitions total
1d) High Knees x :15 seconds

2a) Alternating Groiner with Thoracic Rotation 1 x 5 (each side)
2b) Push-up 1 x 10 repetitions
2c) Prone Robbery Exercise (scapular retraction and shoulder external rotation) 1 x 15 repetitions
2d) Alternating Cook Hip Lift 1 x 10 repetitions (each side)

3a) Prisoner Squat 1 x 10 repetitions
3b) Side Plank with Hip Abduction (Leg Raise) 1 x 10 repetitions (each side)
3c) Prone Alternating Shoulder Touch 20 repetitions total
3d) Burpee 1 x 3 repetitions total

Try it out and if trekking outdoors, be sure to keep your distance as the most recent recommendation is maintaining 6 feet or more between you and others who may be sharing the same trail, sidewalk, or roadway.

Reference

Coyle, E.F., Martin, W.H., Sinacore, D.R., Joyner, M.J., Hagberg, J.M., & Holloszy, J.O. (1984). Time course loss of adaptations after stopping prolonged intense endurance training. Journal of Applied Physiology, Respiratory, Environmental Exercise Physiology, 57 (6), 1857-1864.

Joe GiandonatoJoseph Giandonato, MBA, MS, CSCS presently serves as a fitness specialist at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, where he assists with the oversight of recreational and college-wide wellness programming. Giandonato also serves as a part-time faculty member at Eastern University and Chestnut Hill College, where he teaches Exercise Science electives. Previously, Giandonato served as the manager of Health Promotion and Wellness at Drexel University where he initiated and implemented the award winning A HEALTHIER U campus wellness initiative. Additionally, Giandonato serves as an instructor for the World Instructor Training Schools, through which he’s helped certify hundreds of personal trainers since 2010.

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Staying Fit in the Age of Social Distancing

As we continue to practice social distancing and local fitness facilities remain closed, we’ve received a lot of inquiries regarding opportunities for exercising while remaining at home. We’re here to help! Here is a short list of free fitness options that you can either provide to your clients, use for yourselves, or both!

We hope you like this addition and please share what your club group or W.I.T.S. alumni business is providing for their clients and community virtually. Be safe and healthy as we do this together.

Planet Fitness – Planet Fitness is offering a way for everyone — members and non-members — to work on their fitness while at home. Every day at 7 p.m. Eastern, the gym will be live-streaming “Work-Ins” on Facebook.

ClassPass – ClassPass is offering free unlimited access to 2,000 video and audio workouts when you create an account and download the app.

305 Fitness – 305 Fitness is offering at-home dance classes that will help you work up a sweat. The studio is live-streaming cardio dance workouts on its YouTube channel twice a day that you can playback at any time.

Life Time – You can now get your favorite yoga, cardio and strength-training classes on demand! Life Time invites members and non-members to experience a good workout for free, and new classes get added every day.

OrangeTheory – Orangetheory is uploading new 30-minute workout videos to its Facebook page and website every day to help you achieve your health goals without leaving your living room. Be prepared to use just about anything you can find around the house for resistance!

Blink Fitness – Every weekday at 8 a.m. ET, log on to Facebook to get access to Blink Fitness’ live streams that will focus on a certain part of the body.

Gold’s Gym – Membership or not, Gold’s Gym is offering free access to its online collection of over 600 audio and video workouts until the end of May 2020.

Fit On – You can work out with celebrity trainers every day for free and get the superstar treatment when you try out the FitOn app. You will be able to customize your fitness plan according to your schedule and will have access to over 100 classes that focus on cardio, strength and even some exercises for pregnant women!

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Strength Training Tips For Young Athletes

Mark Cassidy - Certified Personal Trainer InstructorBy Mark S. Cassidy, MS

If you are involved for any length of time in the Health & Fitness Industry, the topic of strength training children is going to come up.  What age can they start? How often can they perform a routine?  What type of routine is best suited for them?  How long until they start to see results?  … are all part of the list of questions that will arise…  But there’s nothing wrong with these questions or a youngster trying to increase their strength or improve their body style.  They just need to do it properly.

Over the years there has been a misconception that kids shouldn’t lift weights until they were at least 16 or 17 years old.  If they attempted to perform weight lifting exercises at an age any younger, they could seriously damage themselves and potentially could stunt their growth. However the times have changed.  There are Health & Fitness Experts, Certified Athletic Coaches and Medical Doctors who can agree that children can start working with weights, as early as grade school.  But there has to be specific rules and guidelines followed to not only ensure the youth’s fitness success but help minimize any chance of injury.

PHYSICAL & PSYCHOLOGICAL BENEFITS

There is both a physical and psychological component / benefit for children who strength train.

  • Increase muscle strength
  • Increase muscle endurance
  • Increase in bone density
  • Increase in joint mobility & stability
  • Decrease in potential injuries
  • Improved performance in youth sports activities
  • Better social acceptance from piers
  • Improved self-image
  • More self confidence

Along with building muscle, when done correctly and using a full range of motion, it can also improve bone structure and density and help develop a youngster’s flexibility, exposing another old myth—that lifting weights makes a child stiff and ‘muscle bound’.

AGE & SKILL CONSIDERATIONS

Professionals in this field advocate a more functional approach to strength training for kids.  Introduce them first to basic exercises that have little or no weight.  The emphasis must be on using proper technique.  As they get older, the weights can gradually get heavier and the number or variety activities can increase.

PROGRAM DESIGN SUGGESTIONS

It is recommended that kids do at most 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions for each exercise. They shouldn’t lift more than 3 times per week, and they should never sacrifice technique for additional reps or weight.  For safety reasons, you should also discourage youngster’s from lifting any weights over their heads or faces or any other lifting that unnecessarily strains their spines (for example bench press, shoulder press, or back squats).

According to Dr. Cedric Bryant, the vice president of educational services at the American Council on Exercise, kids ages 11-13 can begin doing some of the traditional strength training exercises keeping the resistance light.  However, the instruction for these kids needs to be based on proven physical, phycological and biomechanical principles.  In addition to being coached by trained-certified health and fitness professionals.

And what can parents tell the skinny teenager who weight trains all summer but is disappointed in the fall when they don’t look like a “Superman”?

Just because you don’t always see results immediately, doesn’t mean the time and effort you are putting in, is not having a benefit.  Hormones and metabolism may not be fully activated yet to make those muscles develop.  A child’s height and limb-length may still be developing.  And dietary requirements and adaptability may be coming into play.  There are always mental and structural gains taking place with exercise movements – even if it’s not visually noticeable.  Keep working hard and putting in the time.  The Superhero will eventually arrive.

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Vitamins to Support Your Body’s Immune System

Mark Cassidy - Certified Personal Trainer InstructorBy Mark S. Cassidy, MS

COVID-19 is now causing major health concerns throughout the United States along with the world. Close to 150 nations are being affected by this virus and (as of March 2020) there is no vaccine currently on the market.  However, that doesn’t mean that people can’t take proactive measures to help slow the spread of the virus.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has made the following daily recommendations:

  • Limit social gatherings and keep approximately 6 feet of distance (Social Separation)
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay at home if you are sick (Self Quarantine)
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth as much as possible
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Clean objects and surfaces using a household cleaning spray or disinfected wipe
  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds

All of these recommendations by the CDC are important.  But we can all do more.

Viruses negative effects on the body are influenced by one’s own immune system.  The stronger and healthier your immune system is, the more efficient you are to fighting back against bacteria and viruses.  It is very important for us to maintain a healthy immune system.  Therefore, a proper diet that is filled with the necessary vitamins is needed, to help against harmful germs.

The vitamins that should be taken to help maintain a healthy immune system are as follows:

VITAMIN C

Vitamins C takes aggressive action towards germs causing damage to your immune system.  Vitamin C strengthens the cells that help in killing the germs, hence providing a boost to the immune system.  In the body, Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, working to protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals.  (Antioxidant – is a substance that inhibits oxidation, deterioration or reactions promoted by oxygen, peroxides, or free radicals).  Vitamin C helps the body make collagen and helps improve the absorption of iron from plant-based foods.

Citrus fruits and green vegetables are all great sources of vitamin C.

VITAMIN A

Vitamin A is often associated with vision, but it also has a positive role in a strong immune system.  Vitamin A is considered to be a defensive line for the immune system because it helps keep the germs and the viruses from entering the body.  Vitamin A helps in keeping the mucous membrane moist and soft (which can be found in the nose, throat and mouth).  The mucous membrane needs to be kept moist and soft because this helps it in trapping the germs and stopping them from infiltration into the body.  Vitamin A also creates the enzymes that boost the immune system, along with playing a role in the maintenance of body linings and skin reproduction.

Vitamin A can be found in vegetables like broccoli, lettuce, carrots and squash, along with breakfast cereals, dairy products and some types of fish.

VITAMIN B6

Vitamin B6 (chemically know as pyridoxine) is a critically important nutrient with a wide range of functions.  Vitamin B6 is involved with more than a hundred enzyme reactions, within the body, involved in metabolism.  (Metabolism – is the chemical processes that occur within a living organism in order to maintain life).  Vitamin B6 plays a big role in protein metabolism, making hemoglobin (that is needed in blood – oxygen transportation) and boosts to proper immune function.

Vitamin B6 comes from a variety of foods such as chicken, fish, potatoes, starchy vegetables and non-citrus fruits.

VITAMIN E

Vitamin E is good in boosting the immune system to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.   Vitamin E helps in the production of the protein, interleukin-2, which is a protein that kills bacteria, viruses and germs when the body is infected.  The protein (interleukin-2) that is produced by vitamin E is also used in the treatment of certain cancers.

Vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and green, leafy vegetables are all good sources of Vitamin E.

VITAMIN D

Vitamin D supports the immune system and is necessary for building and maintaining healthy bones.  The reason for this is calcium, which is the primary component of bone, can only be absorbed by your body when adequate amounts of vitamin D are present.  Your body is able to make vitamin D when direct sunlight converts a chemical in your skin into an active form of vitamin D (called calciferol).

Vitamin D isn’t found in many foods naturally, but you can get it from fortified milk, fortified cereal, and fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines.

Each of these vitamins can be obtained through food, eaten during a balanced diet.  However, you could also choose to take any (or all) of these vitamins through supplementation.  A multi-vitamin or a combination of vitamin tablets (once a day) will be sufficient to help your body’s immune system remain strong and healthy during these tough times.

Being proactive with your health, is a benefit to you and the people around you.

Stay safe.

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Epidemic Survival Strategies for Fitness Enthusiasts and Professionals

by Joseph Giandonato, MBA, MS, CSCS

Disclaimer: The content disseminated in this article shall not be constituted as medical advice, nor should any of the suppositions set forth supersede the time-sensitive directives enacted by government organizations and public health agencies which are both empirically driven and continually evolving.

Joe GiandonatoEvery aspect of our lives has been seized by ambiguity, uncertainty, and downright worry. Seemingly no societal stone has been left unturned as countless industries have been disrupted resulting in the cancellations of tens of thousands of commercial flights, countless commencement ceremonies, dozens of competitive seasons and respective postseason tournaments, prominently including March Madness, the NBA Finals, and NHL Stanley Cup, while shattering global tourism.

The coronavirus has begun to make its indelible footprint on life as we know it. However, through full adherence to evolving public health measures as a means to “flatten the curve” of growing cases while adopting a resolve of acceptance and adapting under a new set of circumstances, our society can surmount what mainstream media leads everyone to believe as an existential threat to civilization.

According to multiple media sources, this coronavirus strain, also known as COVID-19, initially emerged from the Wuhan region of the Hubei province located in southeastern China. Though conflicting reports prevail precisely from where and how this virus originated.

Coronaviruses are members of the subfamily Coronavirinae in the Coronviridae family under the order of Nidovirales and comprise four genera, or types of viruses, which have been shown to cause gastrointestinal and/or respiratory infections within mammals and birds. They have demonstrated the ability to transfect multiple species, jumping from one host to another through close contact. Additionally, they possess mutative abilities, meaning they can intensify into more virulent iterations of the virus, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2002 and 2003 and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome in 2012 and 2013.

Though persons with the coronavirus exhibit symptoms similar to the flu, both viruses differ in their genomic and virion structures, with the coronavirus bearing doubly greater rates of infection and transmissibility than the flu. The case fatality rate of coronavirus, or the percentage of cases resulting in mortality range from 1.0-3.4% versus 0.1% for the seasonal flu.

Concerningly, no vaccines exist, however, scores of pharmaceutical companies spanning the globe are scrambling to develop one. Within weeks of its emergence in southeastern China, the virus’ genome, or unique strand of genetic information, was culled from an infected subject, helping fast track vaccine development. As of Monday, March 16th, human trials are underway with a vaccine prototype in the Seattle area.

Globally, our access to healthcare and advancements in science are in stark contrast to 1917 when the first wave of the great influenza pandemic hit. A century ago, physicians and scientists only read about viruses and since the electron microscope didn’t make its way to laboratory benches until the early 1940s, there was no way to identify the culprit that claimed the lives of 50 million people.

Further, sanitary practices weren’t as stringent in healthcare settings as they are present day. Poor sanitation, in conjunction with suboptimal personal hygiene and lack of intensive care units and sterile isolation areas, lent themselves to secondary bacteria infections which many theorize, ultimately choked the final breaths from flu-stricken victims.

Chances are, history won’t be repeating itself. Though municipalities that enacted travel constraints and preventive quarantine measures, fared better than cities with lax or non-existent standards during the pandemic, so we can expect continued restrictions to reduce the likelihood of infection.

  1. Pump down the volume and turn down the intensity.

If one has access to equipment during this time, it is recommended that restraint be employed pertaining to exercise intensity and volume as both have been implicated in temporarily suppressing immune system function as marked by increases in immune cell phenotypes, cortisol, and oxidative stress. Based on the review of the literature, acute singular bouts of exercise at or above lactate threshold (55% of VO2max among untrained individuals; 85% of VO2max among trained individuals) for periods of up to, or more than one hour, contributed to temporary immunosuppression. Regular exercise among individuals has shown to yield immunoprotective benefits. The takeaway here should be, exercise during this time should be regarded as a tool to reinvigorate and recover, not bury and deliberately fatigue. Sparingly perform sets to failure and limit volume at or beyond lactate threshold. Do what is necessary to maintain muscular fitness, such as endurance or hypertrophy, but do not try to force adaptation through grueling training modalities as temporary inflammation and metabolic and oxidative stress may leave you more vulnerable to infection, if exposed to the virus. Alternatively, one can train to improve maximal, or limit strength, since development of this fitness quality is dependent upon neural, not metabolic pathways that elicit heightened metabolic and oxidative stress that can impede immune system functioning. Also, one may engage in submaximal lower intensity steady state cardiovascular exercise without much metabolic or oxidative stress inducing consequences.

  1. Prioritize lagging fitness qualities or movement capacity.

This time can be better invested focusing on deficient fitness qualities, such as limit strength, if equipment avails, aerobic fitness, or soft tissue quality, muscular extensibility, flexibility, and stability and motor control, which in concert, can improve movement capacity. Aerobic fitness and movement capacity can be improved simultaneously through hybridized circuits such as the one outlined below:

Repeat 5 times with 1:30 rest between each sequence

  • Banded Pull Apart x 15 repetitions
  • Glute Bridge x 15 repetitions
  • Alternating Groiner with Thoracic Rotation x 6 repetitions (each side)
  • Alternating High Knee Hug to Forward Lunge x 6 repetitions (each side)
  • Yoga Push Up (High Plank to Downward Dog) x 6 repetitions
  • Squat to Overhead Reach x 15 repetitions
  • Burpee x 3 repetitions
  1. Catch up on vitamin “S”…sleep!

Slow wave, or deep sleep, has shown to bolster immune system functioning (1), whereas, deprivation, even for as little as a week, impedes phagocytosis (2), the body’s process of engulfing, internalizing, and processing foreign particles, or antigens, such as viruses and bacteria. Many athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and fitness professionals are sleep deprived. Now is the chance to catch up and get a solid seven to eight per night.

  1. Contemplate shifting to virtual mediums

With much of the country under lockdown and some jurisdictions, such as the state of California, restricting person over the 65 from leaving their homes, fitness professionals, especially those who are self-employed, should consider temporarily transitioning to virtual sessions conducted via Skype, Hangout, Blue Jeans, or FaceTime. Many of these applications are free and the majority of modern-day iPhones have FaceTime capabilities. If virtual training arrangements are not possible, fitness professionals should regularly check in with their clients to ensure they are staying on track, helping ease the transition when they will inevitably be meeting with you again.

  1. Invest some time in professional development.

Investor magnate Warren Buffet has a reputation as a voracious reader, consuming newspapers, novels, and journals in upwards of five hours per day. He attributes much of his success as an investor to possessing a wide breadth of knowledge on a number of subjects and industries. Many fitness professionals fail to reach five hours of reading, or more broadly, professional development per week, let alone per month. Use this time to devour a subject or domain on which you know very little or an area that will help you better service your clients.

Joseph Giandonato, MBA, MS, CSCS presently serves as a Fitness Specialist at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, where he assists with the oversight of recreational and college-wide wellness programming. Giandonato also serves as a part-time faculty member at Eastern University and Chestnut Hill College, where he teaches exercise science electives. Previously, Giandonato served as the Manager of Health Promotion and Wellness at Drexel University where he initiated and implemented the award winning A HEALTHIER U campus wellness initiative. Additionally, Giandonato serves as an instructor for the World Instructor Training Schools, through which he’s helped certify hundreds of personal trainers since 2010.

References

  1. Besedovsky, L., Lange, T., & Born, J. (2012). Sleep and immune function. Pflugers Archive European Journal of Physiology, 463 (1), 121-137.
  2. Said, E.A., Al-Abri, M.A., Al-Saidi, I., Al-Balushi, M.S., Al-Busaidi, J.Z., Al-Reesi, I., Koh, C.Y., Idris, M.A., Al-Jabri, A.A., & Habbal, O. (2019). Sleep deprivation alters neutrophil functions and levels of Th1-related chemokines and CD4⁺ T cells in the blood. Sleep and Breathing, 23 (4), 1331-1339.