Archives for February 2011

My Sadie

This post isn’t going to be about training. I don’t know if this is even the place to write this, but I felt I had to put it somewhere. I lost my kitty, Sadie, last night. She was 17, which is very old for a cat. Over the last few weeks she hadn’t been doing very well. She didn’t really move at all and I had to pick her up and bring her to her food and back to her favorite chair. Yesterday, after I got home from work she lay in my arms for at least half an hour and didn’t even open her eyes for more than a second. Any one of my friends and family can tell you how much she meant to me.

Sadie was with me since she was a kitten. She came into my life in a roundabout way when a rommate’s friend got her for another friend. It turned out that the friend was allergic to cats and so my roomate took her. That particular roomate moved out and passed her responsibility to another roomate who then passed her on to me as it was pretty obvious by that point that she was my cat, really. I was 24.

I am 41 now and Sadie was with me for so many of my life’s events. I moved out of that place and into a small studio apartment where I stayed with her for about 9 years. Every time I left, she would jump onto my dresser and I would say goodbye to her. Every time I came home she would be waiting for me in the same spot by the door. Every night when I went to bed she would snuggle next to me and on colder nights she’d snuggle under the covers.  Every single time I was on my way home I would say to myself how happy I would be to see her when I got there. Every single time. I lost a job once and everyone asked me if I would be OK. I responded, “As long as I have my gym membership and my Sadie I’ll be fine.” I meant every word.

In April 2004 I met my future wife, Kristi. Sadie didn’t mind her but didn’t like my future step-son, Robert all that much. When they would come to my little one room apartment she would hide in the closet until they left.

About a year and a half after we met we decided to move in together. A few days after we moved in to our place we had the cable installed. I came downstairs where the cable guy was and he had the door to the outside wide open and I couldn’t find Sadie anywhere. I looked in the house for hours and then walked up and down the street and every neighboring street looking for her. I was very upset and couldn’t believe that as I was opening this great new chapter in my life she would be gone just like that. After hours of searching I went downstairs to find her just emerging from a new and very effective hiding spot. I think I cried for a good 15 minutes. She still slept by me every night.

We moved to a new place a few years after that. We got another cat and a puppy. Sadie didn’t like them very much. They were both very young and at this point Sadie was not. They didn’t understand that what they thought was playing was extremely irritating to her so she kept her distance as much as possible. As Puppy started making her way into our bed at night, Sadie starting sleeping downstairs. I don’t think I’ll ever stop feeling bad about this.

At one point after we moved she started “doing her business” in some inappropriate places around the house. The vet suggested that we keep her in a confined space with her litter box until she re-learned to use it. We kept her in a room with a window. As it was summer we kept the window slightly open and one night, she got out. She was never the sort of cat to leave the house, really. Every once in a while she’d poke her head outside and then run back in. Well, this night when I went in to see her she wasn’t there. I ran outside and found her in our back yard.

Over the past few years as she became pretty old for a cat, she lost a lot of weight. She was never a big cat to begin with, but she was still pretty healthy. That changed a few weeks ago when she became noticably still. She didn’t really move anywhere and she could no longer get to her food or up on her favorite chair. She even crawled behind our clothes drier which is something she never would have done.

Kristi took her to the vet on Thursday and found out that she had a heart murmur. I’ve known for a while that she was not a young cat and she lived several years longer then most cats do, and pretty healthy for almost all of that time. They wanted to run some tests but she became noticably worse over Friday and Saturday. I rubbed her belly and it felt hard, not right. When I got home on Saturday, Kristi was holding her wrapped in a blanket and she looked like she was sleeping. I took her and brought her upstairs with me for a little while and she didn’t even open her eyes. Her breathing was labored and she seemed too weak to move. I made the decision to bring her to the vet. Before we left I tried to give her some food and she couldn’t even stand up to eat it.

I’ve never been one to take a lot of pictures and I realized this morning that after 17 years I don’t think I have one picture of me holding her. That makes me incredibly sad.

There are many people who know me that have lost someone very important to them in the last few months. I’m beyond sorry if writing this makes it seem to you that I’m trying to compare or makes you feel bad in any way, but it just hurts so much to lose such a big part of my life. I just loved her so much. I don’t want to make anyone angry by writing this. I just wanted to say it.

Quite a while ago, when it was just her and me I went on a vacation and left her at my friend Ross’s house for a week. When he brought her back she was covered in soot. He told me that she jumped into his fireplace and covered herself in the ashes. He cleaned her off the best he could but he didn’t know if he should bathe her or not. That night I gave a her a bath in the tub for, I think, the first time in her life. If you know how much cats like water I’m sure you realize that this wasn’t a pleasant experience for her. What I’ll never forget, though, is that she just sat in the tub looking at me with complete trust. It was like she was saying, “As much as I don’t like this, if you think it’s the right thing to do, then OK.”
I hope I didn’t betray the trust she put in me. 

My Sadie. 1994-Feb. 26, 2011

Video Blog 3-Love is Just A Foam Roller Away

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT
Discover Your Strength!

Squats 101

Hello! This week I want to talk about the squat. I know I already wrote an article about the squat in August 2009, but it’s time to expand and use new technologies! Like my video blog!
I want to talk about the squat because there may not be a more bastardized exercise. There are also some misconceptions, such as squatting being bad for your knees. (It’s not. In fact in can actually be good for them.)

Here’s the truth: There isn’t another exercise that uses the amount of muscle the squat uses while also involving such an important movement pattern.

A proper squat involves the calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, hips, glutes, core, spinal erectors, and upper back. In other words, nearly every muscle from the neck down in one way or another. A proper squat also involves something called a hip hinge. A hip hinge is a movement that involves moving the hips back and forth without changing the position of your upper body.This is important because the ability to move your hips like this takes pressure off our backs and knees. I’ve had clients experience immediate improvement with knee pain just by learning this movement.

OK, enough blathering. It’s time to tell you how to do it. First, stand up. Easy, huh? (You’ll find that the most effective exercises are usually done standing, for the simple reason that you use more muscles standing than sitting.) Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width, your toes pointed slightly outward and most of your weight on your heels. Take a deep breath of air into your chest and, keeping your chest up, tighten your core. Find a spot just above eye level and without taking your eyes off of it, push your hips back as if you are sitting down. From here, continue to push your hips back and descend between your heels until the top of your thighs are parallel to the ground. Come back up by pushing through your heels. Make sure you keep a tight core and chest.

That’s it. You’ll find that this movement tests things that you might not have thought about. You also might find that you can’t go too far down at first. That’s fine. Go down as far as you can while maintaining the upper body position I described. Keep working on it and you’ll improve sooner than you think.

In my video blog at I’ll show you how to perform a good squat. I’ll also demonstrate some variations you can use to exercise around injuries and help you get back to good health. If you have any questions please email me at or give me a call at 510-754-7113.

 -from the Castro Valley Forum, Feb 9 2011

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT
Discover Your Strength!

Video Blog 2 – Squats 101

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT
Discover Your Strength!

The Strength of Strength

What would you say if I told you there was one thing that could help you lose fat, gain muscle, help your running time, lift more weight, and make you feel better both mentally and physically? You’d probably ask which aisle in the store carried this amazing pill. Well, as I’m sure you know, I’m not talking about a pill. I’m talking about one of the most overlooked aspects of many people’s training programs: strength.
Too many people judge their workouts purely by how tired they are afterward. Let me put it this way, it’s easy to do a workout that just gets you tired. Do walking lunges for five blocks. Did this workout actually help you in any way? Not really.
You should judge your workout by how much better it made you. How much closer to your goal it brought you.
You might be thinking, “I want to lose weight. How is getting stronger going to help me with that?” Well, we all know that to lose weight we need to expend more energy than we take in. In other words, burn more calories than we eat. The best way to do this through your workouts is to do something that raises your metabolism on a permanent basis. Doing one of those just-get-me-tired workouts actually LOWERS your metabolism over time due to your body’s adaptive response. Training more for strength will result in more lean body mass. As we know, lean body mass burns more calories and, presto, a higher metabolism! That’s not to say that there shouldn’t be some getting-tired aspect to your workouts.  You should be getting tired just as a result of working hard, but that shouldn’t be your primary measuring stick as to how the workout was.
Let’s talk about another kind of exerciser that commonly misses the strength element in their workouts: the endurance athlete.  There are many ways that strength can help them, but today we’ll talk about just one of them. Injuries.
Let’s say we are running two miles today. That’s roughly 4000 steps. Using exercise terminology, that means that we’re doing 4000 reps of a high impact exercise. Each time our foot hits the ground, we push off and propel ourselves forward. Doing that so many times can be very hard on our knees, ankles and back.  Doesn’t it make sense that each step will be easier if we have the strength to put more force into each step? In other words, if I can put 200 pounds of force into the ground as opposed to 125 I don’t have to exert as much energy. That leads to more efficient running and that leads to fewer injuries.
These are only a few ways that strength can help you in your fitness goals. Take a look at my new video blog below  plus some exclusive content, or just drop me a line.
Mitch Rothbardt, CPT
Discover Your Strength!