Archives for 2015

What’s Wrong With Massage And Chiropractic?

First, let me say that I’m a definite fan of both massage and chiropractic work. In fact we always start every session with some sort of breathing and self-massage with a foam roller, lacrosse ball or any numbers of other tools. These can be a huge help with all sorts of aches and pains. What I want to talk about today is how you can get an even bigger benefit from a massage or chiropractic work.

Let’s break it down a little and talk about what massage and chiropractic work do for you.

Life can be tough! As we go through life we’re constantly doing things that break our bodies down. We’re under stress, we’re moving in ways that aren’t optimal, we’re not eating right, etc. This creates issue within our body. We go to our massage therapists and chiropractors to help correct these things. They loosen us up and kind of put us back together. That’s great and beyond helpful.

Here is when problems occur. If we go right back to doing exactly what broke us down to begin with, our issues will never get fixed.

Here’s a classic example that I see on a pretty regular basis. So many of us are under all sorts of stress. Work, home, kids, etc. It goes on and on. One thing that happens when we feel stressed is that our shoulders shrug. Over time this creates tension in our shoulders, neck and upper back. It’s very common. In fact, one of the most common cues we use in our gym is “Shoulders down.”

When you get a massage and your therapist works on your shoulders and loosens them up, they’re putting you back together and trying to undo the damage you’ve done to yourself by constantly shrugging your shoulders. What happens if you go right back to shrugging your shoulders all the time? You go right back to feeling all that tension and you need another massage! This is only one of many possible examples but I think you get the point.

What I’d suggest you do is ask your chiropractor or massage therapist what they’re finding when they work on you. Is it always one area that they find problematic? If so, what would they suggest? Should you strengthen that area? Mobilize that area? Stabilize that area? If you don’t think you’ll remember what it is, write it down and talk to your trainer about what they’re telling you. (By the way, if your masseuse or chiropractor can’t or doesn’t want to tell you what they’re finding you may need to find another one.)

If you’re not doing this, than what you’re essentially doing is putting a Band-Aid on a flat tire. It might help for a little bit but it’s not a good long-term solution. I know some of this is unavoidable but so much of it is very fixable and manageable. The added benefit of this is that when you do go for your next adjustment or massage your therapist can actually work on something different that may have needed a look for a while! Doesn’t this make more sense than just going over the same problems again and again?

To make this simple just remember this:

Clean up your movement patterns and posture and you’ll find that many issues magically vanish.

Let me know if you have any questions about how to clean up your movement and get yourself feeling better.

One way to do this would be to come to a free seminar Dr. Rob Katona and I are giving at his chiropractic office at 21715 Redwood Road in Castro Valley on Saturday January 9th at noon. We’ll be talking about some easy and manageable ways to make sure you head into 2016 with a plan to feel and be better.

If you want to RSVP just send me an email to and let me know.

Have a great Christmas!

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Lean Eating Coach, FMS

2861 Grove Way in Castro Valley


I Help People Discover Their Strength!

What Kind of Goals Are Right For You?

In October and November we ran a contest at our gym. People got raffle tickets for doing various things, including for setting and reaching monthly goals. Everyone was responsible for choosing their goal and keeping track of their progress.

Something very interesting happened during those two months that I wasn’t really expecting.

Everyone’s goals could be divided into two categories. They were either performance goals (performing a certain amount of pushups with good form) or weight loss goals (losing 5 lbs.).

Here is the interesting thing:

The people who had performance goals had great success in hitting them.

Goals and Success

The people who had weight loss goals did not have great success or even good success, really.

Something else I noticed was the fact that those with performance goals came into the gym with focus and enthusiasm. If their goal was to hit a 95lb. squat and it was squat day they were into it and when they hit their number they were pumped up and proud!

In stark contrast many of the people with weight loss goals didn’t even remember what their goal was!

I don’t want this to be a long posting so I’m not going to go into all the reasons I believe this to be the case but I will point out one thing I’ve seen many times over:

When someone’s only measure of success is a number on a scale they’ll never be happy with their progress and they’ll most likely never see much in the way of lasting results.

Scale Goals

Why do I believe this to be the case? I think it has to do with wanting to accomplish something out of either a positive or negative mindset. People coming from a positive mindset tend to understand that weight loss isn’t the real goal. It’s what the weight loss can do for you. People coming from a negative mindset just don’t see that and can miss much of the good, aside from weight loss that comes from exercise.

I’ve had clients drop body fat, fit into clothes that haven’t fit in years, feel better and get stronger and not enjoy any of it because the number on the scale didn’t change enough.

On the flip side, I’ve had people enjoy the fact that they’ve dropped body fat, fit into their clothes better, feel better and gotten stronger and as a side note also enjoyed seeing the scale number drop.

Which of these two outlooks do you feel will result in better long-term success?

I’ll just finish up by saying that the more I do this, the more I see that someones mind-set, not their diet or workout plan is actually the most important determining factor in their success. I’ve seen many people make that switch and it’s truly a wonderful thing to behold.

Have a great day!

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Lean Eating Coach, FMS
2861 Grove Way in Castro Valley
I Help People Discover Their Strength!

It’s A Mom Thing, You Wouldn’t Understand

Mothers are wonderful. I know mine is. My wife is a phenomenal one, too. Mothers are the ones who will always love us. They’ll do anything for us. They’ll worry about us from the time we’re born and never stop. My Mom always tells me, “I’m always going to be your mother.” We love them for that.

Mothers put everyone else first. Their families, their jobs. If something needs to get done for someone they love they’re the ones who step up and get it done. Usually before thinking of anything they might want or need for themselves. Many mothers I know actually feel a little guilty about doing things for themselves.

Here’s what I’d like to tell them. I know it feels like the world is on your shoulders, but we want you to get the things you want and need and we want you to spend time doing things you’d like to do. How does this relate to fitness? Well, one of the most common reasons for not exercising is time. Everyone needs to take some time for themselves and I know that if you’re a mother, your husband and kids want you to be happy and healthy.

That’s all I have to say about it. I just hope that if you’re a mother you understand how special you are to the people around you and know that it’s OK to do some things for yourself every once in a while. Believe me when I say they want that for you, too.

Have a great day!

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Lean Eating Coach, FMS
2861 Grove Way in Castro Valley
I Help People Discover Their Strength!

Keep It Simple To Lose Weight

I’m a pretty laid back kind of guy. Not too much really bothers me. There are some things that do, though. I’ve said many times that there are people in the fitness industry that have a lot invested in making this all seem very complicated, especially when it comes to diet. I want to assure you of something: It isn’t. In fact it’s very simple. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, but it is simple.
A few weeks ago on a very popular podcast (and one I usually love), a “celebrity trainer” was interviewed and said such things as:
  •        –  calories don’t matter
  •       –   fat-free milk is one of the worst things you can drink but whole milk is fine
  •       –   eating ice cream is fine as long as you have it with full fat whipped cream to blunt the insulin spike
Just a quick response here:
1. Calories do matter if you want to lose weight.
2. There is no difference between fat-free and whole milk other than the amount of fat.
3. Do I even need to talk about this one?
He said some other things as well but I think you get the idea. Now maybe you’re someone who wants to lose a little weight and you’re not sure how to do it then you turn this on. What do you think?
“This is impossible. I’ll never understand how all this works. I can’t remember all of these rules!” At this point most people go into information overload, shut down and then some of them buy his book.
I would actually be fine with all of this if it was necessary. If you really did need to know all of these things to lose weight, well that’s just how it would be. The problem is that this doesn’t have to be very complicated at all. In fact, the vast majority of the time it is very simple. As I said before though, that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Let’s get one thing out of the way first:
Calories matter.
If someone tells you they don’t, that’s great because you know you don’t have to bother listening to them any longer.
Here’s another thing you need to know. Low carb diets work. You know what else works? High carb diets, low fat diets, and high fat diets. You can lose weight eating breakfast. You can lose weight not eating breakfast. You can lose weight eating after 8pm. You can lose weight not eating after 8pm. You can lose weight eating chocolate covered ants. You can lose weight not eating chocolate covered ants.
Do you understand what I’m trying to say? There are lots of ways to do this! The important thing is to do it the way you can do it!
Now, let’s be honest for a second. If you want to lose weight you do need to make some changes. What I’m saying though, is the changes you make should be ones you can do and it doesn’t have to be complicated.
Let’s just say you have desert after dinner every night. It’s something you enjoy and look forward to and you’ve been doing it for years. You know, however, that if you want to lose weight you probably shouldn’t have desert every single night. Well, wouldn’t there be progress if you had desert just every other night? Or had a smaller portion of desert every night? This is just one small example but this is how good habits are built and this is how progress in made! Little by little over time!
Doing it this way makes it sustainable and also has a much better chance of being permanent. We all know someone who lost some weight and then put it all back on don’t we? That’s probably because they didn’t focus on their habits. They did something extreme all at once and then stopped. What good is that?
Here’s an easy way to get started.
First, take an honest and unemotional look at your habits. (Please take a special look at the words honest and unemotional! I put them in italics and underlined them for a reason.) Try to find one that you feel is holding you back from your goals and that you feel you can change.
Next, be honest and unemotional (there’s those words again)with yourself and think about how much you are 100% willing and able to do. Using the desert example you can choose to have desert fewer times per week or choose to make your desert smaller. Either one is fine. Either one is progress. It is key here that you feel confident in your ability to be at least 90% successful with what you choose.
Third, go for it! Practice your new habit for about two weeks or until it becomes a part of you and when it does, pick another one.
Before you know it, you’ll have made three, four or five changes that could have a huge impact!
Once again, this shouldn’t be complicated. Make it easy and I know you can be successful!
Let me know what you think and if you need any help getting started drop me a line at
Have a great day!
Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Lean Eating Coach, FMS
2861 Grove Way in Castro Valley
I Help People Discover Their Strength!

Training As We Age

I just love love love it when I get thoughtful responses back from people who read my posts! Last week I got a great response back from a client concerning the article I wrote. If you haven’t read it you can check it out here:

My client asked mainly about two different things. He wanted to know about how and to what extent I individualize my programs and also how I program for people as they age into their 60’s and beyond. These are great questions and definitely ones that I know many people have. I thought I’d just let you know what I wrote back. Here it is:
Thanks for reading and the response! I appreciate it. I understand your concerns. I want to emphasize that I individualize all of my training programs. I do believe, though, that there are some movements that everyone needs to do in some way. Everyone needs to be able to perform some type of squat and some type of deadlift, for example. To be brief as to why, these are movements that emphasize basic movement patterns through the entire body that can help improve movement, posture, build muscle and through these things improve metabolism to help people look better and lose weight. Not everyone performs these movements, or any others, the same way but as we as a society become more and more sedentary, these movements become even more important for people to do correctly. 
How I write my programs come from many different decisions and is expressed in different ways. I think about how someone can perform a movement, the order of the workout, what movements are emphasized among many other things. It may look like everyone is doing the same thing, after all every program I write comes from a “movement-first” philosophy, but there can be major differences from program to program.
It’s certainly true that I love lifting weights but one of the reasons that I advocate this for my clients is that I’ve seen people of all ages improve in so many ways because of it. As people age it becomes even more important as we face issues such as bone density, loss of muscle, and loss of mobility. I’ve seen people suffer relatively minor falls and get a multitude of very serious broken bones and other injuries because of poor bone density and strength. I’m sure you’ve had or have heard of elderly patients who have fallen and had to lay on their floor for hours or even days because they weren’t strong enough to pull themselves up off the floor.
As far as weight loss, losing weight requires us to increase our resting metabolism. This happens best when we increase our lean body mass. We actually don’t burn many calories when we exercise. It’s when we can raise our metabolism at rest that real weight loss occurs. As we age this does become more difficult due to many factors but that doesn’t make it impossible. 
I hope this clarifies a few of the things I brought up in my last article. If you do have any questions about it please let me know.

As always, thanks for reading!

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Lean Eating Coach, FMS
2861 Grove Way in Castro Valley
I Help People Discover Their Strength!

The Two Keys To Results In The Gym

There are a lot of factors when it comes to getting results in the gym. Diet, programming, form. The list goes on and on. To my mind, though, there are two factors that will determine success far and above anything else: consistency and commitment to strength training.
Consistency: Progress doesn’t generally come in leaps and bounds. It comes in drips and drops.
I took Tae Kwon Do many years ago. One time there was a leaky faucet in the shower. There was a bucket full of water below it. The instructor told us to take a look and said something I’ll never forget. He said, “Each drop doesn’t mean much but they eventually fill the bucket. Each class you take is a drop. Take enough and you will soon have a full bucket!”
It is no coincidence that the clients that are here consistently get the best results. Their buckets are getting fuller by the day!
Sometimes one of my clients will mention that they’re tired or not feeling well and almost didn’t make their session. Almost every time they tell me how glad they are that they came. We can’t help people if they’re not here.
Commitment to strength training: OK. You just walked through the door. Congratulations! Well, now that you’re here you might as well work, right? The bottom line is that other than diet (which we all know is the most important thing when it comes to changing your body composition) strength training is the best way to improve your body composition. It builds lean body, which increases your metabolism, it allows you to burn more calories at rest, and it also gives people a mentality that allows for hard work.
Here’s the key though. You’ve got to push it. Everyone says they do but here’s a little test:
You’ve just completed your second working set of 10 squats, which is your main lift for the day.  You have one more set.  The set wasn’t easy but your form was good throughout. Do you go heavier on your last set?
If you even have to think about the answer or are making excuses right now you don’t really push it. Sorry. The truth hurts sometimes.
By the way, I know there are cases where someone wouldn’t go heavier in this scenario but the majority of the time they should if they’re looking for changes in their body.

Last week a few of my clients were admiring another one of my clients arms. They were asking her about what exercises she did , what she ate, etc. These are legitimate, normal questions but there is something they may or may not have known. This client had relatively recently had a surgery that rendered one of her hands basically useless for about 10 weeks. How much gym time did she miss? About 3 weeks. That means that for almost two months we had to find things for her to do that didn’t use one arm. When it comes down to it, this is more responsible for her arms than any exercise or diet. This is an attitude and work ethic that says that whatever happens she’ll push through and when it comes down to it, that kind of mentality is what really matters.
Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Lean Eating Coach, FMS
2861 Grove Way in Castro Valley
I Help People Discover Their Strength!

What Is Really Causing Your Back Pain?

Back pain is one of the most common, and also misunderstood, problems people have.  Here’s what we know. It hurts. It can cause us to literally question every move we make for fear of the pain. Here’s the most important thing to remember, though. Most back pain isn’t necessarily a serious problem. I know it hurts a lot but that’s not always the best indicator of how bad something really is.
Think of it this way, have you ever stubbed your toe? Just knocked it against a chair when you were half asleep one night and walking to the bathroom? You know it feels like your life is about to end but that doesn’t mean that it will. A lot of back pain is like that.

Here’s another thing we know about back pain. Many times it’s not really our back that’s the main source of the problem. It’s actually our hips and shoulders. Let me explain.

The actual purpose of our low back and our core area in general is stability. What this means is that, for the most part, it shouldn’t really move. It should actually tighten so that our arms and legs can move and do what they need to do. As a matter of fact every time our arms and legs move even a little bit, our core fires up. We might not always feel it but it happens.

What IS supposed to move are our hips and shoulders. They’re designed for movement. Unfortunately, because so many of us spend our days sitting in front of computer screens, our hips and shoulders don’t move very well. That means our low back has to move to make up the difference and that is often what causes pain.

In our gym we place a special emphasis on posture and hip movement for just these reasons. We feel that no matter what your goals are you’re not going to hit them if you have pain, bad movement patterns or bad posture.

One of the first exercises we have everyone do to establish proper hip movement we call the Stick RDL. You can do it at home with a broomstick. Put the stick against your back with three points of contact: your butt, your upper back and the back of your head.

Now push your hips back maintaining all three points of contact. As soon as you lose one point straighten back up. You can watch a quick video below on how it should work.

This is the kind of exercise that seems like it should be simple yet at first it can be frustratingly difficult. Just keep in mind that you are NOT bending over. You are pushing your hips back. Think about putting your butt on the wall behind you.

You should feel a little stretch in your hamstrings and nothing at all in your low back as you do this. If you do feel something in your back it’s because your back is moving, not your hips. If you need help understanding this, let me know. Watch the video to see how this works.

Overall, it’s very important to understand what’s really going on when you have back pain because it’s not what many people assume. Please let me know if you have any questions and have a great day!

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Lean Eating Coach, FMS
2861 Grove Way in Castro Valley
I Help People Discover Their Strength!

I’m Sorry

I’m sorry! I know it’s been a while since I’ve written. I wish I had a creative excuse, but alas I don’t. I’ve just been very busy with all sorts of things. In any case, I’m back! I put out a call to my Facebook friends this morning to see what people might want to hear about and Zelinda answered that she wants to know more about ideal workout frequency. Let’s get to it.
Mainly this depends on three different factors:
1. Your goals
2. Your schedule
3. Your condition
Let’s talk about them one by one.
Goals determine everything. (In a perfect world, at least.) If your goal is to win gold at the Olympics then your optimum workout frequency is going to be a little different then if you’re trying to lose a few pounds and stay active in life.
If general fitness (losing a few pounds or something like that) is your goal, in a perfect world my recommendation for weekly workout frequency would be something like this:
Resistance training – 2 or 3 days
Interval Training – 1 or 2 days
Duration Training – 1 day
What this means is I’m looking for 4-5 days of exercise each week. The problem with this is that it’s based on a “perfect world” scenario. Most of us don’t live in a perfect world. We live in a world that is mainly governed by…
Your schedule. Listen, all of the perfect world scenarios are useless if you work 50 hours a week and have two kids and an aging mother who needs you to take her shopping twice a week. When planning out your exercise time be honest with yourself about what you can 100% commit to each and every week. If it’s twice a week then great! Absolutely kill it twice a week. I’ve had numerous clients get fantastic results training hard twice a week. The problems occur when someone isn’t honest with themselves about what they can do. Here’s a scenario:
Madeline wants to lose a few pounds. She also has a job and kids so all her time isn’t really hers. She knows that she can absolutely exercise twice a week but she’d like to do three times a week so she tells her trainer, “I’m in for three times a week! Let’s do it!” She’s excited. The first week goes great but the second week her daughter has soccer practice during her scheduled time so she has to cancel once. This happens the next week, too. She makes it three times during her fourth week.
What happens here? In four weeks she made it to 10 sessions. We can look at that two ways. If she committed 100% to twice a week she’d be thrilled! After all she was able to make all her sessions plus two! Unfortunately she committed to three times. So what happens to her mindset here? In both scenarios she made 10 sessions. In one of those she’s thrilled, in the other she feels like a failure. Mindset is crucial in this game so make sure that what you commit to you can do 100% and if you can do more from time to time, that’s great!
That leads us finally to your condition. Basically it comes down to this, if you’re a reasonable healthy person you’ll be able to train more times during the week and get something from it. If you’re not in great shape you should probably start on the lower end of the spectrum and build up from there. This will allow you to progress in a safe and effective manner.

This is a pretty quick rundown but I hope I was able to answer any questions you may have. Please let me know if you have any others. Have a great day!
Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Lean Eating Coach, FMS
2861 Grove Way in Castro Valley
I Help People Discover Their Strength!

Diet or Exercise: Which One Works?

I was bumping around Facebook the other day and I saw one of my clients link to a nice article that talked about how exercise itself is pretty useless as far as losing weight is concerned. I know she knew this and it’s something that I’ve talked about many times so it got me thinking that so many people are confused as to what are really the main drivers behind their goals: diet or exercise.
To that end I’ve decided to blatantly steal this article idea! I usually am very careful to give full credit to whomever I get my ideas from but in this case I just can’t remember where I saw this article. If you know please tell me so I can give full credit. I really don’t want to steal anyone else’s hard work.
Weight Loss – Diet! I can’t say this enough. If you want to lose weight you must change your diet. The nasty little secret about trying to do it all with exercise is that exercise just doesn’t burn as many calories as we think it does. Sorry but it’s true. If you hit the gym and then stop at Starbucks or the bagel shop on the way home you probably just took in more calories than you burned right there.
What exercise should do is set you up to maintain, or hopefully raise, your metabolism so that the weight can continue to come off and stay off in the long run. This is why we focus so much on resistance training as opposed to cardio. Resistance training helps build and spare lean muscle so that you can keep that metabolism humming and the fat burning even when you’re not exercising.
Joint Pain – Exercise. If you have nasty recurring issues in your back, shoulders, or knees most likely they’re being caused by some combination of poor movement patterns, soft tissue (muscle or connective tissue) restrictions or just plain muscular weakness. (By the way, I’m not talking about some kind of impact injury.) In the business we also call these things ADLs. Activities of daily living. 
A good trainer should be able to spot these things and help you move better, get you stronger and break through some of those restrictions. Sometimes they might have to refer you to a body-worker if your issues are a little more in depth, but the point is good exercise programming is the way to go here.
Also, and pay attention here because this is VERY IMPORTANT, if this is your issue you’ve got to realize that this takes work outside the gym to improve. Your trainer can tell and show you what to do, but it’s up to you to take those lessons and apply them to your life! After all you might be in the gym 3 hours a week but you’re outside the gym 165 hours other than that!
What diet can do for you here is help you fight some of the inflammation that can come with eating overly processed foods. Up the fruits and veggies in this case as they’re going to be your main anti-inflammatories! Adding in some fish oil can help as well.
General Fitness – Both! In order to improve your general fitness there’s no way around it, you need to take both diet and exercise seriously. Your exercise will build your athletic engine and your nutrition will give you the fuel to run it.
The great thing about it is when put together in a well-constructed plan, the combination of diet and exercise can set you up for a lifetime of fitness and success! Who doesn’t want that?
Let me know if you have any questions about how to improve your diet and exercise and what is important for you to focus on.

Have a great day!
Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Lean Eating Coach, FMS
2861 Grove Way in Castro Valley
I Help People Discover Their Strength!

The Amazing-Super-Top-Secret to Great Results!

I have the secret. This is the one you’ve all been waiting for. THE secret that will allow to finally get the results you’ve always wanted.
Lose weight? Yes.
Get stronger? You bet.
Build muscle? You know it.
OK. Now before I tell you this INCREDIBLE secret I need you to promise me something. I need you to promise me that you will actually take this to heart. I’ve worked with hundreds of people over the past six and a half years. People of all ages, body types, injury histories, conditions and goals and I’m telling you that this secret is bulletproof. It flat out works. Every time! After all it is THE SECRET!! 
The one everyone is asking about! The one everyone wants!
The secret that quack Dr. Oz says are in all those books and products he tries to push on you.
All they want is to make a buck off you by lying but I’m giving you the TRUTH for  FREE! So, if I’m going to just give you this secret FOR NO CHARGE the least you can do is listen up and do it, OK?
Alright. Are you ready? Oh boy, this is exciting!
You must show up consistently and work very hard.

I know. It’s hard to believe right? Let me tell you, though. In working with all the clients I’ve worked with over the years, the ones who showed up and worked very hard got much better results than the ones who didn’t.  I know it’s unbelievable, but it’s true!
Here are a couple of examples. (I’ve changed their names to protect their privacy.) Leslie wanted to lose 20 pounds. She hardly ever missed a session despite a very challenging job and family responsibilities. She worked very hard each during every session no matter what and was mindful of her goals and what she wanted to accomplish when she was eating and outside of the gym. Guess what? She lost 20 pounds and now she can even squat and deadlift more than her bodyweight!
Hilda wanted to lose 20 pounds. She’s missed a lot of sessions for reasons such as going out to eat and “not feeling like it.” She complained and resisted adding any weight to her exercises and anything that made her “uncomfortable.” She didn’t pay much attention to her nutrition outside of the gym and didn’t think much about her goals except when she complained about not hitting them. Guess what? She didn’t lose any weight!
See! It’s science! Showing up consistently and working very hard is the super-secret everyone has been looking for! Aren’t you lucky you found it here?
Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Lean Eating Coach, FMS
2861 Grove Way in Castro Valley
I Help People Discover Their Strength!