Archives for September 2019

AARP – “Strength Is Not Optional”

My family and I were in LA last weekend for a family vacation and I saw a sign that struck a chord with me. 

I’ll be clear about this:

If you are not actively trying to get stronger

you are making a mistake.

Got that?

I love that the AARP put this ad out. I know that it refers to all kinds of strength, not just physical, but it’s all connected.

As we get older many of us have the mistaken impression that we have to accept all kinds of degradation in regards to their health.

It would be silly for me to say that age has no effect on our condition but I believe it is DRASTICALLY overstated as a cause for our ills.

I’ve had people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s all complain to me about how old they are and feel. The great trainer Ben Bruno once wrote that when people complain about their age to him (I’m paraphrasing here) he tells them the only thing that’s old is hearing them complain about their age!

When I think about AARP’s “Strength Is Not Optional” ad, I think of things like the fact that if you fall, and falling is frequently regarded as one of the biggest fears people have as they age, strength is what is going to help you prevent injury when you hit the ground and then help you get back up. Flexibility isn’t going to do that. Hours of cardio isn’t going to help you do that.

As we get deeper into that, we find that the fear of falling itself MAY ACTUALLY INCREASE THE LIKELIHOOD OF FALLING!! and since one of the biggest benefits of strength training is an increase in self-confidence doesn’t it follow that strength training can help you not fall in the first place? Once again, a bunch of cardio isn’t going to help that.

Many people are afraid to really push themselves when strength training. They do the same things workout after workout and week after week. They’re afraid of getting hurt. I understand that. No one wants to get hurt. Add that to a fear of getting older (getting older still beats the alternative, right?) and we start to see a pretty vicious cycle.

They don’t realize that strength training can groove proper movement patterns that can both fix pain and prevent it!

Many times I’ve given someone a small form adjustment that has taken pain away from a movement that someone was previously afraid of. Once that happens we slowly and appropriately increase the difficulty of the movement to cement the new and improved movement.

Another common occurrence is when someone has joint pain mainly because they’re not strong enough to hold good, stable positions. This lack of stability is causing the joint to have to move or hold a position in a bad spot. A common example here is knee pain. The vast majority of the time knee pain doesn’t actually have to do with your knee. It’s actually a lack of strength in your hips that is causing instability in your knee which is causing pain. Once you are strong enough to hold better positions, the knee pain magically goes away.

This does not happen if you don’t push yourself.

Let’s sum it all up nice and easy.

Strength training allows you to age with more confidence, less pain, more resistance to injury and more resistance to the other things that people incorrectly attribute solely to age.

I know strength training isn’t easy. I know that walking on a treadmill for 30 minutes may feel more comfortable. I also know that strength training as we age can be truly transformative physically, and even more importantly, mentally.

Let me know if you need any help putting together your strength training program.

Thanks for reading!

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PAS, PN Level 2 Lean Eating Coach
Castro Valley Fitness
2861 Grove Way



September Member of the Month – Nina Squillante

It is our pleasure to recognize Nina Squillante as the Castro Valley Fitness Member of the Month.  Nina has been a member for a year and a half.  She joined CVF because she had to do something to feel healthier and stronger. She feels she’s received more support than she imagined for both her physical and mental health.

Nina participated in the recent Powerlifting for Puppies Meet.  This was a stretch goal for her because she didn’t think she could do it.  It was empowering to train for it and to make a personal record on her squat. She felt very supported every step of the way.  She especially liked the comradery in the gym during the Meet.  Since she participated in the Meet she has been more willing to take risks in her personal life and in the gym (attempting higher weights or a new exercise).  She liked having a goal to work towards and sees the potential for more success in the future.  Transitioning from the trap bar to the straight bar for her deadlift was a challenge. Nina listened to the cues and kept working to improve her form each time.  There was great excitement when her new weight belt was delivered!

Her new goals are to participate in the next Powerlifting for Puppies Meet, hit a 200 lbs deadlift, add 5 lbs to her bench, and get down to depth on her squat. There is no doubt that with her work ethic, she’ll make those goals and then some.

Since joining Castro Valley Fitness she finds she moves better.  She lifts things from the floor safely.  She is more conscious of her body, balance, stability and posture. The three words she uses to describe CVF are “supportive”, “fun”, and “empowering”.

3 Exercises (Almost) Everyone Should Do

If you ever want to irritate me all you need to do is send me one of those “Exercises You Should Never Do After 50” articles.

I hate those.

They’re almost always full of you-know-what and are just meant to scare people and get clicks. Most importantly the writers never seem to have heard of the concept of progression.

The usual content of over-50 fitness articles in emoji form.

There are many ways to do just about every exercise. Adding weight is only one way to make it harder and sometimes it’s not even the best way.

I’m calling this article “3 Exercises (Almost) Everyone Should Do”. I’ll let you know the three exercises I’m talking about, why they’re great to do and three different progressions so you can find the one that’s right for you.

Let’s get started.

1- Squats. 

What is so great about them?

Squats work about every muscle in your body one way or another and that’s great for building lean body and getting you stronger. (I don’t care what your goals are, if you aren’t actively trying to get stronger it’s likely you won’t reach them.) Squats also teach your body how to move in a coordinated fashion which is very important for keeping aches and pains out of your back and hips.

Progression 1 – Body weight squat


Progression 2 – Goblet Squat


Progression 3 – Barbell Front Squat




2- Push-ups

What is so great about them?

Push-ups are a great exercise that many people misunderstand. People think it’s an upper body strength exercise, and it is, but it is a fantastic core exercise first! You have set your core to make sure that your body moves in a straight line.

Progression 1  – Hand-Elevated Push-ups


Progression 2 – Push-ups on the floor


Progression 3 – Feet Elevated Push-ups


3- Deadlifts

What is so great about them?

You pick stuff up, right? Kids, groceries, laundry, other stuff? Have you ever heard a story about someone blowing their back out picking up a pencil? Well, deadlifts are here to make sure that you don’t have to tell that story about yourself. Seems pretty functional, huh?

Like squats, deadlifts use just about every muscle on your body and teach you how to use your hips and legs to do things instead of your back.

Progression 1 – Elevated Dumbbell Deadlift


Progression 2- Double Dumbbell Deadlift


Progression 3 – Trap Bar Deadlift



Of course it’s true that every exercise isn’t good for everyone (that’s why I use the word “almost” in the title) but generally speaking, these three exercises should be some part of just about everyone’s resistance training program in some fashion.

Lastly, any time you hear someone say you shouldn’t do something after 50 just ask them if it was OK at 49 and 364 days.

Did I Just Blow Your Mind?

Let me know if you need any help figuring out the progression that is right for you.

Have a great day!

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Level 2 Lean Eating Coach, Egoscue PAS
Castro Valley Fitness
2861 Grove Way

A Simple Move to Help Your Back, Hips and Golf Swing

What if I told you the key to your entire body’s quality of movement centered around one thing?

Well, it does! The hips!

They are literally and figuratively the center of your body. How important is your hip movement? Well, let me put it this way:

If your hips move well, your

entire body moves well.

It’s that simple.

In this video I’m going to give you a simple trick you can do to help you move your hips better, take away back pain and maybe even add some distance to your golf swing! (One of our members did just that with this move!)

Take a look and let me know what you think.

Mitch Rothbardt
Castro Valley Fitness
2861 Grove Way

Four Benefits of Strength Training For Women

I’ll bet when I say the words “Strength Training” a picture like this comes to most people’s minds:

Castro Valley Fitness Benefits of Strength Training of Women

My question is why not a picture like this?

Castro Valley Fitness Benefits of Strength Training of Women

I know that many women feel a little weird about heading over to “that part of the gym”. By “that part” I mean the free weight area.

I want to help change that.

You see, I think there are reasons that strength training for women is actually more important than it is for men!

Today I want to talk about four of them.

  1. Strength. We have a saying at our gym is that we never want to be the person who has to say “Yes” when the cashier at Safeway asks if we need help out. If we want to live independant lives we have to be physically strong to some extent. I don’t mean we have to be able to lift 500 pounds, but when I hear our female members tell me they could carry a bag of soil to their backyard by themselves when previously they had to wait for help, it really makes me smile.
  2. Healthy bones. One of the biggest issues women face is osteoporosis. This is a condition where the bones become fragile and weak. You can see how that would be a problem. Well, strength training is the best way to combat this. Just as you don’t want to be the person who needs help out of Safeway, you also really don’t want to be the person who can’t get up from the floor after a fall.
  3. Focus on you! One of the biggest issues women face is time. Women, and Mothers in particular, tend to put themselves last. Strength training for women can be a great way to, not only get some physical benefits, but emotional benefits, as well. Taking some productive time for yourself will make you a better mom, wife and friend and believe me when I tell you, if your significant other is worth anything they want that for you, too.
  4. Self-Appreciation. I don’t have to go into how images in the media can be damaging to women. We all know that. It’s a very deep-seated issue. Well, I’ve seen strength training help many women feel so much better about themselves. When women realize that they are more than just a number on a scale or a pants size they can really start to see how amazing they are without having to conform to someone else’s standards. I know from personal experience that when you are able to do things in the gym you know you couldn’t do before, it is an incredible and empowering feeling.

These are just a few reasons and, of course, there are many more reasons that matter to each individual. As I said before, I think it is just so important for women to feel empowered and confident in their bodies and I’ve seen strength training help with this time and again.

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Level 2 Lean Eating Coach, FMS
Castro Valley Fitness
2861 Grove Way in Castro Valley