An Exercise For Your Hips, Knees and Back

This is one of those exercises that can look pretty easy but that doesn’t mean that it is.

This one move can help strengthen your hips, glutes, hamstrings and core and that can help your knees, back and hips feel a heck of a lot better!

Take a look and let me know what you think.

Castro Valley Fitness
2861 Grove Way
mitch@castrovalleyfitness.com
510-755-9191

The Film That Changed My Life

Sometimes you see something that says it all. Something that, even though you may have seen it before, strikes you differently this time. Buddha is credited with coining the phrase, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” I have had occasion many times in my life to believe in the truth behind Buddha’s statement.

I had another occasion over the Thanksgving holiday as I watched a movie I’ve seen many times before, first when it was released over the summer of 2008. The movie even contains one of my very favorite quotes. (I’ll let you know what it is later.) This weekend as I watched, it struck me how deep, meaningful and enlightening this film really is.

I am talking of course about the brilliant “Kung Fu Panda”.

The film that can change your life

If you haven’t seen it, let me quickly describe the plot.

Po, a rather clumsy and rotund Panda bear is an avid fan of Kung Fu and especially of the finest Kung Fu team of all time, the Furious Five. Po hears the announcement that  the true Dragon Warrior will finally be chosen! The Dragon Warrior will be able to read the secret Dragon Scroll which contains the ultimate secret to Kung Fu Power.

Through a crazy series of events Po, who has never learned kung fu, is chosen as the Dragon Warrior over each of the members of the Furious Five. He must now train to defeat the evil and powerful Tai Lung, who desires nothing more than to read the scroll and become the Dragon Warrior himself.

No one, least of all Po himself, believes he is capable of defeating Tai Lung until he finally understands what the Dragon Scroll has told him. In an incredible battle he defeats Tai Lung, saves China and gains the respect of his Master and the Furious Five!

IT IS AWESOME!!!

OK. So how can this movie change your life? I’m about to tell you.

1) Do what works for you.

When Po is declared the Dragon Warrior he is a complete beginner at kung fu. His teacher, Master Shifu, attempts to teach him Kung Fu the same way he taught the Furious Five. It doesn’t work. After all, how could you expect to teach kung fu to a panda the same way you’d teach a tiger, a crane, a snake, a mantis or a monkey? That’s silly isn’t it?

It’s only after Master Shifu figures out how to teach to Po’s individual strengths that he really starts becoming the warrior we know is inside him!

The Lesson: We all have strengths, weaknesses and situations that are unique to us. The situation of a working mother with 2 kids that take dance lessons and play soccer is a lot different than that of a 22 year old who works part time and goes to school. When people don’t take these types of things into account it can lead to problems.

2) Go to work.

The big turning point in the movie occurs when Po’s father (a noodle shop owner) tells him the secret ingredient in his special “Secret Ingredient” soup. Do you want to know what it is?

Nothing.

There isn’t one.

This brings us to the quote I told you about earlier:

The Lesson: Everything you need is inside you. There isn’t any special diet, workout or supplement that is going to get you what you want. It’s got to come from you. You know if you’re really working hard. You know if you’re really engaging with the lessons that are trying to be taught. You’ve got to do the work and stop expecting shortcuts.

3) Accept who you are. 

This falls in line with the first two lessons. Once Po realizes that everything he needs is already in him, he fights Tai Lung using the unique strengths he has. He’s no longer trying to be anyone other than himself AND HE’S KICKING A$$!!!! He finally accepts that he’s a Panda and everything that goes with it.

The final straw is when Tai Lung, who is starting to realize he can’t win, desperately exclaims, “You can’t defeat me! You’re just a big fat panda!”

Just before he strikes the final knockout blow, Po shoots back, “I’m not A big fat panda. I’m THE big fat panda!”

The Lesson: The only way to grow and really achieve what you want is to accept who you are. That doesn’t mean you are satisfied with it, but it does acknowledge your situation, your strengths and weaknesses, and if you actually take the time to think about it (and you really need to) it clarifies your values!

It’s also incredibly empowering! How do you think Po felt when he said that?

He feels like a BADA$$!!

Only once you start to really accept who you are, you can start to feel the same.

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, Egoscue PAS, PN Level 2 Lean Eating Coach
Castro Valley Fitness
2861 Grove Way
510-755-9191
Mitch@CastroValleyFitness.com

IT’S TIME TO PANIC!!!

OK. Next week is Thanksgiving. A few weeks after that is Christmas. The week after that is New Years Day.

IT IS CLEARLY TIME TO PANIC!!! 

ALL THE FOOD AND FAMILY AND COMMITMENTS AND STRESS AND SHOPPING AND PARTIES AND STRESS AND COOKIES AND STRESS AND THINGS TO DO!!!!!

As a personal trainer who has worked with hundreds of people over this time of year I am going to tell you that what you’re about to go through over the next six weeks is inhuman. There is no way out. You will feel stressed out. Terrible. Horrible. Like your head is about to explode. Like there is no end to the calorie laden, sugar-filled sweets that will literally be shoved down your throat unceasingly.

You will feel this way because it is the truth. You might as well face it. You will spend the rest of your life trying to recover from the damage that you will endure.

Of course I’m joking, but every year I do hear some version of what I wrote. I know this can be a stressful time of year for a number of reasons but I hope that at the end of it you can look back and realize that you enjoyed and appreciated it. We only get a certain amount of these, you know.

Let me give you three quick tips to help you with that.

  1. Breathe. If you find yourself starting to spin out of control take a step back, notice how you feel, know that it’s OK, and take just a few minutes to breathe and think about nothing else other than that. I know this isn’t easy to remember to do in those stressful times, but if you do it will make a huge difference. I promise you.
  2. Exercise. This is the time of year when people start skipping their workouts. I get it, there’s a lot to do. In January, though, I start to see the people that skipped workouts really regret it. Study after study shows that exercise is one of the best ways you can combat stress. Just do what you can. 15 minutes is better than nothing. Put it on your schedule and DON’T BREAK THAT APPOINTMENT WITH YOURSELF!
  3. Eat. Don’t be the person at the dinner table talking about how much cardio you have to do to pay for that extra helping of stuffing. Just eat and enjoy yourself. I personally plan on eating an entire 9×13 pan of pumpkin bread pudding with caramel sauce, Tillamook Vanilla Ice Cream (the creamiest ice cream I’ve found) and whipped cream. And that’s before I get to the Apple Pie!

The Last Few Weeks At Castro Valley Fitness…

It’s been a hectic few weeks here at Castro Valley Fitness. Like everyone else we’re starting to get ready for the holidays. People are working hard at the gym.

We are pretty busy here, as I’m sure you are with your life, and when you’re busy, sometimes it can be hard to take a step back and see some things that have been going on.

Here is a short list of things some of our members have told me over the past few weeks:

  • One of our members remarked how much more stable she felt as she went on some long hikes over a weekend trip
  • One of our members told me that this was the best he’s ever felt and the most consistent he’s ever been with any kind of exercise
  • One of our members said that she was able to run 10 gates to catch a flight after her connecting flight landed 45 minutes late
  • One of our members told me she was better able to pick up her child
  • One of our members tripped over something in her kitchen and fell pretty hard sliding across her floor. She was able to get right back up with just a few bruises to show for it

I think we can all agree that the ability to do all these things is pretty good. It’s empowering. These are the kinds of things we can point to as being conducive to living a better and fuller life.

I want to point out one more thing.

None of these things is about losing weight.

Please let that sink in.

Yes it’s true that being better able to do some of these things might result in weight loss, but if weight loss is your main focus then I believe you are missing the proverbial forest through the trees.

weight loss misses the forest through the trees

I don’t see a scale in this picture

What I mean is that if your only focus is a number some appliance tells you then you’re missing what really matters. Being able to enjoy a trip, being able to avoid injury, being able to play with your kids or grandkids. Aren’t all these things more important?

If so, why do so many of us let that number determine how we feel about ourselves and our progress? Does that seem healthy?

Is it healthy that we tell ourselves losing weight is good for us only to feel shame and stress every time we eat?

Is it OK that we’re made to feel like failures when we don’t lose weight as easily as the model in that Facebook post or magazine article tells us we should?

Does it seem right that we can live better, fuller and more vital lives and still feel we haven’t accomplished anything because of what our scale tells us?

I don’t think any of those things feel right or healthy at all. Not in the slightest.

Now this is the part when I challenge you to try something. I want you to try and adjust your thinking a little bit. Instead of your success being determined by an external force (your scale) I want you to go a little deeper.

I want you to think about what you really want. What will mean something to you and allow you to live that more vital life we’re talking about.

Is it

  • being able to walk longer distances
  • having more energy to play with your kids or grandkids
  • feeling less pain
  • getting stronger so you can remain independent

or is it something else entirely?

Whatever it is, I’m sure that losing weight isn’t at the core of what you really want.

So I’ll ask you one more time:

What do you really want?

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PAS, PN Level 2
Castro Valley Fitness
2861 Grove Way
510-755-9191
Mitch@CastroValleyFitness.com

 

 

 

What Pain Can Do For You – Video

I’m going to challenge you a little today. I know many people suffer from chronic pain. Back, knee, shoulder, hip. Most people’s reaction when they feel pain is to back away to avoid it.

That’s understandable. Pain hurts! It’s not comfortable. The thing is, though, that pain is telling us something and if we don’t listen it will be back!

I want to give you a different way to look at pain that may help you get rid of it. Not just right now but for good! After all, isn’t that the goal?

Let me know if you need help figuring out your pain.

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, FMS, Egoscue PAS

Castro Valley Fitness

2861 Grove Way

5120-755-9191

Mitch@CastroValleyFitness.com

3 Exercises You Shouldn’t Do After 50

I know what you’re saying.

“I thought Mitch hated these kinds of articles!”

You’re right. I do. I even wrote a post about how much I hate them just two weeks ago:

3 Exercises (Almost) Everyone Should Do

I got you curious, though!

The truth is there ARE some exercises that you shouldn’t do after 50. It’s just that they’re not the kinds of exercises you might normally think of.

The kinds of exercises I’m talking about are ones that really do some long-term damage. In some cases  it may be irreparable unless some pretty strong action is taken.

Let’s get to it.

1- Complaining about your age. 

Do you know how often I hear someone tell me that some ache or pain is because of their age? All the time.

I rarely hear anything so deflating and disempowering. It would be one thing if it were correct, but it almost never is.

I’ll say it again:

It would be silly of me to say that age has no physical effect on our body, but that effect is incredibly overstated the vast majority of the time.

Here’s the deal: If you take care of your body it will take care of you. End of story.

Train to get stronger (yes, stronger) and get your mindset right and you’ll find it amazing how little age matters anymore. (I’m talking to you backs, knees and shoulders!)

Don’t be like Abe

2- Worrying about what you ate last night/weekend.

Why is it that people seem to think it’s not ok to enjoy what you eat? All we hear from the media is how overweight we are as a society and I hear from people all the time that stress big-time over what they should and do put in their mouths.

Let me suggest something a little crazy here.

All that stress is worse for you than eating a cookie. Or a little ice cream. Or a piece of bread.

Let me suggest something even crazier.

If you continue to deny and demonize these foods you are much likelier to experience a pretty big backlash from yourself when you inevitably eat 1 or, more likely, 10 of them.

That backlash is going to be mainly mental and, like number 1 on our list, very disempowering and mentally damaging.

If you want to read more about this, get this book yesterday!

Castro Valley Fitness

Click on the picture for the Amazon link.

3- Not strength training.

What do people really fear about aging? Becoming fragile. Losing their independance. Becoming feeble. Losing their mental faculties.

Strength training helps all of this.

ALL OF IT!!!

Too many people don’t strength train or really give it their all in the gym when they do, because they’re afraid of getting hurt. The truth is that if your form is good, proper strength training is extremely safe and effective and very empowering.

More than that it’s the most important thing you can do as you get older!

You want to be able to get right back up when you fall with no injuries or worries?

Start strength training.

I know it can be a little intimidating to get started but I know someone who can help.

I hope that you get the point I’m trying to get across here. In case you didn’t, here it is:

Do things that are empowering and mentally positive and you’ll find that you’ll tend not to care about your age very much.

Can I be any clearer about that?

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Level 2 Lean Eating Coach, PAS
Castro Valley Fitness
2861 Grove Way
510-755-9191
Mitch@CastroValleyFitness.com

 

 

 

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
510-755-9191
Mitch@CastroValleyFitness.com

 

 

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
510-755-9191
Mitch@CastroValleyFitness.com

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
Mitch@CastroValleyFitness.com
510-755-9191

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
Mitch@CastroValleyFitness.com
510-755-9191