Rep, Rep, Rep it Up!


Hi Fusers 🙂

As most of you know, this past month we’ve been working on the infamous 10,000 Rep Challenge, where you do 100 reps of 5 exercises–squats, lunges, burpees, push-ups and sit-ups–for 20 days out of the month of October.  At the end of 20 days, you will have completed 2,000 reps of each of the 5 exercises, totaling a whopping 10,000 reps. Whew!

The purpose of this challenge was not to scare you, but was to focus on increasing muscular endurance.  According to Livestrong.com, muscular endurance is the ability of a muscle or group of muscles to repeatedly exert force against resistance. Performing multiple repetitions of an exercise is a form of muscular endurance, as is running or swimming.

In strength training, an example of muscular endurance is how many repetitions one can do of a specific exercise without needing to rest.  The 10,000 rep challenge was just that–how many reps could you perform of each exercise in a row without stopping. We saw a couple different strategies–some people did 5 sets of 20 reps of each exercise, knocking all 100 reps in one workout. Others did 5 sets of 10 reps of each exercises twice a day to complete the 100 reps. Both strategies got the job done.

Another purpose of this challenge, other than increasing your muscular endurance, was to show you that even if you only have 20 minutes to workout, you can accomplish a lot with very little. To complete 5 sets of 10 reps of 5 bodyweight exercises takes less than 15 minutes–anyone can do this no matter where you are, you just need your body and a small amount of space. It might not be realistic to continue doing 100 reps a day, but everyone can find 15 minutes in your day to complete 5 sets of 10 reps of 5 bodyweight exercises. Consistency is what matters most and gets long-term results and maintenance.

So Train Smarter. Live Better. See results and improve your quality of life. If you’re interested in signing up for a free fitness consult to join our wonderful, supportive fitness community, please fill out the contact form below.

Yours in health,

Fuse Fitness Team

 

Karen and Sean’s Fuse Fitness Success Story!


Hi Fusers!

This month’s Member Spotlight is shining down on Karen and Sean, an awesome couple who has been working out with us at Fuse since August 2012. They had been regular, hard-working 6am-ers up until early Feb. 2015 for Karen and late March 2015 for Sean, when they took a hiatus after having their first of two beautiful babies. Fast forward to June 2017, when they re-emerged…..they went from being a family of 2 to now being an absolutely adorable family of 4!

They started back up at Fuse doing personal training together, usually bringing in their two sweet kiddos–a smart, fun-loving toddler and a new, super cute baby boy. No complaints from the trainers at Fuse, any time we can get a baby fix we’re thrilled!

Both Karen and Sean are in fantastic shape and are doing such an amazing job being positive, healthy role models for their children. Karen’s core strength has improved significantly since having both of her children and her body has become very toned, with much more muscle mass. Sean’s muscular endurance and core strength have really improved–gotta love TRX training! We love it that the kids get to see their parents working out and living a healthy life! And we are so happy to have Karen and Sean back working out with us!

 

Here are a few words from Karen and Sean about their fitness journey and experience here at Fuse:

1) What was your reason for joining Fuse and what were your goals?

We first started going to Fuse years ago, when we were looking for challenging and exciting workouts to add to our weekly routine. For a time, we were both regulars at the 6 a.m. monkey ninja class. Sean thought he was generally fit before he started going to these classes.  He quickly realized that he was not.  He could not get through a class without taking at least one break.  And he thought, on multiple occasions, that he was going to throw up.  Karen kicked his a** every day.

Despite the hard knocks, we kept it up even after Karen got pregnant and continued into her third trimester. But then we had the baby, and then we had another. While babies are bundles of joy, they don’t exactly make it easy to fit in some workout time.  We felt so busy during that stretch of time, and so exhausted, that going to the gym was just not a priority. We remained active, but we weren’t doing much to build and maintain strength. Our workouts tended to be more haphazard than planned. Karen, especially, felt like she had lost a lot of the strength that she had before kids. And she missed the energy and sense of accomplishment that she used to derive from exercise.

About three months after having our second child, we made an effort to build fitness back into both of our lives. As a Mother’s Day gift, Sean bought Karen a three-month personal training package, with the idea that we would do the sessions together whenever possible and that otherwise Karen would go by herself. Before you say it, Sean knows what you’re thinking.  And the answer is, “Yes, I really bought personal training sessions for my wife as a gift.”  He really thought that was a key part of what she needed to get back to feeling like her complete self.  Sean’s goals for himself include becoming a world champion CrossFit athlete or American Ninja Warrior.  He has not yet obtained either goal.  Karen’s goals were, by comparison, pretty modest. She hoped that we would get stronger and improve our fitness, but mostly was looking for a commitment device – something to ensure that we would work out, that we would work out hard, and that we would enjoy ourselves in the process.

2)         What have been the challenges you have encountered?

Sean’s half-joking half-serious answer: “handstands.”

Karen’s answer: the physical challenges that come with having two kids in less than two years. Some parts of me feel stretched out, others feel too tight. When I’m busy chasing after kids, it’s easy to avoid thinking about those changes. Working out has made me reckon with them, and it can sometimes feel demoralizing.

 

An answer that both of us agree on is that getting to the workouts, on time and ready to go, has been a big challenge. With two very young kids and no family around to help, we often ended up bringing at least one child with us to our sessions. Sometimes this worked out perfectly. The baby would sleep the whole time, oblivious to the sounds of music and slamming medicine balls! Other times, we found ourselves (with the help of our trainers who have been great!) simultaneously corralling an energetic toddler and comforting a crying baby, all while trying to get through a tough circuit of exercises.  Who knew that two-year-olds could have so much fun with TRX suspension trainers?  While that’s a rhetorical question, it turns out that Pascha and Kristin knew.

3)         What have been your strengths/successes and what are you most proud of?

We are proud that we showed up to every session, even when the childcare piece was complicated. We also are proud of the results we’ve seen after three months – not necessarily in our appearances or weight, because we haven’t been tracking that, but in the way we feel day-to-day. We both feel stronger and more capable. We think we’re now less prone to injury and more able to keep up with our kids.  Sean can complete a class without feeling like he’s going to throw up.  And, ever the optimist, he thinks he’s well on the way to becoming a champion.

 

4)         Anything else you’d like to add…..

We think that doing personal training sessions together has been good for us as a couple, too. Right now, we still don’t do a regular date night, so working out together has been a way for us to share an experience (other than childcare) and to connect.

Karen and Sean, thank you so much for sharing! We love having you guys here, we think your kids are awesome, and Sean, we definitely see becoming a champion in the near future 😉

Yours in health,

Fuse Fitness team

Nine Exercises that Strengthen the Back


Hi Fusers,

As you all know, September was back month. We focused on strengthening, mobilizing and stretching the back muscles. Hopefully coming into October your back is feeling strong and pain-free from all the back mobility work we’ve done.

A strong back is the foundation of any balanced fitness regimen. Along with adding strength and power to your workouts, a strong back helps you bear day-to-day activities such as standing, sitting, and bending down a bit easier. The following stretches and exercises are designed to improve the strength, mobility, and flexibility of these important muscles.

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  • Hamstring/Lower Back Stretch

Sit down with your legs straight in front of you, leaning forward with your arms straight out towards your toes. This stretches your lower back, hamstrings and legs.

  • Yoga Cat/Cow Stretch

Kneel on all fours with hands beneath shoulders and knees directly below hips. Gently arch your spine upwards and then downwards, like a cat.

  • Cobra Stretch

Lie facedown on the floor with feet together and palms underneath your shoulders. Slowly raise your chest up off the floor – holding the pose for at least 30 seconds or longer.

  • Bent-Over Dumbbell Rows using a bench

Place the right knee on top of the end of a bench, bend your torso forward from the waist until your upper body is parallel to the floor, and place your right hand on the other end of the bench. Hold dumbbell in left hand, pull using your rhomboid muscles, bringing your elbow back and towards the spine, squeezing your shoulder blades; lower slowly with control.

  • Child’s Pose

Kneel and sit your hips back toward your heels, forehead to the floor, with arms stretched overhead.  

  • Pull-Ups

Begin in a dead hang from a bar, with your core centered and back straight. Pull yourself up using your lats and core muscles, squeezing your shoulder blades at the top of the movement. Keep your neck straight and guide your chin steadily above the bar.

  • Scapular Push ups

Start out in plank position with your arms shoulder width apart. Keep your arms locked outward, drop your chest slightly and squeeze your shoulder blades together, isolating your scapula. Make sure to keep lower back neutral and avoid bending the elbows.

 

  • Lower Back Extensions

Lie facedown on the floor with your body fully extended, arms above your head and legs together. Lift your arms and legs up off the floor, using your lower back and glute muscles, making sure not to bend the knees or elbows.

  • IMG_0638Spinal Twist

Begin in seated staff pose. Bend your right knee over your left leg, placing your foot on the ground next to your left thigh. Your leg can be kept straight ahead or bent. Turn your torso towards the left.

Try these exercises out and let us know you feel. Looking forward to next month–get ready for the 10,000 rep challenge!! As always, if you’d like to set up a free consult with us, please fill out the contact form below.

Yours in health,

Fuse Fitness Team

 

 

Evan McWilliams’ Fuse Fitness Success Story!


Hi Fusers!

This month we are giving a big shout out to one of our longest members, Evan McWilliams, who has been working out at Fuse Fitness since 2011. He started out with personal training and now is one of our most regular class attendees. Since his first class in 2012, he has logged in 425 hours of workouts (not including personal training sessions). WOW!! And that doesn’t even touch on the many hours/miles of hiking/running he has logged outside the gym.

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As most of you know, Evan always walks in barefoot (even in the winter when it’s RAINING!!!), shoes in hand, baseball cap on, and pretends to be the grumpiest person you’ve ever met. While he does a very good job of being grumpy, he really is one of the nicest and funniest people at the gym.

 

We first met Evan in 2011, and had the pleasure of training him one-on-one. He was gifted some training sessions from a friend of his who had done work for Pascha and me when we opened Fuse. Evan’s friend kindly allowed Pascha and me to do a trade with him, as he knew we were a brand new business working hard to get on our feet. As the story goes, Evan had helped out his friend by taking care of his children while his wife was battling and beating cancer. In return for Evan’s generosity and friendship during this time, he was gifted the training sessions.

Pascha and I both trained Evan in the beginning for the traded sessions. At first, I’m not sure he was entirely enthused or excited to have been gifted the training sessions, however he had to use them. I wasn’t sure whether he would continue after those sessions were done, but he did, and as time moved forward, a new Evan emerged. During this time, I got to know him quite well, and learned quickly how dry and sarcastic his sense of humor is, which I find to be hilarious. It was clear that getting over that initial hump of starting a new, intense fitness program was challenging, however his consistency and hard work paid off. I really began to see big changes in Evan….he became really motivated and confident, and awesomely stayed grumpy. However, I quickly came to see that while perhaps the initial grumpiness when he first started training was real, the new grumpiness wasn’t quite true. But he does do one hell of a job pulling it off 😉

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Here are a few words from Evan himself:

I developed epilepsy in my late twenties and had a doctor tell me all the things that I should not do. I took what he said to heart and basically became sedentary. I had been in law enforcement so had been in okay shape, but spent the next couple of years feeling sorry for myself and gained a ton of weight. When I left police work I started working for an outdoor apparel company that placed a huge emphasis on being active. I did not want to stand out as “that guy” so started to run on my own. No training, no coaching, just running, because I was too self-conscious to workout with other people.

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I lost some weight and ran three marathons in one year (despite my doctor’s warning) and realized that I was physically one-dimensional. I could run forever, but I was doing nothing but aerobic exercise. I wanted to see if my times improved as my fitness level became more well-rounded. A friend of mine did some work for Pascha and Kristin when they opened Fuse. He worked out a barter with them for personal training. He gave those training sessions to me. My first session was with Pascha. All I remember was feeling completely out of shape, and her saying, “Oh, Evan” as I struggled during the workout.  All I wanted to do was get into decent shape and be done. I figured I would work out for a few months and then continue working out on my own. I had no interest in the classes, but would watch them as I worked out with Kristin, and they looked really fun.  I eased into one class a week taught by Kristin, but it took another year or two for me to work out with a different trainer because I don’t like change.  Now, I try to be in class 5-6 days a week.

All of my fitness challenges have been self-inflicted. I have developed a knack for hurting myself. I have blown out my back, broken my foot, developed tendonitis in both elbows and just last month I had a bunch of stitches put into my knee. In the past I would have felt sorry for myself and probably quit. Now, I see these challenges as a way to figure out how to work through the injury. I was working out with Kristin while in my cast. I was back working out the day my stitches came out. And recently I have started to do 20+ mile walk/hike/runs to compensate for my elbow issues.  I still struggle with being 50 and not being able to do everything that I used to do. Everyone at Fuse is here for their own reasons. There is such a supportive feel here. It doesn’t matter if you are the fastest, slowest or strongest…it matters that you are here doing what you need to do for yourself! I have NEVER had that feeling working out in any other environment.

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My biggest [fitness] success was finishing the Spring Cleaning Challenge (clean-eating, fat loss challenge) last year. It came at the right time, as I was training to climb Mt. Rainier. It showed me that I could successfully complete something (while hurt) and finish what I had started in a strong manner. I ended up losing 35lbs which was a huge benefit for the climb. After climbing Rainier, I started to look at things differently, and now I try to find things that a couple of years ago I would not have even tried. Right now, I want to do an unassisted hand-stand. For no other reason than 50-year-old men are not generally known for their handstands!  I also want to be able to keep up with my family. Both my wife and son are major outdoors people. We spend an awful lot of time hiking and mountaineering. I want to be able to keep doing that for my entire life.

I LOVE the atmosphere at Fuse. There is such a nice support network here. People check on you if you have missed class. They welcome my son whenever he shows up. AND they hold you accountable in the best possible way. I know when I am slacking, and I love being called out on it because it shows me they want me to do the best that I can!

Evan, while this tells the story of how your fitness journey at Fuse began because of a gift from a grateful friend, the way I look at it, the gift was really to us. You have become one of our most loved and appreciated members at Fuse! We are very proud of how far you’ve come and all the awesome, positive changes you have made. Thank you for your support. AND STAY GRUMPY!!!!

If you’re interested in joining Fuse Fitness and becoming one of our next success stories, please fill out the form below to sign-up for a free fitness consult.

In Full Swing


Hi Fusers!

I just want to say, you all did a damn good job with those burpees last month. I know you have probably never hated us more than during the month of March, but hey, it’s time to move on—forgive and forget.

Here we are, the beginning of April, and spring is quickly swinging into action. The rain has finally stopped, the sun is out, the days are longer, flowers are blooming, and we are swinging. Ok, so that last thing doesn’t really fit the sentence. However, while spring swings into action, we will concurrently be swinging kettlebells. This month, we are focusing on an actual favorite exercise at Fuse (opposed to last month’s “favorite”)—the kettlebell swing.

A brief bit of histrory—kettlebells were developed in Russia during the 1700s and were mostly used as a way for farmers to measure crops. Beginning in the 20th century, Soviet athletes began to use kettlebells as part of their training (Wikipedia). What makes the kettlebell unique is it’s design; unlike a dumbbell or barbell, the center of mass is extended beyond the hand, allowing the athlete to incorporate power and swinging movements into his/her program.

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At first glance, the swing looks very similar to a squat and front shoulder raise. However, it is not that, and it is extremely important to learn proper technique to ensure safety as well as get the most out of this powerful, all-encompassing exercise.  So let’s break it down.

The kettlebell swing is an explosive, ballistic exercise that trains the posterior chain of your body—primarily your hips, glutes, back and core. It is composed of a hip hinge movement in which you drive your hips straight back behind your centerline, pulling the kettlebell back between your legs just below the groin. It is imperative to keep your core tight and spine neutral spine/back straight. Your shins stay completely vertical, unlike a squat where the knees track over the toes, creating an angle of <90° between your shins and the floor.

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photo credit Onnit Academy

This movement pattern loads up the glutes and hips, which are extremely strong and powerful muscles. At this point you snap your hips forward powerfully, propelling the kettlebell upward. You maintain loose, straight arms, as the effort comes completely from your hips/glutes/core, and has nothing to do with your arms. While your arms help to control the kettlebell, you shouldn’t use your arms or shoulders to pull it up.

This movement pattern loads up your glutes and hips, which are extremely strong and powerful muscles. At this point you snap your hips forward powerfully, propelling the kettlebell upward. You maintain loose, straight arms, as the effort comes completely from your hips/glutes/core, and has nothing to do with your arms. While your arms help to control the kettlebell, you shouldn’t use your arms or shoulders to pull it up.

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As the kettlebell reaches its top end range of motion, usually around 45° out from your body, your glutes and abs flex to stop your hip motion so that you do NOT lean back and use your lower back muscles to pull. Your body should be in a completely vertical position, like a standing plank, with your core and glutes fully engaged. If your core is not engaged, you will put too much stress on your spine, causing your lower back, rather than your glutes, to do the majority of the work.

As the kettlebell begins to drop back down, make sure to be patient and wait until it has traveled almost all the way back down before beginning to hinge your hips back by moving your hips out of way. If you begin to hinge too early, you risk the kettlebell coming down much closer to the knees than it should—it should stay right below your groin.

So that’s the breakdown. Pretty technical, which is why we’re going to focus on perfecting it this month. When done correctly, it’s an amazing full-body exercise that is great for both conditioning and muscular endurance.

Keep up the great work Fusers!

Yours in health,

Kristin at Fuse Fitness

p.s. If you’re interested in learning how to do a kettlebell swing, want to work on your form, or are simply looking for an awesome strength and conditioning program, fill out the form below to sign-up for a free fitness consult.

Burpee-the most badass exercise on the market (did I sell you?)


Hi Fusers!

It’s March!! Woohoo, spring is just around the corner, and I’m pretty sure we’re all sick of the rain. So here’s to sunny, drier days ahead! And burpees.

That’s right, although that looks like a misplaced word in the paragraph above, I want to assure you that you read correctly. This month we will be focusing on burpees. I know, I know….here’s what you’re all thinking….

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The poor burpee. Seriously, for an exercise that is so incredibly effective and efficient, why can’t there be more love for it?! Did you ever think about that? Well guess what??

burpees

I get it. Burpees are hard AF. However, they get results, and that’s what we’re after, right?Burpees are a full body exercise that work pretty much every muscle in the body, meaning that you can burn more calories in a lot less time. They help you develop strength, explosive power and anaerobic endurance. And conveniently, they can be done anywhere with no equipment necessary. That’s right, ANYWHERE. So next time you’re at Whole Foods….just saying 🙂

According to Wikipedia, the burpee was named in the 1930s for American physiologist Royal H. Burpee who developed the burpee test. As part of his PhD thesis, he created the burpee as a simple way to assess fitness. The exercise became popular during WWII, when it was adopted by the US Army to assess the fitness level of recruits. Originally, the burpee consisted of four steps:

  1. Squat down and place both hands on the floor in front of you.
  2. Jump feet back into plank position
  3. Jump feet forward.
  4. Return to standing.

Today, it is commonly done as a 6 step exercise:

  1. Bend over or squat down and place both hands on the floor in front of you, just outside of your feet.
  2. Jump both feet back into plank position.
  3. Drop to a push-up—your chest should touch the floor.
  4. Push or snake up to return to plank position.
  5. Jump feet back in toward hands.
  6. Explosively jump up into the air, reaching arms straight overhead.

Here at Fuse, we generally do the 6 step variation, and prefer this definition:

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Commonly done among inmates….so this month, you guys will be our inmates, and we will be working on the most badass exercise around.

The challenge for the month will be to increase your burpee stamina and will be tested as such: 5 rounds of 60 seconds of burpees followed by 60 seconds of rest in between rounds. You will tally the total amount of burpees you do in all 5 rounds, and that will be your score. Each week, you will perform this challenge (you only need to do once a week, you will have something else to do during this time if you have already completed yours for the week) and the goal is to improve your score each week. We will be giving out prizes to the awesome coffee cart at Flowerland on Solano Avenue for best improvements. However, the strategy is not to go super slow the first week on purpose just to win. While we will be awarding the biggest improvements, we will also be taking into consideration the best efforts all the way through the challenge.

Alright, let’s do this! And maybe, just maybe, we can get just a few likes for the dreaded burpee by the end of March.

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At the very least, Pascha and I will increase that number to 2 people 🙂

Yours in health,

Kristin at Fuse Fitness

Time to get Running!


Hi Fusers!

January is quickly coming to an end, and we’ve had a great month focusing on interval training….all day, every damn day. Whew. It’s been tough, but awesome! Those first days of the month were rough for many of us, coming off of the holidays and trying to get back into a routine. There is just no better way to break up a rut than to go all out with intervals—not necessarily fun, definitely not easy, but certainly effective.

So now we should be back on track, kicking ass again, and feeling back to normal. Thanks interval training 😉

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February is heart health month, so naturally we’re going to focus on cardiovascular health. Since we just spent all of January doing high-intensity, shorter intervals (which is definitely cardio), we are going to shift our focus to longer periods of work/endurance training. Aerobic endurance is the ability to work for longer periods of time without tiring (mayoclinic.com). Which brings me to our challenge of the month—the 1 mile run. Gasp. 

Don’t think for a minute that I didn’t hear the collective gasps that just happened reading that sentence. I hear all the time how much everyone hates running. Why is that? Because it’s hard. You’re right, it is hard. However it is good cardio training. While certainly not the only way to improve cardiovascular health, it is one way, and it is the way we have chosen for this month’s challenge.

We will be having two outdoor bootcamps coming up to run the mile for time. For those who truly can’t run, definitely still come to the bootcamp, we will have something else for you to do to work on your cardio. Here are the dates:

  • Sat. Jan. 28th at 10am—Albany Middle School track
  • Sat. Feb. 25th at 10am—Albany Middle School track

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Be ready for more running, rowing and longer interval training workouts during February to prepare you to better your mile run time, but more importantly, improve your cardiovascular health.

Without further adieu, I’m going to leave you with some facts about heart health/heart disease. In case you need further convincing why you will come to the bootcamps and run. Without complaining. Preferably with a smile on your face. Ok, that may be pushing it 😉

One in four deaths in the United States is caused be heart/cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death for both men and women (theheartfoundation.org). Despite those grim statistics, one’s risk of having heart disease can be significantly reduced by making healthy choices. We truly have so much power over this disease.

Some of the ways in which you can reduce your risk of heart disease are (theheartfoundation.org):

  • Keep a healthy weight; more importantly, keep a healthy level of body fat. It is entirely possibly to be a “healthy” weight but have too high a level of body fat. Conversely, it is also completely possible to have a higher weight with a low/healthy level of body fat. Muscle weights more than fat.
  • Quit smoking. It is the singular most important thing you can do to prevent so many health problems.
  • Follow a healthy diet. Cut out processed food. Drastically reduce sugar intake. Consume a lot more vegetables. Cook at home. Eat clean.
  • Manage anger and stress. Meditate, listen to music, play an instrument, make time for yourself. Breathe. Life is stressful and challenging, find ways to help not take it so seriously.
  • Exercise. If you’re a client at Fuse, you’re definitely on the right path with this. Are you consistent? Could you add another day? Could you work a little harder? Ask yourself these questions. You may be right on track or you may need a push. Figure that out and decide the best path to making yourself healthier.

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So, we’re planning on seeing you all this Saturday at 10am. Dust off those running shoes. Head to the track. Be ready to go. And smile.

Yours in health,

Kristin at Fuse Fitness

P.S. If you’re looking to start up a fitness program, you’ve come to the right place. Please fill out this contact form to get started with a free consultation.