Exercise & Fitness


Feel Better with Exercise

Feel Better with Exercise

(Photo by Stuart Locklear Photography)

When we talk about the benefits of regular exercise, we tend to focus on physical rather than emotional, mental, and spiritual benefits. Trust me… rock hard abs, solid glutes, and strong, lean arms are only the beginning of getting up and getting going!

Exercise absolutely transforms the way you feel and the effects are immediate.

While significant weight loss takes time and extended effort, all it takes is one quick workout to begin reaping the rewards of a more energetic and capable body.

WIth regular exercise, you’ll cultivate energy and vitality, alleviate lingering aches and pains, and feel happier and more confident. Sounds good to me!

1) Cultivate Energy and Vitality

How are your natural energy levels these days? How do you feel in the morning before your cup of coffee? Do your eyes pop open at the sound of your alarm or even before it goes off? Do you bounce through your day with a spring in your step or do you hit snooze half a dozen times before begrudgingly waking?

While you may not instantly feel like the Energizer Bunny, your energy levels will dramatically increase once you begin a consistent, challenging exercise routine.

Research consistently finds that regular exercise increases your body’s natural energy levels and reduces fatigue. It actually creates energy in your body. Basically, your body rises up to meet the challenge for more energy by becoming stronger and anticipating higher physical expectations.

2) Alleviate Aches and Pains

If your life is largely sedentary and inactive, you’ll quickly find yourself developing nagging aches and pains that just won’t seem to go away. You’ll feel it when you stand up – a throb in your back, creaking in your knees, and stiffness in your legs. This is pain due to underuse.

Your body is meant to move!

Movement improves flexibility and range of motion, and releases natural pain-reducing endorphins, which means that with a regular exercise program, you’ll be moving smoother and with less pain than ever before.

3) Exude Happiness and Confidence

The way you feel about yourself will improve drastically when you move just 30 to 60 minutes a day!

Think back to the last time that you accomplished something. Maybe you performed well at work and received kudos from your boss, or you finished a project at home that took weeks of your time and concentration.

Do you remember how that accomplishment made you feel?

You stood a little bit straighter, you smiled easily, and deep down you felt alive with excitement.

When challenging exercise becomes a regular part of your life, feelings of happiness and confidence also become a part of you.

From now on I want you to forget the idea that exercise is nothing more than a means to achieving a slimmer body.

Instead, look at exercise as a complete life enhancer.

Reach out to me and I’ll show you how to integrate a consistent, challenging exercise routine into your lifestyle so that you’ll begin to reap the benefits of an energetic, more confident you.

Don’t wait to begin enjoying the benefits of an active lifestyle – call or email now!


Photo by Russ Anderson (Creative Commons)

5 Flat Tummy Myths and 3 Steps to Rock Hard Abs

Sure, it’s August, but that doesn’t mean summer’s over in San Francisco! You and I both know there will be plenty more opportunities to throw off your shirt and show it off. The sun’s out, the days are still long, and the Bay Area is ripe with opportunities and sun-filled adventures. Plus, if last December was any indication, you know you still have time to look great for some warm winter weather!

Are you ready?

It’s true. Most people want to slim down before baring it all, so I’m here to warn you of the 5 Flat Tummy Myths that will slim your time (not your waistline!) and provide you with 3 steps to achieve the flat stomach of your dreams.  

Myth #1: Do extra crunches to flatten your abs.

Excessive crunches are definitely not the answer to achieve rock hard abs. In order to flaunt a toned look, you’ll have to focus on burning off the layer of fat that is covering up your tummy, first.

  • Tip: Don’t obsess about crunches – focus on total body fat burning workouts instead.

Myth #2: Take diet pills to speed weight loss results.

I know it’s tempting! So many television, radio, and internet ads make compelling claims about the power of popping a ‘magic pill’ to speed results. Truth is, diet pills are more likely to burn through your pocketbook than your gut.

  • Tip: Don’t pop a pill – burn calories with high intensity interval training workouts and holistic food choices instead.

Myth #3: Eat packaged diet products to boost results.

Don’t fall for the highly-processed foods that are packaged as ‘diet’ or ‘weight loss’ aids. More often than not, these products are packed with refined sugar and other artificial ingredients that your body doesn’t need and certainly won’t help you attain that tight tummy.

  • Tip: Don’t eat packaged diet foods – focus on well-rounded, wholesome nutrition and meal planning.

Myth #4: Avoid all carbohydrates in order to achieve tight abs.

Carbohydrates have been given a bad rap, which is unfortunate because you can (and should) eat carbs while slimming down. If your body can tolerate it, the key is to stick with organic fruits and vegetables, oatmeal, and brown rice while avoiding processed and refined flours and sugars.

  • Tip: Don’t give up all carbohydrates – stick with wholesome carbs instead.

Myth #5: Starve your way to toned abs.

Trying to lose weight by starving yourself is not only ineffective but can also be dangerous. It may seem that severe calorie restriction would deliver the quickest weight loss, but your body is complex and doing so will disrupt your metabolism and actually slow your results!

  • Tip: Don’t starve yourself – eat several small, well-balanced meals throughout the day and have plenty of high protein snacks on hand to stave off hunger and reduce impulsive cravings.

Now,  it’s time to go over your flat tummy game plan! Here’s what you need to know in 3 simple steps:

Step One: No more junk.

The best way to do this is by purging your kitchen. Throw out the sugary, processed and fat-filled foods. Once the junk has been cleared out, don’t buy any more of it. Remember that your abs and health depend on what you eat.; flat stomachs are made in the kitchen.

Step Two: Eat whole foods.

Replace the junk food in your life with plenty of the following: cooked and raw vegetables, fresh fruits, whole grains, moderate amounts of seeds and nuts, lean meats and low fat dairy. Clean eating really is that simple.

Step Three: Train at Ascend Body

This is the most obvious step. You’re ready to get into great shape and I’m in a unique position to make that happen for you. Get started on an individualized, holistic wellness plan that will get you those amazing abs and more. #Ascend with us to a higher, more sculpted level.

Photo by Russ Anderson (Creative Commons)


Surprise, Surprise! Why Cardio Alone Won't Help You Lose Weight

Surprise, Surprise! Why Cardio Alone Won’t Help You Lose Weight

Have you been doing long, boring cardio only to find that you haven’t lost an ounce? How many of you have spent countless hours running or using an elliptical trainer without much to prove other than an insatiable appetite?

If you’re anything like most Americans, you’ve probably been led to believe that cardio is the key to dramatic weight loss. In fact, millions of us spend hours each week on treadmills, stair steppers, bikes, and ellipticals with the hopes of losing weight and keeping it off.

Amping up the cardio in order to lose weight is a common misconception and you don’t need to spend hours on the treadmill in order to achieve significant weight loss results.

Now, I don’t hate cardio or anything. And if you plan to run a marathon, then you NEED cardio. However,  if you’re trying to get stronger, leaner, and drop fat, cardio is not the most efficient way to do that.

In fact, cardio can actually sabotage your weight loss goals. In addition to increasing one’s appetite and subsequent food intake, cardio increases the secretion of the stress hormone, cortisol, and absolutely crushes the thyroid’s production of T3 hormone. This leads to one thing: fat gain. And in long durations, cardio can decrease muscle mass, which decreases your body’s natural metabolism. Yikes.

Let’s take a step back: I’m not telling you to eliminate cardiovascular exercise entirely and it certainly has a place in every well rounded fitness program. What I am emphasizing is that cardio should be part of a balanced, holistic program that includes strength training, high intensity interval training, and proper nutrition.

I’ve said this before: you can’t out-train a bad diet. Likewise, you can’t just expect to run for hours and lose weight. The key to losing body fat and building lean muscle is strength and interval training which helps boost your metabolism and burn more calories when your body is at rest. Talk about maximum efficiency. The actual weight loss happens when you’re not even trying!

Building lean muscle mass through resistance training works because muscle burns fat, builds strength, sculpts the body, and prevents disease; it basically turns your body into a calorie burning machine for hours after a workout. Time and time again, research proves that people who lift weights have a lower fat mass percentage than those who only do aerobic exercise.

At Ascend Body, we’re not about wasting time. We’re here to help you get leaner, faster.

Let’s bust this myth once and for all with our proven functional strength training workouts and individualized nutritional coaching. Come #Ascend with us to a higher and leaner level.


Become a #SummerSuperhero

Become a #SummerSuperhero

There are no great villains than bad eating habits, lethargy & lack of motivation when it comes to health & fitness. They have the power to keep you from becoming your best you, from loving your body and from performing optimally throughout the day.

Which is why we challenge you to become a #SummerSuperhero and join us in a 30 day fitness challenge that kicks off on August 3rd, 2015! Defeat those villains once and for all with the help of a SuperTeam that make the Avengers look like a bunch of plain janes.

You’ll get the total package that includes (but not limited to):

– UNLIMITED small-group personal training

– Nutrition consultation

– Food journal, recipes, grocery list

– A seminar with founder, Shane Young

– Mind/Body bootcamps

– the chance to win an Apple Watch: Sport Edition + more prizes

– tshirts, glass water bottles, SWAG!

There really isn’t a reason to say no, so click on the link to enroll here!

Plus, enroll by July 27, 2015, and get $50 off your entry!

 


Exercises to Promote Healthy Postures

Exercises to Promote Healthy Postures

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how sexy good posture is! When you sit and stand with healthy alignment you can actually physically look 10 years younger and 10 pounds lighter. Psychologically, good posture conveys confidence, poise, and leadership even when you may not feel that way!

At Ascend, we are obsessed with healthy alignment. Building a solid postural foundation, just like the foundation of a building, gives you the ability to grow and be expansive in each of your daily movements.

I’m super excited to explore the functional benefits of healthy posture and share some simple exercises to promote core stabilization and proper posture in all you do!

In today’s device-driven society, few of us exhibit good posture. In fact, poor posture has the tendency to develop gradually and it’s difficult to notice symptoms which include back and neck pain, tightness, stiffness, increased injury, and decreased range of motion.

Luckily, there’s hope! You can cultivate healthy posture with these corrective strengthening exercises and stretches. Pay very close attention to your alignment while performing any exercise at Ascend and ask our experienced trainers questions if you’re unsure.

  1. Strengthen your core
    Good posture starts with a strong core, which includes the abdominals, lower back, obliques, and hips.
    Some exercises include: basic crunches, side plank, twisting crunches, standing side bends, plank hold, back extensions, and stability ball planks among others!
  1. Fix rounded shoulders
    Rounded shoulders are a postural abnormality caused by spending hours hunched over a computer, tablet or phone, driving a car, or watching television. These forward-reaching positions shorten your chest, shoulder, and hip muscles, and the muscles in your upper and middle back begin to weaken.
    Improve rounded shoulders with exercises designed to pull shoulders into their proper, aligned position: reverse dumbbell flys, rows with a resistance band or dumbbell. A few stretches are also helpful for tight muscles: standing chest stretches against a wall, torso stretch, and quadricep stretches using a stability ball.
  1. Neutralize tilted hips
    When viewed from the side, your hips should be neutral and level. Some people’s hips tilt forward, which is caused by weakness in the hamstrings, glutes, and abs and tightness in the hip flexors and thighs. This is common for people who sit  most of the day and spend a significant amount of time with their legs bent.
    Some exercises to strengthen your hamstrings and glutes include bridges, leg curls with a stability ball, and single leg hamstring flexion using a stability ball. To help stretch tight muscles, try a standing or kneeling quadricep and hip stretch.
  1. Retract a forward head
    By fixing tight and weak areas of the neck, your head will begin to center itself just above the shoulders—a sign of proper posture which may also decrease chronic neck pain!
    Some exercises and stretches to help strengthen and release weak neck muscles include: neck retraction, neck stretches, and myofascial neck release with a foam roller.


Why good posture is sexy and why you should try it!

I’ve been traveling a lot recently, squeezed into small seats on airplanes, not moving around the cabin nearly as much as I’d like. And, if you know me, I bet you understand how difficult this has been!

Slumped in an uncomfortable seat on a recent flight back to San Francisco, I began thinking about posture and how sexy it is when I see someone walking or sitting tall, chest out, and shoulders back. It’s like the person exudes confidence which is not only anatomically correct but also incredibly hot.

I became obsessed with this question: how does posture affect not only our structural alignment but what does it say about the way we feel about ourselves and how others perceive us?

Let’s start with a quick assessment… how are you sitting as you’re reading this right now? If you’re anything like most people, you’re probably slouched at a desk or better yet, on a couch not really paying much attention to your posture and healthy spinal alignment. Maybe you’re even hunched over, feet on your chair, taking up as little space as possible and contracting your body.

We’ll get into ways to promote healthy posture and how it affects everything from the way we walk and exercise in another post. For now, I want to explore why good posture helps us actually feel confident and present as sexy and capable beings… which we all are!

Check out this TED Talk I discovered on something called “power poses”, the idea that standing in a poised and confident posture, even when we may not feel this way, actually affects the cortisol and testosterone levels in our brains, which impacts our behavior and ultimate life outcomes!

It’s a concept that’s best summed up as the body has the potential to change our mindsets, which lead to behavioral changes, which ultimately impacts outcomes and success.

I’m curious. How do you feel about good posture? Have you ever “faked it until you made it” using a confident power pose to help you mask potential insecurity or feelings of inadequacy? How did this impact your outcomes?

I challenge you to strike a power pose. Make posture something you are obsessed with on a daily basis.

Hold yourself high!

Shane


Holistic Personal Trainer Wanted

Ascend Body is a San Francisco based, holistic gym offering personal training, nutritional and lifestyle coaching, and massage therapy. We have regularly scheduled community group outings and workshops and are passionate about empowering clients to live active, well-balanced, joyful lives. And, we’re excited to announce we’re hiring!

We’re searching for a part-time (10-20 hours/week) certified Personal Trainer to complement our close-knit family of wellness practitioners! We’re looking for someone who resonates with our holistic vibe, loves learning and contributing to a supportive, collaborative environment, and is motivated by personal and professional growth.

If you’re a motivated self starter committed to transforming lives and having fun in the process, or if you know someone who seems like an awesome fit, let us know!

Primary Duties/Responsibilities:

Coaching / Training ­Ascend’s small group personal training sessions, and also lead 1:1 training sessions as needed. All fitness sessions are tailored to each client’s personal wellness assessment, so you’ll prepare and deliver comprehensive fitness programs based on predetermined goals while motivating and inspiring! You’ll also be responsible for frequent client follow­-up and re­assessment to track and monitor progress toward goals.

Certification Requirements

Approved Personal Training Certificate
Current Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Automated External Defibrillator (AED)

Required Skills

Highly organized with an adept ability to balance multiple priorities
Strong written and verbal communication
Commitment to our mission: to teach passionately, inspire positively, and guide our clients to the highest possible level of strength and radiant health. Breathe, sweat, smile.
Collaborative, inspirational, and motivational ethos

Desired Skills

Ascend Body isn’t your typical, mainstream gym and we’re looking for someone with a holistic approach to exercise and wellness; you must believe in and live by a mind/body approach to cultivate sustained transformation.

Ideally, we’d like someone who is open and willing to work alongside CHEK practitioners. Although CHEK certification is not required, it’s important that you’re open to our methods and Ascend Body’s vision. All of our trainers and practitioners are upbeat, have positive attitudes, and love to inspire others with a natural talent for working with clients.

Experience

1 year of personal training experience­ required, preferably within a holistic wellness/fitness setting

Education

High School Diploma or GED­
Advanced training certifications and commitment to ongoing development

Compensation

$25-45 per hour commensurate with experience and qualifications.
Earn commission for enrolling new clients and receive performance-based bonuses!
The more you bring to the Ascend Body table, the more money you make.

Sound awesome? Complete the following questions and email your answers with an attachment of your CPT Certification to shaneascendbodycom

Questions

1.­ What do holistic fitness and integrated well-being mean to you?

2.­ How do you cultivate these practices in your own life?

3.­ Are you open to taking the Holistic Lifestyle Coach Program Level 1?

4.­ List 3 examples of how being part of a team or community has affected your life.

5.­ Why do you feel you would be a good fit for the Ascend Body Team?

6.­ How do you interpret our mission to teach passionately, inspire positively, and guide our clients to the highest possible level of strength and radiant health. Breathe, sweat, smile.


Tantra Retreat, Workout Anywhere, & Upcoming Detox!

As many of you know, I have cultivated a strong meditation and spiritual practice. I study Tantra, which is a lineage of meditation from the Himalayan Institute focused particularly on expanded consciousness and personal awareness. Recently, I was accepted into a two-year training program and am super excited to deepen my meditative and spiritual practice within a group of committed practitioners.

Whenever I learn something new, I’m eager to share it with you. From the importance of breathwork to mindful eating, I hope to inspire you to think beyond the good/bad paradigms that exist in fitness and nutrition. Today, I’m happy to share part of my Tantra training experience with you. I met an amazing group of people during my retreat deep in the mountains of North Carolina last week, and let’s just say, my heart is totally singing!

As a holistic wellness practitioner, I am always mindful of moving my body while on any sort of vacation or retreat. Needless to say, there are definitely no 24 Hour Fitness establishments on the side of the winding Smoky Mountain roads. It would make sense that I’d take a break from exercising while I was away, however, my relationship with physical movement is integral to my spirituality. Therefore, I was compelled to tend to this need consistently and consciously.

So, what does one do? In addition to cultivating lasting relationships with fellow Tantra practitioners who are willing and open to engage in most anything, I also realized you can truly workout anywhere. Really, where there’s a will, there’s a way!

After a moderately-paced jog down the mountain to the communal grass volleyball court (such an awesome middle ground  that separates various sustainable eco-friendly communities near our Tantra retreat), I found a really great 35 pound rock with a nice, maneuverable shape. Let’s just say, that rock and I became pretty good friends for the duration of my 25 minute workout. (Note: a kick ass workout doesn’t take a long time at all as evidenced by the sweat dripping down my back at the end of this one!)

Superset

Squat with explosive overhead throws 15 x 4

Explosive pushups 20 x 4

Superset

Front squat with rock 10 x 4

Lateral hops 20 x 4

Superset

Rows off a soccer net stand I found (get creative!)

Oblique tosses 15 x 4

That’s it! Repeat the workout twice if you really want to burn. Now, it’s your turn to get out there and have fun in nature. I’m curious about how creative you can be with what’s available wherever you are so please let me know.

On another note, after returning from the retreat, I feel inspired to coordinate another Ascend Body Detox…I know you all love and want to do another! Let’s talk about food, our relationships with it, and how to let go of unwanted weight and beliefs that feel “weighty”. During the detox, we’ll examine our current habits and learn how to create new and sustainable ones that feel harmonious with the lifestyles we crave. Contact me ASAP at shane@ascendbody.com for dates and times. More information to come!


#PushYourself

Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m a sort of a glutton for punishment. I love to push myself during each and every workout I commit to. Really… if I’m going to show up, I’m going to get after it!

And, I’m certainly not the only one! I see so many of you pushing beyond your perceived limits day in and day out at Ascend. So, why do we do this? How do we benefit from pushing ourselves when we work out?

I want to share three reasons why I personally push myself each time I lace up and hit the gym for a quality workout or stretch session.

  1. The afterglow: Like many of you, I feel absolutely incredible after a solid sweat session! When I push myself past any resistance I feel, I cultivate an inner strength that I continue to carry with me throughout the day. My core feels solid and engaged as I move through the world. I have spinal integrity and experience every discrete movement in my body; it’s a true mind-body connection.
  2. Free drugs: Yep, you read that right! One word: endorphins. As someone who has struggled with depression and anxiety, endorphins are my body’s natural anti-depressant and I notice my mood is significantly better after an intense workout. I even feel good while I’m working out; I’m able to table my thoughts and focus intently on the task at hand. This is because when you exercise vigorously, your body releases magical chemicals called endorphins. When this happens, you experience feelings of euphoria, modulation of appetite, increased secretion of sex hormones, and an enhanced immune response. And, when endorphin levels are high, you actually experience less pain and fewer negative effects of stress. Sounds good to me.
  3. Disciplines of practice: Okay, so here’s what I mean by this: when I make a consistent commitment to get myself out of bed/off the couch/away from Netflix to workout, I actually realize that I become far more productive throughout the rest of my day. I recognize that pushing myself and dedicating time to working out is actually a transcendent activity which means the benefits of doing so extend far beyond the actual session. I become more committed to my meditation practice and caring for my physical and spiritual body. I cook healthier foods, maintain healthy social interaction, and fly through to-do lists!

Why do you #pushyourself? Comment below!