Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

So many of us think that the most important part of recovery outside of the gym is a rest day.  While this is important, one of the most important things you need is consistent SLEEP! If you’re a parent, you know how important it is to keep your child on their sleep schedule.  However, it’s just as important for us adults.

Lack of sleep will leave you cranky, tired, stressed, and forgetting things. Sleep is where the body repairs itself. If many of us tracked our sleep, we would notice that we don’t get enough and it isn’t until we are off schedule, one might start to see a change in their performance in the gym.  Something that used to be light, might now feel heavy.  Speed on runs or the rower might start to slow down. 

Is your sleep consistent? Many of us would probably answer no. One needs to have consistent sleep so that we hit all four stages of sleep. Sleep stages are important because they allow your brain and body to recuperate and develop.  Failure to get enough deep sleep and REM sleep over time can impact your physical and mental health. A few years ago, I started tracking my sleep on my WHOOP Band and it’s been crazy to see how stress, eating late, alcohol, sickness, and staying up late to watch one more episode of a show impacts the four stages of my cycle.

No, you don’t need to run out and get something that tracks your sleep cycles. What you might want to consider is tracking your sleep for a month by noticing the changes in how you feel inside and outside the gym.   Here are a few ideas to consider for the next month.

-Be ACTIVE by coming to class or staying on a routine while traveling.
-Stay HYDRATED throughout the day, but watch your water intake too close to bed.
-Avoid late afternoon CAFFEINE intake as it can stay in your system for up to four hours.
-Limit EATING too late into the night as digesting food is a very active process.
-Going to bed and waking up at a CONSISTENT time, yes that means even on the weekend within about 30 minutes of your weekly routine.
-Limit your ALCOHOL intake. I know you just inserted an eye roll here, but I challenge you for two weeks to see how much of a difference it makes with your quality of sleep. 

As we move into fall and winter.  A consistent sleep schedule can keep us feeling good inside and outside the gym.

-Erica Erickson, Group Fitness Coach

Do You Need A Reset?

This past week our family of six took to the ski slopes for our first skiing spring break.  Within the first hour, I was wishing we were on the beach.  I quickly realized our younger twins needed a RESET.  So off we went into the lodge, boots off, gloves off, and enjoyed the people watching. Second day we hit the bunny hill. I had some hope that the day would get better once our littles warmed up.  Nope, after about 90 minutes, it was time for a lunch RESET.

It was during this second RESET,  I thought it’s like taking on nutrition.  The first time I started working with Kari, I was blown away by how much I learned.  She taught me how I wasn’t eating enough and we learned how my body doesn’t process fat well.  I learned that I didn’t have a good balance of carbs, protein, and fat, hence why I felt tired even with a good night’s sleep.  I also found out how much different my body felt by eliminating some foods or ensuring some food were only in moderation.  I did a RESET with her once I began my marathon training. There is no way I would’ve been able to fuel my body appropriately without her HELP.  Another year later, I needed another RESET.  This time my goal was to get back on track after a year of back pain, stress, COVID fatigue, and recognizing I purely needed some Accountability.

So many feel that nutrition is only about trying to lose weight.  Well I have to disagree! For some of us, it is about learning how to have a healthy relationship with food, or for the individuals that need help with event or race training.  It’s for the individuals that want to gain muscle and feel strong inside and outside the gym.  It’s also for the individuals that feel like they have hit a plateau. Many of us need a RESET when we aren’t seeing the results we are hoping to see in the gym.

So on the last day of our ski trip, I realized it was the RESETS that got our younger twins skiing three straight hours on our last day.  I ask you this, if you did a Nutrition REST, where do you think you might be in the next three months?  Race PR?  Better sleep?  Less illness? More energy? Muscle Gain?  Choosing to do a nutrition REST, is an investment in all the hard work you do day in and day out when you walk into the gym and/or train for your upcoming race/event.

-Erica Erickson, Group Fitness Coach

Why Warm Up Exercises Are Important

Coaches ask you to ensure you show up on time, because we know how important it is for you
to warm up your body before we jump into both strength and the WOD. Sometimes the warmup
feels like a mini workout, but here are the main reasons why we do the warmups that we do.
Warming up is important to increase the body temperature which will be helpful to warm up our
muscles. Sometimes the warmup will be longer or shorter, it will depend on if we have strength
training or jumping right into a workout. The warm up allows you as an athlete to see how the
body is feeling, and it allows your coach to see how you’re moving. If you’re coming off an
injury, it allows everyone to see how the body is feeling, and ensure we adjust the movement
prior to moving along in the workout.
Many times your warm up will incorporate some of the movements we will be completing during
the workout. It allows you as an athlete to practice it and allow coaches to see how you’re
moving. If necessary it gives us time to help you practice or find a new movement to ensure
you don’t hurt yourself.
Last but not least, warming up gets you mentally ready for what is coming your way in both the
strength training and also workout. Warming up protects you from injury!! As an athlete, you
need to take the warm up as seriously as how much weight you put on your barbell. So give
yourself that extra five minutes to ensure your ready when class starts and be focused on giving
your body the time it needs to fully warm up and crush your daily workout.

-Erica Erickson, Group Fitness Coach

You Are Your Harshest Critic

Many times we are our harshest critics.  We beat ourselves up for all the small things we could have done better. We beat ourselves up when the results are less than expected….usually expectations we set for ourselves.  We can completely lose sight of appreciating that we are able to do what we enjoy and get fit along the way.
When things don’t go my way in the gym, I feel embarrassed, angry and disappointed. I know I could have done it or done it better and I question my decisions. I run the scenario over and over in my head trying to figure out what I could have done differently and I know I’m not alone. Many of us get angry or beat ourselves up when things don’t go our way in the gym. Especially if it happens more than once or twice in a short period of time.
My wife is usually quick to set me straight by reminding me “It truly is just a workout” and too  “Not be so hard on myself”. She is obviously right..as usually.
I was able to get in my daily workout.  It kicked my but (this is a good thing).  And now I know what I need to work on. I think this is a thought process and advice we can all use. Focus on what you can do vs what you can’t or didn’t do. Focus on the fact that you get to move your body in a beneficial way and THAT is what matters most. Something is better than nothing, always and that is what true health, fitness and consistency is all about.
-Matthew Kirkendall Head Coach/Owner

Don’t Let The Cold Hold You Back

Confession: Last week I ditched working out seven days in a row. Why? It
was cold out, it was dark and I was visiting family. So many of us struggle
when the weather gets cold outside, but honestly, it’s during these times that
we need to stick to our routine. Don’t worry this is a judgement FREE zone! If
you too recently fell out of your workout routine, here are 5 tips to help keep
you going so the winter’s dark skies and cold temperatures don’t steal your
fitness groove.
1. Jump back in, but give yourself grace as it might be a little hard at first.
The first step is starting again and making yourself a priority again.
The more you put off getting back into your routine, the harder it is to
get back into activity later, which becomes a vicious circle.
2. Get your workout stuff ready the night before. You are less likely to
cancel when you know everything is already set out.
3. Remind yourself how much a workout does for your mood and soul.
Did you know that research shows that exercise can help boost your
mood and even alleviate long-term depression. This is even more
important during the winter. Many times it's the steps to the car that
are the hardest one. Once you back out of the driveway there is no
looking back, you are committed!
4. Still struggling to get yourself into the gym, find a workout buddy or
tell a coach that you need some accountability. Having a workout
buddy helps us get to class as the guilt of knowing someone is waiting
for you will keep you from hitting the delete button.
5. Remind yourself of why you started. Sometimes we need to reevaluate
our goals. Maybe your goal was to lose 5 pounds, now that you have
reached that goal, set a new one so that you have that extra push to
help you keep yourself motivated.

Yes, our beds feel so comfy when it’s cold and dark outside, but remind
yourself that once you get five minutes into the warm up, you will be
complaining it's too hot and your mood will be boosted.

-Erica Erickson, Group Fitness Coach

Why Your Coaches Are Always Telling You To Scale Down The Weight and Go Faster

Have you ever wondered why so many coaches sound like a broken record when explaining the
metcon? You might hear a lot of, “go lighter, go faster”. This is intentional. As coaches, we want
you to get the desired stimulus of the workout (and subsequent benefits). While the strength
portions are programmed for athletes to add weight and work towards those heavy stimuli, the
metcon is all about speed and intensity. Intensity in CrossFit is directly relatable to power. So,
during many metcons we are looking to create a higher power output. Power is defined as
(force x distance)/time. For most metcons, the distance is preset so the only factors that can be
controlled by an athlete are the force (weight you are lifting) or the time (how long it takes to
do the programmed work). Because time is in the denominator, you will create more
power–mathematically speaking– by dividing by a smaller number or doing the work faster. If
you add more force, i.e., more weight, then the numerator gets larger, but the time is also likely
going to get longer, which may cancel out the net increase in power due to the added weight.
In fact, the end result may be no increase in power at all. So, next time you are wondering what
weight to use to use for the metcon, consider asking yourself how you will generate the most
power.
Sources:
http://journal.crossfit.com/2009/03/intensity-and-its-role-in-fitness.tpl
https://www.crossfit.com/essentials/defining-crossfit-part-2-intensity

-Ani Monroe, Group Fitness Coach

Consistency But Not Too Much

We preach consistency a lot in the gym because we feel it should be the foundation of everyone’s fitness journey, no matter if you are just starting out or have been on this path for years. It is proven that if you are hitting workouts, sticking to a nutrition plan and/or taking care of your body on a regular basis results will happen.  

Now that being said, every once in a while you need to change things up or step “outside the box”. When you throw your body/brain a curveball you challenge yourself in different ways. This could be as simple as picking a different scale option for Pull-ups (instead of Banded Pull-ups do Partner Assisted) or replacing your normal gym workout with a new sport or event.

So when you feel like your progress has stalled, take a hard look at your routine and add in a little variety. Do something different!

-Matthew Kirkendall Head Coach/Owner

Will My Fitness Suffer If I Take Time Off?

You have busted your ass in the gym for months.  You are seeing muscles that you didn’t know existed.  You are able to fit in your “pre-baby” jeans.  You are able to chase down your kids without getting out of breath. Then BAM…..your job has you sitting more in a plane seat, you throw out your back playing 9, break an ankle not listening to your skydiver instructor, or get sick with some virus that has taken over the world for the last 2 years and will never seem to go away.   Whatever the reason, you are not able to get in your daily workout.  And not just for a day to two but for weeks or more.  It sucks…bad but it is not the end of your fitness journey (or at least it should not be).

It’s why many of us hate missing even one workout and why others struggle to get back into the gym after taking time off.   It seems like our months of hard work in the gym can be lost in a manner of days when you are forced to take time off. While it is true you can expect to lose a little bit of fitness but it is not as bad as your brain and eyes are telling you. 

You will lose some of your aerobic gains, meaning those 400 meter runs might be a little slower and those burpees might seem a little more challenging, but you are definitely not starting from scratch again.  And if you’ve been consistent with your workout routine for the past several months you will regain any aerobic fitness you may have lost pretty fast.  Just moving at a brisk pace every now and then will help minimize your losses. Elevating your heart rate for 20-30 minutes every couple days, even if it is not as hard and intense as you are used to, will help make those first workouts back not seem like you are going to die (at least not a slow painful death).

As far as losing muscle mass, you might feel like you are going from looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger to Pee Wee Herman in a matter of days but you retain muscle mass for quite a while, longer than your aerobic fitness. Just like with your aerobic fitness though, the more time you have spent hitting the weights over the months leading up to your hiatus, the slower the decay.  If you are still worried about the guns turning into toothpicks, pick up and put down whatever you have around that house a few times. A little resistance training goes a long way. So basically as long as you don’t just lay in bed for 6 months and never lift a finger, soon you will still be able to sport that muscle tank top.  Suns out guns out.  

So next time you have to take a break, know that not all is lost.  You can get back to where you were at with a little hard work and may even come out stronger and fitter in the long run. 

-Matthew Kirkendall Head Coach/Owner

Gaining Muscle Is Possible For Women Over 40

You’re never too old to get stronger and challenge your body to learn new things.
Unfortunately, intimidation and skewed perspectives create barriers for women who
want to try and gain muscle as they age.
For many of us the forties are a time of many changes, and this is especially true for
women. Their metabolisms are slowing, many start to experience hormonal changes,
and many feel like they’re too old. We shouldn’t allow these things to get in our way, as
one of the most important things we could do is start to make building muscle our
mission.
As women age, they’re also more likely to experience a loss in bone density, resulting in
serious issues, like osteoporosis. Increased lean muscle mass has a direct relationship
with bone mass density. Also, having lean muscle mass as we age protects us from
potential broken bones. In other words, making an effort to build muscle will make your
bones stronger.
Moving our bodies also helps women with sleep and stress. The higher our stress
levels, the more likely we are to eat unhealthy food and cause more harm to our bodies.
Getting into the gym 3-4 times a week for at least 30 to 60 minutes will improve our
sleep and help us manage our stress levels.
Don’t let time be the excuse that stops you from starting to work on muscle gain. At
Widespread Fitness, we have so many different options available to fit your business
schedule. We have group classes or personal training sessions that can be in person
or via zoom. One hour workout is 4% of your day. No Excuses.

-Erica Erickson, Group Fitness Coach

Mastering The Basics

We all wanted to be the cool kid back in middle school.  The kid who could do it all and made it look effortless.  Well just like back in the day, we all want to be “cool” and do “cool” movements like Muscle-ups or Handstand Push-ups in workouts. Unfortunately this could get you in trouble, just like it could back in the day, haha.

A big mistake I see from my athletes is their desire to perform more technical or advanced movements before they have mastered the basics.  The basics are the foundation that support these “cool” movements.  Without a solid foundation, things break down and injuries occur.

 

If you want to stay injury free and enjoy working out for years to come, focus on getting real good at the basics movements first.  Then once you have the basic nailed down work on maintaining that form for multiple reps, even when you are tired. When you can knock out perfect rep after perfect rep, then slowly add more intensity to these basic movements. When you can keep your form at speed, then you may be ready (depending on your goals) to start working on the “cool” movements.

-Matthew Kirkendal Owner/Head Coach