THE POWER OF PULSES - Science shows even the littlest movements matter.

By Bryce Hastings for Fit Planet


If you want strong, lean and toned muscles it’s the littlest movements that can make a real difference. Check out these new insights from the Les Mills Lab to find out how small movements can create big change.


We’ve long known that when it comes to resistance training it’s fatigue, not load, that generates change within the muscle – and there’s plenty of research to back it up. We also know that maximizing fatigue comes down to manipulating range of movement and repetition speed. New insights now clearly show that pulses are a great way to maximize fatigue when lifting light weights for higher repetitions.


What do pulses do that full-range exercises don’t?


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The team in the Les Mills Lab set out to measure the difference in muscle activation between full-range squats and squat pulses. Here’s what we found:


Full-range squats, as you’d expect, fire up all the global muscles that drive your body away from the ground. This highlights how full-range squats are great for working the gluteus maximus, rectus femoris and the hamstrings.


What we see with squat pulses is a more isolated activation of the quadriceps muscles closer to the knee. The activation of these muscles is key for stabilization.


We see a similar pattern when comparing the activation levels of the key muscles involved in a full-range chest press with pulses. This is what we found:


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Again the full-range chest presses resulted in activation of the key push pattern muscle groups, the pec major and anterior deltoid. As soon as we introduced a pulse action we saw a significant increase in the activation of lat dorsi, again acting as a stabilizer.


These findings highlight how combining pulses with full-range exercises changes activation patterns and allows you to engage all the key target muscles. This is the secret to maximizing fatigue and driving muscle change.


What’s the difference between a pulse and a bottom half?


If you’re a BODYPUMP regular you’ve probably very familiar with both the terms “pulses” and “bottom halves”. Both movements are designed to help maximizing fatigue by manipulating range of movement, yet there are slight differences. Pulses are much smaller in amplitude and involve moving just a few inches above and below the point of maximum tension (e.g. bottom of a squat or mid point of a bicep curl). Bottom halves work a larger range from halfway up to the bottom of the movement.


Pulses are based on the science of occlusion training
Occlusion training (often termed blood flow restriction training) commonly involves wrapping a pressure cuff around your limb to restrict blood flow of a working muscle. When this happens the low oxygen level in the muscle forces your body to recruit fast-twitch muscle fibers and lactic acid accumulates, which accelerates change within the muscle. Engaging in pulses creates a similar effect as using a pressure cuff, as the small range of motion restricts blood flow to the muscles, and that’s when the transformative effects kick in.



Bryce Hastings is a leading New Zealand physiotherapist and fitness expert. As Les Mills Head of Research he leads research into the most effective approaches to exercise and plays a pivotal role in structuring all LES MILLS™ workouts. Bryce’s passion for effective exercise is born from spending 30 years in physiotherapy, where he saw “people getting their lives wrong” every day and felt like he was acting as an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. By working in fitness he gets to be the fence at the top.


By Margo White for Fit Planet

Simple steps you can take to fight the war on plastic pollution.

With manufacturers and retailers finally waking up to the plastic pollution crisis, what can we do right now as individuals to keep up the pressure?

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Assuming you’re not living under a rock, you’ll be aware that the planet is suffocating in plastic. It happened so fast; plastic has only been around for 65 years or so, but it’s estimated we’ve produced 8.3 billion tons of it in that time. By weight, that’s the equivalent of 25,000 Empire State buildings or one billion elephants. 

Worse could be yet to come; plastic production is predicted to double again in the next 20 years, and a report from the World Economic Forum warned there’ll be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans by weight by 2050.

The better news is that people are sick of plastic, angry about the plastic, and a long overdue plastic backlash has begun. This could partly be thanks to David Attenborough’s BBC series, Blue Planet 2, which featured albatrosses unwittingly feeding their chicks plastic, and a pilot whale mother nursing its dead calf, poisoned by plastic. Also, China has banned the import of low-grade recyclable waste, so countries are having to face up to the waste in their own backyard, rather than shipping it for some other country to take care of. 

Companies seem to be waking up to their responsibilities too, or at least recognizing that all this plastic is bad for the brand. Getting rid of the plastic straws (which can’t be recycled) is hardly going to save the planet, but it’s a start. Starbucks has announced it will replace them with “adult sippy cup” lids, Ikea says it will phase out all single-use plastic products in its stores and restaurants by 2020, including plastic straws, plates and garbage bags, McDonald’s has started using paper straws, and Seattle has banned plastic straws altogether with its “Strawless in Seattle” campaign.


More than 25 countries around the globe now either ban or tax single-use plastic bags, the UK-based Iceland supermarket chain is working to transition all its own label products to being plastic-free by 2023, and a number of companies responsible for 80 percent of the plastic packaging produced in the UK have signed up to the Plastics Pact, pledging to make plastic reusable or compostable, and eliminate single use packaging, by 2025.


Plastic is fantastic, malleable, durable and cheap to make, and for some decades we’ve been persuaded that there was no alternative. That was rubbish. Yet we had the brains and technology to develop synthetic plastics in the first place (if not the brains to consider where it would end up), so we have the brains and technologies to come up with viable, less environmentally disastrous alternatives. 

“One single water bottle will remain on the planet in some form for a minimum of 450 years.”

One way to address this ever-escalating problem is recycling, but only about 9 percent of plastic waste is recycled, and 12 percent is incinerated, while the rest ends up in landfill or the sea. We clearly need better and more consistent recycling systems, butrecycling is never going to be a fix-all solution; plastic can’t be recycled infinitely, and after a handful of times it will be end up in landfill. As stated in a recent column in the Independent, “One single water bottle will remain on the planet in some form for a minimum of 450 years.”

Many researchers are focusing on biodegradable plastics, butit’s not yet clear what “biodegradable” actually means; some so-called biodegradable plastic might just break into smaller pieces of plastic and end up in the ocean, where the water is cold enough to preserve them as long as other plastics.

Bio-plastics, which are derived from plants and actually compostable, are also getting a lot of scientific attention. The problem with bio-plastics is that they have typically been made from corn, sugarcane, vegetable oil and starch, which would mean diverting resources (fertilizers, water, land) used to make food, to make plastics.

Many researchers are now turning to seaweed as a more sustainable raw material, because it grows fast, without fertilizers or land. Indonesia, one of the world’s largest seaweed producers, is leading the charge in this area, with Indonesian startup Evoware developing a seaweed-based jelly cup, and now expanding into other types of packaging such as dissolvable sachets for coffee or seasonings. Work still needs to be done to find ways to make seaweed-based plastics as versatile and economically competitive as oil-based plastics.

Many argue that solving the plastic crisis requires shifting from a linear (buy, use, dispose) economy to a circular (buy, use, re-use, recycle or repurpose) economy. This would also mean designing products in ways that prioritize what happens to them at the end of theirlife, and developing social policies to support the infrastructure to dispose of them in an efficient and sustainable way. 

What can we all do in the interim? We have the people power. Not so long ago supermarkets said they used all that plastic packaging because consumers demanded it. So by that logic, consumers could (and should) demand supermarkets use less of it; when a carrier bag surcharge was introduced in the UK in 2015, carrier bag use dropped by more than 80 percent. 

Let’s face it, we had the technology to get ourselves into this mess, we can come up with the technologies to get out of it.


·         Recycling isn’t the fix-all solution, but recycle when you can. Don’t contaminate your recyclables with items such as polystyrene trays and plastic bags, or the plastic on tissue boxes – contaminated recyclables end up as general waste.

·         Pay attention to how many plastic wrapped or plastic items you buy each week in supermarkets, and see what you can do without. Say no to plastic straws, microbeads, plastic shavers and whatever plastic you can. Make a game of it!

·         Use re-usable bags, and use them as many times as you can before throwing them out.

·         Avoid putting fruit and vegetables into a plastic bag before putting them into your re-usable bag. If you really need bags for the fruit and vegetables bring your own or, if you get caught short, use the paper bag usually provided for mushrooms.

·         Buy in bulk when possible.

·         Put pressure on businesses and retailers to reduce unnecessary use of plastic, and local and central governments to support alternatives and recycling initiatives.

·         Keep the faith that things can change. Get mad if it doesn’t.

2019 = Skill Up!

The New Year is approaching soon! Are you ready? 

Do you want to be successful this year? 

Here’s how! 

Step 1: Become aware of the skills you need to be successful! What do you need to work on in the new year? Become familiar with the obstacles ahead in order to manifest what you want! How will you take the next step in your health or business? SKILL UP! 


Step 2: Gazelle Focused! I mean get quiet and decide what you want. “Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the snare of the fowler.” In other words, make like a gazelle and run for your goals and dreams! Don’t stop until you get there! 

Step 3: Practice self discipline. Without discipline you cannot achieve big things. Self discipline is being stronger than your greatest weakness. Resist temptation and keep yourself accountable towards your goals ahead. 

Step 4: Prepare for failure. If You want to do anything great in this world you may face failures. As you step out of your comfort zone there is a chance of failure. Acknowledge that today, so If failure does hit you are ready.  It will be how we deal with those failures that will determine how successful we will be in the future. 


Follow our page here Crossfit 696 Kids! Not only will you get to see our CrossFit youth fitness programs. But starting January 1st our first “Move For Life” post will be posted there! Mobility tricks, stretches and more! Move better this New Year.  Spend just   10 minutes a day stretching and mobilizing the muscles, joints and bones! 

“Move for life." Make your health a priority in 2019! 2019 is your skill up year!! 

~ Coach Kayla 



By Emma Hogan for Fit Planet


If you want to shift your fitness fast, burpees will make it happen. With this one simple yet challenging moveyou can send your heart rate through the roof, build cardio endurance and torch fat.

Burpees are fast-paced, dynamic and never boring. You don’t need any equipment and you can do them any time, anywhere. String together burpees in rapid succession and you’ll put your fitness, agility, coordination and strength to the test.

The muscles you work

Burpees are the ultimate full body exercise! You work your triceps, chest, glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves and all the muscles of your core with each rep.

How to set up the perfect burpee

·         Place your feet slightly wider than your hips

·         Position your feet with toe angled 5-20 degrees outward

·         Lift your chest

·         Ensure your weight is distributed through the heels and balls of your feet

·         Brace your core muscles.


The movement

·         Squat down and keep your chest elevated

·         Place your hands on the floor

·         Brace your core and jump your feet back to a plank

·         Jump your feet back in wide

·         Jump tall and land with bent knees

·         Repeat


Tailor the move to suit your ability

An alternative to doing the burpee is to try a few by just walking your legs back instead of jumping into plank. You can also take out the jump at the end.

To advance this move try and shoot your feet out even faster into the plank. However, it’s important that you have your technique right before you add speed.

Other ways to up the ante includeadding a push-up during the plank phase of the movement, doing one-armed burpees (make sure you alternate arms), adding a tuck jump at the end of each burpee, or jumping laterally over a bench in between burpees.

Fun fact: The burpee is named after American physiologist Royal H. Burpee who created it in 1940 as part of his Ph.D. thesis as a quick and simple way to assess fitness.


Make sure you …

#1       Don’t skip the squat movement. It’s important that you really focus on the squat component, as squatting reduces the stress on the lower back as you transition to the floor. Learn more about why you need to squat – not crouch – while you burpee here. (LINK TO BURPEE SQUAT article)

#2       Jump safely. It’s important that you bend your legs a lot as you land, as this will help absorb the load and protect your knees.

#3       Brace your core hard as you jump back into the plank – bracing your abdominals will help look after your lower back.



How to get better at burpees

Try 12days of burpees. Start on day one by seeing how many burpees you can do in two minutes, and aim to add an extra burpee each day. On day six and day 12 do the 2-minute burpee beep test.

Give your body a short, sharp cardio kick by doing the2-minute burpee beep test. Press play on this soundtrackand see if you can do a burpee every time you hear a beep – be warned, the beeps get quicker towards the end!

Up for the 100 burpee challenge?See how long it takes you to power through 100 burpees. If you can do it within 10 minutes you should feel pretty pleased with yourself. Do this 100 burpee challenge weekly and aim to knock off a little time each week.


Fun fact: Burpees first became popular when the US military began using them to test the fitness level of new recruits during World War II.


If you like the idea of smashing out sets of burpees to some motivating beats give LES MILLS GRIT a go. Burpees are also a regular feature in BODYATTACK and often BODYSTEP too. You can find a class or work out On Demand.


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By Margo White for Fit Planet

For many people, listening to music is an essential part of exercising – it motivates, helps us maintain or increase our pace, makes working out more fun, sometimes less painful. Now science is beginning to uncover exactly how why this happens.

Some things about music are well known. It captures our attention, lifts our spirits, triggers emotions, alters and regulates mood, heightens arousal and encourages rhythmic movement. It also distracts us from any pain and fatigue that we might be experiencing while exercising.

So it’s unsurprising that when it comes to working out to music, both the brain and body are involved, and each influences the other.

Professor Costas Karageorghis of Brunel University London, a leading expert in the interplay between music and exercise and author of Applying Music in Exercise and Sport, has described the use of music while exercising, as “a type of legal performance-enhancing drug”.

One of the unusual things about being human is that we unconsciously, instinctively, move to the beat of whatever rhythm we’re listening to. As many studies have shown, a certain rhythm can make people walk, run, swim, pedal or paddle faster.

Ethiopian athlete Haile Gebreselassie famously attributed his breaking of the indoor 2000-meter record in 1998 to synchronizing his stride rate to the beat of the 1995 hit, Scatman, by Scatman John. “I’m a Scatman! Dum dum and then you know the timing and at the same time your style changes immediately,” Gebreselassie told CNN. By all means, give it a go. It’s certainly infectious.

It seems that music can make us work out faster and harder, but also make exercise seem easier. In one of several studies in this area, Karageorghis and his team found that participants who cycled to music that matched the tempo of their pedaling rhythmused less energy than when the music was slower.

This interaction between music and exercise is a burgeoning research topic, partly prompted by new technologies that allow us take our music with us everywhere we go. Yet the mechanisms involved are not well understood. What is going on in our brain when we exercise with music?

Scientists have long known that there are direct connections between the auditory neurons and motor neurons in the brain; even if someone is sitting perfectly still, listening to music they like increases activity in various regions of the brain important for coordinating movements. Some researchers argue that people’s instinct to move in time to music could be put down to this “neural crosstalk”.

Dr Marcelo Bigliassifrom the University of São Paulo, Brazil, has spent the last ten years looking at the neural networks that activate in response to exercise and music, to understand better how music influences psychological, physiological and psycho-physiological behavior.

“In general, my studies indicate that auditory and audiovisual stimuli have the potential to increase the use of dissociative thoughts, such as daydreaming, elicit a more positive affective state, ameliorate fatigue-related symptoms, and enhance exercise performance,” he says. “And the mechanisms that underlie such potent effects appear to be associated with the rearrangement of the brain’s electrical frequency.” 

He has found, for instance, that theta waves – the low-frequency waves in the brain, often associated with sleep, that correspond to feelings of deep relaxation – tend to up-regulate in response to exertion, but are down-regulated throughout the brain in response to music. “Therefore, sensory stimuli might have the potential to partially counteract the detrimental effects of fatigue and facilitate the execution of movements.”

This seems to be particularly true in challenging situations, such as first training sessions, or with clinical populations, such as patients with obesity and/or diabetes.

In a recent study he used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate the regions of the brain that activate when participants exercise with music. He found that the combination of music and exercise yielded increased activation in the left inferior frontal gyrus, an area of the brain that appears to be directly associated with processing feelings of exertion. “Accordingly, increased activation in this region appears to assuage negative bodily sensations during exercise.”

Music, he says, can also reduce the neural outputs sent from the brain to the working muscles, effectively blocking the negative bodily signals entering our focal awareness.

However, it’s important to understand that the psycho-physical effects of music on exercise depend on a variety of factors. Those new to a particular exercise, it seems, might be more responsive to music than experienced trainers. It may partly depend on personality – some researchers have suggested that extraverts (who typically seek out external sources of stimulation) are more responsive to music than introverts.

“The use of music is reliant upon several factors, such as the participant’s attentional style, exercise intensity, complexity, mode, etc,” says Bigliassi. What might work for a spin class, for instance, probably won’t work for something involving a high level of concentration (such as golf putting), in which auditory distraction is more likely to disrupt performance than enhance it. 

Context is everything. Some activities lend themselves particularly well to musical accompaniment, particularly if they’re repetitive and strenuous, such as warm-ups, weight/circuit training, stretching and so on. Whatever you’re doing, it’s best to match the rhythm and tempo to the activity, says Professor Peter Terry from the University of Queensland, in his paper, Psychophysical Effects of Music in Sport and Exercise.

“For example, if the goal during warm-up is to elevate heart rate to 110 bpm [beats per minute], then limit choices to music with a tempo in the range 100-120 bpm or, better still, selections that increase gradually in tempo from resting heart rate (around 70 bpm) up to 120 bpm.”

We know at an intuitive level that music is motivating and sustaining, but if gym managers, trainers, athletes or anyone trying to get/keep fit want to harness the psycho-physical benefit of music, they should be aware that one play list does not fit all. One person’s motivational music is another person’s turn-off noise. It’s personal, but used in the right place, at the right time, it’s increasingly apparent that music – as a motivational tool, and an endurance support – really does work.

THREE WAYS TO DO BETTER PUSH-UPS: These three things could be holding you back.

HOW TO DO BETTER PUSH-UPS: By Alex Hernandez for Fit Planet

Mastering the push-up is easy when you say goodbye to these common technique issues.


Doing push-ups on your knees can be just as effective as doing them on your toes. Now, we’re going to address a few push-up technique issues that could be holding you back from realizing your push-up potential.


ISSUE #1:The Rocker


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A lot of kids learned to do push-ups on their knees with their feet up in the air and it carries over into adulthood. It’s probably taught this way because the lower leg is thought to act as a counter-balance to the upper body (think of a see-saw!) and it makes the push-up a little bit easier. But there are two big reasons why you should lose this habit immediately:


·         The distribution of mass in our bodies is such that the mass of the lower leg is tiny compared to the mass of the upper body. Imagine an adult on a see-saw with a child: it’s not going anywhere! In exchange for the small gain of the counterbalance effect, you’re essentially grinding your knees into the floor. The rocking effect requires the knee joint to act as a fulcrum on the floor. The patella, or knee cap, is floating in front of the joint and, as we rock on the knee, it gets mashed around, causing discomfort and possibly pain. 


·         Having your knees as the only two points of contact on the floor can make you unstable. If you’re working to try to get stronger in the push-up, this instability can take your focus away from the pushing motion, instead you are simply concentrating on not falling over. When this happens you’re no longer isolating the push muscles and it makes it that much harder to get stronger.


Here’s the solution: Rather than keeping your feet dangling up in the air, place your toes solidly on the floor. With your toes on the floor, you’ll find that the tibial tuberosity (the head of the bone in your lower leg) actually makes contact with the floor rather than the patella. And the four points of contact (knees and toes) will make your body more stable so you can focus on isolating the arms and chest. 


ISSUE #2: The T



When most people think of a push-up position, they think of the capital letter T – the arms are out wide and even with the shoulders.


In this position, the motion is outside of the line of action of the pectoral muscles, so the anterior deltoid and muscles of the shoulder become the primary movers. Since the shoulder muscles are relatively weaker when compared to the pectorals, the force generated is less. So if you choose to do push-ups in the T position, you may find that you struggle to do push-ups on your toes, or simply tire sooner.



Instead of thinking of a T, it’s a good idea to replicate a position that’s closer to an arrow shape.


When your arms are in this position the hands are in line with the center of the chest and the motion is within the line of action of the pectorals. This allows the bigger chest muscles to take over and the shoulder muscles are used for stabilization. When the larger chest muscles are recruited, it becomes easier to do the push-up on your toes and it takes longer to fatigue. 

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ISSUE #3: The Eccentric


If you’re still struggling to do push-ups on your toes, give this one last thing a try. Start in a plank position with your knees off the floor and lower yourself down into the push-up. At the bottom, drop your knees to the floor and push yourself back up until your arms are extended. Lift your knees and repeat.Why does this work? It’s taking advantage of a well-known training principle: your muscles are stronger while they are extending (eccentric) than they are while they’re contracting (concentric). On the gym floor, training the eccentric phase of a movement is called “negative” training and is commonly used to build strength once you’ve hit a plateau using traditional techniques. Follow this approach and over time you’ll find that you’ll get stronger and develop confidence in your ability to do the push-up. After a while, you’ll be able to mix in a few full on-the-toe push-ups. 


If you’re really keen to master the toe push-up give this 16-day push-up challenge a go.


If you want more tried, tested and true news from the leading edge of health and fitness sign up to get Fit Planet insights and advice straight to your inbox.



Alex Hernandez is a North Carolina-based BODYPUMP and LES MILLS GRIT trainer who also teaches BODYCOMBAT, BODYJAM, and BODYBALANCE.He is a proponent of purposeful training to improve movement and performance, embraces the idea of the unsteady state, and as a master trainer for Trigger Point Performance, he regularly shares his expertise in self myofascial recovery. He is also a mechanical engineer.


This piece originally appeared on

Hospitality, The Game Changer in the Fitness Industry

Our world has grown and changed and along with that so has the fitness industry. As an industry it is important that we recognize these changes and adapt. Gone are the days where joining a gym or health club meant just becoming another member. It is so much more than just that, it truly is a lifestyle change. Along with this change has come the ever growing need to integrate the act of hospitality into the fitness industry.

People have long thought that service and hospitality were interchangeable terms, but that is far from the truth. Any gym can provide a facility and equipment for one to workout in, a service that is. Not every gym can provide hospitality. Hospitality is much different in that it is how you make one feel, it’s personalized and it is making the member feel as though you are on their side. 

We are in an industry where we can not only change people’s lives, but we can save people’s lives. Integrating hospitality within the fitness industry is one of the big factors that can help lead to one’s success on their fitness journey. Not every situation is cookie cutter. Our industry needs to be able to show passion and care for every individual and personalize their experience so that we can best help them achieve their goals. Hospitality is what keeps them coming back, it makes them feel welcome, comfortable and most importantly it makes them feel as though someone is right there fighting with them all along the way. Let’s face it, none of us can do it alone. At one point or another we all need someone on our side to push us when we’re on the brink of giving up.

As both a member and employee of Fitness Concepts Health Club I strongly believe hospitality is what sets us apart from everyone else. Hospitality is woven into the culture of the organization. There is a culture of truly caring, and of being there right beside each other to fight for whatever one’s goal may be. We are not just here to provide you with a service, we are here to provide you with hospitality. To make your life better in the best way that works for you and to be their fighting with you throughout your whole journey. Our members are not just members, they are part of our family, that is what makes Fitness Concepts so special.

Organic Seasoning Shakers

Do you have a million spices in your drawer? Half of them you don't know what it is and what you should put it on! Ever in a rush and don't have time to take out and locate ten different spices? This simple craft is your new go to to take your cooking to the next level!!!

Follow the ones we made or create your own!!!  

As a general guide we put an equal amount of each spice but feel free to load up on your favorites and leave out something you do not have or do not like!



TACO:  black pepper, oregano, chili powder, sea salt, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne, onion powder, cumin

BBQ: sea salt, black pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder

CHICKEN: thyme, rosemary, sage, majorum, pepper, celery seed, nutmeg

CHILI: chili powder, garlic, cumin, oregano, paprika, onion, thyme

RANCH: parsley, chives, dill, garlic powder, onion powder, onion flakes, salt, pepper

STEAK: salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, chili powder, dill weed



Get an empty spice jar labeled and ready! This set worked out great for us for only $19 off amazon!













What do you know about squat?

Any good exercise program should involve some type of assessment. Assessing yourself is the only way to determine how functional your movement is. So when is the last time you’ve taken a step back to really assess your movements? We’re not talking about the mirror selfie you posted to Instagram this afternoon, what we’re referring to is a good analysis of some of the basic movements that you’re performing in the gym on a weekly basis (some of them even under high loads and high repetitions). 

There’s more ways to track your progress in the gym other than the number on the scale or the weight on your bar, or how fast you did a mile. Have you ever stopped to look at HOW you’re actually moving. One of our favorite ways to track our athletes progress is by assessing their movement faults and cleaning them up. Once we’re moving better, it makes losing or gaining weight that much easier, and it goes without saying that the weights on your bar will increase with more effective movement patterns that recruit the proper muscles.

Let’s take a second to talk about something we do every single day, hundreds of times a week without even thinking about it.... we squat! If your current workout program doesn’t incorporate squats in some way, we highly recommend you add them in immediately. Your body will thank you for it. 

So what should a squat look like, and what does YOUR squat look like? Every body is different and we all move different in some way. At the end of the day, our squat should always include a few important factors before we start to add load to it.

First, your torso should remain upright and your spine must stay completely neutral throughout the movement. There are exceptions with the upright torso when it comes to the low bar back squat, but we won’t be discussing that in this post. The spine must remain neutral in order to add load to the movement and always avoid the “butt wink” (when your tailbone tucks under your hips, visualize a dog going number two). 

Second, your knees must not collapse inward towards one another, and the same applies to your ankles. Your knees should remain out in line with your toes. Your toes should be able to point straight or turned out just slightly. Refer to the image below to see what valgus knees and collapsed ankles look like. You may also find that your feet will turn outward as you squat deeper, a sure sign of instability or tightness in your lower body. 


Thirdly, your feet must maintain three points of contact with the floor. Big toe, little toe and heel must stay down as you squat. Your foot should maintain a solid arch as you splay your toes against the floor throughout the movement. 

Take two minutes to try this very simple test and start assessing your squat today. Stand with your toes against a wall about shoulder width apart. Toes should be straight ahead or slightly turned out. Raise your arms straight overhead and keep them from touching the wall if possible and don’t bend your elbows. Nose should be almost touching the wall. Slowly try and squat as low as possible while maintaining the three elements we mentioned above. Refer to the picture below and take a video of yourself so you may assess your movement. 


Did you find that your feet wanted to turn out or did turn it as you went down? Did your heels lift up and you found yourself on your toes? Were you unable to squat below parallel (hip crease below your knee)? Did you feel a lot of discomfort in your lower back or shoulders? Were you unable to squat very deep at all?

If you answered no to all of those questions and you were able to clear a full depth squat with ease, congratulations you passed the test! You possess the necessary ankle dorsiflexion, hip flexion, and thoracic stability to add some weight to that squat. As the load increases, be sure that all those points of performance remain intact. Then start to master all the forms of a squat including back squats, front squats, overhead squats and the infamous pistol squat. 


If you answered yes to one or more of those questions, let one of our coaches help you uncover the reason why. Maybe it’s because you rolled your ankle years ago playing pick up basketball and your mobility in that ankle isn’t quite where it should be? Maybe you work at a desk for hours a day or have a long commute which leaves your hips knees and lower back tight and therefore difficult to move properly when you hit the gym? Whatever the case may be, we are here to help! 

We hope you liked this article... keep your eyes open for the next blog... “How deep should you squat and why is it important to be able to deep squat” and “how’s your overhead press?”

For more information or to perfect your squat please email or we’d love to help! 

Ignite the fire to change your life... my Fitness Concepts Journey

By: Danielle Fagnant

One reason people resist change is because they focus on what they have to give up instead of what they have to gain.

Fitness Concepts not only changed my life, it saved my life. At the end of 2008 I was diagnosed with diabetes and PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and my doctor wanted me to seriously consider weight loss surgery. On January 28, 2009 my 5 foot tall, 236 pound body stepped into Fitness Concepts scared to death, but ready for change. I was immediately welcomed by friendly faces and quickly found myself a part of an amazing community. With the help of the Biggest Loser program, group fitness classes and the personal trainers a to Fitness Concepts, I not only lost over 50 pounds but more importantly was able to come off of all medications associated with the diabetes and PCOS. Fitness Concepts isn't just a gym, it's a community. That may sound cliche, however it is the truest statement possible. I would not be where I am today without the help and encouragement from everyone from the front desk staff, to the group fitness instructors and personal trainers. When I say that my life completely changed, I mean that I am truly not the same person that walked into the club 9 years ago. I went from a complete couch potato, working at a computer all day, playing games on a computer all night while eating an entire large pizza on my own, to being an active and healthy mom to an energetic 4 year old. I workout 5-6 days per week and have found such a passion in exercise that I'm now a group fitness instructor. I want to be able to bring the motivation and inspiration to members like other instructors and trainers brought to me. When you join Fitness Concepts, you truly become a part of a family. Everyone cares about you, gets excited to see you; they will share excitement about your success and stand by your side to help you get through any difficult times. Fitness and lifestyle change is a constant journey and everyone at Fitness Concepts is there with you every step of the way. 

Thinking of doing an obstacle course race this year? Spartan, tough mudder, etc... Here are 3 quick things you need to know to help you prepare:


1) GRIP – No matter what obstacle course you choose, you’re going to need some good grip to get through. With everything from bucket and jug carries, monkey bars, rope climbs, and even just the simple wall, having good grip can help you breeze through the course.

  •  How to train:
    • Basic: Plate pinch: pick up a 5, 10, 25, 45 lb. plate (depending on your fitness level) and hold onto it with just your finger tips and thumb. You can do this while stationary or while walking. This is a great way to tax your grip muscles in a very controlled way, try to hold for 15-30 seconds for 4-5 sets.
    • Advanced: Dead hangs or dead lift holds. Dead hangs are pretty boring but a great way to get used to being up on a set of monkey bars. Simply get onto a pull-up bar and hang, you can increase difficulty by adding pull-ups at set intervals or holding onto a medicine ball with your feet to at weight. Dead lift holds should be done with a comfortable working weight for the exercise and only if you’re experienced with the movement of dead lifting. Bring the bar to the top of the movement and hold for 3-10 seconds before returning the bar to the ground, repeat this at your working weight rep range.
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2) ENDURANCE – all races involve some level of distance, and that distance’s impact is relative to the person attempting it. So regardless of how “long” a race is or isn’t you want to prepare your body to complete it at the pace you desire.

  • How to train:
    • Basic (Open Heat): A good way to accomplish this is to attempt the course distance at least one a week. Your body should be able to comfortably reach it in the weeks leading up to the event. So if you’re training for a Spartan Sprint (roughly 5 miles -/+) you may want to set aside the next 8 Saturdays to get a good 5 miler done either on the treadmill, road, or trails. This will help acclimate your body to the distance and help avoid strains or injury during the race.
    • Advanced (Age Group – Formerly Competitive): So you want to step your game up and try your hand in the competitive age group waves? While training will vary drastically based on the distance and terrain you should be setting aside at minimum 3 solid cardio days. Working on intervals for speed and thresholds, tempo run to really get the body used to sustained steady work, and longer easy runs to get the longevity at a soft pace.
    • Legendary (Elite/Contender) Lets chat. J

3) STRENGTH – “Runners” are finding it harder and harder to “blitz” OCR Athlete between obstacles, and the main reason for that is the increase in obstacle difficulty and technical skill required.  As the industry matured so have the complexity and sometimes brutality of the obstacles, meaning if you don’t have the strength, that 6:00min/mile pace isn’t going to be enough to make up the ground.

  • How to train:
    • Basic: Stick to them, basic compound lifts or bodyweight movements that engage multiple muscle groups all at once are a very simple way to achieve a baseline that will help you through many of the obstacles.
    • Advanced: Start super setting. No obstacle is singular in what it demands. A great example is bucket carry, the argument can be made its all grip. Wrong, it’s all grip when you’re standing still with a bucket, but add a ½ mile climb up a mountain, you’re now leaning forward, taxing your back more, and your claves and quads are soon on fire. By super setting grip work with lunges, deadlifts with pull-ups you’re able to simulate in a controlled setting the taxation you’ll experience on the course.

Now the caveat of all this is it all depends on your goal and your event. Some events such as Tough Mudder’s Toughest 8 Hour are endurance events, and depending on your level can run into 30s and 40s with regards to mileage, training for that is vastly different than if you are just attempting to walk your first Warrior Dash, or you’re trying your hand at the competitive age groups in a Spartan Sprint. Tailor your training to match you event, and your goals for it. Questions? feel free to DM member Ryan Josti on Instagram @RJosti87


Member of Fitness Concepts Health Club? Don't forget Bear Crawl Obstacle and Fitness Park is included in your membership and located in the back of Fitness Concepts! Stay tuned on an early season obstacle race that welcomes all levels of OCR fitness @ Bear Crawl Park this June!!!


Top 10 Reasons Older Adults Should Workout!

Over 50, 65, 80? Need a reason to get up and moving and come to Fitness Concepts?

Here are ten...


1.     Reduce Risk of Falls

Balance & strength exercises can help reduce the chance of a fall and help aid in quicker recovery from one.

2.     Get in a Good Mood

Exercises releases good chemicals that make you feel great!

3.     Reduce Symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome

Hypertension, high cholesterol, blood sugar, and more can all be positively affected by exercise.

4.     Reduce Stress

Exercise can help reduce stress, anxiety and even improve sleep.

5.     Reduce Aches & Pains

A body in motion stays in motion – the laws of physics can’t be worng!

6.     Boost Your Brain

Exercise can increase memory, reduce Alzheimer’s symptoms and improve coordination.

7.     Make New Friends

Everyone needs friends and people who work out together are more likely to stick with it.

8.     There’s Nothing You Can’t Do

Afraid you won’t be able to do it? Fear not, we can modify everything to fit your current abilities.

9.     There’s Something for Everyone

There’s plenty to pick from – Silver Sneakers Yoga, Circuit and Classic classes, a no-floor Core Concepts and FitEdge Silver, a group personal training class. Try them all.

10.  It’s Fun!

Workouts include music you’ll love, play and games to make the time fly by with lots of laughs.



Super Bowl-Super Clean- Super Easy 5 Star Honey Balsalmic Wings


Place organic chicken wings in large bowl and drizzle with olive oil, italian seasoning, sea salt, and pepper. 

Spread wings out on cookie drying sheet with cookie sheet underneath wings.  


Cook for 45 minutes on 400 degrees.

Glaze: simmer in small saucepan for 10 minutes balsalmic vinegar, raw honey, and garlic. Once it turns to a glaze put wings back into large mixing bowl and combine and mix in all the glaze covering wings evenly.


Once evenly covered put wings back in the oven on srying sheet with cookie sheet as drip pan below for 5-8 minutes on broil!

 Optional: add seasame seeds!






How to be Taller in One Easy Lesson

Rhonda Hamer, ACE CPT

When was the last time someone told you “Stand up straight, young man,” or “Sit up properly, young lady”? It’s probably been a while since someone corrected your posture. Does good posture even matter with 21st century lifestyles?

Our 21st century world is one of high-tech gadgets that make life easier but with extended periods of sitting. If you use a computer, text, drive a car, watch TV or even read a book, chances are you are practicing poor posture at some point in your day.

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Using computers and cell phones lead to being hunched over the keyboard with shoulders forward, head down. Driving a car requires reaching forward, usually with just one arm and perhaps leaning on the other. Reading and watching television on a comfy couch or recliner allows us to settle in against the pillows, slump down and relax.

All of these activities, and many others, pull us out of proper postural alignment. And that’s just while we’re stationary. Poor posture while performing movements – walking, bending, lifting, reaching - can increase the risk of falls and injuries at any age.

Poor posture can lead to many health complications now and as we get older. Approximately 80% of American adults will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives and poor posture is one contributing factor. Poor posture can cause pain and weakness in every system of the body right down to internal organs.

There’s hope for us all: standing, sitting, moving and even lying with good posture can help ward off back pain and osteoporosis, improve digestion and breathing, help us sleep better and so much more. Proper posture aids in better balance, will make your workouts more effective and reduce the risk of injury. Contact one of our Personal Trainers for a postural assessment and exercises to improve your posture. And, yes, it can even make you taller. So, stand up straight, young man and sit up, young lady!



It is indisputable that group fitness is a huge component to an individual’s fitness journey and overall success. With endless class offerings, there’s no reason to not try them all! From strength to HIIT to functional training, there’s no limit to what you can do. The best part about the group fitness that we offer here is that it is all scientifically backed by some of the most educated people in the nation. Every single release that is created is tested and then modified by scientists so it creates more change in our body composition. No matter high or low, members are given the opportunity to test their maximum threshold or tune it down to a no-impact option (i.e. marching on the spot to substitute a high knee run). Group fitness is the perfect supplemental piece that you’ve been missing when you’re only weight training on the floor or doing your daily incline walk on the treadmill. These classes are formatted to create the change quickly and effectively- I simply cannot speak enough good about Les Mills and the programs they continue to develop and evolve over time.

This is my third year as a group fitness instructor (Certified AIM 1 & AIM 2 Advanced BODYATTACK Instructor) and currently chasing my fifth certification, but time and time again I always see myself coming back to BODYATTACK. Les Mills BODYATTACK was one of the first classes I had ever taken here at Fitness Concepts when I became a member in mid-2014, with little to no physical exercise currently under my belt. Incorporating sports-inspired/track-related movements and cardio, the explosive power that you experience in this group environment is life-changing and uplifting. Working together with your team to overcome the highs and the lows in this class is enough reason to come through the front doors every day, as this is what ultimately brought my fitness to the next level again and again, and continues to do so each and every day. By 2015 this was the first program that I became certified to instruct in (BODYATTACK 89). We are going on BODYATTACK 100 this spring and I am so beyond excited to be part of it. There is just so much science behind this specific class, and if only you knew what the benefits were, I guarantee you’d be in there moving with me too! Keep reading to see these very benefits!

If you are to take the full format class [which is currently offered Tuesday and Saturday mornings], expect to burn approximately 700+ calories! It sounds crazy, but keep in mind when you complete a full 55 minutes of BODYATTACK, you’ve just run the equivalent of a 5K [which is 3.1 miles in case you didn’t know].  The 30-minute format (EXPRESS) class – currently offered at 6pm on Mondays - has the same benefits, but packed into half the time for those who are on the go and need a quick yet effective workout! Members who also like to take multiple classes a visit tend to like the express classes because it gives them more variety in half the time.

A recent study at Penn State proved positive changes in leg and back strength in BODYATTACK participants. Taking this class regularly also showed significant improvements in agility, coordination and power. If you don’t believe me, take a moment to listen to the very program director herself as she describes the class feel, what you can expect going into your first class, how to ease yourself into the program if you’re a first-timer, and ultimately the benefits that you’ll reap each and every time.

Lisa Osborne is infamous for her involvement in the Les Mills franchise – not to mention she ranked 2nd place (overall) worldwide in the 2016 CrossFit Opens – This powerhouse of a woman believes in this multi-dimensional program to no end and knows there’s something for everyone in this class. There are options for absolutely everyone, just ask our participants ranging from ages 14 to 91.

This is a new year, a time to reset and assess your current regimen. Try something new! Get involved and get in the madness! You will NOT regret it. Even if it’s not BODYATTACK, Group Fitness is something all of our instructors are passionate about. For all programs, allow yourself 3-5 classes to get the full feel of the program – NEVER quit after one or two tries. Talk to the instructors. Talk to the members. Once you start, don’t ever stop. Full speed ahead!

-By Ryan Kendall