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The space we share with one another is defined by the space we create. It may not be something you would think about on a day to day basis, but space is a part of everything we do. Some of us need large spaces and may not enjoy crowds, while others love concerts or any event where large groups of people gather. These two examples are on a large scale, so let’s move on to the smaller, more specific situations. The movements you perform while exercising creates space in your joints, and are an active decision. Yoga, Pilates, heavy weights, etc. create a space. In some cases, space may be restricted and the desire would be to create more. Stretching to increase flexibility and even engaging in massage therapy (and maybe Asian Bodywork) are good examples for achieving greater movement for your body and all its mechanical components.

Active movements happen during exercise (the intentional choice to flex, stretch, and lift heavy weights, spin classes for cardio, Pilates for core strength, etc.) Passive movements are different in nature, but just as important as these other active movements we make. Receiving a therapeutic massage is a great way to achieve passive movement, and the therapist is the one who creates that space our joints need so badly.

Asian Bodywork, such as Thai or Shiatsu falls under the larger umbrella of massage therapy. Bodywork is distinguished by the body mobilization techniques utilized, and can easily be incorporated into a traditional massage. What’s more, the therapist gets to stretch and move during the massage therapy treatment as well, at times mirroring the client.

Related: click here to try FFC for free and check out all the amenities at our clubs!

My personal journey with massage therapy and Asian bodywork

FFC massage therapist Jessica demonstrating Table Shiatsu with fellow massage therapist Samantha Margaret Wolf.

These practices are what led me to become a massage therapist and dabble in Asian bodywork. I have a background in dance and martial arts, and at one point in my past I had to make a decision to find a career path that encompassed what I loved about both. Defining the space around myself with movement, whether it was dance or martial arts, is what massage therapy is to me now.

I have been a board-certified massage therapist and experienced with Asian bodywork with BCTMB for 12 years now. My most recent training is from the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine with an A.A.S. degree in holistic sciences. I am also a certified practitioner of Asian Bodywork, specifically practicing Shiatsu work and Acupressure with 5 Element Theory.

Related: no time for a massage? Find your zen anyway. Check out these helpful tips for how to practice mindfulness every day.

I believe learning is a lifelong journey and for a new challenge I have returned to martial arts. I am learning Jiu Jitsu at my home club in Park Ridge from personal trainer Aiazbek Mustakov, who is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and 2nd dan black belt in Judo. I have also had the opportunity to collaborate with a fellow massage therapist Samantha Margaret Wolf, LMT, CST who is board-certified as well.

If you think you would like Shiatsu bodywork, call the spa at FFC Park Ridge and ask to book that overdue massage with Jessica Heffernan, or email me at jheffernan@ffc.com for a complimentary consultation! I am at the club Friday 3-8 PM, Saturday 9 AM – 6 PM and Sunday 9 AM – 6 PM. Let’s create some space and define that journey of wellness.

Post written by FFC Park Ridge Massage Therapist Jessica Heffernan.

FFC Park Ridge Jessica HeffernanAbout Jessica

Jessica is board certified in massage therapy and bodywork with NCBTMB. She is also a certified practitioner of Asian Bodywork, including Thai, Shiatsu, Tui Na and Acupressure. She integrates these modalities into all types of massage – relaxation, deep tissue and sports massage. Her work is a blend of eastern and western.

My name is Sam Gonzalez and I am an Elite Trainer with FFC. After 8 years of experience and hundreds of clients and students, I understand the challenges that most people face when they decide to start a new training program. For most, the question of how to train and the techniques involved is the biggest question. Some want to lose body fat. Others want to become strong, add muscle and move without pain. Throughout my time training I have discovered a tool that accomplishes all these goals… the kettlebell. Read on to find out why this is one of the most versatile pieces of equipment out there, plus discover a kettlebell workout you can do on your own!

Anyone can do kettlebell workouts regardless of ability or age. Here’s why:

Kettlebells deliver effective and efficient all-around fitness like no other tool. Although the kettlebell has been around for hundreds of years it has only recently become popular in the US, as an era of fitness machines, poor techniques and injuries have failed to deliver results.

We have become more sedentary, undernourished and overfed. Something must be done before we regress and get even more unhealthy. That change can be as simple as a return to basic physical fitness that is based on natural movement and strength training.

Basic physical fitness can be described as your ability to move in a coordinated, unrestricted way, while being able to complete the demands of everyday life. I assume that you joined a gym or fitness program for this particular reason. You want your time at the gym to result in having a better life outside of it.

Whether it’s getting up and down off the floor, carrying groceries from the car or playing with your kids, we should be able to do these types of natural movements without restriction and especially without pain. (Moms, check out more on functional movement in this recent post!). Kettlebell training can help you achieve all these goals. But despite how easy they are to use, kettlebells are not just resigned for newcomers looking for an effective training technique. Even the most advanced gym member can be humbled by difficulty and skill it takes to perform some of these exercises.

Related: try out a personal training session at FFC on us – click here!

Why Kettlebells Work So Well

The magic of training with kettlebells comes from their ability to create movement patterns that the body craves while vastly enhancing strength, athletic capabilities and physique. While general exercise can be considered a good thing, the idea of working out just for the sake of working out is a road that leads nowhere. Our exercise must be planned and productive.

Think of your exercise as a practice of a collection of movement skills that you are striving to master. Every time we practice/ train we should strive to make progress. Progress can be defined as an increase in the level of exercise sophistication, more resistance, the ability to work at higher speeds and many other variables. Kettlebells are maximally efficient at streamlining peoples’ progress. Kettlebell training can change someone’s life by literally forging the body into a leaner and stronger version of itself.

Still not convinced? Here’s a quick breakdown of all the benefits you can expect from kettlebell training:

  • Act as a new, fun and challenging way of training
  • Replace machines, barbells, dumbbells and cardio equipment
  • Make your workouts fast and efficient focusing on total body movement patterns vs small muscles
  • Burn 600 – 700 calories per session while getting rid of hard-to-lose body fat
  • Help you perform everyday tasks with ease like carrying groceries and getting up off the floor
  • Add natural amounts of muscle to your frame while not becoming bulky
  • Increase your mobility, flexibility and overall functional capacity
  • Dramatically increase your body’s strength
  • Help you become more athletic in any sport or activity

With proper training and nutrition, you can have incredible health, strength and flexibility, all while achieving a look and feel that is your best version of yourself. As an elite trainer, my goal is to deliver these qualities with the methods I have learned and refined using kettlebell training. You as a student, will not only learn learn these methods as well but also understand why they work.

Related: small group HIIT training can give you a great guided workout – plus it will help you lose weight effectively!

As with any skill, it is absolutely imperative to build a solid foundation. Unfortunately, in today’s current gym and personal training environment, there is often no assessment or preparation before we begin to “work out”. At best this leads to mediocre results, and at worst, injury. A program that is scientifically designed and progressed must be given to ensure that a person’s goals are being met while keeping them safe.

“At the time my exercise regiment was restricted because of pain up and down my left leg from misalignment and sedentary work. I’d tried muscle activation technique and physical therapy over the years but have by far had the most success with the mobility drills and proper kettlebell technique Sam taught me. Today I’m able to be consistent because of the efficiency of the workouts Sam has prescribed and am getting better results (i.e. pain management, strengthening, weight maintenance) from a couple strength workouts a week than I ever had from attending a few strength classes (usually incorporating dumbbell and bodyweight sets) a week. I’m also someone who would avoid cardio if I could so I love that kettlebells and cardio are a packaged deal.” -Erin D., FFC West Loop Member

Although sometimes intimidating, kettlebell skills can be regressed or progressed to meet the member’s specific capabilities. I recommend finding an educated and certified coach to help progress you through the variety of skills so that you can start your fitness journey with kettlebell training.

Try Kettlebells for Yourself

It is often said that the kettlebell swing is the “center of the kettlebell universe” – which is somewhat true. Along with kettlebell get ups, they build a very solid base of mobility, strength and conditioning. These skills activate the entire body and will expose your weaknesses. All other skills in kettlebell training begin with these two, so you should master them before you try others. Remember, the idea is to keep technique paramount, not just rush through it. Quality, not speed!

Check out this basic yet challenging and effective workout for yourself! Have questions about form? Email Sam at sgonzalez@ff.com or follow him on Instagram!

30-Minute Kettlebell Workout

  • Kettlebell Swings (10 sets of 10 reps)
    • Men- 20k/24k
    • Women 12k/16k
  • Get Ups (5 right side, 5 left side)
    • Men 20k/24k
    • Women 12k/16k

Try to get all this work done in under 30 minutes.

Post written by FFC Park Ridge Personal Trainer Sam Gonzalez.

Sam Gonzalez FFC Park Ridge

 

About Sam

Sam Gonzalez is an FFC Elite Level trainer. He is a StrongFirst Level 2 instructor, TACFIT and Circular Strength Training field instructor and correctional exercise specialist.

He has used kettlebell and bodyweight training to help people reach their fitness goals for the last 8 years. Have questions or want to set up a complimentary consultation? Email Sam at sgonzalez@ffc.com!

My name is Erika Boer and I’m one of the massage therapists at FFC Park Ridge. Last summer, when I was looking for jobs up north (I moved from southern Illinois), I came across a job listing for FFC. Not knowing what it was all about (besides that they needed therapists), I googled it and was amazed. Not only was FFC a fitness club, it had so much more… like a full staff of registered dietitians who might be able to help me change my perception of nutrition!

Before moving back up north, I had tried many “diets”. Those diets, along with working out at the local gym, did give me some results, but not as much as I wanted to see. When I saw that FFC offered help with nutrition, I was sold on the job listing and applied.

Since I can remember, I’ve had problems with my weight and have always tried to consider the different reasons why that might be. It wasn’t until I started working at Denny’s years ago that I gave more thought to my weight and decided to do something about it.

Related: 3 of the best registered dietitian-written books to help you get on the right track.

In the past, I had always purchased those body detox cleanses and pills and tried going to the gym… but always had an excuse not to go. I never thought about talking to a registered dietitian.

As I became a massage therapist, I listened to my body more and realized that if I wasn’t in a healthy state, I would probably have a hard time with my body mechanics. In order to make sure I didn’t hurt myself, I decided to start exploring ways to be healthier without putting all that other stuff in my body.

Nutrition Wasn’t What I Thought

I remember the first time I walked into Alicia Huggler’s office at FFC Park Ridge. She was super sweet and made me feel comfortable (for some reason I was nervous!). I’m sure I’m not the only one who had been in her office who thought they knew what they needed to do and what to expect – but I was completely caught by surprise!

What I thought (going by all those other “diets” I had been on) wasn’t what I should have been focusing on at all. She also caught me off guard when she said she would put together a meal plan consisting of things I would normally eat and most importantly like, rather than what I “needed” to be eating. We even talked about other indulgences, like alcohol. She asked me, “do you drink?” I of course said yes, but not that much – but she said that was okay because she would take that into consideration. A meal plan based off MY lifestyle? This couldn’t be true!

Just one hour in her office helped change my life for the better and change my perception of nutrition. We got an idea of where I was at as far as weight and began to piece together my meal plan. The following week I received the plan and it was great! I started around March/ April of this year and, though I’ve struggled a bit due to various life factors like a breakup and moving, I have lost 23 pounds so far! I have 28 more to go to reach my goal.

Not only did I lose all that weight, but my BMI went down a few points and I lost inches around my waist. I know that by sticking with the meal plan, weighing in every week and working out at least 4 times a week, I will be at my goal weight by the finish line that I have set for myself.

Related: click here to sign up for a free 30-minute nutrition consultation with an on-site registered dietitian at FFC!

A Lifestyle Change for the Better

When my mom came up to visit for my cousins wedding not too long ago, her jaw pretty much dropped to the floor when she saw my progress. She kept exclaiming how proud she was and how good I looked (she even “showed me off” to her friends because she knew how much I wanted to lose weight and that it’s been a struggle for me). Even my friends have been noticing a huge difference, which makes me feel so much better. I’m starting to get my confidence back, thanks to Alicia! It’s definitely been a transformative process.

Alicia is an amazing person and she definitely know what she’s doing. She not only helps me and motivates me every week, but she always offers to be there for support throughout the week (if I feel like I’m about to fail at something). I always look forward to my 15-minute weigh-in appointments (good or bad) because we also talk about what’s been happening.

She’s not only a coach, but a friend as well. There have been times I’ve broken down into tears because of big problems or knowing that what was happening in my life at the time was bad or distracting me from what I needed to be doing, but we’d press on and discuss what I needed to do to get back on track anyway. There have also been times when I would gain weight, but we would talk about it and make a list of items to address.

My Valuable Takeaways

Along with the tough times, there have also been some moments of surprise – times I’d step on the scale and see that I had lost more than the 2 pounds planned for that week! It’s been a rough road and I have had gains as much as losses, but I think everyone goes through those highs and lows when they want to succeed at anything in life. It just makes you want to push harder.

I also didn’t know changing my perception of nutrition and being healthy could be so much fun! To actually learn about different types of fats and other types of macros has been fascinating. Yes, I’ve tried to count those calories, but it never really stuck until now. Granted, I still have to watch my timing, drink more water and start meal prepping again, but I know I can get back into it. Once you put your mind to it, nothing can stop you from achieving your goal.

I want to say thank you so very much, Alicia Huggler – not only for helping me through this journey, but being there to motivate me when I need it. I would probably not even think about pushing myself this hard if it weren’t for your help. I haven’t had this much energy and drive for a very long time. You are definitely in inspiration to me and so many others!

My family and I joined FFC as Charter Members last summer. I couldn’t wait for the Park Ridge facility to open. I had been going to another gym; however, I knew that FFC was going to fulfill all my needs. Little did I know, though, that it was going to put me on weight loss journey of nutrition AND exercise – not just a fitness routine.

Our family has always exercised; my sons were both athletes through their school years and my husband can still pick up a basketball and shoot like he did when he was in high school. I had to work out to have the energy to keep up with the three of them.

However, as I aged, I realized that the routine I was following wasn’t enough — I had put on weight and had constant pain in both knees. Having had both my hips replaced due to arthritis, I knew the arthritis had set into my knees. I visited the doctor in October, 2016 and I was informed that I was bone on bone in both knees; thus, surgery was needed.

Related: want to experience everything FFC has to offer? Try us for free – click here!

With my diagnosis and the thought of yet another joint being replaced (after three months of physical therapy that didn’t help), I decided to take the bull by the horns. I took three of my free training sessions with Tony at FFC; he took the time to listen and understand my physical issues and showed me various exercises that helped strengthen my hips and legs. But I knew that the exercise wasn’t going to solve all my physical issues; I needed to lose weight. I have lost weight before doing Weight Watchers but wasn’t keen on the whole group setting at this point in my life.

With our Charter Membership, we received a free consultation with the onsite registered dietitian. It was slightly ironic; the week before I heard about the dietitian at the facility, my husband had suggested I see a nutritionist – the timing was perfect. I set up a time with Alicia. She is a spunky, kind-hearted individual who wants you to meet your goals, not hers. I knew the minute I met her that she was going to lead me in the right direction.

We discussed my health thoroughly, including my arthritis issues. I have been gluten free for about 1.5 years, as I had learned that omitting gluten from your diet does help lessen arthritis pain. It worked for me, but not completely. I had also just had my blood work done for my annual physical and my sugar was 101; no need for alarms to go off – but I refuse to have any diseases like diabetes.

Related: how member Sal got his health back on track working with registered dietitian Amy Silver at FFC Oak Park.

Alicia and I met again about a week later. She had put together a plan that she thought would work for me. She supplied about 10-12 options for each meal along with snack ideas (I get 2 a day!). One of the challenges I experienced with the plan was that our family does not eat prepared food nor do we eat anything low fat due to added chemicals and sugars. Thankfully, she agreed with my family’s methods.

I am now counting calories, not points. I have never lost weight so easily, to be quite honest, nor have I felt deprived. Also, since I continue to lose weight, my calories remain the same. When doing other diets in the past, every time I lost around 8 or 10 pounds, they would take away some calories. I know eventually my calorie count will go down as I’ll probably hit a plateau, but not to date. As of my last weigh-in, I have lost 25 pounds. Alicia has been very keen on what my final weight loss should look like to me, not what she thinks I should lose. Personally I’m thinking another 20 pounds.

Is it always easy? No, however, we have celebrated two birthdays since I began this weight loss journey and I have had cake both times… and I have still lost weight those weeks. My arthritis pain is still in my knee, but I’m not in as much pain as I was previously. The combination of exercise and weight loss have worked together to improve my mobility.

Will I need surgery? Maybe, but at this point I’m waiting. Could I have followed a program like this somewhere else? Most likely yes, but the staff at FFC is so supportive and always willing to find a way for a person to meet their goal. I truly believe that is why this program has worked so well for me. As I continue to work with Alicia, I’m thinking it is time for something new at the gym. Maybe I’ll try out a new yoga class!

Have you ever sat down in front of the TV screen with a big bag of popcorn and before you know it, you’ve reached into the bag and discovered the entire thing has magically disappeared?

If you are like most people, this is something that happens more often than we like to admit. This is an example of mindless eating – eating without paying attention to what or how much food is being eaten.

Mindful, or intuitive eating, on the other hand, is the practice of paying full attention to the experience of eating/drinking. It is realizing the color, smell, texture, flavor, temperature, and sound (crunch!) of the food we are eating.

Intuitive eating is important because taking the time to fully experience the act of eating not only makes us more aware of what we are putting into our bodies, but can also keep us from overeating, which can eventually result in weight loss (and a much healthier relationship with food). Read on for 4 ways to practice mindful eating.

4 Ways to Practice Mindful Eating

Eat in silence.

This means you are not sitting in front of the TV and eating, driving and eating or on your cell phone or social media while eating. It is eating in an electronic-free zone in order to fully be engaged in the eating experience.

Slow down.

Try taking a bite of food and putting your fork down in between bites. It is harder than you might think. Eating shouldn’t be a race, and it takes your brain 20-30 minutes to register the feeling of fullness.

Related: want to schedule a free nutrition consultation with one of FFC’s on-site registered dietitians? Click here!

Pay attention to flavor.

Explore tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, umami), textures (crunchy, chewy etc.), and smells (sweet apple scent, smell of garlic etc.) of your food.

Try eating just one meal a week mindfully!

Mindful eating should be appreciating, respecting, and enjoying the food you eat everyday. It can be practiced on salad or even cake! It is easy for everyone to try mindful eating with the foods they love.

Related: similarly to scarfing your food down, cheat days aren’t the best idea. Check out this recent post to see why & how you can eat healthy and indulge occasionally anyway.

Do you have any tips for mindful eating or questions about how to eat more mindfully? Let us know in the comments!

This post was written by FFC Registered Dietitian Alicia Huggler.