Max your fitness training and prevent injury with Nike Master Trainer, Jason Raynor

Have you ever been in a fitness class and felt a twinge in your knee during a lunge? Or how about that back pinch just from your regular morning stretch?  You may feel as fit as a fiddle until one of those strings snaps, reflecting an imbalance in your body.

Full disclosure: both of us discovered the sucky-ness of injury this summer with pinched nerves and bulging discs.  Stress+work/blog computer scrunching+cell phone snapping=a toll on your bod!

Trainer Raynor Time

We were curious and a bit nervous when we got an invite to try a functional movement assessment with Jason Raynor, Master Nike Trainer.  Raynor has a flex worthy list of fitness certifications and experience including a stint as the assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Washington Redskins.

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Traynor Raynor demoing a walking side squat

We met up with him at one of his current sweat spots, the JW Marriot in downtown Chicago, to get the rehab and rebound experience of functional movement assessments.  Think of it as self-help for your fit life!

Now let’s get to the fitty gritty deets.

Functional Movement Assessment Basics

Functional movement assessments can help you identify those instabilities, not only to prevent injury but to amp your athletic performance.  Even amateur fit fiends like us could benefit by optimizing our every day movements.

Trainer Raynor guided us through the first 3 of the 7 movement patterns of the functional movement system.

  • Deep Squat
  • Hurdle Step
  • In Line Lunge
  • Shoulder Mobility
  • Active Straight Leg Raise
  • Trunk Stability Push Up
  • Rotary Stability
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Trainer Raynor evaluating Monica’s deep squat

But that was just the warm up!  After each movement, he asked follow-up questions, gave feedback, and took detailed notes.  Both of us had different areas of strengths and weaknesses.  Kate had mobility issues with her hurdle step (think slow mo-hurdle) while Monica held tightness in her hip flexors that showed up as knee pain during her split stance lunge.  (Check our short video post on Instagram)

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Trainer Raynor teaching the proper hand and feet placement for a deep squat

Raynor tackled our tensions with personalized stretches and taught us how to move to protect from injury.  Practiced consistently, these corrective exercises will wipe out your inconsistencies and put you in peak form!

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Monica practicing a corrective stretch for her hip flexors

A detailed report is sent to you after your sesh to ensure you can “work it out nowwww” more efficiently and effectively.  Trainor Raynor doesn’t just work on your fitness (although that’s Fergalicious enough).  He targets all areas of health transformation with:

  • Team or group athletic development and coaching
  • Nutrition Consulting
  • Individualized Personal Training

We are huge fit fans of the functional movement assessment and plan on going back to complete the screening.  Ready to be that agile athlete hiding inside you? Contact Trainor Raynor for appointments and rates!  Check out his profile on the following:

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*We received one shared functional movement session in exchange for an honest unbiased review*

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20 Minute Toning: Ignite Fitness Review

Admit it.  Sometimes, during tough workout videos, you lie there huffing and puffing hoping your virtual teacher won’t catch you slacking.  That feeling is slightly guilty/awesome because you know this workout is challenging you.

It may seem that 20 minutes of fitness won’t do squat (HA!) but high intensity workouts can pack a punch for more energy and toning.  We received a complementary Blu-Ray copy of the Women’s Health Ignite workout starring Next Fitness Star winner Nikki Metzger to test its fit factor.  Nikki Metzger isn’t just some gym rat of the street.  She’s a Master Trainer and owner of BODI gym in Scottsdale, Arizona.  She’s not afraid to slap you with a bad @#s fitness routine.

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Ignite fires you up with 3 x20 minute stand alone (or get crazy and plow through all 3) workouts.  Bonus: An 8 minute bananas ab sequence in case you didn’t feel sore enough.

Workout Chapters:

BUILD

More of a traditional weights workout, but still maintains an interval format. Nikki demos the moves and sets before each change.  Free weight usage is optional, removing intimidation for the recently sedentary.

BURN

Guacs, this is a doozy.  Plyometrics take center stage for this cardio heavy chapter with crazy hard moves like the evil planky bear or real move name: Lateral Bear Crawl.

SWEAT

Your muscles will get HIIT from the front and the back with this 360 high speed interval routine.  Expect 45 second sets with 3 sets in each rotation.  Moves include modified burpees with a row added, plank walk outs and our Snapchat favsie: The Starfish Crunch.

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Workout Cheers

  • These 20 minute speed workouts torch calories and slow time.  You can fit this into a busy life!
  • Nikki’s lady crew each demo-ed a different move level for beginners up to bodybuilder lost your mind mode.
  • As a trainer, Nikki is approachable and encouraging.  Also, we like her fitanista style with 3 on fleek fit outfits to choose.

Workout Woes

  • 8 minute abs was like 8 minutes confused.  Transitions were too too fast so it was hard to follow where to move next.
  • Closed caption anyone?  This is 2016 so I am sure the fitness industry would want people with hearing issues to be able to follow along with verbal cues too.
  • Why do all workout videos have drum kit music created on a Casio keyboard for their background?  We suppose it’s necessary to appease a majority of viewers (?) but we think even keyboard cat could do better.

Final (Get) Cut

Extra Extra!  Get your 20 minute toning with Ignite here.  Not ready to commit? Check out a preview of Nikki’s training here.

Looking for other workouts?  Check out some suggestions from previous posts here.

Winter Running Gear: YakTrax Run

What is it about Midwestern winter (and sadly sometimes spring) that can totally diminish your run game?  The chill in the air, the icy scaled sidewalks, that daunting first inch of snow…man we wanna grab our snuggie and hot chocolate just writing this!  We kept trying to figure out how we could keep running safely when the weather outside became frightful Snow solution?  A fluffy white magical Yak picks you up and you sashay through the shivery slush…or you could try YakTrax for a more realistic tool for winter running woes.

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What’s a YakTrax you ask?  The name sounds like a new Dr. Seuss character and just in time for his birthday!  But we digress.  We read a couple of “Best of Winter Running Gear” articles and YakTrax brand traction devices dominated many a list so we ski jumped for joy when we were given a pair from Implus, fitness accessory brand leader, to trek across the blustery terrain.

Inspired by a Himalayan Sherpa, the original Yaktrax model features a spikeless coil design that grips the ice and snow with each step.  Yaktrax Run’s combination of removable spikes and steel coils, providing 360° of unbeatable traction.  Continue your training during the winter with the same stability you are accustomed to on dry surfaces.  The Yaktrax Run can be worn in temperatures as low as ‑41° Fahrenheit.

Mittens Up (Yup, Thumbs Up)

Throw your mittens in the air if you just don’t care…about running in the cold.  Here’s the positives about YakTrax Run and winter running.

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  • Fit like a Glove – YakTrax Run snuggled around our sneakers and stayed put during our jogs.
  • No Directions Needed – You could dream of sugar plum fairies while putting your YakTrax on (aka daydream).  They are user intuitive and are marked to guide you (left and right/heel and toe)
  • Dashing Through the Snow – YakTrax did not have a drastic affect on our gait.  They kinda feel like you’re bouncing a bit on a cloud of snow.  We only put in a 5k distance so not sure how they’d fair on a longer jaunt.

Mittens Down (Thoughts for improvements and tips)

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  • The Weather Calls For Snowzilla – When reviewing other runners, YakTrax Run is made for a specific type of weather.  You probably shouldn’t run across an ice skating rink for prolonged amounts of time as they aren’t made for thick ice or feet of snow backwoods running.  Stick to mildly icy pavement and moderate snow for best results.
  • Slushy Slush (our new rap name) – Slushy snow can get trapped in the back of the heel so you may have to tap tap tap a tree once in awhile to get it out.

For you non-runners, YakTrax carries 6 other types of traction variations for any purpose from your ma’s walks in the afternoon, to your bestie who hits the ski slope every weekend.

Strap up your run shoes in some YakTrax Run coils for only $40 here, less than that Yak (about $2000) and besides Yaks weigh 700 pounds so where would you house them?

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For now, the weather has us chanting the mantra of the post office: Neither rain, nor moderate ice nor snow can stop us from running–now that we have YakTrax Run coils.  Maybe a tornado would stop us though…just sayin’.  What do you think about YakTrax or other run traction devices?  We would love to hear your thoughts.  Comment below and until next time, happy trails!

 

Bar Method #MeInspiresWe Challenge

Cue the Final Countdown Music and say this in a movie phone voice: “We challenge you, dear readers, to a battle to the death…of flappy arms and thighs.” Join us this month, from January 11th-February 15th, and get toned as … Continue reading

Tips for Trekking Your First Trail Run

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Now that Race-tober has come to a close, we’ve had a chance to reflect on all the “firsts” we’ve experienced this month: Monica ran her first 10K, Run 10 Feed 10, Kate took her sister to her first 5k, a very rainy yet triumphant Monster Dash and one of our most memorable races, our first trail run with the The North Face Endurance Challenge at Kettle Moraine State Park.  The North Face went above and beyond in sponsoring us, not only giving us sweet race gear before the race, but also surprising us with a backpack full of running essentials once we made our way to our hotel.

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For anyone who has been running 5Ks for a while or would love to just get out in nature more, we think a trail run could hit both those spots.

Here are some things we learned from our experience:

These shoes were made for trailin’

Invest in a pair of trail shoes.  Your feet will thank you for your generosity.  When we first received our North Face Ultra MT trail shoes, we noticed how stiff they were as compared to our norm runners.  A wise friend explained that trail running shoes and more hearty with more tread so you have better grip and can withstand stepping on wily rocks and sticks that may try to block your path.  These shoes are also waterproof to withstand wet and muddy trails.

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Climbing every mountain 

The environment of trails can vary from run to run.  You may find well groomed trails, wild overgrown ones, or paved trails in your travels.  You may find you require more stamina and time to trail run than what you’re used to so don’t feel discouraged if you are slower paced than your average pavement jaunt.

Dress to impress–the wilderness

The weather the day of our trail run was not exactly what you would expect for early October but Midwest weather is like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates, ya never know what you’re gonna get.  Chilly and brisk was the name of the running game for our race day.  Keeping in mind that we were going through the woods, we wore layers.  For rain, try a light or medium weight rain jacket, like The North Face Women’s Venture Jacket.  Trust us, don’t wear your poncho to run unless you want to sweat like a wild hog as you swish through the wilderness.

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And some advice from the trail running pros!

Runner’s World: 21 Quick Trail Running Tips

Active.com: 9 Trail Running Tips for Beginners

Trail Runner: The 10 Commandments of Healthy Running

Ready, set, go!

You can still take on the North Face Endurance Challenge in California, Washington D.C. and New York or try an Illinois trail run if you’re our neighbors.

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Still trail shy?

The North Face offers their free Mountain Athletics training sessions every Tuesday and Thursday in Boston, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. to help you prep for your next ski jump, rock climb, run or crazy jazz hand competition…whatever your goal may be.

Free Nutrition and Fitness Event with Freshii and Trainology!

Quick: Name some famous duos!
Batman and Robin
Peanut Butter and Jelly
Freshii and…Trainology?
Teaming up this week, TRAINology Fitness Chicago‘s top trainer, Michael Wollpert will bring his “A” game and freshii franchiser and former personal trainer, Alex Blair, will bring the “lettuce” for a night of health and wellness tid bits, freshii bites, giveaways (we heart these) and Q&A, so ask whatever you like!
When: Wednesday, Nov. 4 at 5 p.m.
Where: The brand new funky fresh 1871 freshii location on the 12th floor of the Merchandise Mart.
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What: An hour long fitness and nutrition talk with experts, Michael and Alex, moderated by A Sweat Life blogger, Jeana Anderson Cohen.  Food and giveaways throughout the evening.  RSVP to allison@trainologychicago.com to save a spot!

Fit Foodie 5k Race Weekend: The Most Delicious 5k Around!

Yoga + Fro Yo Running + Risotto Boxing + Bacon…+ Beer Who says you can’t enjoy fitness AND food.  Certainly not us as we are 2015 Fit Foodie 5k Race Ambassadors! Cooking Light & Health Magazine are sponsoring a calve … Continue reading

Fitness Friday: Equinox Ropes and Rowers

For those who haven’t been to Equinox, you’ve been missing out on a luxury fitness experience.  Think top tier fitness instructors, a wide array of fitness tools at your fingertips and a cool lavender towel resting on your neck after busting your butt.  If that weren’t enough, Equinox’s group fitness classes keep you on your toes as they constantly think of new ways to challenge your svelte regime.

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Equinox has two new classes in heavy rotation: Best Butt Ever (who can say no to that! Bounce a quarter off this pup) and Ropes and Rowers.  We wrangled our schedules to make time for Ropes and Rowers and the calories were roasted!  We loved the interval format as we moved through 4 different stations: Rowing, Battle Ropes, Step Work, and Weighted Exercise Balls.

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Here’s how to survive this intense class and feel like an Olympic Champion:

  1. COME EARLY! We had a major fitness faux pas as Kate thought the class started at 6:30..soo…but our instructor Tanya from Equinox Lincoln Park not only made space for us but took time to get us set up and explain what was happening.
  2. Get tough!  Neither one of us have experienced a Battle Rope before.   Battle Ropes are said to improve body balance, encourage functional fitness and boost mental toughness.  Our favorite station included thwaping this heavy rope first, then pulling the ropes (attached to a heavy weight) all the way to you, and finishing with pushing the weight all the way back to start.  Killer abs here we come. 20061180962_9b45200960_z
  3. Pace yourself and keep going!  Even though the class isn’t super long (40 minutes with about 5 minutes of stretching), you will be surprised how exhausted you get after donkey kicking, speed water rowing, and Russian twisting your tail off!  One of our rowing segments, consisting of 100 meter row sprints, took our breathe away (and not in the romantic way)! 19881273140_94eede02cf_z

Ready to battle?  Check out Ropes and Rowers at any Chicagoland Equinox.  Has anyone experienced the battle royale of battle ropes?  Let us know what you think!!

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Feel the Burn with OrangeTheory Fitness

Finding time to work out can be challenging enough without worrying about whether or not what you’re doing is effective!  Recently, we were invited to try out OrangeTheory Fitness.  Breathe a sign of relief, there are no solving of the math problems involved but there is SCIENCE, a science-y type theory forms the foundation for OrangeTheory.  Co-founder, Dave Long, and the OrangeTheory team started OrangeTheory in Fort Lauderdale, Florida centered around the concept of the very epic EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption).  Read all the beaker and measuring kind of details here.  In laywoman’s terms, when you work out, you monitor your heart rate and try to get as much time as possible in the orange zone.  This zone gives you a stronger afterburn, aka you burn more calories sitting around on your tushy after.

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We traveled to newly opened Wicker Park location to get our afterburn on.  Troy, our instructor, was kind enough to give us an overview of the class before we started.  We wrangled our heart monitors around our rib change (to check our orange essence) to prep for the workout.  The class was large so we split into 2 groups. Our group started with weight bearing sets while the other group cardio-ed it up with intervals on the treadmills.  After half an hour, the groups switched.

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What we dug:

Technology!  Screens showed examples of the order of each of our weight sets and demonstrated how to do the exercise.

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Another monitor showed group members’ names and what zone they were in at all times.  Our heart monitors, linked to the screen, showed green, red or orange depending on zone.  It definitely made you strive for that orange and kept you engaged.

Class goers also get a full report of their workout sent to their email so they can track their progress.

No boredom!

The equipment options and intervals keep you on your toes!  Each class promises variety.  You may row on a water rower one interval, move on to TRX the next, and then on to free weights and have a totally different set of exercises next class.

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Best news!

First timers to OrangeTheory can try out 2 sessions for FREE!  Get ready to burn baby burn for hours after you check it out.

Whether you are looking to lose weight or just improve your speed, strength or stamina, OrangeTheory will make you say “Orange you glad you came to workout!”

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Move your Bolly-licious Body with Doonya

It’s Move It March!  Yeah, March is making us mad so we are reclaiming the month in efforts to leap off our comatose couch-bound status.  Sadly, there is snow AGAIN on the ground and, with the irresponsible nature of Chicago Spring, indoor workouts are a must.  As we all need variety (or vari-itay as one could say), we jumped at a recent invite to sample a unique world dance inspired fitness class, Doonya.  Khushboo Rami, our fearless instructor and 1 of 2 Doonya instructors in the whole Chicago area, warmly welcomed us to the River North Gym for our first Doonya experience.

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Some of you probably have an inkling of what Doonya is all about from some alluring TV commercials.  Seriously, we had our debit card in one hand and the remote in the other debating on whether to buy their streaming online classes.  Doonya has actually been around since 2005 when innovator and super fit co-founders, Priya and Kajal, aspired to develop what they were doing in their Indian dance troupe to a replicable dance fitness method.  Khushboo was the 4th trained instructor in D.C. and carried the brand with her when she moved to the Chi.  So, what can you expect when you lace on your Reeboks and get ready for your flash dance moment?

Khushboo explained that Doonya has some major components that are present in every class, no matter where you attend.  There is always a mix of high and low energy cardio and 4 major dance styles are weaved throughout the class: Indian folk, Bhangra, Classical Indian dance/conditioning, and Bollypop (Indian popular dance sometimes mixed with mainstream Western pop/rap).  The signature moves, like the Bollytap, glute lifts and knee lifts, crunchy standing ab moves and the heel flick, you will be able to catch the rhythm after a few songs.  Once you have a few favorite numbers, you can request your best Bolly-shaking tunes on Facebook or directly to your amicable Doonya instructor.

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So how did our first class go?  Well, although we both work out (yoga, running, dance), our bodies were still challenged by Doonya’s high impact cardio sections.  Khushboo broke down basic moves before beginning routines which made it less intimidating for us newbies.  Near the middle, we found our sweaty spot but weren’t too concerned as the infectious dance music keeps you moving.  We really loved the M.I.A. “Bad Girls” remix and were super surprised by the challenging nature of the classical moves at the end.  Your thighs will shake!

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Ready to throw on a kurti and give it a try?  Khushboo teaches on Thursdays at 5:30 pm and drop in classes are only $15.  You can also sign up for a free 3 day pass for River North Gym and try your first Doonya class for nuthin’.  The gym is hiding on the 10th floor of the Merchandise Mart so take the Brown or Purple line if you don’t wanna mess with parking.  We can’t wait to go back to work on our shoulder shimmies.

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Here are a few of our fave Bollywood jams to get you in the bollymood for Doonya.  Do you have a secret Bolly-jam?  Let us know so we can expand our collection!

Dilli Wali Girlfriend

High Heels

1, 2, 3, 4 from Chennai Express