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.

20160830_193303_28751361824_o

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
20160830_185709

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)

20160830_185401_28753568903_o

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!

20160830_192658

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:

20160830_194043_29087425640_o

 

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

Yoga 101 @ Studio Three Chicago

Do you wanna know a secret?  We’ve been practicing yoga for years.  It’s what brought our friendship to fruition.  BUT! We’ve never taken a Yoga 101 class until now.

Studio Three’s new FREE Yoga 101 class offers a format that is accessible to anyone, from new yogis, to sweaty gurus (especially those who need patience practice).  So don’t be nervous if you’ve never ventured into this world of open mouth tongue out breathin’.  We checked it out 2 Saturdays ago and checked our assumptions at the door.

20160305_145839.jpg

First Impressions:

Studio Three’s yoga studio features linen covered decorative lamps (good for staring at in a hard pose), hardwood floors and natural light to induce relaxation.  Studio Three also features cycling and interval training in its other 2 studios.

20160305_145916.jpg

Attending your first yoga class can be intimidating.  You know, those people all stretching and showing off their wacky legs behind their head poses.  However, our teacher, Todd Rhoades, was bubbly, welcoming and accommodating to all in the room.  Luckily no one in our class was stunting either.  Todd is multi-talented and has a background in yoga, and dance.  This evident in his grace and ease at talking through poses.

Note: Emily DeBouver and Maggie McElhiney are teaching an “It’s Britney B*^#h” dance class on March 25th at Studio Three if yoga’s not your thang.

Format (may vary by teacher):

We began with pranayama practice, breathing in one nostril and out the other, sometimes feeling like a drowning hippo.  Prana what, now?  It’s a breathing practice for yoga to help you be in tune with your gorgeous bod.  We then moved on to sun salutations with an explanation and demo of each step.  Class may seem slow if you are used to quick vinyasa flow but we were sore after and learned a ton.  Classes can cover a variety of topics including etiquette, form, history and/or alignment.

Where: Studio Three, 648 N Clark Street
Chicago IL, 60654

When: Saturdays, 1:45-2:45 pm

Bonus: This Saturday, March 19th, is Yoga 101 with QUICHE AND MIMOSAS!!

Sign Up: First, sign up for an account. Next, schedule yourself!

20160305_132422.jpg

Already experienced?  Studio Three could appease many a yogi with styles from Forrest Yoga (from the amazing Allison English) to Hot Power, Flow, or challenging Hi-Def (integrated yoga and strength training).  We gots to go back and give another try another style.

*Update* 3/25/2016 Yoga 101 will morph into Power Yoga 101 for April.

 

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.

20160306_155006.jpg

 

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.

20160306_170502.jpg

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.

img_20160304_121622.jpg

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.

img_20160304_124545.jpg

  • 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)

img_20160304_123019.jpg

  • 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?

img_20160304_124630.jpg

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!

 

A Fit Valentine’s Day 2016

There’s absolutely no reason to skip working out this V-day, whether single ‘n mingling or tethered.

Check out our fit Valentine’s week events to get that serotonin flowing.

1. Cupid’s Undie Run – Chicago

Run with friend, lova or future version of both at the Cupid’s Undie Run.  Those cute skivvies and cold temps will make you extra fast, we’re sure.

Cupid’s Undie run is a 1 mile fun run and after party raises funds for research on NF (Neurofibromatosis, a condition that causes tumors to form in the brain, spinal cord, and nerves) and the Children’s Tumor Foundation.  Wearing only undies is not mandatory so slap on some warm gear if you aren’t quite ready to bare all for the crowd yet.

12696965_10156428643955231_1987036204575049569_o

2. Barre+Bubbles+Beautycounter @ Dailey Method Bucktown

Focus on self love with natural beauty care, barre and bubbles.  Take a Saturday morning barre class, and join Dailey Method for Bubbles + Beautycounter on Saturday, February 13th from 8am-12pm.  Enter raffle to win a fabulous gift basket filled with Beautycounter goodies at the studio.

Bubbles and Beautycounter included for members or with the cost of the class.

3. OPEN HEARTS: BACKBENDS, CHOCOLATE & CHAMPAGNE

February 13, 1:30 pm – 3:30 pm
Yoga Six South Loop
$35 (FREE for members)
Jenna Reddington, Yoga Six Progam Manager and teacher, for a breakdown of back bends including  optimal alignment, familiar postures and deeper variations.  Kick back after savasana with champagne and chocolate, perfect for Valentine’s day.

4. From Exhale, With Love

Exhale is rolling out the romantic red carpet with Valentine’s Day themed activities.  Enjoy Chill Yoga with your boo, snap up some mini-manicures, work on your core with Core Fusion Extreme class and get stylish with Trunk Club.  All activities are open to the public and first-come, first-serve.

image001

5. Galentine’s Day

 Ready to paint the town PINK? 

Stylisted & Bright Pink pair up on Saturday, February 13th at Siena Tavern for charity and cheer.  From 11am – 1pm, head to Siena Tavern and indulge in mimosas and brunch bites.  You and your Galentine will be treated by top hair and makeup stylists prep you for any V-day plans.  Proceeds benefit Bright Pink.

Purchase your ticket here!

 

Too expensive?  Walk your 10,000 steps and check out one of Chicago’s prolific museums for free with your V-Date.

Free Museum Dates!

So what are you planning on doing this weekend to get fit?!

Bar Method Challenge Check In

We are 3 weeks in to the #MeInspiresWeChallenge at Bar Method and wanted to give our readers a quick and sweaty pulse point as to how we are holding up with our shakey legs!

IMG_20160112_201503

Practice makes Progress

Monica’s thoughts: I’ve done Bar Method in the past but this time seems different.  Bar Method really pushes pass my limit to where my muscles start quivering which doesn’t happen in other workouts.
The first day I was doing well but I didn’t pushed myself.  I just stayed within my normal range of movement while doing thigh and seat work so I didn’t feel sore next day.  The teachers fixed my posture and urged me to dip my thighs and seat lower to the ground and, BLAMO, tiny movements make quakes in my muscles.
It is immensely helpful to get tips from the instructors for correct posture and where to feel each exercise.  As I am deaf, I definitely need the hands on adjustments.
Now, halfway through, after an average of 2-3 workouts (first week I did 5) and I do now notice results in the tone of my body from impact in this barre technique.  I still have quite a while to go, however and probably need to do average 4 -5 workouts to see greater results as is recommended by Bar Method.

 20160118_132858-01

Compliments, Compliments:

Kate’s thoughts: Ok so self love is one thing we got going.  I’ve been flexing around the house and eyeing the small formation of an actual tricep hiding underneath the granny arms.  I noticed suddenly how Monica was looking svelte and toned, like who is this strong chick!?

And the adoration of others….I also received a few “Did you lose weight?” comments although, no no, I have not. Muscle, my friends, all muscle.  The number on the scale doesn’t always demonstrate the health or strength of your body.

IMG_20160204_211019

Have we inspired you yet?  There’s still time to join us for the #MeInspiresWe campaign and get 5 weeks of the Bar Method for the price of 4.  Come get sculpted and shakey with us!

 

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

21915129706_9b6bbe2eee_o

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.

21948618591_03c1b1e1a9_o

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.

21753422878_3f5802a303_o

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.

21929289262_22bb36a29c_o

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.

22830067591_0c2335655e_o

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.