What Does it Mean to be “Functional”?

Functional Training; a phrase that often used in fitness but rarely understood.

What does it mean to be functional?  What seperates a true functional workout from one that adopts this monicker yet fails to live up to it’s promises?

Functional training/exercises or workouts have a direct tie in to basic human movements.

The workouts or exercises strengthen primal movement patterns.  At the advanced level functional training seeks to create efficiency in those primal movement patterns.

We define primal movement patterns as the basic ways that humans explore and experience their environment; crawling/climbing, running/walking and swimming. If something does not “strengthen” one of these patterns it is not a “functional” exercise.  Wait a minute, what about squatting, deadlifting, pulling and pushing?  Don’t worry they are all there. Those are the foundational patterns that allow us to walk, run, climb, etc.

The most effective functional training practices look a lot like sport training; where movement skill are substituted for the sport specific skill.  For example, good tennis players consistently work on the fundamentals.  They seek to master the “simple” aspects of a forehand shot then repeat, repeat, repeat until it becomes automatic.  This way when they are on the court there brain is available for higher level processes such as strategy since it is not being dragged down by the step by step instructions of how to hit the ball.

When we deadlift we are teaching the body to stabilize the lumbar spine and maintain a neutral position before actively flexing and extending the hip.  This one relatively simple joint action is one of the primary building blocks for walking and running, even though the exercise does not look like the end product it still has a direct correlation.  In short it is more often than not that when someone has a fault in their deadlift pattern they also showcase a movement compensation in their walking or running gait.

A true functional training program seeks to break the body down into key joints and look at their ability to perform their preferred tasks.  Certain joints are responsible for mobility and are where “movement” come from while others should be “stable” resisting change in position (or movement) to maintain the bodies structure.  In a functional training program we identify each of these areas and make sure they are doing their jobs and their jobs only.  If they are not we look to “correct” the issue buy selecting exercises or techniques that will help mobilize stuck joints or create improved stability in others.

The final and most important piece of the puzzle is that functional training has to per personalized.  There is no blanket approach here (believe me I’ve been looking).  We are only able to offer someone a truly “functional” program when we are able to address the personal dysfunctions they may have.  Without that personalized data it is impossible to correctly design a program or workout for that (or any) individual.

So where do you go from here?  Come on in to Performance Locker where we can take you through the FMS movement screen and identify what your personalized “functional training” goals are 🙂

Yoga Pose Breakdown: Upward Table Top

Upward Table Top

1. Start in a seated position, bend both knees with soles of the feet firmly planted on the mat. Feet hip distance apart.
2. Place hands behind you, fingers pointed towards your toes, and spread the fingers out. Let both shoulders melt back and lift your heart forward. Stay right there if you are already feeling the stretch.
3. If you wish to deepen the pose inhale engage the core and lift the gluts off the floor until your shoulders, hips, and knees are level like a table top. Stay there for 5 full breaths.
4. Exhale to slowly lower back down onto the mat.
5. Hug your knees into your chest and wrap yourself in a big hug.
6. (Optional) You can lay back and take a few moments for Savasana or Corpse Pose to help your body relax and restore.

Pose Benefits: Upward table top pose stretches the shoulders, chest, and ankles. This pose strengthens the arms, wrists, back, and core.

Common Mistakes: Turning the hands outward. Pushing the ears into the shoulders (do your best to keep the neck long). Sink the hips down in the full version. Caving into the chest.

Deepen your practice follow the link below to register for class:

 Sam Samson RYT 200

Yoga Pose Breakdown: Seated Forward Fold

Seated Forward Fold

  1. Begin seated with legs straight out in front of you and flex through the feet like you’re trying to push your foot flat into a wall.
  2. Inhale lengthen the spine and sweep arms overhead. Reach out through the fingertips and exhale to relax the shoulders.
  3. Inhale to prepare and exhale hinge from the hips as you fold forward. Hands soften to chins, ankles, or around the feet if available. Only go as far as you can keep the spine flat/straight. If the spine curls or rounds back off in the stretch.
  4. Take 5 breaths here and focus on the integrity of your spine. Use inhales to lengthen the back and exhales to melt further into the fold.
  5. To come out safely reach the arms out in front and come back to a tall seated position, hands rest at the heart.

Pose Benefits: Forward bends stretch the hamstrings, spine, and shoulders. This pose can help relieve headaches and stress!

Common Mistakes: Rounding the spine in order to reach the hands closer to the feet. Keeping the feet relaxed when they should be flexed to help stretch the back of the legs & feet.

Like what you see? Click Here to join us for class!

Sam Samson RYT 200

Small Tribe Tid Bits

At PL We Don’t Exercise.. We Train. We Practice. We Move.

Our friends over at StrongFirst did an excellent job describing the difference between exercising and training, “Exercise: Requires motivation, and the willingness to endure something boring. Training: Requires selecting a skill, and the willingness to practice it. Exercise that doesn’t mentally engage you is difficult to stay consistent with. Losing interest is not your fault… You need details to focus on and to continually improve. You need a skill to practice…” In Small Tribe Training that is exactly what we do; we practice skills and learn
how to move functionally. Check out these Small Tribe Tid-Bits to get more out of your next session.

Agility is not just for athletes. The ability to change direction at a high rate of speed is a necessary skill for all humans who wish to live an active lifestyle. The trick to good speed and agility training is to go as fast as you can, not as fast as you can’t. Each individual needs to move at the speed that allows them to maintain the standards of the movements we work on every day.

Learning how to efficiently rotate and generate rotary force is a lesson in linking movements and unity in the body. Too often, workout programs are full of overly simplistic movements that never teach the body how to move as one unit. Unfortunately, it is simply not possible to build functionality by just focusing on one piece at a time.

Are you ready to break the mold? Are you ready to build a life without limits? Know someone who would benefit from secrets your have learned at PL?

Contact us now to schedule your FMS (Functional Movement Screen-Test) from there we will help you find the Membership/Classes that best fit your needs and schedule.

Call 989.884.1702, or Stop-in During Open Tour Hours Wed 11-4, Thurs 1-6, and Fri 12-5 or e-mail sam@performancelocker.com to get started!

Learn More About Training at PL » Click Here

Yoga Pose Breakdown

This Yoga pose breakdown is brought to you by our very own Sam Samson RYT 200hr!

Seated Supine Twist/Lord of the Fishes

1. Begin with both legs out in front of you.
2. Bend right knee and place foot on the inside of the left knee. If you wish to experience a deeper sensation place the foot on the outside of the right knee.
3. Inhale lengthen the spine and wrap the left arm around the right knee opposite hand plants behind you for support.
4. Inhale to lengthen the spine, exhale to deepen the twist. Look over your back shoulder. Take 5 full long breaths here.
5. As you prepare to come out inhale, engage the core and bring torso back to the center. Repeat on the right side of the body.

Pose Benefits: This pose stretches hips, thighs, shoulders, and hamstrings. Twisting postures give the internal organs a much deserved massage. And it feels great after a long day!

Common Mistakes: Slouching/rounding the back once in the twist and crowding the shoulders into the ears. Also, the leg that is extended long on the mat tends to relax when your focused on the twist; instead it should be active to stretch the hamstrings and to stabilize the pose.

Like What You See? » Click Here to Join Us for Class!

Looking at Heart Health from Another Angle

February is national heart health month, a campaign designed to bring awareness to the habits and behaviors necessary to foster and maintain cardiovascular wellness. You have probably seen a number of post or articles this month from various sources telling you to make sure to get 20 minutes of exercises at least 3 times a week (“exercise” defined as activities that increase heart rate for a period of time) or detailing the benefits of strength/resistance training on heart health. All of these things are true and the intention of this information to to provide simple and actionable information to increase your longevity.

The problem with simple approaches is they sometimes leave things out. The simple path can often omit large pieces of the puzzle and leave us with an incomplete understanding of the bigger picture.

When discussing Heart Health one thing that is almost always left off the table is mental well-being. Sure we talk about “stress” and lowing stress is good for your heart but the actions steps toward this endeavor tend to be less actionable and more ambiguous.
In short your mental state has a massive effect on your physical being. We find ourselves in a wold filled with constant stimulation which has been shown time and time again in various studies to stimulate with is called the Sympathetic Nervous System. This none more simply is our “flight or fight response”.

Imagine you are in a room and the fire alarm goes off, this is in essence what it feels like with your sympathetic nervous system kicks in. That rush of adrenaline and extreme focus scanning your environment for danger and assessing the situation. Once the fire alarm goes off everything returns to normal and you begin to feel more relaxed and at ease, this is called your parasympathetic response (the switch that gets your mind and body back into the rest and digest state). What if the fire alarm never goes off? Have you every been in a room with an alarm was going off for far too long, what did that feel like. Notice how you were extremely stressed, agitated and angry?

Our constant stimulation through artificial lights and electronic devices has show to not allow our body to switch out of the sympathetic response, keeping our minds in a steady state of low grade emergency mode. What do you thinks this is doing to your heart?
Hearts like all muscles need to rest, when it is living at the red alert state is never gets to, like any machine parts that don’t get to rest burn out.

So if you are a hard working individual, goal driven professional, athlete, weekend warrior or simply have a stressful job day maybe adding more stress through exercise is not what your heart needs to be healthy. Maybe it’s time to pump the breaks a bit and gets some recovery but flipping the rest and digest switch. How do we do that?

Yoga, foam rolling, massage, increased sleep, less screen time, reading, meditation are some of my favorite methods. All are readily available and a few are free or very low cost. If this is a foreign subject to you it’s ok to get help. I took me a long time working with some really great Yoga teachers for me to finally learn to let go and teach me how to implement some of the yoga principles into my daily life.

Remember the pendulum always has to swing both ways, if you find yourself stuck on one side perhaps its time to find a plan and some guidance to bring things back toward the middle (it can be a really nice place to live 😉

Have You Met Our Friends, Colossus & Rogue?

Have you met our friends Colossus and Rogue?

If you haven’t noticed, our Small Tribe Training cycle workouts have fun names. That’s so we can feel more connected to them when we are sweating. It’s like you’re hanging out with a friend. Except your friend is a superhero and has been trained by a robot with nuclear power. Just kidding. We just wanted to give them fun names.

Small Tribe Training: Strength + Stability | Meet Colossus and Rogue

Why We Do Itclossus-x-men
Strength is a sexy word today but what is it really? At Performance Locker we define strength as the battle between your body and outside forces (like gravity). Functional strength is when you win this battle, moving weight with bad form is when gravity is winning (which means you loose). Strength workouts teach your body parts to work together to produce or resist force (like in real life). We teach your core to connect your upper and lower half and your limbs and joints to efficiently turn stored energy into positive force.

What does that do for you? Builds durability in the body by teaching it to distribute force effectively (like a suspension bridge). The key to good strength training is that it builds the foundation support system (joint integrity & core stability) in conjunction with prime movers (popular muscles, back, chest, legs, etc.). That way your joints can support the force your body is capable of producing leading to greater strength, fewer aches, and long-term joint integrity.

What To Expectrogue-x-men
Strength day is the chameleon of Performance Locker workouts. For some it will look more like a balance or stability training; for some it will be more of a focused movement day; and for others it may be a day where you move some heavy weights. Our coaching methods and programming allow us to make the strength workout focus on what you need most; stability, movement or loaded movement. It will also look different for every exercise you do. Movement patterns your body likes are movements we can challenge, the movements your body doesn’t do as easily are patterns we focus on fixing. The more efficient your movements become, the more layers of challenge we can add. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is where the fun begins.

How To Get The Most Out Of It
You have to learn to control it before you move it and you have to learn to move it before you can load it. Squats start with good postural and pelvic control. Then, we learn to keep control through movement. Then, we get to add weight. If we add weight to dysfunction it will only strengthen the dysfunction. Ego has to be checked at the door on Strength days. Be realistic with where you are at and you will go far to improve. Be focused in the moment and connected with your movement. Be patient, earn your progression and the strength will come. Keep in mind, the part of the workout you like the least is most likely the part you need the most.

Meet Colossus & Rouge In-Person! Click Here to Sign Up for Small Tribe!

In Season Recipes for February

In-Season Foods for February:
Brussels Sprouts, Buttercup Squash, Cabbage, Cactus Pear, Collard Greens, Clementines, Date Plums, Dates, Grapefruit, Garlic, Kale, Kiwifruit, Leeks, Lettuce, Mandarin Oranges, Oranges, Passion Fruit, Pears, Pomegranate, Mustard Greens, Onions, Parsnips, Red Currants, Rutabagas, Scallions, Spinach, Sprouts, Winter Squash, Sweet Potatoes, and Turnips..

Southern-Style Collard Greens

What You Need…

2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 pound collard greens, chopped
3 cups vegetable stock
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

How To Make It…

In a large pot over medium heat, heat oil and butter. Saute the onions until slightly softened, about 2 minutes, then add the red pepper flakes and garlic, cook another minute.
Add collard greens and cook another minute. Add the vegetable stock, cover and bring to a simmer. Cook until greens are tender, about 40 minutes.
Add tomatoes and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Southwest Chicken with Butternut Squash Soup

What You Need…

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp chili powder or smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbs olive oil
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder or smoked paprika
1 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 cups water
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup salsa
1 can diced green chilis
1 1/2 cup peeled and cubed butternut squash
1 can black beans, drained
1 cup frozen corn
1 tsp lime juice
1 avocado
grated cheese, optional (we like manchego or pepper jack)
crushed tortilla chips, optional

How To Make It…

Preheat Grill to high. Rub chicken breasts with a small amount of oil and season breasts by sprinkling with cumin and chili powder or smoked paprika. Place chicken on preheated grill and reduce heat to medium, cook until done – being careful not to overcook. Remove and allow to cool.
In a large stock pot, add oil and chopped onion. Sautee for 3- 5 minutes or until beginning to get soft. Add the spices (chili powder or paprika and cumin) and stir until onion is coated and the spices are fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chicken broth and water Add next 5 ingredients (tomatoes through black beans) and allow the soup to simmer until the squash is tender. Add more water or broth as desired.
Shred chicken. When stoup is nearly ready add the shredded chicken and frozen corn. Simmer until heated through and adjust seasonings to suit your taste (add extra chili powder or salt and pepper, etc.).
Ladle hot stoup into bowls and garnish with your favorite toppings. We like chopped avocado, sliced scallions, crushed tortilla chips and manchego cheese. Give a squeeze of lime juice and serve with additional hot sauce if desired.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bulgur and Pomegranates

What You Need…

1 lb brussels spouts, ends cut off, halved
Olive oil
2 tbsp fine bulgur
1 tsp lime or lemon juice
½ cup cup pomegranate seeds
1-2 tbsp crushed pistachios

How To Make It…

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Toss the brussels sprouts with salt and 3tbsp olive oil. Arrange the brussels sprouts on a baking sheet or cast iron skillet. Bake for 35 minutes, flipping occasionally to make sure all sides of the brussels sprouts caramelize.
Meanwhile, in a nonstick skillet, heat ¼ tsp olive oil. Add the bulgur and toast briefly until golden brown.
When ready, remove the brussels spouts from the oven. While still hot, add the lime juice and toss. Then add the bulgur wheat, pomegranate seeds and crushed pistachios. Toss again to combine. Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Soup

What You Need…

4 cups peeled and chopped sweet potatoes
1 sweet onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
3 cups reduced sodium vegetable broth
1 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon parsley

How To Make It…

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and cover. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 to 8 hours.
Blend soup with an immersion blender (or pour into a high-powered blender to blend).
Serve immediately and enjoy!

Why You Should Be Eating with the Seasons
Let’s think back to our ancestors… they only ate what was in season because that was there only choice… but today when we go to the store, every fruit and vegetables can be found regardless of what time of year it is. By consuming foods that are in season we give our bodies a wider variety of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Visit the local farmer’s market to get started! You can find out what’s in season, where your food was grown, how it was grown, and who grew it. Freshly picked fruits and vegetables are more nutritious and can eat easier knowing your food didn’t travel 1000’s of miles before reaching the plate. Simply put, Mother Nature knows best; she grows exactly what your body needs, when you need it most. Eating with the Seasons is a simple way to become more in tune and grounded with the world around you. Give it a try and let us know how you feel.

The Performance Locker, LLC, Copyright: All Rights Reserved 2014

Have You Met Storm?

Have You Met Storm?

If you haven’t noticed, our Small Tribe Training cycle workouts have fun names. That’s so we can feel more connected to them when we are sweating. It’s like you’re hanging out with a friend. Except your friend is a superhero and has been trained by a robot with nuclear power. Just kidding. We just wanted to give them fun names.

Small Tribe Training: Endurance | Meet Storm storm
Real name Ororo Monroe many are familiar with this character through the the live action X-men movies as she is played by Academy award winning actress Halle Berry. Storm made her first appearance in 1975 and has been a staple character in a number of X-men comic arch’s in addition to a number of TV and big screen appearances. She has the awesome power to control and the ability to manipulate the weather. Storm can conjure up a storm or hurricane in the blink of an eye; making her one of the most powerful mutants on the X-men team! Storm represents our endurance day here at Performance Locker. Staples of this workout are the Real Ryder Indoor Cycles and Indo-Row Water Rowers. However it’s not uncommon to use battle ropes, jump ropes and boxing also during this workout. Chance of sweat during a Storm workout? 100% 😉

Why We Do It
Cardio is another one of those buzz words we constantly hear. Yes of course endurance training is amazing for your heart and lungs but, once again we have found a way to misinterpret it. There is a massive difference between 60 minutes on the ellipitcal and playing a pick up soccer game with your kids and their friends. We understand endurance is an important quality for all those activities you love (or want) to do so our Storm days are designed to give you endurance that will translate into the real world. We are proud to say, “Down with hamster wheels!” and then kids, they say… The Cardio Revolution began…

What To Expect
This is not your fathers endurance workout! Treadmills, recumbent bikes and elliptical machines have long dominated the cardio workout world but we happily say, “no more!” Endurance training is all about getting your heart rate up and keeping it up for an extended duration. The easiest way to do this is repetitive motion (like the elliptical) it does the job but let’s be honest, it’s boring and brings all the baggage repetitive motion carries with it (yuck!). At Performance Locker we specifically chose a number of modalities and equipment to promote three dimensional movement for sustained periods. Why, you ask? Because it’s fun and wildly effective. Simply put, expect to work far more than you rest, you will get sweaty and possibly hit things.. not your workout partners… well….. maybe on fight club day……?

How To Get The Most Out Of It
Quality of movement is still king(or queen!) when endurance is being trained. Movement comes first always. It’s important to remember to take breaks when your body is call you to and most of all learn to relax. Efficient movement (ie, movement that can be sustained for a long time) is more about learning when to “turn off” than when to turn on. You can think of it as flowing movement that will conserve energy and keep you going stronger, longer.

Watch a Full Storm Session in Under Two Minutes » Here

Have You Met My Friend.. Wolverine?

Have You Met My Friend.. Wolverine?

If you haven’t noticed, our Small Tribe Training cycle workouts have fun names. That’s so we can feel more connected to them when we are sweating. It’s like you’re hanging out with a friend. Except your friend is a superhero and has been trained by a robot with nuclear power. Just kidding. We just wanted to give them fun names.

Small Tribe Training: Speed + Power | Meet Wolverine wolverine
By far the most recognizable member of the X-men is Wolverine. This breakout character joined the team in 1974 and quickly became a fan favorite. Even if you have never picked up a comic in your life you are still probably pretty familiar with this character from the X-men movies. Wolverine has the mutant ability to rabidly heal his body from injury as well as heightened or animal like senses. Because of his mutation he was subjected to a government experiment to “weaponize” a human being. They graphed his skeleton with a metal called Adamantium that rendered him indestructible and also gifted him with his trademark retractable claws that can cut through any object on earth (with the exception of Captain America’s Shield). He was originally designed as a mutant hunter by through a series of events lost his memory and in his new found state of amnesia was introduced to Charles Xavier and joined the X-men. Wolverine represents the Speed and Power training day at PL for pretty obvious reasons. If you’re interested in developing your Wolverine Style skills this is the class for you.

Why We Do It
This type of training is usually only reserved for “athletes” but we understand that life happens fast for all of us, so why wouldn’t we all prepare for our bodies to move fast? The fuel your body uses for fast movement can not be trained or developed by slow strength training or long duration endurance training; unless speed is addressed a balanced body can never be obtained. Another reason we dedicated one day to speed training is it teaches the mind and the body to communicate rapidly and effectively. This improved communication gives us physical confidence and that can be a life changer.

What To Expect
Speed can be a scary word but always remember fast is a relative term. Fast for you is different than fast for your neighbor. Performance Locker’s Wolverine Day is designed so you can go at “your fast”. Our certified and trained coaches will help you discover “your fast” making sure you don’t become overly fatigue. You will noticed right away the muscles and fuel that supply fast movement have little endurance and take a long time to recover. You can expect short intense sets of coached movement with lots of recovery time in-between. Once you develop a level of comfort in this class we try going for “breathless” in the working time allotted. After a Wolverine day you will feel strong and confident and not even close to “beat up”.

How To Get The Most Out Of It
Go as fast as you can, not as fast as you can’t. The foundation of speed is control and the second we loose control we open the door for injury and loose any progress forward. On Wolverine day we focus on control over speed, this can be hard at first but the more you embrace it, the faster and more powerful you will become. Most of our fitness experiences have taught us to move at a consistent/endurance pace but, that won’t work here. Don’t hold back on Wolverine day, if you have 10 seconds to go, GO with all your might!

Watch a Full Wolverine Session in Under Two Minutes » Here