5 Less Known (Yet Still Amazing) Christmas Movies Worth Watching This Year!

For every “It’s a wonderful life”, “ELF” and “Christmas Vacation” there are a number of other Christmas Movies that either don’t hit the mark or fall through the cracks.  Just because they don’t make the short list of greatest Christmas movies of all time (which is a tough list to crack) does not mean they don’t’ bring something special to the table.  So if you are all “classicsed” (totally a word) out this year here are 5 that are well worth another (or first) watch this holiday season.
Home Alone 1&2
“Home Alone” seems to make a number of peoples’ holiday must watch list but not everybody’s.  This is 100% a Christmas movie as it is directly tied to the season with the magical moment when a little shit realizes the true value of family on Christmas morning.  However many people forget about its little brother, a movie I like to call Home Alone 1.5 as it is a carbon copy of the first except for taking place in NY instead of a Chicago suburb (like a John Hughes movie can take place anywhere else).  Normally I hate rip off, money grab sequels but for some reason this one works for me.  “Home alone 2” is much like a the “Saw” sequels, you know the basic plot/story will be the same but watching the new death traps for the Wet Bandits (now known as the Sticky Bandits; spoilers) is worth the watch.
Batman Returns
Have you had enough joy and good will towards man this season?  Do you desperately need a break from the holiday cheer and just want to watch people in capes and bright outfits punch evil in the face?  Batman Returns has enough mention of the holiday as to not have people question the seasonal viewing plus you get Danny DeVito looking rounder than you every thought a person could and Michelle Pfeiffer in a cat suit, both are a win.  Plus, Christopher Walken.
Die Hard
This is totally a Christmas movie and a damn good one, you could argue with me but you’d be wrong. Moving on.
Reindeer Games
If you seek awesomely bad this Christmas look no further!  With a cast of Ben Affleck, Gary Sinise and Charlize Theron this movie can’t miss, right? Wrong!  With more plot holes than a screen door and a more elaborate evil plan than a Bond villain on acid could cook up this film somehow goes full circle beyond terrible and somehow coming all the way back around to amazing.  Make sure to watch with friends who are sarcastic and enjoy heckling after the kids have gone to sleep, serve alcohol to increase enjoyment.
The Ref
Kevin Spacy and Dennis Leary are beyond brilliant in this film.  To be honest I don’t even know where to go with the description of this movie as it is so unique anything I say will not truly do it justice.  Do yourself a solid and check this one out as soon as possible.  It was directed by the late Ted Demme who also directed “Blow” with Johnny Depp.  The writing, dialog and characters are perfect and how the holiday theme is not only tied in but make the story so watchable is brilliant.

— Casey

Good Will Hunting

If you are a resident of Northern Michigan your Facebook feed is just a short time away from being filled with “grip and grin” pics of large antlered whitetails. Before you stop reading (if you are a non-hunter), bear with me here…
 The rifle opener for the 2017 whitetail deer season is coming up; a massive celebration of small town culture.  For some, hunting season is a tradition passed on from one generation to the next. For others, it may be a glimpse into a foreign tradition viewed with shock and horror. Aside from photos of obvious celebration for downing a large buck, it’s important to remember why hunting is a thing, and why harvesting food sources from minimally-adulterated environments leads to healthier sustenance for our bodies.
When we see that smiling pic of someone holding the antlers of a large buck, we only see one still frame of a much bigger story.  Some share pics of deer and talk about antlers but the real celebration is something else entirely.
Hunters are grateful for an excuse to get outdoors prior to the season to plant food fields for the deer to eat, secure tree stands and fortify hunting blinds.  Hunters enjoy time spent at the range with family and friends to hone marksmanship skills with the intent of bringing an animal down quickly, with no suffering. Time is spent researching and learning the migration patterns of wild animals, how to help control disease and illness in wild populations, and identifying the age of potential targets so young hearty bucks can continue to pass on their strong genes to future generations and not be taken too soon.
For many, the  enjoyment comes directly after the harvest as every usable part of the animal is salvaged for use so the animal will not have sacrificed its life in vain. Hunting is harvesting. Harvesting of natural food sources is one of the healthiest ways to fuel our bodies. It is the circle of life.
For me, hunting is an opportunity to be more connected with the food we need to feed our family.  Through this connection comes respect for the circle of life and each animal’s place in the food chain. From a culinary aspect we are provided with a number of “organic” ingredients where there is no mystery as to their origins or quality.  For my kids it is an opportunity to teach them sustainable living practices, appreciation and respect for the bounty of Mother Nature, and that a kitchen and a little extra work are not to be feared when seeking to provide our bodies with nutrients for continued healthy living.
For all the hunters out there who may be heading out for a hunt, good luck! I hope you find that your training at Performance Locker allows you the improved strength and mobility to walk the woods, bear the weight of harvest, and serves up a quieted mind to fully appreciate the opportunities we have for gathering our own food sources.

— Casey

A Guide on How to Continue Outdoor Adventure into Fall

A Guide on How to Continue Outdoor Adventure into Fall
I have noticed a strange trend in our area over the last few years, it seems that Labor Day for most people marks the death of outdoor activity in Northeast Michigan.  No matter what the weather is like after the Labor Day long weekend the number of people I see outside dwindles.  Posts on Facebook are already talking about winter as if it has already started with a number of comments of “wanting to try something next year”.
At least half of September gives us summer like conditions and temperatures, October is a beautiful month full of sunny days, amazing colors and crisp yet comfortable temperatures; and even November can surprises us often with warm and sunny days before the snow begins to fall.
For most in our area “outdoor adventure season” runs from May – August, here are a few tips and gear suggestions that can help you expand that time:
General Tips
  • Layering – Learn how to dress for the conditions. Layering clothing can be broken down into 3 simple categories; base, insulation and shell. Your base layer should be tight/fitted and worn directly on the skin. Use wicking synthetic materials to pull sweat/moisture from the body. Your middle layer should insulate the body by trapping air, a light fleece works perfect for this layer. The final layer is your shell which is meant to keep water and wind out. The shell is best used on wet or windy days and can sometimes be left at home. The key to layering is understanding that moisture is the enemy (that includes both sweat and rain)! Simply put, if you can keep you skin dry you will stay warmer and more comfortable. Lastly don’t forget a hat, gloves and warm shoes for your feet. Your extremities will feel the chill before anything else so keep them covered.
  • Time of Day/Year – During the spring and fall mornings are chilly so, if you hate the cold, plan your activities for later in the day when it will be warmer outside. Once the sun dips under the horizon the temperature will drop drastically so, try to finish your outdoor activity before sunset. If you’re thinking about going in the water; large bodies of water do not warm up or cool down quickly which means spring water temps are quite chilly while fall waters are warmer than you might expect. Good rule for water temp safety is if the water and air temperature combined are over 100 degrees you’re in the clear but be smart and wear a wetsuit if you’re going to venture into the water.
  • Check the Wind – Spring and fall tend to have much more wind activity than the summer months. Before heading out of any outdoor adventure check the wind direction and speed. This will not only help you plan for appropriate clothing but with your route/location. For example a 45 degree day with less than 5 mph winds might mean I leave the shell at home but a 55 degree day with 12+ mph winds I’m bringing it for sure. The wind can cut through your insulating layer leaving you chilled but by adding the windproof layer you will be warm and comfortable. In relation to activity/route on a 10+ mph wind day I might choose a mountain bike ride over a road ride as the trees will provide protection from the wind.  If I do choose to head out on the road I will check the direction so I can choose a route that will not have me directly into a head wind the whole time.
Tips on Specific Activities
  • Running/Hiking
    • General rule for running is dress for conditions 20 degrees warmer than the actual temp.  For example if it’s 50 dress for 70, that will keep you comfortable once your body temp increases and keep you from sweating too much.
    • Base layer includes socks, invest in a good pair of Smartwool socks.
    • For spring, fall or even winter look into shoes with good grip for snow, ice, slush and mud. Trail running shoes work great for this, for extreme conditions check out yaktrax ice grippers.
  • Cycling
    • A knit hat under the helmet is a must for cold days.
    • For hands and feet invest in a pair of insulated wind breaking cycling gloves and insulated windproof “over shoes”.
    • I prefer arm and leg warmers, these are great layering options and are very easy to remove mid way through a ride if the weather warms up.
    • Carry a light windbreaker on rides, wind can cut through you on the bike so a little shielding can keep you warm and happy for miles.
  • Paddling
    • Neoprene is your friend, even a 1mm-2mm base layer can keep you warm and safe in case you fall in or get wet. A “surf jacket” and insulated pants shorts (different styles available for men and women) are perfect for layering and can be easily removed if the conditions change.
    • When the temps drop stay closer to shore/civilization that way if you do get cold or wet you can quickly get somewhere to warm up.
    • For stand up paddling a pair of neoprene booties are worth their weight in gold! In the spring and fall when the temps drop the area of concern will be your cold feet so these boots will keep your toes from freezing and keep you out on the water comfortably for miles! We suggest  3mm-5mm for chilly conditions and 5mm-7mm for those colder days.
  • Diving/Swimming (yes you can go in open water in the spring and fall!!!)
    • Did someone say wetsuit? This is one of the single best investments you can make if you love the water and live in Northeast Michigan! For spring and fall temps we suggest 4mm-5mm or a 7mm for extreme conditions. You might finds suits that are 4/3 or 5/4/3 (mm), the first number is the thickness of the neoprene in the core, the second (or third) number is the thickness of the arms and or legs. If you need help come into Performance Locker and we will hook you up!
    • Just like on the bike a neoprene hood, gloves and socks can help lock in body heat and keep your extremities warm, when the water temp starts to drop these are good options to have on hand.
    • In regards to water sports practice good safety procedures, never dive/swim in open water along. Always have a buddy who can watch out for you and get help if necessary.

We are always here to answer any outdoor adventure questions you might have. Your PL team has a passion for getting you outside in Alpena’s beautiful natural landscape. We want to help you take advantage of our trails, lakes, and open roads. Let us know how we can help you!

— Casey

You Don’t Have to Feel Bad to Get Better

Some years ago my wife was going through some pretty serious digestive issues.  After seeing several specialists with no relief she decided to do everything in her power to improve her situation. The first and biggest step was a total overhaul of her eating habits and food choices. Me being the amazing and supportive husband I am I went along with the changes, you know… to “help her out”.  What happened next shocked me!

I had always viewed myself as a “good eater” and at the time was a good follower of an 80/20 lifestyle (eat good 80% of the time and the other 20, well you know the rest).  On any given day if you asked how I was feeling or how my energy levels were I would say great, couldn’t be better.  How wrong I was!

When we changed our eating habits I was shocked at how much better I felt over all and the drastic improvement to my daily life and overall wellbeing.  I was shocked because I always thought I felt just fine… but it seems that I had just become so accustom to feeling like a “6” and had no idea what a “9” felt like!

It seems we love to adopt this “if it aint’ broke, don’t fix it” mentality; where we only make significant changes when something goes very wrong and are left with no other choice.

My point is you don’t have to be just shy of a knee replacement before you make the decision to improve your health.  We often view things like “functional training” and “corrective movements” as things that are only valuable to those who are hurt or those who are not conditioned. From my experience I would argue the more you move the more valuable functional training and corrective movements are. You could think of it like this; If two drivers have a tire out of balance one drives 2 miles a day and the other 200 which vehicle is going to run into problems first? The truck that travels more.

Bottom line: You don’t have to be hurt to work on your movement capabilities and you don’t have to feel bad to get better.

— Casey

What Are Yoga Teacher Credentials & Why Do They Matter?

Hello Yoga Nerds! 

Well, maybe you aren’t a yoga nerd but were just curious about a new blog. In either case, welcome!

Today’s journey is all about breaking down those acronyms the yoga world has suddenly become quite attached to and why knowing them matters for students.

Long ago, becoming a “yoga teacher” was similar to an apprenticeship. A master teacher, or guru, would allow a pupil to follow him (it has almost always been a him, as yoga was originally predominantly practiced by men; this is still the case in India). This guru and pupil would spend years together practicing not simply the poses (“asanas”) but also the eight limbs (“sutras”) of yoga. Eventually, the guru would announce the student to now be ready to teach.

The path to becoming a teacher today is often quite different. There are weekend workshops that students can attend in order to be able to teach others immediately afterward. There are also teacher trainings that are thorough and rewarding but do not have the acronyms attached. Finally, there are Yoga Alliance and Yoga Alliance approved yoga teacher trainings-and our first acronym: YTT.

Yoga Alliance is the largest nonprofit representing the yoga community. The nonprofit came about in the mid-90s after teachers in the U.S. had been debating the need for a standard guideline for training teachers. This is because not all teacher trainings are created equal. While not perfect in its oversight, Yoga Alliance has formed a minimal standard to meet each of the levels of certification: Registered Yoga Teacher 200 hour (RYT 200), Registered Yoga Teacher 500 hour (RYT 500), Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher 200 hours (E-RYT 200), Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher 500 hours (E-RYT 500), Registered Children’s Yoga Teacher (RCYT), and Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher (RPYT). In addition, there are designations for schools, but we will stick with just teachers for now.

To look at it simply, if the designation includes a number, that is the minimal number of hours that teacher has formally trained. An “E” designation has met additional requirements and can now train other teachers either through continuing education workshops or full teacher trainings. A teacher’s education is not complete here, however, as Yoga Alliance requires continuing education hours in order to maintain credentials.

Why do these acronyms matter? Perhaps in some ways, they don’t. For instance, most teacher trainings will take money, and no matter who signs up, anyone who pays can obtain certification. Second, even with the standards, not all teacher trainings are identical. There are different formats, styles, focus, and education, just like at colleges and universities. All forms of training are supposed to meet the curriculum guidelines encompassing techniques, training, and practice; methodology; anatomy and physiology; philosophy and ethics; and practicum. Other teacher trainings offer additional hours and materials, such as reiki certification or requiring students to participate in as well as observe a set number of classes taught by an experienced instructor.

Ultimately, what the acronyms offer to students is a little insight into their yoga teachers’ experiences. While it is incredibly important to mesh with a teacher’s personality and teaching style, it is also important to know that your teacher is knowledgeable. Yoga Alliance has created a set of standards for both teachers and schools in an effort to create growth, diversity, and access to safe practices for students. This is perhaps the most important aspect for a student looking for a teacher: knowing that your instructor has met specific qualifications and has the skillset to guide you through your practice safely.

I’ll see you on your mat.

Light and Love,

Paige, MA RYT 200

For the curious readers, here is a list of your Performance Locker Mind Body Team:

Samantha Samson-Miller, 200 RYT (Be the Love Yoga Registered Yoga School)

Dr. Maureen Mead, MD, 500 RYT (Union Yoga Registered Yoga School)

Paige Trisko,200 RYT (Be the Love Registered Yoga School)

Charise Mcclendon, Certified Pilates Teacher Recognized by Pilates Alliance  (Balanced Body)

We are honored to be a part of your journey!

For further reading and the nitty gritty breakdowns:

Click Here for Yoga Alliance Standards and Click Here for Yoga Alliance Teacher details!

Meet Alana The Perfect All-Around SUP

Meet Alana The Perfect All-Around SUP
In this video, Casey introduces the Alana an All Around Stand Up Paddle Board by Naish designed specifically for women paddlers.
If you have you been dreaming about owning your own paddle board, come visit us at Performance Locker and test any of our Naish demo boards! We are here to help you find the perfect paddle board.

We proudly sell Naish boards simply because, we wanted to offer the community top of the line, professional, and high-quality boards that will last ride after ride and year after year.

All of our SUP sales come with a free paddle, a private lesson, 2 SUP Yoga classes, and 10% off up to $250 of Quiksilver or Roxy gear good for six months after purchase! E-mail info@performancelocker.com for more details.

More “Cardio” is not the answer

It seems to me that “cardio” has become the Penicillin of Fitness.

High blood presure? More Cardio.  Carrying a few extra pounds? More Cardio.  Feeling tired and low on energy? More Cardio.  Gain muscle, get faster, become a millionaire…… all through more cardio.

As I’m sure you’ve guessed by my sarcastic tone cardio will not fix all your problems, infact there a many that average American face that increased cardio will actually make worse.

Cardio is so “over perscribed” simply becasue it’s easy.  It’s easy advice to give and easy to take action on therefor it gets over used.

We should know by now the easy fix is not ususally the best or most effective one.  The changes that lead to long term sustainable results are often more complex and can be difficult to implement.  I’m not try to be a downer just a realist, change is tough.  It is more difficult to take an objective look at lifestyle choices as the cause and fix of any issues we might be having. How much sleep am I getting?  What am I doing to manage daily stress levels?  What is my daily processed food intake?  How much activity am I getting?  How much time do I spend outdoors?  What foods work best with my body (just because someone else calls it “healthy” does not mean it agrees with you)?

In the end more cardio becomes the over simplistic answer to a more complex question.  For the average American (you and me) more cardio can actually be a huge problem.  Most of us are sleep deprived, under nourished and over stimulated; never forget that exercise (as good as it is) is still stress.  What happens when you take someone who is not getting enough sleep, eating food they can’t obtain nourishment from and constatnly at a 11 level freak out at home and work because the big report deadline is on the same day as little Johnny’s soccer game and add more stress to their week?  The math on this one is not hard to do.

The take away her is two-fold;

First, think balance.  When we look at the big picture adding more cardio doesn’t’ fit but to see that we have to zoom out and try to see the whole picture.

Second; Sometimes things are complicated.  We love simple, easy and actionable but life is not always that way and that’s ok.  It’s ok to seek answers and search for truth and it’s ok to get help along the way.  My experience is if a piece of advice can fit into a Twitter post there is probably more to the story and deserves some more diving into.

Yoga Pose Breakdown: Savasana/Corpse Pose

Savasana/Corpse Pose
1. Lay down onto your back. Keep neck long and chin tucked. Create space for your underarms to breathe.
2. Let your body feel heavy here. Feet rest towards the corners of your mat and can fall open in opposite directions.
3. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Stay here for 5-10 minutes.
4. To come out roll to your side and curl into a little ball. Don’t rush coming up, take your time.
Pose Benefits: Savasana naturally boosts the immune system and restores and relaxes the body’s energy by calming the nervous system. This pose also calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression. Corpse pose also can reduce headaches, fatigue, insomnia, and reduces blood pressure.

Deepen your practice at Performance Locker. Our teachers combined bring over 10 years of experience to our studio. Sign up for class online at performancelocker.com/yoga

Sam Samson RYT 200

Why Should You Try Boxing?

Boxing Is Fun

Enjoying something is probably the number one reason why anybody ever got good at anything. The one thing boxing has over many traditional fitness exercises is the added element of good old plain FUN! If you ever plan to be successful at anything, it helps if you find the experience enjoyable. Otherwise, it becomes work, becomes a chore, and you’ll quit before you ever get a routine going. This is the problem with many traditional workout routines.

Literally EVERYONE we’ve seen that puts on a pair of gloves for the first time has fun. Hitting the focus mitts becomes a game and they enjoy the challenge. There are so many pieces of equipment in the studio and so many skills to master that boxing never becomes boring. Even after the boxing session ends, clients feel inspired to go home and watch videos online to become inspired by other boxers. There are very few exercises that leave this lasting impression. Can you imagine someone going home and fantasizing about burpees? Give boxing a try and you’ll see what we’re talking about.

Boxing Is Challenging & Great For Your Health 
Many people understand that boxing is challenging but have the perception that boxing is going to war, and they imagine themselves having to throw and absorb punches like Rocky. Let me give it to you straight: that’s not the case at Performance Locker. Our classes are for people who do not want to get hit in the face! You will be physically challenged learning how to move efficiently and effectively, all while hitting real targets (not the air). All of our classes are designed for any ability level and everyone is welcome to try! Boxing improves your cardiovascular system, bone density, and helps to reduce stress.
Boxing Improves Confidence
Boxing is a great confidence booster. The sport molds fighters out of average people.

Boxing is challenging but when you overcome those challenges you will feel so confident in yourself that you can do anything that you set your mind to!

Performance Locker offers boxing on Tuesday’s at 6:30pm – Thursday’s at 12pm –
and Saturday’s at 7am. Boxing gloves provided or you can buy your own on-site.

Sign Up for Boxing Right Now  » Click Here to Register! 

*Supporting researched provided via an Article by Johnny N from Expert Boxing

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