CategoriesBlog Live Fit. Move.

Four Reasons Your Body Failed You!

Have you ever had a workout where everything just feels “blah”?  Exercises that normally are performed with style and grace feel uncoordinated, clumsy, and “harder than it normally is”. Though we understand that some days will just be better than others, no one should feel as if they have taken several steps backward. So, before you let your frustration get the best of you, ask yourself: “Am I giving my body the best opportunity to succeed”? Because a lousy workout is usually the body telling you that you are failing in 1 (if not all) of 4 areas.

1. Movement Preparation and Ponder

Delete the word “warm-up” from your vocabulary and along with it the useless 10-minute jog or stationary cycling you typically do prior to activity. Instead, think in terms of preparing your body for movement and focus on the joint mobility, muscle activation, and stabilizing drills necessary for success. For example, if your training plan includes squats and lunges, prepare the body by mobilizing the ankles and hips, activating the muscles of the glutes, and stabilizing deep lying core muscles through various breathing drills. Following your workout, take a moment and ponder how each exercise felt and what areas of the body may have let you down. Focus on addressing those areas via stretching, foam rolling, and additional mobility work before you leave the gym.

2. Hydration.

H20 is one of the easiest things to address and offers immediate benefits towards performance. The other great thing about hydration is you can assess your hydration levels frequently every time you hit the rest room. If your urine is clear to faint yellow you are good to go! However, if your urine is ‘Big Bird yellow’ to ‘paper bag brown’, you need to up the water intake immediately.  To aid in hydration, seek to add natural electrolyte mixes into your water and avoid bottled water with additives or coloring.

3. Pre/ post workout fuel (food)

Because food is not easily accessible (as compared to water) this tends to be a main culprit in poor performance. Pre-workout food should be more carb focused (YES, THEY ARE GOOD FOR YOU) as carbs will be your primary fuel source during most activities. Post Workout, your focus should be on replenishing what you lost (carbs, H20, electrolytes) and eating clean protein sources to maintain and/or build muscle. Best practice is to have your meals prepared prior to the workday, so you have performance enhancing food sources at your fingertips throughout the day.


Besides having cool dreams of saving the world from evil space aliens, sleep allows you to perform at your best physically, and cognitively. Unfortunately, life involves conflicts that deny you the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep necessary. To combat this dilemma, make every moment of your pre-sleep routine count by eliminating cell phones, tv shows, heavy meals, or caffeine before your head hits the pillow. Instead have mindful self-reflection, stretch, and practice deep breathing exercise about 45 minutes prior to bed. When able, find a quiet area to take a quick 20-30-minute nap during day.

By addressing these 4 areas, you will find subpar workouts to be a thing of the past and can keep your energy focused on improving your quality of life for the long road ahead!

written by, Erin White Flow Fitness Coach

CategoriesBlog Live Fit. Move.

3 Training Techniques Every Runner Should Be Doing

Summer in the Pacific Northwest = time to get outside, right?  Except for when you can’t, because aches and pains are getting in your way, or worse: you’re sidelined by injury.  How can you stay outdoors, do everything you love to do and potentially reduce the occurrence of injury? Easy.  Train inside to maximize running time outside.

And by training inside,  I’m not talking about running on a treadmill or hitting the elliptical.  Those are two very familiar pieces of equipment, and have their place in a training program (maybe) but in order to stay in prime movement shape you’ll want to get a little uncomfortable and hit these three areas (at least):

1)  Explore all the planes.  There are three planes of motion: sagittal (forward or backward:running), transverse (rotational: golfing/twisting), and frontal (side to side: jumping jacks).  Most of us move through the majority of our days in the sagittal plane.  As runners, that’s our area of strength – but in order to be truly strong, it is imperative to move in different planes of motion.  Side shuffle, skaters, twisting, lunging diagonally, and more. Classes that have a variety of movement are great ways to break your plane. Cross training on the bike or the elliptical or stair machine is not, as it’s moving in the same plane as running.  Your Challenge:  learn about the planes of motion and aim to move in a different one this week.

2)  Strengthen your backside.  We are a quad dominant society, spending most of our days squashing our backsides by sitting.  Many injuries originate in the hips, and get you in the knees. Strength training not only makes your stronger, it also increases joint stability, which can reduce repetitive stress injuries.  Your Challenge:  Squat.  Deadlift. Do some clam shells and leg swings.  Strengthen that hip girdle, core and those glutes.  You won’t be sorry.

3)   JUMP, HOP, AND SKIP.  Frog jumps, jump squats, skipping, high-knees = plyometric training. Plyometrics can improve your running economy. When your foot lands with each running stride, your tendons and muscles store elastic energy, which can be utilized for the subsequent push off the ground. The better you utilize this energy, the better your running economy becomes.  Jumping/skipping/hopping are good and good for you.  Your Challenge:  add some play to your workout this week.  Plyometrics aren’t easy, and are not always fun – but they can do wonders for your ability to move.

Choose one of these areas (or challenges) once a week.  Strength training in many different forms results in stronger joints, better efficiency and a longer time to exhaustion. Put simply, you’ll be able to run faster, longer and stronger.

Now get outside!

CategoriesBlog Move.

Periodization Matters – Find Out Why

An essential element of training for any serious athletic competition, periodization is “an organized approach to training that involves progressive cycling of various aspects of a training program during a specific period of time.” It allows for customized, systematic training programming that cycles progress with competition preparation.

In practice, periodization is the program design strategy that balances training volume, intensity, and specificity.

This is all just a fancy way of saying that you have an intelligent plan to maximize your training progress without being run ragged come game day.

How Periodization Works

To excel at any physical activity, you need to have an established level of fitness already. Whether you are running marathons, bodybuilding, playing soccer, or wrestling, you must establish an athletic baseline before you can move forward.

Beyond that general physical competence, when trying to excel in a sport, you must train specific skills and movements. This is the principle of specificity. It goes beyond establishing general fitness in an individual and trains them for their specific sport — boxers box, swimmers swim, and cyclists cycle.

Periodization effectively cycles you through periods of training that touch on each of these aspects, improving them one of these aspects after another and tapering down for competition before ramping back up to improve performance.

Six Steps to Success with Periodization


Whether this is the beginning of a periodized cycle or just coming off of the sixth step, the first phase, preparation, is when you gradually initiate a controlled training routine. For exercise novices, this will slowly build up your fitness with moderate-duration, low-intensity workouts. More advanced athletes come into preparation after a rest phase to begin prepping for the upcoming competition season.

The preparation phase usually involves comfortable exercises such as swimming, hiking, and cycling. This is also when you plan out your season, marking down your competition goals.

Building a Base

The real work begins in the second phase, when you will be improving your overall strength levels and building up your cardiovascular system. This phase can last for several months, and often that much time is required to build significant strength gains. If you have any glaring weaknesses, this is an excellent time to directly address them — whether they have to do with balance, flexibility, or a poor diet.

Sport-Specific Training

Specificity comes into play in the third phase, during which you begin simulating competition conditions and practicing skills specific to your sport. Because you will have already established a fitness foundation in the first and second phases, you can effectively focus on strategy and technique without being limited by your body.

Winding Down

You should start winding down one to two weeks before a major competition. At this point, you will decrease your training volume to be ready to go 100 percent in competition. All exercise physically breaks down muscle tissue with tiny tears in the fibers. Resting allows those tears to heal, allowing you to go 100 percent in competition. Tapering usually involves cutting your training down by 80 to 90 percent, but this varies wildly based on your sport, as does how many weeks you spend at a reduced training volume.


Timing your tapering well leaves you fresh and ready to go come game day, providing a one- to two-week window during which you can perform to your fullest.


Going 100 percent takes its toll on your body. Depending on your fitness level, sport, and how you prepare for your sport, you may need anywhere from a week to several months of recovery time after competition. You don’t need to completely shut down physically, but you do need to rest, and this can provide a great opportunity to casually cross-train in other sports for fun.


Does This Apply to You?

That depends on your goals. Each training movement and strategy is a tool. While every toolbox should have a wrench in it, a wrench isn’t going to drive nails for you. If general fitness is your objective, and not prepping for getting on stage or running a race, periodization may not offer you what you need. For help tailoring a program to your specific targets, speak with one of our trainers today.

CategoriesBlog Move.

KB Deadlift: RDL vs. Conventional

written by, Erin White- Flow Fitness  Coach

Both styles are great to train the posterior chain but the conventional will recruit more muscle mass therefore giving you more power in the lift. 

  •  In both you will always start with a hinge position (sending the hips back first), keeping a neutral and locked lumbar spine, so there is no rounding throughout. Maintaining the neutral spine from neck to hips you will then reach for the bell. This is where the differentiating factor comes in. 
  • In the straight leg RDL you will see the hips sit higher and feel more tension and pull in the hamstrings. You will also see less bend in the knees. Back will be flat, shoulders down and back. You will feel this lift more in your lower back, spinal erectors, but if doing correctly and using your breathing to brace you will be able to work the lower back properly as well as focus on working more of the hamstrings and glutes. 
  • With the conventional, even with a KB, the setup will be similar with the shoulders down and back, neutral spine and the hinge first. At this point you will bend the knees until your hands reach the handle of the bell, sending your hips slightly down and back. To make clear this is NOT a squat, but your back angle and hips will be lower than they would be on the RDL. You will be using more of the posterior chain here to assist in the lift. From here power through the heels, stand tall and squeeze the glutes at the top. 

The lifts are meant to work differently and thrown into your training differently. But now you know each has a purpose in your programming. 

 Start Position: Conventional Kettlebell Dead-Lift

Start Position: Romanian Dead Lift (RDL)

CategoriesBlog Move.

How to Correctly Gauge your Workout Intensity

written by Flow Trainer, Mackennon Klink, B.S. CSCS, PN1

Does this sound like you? You’ve committed to going to the gym. You’re in the gym three to four times a week, crushing your workout, getting stronger and leaner. However, those 65lb dumbbells seem to be getting heavier. You’re using the same dumbbells from the previous week, but now they feel like 100lbs. What’s going on here??? Are you getting weaker, or is Flow Fitness playing a terrible trick on you?  Well, Flow Fitness isn’t playing any tricks on you, and you aren’t getting weaker.However, your rating of perceived exertion (RPE) has altered.

What are RPE’s? The American College or Sports Medicine (ACSM) defines rating of perceived exertion, better known as the RPE scale, as a psychophysical scale, meaning it calls on the mind and body to rate one’s perception of effort. The RPE scale measures feelings of effort, strain, discomfort, and/or fatigue experienced during both aerobic and/or resistance training.

In simpler terms, the RPE scale is a subjective measurement of how hard you feel like you’re working put onto a scale. If you train long enough, eventually those dumbbells will feel heavier than initially. This is normal. What we’re talking about is the difference between internal and external loading.

External loading is easy to gauge – that’s whatever weight you have on the bar for that given set or workout (ex: 135, 225, or 275 lbs)

Internal loading is more subjective –it’s how the weight of the bar feels.

For example, let’s say you’re bench pressing 225 pounds. The weight is a respectful amount, not a max effort, yet you’re not reppin’ it out for 10+ reps either.

On some days, 225 pounds feels likes nothing and you can absolutely crush it, yet there are other days when it feels like a literal ton of bricks. The external load never changed, yet how the weight feels varies wildly.

There are a few reasons for the higher internal loading, such as:

  • Fatigue from the previous training session
  • Change in training time

Cumulative fatigue from factors outside the gym such as:
– Poor sleep quality
– Excessive stress

How and Why Use the RPE Scale?
RPE works on a scale of 6-10 and looks something like this:

  • RPE of 10 –Max Effort – Congratulations, you just set a personal record!
  • RPE of 9 –Heavy lift – One rep left in the tank.
  • RPE of 8 –Difficult lift – Two reps left in the tank
  • RPE of 7 –Moderately difficult lift – Three to four reps left in the tank
  • RPE of 6 –Minimally difficult lift – four or more reps left in the tank. That’s light weight, baby!! Bump up the weight.

If you train long enough, eventually those dumbbells or weight may feel heavier than it did initially . While this is normal in resistance training, this illustrates why RPE’s can be beneficial in your training. A 6-10 scale works for nearly everyone. This makes integrating the RPE scale into your training simple. After a set, all you need to do is ask yourself: ͞how many reps did I have left in the tank?

Be honest with yourself and leave your ego at the door. If you overestimate and go too heavy, you can potentially hurt yourself and/or hinder your progress.

In addition, RPE allows you to customize every training session to ensure you are properly challenging yourself and getting the most out of your body. For the bulk of your resistance training, aim to keep the RPE between 7-8, 9 at the most. Remember, you want to feel stimulated, not annihilated after your workouts.


Truth be told, a lot of us aren’t working as hard as we could be in the gym. This can be difficult to accurately gauge. I’m all for making life as simple as possible, so I prefer using RPE’s to properly monitor my exercise intensity. In fact, RPE’s are critical to know if I’m properly challenging myself or simply wasting my time in the gym. Eventually, your newbie gains will disappear. You won’t be able to walk into the gym and set a new personal record each day. Once that day arrives, you need to arm yourself with the necessary tools to step up your training. RPE’s are an effective and simple tool you can utilize to help you continue to crush your training goals.

CategoriesBlog Move.

5 Important Exercises You’re Forgetting to Do at the Gym

You probably have a routine that you use for exercises. Maybe you work on your back, shoulders and arms one day and your legs, butt, and core the next. Maybe you alternate strength training with aerobic exercise. Whatever your typical workout regimen, there are probably important exercises that you aren’t performing.

Adding a few small exercises to appropriate points in your workout routine can improve the effectiveness of your regimen and reduce the likelihood of incurring a serious injury while you’re trying to improve your health and fitness.

  1. Leg lifts on your side. Surely you remember these as a staple of the Jazzercise era. While it’s been a while since side-lying leg lifts have been popular, their health benefits have never disappeared. Performing leg lifts while lying on your side engages and strengthens the glute medius, critical muscles which lift the leg to the side, help your leg rotate, and stabilize your pelvis and lower extremities. Add these to your lower body regimen and reduce the risk of a hip injury.
  2. Rowing. There’s a reason there’s always someone on the rowing machine: Rowing is a great exercise. It doesn’t just work your arms and shoulders. Rowing actually works nine major muscle groups, making it an incredibly efficient workout exercise. If you want to strengthen your glutes, lats, biceps, quads, hamstrings, core, shoulders, triceps and back, then rowing should be part of your regular exercise routine. Consider rowing as part of your aerobic routine each week.
  3. Side plank. You’re probably already doing a standard plank to help strengthen your core. You should also be including side planks at least once a week in your routine. These exercises help better strengthen your core and lead to better overall stabilization. Side planks help strengthen and stretch your obliques, your hips, and your shoulders. Make sure to do each side! Consider adding them every other time you work on core strength exercises.
  4. Resisted dorsiflexion. You want strong ankles and feet to support your legs as you get stronger. This exercise uses a rubber resistance band, attached to something stable in front of you as you sit. Wrap the band around your foot and flex your foot and ankle with the band providing resistance. Add these exercises to the days in your exercise regimen that are dedicated to strengthening your legs and lower body.
  5. Internal and external shoulder rotations. Like the resisted dorsiflexion exercise, these strength-building exercises require the use of a band. Performing these exercises can help strengthen muscles that are critical to safely using your shoulders and arms during workouts. You should be tending to your rotator cuff muscles at least two times a week.

Featured photo source:

CategoriesBlog Move.

Workouts That Bust Stress and Anxiety

Professionals from many disciplines will attest to the fact that physical exercise has long been established as a key factor in reducing stress, anxiety, and battling depression. Stress affects not only the brain, but the rest of our bodies. When our bodies are physically challenged on a regular basis and in good health, our minds feel better as well. The endorphins produced from physical activity improves your sleep cycles which in turn, reduce stress.

The act of exercise itself produces important neurotransmitters such as serotonin, that are important for preventing depression and anxiety disorders. What forms of exercise are best for busting stress and keeping serotonin levels in balance? The answer to that is as varied as each person and their comfort levels.

Experts agree that regular exercise 3-5 times a week is as important as what types of workouts you choose. Hard bouts of cardio as well as weight training and deep stretching from yoga are all effective stress busters. Finding a form that works best for your personality and lifestyle is important so that you will stick with it.

If you are a social person, consider a group class to keep you in the game. If you are struggling with anger or over the top work stress, a kickboxing class may be just what the doctor ordered. The intensity inherently releases endorphins leaving you with a feeling of achievement.

If focusing at work is a struggle, perhaps a yoga class to help you center and learn mind-body control and controlled breathing. One session will leave you with a sense of calm and positive outlook. Regular yoga proponents have significantly higher levels of the amino acid GABA, which is associated with depression and anxiety for people with lower levels.

Running has been shown to promote healthier moods because of the repetitive and rhythmic effects on the brain. The same is said of hiking to lower stress hormones. There is something about getting off the pavement, and smelling the outdoors with a break from urban surroundings that calms the mind. If you live too far from hiking trails, you will be surprised to find many “urban hikes” in the middle of Seattle.

Intense cardo 3-5 times a week for 30 minutes a session is recommended for optimal health. However, if it has been a while for you, don’t let that hold you back. Just get out there and do an interval approach that challenges you for a minute at a time, with rest intervals of 30-60 seconds. Continue this cycle for a total of 15 minutes, working up to 30 minutes and you will see improvement in your moods, as well as your fitness level improve within 2-3 weeks.

Remember, it is less important what form of exercise that you choose than it is to just get out there and DO IT!

Featured photo source:

CategoriesBlog Live Fit. Move.

Change Your Plane…

…plane of motion that is. Have no idea what I’m talking about?

There are three planes of motion: sagittal, frontal, and transverse.

At it’s most basic:

Sagittal = forward or backward (think lunges, running or cycling)
Frontal = side to side (side lunges or jumping jacks)
Transverse = rotational (twists of any sort, swinging a bat)

To picture the three planes, imagine slicing through the body, (like in the picture):

First through the center, dividing the body from the left to the right for the Sagittal plane.
Next through the body from the left side to the right, separating the front and back halves to create the frontal plane (front side and back side).
Finally cutting straight through the hips to divide the top of the body from the bottom, the transverse plane.

The body moves in three dimensions and an ideal training program would reflect that. However, most of us hang out in the sagittal plane all the time, moving forward or back doing pushups, crunches, squats, lunges or simply hanging out on the elliptical, treadmill or stationary bike.

People that are in excellent shape as runners or cyclists are often shocked upon changing up their programs and learning how weak they are in the frontal and transverse planes.  Building in exercises in other planes helps your body naturally prevent injury, increase your range of motion, and ensure good balance.

Plus, activities in sports and daily life require movement in all three planes simultaneously. A forehand in tennis, , squatting to lift and carry a toddler, a spike in volleyball, grocery shopping, and a golf swing are all multi-plane movements.

When you come to the gym or workout in any way, aim to involve all three planes of motion. Work in some side lunges, or a twist.  Do some jumping jacks or oblique crunches.  Develop a yoga practice or go to training camp.  This will ensure that your exercise routine has a better carry-over to sport and to life.

CategoriesBlog Live Fit. Move.

Three Simple Solutions to Keep the Fire Burning

We are now six weeks into 2017. Most consistent gym enthusiasts have noticed a major influx of new faces running on treadmills, attending classes or lifting weights. The consistent gym enthusiasts have seen this play out before: crowded gym for the first 6-8 weeks of the new year, then a drop off as March approaches. Sadly, a stunning 80% of individuals embarking on their health and wellness resolutions are not seen after six weeks into the new year. Here are three simple solutions to ensure you won’t be on the wrong side of statistics:


Imagine this scenario: It’s been a busy day at the office and time is flying by. You planned  a Noon workout, yet  all of a sudden you get a notification that your 1 pm meeting is about to begin. You realized you were so focused on work that you completely missed your “designated” workout time. This is an all-to-common scenario. When many people do not put their workouts into their schedule, it becomes very easy to let time slip away and another workout is lost. A workout lost=lost momentum. Lost momentum= lost consistency. And thus the vicious cycle begins. Put it in your calendar at the beginning of the week and as soon that notification alerts you, GET UP AND GO!


There is something truly powerful about visually writing goals down and “checking the boxes”. Simply setting a goal of “X” amount of days a week to get to the gym and crossing those days off on a physical calendar helps to reinforce the habit of making it to the gym, while giving you the visual perspective of how much momentum you have truly built.


The reality is most people embarking on New Year’s health and wellness goals gravitate to simply running on the treadmill. The first couple weeks these individuals see weight coming off, yet as each week goes on, results drop off more and more. Reason being, the body adapts to consistent stimulus. Try this: Warm up with a five minute run, then perform 10 Rounds of a :30 Sprint followed by a one minute walk. Not only is this type of intensity going to yield much better results, this should also take you much less time. Who doesn’t want to spend less time in the gym and see better results?

post written by Flow Fitness Personal Trainer, Drew Ridge

CategoriesBlog Move.

Variety – Not Always Your Best Bet.

One of the reasons people love Flow Fitness is the seemingly limitless options we have regarding membership types, classes and personal-training packages. Let’s face it, people love variety, and the more options people have, the more likely they are to stay members. People also evoke this philosophy when it comes to their training and literally change their routine every time they come in or beg their trainer to “mix it up” during sessions.

In theory, constant variety may sound like a good idea as you eliminate “boredom” and promote “muscle confusion” (which is an overrated concept not backed by research as a superior method of training).  However, too much variety in your training program could actually put a damper on your results as you will have a difficult time tracking your progress in certain movements (essentially you’ll never know what is working in your program and what is not). Further, this lack of consistency in certain exercises can lead to injury, as you really need to repeat various movements several thousand times to ensure safe execution.  Conversely, people that come in and do the exact same routine every single day for several months will find diminishing returns as the body quickly adapts to the “stress” it endures and you find yourself at the same level of fitness you started at. Regardless of which category you fall into, neither is a favorable long-term option for success

The recipe for success should include a training plan that promotes consistency of exercises with small “tweaks” made along the way to ensure that the body continues to adapt over a three-to-six-week period (after which you will want to change your training plan).  Though three to six weeks may sound like a long time to focus on the same routine, there are some small changes you can make to your workout that will pay huge dividends in the long run. Below we have listed some of the main variables you can change to keep your workout fresh without completely revamping your day-to-day workouts.

Volume: Volume is a great way to “shock” the system into adapting through varying the amount of reps and sets done in a workout (assuming you use a similar weight). For example, if you are the type of person who does the same routine of three sets of 10 of 100 pounds on your squat, you can spice it up by increasing the number of sets to 6 (yes I said 6). This increases your volume of training from 30 reps to 60 reps and the body will adapt in order to handle much higher volume in the future. You can also get similar effects (up to a certain point) if you increase the number of reps of a particular exercise (this is more applicable for body weight training).

Intensity: When we use the word “intensity,” we are talking about the amount of resistance lifted. Using our 100-pound squat as an example, we can increase the intensity of the exercise by increasing our weight by 10 percent or 10 additional pounds.  In the case of increased weight, your total volume may go down, but the heavier weight will spark additional neural adaptations as well as promote additional muscle recruitment, leading to further physical adaptions without changing the type of exercise.

Rest Time: This is often an overlooked variable that people really don’t factor into their training program, but should. Rest intervals are crucial, especially if you are trying to increase your intensity (remember, intensity refers to the amount of resistance lifted). A “refreshed” nervous system is crucial if you want to push more weights multiple times and it is recommended you rest between two to five minutes if you are attempting big lifts. To have more of a conditioning effect, shorten your rest period to between 30 and 90 seconds.

Time Under Tension: T.U.T training (also known as cadence training) is another method of adding variety to your training program. The basic concept is: The longer we keep the muscle under tension, the more the body will have to adapt to these new demands. To get an idea of how this works, go back to your 100-pound squat: During the down phase of the squat, slowly go into your squat with a four-count cadence. At the bottom, hold this position for a one-count cadence, and as you begin the upward phase, go at a two-count cadence (this equals a time under tension of approximately seven seconds). Once at the top, immediately go into your downward phase again for your second rep. More likely than not you won’t be able to hit the 10 reps at this cadence, but the amount of “time” spent under stress should more than make up for the lower rep count.

Try changing some of these variables in your current routine before you jump ship on what you are doing, and see your results improve drastically!