Author Archive

Member of the Quarter-Steve Ehrmann

Written by Jamie Potter. Posted in Blog, Member of the Quarter

Angela and SteveSteve Ehrmann, 68, has always done push-ups and sit ups as a way to stay fit. In his 20’s and 30’s he enjoyed running. When that eventually caused permanent tendonitis and, later, bone spurs in both feet, he switched to bicycling. He started outdoors and moved to indoor cycling in the last ten years. It was around this time he joined Rock Creek Sports Club. “I wanted to put off getting rickety as I got older” he jokes. Steve felt the stationary bike wasn’t enough, but was intimidated by all the possibilities the Club had to offer, so he asked for a suggestion for a trainer.

“I’m so grateful they suggested Angela Sims,” he smiled.  “When I asked my wife to describe my philosophy of working out, her response was the same as mine: ‘Do what Angela says.’ I’ve been an educator all my life and I know great teaching when I see it.”

Steve started off training two sessions a week.  After many months, he felt that his progress was too slow; travel or catching cold could set him back.  He shifted to three weekly sessions and that has really helped.  Angela creates workouts for Steve that focus on flexibility, core, and balance. Steve is determined to continue his progress, despite the occasional set-back from injuries and illness and the challenges of travel. When he finds he has been away from the gym too long he becomes “stubborn” again about exercising and gets back into his routine!

Angela and Steve 2As a researcher and writer, exercising makes Steve feel mentally sharper. Weight loss helps him feel light on his feet and working out in general has helped ease aches and pains. RCSC staff have truly supported him in his journey.

“Wanting [Angela] to be proud of me is a lot of what keeps me going.” says Steve. He believes that when he is training with her he is able to summon up 2 to 3 times the endurance and reps than he could on his own.

And Angela is proud! She reports he no longer has frequent knee and shoulder pain and has progressed to heavy bench presses, chest flies, and decline leg presses.

“Even on days when he is not feeling his strongest, he comes to train anyway and always works hard, sometimes asking for heavier weights!” Angela says. “These are just some of the reasons I’ve nicknamed him ‘Champ’.”

Next time you see Steve, or Champ, be sure to congratulate him!

 

Coconuts: What’s a consumer to do?

Written by Jamie Potter. Posted in Blog, Wellness Bites

IMG_0700Coconut products have become the latest superfood solution you could add to just about everything. Coconut milk is called a healthy alternative to cow’s milk and is now available at many coffee shops, Starbucks being a leader in this option. People are swapping out butter in recipes for coconut oil. They sprinkle coconut on top of yogurt, acai bowls, chia pudding, pancakes, oatmeal – you name it. But, is it actually good for you? A quick Google search yields plenty of articles touting the coconut’s miracle-like qualities. Change the wording in your Google search and articles appear warning you to stay away from coconut products.  What’s a consumer to do??

To start, different parts of coconuts and different byproducts of coconut trees, provide different health benefits, or health disasters. Coconut oil is the most contested. Claims have been made that this oil makes hair shiny, skin soft, and teeth clean and white, removes make up, and can even be used as an alternative to sunscreen. Along with topical uses, ingesting the oil is rumored to slow aging, protect against Alzheimer’s, promote weight loss, prevent heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and other chronic disease, improve digestion, strengthen the immune system; and even treat herpes infections and AIDS.   While those claims deserve their own research, from a purely nutritional aspect, should one use coconut oil rather than butter, olive oil, canola oil, or sunflower oil?

IMG_0698Coconut oil is derived from the pressing of the coconut meat. As much as 84-90% of its calories come from saturated fat. Compare this with olive oil, which is 14% saturated fat, or butter at 64%. The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat to 13 grams a day. At 90% saturated fat, that limit is reached with a mere tablespoon of coconut oil.

The widely viewed and scientifically backed problem with saturated fats is that they raise one’s bad cholesterol (LDL), which forms plaque in arteries and causes blockage. The tricky thing about coconut oil, is that while it contains a high percentage of saturated fat, there is more than one variety of saturated fat. The kind found in coconut oil comes from medium chain triglycerides, or MCTs, rumored to be better handled in the body than the longer chained fats found in vegetable oil, dairy and fatty meats. This is from where the weight loss claim is derived. Your body processes these kinds of fats differently and is more likely to burn them as calories than convert them into fat. While not all calories are the same, coconut oil is still very high in calories and should be limited for weight loss goals (“The Truth About Coconut Oil,” 2016).

In addition, coconut oil increases HDL (good cholesterol that plays a role in lowering LDL) at a higher rate than other oils. About half the fat in coconut oil is the 12-carbon variety called lauric acid, which is most likely responsible for the raise in HDL. However, it is unclear how big of a role HDL plays in balancing out the LDL. It takes time to see the overall effects of lifestyle changes on heart disease. Longitudinal studies are needed and experiments are difficult to perform. Therefore, most doctors suggest limiting your saturated fat consumption, regardless of the variety (“Ask the doctor: Coconut oil,” 2011.)

Coconut oil has now become a fad. When the media reports that something is “good”, people jump on the bandwagon, without doing their own research. When the media says something is “bad”, people overreact and overcompensate. Coconut wasn’t always raved about, in fact, it was considered a menace. In the 80s the media demonized coconut oil for its role in heart disease, because of the high saturated fat content. However, while throwing out their coconut oils, people switched to an even deadlier alternative: hydrogenated oils…trans-fat. At the time, the research wasn’t solidified on the effect trans-fat has on the body. Today, we have gone full circle. The media has publicized the danger of trans-fat and people have switched back to tropical oils and other saturated fats (“Is Coconut Oil A ‘Miracle’ Food?”, 2014).

Some have heard the stories of how good coconut flakes, butter, milk, flour, and oil are for you and have embraced these products with no idea of the percent of saturated fat within these products. For others, the knowledge is present, but they are among the consumers challenging decades of research done on the effects of saturated fats, theorizing that these fats are not bad after all and are, in fact, good for you.

This new view on saturated fats is fueled by people like Nina Teicholz, author of The Big Fat Surprise. Nina is on the extreme end, stating in an ABC interview that she believes it is fine to eat red meat three times a day. She praises food items such as bacon, hamburgers, steak and meatballs. Another big name in the pro-saturated fat camp is Dave Asprey, the author of “The Bulletproof Diet” and inventor of Bulletproof Coffee: coffee with butter. While these authors and other recent studies start an interesting conversation, the American Heart Association warns one should not change their diet because of a couple of new studies. They state guidelines will not change until new evidence is concrete.

For the traditionalists, what it comes down to is what is being chosen as replacements within a diet. If you are abstaining from saturated fats but are filling up on processed carbs and sugary foods, you are probably doing your body more harm than good, and definitely not losing weight. But, if you are choosing saturated fats instead of nuts and other unsaturated fats, which are proven to lower heart disease, then you are not helping your body either (“The Truth About Coconut Oil”, 2016). The HDL to LDL ratio should be considered and the more you eat coconut oil the less you are eating your other fat sources, which may have higher HDL and lower LDL levels.

To be safe, most doctors recommend that one use coconut oil sparingly. Despite this new health craze, avoid getting too excited and using coconut oil for all of your cooking! Limit coconut oil consumption to a tablespoon or less a day. At the same time, don’t throw out all of your coconut products, as there are some health benefits: antioxidants, fiber, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, calcium, potassium and magnesium, to mention a few. Not every part of the coconut has equal health benefits.

Similar to coconut oil, coconut milk is high in calories and fat. In countries where coconut is an important part of traditional dishes, the milk is not drunken or used for cereals, as in the U.S. However, what is on U.S. grocery shelves is generally a lower-calorie version.

Coconut butter tends to be a better choice than coconut oil, when considering replacements of traditional ingredients.  It has more fiber and antioxidants and less saturated fat than the oil.

There is little evidence to say one should stay away from coconut’s delicious meat. Which is good news for those that didn’t switch to coconut products just for the benefits, but more so for the taste. One ounce of raw coconut is about 100 calories and contains 9 grams of fat, 3 grams of fiber and very little sugar.

Similarly, coconut flour is made from ground, dry coconut meat. This substitute for wheat flour offers more fiber at the expense of only a few more calories per serving. It also adds that delicious coconut flavor to recipes.

IMG_0699The healthiest part of the coconut, with positive health benefits and no downside, is the water found within. It is fat-free, low in calories, high in potassium and filled with electrolytes.

Lastly, there is coconut sugar. This sugar has nothing to do with the coconut itself. It derived from the nectar of the flowering buds of the coconut tree. It is simply another sugar alternative, meaning your body will break down coconut sugar as it does any other sugar. There is very little that is special about coconut sugar; it is less sweet and more expensive (“Is Coconut Oil A ‘Miracle’ Food?”, 2014)

It is difficult to find perfection in nutrition. New studies come out every year refuting old claims. What it comes down to is finding balance and moderation. So don’t throw out your coconut oil and milk – just be mindful until more concrete evidence comes in about this new “saturated-fat revolution”.

 

The Powerlifting World at Rock Creek Sports Club

Written by Jamie Potter. Posted in Blog, RCSC News, Wellness Bites

What is powerlifting? MD state powerlifting championship 2017

Powerlifting is the sport of lifting things up and putting things down, right? Sort of. While lifting large weights is the basic idea in powerlifting, it is far more complex than that. Powerlifting is extremely demanding and taxing, both physically and mentally, and involves more than just picking something up. A powerlifter must learn bracing, rooting, breathing, foot positioning, bar positioning, eye gaze, head positioning and activation (Rodio, 2016).

In contrast to bodybuilding, which is about obtaining a particular physique, powerlifting is about attaining as much raw strength as humanly possible.

“To be a powerlifter means being dedicated to a goal: Find out how strong you can get, and then get stronger than that,” says Sean Collins, C.S.C.S., a certified USA Powerlifting Club Coach.

Powerlifting generally involves three fundamental lifts (“the big three”); low bar back squat, bench press and deadlift.

Powerlifting has a long list of benefits. It is accessible to all ages, decreases one’s risk of osteoporosis(Rodio, 2016), gives one constant physical and mental challenges and goals, burns a lot of calories, enhances confidence, and, of course, increases one’s strength. Zach Tolchin, a personal trainer at Rock Creek Sports Club, quotes a famous strength training coach, Mark Rippetoe: “Strong people are harder to kill than weak people and are more useful in general.” On top of the above obvious benefits, powerlifting is actually a low risk sport. Powerlifting has lower injury-risk than soccer and basketball!

Powerlifting at the Rock Creek Sports Club

Rock Creek Sports Club has a great powerlifting community, with approximately 20 members and employees competing in the sport. One reason for the large powerlifting community is the club’s reputation for being open to a wide range of fitness methods. When requests came in for a lifting platform and bumper plates, the club invested in these basic powerlifting tools.

Another reason for the large involvement here, is the club’s sense of comradery.

“Most of the powerlifters we have at this gym have competed together and are always checking in with each other to see how training is going and eager to share programming advice” says Emily Karl, who works the front desk.

Women in powerlifting IMG_2460

Emily Karl is an example of how powerlifting is not a sport for just men. Powerlifting is a sport both men and women can do as long as they love lifting and do it properly and consistently.

“It burns a ton of calories, a lot of the time more so than cardio (one client of mine burned over 450 calories in one hour of a powerlifting style workout) and it will make you feel strong and confident.” says Zach.

There are currently six competitive powerlifting women at the Rock Creek Sports Club, a considerable number for a gym not “specializing” in the sport. One of our members, Bibi Campos Seijo, set a world record for her age and weight class, with her deadlift of 321 lbs, last year at the American Challenge. Emily competed in this challenge this year on May 20.

Emily was a competitive dancer for over 15 years but stopped while in college. After joining the RCSC, she was introduced to powerlifting and was drawn in to it by its competitive aspects. She had missed the competition from dancing and now enjoys experiencing competition once again, but in “a totally new arena.”

“One of the best aspects of powerlifting is that it requires dedication and constant training, like dance, but in competition there is very little subjective bias- either you get the lift or you don’t.” says Emily.

Emily advises women getting in to powerlifting to be fearless, to not worry about getting “too big” or being judged for lifting heavy.

“Look at any of the female elite lifters and you will see women of all different shapes and sizes- strength is strength, people respect that above all else. It is incredibly liberating to have your primary focus be in strength rather than what you look like.”

 The welcoming reputation the gym has is enough to convince women to train here; becoming part of a new group of friends who train, joke around and motivate one another. Emily also suggests online communities for extra encouragement, which are popular for female lifters.

 “Quite a few members at the gym have come up to me and told me they were inspired by me to try things they normally wouldn’t which is so flattering. Inspiring other people, especially women, to become more healthy is incredibly fulfilling.” says Emily.

So how should someone, woman or man, start powerlifting?

“People get into powerlifting in all different ways. I got into it just by lifting and getting stronger consistently, to the point where I realized my lifts were at a competitive level.” says Zach.

While recovering from shoulder surgery, Zach attended the 2013 Equinox Open to support Devin Knox, another trainer here at the Rock Creek Sports Club. Experiencing the event firsthand he realized he loved the environment and wanted to be a part of it. Zach did his first competition a few months later: the 2013 Maryland State Championships.

Powerlifting takes patience and discipline. Those starting out won’t walk in on day one and be able to lift a super heavy weight. Emily advises beginners to get a coach or mentor to check form and set guidelines for training to avoid injuries. Emily cites certified personal trainers as imperative to adjusting form and creating efficient movement patterns; the secret to hitting big numbers.

Some trainers for powerlifting here are Devin Knox, Zach Tolchin and Steve Basdavanos.

Zach advises novice powerlifters training for a competition to practice the calls that the judges will be using and to be prepared.

Powerlifting competitively requires focus. You can’t be a jack of all trades at the gym, attending spin, Zumba or doing other forms of exercises several times a week and only training for powerlifting once or twice. However, as Emily says, it is good to be healthy and balanced. Emily started training with Marian Lally to incorporate Pilates into her workout routine, to address muscle imbalances and certain weaknesses she had.

“My first session was probably one of the most challenging workouts I’ve ever had!”

Lastly, all powerlifters should listen to their bodies. As in any workout, it is important to not fight through real pain.

The first couple weeks, one will see the biggest change. Then the real patience kicks in.

“The road to 90% is relatively easy,” Sean Collins says. “The road from 90 to 100 is hard as hell.”

Rock Creek Sports Club powerlifting news and competitionsimage1

Employees and members at the gym are consistently training and competing. Events are held throughout the year depending on which federation in which you compete. Some of the popular federations are USAPL and 100% RAW. Most competitions have three lifts: squat, bench press and deadlift, however 100% RAW has a fourth: strict curl.

On May 13th, the USAPL Maryland State Championships were held in Dundalk, in which Zach and Steve competed. On May 20th, Devin Knox and Emily Karl competed in 100% RAW’s American Challenge in Prince Frederick, Maryland. It was Emily’s third “full power” meet but her first time performing in this particular federation, first time competing without supportive neoprene knee sleeves and the first time performing the strict curl! Both Devin and Emily placed 1st in the events they competed in and set Maryland records in the curl.

Best Lifts:

Devin- curl: 174.1, bench: 413, deadlift: 622

Emily- curl: 67.2, squat: 281, bench: 132, deadlift: 358

All results will be compiled at the end of June or July, from challenges across the country. Those with the best lifts over all will be selected to lift for Team USA in the world championships this fall!

One interested in powerlifting competitively should note there were drug tests at 100% RAW’s American Challenge. The majority of federations take steroid use very seriously.

So what now?

If you are interested in powerlifting talk to a trainer! And don’t be intimidated, powerlifting is for everyone. We’ll see you on the lifting platform!

National Foam Rolling Day

Written by Jamie Potter. Posted in Blog, Wellness Bites

May 11th is National Foam Rolling Day! Trigger Point submitted the application for a national holiday and it has been one since 2015. Though the foam roller was patented in 1920, foam rolling has recently gained momentum.foam rollers

What is foam rolling?

Self-myofascial release is a self-massage to release muscle tightness, or trigger points. Trigger points, also known as “knots,” exist in the muscles and occur when our bodies exceed their ability to recover from intense workouts, poor posture, stress, etc.

This type of massage helps muscles recover and return to normal functioning and allows normal blood flow to restore tissue. Through foam rolling, your muscles will be healthy, elastic and ready to perform when needed! On the contrary, not taking care of your muscles can lead to loss of flexibility, adhesions and painful movements. These deep compressions can be done with lacrosse balls, tennis balls or even your own hands, but one of the best methods is using the foam roller!

Foam Rolling is like getting a deep tissue massage, only, you have the control. Ultimately, the process will enhance performance by allowing pain-free movements and proper movement patterns. One cannot rely only on stretching.

“Imagine a bungee cord with a knot tied into it and then envision stretching the cord. This creates tension, stretching the
unknotted portion of the muscle and the attachment points. The knot, however, has remained unaltered,” (What is a Foam Roller, Breakingmuscle.com).

What does foam rolling feel like?

Generally, foam rolling is uncomfortable. It can be slightly painful but not unbearable. If it becomes unbearable, stop and consult a professional. The discomfort and pain is similar to that of stretching. For some, foam rolling is a good discomfort.  You should feel a difference immediately after and as time passes. The longer you have foam rolling incorporated into your workout routine the more you will notice the benefits of it.

There are a lot of types of foam rollers such as high density, Premium EVA, Closed Cell, Rumble Roller, The Grid 2.0, The Grid, and more, that we won’t go into detail here. Some are smooth and others, like the Rumble, are covered in bumps that provide an extra massage.  At Rock Creek Sports Club we have many different foam rollers, of varying sizes and firmness.20170509_112119(1)

“I never knew about foam rolling before coming to this gym. It helped tremendously early on. Foam rolling saved my life!” says Joff Pincher, one of our members, and a recent member of the quarter.

How to foam roll…

Apply moderate pressure, usually your body weight. Roll slowly, no more than an inch a second. When you find knots, pause and relax for 5-30 seconds. You can even rest on an area for as long as 90 seconds (How and When to Use Foam Rollers, McCall). Gradually, you will feel the discomfort, tightness and pain lessen. If an area is too painful, you can help ease into rolling it out by loosening areas around it first.

Do not roll on joints or bones! Also, be careful with your lower back.

What and where you chose to foam roll depends on your fitness needs.

You may target specific areas associated with your workouts. Or, you can focus on trigger points and knots found through self-exploration. Some great places to foam roll are your calves, quads and your buttocks. Isiejah rolling

You can foam roll your calves in two ways. You can have one leg on top of the foam roller and roll it from under the knee to the ankle. Or you can stack both legs and put the pressure on one, this will add more pressure overall.

For your IT Band, lie on your side with the roller at your hip and move it along your outer thigh.

Lastly, for your butt, sit on the roller with one foot on the opposite knee, lean into one buttock and roll back and forth. This is especially effective with a foam ball.

When to foam roll…

Foam rolling can be used after a workout to promote recovery and reduce soreness or before a workout as a warm up. As a warm up it helps reduce tension while also raising temperatures in the muscles without causing fatigue. However, when used as a warm up, foam rolling should be brief. Too much pressure can change a muscle’s ability to produce force (How and When to Use Foam Rollers, McCall). For others, foam rolling is a regular part of the daily routine. A foam roller is then used at home at the beginning or end of the day, or both.

Final notes; you may be sore the next day but not excessively. And as with any workout routine, it works best if you are supplementing it with lots of water, sleep and healthy eating!

 

 

 

Member of the Quarter- Natalie Webb

Written by Jamie Potter. Posted in Blog, Member of the Quarter

1nataliewebbNatalie Webb used to be the type to work out only through occasional outdoor activities like kayaking or swimming; the types of things you can do on vacation.  But in January 2015 she joined Rock Creek Sports Club with the goal of losing 100 pounds by December 2016. By the end of 2015, Natalie had lost 52 pounds! Or, as she says, “5 – 10 pound bags of potatoes, 2.5 automobile tires, or more than 6 gallons of water”. Because of her incredible attitude and strong work ethic, we’ve named Natalie member of the quarter for the second quarter of 2017!

When Natalie first joined the club, she had also signed up for the Ride to Conquer Cancer, a two-day, 150-mile cycling journey through the DC Capitol Region, to help motivate her and keep her on track to her goal. As a new member at RCSC, Natalie mentioned this to Hadji, our sales manager.

“He recommended Tina (Warnick) for the fitness consultation since she was a      cyclist and could help with my training” Natalie says. “He was right … She started where I was (over weight and out of shape) and helped me get ready for the ride through her informative yet fun training sessions. The variety of her workouts is exactly what I need.”

Natalie also added Pilates to her routine in order to add the 6th component to being a strong cyclist (that she learned from a cycling magazine); flexibility. Natalie was hooked quickly on Pilates Reformer sessions with Claudia Corwin.

“Though both deny it,” Natalie says. “I’m convinced that Tina and Claudia are coordinating my workouts.  The weekly training sessions with Tina (personal training) and Claudia (Pilates reformer sessions) complement each other.”

natalie Webb1

Like many, Natalie has had to overcome challenges, such as understanding that some weeks you won’t lose weight and finding the drive to come workout on cold, dark days. However, Natalie persevered and was able to participate in the Ride to Conquer Cancer, as well as snowshoe and cross country ski in Vail; hike Sargent Mountain in Maine and run in Mayor Bowser’s Fit DC Annual Fresh Start 5k.  Natalie believes she couldn’t have done all of this without the support she receives from the staff and members of RCSC, especially Tina and Claudia. Natalie cites the friendly neighborhood feel the club has.

“There’s an African proverb that says, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’” Natalie says.

Natalie now regularly works out five days a week, engaging in a mix of exercises, from spin,   Zumba, and independent cardio to Pilates and personal training sessions. Natalie says she feels better overall and that her “knees, back and hips are truly grateful for the weight loss.” She also says being active has helped her get better sleep and be more productive at work!

“Some of my best ideas and solutions to work issues have come to me when working out.”

Next time you see Natalie be sure to congratulate her on her hard work! If you would like to track her journey, she has been posting updates on Twitter and Facebook, so feel free to follow her to hear more!

Facebook: Natalie Webb

Twitter: @NatalieWebbMSRD