Member of the Quarter- Scott Vicary

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

Scott, 55, has been a member of Rock Creek Sports Club since 2014.  If you were to ask him, he is a private business owner, an international man of leisure, and a not-so-undercover Russian spy. 

In 2017, Scott began to do training sessions twice a week with Avi in the wake of health issues that had caused him to gain 30 pounds.  The goal was not so much to lose the weight but to strengthen the entire muscular structure to carry the weight better and reduce joint strain.  By undertaking a total body workout, Avi pushed Scott to improve strength and stamina in ways that his normal workouts simply did not touch.

The results were very encouraging.  After six months, not only had Scott lost weight and gained tone, but he achieved levels of stamina and strength that he had not had in 15 years.  The improvements were so encouraging that Scott was able to book a ski trip to Colorado to ski areas with an expert guide that he had not previously been able to ski.  Said Scott: “I skied the back bowls above the tree line over and over again. This was terrain that I couldn’t even ski at 17.  True, I also learned how to ski 100 yards straight down a cliff on my face, but my neck and shoulder muscles were in tremendous shape to do that.”

Scott has now lost nearly 20 pounds and regularly plays tennis, gardens, and trains for the zombie apocalypse.  Avi added “you really need core strength to ski moguls or repel a zombie horde”.  Of all the academic and career successes that Scott has enjoyed, he considers becoming member of the quarter to be the greatest honor of his life.

Scott lives with his wife and two teenage children in Silver Spring, and the whole clan is part of an RCSC family membership.

Happy New Year! 8 Tips To Follow Your 2019 Resolutions

Written by Jamie Potter. Posted in Blog, Wellness Bites

Resolutions centered around health and fitness always make the it into the top five. But, while half of Americans make resolutions, only 8% follow through with them. If this is the year you plan to dedicate to improving your health, follow these tips to make it the most successful year yet.

1. Pick a realistic and measurable resolution

Statements such as “workout more” or “eat healthier” have no method of quantification, and therefore, no room to plan and evaluate. A targeted goal can be hard to come up with. Experts recommend using SMART goal setting. Is your resolution Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time Sensitive?

Now that you’ve thought of one, leave it at one. There is nothing wrong with wanting to improve more than one thing in your life, but when you focus on too much at a time, you can easily overwhelm yourself. It is better to succeed in one goal, fully, than to half reach several. It is the simple science behind the fact that multitasking doesn’t really work. In the article “The Science is Clear: Why Multitasking Doesn’t Work,” published on June 1st, 2017, by the Cleveland Clinic, contributors– Cynthia Kubu and Andre Machado– quote an old adage: “There is time enough for everything in the course of the day, if you do but one thing at once. But there is not enough in the year, if you will do two things at a time.”

2. Know your why and your how

Make a resolution that aligns with your overall goals and dreams. Don’t make the resolution to achieve that dream, because realistically that will require a lot of steps and may overwhelm you into ditching it all together. Having something that aligns with where you want to end up, gives you your “why.” Your why will be your true sense of motivation throughout your journey.

The best way to think about the “how” is to look at the how not. Reflect back on 2018 and think of what resolutions, plans and goals, you had for the year. Did you achieve them? If so, how, if not, why?

3. Don’t go for the all or nothing approach

The first slip up tends to end all when it comes to resolutions. In the Business Insider article from Jan. 3rd, 2017, writer  Kelsey Mulvey, states that “according to U.S. News, approximately 80% of resolutions fail by the second week of February.” And because of the mindset that Jan. 1st,  should be the time for change, once people stop, they don’t pick back up. Others think that if they don’t start right on time then “why not wait until 2020″! Today, Jan. 3rd, is not too late to begin your resolution!

Studies have actually found, planning to start a drastic change on Jan. 1st might actually lead to failure. You can’t make a permanent behavior change on a whim. Change requires a mental shift, through the five stages of change: pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance. So unless you’ve gone through the first three steps already, it is unlikely a change will stick. And it is ok to start the first stage right now, and start the “action” stage in a couple of months.

Have a plan but focus on each day at a time. Keep yourself motivated and positive. And most importantly, be patient. You may be progressing, but not seeing the results you expected. Progress is never linear and occurs for everyone at different rates. If you slip up, acknowledge your mistakes and get back on track!

4. Don’t pick a resolution you don’t even like

If you know you hate running, don’t make your resolution to run more. If you love sweets, don’t make a resolution to cut them out entirely. Making resolutions that you dread is just as bad as making extreme resolutions. Don’t pick a resolution just because your boss, friend, family, or significant other, wants you to.

5. Break it up and plan out

If you followed tip number one, you’ll easily be able to do this. For some, jumping into a change, or going cold turkey, works. For most, slowly merging into a new routine, adding one step, and one progression at a time, is best. It also depends on the resolution. Obviously, if you can’t do more than one push up and your goal is to be able to do 10, you aren’t going to be able to be able to crank out 10 tomorrow.

6. Get help

Knowing when to ask for help is a major secret to success. You can’t always do it alone! Even telling others can keep you accountable! However, there is a fine line. There is a difference between telling people your plan and your goal. You want to do the former, not the latter. New studies are finding that when people set a new goal, they shift their self identity. People start to see themselves as the person who has already hit the goal. When you tell people your goal, you get a kick simply from their reaction. Your friends, family, coworkers- they become impressed with your goal, even before you have achieved it. The feeling that comes from their reaction, makes you less motivated to actually work towards the goal.

If you are looking for support from others, consider joining a “mastermind group.” In the article “Top 10 Most Common New Year’s Resolutions (and How to Follow Them), published by Go Skills, Brad Zonick describes a mastermind group as  “a collection of highly motivated people who share a common goal and are looking to encourage and help each other improve.”

In addition, there are all kinds of apps and websites that can help with tracking, planning, and motivating. Try new apps such as todoist, omnifocus and things. Or, if you haven’t tried a session with a personal trainer, this may be the year to do it.

7. Document

First, simply write down your resolution. If you’ve made a plan, likely, you’ve written it down somewhere. But if not, do it now! It will make your resolution more concrete and keep you from forgetting about it. This will also help keep you motivated when you look back and see how far you have come.

From there, keep tracking. Write down milestones, PRs, struggles, temptations and new goals. A favorite among many is the classic before and after picture. Documenting will keep you reviewing your progress. Try to do this weekly to check in.

In addition, writing it down can actually help with the planning aspect, avoiding the most cliche excuse: “I don’t have time.” Write it down in your calendar, to intentionally make time.

See how you feel after finishing that written down item. In the article, “The Science of Accomplishing Your Goals,” published on Oct. 3rd, 2016, in Psychology Today, writer Ralph Ryback explains how “the satisfaction of ticking off a small task is linked with a flood of dopamine.” That flood will encourage you to continue that behavior in the future.

8.Celebrate all self improvement

At the end of the day, month or year, your reasonable goal may actually not be fully achievable to you. But that does not make you a failure. If you gave something your all, worked hard at it, and improved, celebrate it! You will hit some goals and not others, but if you allow yourself to get down, good luck in your attempt to even start next year!


It is not to late to make a change for 2019! Get to work on your resolution today!


Health and Wellness Coaching

Written by Jamie Potter. Posted in Blog, RCSC News

Personal trainers improve client’s physique and endurance while encouraging other healthy behaviors such as diet and nutrition. Nutritionists explain how to eat healthy. Doctors and psychiatrists prescribe medicine. Psychologists and therapists improve mental health. But sometimes there are gaps in between these segments of well-being, and having a different person for each life aspect can lead to contradicting advice. A health coach fills in these gaps, giving “the picture of a full healthy lifestyle.”


Health and wellness coaches help many types of people with different goals; from lifestyle changes to life transitions. Whether it is someone trying to lose weight or someone unhappy with their job but uncomfortable with completely starting over, health and wellness coaching “is an active, supportive, and trusting relationship between you and the coach that empowers you to define, reach and sustain your goals.”


Rock Creek Sports Club introduced Health and Wellness coaching to members in November with Coach Abbi Lichtenstein. Abbi, a DC native, and member of RCSC since 2008, has always enjoyed volunteering.


“I volunteered at my daughters’ schools, and at my synagogue. I enjoyed my volunteer work and derived much satisfaction from helping others and gained personal growth from positions of responsibility as an officer and board member within the organizations”


When she returned to work, she sought a career where she’d be able to help people in a similar, but also different, way.


In addition to Abbi’s desire to help others, personal experience allowed her to see the transformative power of health and wellness coaching. Suffering from migraines, Abbi was put on medicine that caused her debilitating fatigue, and didn’t lessen the migraines. She gained 15 lbs but was too tired to work out. Additional pain from sciatica made her realize something needed to change. She started to work with Jean Simons, who is also a wellness coach. Jean helped motivate her to make some important changes such as giving up sugar and refined carbs, and working out 5 days a week. These changes pushed her to also find a new neurologist and get off the medication that was wearing her down.


Wanting to help others, as Jean helped her, Abbi decided to pursue her Master of Arts in Health and Wellness Coaching with a concentration in Integrative Health Practices from Maryland University of Integrative Health. Abbi completed the program and earned her Masters in the summer of 2017. She passed the first ever National Board Certification exam, administered by the National Medical Exam Board, and became part of the first group of coaches to be nationally board certified in health and wellness coaching.


When Abbi works with clients she helps them reframe their situations to balance out stress and manage it with ease, use their strengths and creativeness to overcome obstacles, become aware of what’s important to them to live a life aligned with their values, and understand that if they slip, they have the tools and self-efficacy to move forward instead of remaining stuck.


“Once they gain insight and make the choices that serve them well, their self-efficacy increases. They then feel empowered to find the motivation to make the necessary lifestyle behavior changes and live closer to their life vision and to their full potential.” Abbi says.


Health and wellness coaching is a new and effective addition to a full picture of health. “A Mayo Clinic study of 100 participants who worked with a wellness coach found that a majority had lost weight, improved nutritional habits and increased their physical activity by the end of the 12-week program.”


Other studies show “health coaches can help people manage chronic conditions (like diabetes), lose weight and keep it off, increase movement and activity, and generally improve their physical and mental health. “

Health coaching can even help with sleep. Leslie Goldman from writes how her health coach helped her achieve the goal of getting to bed earlier–the only thing missing in her otherwise healthy lifestyle. Starting with just one day a week, she was able to meet this goal through their over the phone sessions. But Scott, her coach, didn’t tell her what to do. He asked her make a plan.


“Coaches give you a key role in determining your action plan, help you lay it out in a step-by-step format, and support you along the way,” explains clinical health psychologist Ruth Q. Wolever, PhD, director of health coaching for the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing in Nashville.

A coach’s goal is to get you to change your mindset and behavior to improve your life, but they don’t do so by asking you to open up about feelings or by prescribing medicine.


 Those used to a more traditional medical approach may be turned off by health coaching and believe it is just another fad to spend your money on.


But, if you’re worried about the expense, many insurance companies will cover health coaching. There is an incentive for coverage– big and healthy lifestyle changes increase overall productivity, so “large employers, insurers, heal-care systems and other organizations are increasingly turning to “wellness coaches” to motivate people to adopt healthier Lifestyles”


Goal setting to keep individuals on course and meditation, are two of many techniques used. One reason it works is the social support of checking in with someone about their progress. When you tell someone else you’re going to do something, you’re more likely to do it.

For Abbi, it is important to show her clients that she cares deeply about their issues, supports them and emphasizes with them.


“First, it’s important to establish trust and a deep connection with the client. I do this by listening to them talk through their issues in a safe, accepting and non-judgmental environment.”


Abbi loves the connection with the client as well as seeing the shift in energy levels from the first session to the last session.


“My clients are full of wisdom and I learn from them as well. All of this is so satisfying and rewarding.”


Abbi’s health and wellness coaching story is multifaceted because she has been a client and a coach. She has made a huge transition in the last 4-5 years through being coached and now, coaching.


“I have more energy, found joy in my life, and practicing health and wellness coaching has given me a life full of meaning and purpose.”


For more information on Health and Wellness Coaching at RCSC click here or contact Abbi at 301-642-4313 or


Member of the Quarter- Valaida Wise

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

Valaida Wise, 61, saw a picture from her son’s wedding and didn’t recognize herself. Shocked and saddened from the picture, and worried that her doctor felt her health was in danger, Valaida had the push she needed to begin her weight loss journey.

Prior to joining RCSC, Valaida had tried other gyms but never followed through. Life seemed to always get in the way. Her experience at Rock Creek started with a free introduction to the gym by personal trainer Kolon Diallo.

“I loved it (although I was convinced I was dying after the first workout),” says Valaida.

With her history of starting and stopping exercise routines, Valaida felt she needed an external push to keep motivated. She joined RCSC and started training with Kolon once a week. When Kolon took a leave of absence to attend graduate school, Valaida was introduced to Caity. The two now train three times a week and Valaida comes in at least two other times on her own.

“Caity’s knowledge of nutrition and weight loss management coupled with her sunny (but tough) disposition was just what I needed.”

Valaida started dropping weight and feeling better. She and Caity mapped out how to reach her ultimate goal of 155lbs, which would require her to lose more than 70 lbs. They talked about the mindset she needed to have and ultimately how she wanted to feel.

“I’ve found that every time I meet my goal I want to push it farther,” says Valaida.

One goal was to deadlift 120lbs. She exceeded that goal by 30lbs and immediately set a new goal for 200! Valaida also plans to compete in her first powerlifting meet. She says her favorite part of her transformation is the reaction from others. Some don’t recognize her! Her absolute favorite thing to do is show people the video of her 150lb deadlift!

“I love the fact that Caity gets excited when I want to do more. It makes me want to “go for it”!”

Caity says what helps Valaida reach her goals is her ability to turn a big task into small manageable steps.

“She realized the importance of small day-to-day decisions and was able to get exactly where she wanted to be. And if you ask her, she’ll say, ‘I’m not done,’” says Caity.

Valaida notes several rough patches along the way, such as going backwards on weight loss and injuring her shoulder. This is where Caity’s support really shows itself, including the pictures Caity would send to Valaida, with words of encouragement, to show her how far she’s come.

“Having someone to help you refocus, to remind you of your long-range plan and to remind you of how far you’ve come is vital,” says Valaida.  “I remember, when I was at my heaviest, going up one flight of stairs was torture. Now, I run up and down “flights” of stairs and I’m not winded. I have to say thank you to Caity and Kolon for helping me get this far and to RCSC for providing such a wonderful place to get healthy and have fun,” says Valaida.

She states she loves everything about RCSC, from Hadji greeting members by name, to the friendliest front desk staff, to feeling like being part of a large family. But, the top of her list has to be the trainers, who she believes makes RCSC what it is.

“Kolon was wonderful with his gentle but positive push and Caity Adams is sunshine on steroids while still being a serious fitness expert.”

Member Spotlight: Mariela Olivares- Bikini Bodybuilder

Written by Jamie Potter. Posted in Blog, Member Highlights

Mariela Olivares has been a RCSC member since 2005 and decided to compete in bikini bodybuilding in 2016, at 40 years old. A full-time law professor and single mother to two daughters (who spent lots of time at the RCSC daycare), Mariela loves training as a stress relief and for the mental and physical challenges it provides.

Nationally qualified in each of her competitive seasons, she placed in the 2016 and 2017 competitions and started her 2018 season with two wins at the NPC Maryland State Championship and East Coast Classic. She followed up with a strong finish at the national level competition, Masters Nationals in Pittsburgh! She plans to move onward and upward in the rankings! 

Mariela trains seven days a week, with five-six days of weightlifting. She is part of a bodybuilding team and coached by professional bodybuilder, Jami DeBernard, but trains on her own at RCSC.

“[I am] very grateful to the wonderful RCSC staff and community for the support, excellent upkeep of the facilities and fantastic equipment,” Mariela says.  

We see many big wins in future competitions! Congrats Mariela!

Member of the Quarter- Elisabeth Boas

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

Elisabeth, 68, has been a member since August, 2016. She currently trains with Caity and does Pilates with Madie. Interesting, kind, funny and well read, wearing spectacular vivid-colored hand-knit socks, and possessing all things red– car, clothing, shoes, purse, wallet–Madie notes, ‘to know Elisabeth is to imagine her curled up on a plush sofa reading a great book, taking a week-long University summer course, or touring art galleries.” But working out, was never really for her. She simply was not accustomed to exercising.

Before joining RCSC, she depended on activities of everyday life for her physical ‘workouts’.

“I tried persuading myself that hauling groceries, traveling up/down the stairs, walking to and from the car would suffice as exercise,” says Elisabeth.

“Her good eating habits, small frame, and light weight reinforced her belief she did not need to exercise her body as long as she exercised her mind,” Madie says.

Her journey with Caity and Madie started immediately after joining the club. Elisabeth responded to an ad that offered a facility tour and multi-day pass to RCSC. When she called, it was Caity who answered the phone. On that same day, she signed up for a series of private Pilates sessions with Madie and scheduled her complimentary personal training session with Caity.

Her current workout routine involves Pilates and “whatever Caity suggests.” Elisabeth’s goals consist of progressing toward physical mastery and converting into someone who loves to go to the gym. Caity says her balance, flexibility, and endurance have improved a great bit.

“One of my favorite things about working with Elisabeth is when her eyes light up when she sees someone do an exercise that she thinks is impossible and then she does it” Caity said.

Madie has also seen her transform.  

“This is the best gift any student can give to a teacher,” Madie says of Elisabeth’s hard work and progress.

“I am the least likely person to be going to a gym, let along gushing about one,” Elisabeth says. “If RCSS can move me along in fitness, it can very likely be right for you…”

RCSC’s New Year’s Resolutions

Written by Jamie Potter. Posted in Blog

It’s a new year, a new you! As Brad Paisley says “tomorrow, is the first blank page of a 365 page book,write a good one.” Here are some of the resolutions from members and employees of RCSC!


“Relax more- sitting still more. And of course, climb the rope at the gym.”
– Alyss B, member


“To be more focused on work, health and responsibility.”
– Charles F, front desk


“To be more present.”
– Micheline K, member


“Make it through 2018—“LOL”
– Jeff W, member


“My goal is to squat my body weight.”
—Christy S, member


“Spend less money on material things.”
–Sharina P, member


“Get more sleep.”
– Jimmie P, member


“Keep exercising.”
– Rebecca, member


“Be better than yesterday: Financially, mentally, physically.”
– Raymond, member


“To not make a resolution, to take action instead.”
– Avi W, trainer.


Good luck to everyone and their resolutions! The RCSC community is here to help you stick to them. Happy New Year! Make 2018 count!


Are Fitness Trackers Actually Making Us Healthier?

Written by Jamie Potter. Posted in Blog, Wellness Bites

Fit bitWalk around and count how many Fitbits or Smartwatches you see. Some use them specifically for exercise, others use them consistently throughout the day. Fitness tracking has exploded in recent years with the theory that these trackers encourage healthier behaviors. In 2015, “1 in 5 American’s owned some type of wearable technology.” Tim Bajaran, Here’s Why Fitness Trackers Are Here to Stay

The rise in wearables can be attributed to many factors; from their perceived encouragement of healthy behaviors, their ability to track your progress and give a real time idea of how you are doing, to their broader impact in Healthcare.

“CDW Healthcare says wearable technology could drop hospital costs by as much as 16% over the course of five years, while remote patient monitoring technologies could save the healthcare system $200 billion over the next 25 years.” Barjaran, Here’s Why Fitness Trackers Are Here to Stay

Others, are excited simply by the idea of being able to measure what only doctors used to be able to measure. The individual now has daily knowledge about the “workings of [their] own bodies” (David Pogue, Fitness Trackers Are Everywhere, but Do They Work?), knowledge they used to only gather once a year through physicals.

However, studies have found these devices aren’t very accurate.

In a study that compared hundreds of tracking devices, and then tested and compared the top 10 in the market, it was found that “even the top picks were consistently off by at least a couple steps every trial.” The Best Fitness Tracker

In addition, every single device was off by an average of 10 beats per minute, in every single test for heart rate. A couple of steps may not be a huge deal, but there is a big difference between a resting heart rate of 60 bpm and 70 bpm.

If you’re purchasing this device to know exact measurements of your body, you’re out of luck, but if you have a fitness tracker for the reason the majority of the population does, all that you really need out of it is consistency.

“The excitement is how companies like Fitbit “bring the importance of physical activity to the forefront…and makes monitoring one’s health part of a lifestyle.” Barjaran, Here’s Why Fitness Trackers Are Here to Stay

Unfortunately, again, this may not be so. There isn’t much data to support that those that own or use fitness trackers are healthier.

A study at the University of Pittsburgh, involving 470 participants, ages 18-35, found that those using a fitness tracker lost significantly less weight. Those in the control group lost an average of 13 pounds, while those in the experimental group lost an average of 7.7 pounds.

Yet, another study involving 51 overweight postmenopausal women, getting an average of 33 minutes of activity a week, did see some increased physical activity when they wore a Fitbit. The 51 were divided into two groups. One group received standard pedometers and the other a Fitbit, an instructional session, and a follow up call after four weeks. The pedometer group did not have a significant increase while the experimental group increased activity by 38 minutes a week. The goal had been at least a total of 150 minutes a week, so neither group hit the goal.

The differences in studies shows the effects of fitness trackers to be inconclusive in motivating people to be active or to lose weight. The difference in outcomes could be due to participants, sample size or duration of the study.

There are other downsides to fitness trackers to be considered. For instance, these devices are tracking everything from activity to sleep cycles. This amounts to millions of bits of data and makes one question who owns the information and has access to it. Some in the medical community feel it is a waste of data to not be actively using it for research. There is also a feeling from some that these devices complicate life, adding stress and pressure to reach goals. Of 200 female Fitbit users, 89% did believe it made them healthier by walking more, eating more and by giving them a “pat on the back”. But, at the same time, 45% of those users said it made them feel naked, 30% said it made them feel guilty when they wouldn’t hit their goals and 79% said they felt under pressure to reach goals.

All in all, if you’re considering a purchase, understand the true use of the product and what you’ll get from it. And that may not be exact numbers, or lost weight.

“The major disadvantage of the devices, says Cadmus-Bertram, is that “sometimes people expect too much from them. The tracker is there to keep you honest and help motivate you. It cannot exercise for you, nor can it motivate an otherwise unmotivated person,”” Amy Fleming, Fitness Trackers: Healthy Little Helpers or No-good Gadgets?

For some, having these devices makes them feel like they are more motivated and that’s all that matters. And maybe it has gotten you personally to keep active. RCSC member, Katrina Kimpel, has had her Fitbit for 3 years and says it keeps her motivated and moving, especially at the office. She also likes the challenge to get steps in.

“It keeps me from getting out of control during the holidays as I stay more focused on my diet and keep moving,” Katrina says.

If you strongly believe you’re that kind of person, don’t let this blog sway you, but, make sure you get the best in the market!

In a study that looked at three different types of trackers–basic fitness trackers, heart rate monitoring devices and heart rate monitoring trackers with GPS—10 of the top referenced trackers were tested. The results showed the Garmin Vivi Fit 3 as the best contender, and the Fitbit Charge as a close second. All 10 trackers tested had wireless syncing, activity notifications, water resistancy, minimum one year warranties, and unisex designs. However, if you’re looking for consistency, the Tom Tom Spark 3 is for you.

Maybe you love the tracker you already have and won’t give it up for the world. Maybe you enjoy watching your steps and celebrating when you hit 10,000. Maybe you haven’t used yours and realize you don’t need it to be motivated.  Maybe you just received one as a holiday gift! Just don’t expect too much from them and Fitbits and Smartwatches can still be a lot of fun.

11 Tips for a Healthier Thanksgiving

Written by Jamie Potter. Posted in Blog, Wellness Bites

thaknsThe holiday season can do a damper on an otherwise healthy lifestyle. To avoid setting yourself back, giving up on that diet, or getting back into bad habits, follow this guide for a healthier Thanksgiving.

1. Pick healthier items to fill your plate with

When choosing what dish to cook, or to scoop on your plate, be aware of the health differences. Chose white meat over dark meat, green bean casserole over sweet potato casserole, pumpkin pie over apple pie, a dinner roll over stuffing and gravy over cranberry sauce. For many of these, it’s as simple as caloric differences but other aspects play a role. Consider pumpkin pie and apple pie. Usually the former goes with whipped cream and the latter with ice cream. Which of those two do you think has more calories? Gravy may come as a shock but the same serving of gravy is around 30 calories while cranberry sauce is around 110. Why? Sugar.

2. Eat smaller portions

The first step in portion control is being aware of the correct portion size. A portion of carbohydrates is the size of your fist, a portion of protein is the size of your palm and a portion of vegetables is the size of your open hand. Try using familiar household items as reference points. Three ounces of meat equals a deck of cards, one ounce is the size of a matchbook and one cup of potatoes is the size of a tennis ball. One way to help is to get a smaller plate!

Other techniques to avoid overeating include: staying warm, since dining in colder environments makes us eat more; sitting next to someone healthier, since we are social creatures and tend to mirror our peers; or chewing on gum, studies suggest the act of chewing on gum tricks your brain into thinking its eating more. Some studies even suggest chewing burns a couple of calories.

Keep your dinner plate before serving yourself dessert. By using it as a reminder for what you’ve already eaten, you’re less likely to serve yourself a huge slice of that holiday pie.

Lastly, try picturing the food you’re about to eat before eating it. Science has found simply visualizing the food makes us less interested, think “bored” by it. The same can work with visualizing exercising. It has been found that those that pictured the workout or the activity they plan to do after eating, ate less.

3.Picking the right lighting and colors

When it comes to plates, a theory called Delboeuf Illusion, shows that when there is a high contrast in the food on the plate with the plate color, people eat less. People eat less, also, on blue plates or when food is dyed blue. While I don’t suggest, for festive reasons (blue is not a thanksgiving color!) dying your food blue, the plate thing could work if you are creative. Blue is a rare occurrence in nature and therefore an appetite suppressant. Blue, purple and black were warning signs for hunter gatherers who were looking to avoid poisonous foods.

Lighting also makes a difference. Dim lighting makes you eat less but bright lighting makes you choose healthier meals! What it comes down to is alertness. The reason bright lighting leads to healthy choices is because of diner’s alertness. In studies, when given a caffeine placebo, people were just as likely as those in brightly lit rooms to make healthful choices. So there are two options: leave the room bright when people serve themselves then dim the lighting to eat, or drink a cup of coffee or go on a brisk walk before sitting down for that dim lit thanksgiving meal.

 4. Drink less alcohol

People tend to willingly forget the added calories that come in alcoholic beverages. This gets even harder when the holiday season rolls around and there are so many fun holiday drinks to pair with your feasts! But not only does alcohol add to your daily calorie count, it also increases your appetite.

Instead, drink lots of water. Not only does this hydrate you but by having something to sip since sometimes having an alcoholic drink is just about the social act of taking sips. Use low calorie mixers or choose a glass of wine over a holiday cocktail. Drink slowly, just as you should eat slowly, to consume less and try to keep the focus on friends and family; that’s what thanksgiving is about anyways!

thansk25. Spread the meal out

Many of us get so excited for the Thanksgiving feast that we fast in the morning to leave room for all the food in the mid to late afternoon. However, this leads to binging! While every person is different, some can fast and be fine, and others need small meals every couple of hours, everyone should at least have a small meal before the big one to avoid over eating. Eat a light breakfast or a tiny and healthy snack beforehand to keep the cravings down.

6. Fit that morning workout in

Get a quick workout early in the day. One of the great events of Thanksgiving is the Turkey Trot! There are turkey trots across the country and several in the area! If you don’t have time for a big event like this try a home workout.

7. Burn calories through chores

Still don’t feel like you have enough time do a home workout? Go a little harder on the cleaning! Housework can burn a bunch of calories. Mopping floors burns about 112 every 30 minutes, vacuuming around 119, sweeping around 136, cleaning windows around 167 and moving furniture (rearranging for all of the guests) can burn 100 calories in 15 minutes!

Along with cleaning, you can burn some calories by cooking too! Burn around 122 calories seasoning, prepping, stirring and whisking while cooking the turkey. Burn 54 calories peeling, cutting and mashing potatoes, another 54 trimming, cooking and tossing green beans for green bean casserole, and another 54 for prepping and stirring cranberry sauce. Burn 135 calories measuring, prepping and mixing pumpkin pie, and last but not least, in 75 minutes of total time, preparing traditional sausage stuffing, you can burn 203 calories chopping, sautéing, and mixing.

8. Drink lots of water

Going off on water helping you avoid alcohol, it also helps you eat less! Not only does water fill you up but it also helps you pinpoint your true hunger levels. Many times we think we’re hungry when really we’re just dehydrated. The feelings of hunger– empty stomach and gurgling stomach, low energy levels, light-headedness– are also associated with thirst. Also, by choosing to drink water, you are choosing to not drink something else. In a 2015 BMC Public Health study, it was found that every 3.4 ounces of water consumed, people drank .7 less in caloric beverages.

9. Get the right amount of sleep

Sleep has an enormous impact on dietary choices. Not only does it impair decision making and rev up the brain’s reward centers but insufficient sleep impacts the hunger and fullness hormones ghrelin and leptin. Cortisol levels spike, asking your body to conserve energy to fuel your waking hours, and your body’s ability to process insulin goes awry, which leads to trouble processing fats from the bloodstream and instead, storing them as fat.

10. Get active after

While you may have worked out earlier in the day, few people will ever leave a Thanksgiving meal with the sudden urge to hit the gym, so it’s good to find another way to be active. Watching football after the feast is an American tradition but just sitting after eating so much is probably the worst thing you can do. Instead, go for a light stroll or initiate a family dance party!

ssfksfja11. Make healthier dishes

While most people look forward to traditional Thanksgiving food all year, sometimes it’s nice to switch it up. Make your own cranberry sauce instead of buying store bought that’s filled with sugar. You can have fun with it, with this orange cranberry or this cranberry apple recipe. Try cauliflower stuffing instead of the traditional sausage stuffing. Pick a unique but festive side dish that’s not usual on the menu like balsamic cranberry brussel sprouts, or roasted brussel sprouts, cinnamon butternut squash, or a fall harvest salad with pumpkin harvest dressing. Or just pick a lower calorie version of the traditional dishes such as this green bean casserole or this sweet potato casserole. Sometimes just switching a topping such as marshmallows for pecans can make a huge difference.


Enjoy these tips but do not stress! Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

*photo credit:,

Member of the Quarter- Phil Tofilon

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

Phil and Steve 2Phil Tofilon, a 62 year-old cancer research scientist at NIH, attends RCSC with his wife, Corie. Active in his youth, and an avid runner until 2013, Phil joined RCSC when lower back pain caused him to look for low-impact aerobic exercise and core strengthening.

Despite the changes in his exercise regime and ongoing physical therapy, his back problems continued. To alleviate pain and correct lack of mobility, he had surgery in January 2015 to fuse part of his lumber spine. Unfortunately, there were complications. Phil had to undergo three additional surgeries, spending four months in the hospital and two months in outpatient rehab to regain strength in his hands and to relearn how to walk.

Phil had been training with Steve Basdavanos in 2014. After his surgeries and rehab he returned to RCSC on walking sticks and started riding the recumbent bike. He then added intermittent training with Steve, which turned into weekly half hour sessions. A couple of months later they moved to 1-hour sessions, which they continue today. Phil’s goal was to walk well enough to hike the trails in Rock Creek Park with his wife and dogs. Through training with Steve, perseverance, discipline and motivation, Phil met his goal by Christmas of 2015. He has only continued to improve since that time!

Phil and Steve 3 Phil also works hard to slow any age-related decline in fitness. He now works out five days a week: three days focus on aerobics, flexibility and balance and two days on strength. One of the strength days is his training session with Steve, which also incorporates a focus on core work. Phil notes that today there is a great deal more information available on effective training methods as opposed to when he was younger, or even when his kids were growing up in the 90s. He appreciates that Steve has this knowledge and incorporates it their training sessions, creating challenging yet safe workouts.

“There are a number of ‘small’ muscles that are difficult to isolate, yet critical to balance,” says Phil. “Steve showed me the appropriate exercises to target these muscles, which I do on a regular basis. There is a fine line between working hard and risk for injury. It is important to have a qualified trainer that will push you up to the line”

Phil’s hard work is inspiring to anyone who has been set back due to surgery. If you see Phil, congratulate him for his perseverance and for being RCSC’s Member of the Quarter!

Welcoming Samantha Smith to the Personal Training Team!

Written by Jamie Potter. Posted in Blog, Meet The Crew, RCSC News

SamanthaWelcoming Samantha Smith to the personal training team! While Samantha has been teaching group fitness classes at the club for several months, she is now expanding her presence as group fitness director and personal trainer. A Grand Rapids, Michigan native, Samantha grew up in an active household. Throughout grade school she played all kinds of sports and fell in love with the way exercise challenged and changed her.

In her second year of college she had a professor who specialized in Athletic Training. It was she who inspired Samantha to become a trainer herself.

“I thought she was the coolest person ever,” says Samantha. “I told her I wanted to be just like her when I grew up.”

This professor showed Samantha where to start and how to get certified. Now, Samantha has been a personal trainer for five years. Her career started in 2012, at Fitness Together, where she did private personal training sessions for almost three years. Samantha and her husband then moved to Georgia where a larger facility introduced her to group fitness. Quickly, this became a passion of hers. Last December, Samantha moved to Maryland and a few weeks later discovered Rock Creek Sports Club.

The location was what was initially appealing about the club but as Samantha became more familiar with RCSC she was impressed with the community of members and staff and was eager to get more involved.

“I love the community and the positive atmosphere. I’m always in a great mood when I come in to the club, and the members have been so welcoming to me.”

Still fairly new to the team, Samantha says she is looking forward to meeting more people and becoming more connected with the members and staff at RCSC.

With five years of experience, Samantha has worked with clients of all ages, body types and fitness levels. She loves the connection of personal training.

“Not only do I get to help people become healthier versions of themselves, I also get to spend time one-on-one with my clients and really connect with them on a personal level,” Samantha says.

Samantha recalls one client in Michigan who lost over 50 pounds and was taken off his blood pressure medication completely. He no longer needed to use his CPAP machine because he reversed his sleep apnea.

“It was really incredible to watch his transformation, and watch him become more independent and confident.”

Samantha’s number one goal is to make sure clients are exercising safely and effectively. She is a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor and nutrition specialist through ACE and is Balanced Athlete certified. Samantha specializes in functional training and balanced training. Her fitness philosophy is to exercise to feel better, not to look better. For Samantha, improved appearance is an added bonus! She also stresses the importance of never using exercise as a punishment for poor eating choices.

Fitness and training is a passion and something she insists is absolutely necessary for total wellness. As for her own workout routine, you can find her doing anything that will make her sweat! Or, you’ll find her stretching.

“I LOVE stretching,” Samantha says.

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,

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

RCSC Member Climbs Mount Washington

Written by RCSC Writer. Posted in Blog, Member Highlights

Sarah on Mount WashingtonRock Creek Sports Club is so proud of member Sarah Pekkanen for climbing Mount Washington, New Hampshire last week


Known for having the most extreme weather in the world, this climb was a testament to Sarah’s true grit! And how hard she worked to prepare physically for this challenge – thank goodness she had RCSC to help. Hey girl – you’re awesome!

RCSC employees Dominated at The Test of Einherjar

Written by RCSC Writer. Posted in Blog, RCSC News

Rock Creek Sports Club employees dominated at The Test of Einherjar at Viking Performance Training competition this past weekend in West Virginia!

Personal Trainer, Devin Knox, won Best Overall Lifter and Best Powerlifter. Receptionist, Emily, placed 2nd in her weight class and earned 3rd best overall powerlifter. Maintenance staff, Gino, won 1st in his weight class. Check out the photos for lift numbers.

Devin Clean and Jerk

Devin’s Clean and Jerk. His meet numbers:
Clean and Jerk 264lbs
Snatch 214lbs
Squat 520lbs
Bench 400lbs
Deadlift 605lbs

Devin Squatting

Devin’s Squat
He won Best Overall Lifter
Best Powerlifter
3rd Best Weightlifter
1st in his weight class.

Emily's Clean and Jerk

Emily’s Clean and Jerk. Emily’s numbers:
Clean and Jerk 125lbs
Snatch 88lbs
Squat 300lbs
Bench 135lbs
Deadlift 335lbs

Emily SquattingEmily’s Squat.
Emily won 3rd best overall powerlifter
2nd in her weight class
Congratulations Emily!

Gino's Snatch

Gino’s Snatch. Gino’s numbers:
Snatch 115lb
Clean and Jerk 115lbs
Squat 350lbs
Bench 230lbs
Deadlift 420lbs

Congratulations to Devin, Emily and Gino for all they accomplished!

Meet the New RCSC Personal Trainer Angelica Davila!

Written by RCSC Writer. Posted in Blog, RCSC News

Photo of Angelica DavilaWe are excited to announce the addition of Angelica Davila to the RCSC personal training staff! NASM-certified, Angelica will complete her B.S. degree in Exercise Science this May.

She also holds a Youth Sports Coaching certificate and has trained youth sports teams for the past two years, as well as clients of all ages. Angelica will headline the February 25-minute free clinic – be sure to sign up at the front desk!

For more about our personal training options check out our Personal Training page here.

What is Clean Eating Anyway?

Written by RCSC Writer. Posted in Blog, Wellness Bites

VeggiesYou have probably heard the term “clean eating” before – but what does that really mean? Well – there’s actually more than one definition , and Registered Dietitian Jae Berman recently helped Washington Post readers break down what it could mean for them.

Berman explains that there is isn’t “one perfect plan” for everyone, and that it’s all about finding out what works best for you as an individual. So the first step is breaking down what your goals and values are based on your own activity level.

“Some physiologically need more fat, some need more carbs, and all need different mixes of vitamins and minerals,” Berman writes.” Behaviorally, there isn’t one plan that fits everyone’s lifestyle, either. Some of us cook daily, while some of us can’t make toast.”

Berman lists the following steps toward Clean Eating:

  • Take time to look at the ingredients of all packaged foods, and look at your plate and note what you’re about to eat.
  • If you can, find out where your food comes from, how it was raised or grown, and how far it traveled to make it to your plate.
  • Determine key ingredients that you are motivated to avoid. What foods don’t feel good to you? Are you avoiding them?
  • Decide what is truly realistic for you. Be honest with yourself about your lifestyle, and decide what is reasonable.

Check out more of her advice and the whole article here: Clean eating’ is a fuzzy term — and that’s why it works in the Washington Post.