Tag Archives: Larry Gruber

Barefoot Running – Running Like Our Ancestors

By: Larry Gruber, CSCS, MES

As we all know from the heat and humidity, summer is upon New Orleans.  And, summertime means OUTDOOR RUNNING.  Since 2009, a new training dimension for runners has soared—the phenomenon of barefoot running.  Now let’s be clear—barefoot running in the city is dangerous due to potential debris on the ground.  So for the sake of this article, we are going to discuss minimalist running wear, which are those shoes that simulate barefoot running.   Does this type of running help improve foot strength and running mechanics, thereby making one a more competitive runner?    How does one go about implementing minimalist shoes into their training?  And, what are the drawbacks to running in these shoes?

According to the National Sporting Goods Association, 32.2 million people participated in running and jogging in 2013, with a great number of these people competing in races of all distances.  So, as participation increases, so does competitiveness.  A study by Divert and colleagues (2008) has shown that there are benefits to barefoot and minimalist running, such as an increase in running economy.  Wearing a minimalist shoe causes certain modifications of the body that allow the exerciser to do more work with less demand on the body, such as more efficient stride lengths and frequency.    And, it’s less fatiguing than running in traditional shoes because it leads to lower energy consumption, thereby delaying the onset of fatigue.  Another benefit is that is helps to improve proprioception (the body’s ability to sense stimuli).  When a runner isn’t encased in all that running shoe technology, the little sensors in his/her feet can actually feel the surface beneath and then allow the foot to react appropriately—thereby reducing injury and improving balance.  And, it helps strengthen all those muscles in the feet and ankles because they are recruited more for support.  Finally, most traditional running shoes have a heel lift.  By removing this, it helps the Achilles tendon and calves stretch and lengthen, thereby reducing injuries such as calf pulls caused by short, tight tissues.

Now that you have decided to make the switch, transition slowly to running in this footwear because so much more ankle and footwork is required, and those muscles and tendons are not accustomed to the stress.  Begin by doing various activities of daily life in these shoes, such as gardening or cleaning the house.  Then, begin to adopt a progressive overload approach.  For example, wear them for 10 minutes at the beginning of exercise and another 10 minutes at the end.  Slowly, add in another 10-minute bout.    For the first 2 weeks, keep the total training time to no more than 30 minutes per session.  Be mindful of how your feet and ankles feel after wearing the shoes, and slowly progress the amount of time exercising in them as long as you are pain-free.

Beware, however, that there are cons associated with this type of running.  As I stated earlier, minimalist shoes don’t offer a lot of sole-support, so one has to be very mindful of the surface upon which they run and be on the lookout for glass, rocks and other sharp objects.   And, because one’s calves and Achilles tendons are accustomed to a more supportive shoe, minimalist running may over-stress them in the beginning.  So, follow the progressive overload protocol I outlined above.  Finally, this type of running may be contraindicated for those with diabetes because peripheral neuropathy (a common complication of diabetes) can lead to a loss of protective sensations in the feet.

Armed with the pros and cons of minimalist shoes and how to incorporate them into your training, you can make an educated decision about joining this running trend.  I recommend you go to a running store, like Southern Runner, where a professional can assist you in making the right decision for your foot.  Now get out there on that levee and enjoy your run!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR – LARRY GRUBER – CSCS, MES, ACE-CPT

larrygruber-headshot2Physical fitness used to be just a pastime for me, until more and more friends began asking for my opinion concerning their fitness regimen.  In 1999, after a successful restaurant management career in some of Chicago’s finest restaurants, I became a certified personal trainer through the American Council on Exercise and the National Academy of Sports Medicine. I’m also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

As a personal trainer, I strongly feel that exercise should be an enjoyable and rewarding experience.  I structure the workouts so they are fun, combining traditional weight training with functional training, cardio-respiratory training and flexibility training, all aimed at helping you look, feel and move better.  In order for the sessions to be successful, the personal trainer/client relationship must be a very interactive one, requiring constant feedback from both parties.  I want and need your opinions and suggestions.

After training for 13 years in Chicago, I made the move south in search of warmer weather.  I’m so excited to be part of such a vibrant city, and I can’t wait to try its world famous restaurants.  Thanks so much for welcoming me to New Orleans!!

 

To Diet or Not To Diet? That Is The Question.

By: Larry Gruber, CSCS, MES

It’s now April.  A time when rain showers bring way to flowers.  A season that strikes fear in all Americans when we realize just how much we owe the government on April 15.  It’s the month of French Quarter Fest, Patriot’s Day, and the much-celebrated Boston Marathon.  And, it’s the month that we put our winter clothes in the back of the closet and bring those summer clothes front and center.  That simple act of pulling our bathing suits out of winter storage can be scarier than writing those checks to the state and federal governments.

This is the month when many of us begin scouring the web in search of that perfect diet to get us in shape for the summer.  However, does dieting really work?  I’ve had many clients who have told me about this year’s great, revolutionary diet or about a diet in Europe that is all the rage and how people are losing a lot of weight on these plans.  Let’s analyze for a moment why any diet actually causes people to lose weight.  Basically, a diet restricts caloric intake because diets, by their nature, limit the items we eat.  When there is a caloric deficit (less calories taken in versus calories expended in normal activity plus exercise), we lose weight.  Even the man who ate nothing but McDonald’s for two months lost weight because the foods he was permitted to eat was limited, so he ate less.  A plan like the Atkins Diet takes an entire macronutrient (carbohydrates) out of the picture.  So, your food choices become less and less.  When this happens, people will eat less and lose weight.

Now, let me ask you a question.  How many times have you been on a diet and then gained all the weight back?  The purpose of this question isn’t about bringing up past failures, but to show you that dieting itself doesn’t get us the end result for which we are searching.  When you lose weight on a diet, you lose both body fat and muscle.  Then, when you have achieved your goal, you go back on a regular eating plan and most of us end up gaining that weight back.  Realize, when this happens, we gain back fat, not muscle, which skews our body fat percentage even more so that we are, in reality, fatter than when we actually began the diet.  To prevent this from happening, we need to learn how to eat healthy on a day-to-day basis, and dieting doesn’t teach us this.  When we re-introduce the entire Whole Foods or Rouse’s grocery store back into our life, panic ensues because now our food options are unlimited again and most of us go back to our pre-diet habits.  Don’t diet.  Break those bad habits.

I know I’ve painted a fairly bleak picture.  However, allow me to clear away those cloudy skies for a sunnier view.  Think about what your ideal weight should be–the weight that, through proper diet and exercise, you can maintain without extreme measures for years to come.  Unfortunately, this means the size we were when we were 18 is probably not a realistic weight for us in middle-age (did I just call myself middle-aged?).  The next thing I always have my clients do is keep a food diary so that together, we can analyze what they are eating, how much they are eating, and when they are eating it.  Then, I like to introduce one or two changes at a time so that my clients may acclimate to those.  By slowly integrating change into their day-to-day diet, they gradually become healthier and slowly lose body fat.  A one to two pound weekly loss is what is recommended for healthy weight loss, and to keep that weight off.  Also, exercising, especially resistance training, will help maintain the integrity of your skin and muscle mass as you lose weight.

When analyzing a client’s food diary, I look for a myriad things.  To begin with, are you having a sensible breakfast to begin your day?  Are you eating periodically throughout the day–approximately every three to four hours?  Both of these will actually help to speed up your metabolism and help you burn more calories.  Are you limiting your intake of sodas, fried foods, cheeses, mayo, and fatty spreads and sauces?  Do you substitute cakes, cookies, and ice cream with yummy alternatives such as fresh fruit, yogurt, and crunchy vegetables?  Are you drinking plenty of water throughout the day?  And, are you giving yourself the pleasure of one “free day” per week?

Dieting (the verb), doesn’t work.  A healthy diet does.  I urge you to think of exercise and a proper diet as a welcomed life-style change.  Just as we have to brush our teeth every day to prevent cavities, we have to be consistent with working out and eating well in order to lose body fat and to keep it off.  So bring on those warm, sunny, humid southern days.  Unpack those bathing suits and book that Destin hotel room.  This Chicago boy is excited about summer.  And, if you need a little assistance in getting excited, just call me and let’s work together to get you looking great, feeling awesome, and moving like you’ve never moved before.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR – LARRY GRUBER – CSCS, MES, ACE-CPT

larrygruber-headshot2Physical fitness used to be just a pastime for me, until more and more friends began asking for my opinion concerning their fitness regimen.  In 1999, after a successful restaurant management career in some of Chicago’s finest restaurants, I became a certified personal trainer through the American Council on Exercise and the National Academy of Sports Medicine. I’m also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

As a personal trainer, I strongly feel that exercise should be an enjoyable and rewarding experience.  I structure the workouts so they are fun, combining traditional weight training with functional training, cardio-respiratory training and flexibility training, all aimed at helping you look, feel and move better.  In order for the sessions to be successful, the personal trainer/client relationship must be a very interactive one, requiring constant feedback from both parties.  I want and need your opinions and suggestions.

After training for 13 years in Chicago, I made the move south in search of warmer weather.  I’m so excited to be part of such a vibrant city, and I can’t wait to try its world famous restaurants.  Thanks so much for welcoming me to New Orleans!!

Effectively Creating Change

By: Larry Gruber, CSCS, MES

As we approach the second month of 2014, it’s a great time to reflect on those promises you made to yourself at the beginning of the year (I hate the word “resolutions”).  Are you on track with your goals or do you notice that the steps needed to be taken just aren’t getting done? Don’t worry!  Don’t beat yourself up!  Let’s figure out a way to make sure that you achieve the results from any goal you set, no matter if it’s a new year’s goal or one you made yesterday.

For the sake of this discussion, we’ll talk about exercise and diet goals–since that’s my specialty.  When you set goals, make sure they are S.M.A.R.T. The “S” stands for Specific, for example: “I want to lose 15 pounds and 2 inches from my hips,” or “I want to do Larry’s bootcamp class 3 times a week.”  The goals also need to be Measurable:  you can measure 15 pounds or going to a class 3 times a week.  Are the goals Attainable?  If you travel for business and are out of town part of the week, you won’t be able to make my class every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  With that scenario, a better goal would be to take my class when in town and visit a gym to take a class when away on business.  You also want your goals to be Realistic. Setting a goal to lose 20 pounds in one week is not only unrealistic, but it’s also unhealthy.  And finally, you want to be on a Timetable.   “I will lose 15 pounds in 7 weeks–by March 14, 2014.”

Now that you have set S.M.A.R.T. goals, how do people change habits and routines into healthier and more beneficial ones?  There are three basic principals in creating change:

  1. Thoughts – What are your thoughts about exercise?  Are your thoughts negative?  Do you spend your time dreading it?  Or while exercising, do you just think about getting through it? On the other hand, are your thoughts about physical fitness positive?  Do you think about the amazing outcomes and how you will feel if you start exercising regularly and improving your nutrition?  Do you think about how you will feel more energized and how well your clothes will fit or how your chances of being a candidate for cardiovascular disease will be greatly reduced? You see your thoughts shape your focus and shape your motivation.  Your thoughts direct your energy and maintain focus.  Staying positive and staying focused on how you’re going to feel is key to succeeding not only in fitness, but in everything we do.
  2. Intentions – Let me introduce Lisa, a busy lawyer for a local hospital who had her second child four months ago.  Lisa’s story brings me to the next part of making change and that’s your intentions.  What do you think Lisa’s intentions and motivations are where healthy living is concerned?  Her intentions are greater than losing weight–it’s about creating an easier life, having more energy and being there for her children.  Her intentions and motivations are what keep her going even when she’s tired or busy.  What are your motivations or intentions?  What are your drivers?  For example, for me, due to psoriatic arthritis, exercise and stretching are so vital because they actually make me feel better and reduce the amount of pain I usually experience.
  3. Actions - The final component of making lasting change is ACTION.  Let’s face it, we’ve all been there–we have great thoughts and intentions, but without action, nothing happens, nothing changes.  ACTION is at the core of making change, making it happen.  In Lisa’s case, she had the right mindset (thoughts), identified her motivations (intentions) and knew that she needed help.  Lisa reached out to Ascension Fitness to help her make the change because she knew she needed professional direction and most importantly, accountability. Decide who will help you stay accountable so that you can keep moving, keep acting and keep striving to achieve those goals.  Will that person be me, as your trainer, your partner or a friend?  Pick a person who is reliable and whom you can trust.

If you are well on your way to achieving your goals, then you probably didn’t even finish reading this article.  If you need a little help–you aren’t alone.  Set S.M.A.R.T. goals.  Analyze your thoughts regarding your goal.  Dig deep for your intentions and motivations.  And, find that person who can keep you accountable so that you can take action!!  Happy New You!!!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR – LARRY GRUBER – CSCS, MES, ACE-CPT

larrygruber-headshot2Physical fitness used to be just a pastime for me, until more and more friends began asking for my opinion concerning their fitness regimen.  In 1999, after a successful restaurant management career in some of Chicago’s finest restaurants, I became a certified personal trainer through the American Council on Exercise and the National Academy of Sports Medicine. I’m also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

As a personal trainer, I strongly feel that exercise should be an enjoyable and rewarding experience.  I structure the workouts so they are fun, combining traditional weight training with functional training, cardio-respiratory training and flexibility training, all aimed at helping you look, feel and move better.  In order for the sessions to be successful, the personal trainer/client relationship must be a very interactive one, requiring constant feedback from both parties.  I want and need your opinions and suggestions.

After training for 13 years in Chicago, I made the move south in search of warmer weather.  I’m so excited to be part of such a vibrant city, and I can’t wait to try its world famous restaurants.  Thanks so much for welcoming me to New Orleans!!

Arthritis? Really?

By: Larry Gruber, CSCS, MES

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Larry Gruber, and I’m a new trainer at Ascension Fitness. I’m 43 and have been a certified personal trainer for the past 13 years. I’ve run 3 marathons (Chicago Marathon—Personal Best: 3:31) and have worked out regularly for 18 years. The winter of 2010 changed my life forever.

That January, my body systemically and progressively began to revolt. I became tight and inflamed from head to toe and lost range of motion. My hands began to cramp while doing simple things like wringing out a sponge or trying to wash my back. They were so weak and sensitive that I couldn’t shake hands without wincing. I had trouble opening up jars of food, and I couldn’t even do a pull up or hand my clients their dumbbells or rack their weights. My feet ached. I had pain behind my left knee and it hurt to walk.

Each day exhausted me and mornings were especially painful. Getting out of bed was torture. I would sit on the edge of my bed, anticipating the pain that would inevitably ensue when my feet hit the floor–pain and stiffness as I hobbled to the bathroom every morning. Climbing into bed was a bigger adventure because my hip flexors were so tight that I could no longer lift my knee to the mattress. I was reduced to doing a face-plant onto the bed, reaching over to the other side, and then pulling myself up the rest of the way.

By April, I was exhausted from being in constant pain. After four months, six doctors and tons of money flying out of my wallet, I was finally diagnosed: psoriatic arthritis. The flood works began right there is the doctor’s office. What kind of disease is this? How am I going to be a personal trainer if I can’t even move? Arthritis? Really? Yes, really. Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic disease that causes the body’s immune system to attack healthy cells and tissues. This leads to joint inflammation and loss of range of motion, and permanent joint damage will result if left untreated.

There is no cure for psoriatic arthritis, but the condition can be controlled with medicine. The doctor outlined all of the medical options for me and explained that Enbrel would be my best bet. Enbrel, known as a disease modifying anti-rheumatic drug, suppresses the immune system. Within the first week, I noticed relief.

It’s been over three years since my first Enbrel injection. I began to feel much- needed relief within the first week after the initial injection and very slowly began exercising again. I now have returned to a regular workout schedule, but my attitude about working out and personal training is different. Do what you can. Push yourself hard. And listen; really listen, to your body. Know when enough is enough. The experience of being diagnosed and of living with a chronic disease has taught me to be the best I can be and to have realistic goals. No longer do I want to look like that cover model on the latest fitness magazine; now I want to live an active and pain-free life. We should exercise so that we can perform our activities of daily living with greater ease–looking good in the mirror is a by-product of that hard work, not the main reason for the hard work. This is one lesson I learned the winter of 2010, and a lesson I try to instill in my clients.

My dream of running an international marathon may be gone, but at least I can get in and out of bed without the face-plant. I can open up jars of peanut butter and can even whip out a dozen pull ups, though my grip isn’t what it used to be. I don’t think I’ll ever sprint on the treadmill again either, but I am enjoying my leisurely 4 mile runs. And, yes, really, this personal trainer was diagnosed arthritis when he was 41.

Preparing Your Body for Success

By Larry Gruber

What is the best way to prepare your body for a workout? In the past, the industry thought stretching was the thing to do prior to exercise. However, traditional static stretching (stretch-and-hold) relaxes the muscle and the flexibility realized from this is only short lived. Given this, allow me to introduce you to the world of Movement Preparation, created by exercise physiologist Mark Verstegen.

Movement Preparation is based on the principle of reciprocal inhibition. Simply stated, this means that while one muscle group is contracting (shortening), the opposing muscle group is relaxing (lengthening). For example, when you perform a bicep curl the front muscle of your arm contracts while the muscle in the back of your arm actually relaxes. Or, when you come up from a seated position, the front of your thigh contracts while the back of your thigh relaxes. Movement Preparation essentially utilizes exercises that mimic day-to-day movements and helps increase heart rate and increase blood flow to working muscles.

This is how we move in our day-to-day life. We’ve put together a short video to demonstrate how you can incorporate movement preparation into your fitness program:

http://http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=KpahGP2TXPQ

Any questions, just “fire” me an email at larry@ascensionfitnessnola.com and have a great workout!