And another strong woman from our Brute Yogi Tribe!

And another strong woman from our Brute Yogi Tribe!

Katelyn Bottoms is a fierce one and I am so glad she trusted me to work with her!  She contacted me just before I was tapping out on maternity leave.  I was hesitant at first since I couldn’t really be there for her as much as she needed me to be, but after chatting for a bit, I

Mother & Daughter

Mother & Daughter

could see the commitment in her eyes and her drive to get strong and really become the fierce momma that she could be so I was pumped to help her along!  A full time student, military wife, and full time mom, Katelyn is tenacious but…she hates cardio and especially hates burpees. Her visceral response to any workout I gave her or did with her that had burpees was clearly felt, seen, and heard.  (Too bad I don’t scare that easily!  haha!)  Seriously though, she is a natural strength athlete who can lift some heavy shit and once I taught her to move well, move well she did!

imagesShe had me get her accustomed to strongman implements while working on her base of strength and her…cardio, yes cardio.  She made time in her life to get her ass to the gym for the only two precious hours she had each day while her daughter was in pre-school.  She never gave up or let the demands of school and home life get in the way of her goals.  I could take a page from her book!

Like I’ve said in previous posts, I get attached to some of my clients and Katelyn is definitely one of them!  When baby life got in the way of my working with her, she didn’t miss a beat and is now playing rugby!  I look forward to the day that I can text her and let her know that I will be at the gym and we can do some tire flips (her favorite) and some burpees (my favorite) together again!

How did you meet Lisa, and how did you decide she was worth working with?

I first met Lisa in November 2015, I was looking for a personal trainer and had found her on the Brute Strength Gym website. I filled out her questionnaire, emailed it in, and she got back to me pretty quickly. We met up officially a few days later and started working together right after that. I knew immediately that I was going to enjoy working with Lisa. She was warm, personable, and so kind. Being as nervous as I was, she helped me to feel comfortable and calm.

What were your goals? Was she helpful in reaching them?14741675_10207183758022296_1360900881_n

My goals coming in were to get in shape physically and mentally; I was literally starting from square one. Lisa started with the basics and helped build a solid foundation in which to start my fitness journey. Each move was explained in detail from how to do it and why. If she couldn’t show me or clarify in person, she sent articles and videos. She really helped me to build a confidence in what I was doing and in myself.
Although I came to Lisa to for help, I’m just not a huge fan of physical fitness. I’m not one of those that thinks, “lets go to the gym, it’ll be FUN!” Nope. Not me. However, Lisa helped me venture out and discover new avenues that I loved doing. Things like strongman and powerlifting. She made it fun for me and that was so important.

Would you recommend Lisa as a trainer – massage therapist or yoga teacher? What makes her so special?

Not only has Lisa been my trainer but I’ve also had the opportunity to attend one of her yoga classes and I would absolutely recommend her to anyone. Lisa was not my first rodeo; I previously had a personal trainer at one of those chain store gyms ? The difference with Lisa is her genuine awareness of each one of her clients. I was never just an appointment; she took a real interest in my journey and goals. She also took an interest in me as a person. She listened to me, my body, and my workouts were tailored to fit my needs. In all of our sessions, she was so focused on me and the work I was doing, I knew she was doing her best to make me into the best athlete possible. She always pushed me to my limits and encouraged me to go a step further; I learned through Lisa that I was much stronger than I knew.

14689238_10207183756742264_1501843851_oWhat is your favorite thing about working with Lisa?

Everything! Lisa and I became fast friends and session days were my favorite! I looked forward to them every week. I wish we could see each other everyday! Lisa and Anne-Marie are such unique souls. These two are rare gems, so honest and authentic. I’m beyond blessed and fortunate to be a member of their tribe!

 

Here’s another tribe member!

Here’s another tribe member!

Here we have another one of my favorite people, Sandy Livsey!  

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If you’ve been reading along and meeting our tribe, you may have noticed that my clients do become like family to me – to Anne-Marie and I both really.  Sandy is one of those people that doesn’t hold back with sharing her feelings and opinions, for better or worse, and is never stingy with how deeply she loves.  She is a fighter – for her family, for her friends, for her health and for whatever it is that she is passionate about.  When I first met her, I thought she was going to be a student that would test me at every turn…and she was!…but she’s proven to be one of my best teachers.  She showed up in my classes ready for peace in her heart and in her body and any time she had a question or came to me with a physical road block, it gave me a chance to find ways to meet her where she was at.  

Super Mom and Super Grandma!

Super Mom and Super Grandma!

When I ask Sandy how she feels after a class, or a workout, or a new move, I can count on her to be brutally honest which helpful when I need to know how something is working or not working.  I know she will be my barometer for most anything.  She’s also been such a dedicated student in yoga that she can step in when I need help with new students – showing them the ropes and making them feel welcome.  

It is obvious to me that somewhere along the way Sandy made the decision to show up – to truly show up for life…for all of it.  A favorite memory for me is her coming to our bachelorette party – it made my night to hang out with her!  She loves her tequila and loves to celebrate life.  And we love that she shares this passion for life with all of us!

Even though her back was on the fritz, she showed up anyway to cheer us on for this first adventure in yoga and SUP!

Even though her back was on the fritz, she showed up anyway to cheer us on for this first adventure in yoga and SUP!

 

 

How did you meet Lisa, and how did you decide she was worth working with?

I first met Lisa, as a yoga teacher, in late September 2010. My neighbor had suggested yoga with Lisa and her assistant, Brian Dunning. I took Yoga 101 once a week for a year before deciding that I would never get better at yoga if I did not go twice a week!!! I began going on Sunday mornings and then Lisa invited me to her Yoga For Athletes class. This is a sweaty, challenging, one hour class. I convinced some other people to try the class, and I did use the phrase, “You can do anything for an hour!”. The truth is that Lisa gave me the encouragement to stick with the class and the knowledge to adjust certain things to my body issues. I loved yoga with Lisa as she was obsessed with form and function. She is hands on, makes corrections and always gives options for those of us with “issues”. My issues were being overweight, arthritic knees, and a “bad back”. Lisa has helped me through all of these issues. I never stopped Yoga 101 class; with Lisa, I continued to learn the basics for years!!! When I discovered Lisa was a massage therapist, I had my first massage ever with her! Massage was life changing for me; I would have thought it a frivolous expenditure, but it is a healthy luxury (emphasis on the healthy part!). I decided to try the strength training at Brute with Lisa because of Dolores Little. Dolores nagged me for about 2 or 3 months after she began with Lisa. I was very nervous about getting injured and being too slow. And, yes, I have worked though some injuries (once again, Lisa and I learned about my body’s limitations!) and made adjustments. And I am still too slow, but Dolores and Lisa (and some other super nice ladies) have made me feel welcome and are patient with me and my adjustments! Lisa is great to work with simply because she understands my body with all of its limitations and strengths.

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What were your goals? Was she helpful at reaching them?

My goals with strength training were simply to get strong and not get hurt. I wanted to be able to do yard work, house work, and other necessary repairs/chores at my house (without constantly pulling out my back!). As a widow and a woman in my 50s, I felt the need to get strong and stay that way! Lisa has helped me continue to improve, even after surgery. I have become stronger, and, knock on wood, my body is doing great right now!

Sandy's lovely family.

Sandy’s lovely family.

Would you recommend Lisa as a trainer, massage therapist, or yoga teacher? What makes her so special?

I would, and have, and will continue to sing my praises for Lisa for yoga, massage, and strength training. I feel all of Lisa’s knowledge of the body, combined with her life experience (and she’s still young!), have made her an excellent teacher. She really listens to you, encourages you to listen to your body, and tells you when it’s ok to push yourself. I have had other coaches (I was a competitive swimmer from age 10 -20), and I have coached swimming. Her knowledge of form and function is priceless. A good coach listens, adjusts, pushes, encourages, and helps you achieve your goals. Good coaches and teachers are a rare treasure; Lisa is a truly a treasure!

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Would you recommend Lisa as a trainer, massage therapist, or yoga teacher? What makes her so special?

My favorite thing about working with Lisa at the gym is that the workout is never the same! This is also something that frustrated me at the beginning (and maybe even some now!). In my former years (decades ago) as a swimmer, I lifted weights. We did the same weight workout, 3 days a week, and the only thing that changed was when you went up in weight. I was so accustomed to judging my improvement with the same workout each time. Now, it’s more difficult to judge my progress, but I am working so much harder. Lisa’s workouts are never boring!

Keeping a Neutral Pelvis – what does that mean?

Keeping a Neutral Pelvis – what does that mean?

In my work, I spend a large part of my time educating or re-educating people about feeling and holding a neutral pelvis.  Whether it’s in asana, bodyweight movements in the gym or Olympic or power lifting movements, the neutral pelvis is a fundamental structural position for healthy movement and a strong stable core.  Although the cue to “tuck your tailbone” makes my hackles go up – it’s a blunt explanation that gets most of you there – one of my BFFs, Amber Karnes from Body Positive Yoga did this blog post awhile back and I loved it for it’s simplicity.  Enjoy!  And, as most of my clients will hear me say before they squat, “Brace!”

 

Here’s a quickie on alignment! We had a question on the Body Positive Yoga Facebook page today about what “keeping the pelvis in a neutral position” means. You probably will hear that in a yoga class and … yeah – what the heck does it mean?! I found this picture online which shows positions for someone riding a horse, but I love the depiction of a “pelvic bucket of water” as it’s a visualization I use myself. 

A pencil drawing of an equestrian rider with the pelvis shown in three positions. The pelvis is illustrated as a bucket of water. First, the lower back is arched with the water spilling forward. Second, the bucket is neutral and the spine retains its natural curves. Third, the pelvis is tucked, the back flattened, and water spills out the back.

To find a neutral pelvic position, think about your pelvis like a bowl of water. Instead of having sassy, Beyoncé-butt, booty-tootch butt where you stick your butt out and arch your low back (spilling the water forward onto your lap), bring the front hip points (hip bones) up and make space in the low back. You can even place your hands like handles on each of your hips (wrap the fingers toward the hip bones and the thumbs toward the sacrum), and move the pelvis around. Try both positions – tucking and tilting until you find neutral.

To find neutral, tuck the tailbone slightly and lift the pubic bone. Don’t tuck your tailbone so much that “water” spills out the back – just let the tailbone be heavy and move toward the heels.

Level the pelvis so your “bowl of water” doesn’t spill. This retains the natural curves in your spine. Make sense?

Dirty Feet?

Dirty Feet?

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Go barefoot!  No, seriously….do it.  Take your shoes off, socks too!  Maybe don’t smell your feet and definitely take the toe jam out first.  This is coming from the Brute Yogi that has some serious foot issues (Anne-Marie, if you haven’t figured it out).  Here’s why barefoot rocks:

  • Foot and Ankle Warm-up.  You have a clear path from your body and its nervous system right to what ever your foot touches.  Without the shoes and socks your feet can feel everything underneath and all of the muscles have the opportunity to work in the way that they were designed to work.  This travels all the way up the chain, the knees and hips will join the party and pretty soon everything will be working in harmony.
  • Proprioception is in its purest form without added distractions.  Shoes and socks can mask underlying structural issues as well as the ability to feel the surrounding environment.
  • You will get stronger.  Your squat, deadlift, presses all will improve in technique alone.  If the technique improves the strength will follow.  The feet are the foundation of any standing movement, strengthen those puppies and you’ll create a trend along your athletic continuum.
  • Posture will improve.  Basically see all of the above.

Here’s the deal –

  • Safety first!  Even with shoes on you wouldn’t want to drop dumbbells, bumpers, iron plates, etc on any part of your body – so be aware of your surrounds and move mindfully.  Likewise, you wouldn’t step on sharp glass or nails with shoes on, so there’s little chance of you doing that without (unless of course you’re in to that).
  • MRSA!  Ok, so it’s a real possibility that the gym floor is gross and thus your feet will also be gross once you’ve walked around barefoot for all of 2 seconds.  If you have open sores or cuts on your feet, FOR THE LOVE don’t put anyone, including yourself, in jeopardy of contracting some kind of nastiness.  Otherwise it should be pretty safe as long as you wash your feet after being in the gym, which you should probably be doing anyway.  Again, coming from the girl who used to get athletes foot from just looking at a bathroom floor, I’ve been nastiness free just from making sure I clean with some good ‘ole fashion soap and water.
  • Take it slow.  Just like the barefoot running craze, you don’t want to go naked for a marathon right out of the gate.  Just do your warm-up, use an empty barbell going through your usual oly routine or squat routine or deadlift routine or whatever it is you do before you hammer out some awesome sweat induced funness in the gym.  Maybe work up to adding some weight to the barbell or doing some light jogging back and forth on the gym floor.  Don’t go and add your 1RM to the barbell and expect to feel amazing afterwards.  There’s potential (not an absolute) that you could injure yourself if you go to heavy, decide to do an entire WOD, go for a 20 minute run or what ever craziness you think up for yourself.  Your feet are likely not used to that type of loading and having a set back is worse than spending a little extra time in the gym preparing the body for work.

Reluctantly I went barefoot in the gym after much pressure from the number 1 Brute Yogi (that’s Lisa of course).  The first day I knew I was converted.  I just owned it, and went full on naked foot for my warm-up and haven’t looked back.  It’s been over a month and I can honestly say that I’ve noticed a difference in my sessions at the gym.  My feet get super dirty but they’re so nice and warm before I start lifting.  I feel like it’s helped increase my over all strength as my joints and muscles feel better as I start adding the weight on the bar and put my shoes back on.  It also seems as though I’m recovering faster as well.  Whether or not this is due 100% to my decision to go naked footed or not, I know I can attribute at least some of this recent gym success to my feet nudity.

Yo’, do you still CrossFit?

Yo’, do you still CrossFit?

This is a guest post from my wife, Crossfittin’ Yogi!

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This has been a question I’ve been asked a lot since since shoulder surgery and since recently moving out of the “box” and into arguably the best powerlifting/strongman gym in the area. Yesterday was no different when one of my gym friends asked me if I was still in to CrossFit. She and I met through a mutual friend and in a CrossFit class I was coaching, so this was definitely a very valid question to be asking. We’ve also been training at the same gym (not known to be a CrossFit gym although it is an affiliate) for about a year together and have also competed in a Stongman comp together. Again, valid question since I seem to be all over the map this past year with how I’ve been training. So, what’s the answer?

Occasionally – if you’re talking about the clock ridden metcons that CrossFit is known for (otherwise, what is CrossFit?).

Shoulder surgery was definitely the catalyst that motivated me to be a better athlete all together. And CrossFit has been the gateway drug I needed to introduce me to Olympic Lifting, Power Lifting, and Strongman amongst other modalities. This past year plus I’ve tried my hand at 12 weeks of a hybrid CrossFit/Strongman style programming done by a friend/fellow coach, 12 weeks of Strongman specific programming that felt a little bit more like powerlifting, an attempt to program for myself along with a local box (my wife and I tested all of the WODS that I wrote for the box for over two months), and now I’m finishing the third week of Travis Mash’s “Getting Jacked” programming. I have training/working out ADD I believe. However, I’ve learned quite a few things through this journey.

  1. Leave your fucking ego at the door.  No, seriously.  DO IT.  If you’re not listening to your body and in turn doing something that you KNOW you really shouldn’t be, then WTF?  Now, if you’re getting paid to do this – and I mean that you are sponsored by Reebok, Rogue, Innov8, Again Faster, Progenex etc etc etc and you DO NOT have a day job because you’re getting paid to do this – then by all means, bring that ego to the bar because you gotta make those dolla billz.  Yet, I digress…we’re all adults here, and if 25 reps of something sounds asinine or an extra 10lbs on the bar makes your form go to shit or 30 more seconds of anything is going to make you puke like you were in college again (which you may still be anyway) then grow up, let the drama go, and say “oh, right, I can say no and still know that I just had a great workout despite xyz”.  Now, if you’re a sandbagger and you need your ass kicked responsibly, then shut up and do one more rep…otherwise, grab some water and be ok with the fact that you know your body better than anyone else and it’s ok to do your own workout as long as you’re safe and not harming anyone else.
  2. Find something that you really enjoy and what you’re good at (they will likely be similar).  I have found that I really like Olympic Lifting, I also happen to really like Strongman implements, and I really like gymnastic movements (like pistols, anything on the rings or pull-up bar, jumping, etc).  So, what does that all mean really?  I find ways to put those things in to my programming because that keeps me interested and in the gym.
  3. Figure out what you don’t like, or what you probably shouldn’t do.  I hate pushups, they are a big challenge to me, I curse them, to me they are stupid (really they aren’t, it’s a good bodyweight movement).  So, to that extent I don’t do a ton of them, although I do find ways to work that range of motion and strength because I realize that I can’t avoid it all together if I want to continue to train the way I do.  Powerlifting is boring to me, it doesn’t hold my interest.  I see the purpose of it, but for me it wouldn’t keep me going back to the gym day after day, so as a modality I skip it.  I won’t really ever compete in powerlifting, so other than a general understanding of the modality and its usage I’m ok without it.  I also know that the shape of my shoulders, structurally, isn’t designed to handle tons of overhead movements (presses, pull-ups, etc) – hence one of the reasons I had surgery, though definitely not the only reason.  That being said, I don’t do a lot of arm intensive movements back to back in my daily training sessions.  Unfortunately, it took shoulder surgery for me to realize this.
  4. CrossFit Group WODs are fun, I love CrossFit and what it’s open my eyes to.  They’re fun to coach.  They’re fun (and sometimes scary) to watch.  It’s fun and motivating to workout with a group of people and to share in a similar experience.  There’s definitely something to be said for the cardiovascular aspect of such WODs, too.  Especially for me since training more in a strength bias lately, I realize the importance of keeping the heart pumping and the body moving.  Big bonus, not only did CrossFit introduce me to a healthier lifestyle all together, but it also brought me to a box that I would meet, workout with, and ultimately marry the best WOD partner ever.  That’s worth it’s weight in gold any day.  And without CrossFit, I wouldn’t have been introduced to Olympic Lifting, Strongman, etc.
  5. I’ve never been stronger, and I am continuing to get stronger.  Realizing now that if I stayed in a “box” I likely wouldn’t have increased my strength beyond a certain threshold due to the inherent design of most traditional CrossFit programming.  I had to get out of the box and into a gym with a ton of strong ass mother fuckers to break that ceiling.  I witness people squating over 600lbs, deadlifting over 700lbs, benching over 400lbs and flipping 800+lb tires on a regular basis.  I enjoy the gains, and I enjoy the inspiration that these strong individuals provide.  “Surround yourself with the best to be the best” is the moto of the gym, and it’s true – surround yourself with like minded people who will motivate you to be a better version of yourself and BAM that’s what will happen.
  6. High repetitions can be a recipe for disaster.  Now, before you go and bitch at me about how you just did 100 back roll to supports and you feel amazing, I don’t care.  For me (and likely most of the population) form goes to shit and injury soon follows with high repetitions, especially when the pressure of a time component is added.  Now, if you’ve left your ego at the door, you might be alright because it won’t matter that it took 2 minutes longer to complete your 100 back roll to supports because you executed them all perfectly.  And higher reps equal greater hypertrophic response (google it) which equal great muscular gains (I didn’t say strength because some may disagree with that, although for me it’s definitely worked), but those higher reps are executed at a manageable weight with adequate rest between sets.
  7. Eating food is fucking fantastic.  I LOVE TO EAT.  I’ve done my share of Paleo challenges and have learned how to eat healthier, feel better, stay healthier (I’m WAY less sick), cook more and make better decisions regarding the FUEL that I put in my face.  Now, I am NOT Paleo, and if you are and it works for you I think that’s amazing because it really helps a lot of people.  For me, cutting out dairy caused me to get too skinny and loose strength.  Besides, ice cream is one of my favorite foods.  I added grassfed dairy back in to my diet after my longest Paleo challenge and have had no issues.  I still have a challenge when it comes to sugar, but otherwise I eat what I want, when I want, in the quantities that I feel keep me satiated and strong.  It is still a fight to be ok with the 15# weight gain and the tighter clothes because of the unfortunate conditioning in my past to fit in to a specific mold, but that’s a longer post for another time.
  8. Training the posterior chain and doing accessory work is BRILLIANT.  Prior to shoulder surgery I paid attention to the coaches without doing a ton of my own research.  Then came recovery post surgery – I learned a TON and keep learning as much as possible.  One of the biggest take-a-way’s was that I need to be pulling equal to, or double the amount, of any pushing movements.  I’ve also taken accessory movements seriously and in turn have experienced an increase in overall strength finally pulling more than 235lb in a deadlift, for example (a spot that I was stuck at for YEARS).  Anyone that takes my classes might get annoyed with the constant reminder of how important I feel pre-hab, accessory training, posterior chain activation, core engagement, etc are…but if I reach just one person so they can avoid injury or surgery then I’ve done my job and paid it forward.
  9. Mobility is necessary for increased strength and recovery.  If yoga isn’t your thing, call it something else.  But get your sweaty ass to the mat or park yourself on the carpet in front of the boob tube (that isn’t even a thing any more) and mobilize!  I like yoga, I teach yoga, therefore I encourage it.  But again, refer to #2, find a way to enjoy getting mobile because it really does help.  I rediscovered yoga after an inconsistent at best relationship with it in the past, and discovered that I really enjoy the entire practice – both the mental aspect and the physical aspect.  My strength has improved, my anxiety has decreased, my injuries are less frequent.

I’ll stop at 9.  I really wanted a round 10, but 9 is my favorite number and I think my quota of smart ass comments may be depleted for the day.  If you managed to read this whole thing, go check out Brute Yogi – this is my wife, Lisa’s, brain child.  You might even find me in there too, just sayin.