Fitness: Off Balance Training

by Cat on March 25, 2010

Today’s post is great for the busy mom (umm…guess that means all of us!)…
If there is one thing to focus on in your fitness regime, it’d be the core. I had a not so easy recovery to say the least but strengthening my core has been so key to being able to get back to running, cardio and developing fast twitch muscles to chase after the bambino!

by Fitness Contributor Jeremy of Twisted Twilight

Chaos is coming, so you’d better train for it! The need for random, unbalanced, asymmetrical movement will present itself sometime in our future. It could be in response to slipping on a wet floor, riding a subway train, carrying a wiggly child or even playing a sport. Being ready for events like these is what core training means to my clients.

Effective off balance training enhances the ability of the core muscles to control the position and motion of the trunk relative to the pelvis and legs. The core muscles don’t get “more stable”, but they do achieve greater contractile ability to create stability in the lumbo-pelvic region (lower back and hips). With a clear understanding of the goals of core training, we can effectively use many pieces of fitness equipment, including stability balls. By exercising with these balls, we can potentially achieve greater core muscle activation. Given that the nervous system learns with relative rapidity (compared with the time it takes to develop strength), many stability ball exercises can be mastered in a short period of time…granted that you have built a foundation of core strength prior to any advanced movements.

The use of a stability ball does not automatically mean we are training appropriately for improved function. Functional training is not defined by the equipment we choose, but by how we use that equipment. For example, someone standing on a stability ball cannot possibly be training for function as, in this situation the demands placed on the stabilizers are so excessive that the prime mover (the main muscle for that movement) shifts roles and acts as stabilizers—the opposite of their primary function; this will put stress on the central nervous system (CNS) but not necessarily the muscular system.

Many common stability ball movements…and many non-stability ball movements are done bilaterally and symmetrical. But think of all the activities that we do throughout the day—carrying things, riding the bus or subway, climbing stairs and playing sports. These movements are rarely symmetrical, and the majority of them are unilateral. If we continue to train our CNS to only move forward and backward, up and down, and with symmetry, we will lose on other movement planes and set ourselves up for injury. Remember there are three: sagittal plane (forward/backward), frontal plane (lateral/side to side) and transverse plane (rotational movements). It is important that we train in all three to remain balanced.

So keep in mind as you are working out that how we train should help us with how we move, whether it’s sport or non-sport specific. Tests yourself…do 10 reps of squats with a comfortable weight; now do 10 reps per leg doing single leg squats as deep as you went with the regular bilateral squats.

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You may think stretching is stretching…but thanks to Jeremy, he’s giving us the lowdown today on what types are helpful and harmful. As much as I love working out, I have always hated every one of those ten minutes of stretching on the floor and am glad I can nix those and go right into more dynamic stretches. Read on about the “New Rules of Stretching…”

photo: Richard Shock/Getty Images

by Designing Moms Fitness Contributor : Jeremy of Twisted Twilight

Due to the more sedentary lifestyle we lead today, we have become more and more prone to injury and postural imbalances due to our lack of flexibility; long hours in the office sitting with legs bent and shoulders rounded over a keyboard are recipes for muscle tightness and dysfunctions to occur.

During movement, our muscles work in what are called synergistic groups; you can think of these groups as a first string, or main muscle, and a second string or the backup muscle that supports the main muscle. If these ‘groupings’ of muscles are inhibited by tightness, one group either has to work twice as hard or less efficient to complete the movement. Obviously our goal is total muscle balance so a stretching routine is important whether you need it for sports specific activities or if you need to just feel better throughout the day.

Much has been debated lately about the different types of stretching and when to do them. To clarify, there are two major types of stretching: static and dynamic. Most of us are more familiar with the former. Static stretching is finding the point of tension and holding it for 10-30 seconds. Although it’s often been taught as an injury prevention measure, static stretching prior to a workout might contribute to less efficient movement in preparation for that activity. When you stretch, it forces that muscle to relax temporarily making it weaker and causing a strength imbalance.

Static stretching also reduces blood flow to your muscles, decreasing activity to your central nervous system—which inhibits your brain’s ability to communicate with your muscles, decreasing your capacity to generate force. Bottom line: avoid static stretching prior to your workout or sports specific events. Save it for more non-athletic types of activities.


When: Any time with the exception of before a workout. Static stretching after a workout is a good cool down and brings the muscle back to its normal length tension

Why: To improve general flexibility for everyday activities

How: Try to stretch twice a day, everyday for permanent lengthening of muscles. If you work in an office environment, it is doubly important for you to stretch multiple times everyday

Tools: AIS stretching rope, a towel or a foam roller are your best tools for getting those knots out

Dynamic stretching on the other hand is stretching the muscle in a repetition format at a controlled, slow tempo. I often give my clients this analogy: think of your muscle as a rubber band, take that rubber band and leave it in the icebox overnight. The next morning, take that rubber band and stretch it to the point of tension and hold. Doing this creates a higher percentage that it might snap. Now, everything being equal, take the same rubber band and in a slow and controlled manner, pull and relax. You may have already guessed that this will warm up that muscle by increasing blood flow making it more elastic, decreasing the chance of a pull or injury.


When: Before a workout or a physically strenuous activity

Why: To improve performance, increase blood flow to the muscle and reduce your risk of injury

How: Generally, I have my clients warm up on the rower, treadmill, etc…for several minutes, then they perform 4-8 dynamic stretches, 10 reps each stretch, covering all the major muscle groups and joint areas of the body.

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Fitness: Bootcamp with Jeremy Cheung

by Cat on January 28, 2010

It was great to hear from fellow moms that fitness and/or healthy living has been a resolution for the new year! I slipped on my new pair of 5.0 Free’s today and gave them a test run on the treadmill. And if this rain will ever quit, I can’t wait to go run outside again. I’m sure I will be questioning this all when my lovely shin splints and calluses come back full force but with so little time in my schedule I’ve come to treasure any chance I get to work out.
For those of you living in the bay area and with demanding mommy schedules, I wanted to tell you about
fitness contributor Jeremy’s Saturday workout.

What it is:
From Jeremy… “It isn’t really as much as a “boot camp” as it is a boot camp “style” workout. A true boot camp is usually a period of six weeks in length and meets several times a week. My workout is just on Saturday mornings for those that either want to end the week well…or start the weekend well; whichever way you want to look at it. Or maybe it’s to supplement the weekday workouts that they are already doing at their own gym. The genesis of this really came about last year in response to the bad economy. People still wanted to workout, in fact, gym and boot camp membership/enrollment was up, but many now couldn’t afford a
personal trainer so they found cheaper ways to stay fit. I was already doing my own workouts with friends every Saturday so I thought, why not drop the rate significantly and see if there was any interest.”

“One of the things that makes it different is that I limit the class size to only eight people. One of my biggest complaints about group classes and especially traditional boot camps is that there are too many people for any single instructor/trainer to make sure they are doing the movements properly. Injury avoidance should be every trainers main objective, but when you have so many people in a class it’s impossible to coach them all.”

“What my class entails is a great mix of strength and cardio movements. And the fact that classes are smaller, I team up clients which give a fun competitive feel to the workouts. There are a lot of timed drills so those that are more advanced can really kill it and for those less advance, well, they can move at a rate that works for them. Regardless of the pace, everyone is still getting a very challenging workout.

The workouts themselves aren’t designed gender specific. Everyone will benefit from the workout. I guess for mom’s that are looking to get back into their bikini’s ASAP the constant flow of the class as well as the movements that we do will be great for toning…oh, there is A LOT of core related movements! Keeping with the creativity theme that I’ve brought up before, each workout is different from the other so I hope that will be interesting to moms! And I encourage everyone to bring a friend…a little friendly competition is always healthy and fun. For the hubby’s and mom’s…whomever outdoes the other has to be on diaper doodie…I mean duty for the day LOL.”

The Details:

  • Every Saturday (weather permitting) at 9:30AM (side note – we do almost all the workouts outside so that’s why I include the weather permitting)
  • Location is: 555 Florida Street (between Mariposa and 18th Street )
  • Class size is limited to eight clients (side note—if it becomes more popular then I will add another class)
  • Cost is only $25
  • Classes are challenging but a lot of fun!

Click here for information or to sign up!

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Fitness: Persistence, Patience…

by Cat on January 20, 2010

by Fitness Contributor Jeremy Cheung at Twisted Twilight

I’m sitting here in the Portland Airport waiting for my flight home, and as many of us do this time of year, we make resolutions–resolutions to save money, to travel more, to learn a new language, to get in shape. My resolution is to be more effective and efficient as a small business owner. So of course we go out and get the necessary tools to achieve these goals: books, DVD’s, a gym membership. One of my tools is a book called Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Some of you have no doubt read this and I’m sure all of you have at least heard of it. In this book author Stephen Covey references “the law of the farm.” The reference is meant to show that most of the truly good things in life take time and can’t be forced or rushed.

Covey described the process of farming and alluded to how it requires patience and diligence to grow crops properly. If any of you have taken time to visit my website part of my approach is Persistence—the will to want it and go after it and the other is Patience —the staying power to see it through. In addition, farming requires belief in the system. The farmer must believe that all the hard work and preparation will eventually yield a long-term result.

As a business owner and personal trainer, this concept resonates deep with me. As noted strength and conditioning Coach Mike Boyle so astutely points out, the process of exercising is much like farming or like planting a lawn. There are no immediate results from exercise and there are no immediate results from farming.

First, the seeds must be planted. Then fertilizer (nutrition) and water must be applied consistently. Much like fertilizer in farming, too much food can be a detriment to the exerciser. Only the correct amounts cause proper growth. Overfeeding can cause problems, as can underfeeding. As I sit and wait for my lawn to sprout or crops to grow, I feel many of the same frustrations of the new exerciser. When will I see results? How come nothing is happening? All this work and — nothing.

The key is to not quit. Have faith in the process. Continue to add water and wait. Farming and exercising are eerily similar. Continue to exercise and eat well and suddenly a friend or co-worker will say, “Have you lost weight”? Your reaction might be, “It’s about time someone noticed.” Much like the first blades of grass poking through the ground, you begin to see success. You begin to experience positive feedback. Clothes begin to fit differently.

When my friends or clients talk to me about their frustration with their initial lack of progress in an exercise program, I’m going to bring up the farm analogy. We live in a world obsessed with quick fixes and instant results—the third part to my approach is progression or the results of your hard work. This is why the farm analogy can be both informative and comforting.

An exercise program must be approached over a period of weeks and months, not days. The reality is that there is no quick fix, no easy way, no magic weight loss plan, no secret cellulite formula. There is only the law of the farm. You will reap what you sow. In reality, you will reap what you sow and care for. If you are consistent and diligent with both diet and exercise, you will eventually see results. However, remember, much like fertilizer and water, diet and exercise go together.

Try to grow crops or a lawn without water. No amount of effort will overcome the lack of vital nutrients.

The law of the farm.
Plant the seeds.
Feed and water properly.
Wait for results; they will happen, not in days, but in weeks and months.

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*Before we start in on Jeremy’s intro, here’s a little info about his Saturday Bootcamp for all of you moms who live here in the Bay Area! Click here to visit his website and for contact info.

When: Every Saturday (weather permitting) at 9:30AM (side note – we do almost all the workouts outside so that’s why I include the weather permitting)
Location is: 555 Florida Street (between Mariposa and 18th Street )
•Class size is limited to eight clients (if it becomes more popular then I will add another class)

•Cost is only $25

•Classes are challenging but a lot of fun!

The details: Come train with one of Women’s Health top 10 trainers and 7X7’s Trainer of the Year for a fun and challenging boot camp style workout every Saturday morning. A good way to start the weekend (or cure a hangover) and not have to pay a single session trainer rate! Saving is on everybody’s mind these days but keeping in shape can be a great stress reliever during these interesting times. Come challenge yourself with others using ropes, sandbags, medicine balls and kettlebells! Oh, and if those toys aren’t enough to get your heart rate up and forget about the spit up on your favorite blouse, we also have a four story set of stairs that I throw in for fun!


I am so excited to start off the new year with all of you! And what better way than to introduce a new Designing Moms contributor whose passion happens to be in line with one of my resolutions for the new year: getting back into a fitness regime. It has been a looooong time since I’ve been able to spontaneously run to my studio or down to the ocean… Feeling free and strong in my body is just as thrilling as having a successful day of designing and I’ve decided to make it a priority ASAP. Face it… being healthy, fit and strong is something we owe ourselves and our little ones.

Which leads me to Jeremy. Jeremy Cheung is a leading personal trainer and owner of Twisted Twilight in San Francisco. He was named top personal trainer by 7×7 Magazine as well as Top 10 Hottest Fitness Pros in the Country by Women’s Health Magazine. And lucky for all of us, he will be contributing to our blog on “designing” a path towards a physically fit and creative lifestyle. I think you will come to find his approach refreshing and ultimately inspiring. Read on about Jeremy and his work, and visit his site for more information about his training. Please help me give a big welcome to Jeremy!

Tell us a little bit about your background and how you got started in your field

If I look WAY back, I started this lifestyle change–and yes ladies, it’s a lifestyle change and not a diet–back in my freshman year in college. A friend of mine challenged that we couldn’t make it through spring quarter being healthy…no partying, watching what we ate (no late night pizza) and going to the gym on a regular basis. At the end of the quarter, which was perfect timing since it was now summer, I had more energy, felt great and lost weight.

As I continued through the years, it became a hobby, so I read magazines and books to gain more knowledge on what I was doing to my body in the gym or putting in my body with regards to foods and supplements. As I continued to know more and get better results, friends and family started asking me advice on how to get them on a fitness routine.

Soon after the dot com bubble burst (I was in advertising for almost ten years before I got certified as a trainer) I was trying to figure out my next step. I remember promising to myself that whatever I did, I would absolutely have a passion and love for whatever it was.

When my old lifting partner in Seattle told me that he was a trainer, I thought, hey, there’s a good idea. My girlfriend at the time was a hair stylist and I remember thinking what a great day she must have. All of her clients have different needs; they are all different conversations. Each client was a different project and I thought that her day must be so fun and go by fast. Plus, a job counselor told me that I had a “teaching temperament” about me, which if you think about it, that’s what I’m doing with all my clients, I’m teaching them.

After researching certifications, I came across the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and really liked their approach. They were also touted at one of the premier certifications to get. So after getting my basic certification, I also took their advanced certification called the PES or the Performance Enhancement Specialist certification which is used for training elite athletes. Outside of my personal training certification, I also received my certification though the USA Olympic Powerlifting Association as well as two different kettlebell certifications. My point is, talk is cheap, experience is expensive.

What inspires you to do what you do? What are your daily inspirations?

Here’s an honest answer, it isn’t weight loss or muscle gain or that I want to make the world a thinner place that inspires me with my clients, it’s them having fun and WANTING to do this…to make whatever changes that they came in to see me for. As I tell all of them, I can’t want this more than you want it yourself.

What motivates me is the creativity of my job. I mean, how often do we get bored at the gym doing the same old stuff? Many don’t see training as a creative outlet but in many ways it is. There are so many different modalities to train with and as we’ve gotten away from the traditional ways of working out and strength training, we’ve opened up more avenues to explore. Kettlebells, sandbags, ropes, clubs, sleds, medicine balls…so many toys to plays with that it makes cable machines and bar and dumb bells feel boring. Don’t get me wrong, I do find them useful as well but my point is there are so much more now to choose from.

What is unique about your approach/philosophy? How might “fitness for the brave” fit into the mindset/lifestyle of a working mom?

My approach is scalable which makes any goal achievable and is based on three different ideas: Persistence is the will to want it and go after it; Patience is the staying power to see it through and Progression is the results of your hard work; it’s easy to understand and easy to apply. This fits into anyone’s lifestyle because of its scalability. If you’re working you’re busy, and if you’re a working parent, then you are doubly busy, so spending hours upon hours in a gym isn’t feasible. You need an approach that will take you through the long haul and not for short term gains. This is a lifestyle change and as such needs to be approached as one.

What are the components that make up your ideal client?

In my mind it isn’t a “plural” question as in what are the component(s), it’s really a single component…dedication. My clients come to me because they need help; because they can’t get where they need to one their own. And those that want it the most, those that are dedicated, will see the greatest results.

What are some of the challenging issues you see with clients who are wanting to get in shape after having children?

It’s mostly time. Sorry guys, but women are much tougher than we are so it isn’t the physical abilities that challenge them. It’s important when working with new moms to design a program that targets areas that were affected during their pregnancy and since your abdominal muscles have been stretched out, they don’t have the tone to hold everything in so focusing on rebuilding core strength is imperative. Of course on a vanity level, we also want to get you back to your bikini body as well!

What’s a typical day-in-your-life like?

The great thing about what I do is that it changes everyday…from the clients I see, to the hours I work, to the challenges in designing creative programs. Mostly I’m up before the sun comes up and my day ends after the sun drops and you all have finished your dinner. But I wouldn’t trade what I do to go back to the corporate life for anything. I feel bad for those that are grabbing their lunch and rushing back to their desk to eat it. Each client has different challenges so part of what I do is spending time at the start of the day programming all of your individual workouts. Remember, what I do is called “personal training” which means your trainer should not be applying the same workout to all if their clients. Unfortunately I see this all too often.

What other interests, passions do you have…what’s your idea of a perfect day San Francisco day?

That’s easy, drums and cooking. I’ve been playing the drums since I was in 3rd grade starting with band to eventually getting my first drum set in high school. Yes, my neighbors loved me! My second love of cooking started when my father gave me a choice to either serve tables or cook at his restaurant (he was in the Denny’s Restaurant franchise) , and because I was scared to drop food on people, I chose to work in the kitchen. Learning the basic skills there, my father, who is an amazing cook, taught me the rest.

My perfect day? This is going to sound REALLY boring, but my ideal San Francisco day is a morning run at Crissy Field (no wind please), a movie or shopping in the afternoon and then cooking with friends. Fitness and food, what better day is there than that!

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