New Trainer, New Mission!

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Many of my long-time Spark buds will know about my love-hate relationship with Stasi Guy, the sadistic trainer I worked out with for over 3 years when we lived in Florida (see one of my many previous blogs on the him at; )

Stasi guy knew his stuff. He pushed me hard, helped me make incredible improvements, and to this day, I credit him with giving me the strength and confidence to lift heavy weights correctly and for teaching me the tools I needed to help design my own strength training program that helped me lift 955 lbs in my last Powerlifting meet (see blog )

We parted ways last summer when I moved the family up to DC. I still lift heavy weights 3x/week and have now incorporated Kettlebells into my daily routine ( ). Lifting heavy weights help me get stronger (what a great SparkPeople name, huh!) and kettlebells are a great overall conditioning tool. But something has been missing.

..range of motion.

Now I've never been a flexible fellow. Even though I know should stretch more, I hate doing it.

Well a few weeks ago, adversity met opportunity.

On Sundays, I go to a gym a few miles down the road from our house. It's pretty decent and they've got good equipment; 2 squat racks, 3 Concept2 Rowers, and a HUGE Kettlebell collection....all the way up to 100 lbs!

They've also got a bunch of trainers hanging out near the aerobic equipment.

For the last 8 months, I've watched them train their clients. Most of them have their people do all sorts of weirdo exercises and I'd just sigh under my breath as I remembered how hardcore Stasi Guy approached my training....he was pretty much like Burgess Meredith training Rocky Balboa

So a few weeks ago I approached one of the trainers who seemed to look like he knew what he was doing and asked him if he knew anything about kettlebells. He said yes, watched my technique on some Turkish Get-ups and Swings, then gave me a few pointers for free. I asked him about his rates and said I was interested in cleaning up my form with the Kettlebells and we agreed on an introductory couple of lessons.

I got a little busy and wasn't able to start with him right away, and in the meantime had taken an 8-hour Kettlebell clinic with some serious Russian style dudes and have felt real good about my kettlebell training since then, but I figured I'd train with this new guy for a few weeks anyway.

Well, before we start training, he gives me a head to toe fitness assessment. He took a 3-point body fat measure with calipers (18%, thank-you very much!), strength assessment (I crushed it!), aerobic capacity (Top 10% percentile), and.....flexibility.....

....I bottomed out! I'm probably in the top 10 percent of least flexible people in the world.

So then he launches into his spiel about the importance of flexibility and stability and how it's the core of any good fitness plan, blah-blah-blah.....I had to struggle to keep from rolling my eyes and felt exactly like my teenagers must have when I lectured them for the umpteenth-time about the importance of punctuality, cleanliness, not drinking and driving etc, etc. etc.

Once the droning stopped, I realized that he was telling me we had to start off with range of motion and functional movement training before we could start on anything else.

Wait a minute, who's hiring who here?!?! I thought I was in charge! I want to clean and snatch kettlbells, not sit on my ass all day bending and twisting into all sorts of uncomfortable positions. At least that's what I was reality, I just nodded and said, "OK sure, let's do it!"

Somehow my deep unconscious has always helped me make good decisions even when my inner monologue wants to do nothing more than yell and scream when I don't get my way.

So on our first session, trainer guy (I don't have a nickname for him yet....granola-eater comes to mind, as does hipster-doofus, but that's just because....well just because he's both of those things), introduces me to Mr Lacrosse Ball and Mr Foam Roller

The goal for Mr Lacrosse Ball is to hit trigger points....those tight little knots of muscle wedged deep into your shoulders, back, hamstrings, quads, calves, etc. You roll the ball on to one of those tight knots....then push and pulse against it while trying to relax and breathe. The goal for Mr Foam Roller is for Myofascial release...separating those groups of muscles that are bundled together with that muscular sausage casing known as fascia. Same deal, except you start at the top of a joint and slowly roll down to the next joint (imagine starting at the top of your thigh and rolling down to the knee)

Well it seems like every point of my body that touches either of these evil little devices is chock full of painfully tight muscle. I'm balancing on my arms and legs, calibrating the pressure I put on that lacrosse ball, knowing that the slightest little slip and it'll slam into a tight spot and I'll start crying like a baby.

After an hour of this, I'm sweating like a race horse. Granola-eater then gives me some homework, telling me to do this every other day until our next session. I'm already hating him....he's making Stasi Guy come off like the Pope.

But today we finished up our third session. I went out to Dick's Sporting Goods and bought myself a few Lacrosse Balls and have been using them religiously every night, alternating between upper and lower body every other day.

I do this before going to bed for 30-45 minutes and have got to tell you....I have been sleeping the sleep of the dead every single night! I really had no idea how chronically tight and sore I was till I started doing this. After 3 weeks, I am just now starting to see how my range of motion is improving and how less sore I feel during the day. I've got a long way to go, but I'm pretty well sold so far.

Somehow, I've always hated stretching, mostly because I suck at it. The trigger point & foam rolling thing is more like a massage than stretching. Yeah, it can be painful, but I've found that I can adjust the pain by adjusting the pressure. And unlike going for a massage, I can hit the EXACT spore spot with Mr Lacrosse Ball, and let me tell you, that is how I now spell relief!

More to follow in the coming weeks. Ive got 5 more sessions paid up for with granola-eater, so we'll see how far this goes.

Have a great night Spark friends!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I was introduced to the foam roller through running, and it is amazing. I also used it when I hurt my calves in my bout, and cried while using it. I don't use it enough when I am not feeling tight though. As for the you lay on it? What muscles do you use it on? I'm a little like you in the 'yeah right, like I'll be spending 10 minutes of my precious time rolling my muscles over a ball and a roller everyday? Give me a weight. Stat!' So a little more eyeballing your posts and accolades for the use of these items regularly may be in my future.

    Did I mention? (I know I haven't) I did my first set of deadlifts ever this past week. With my trainer. Crazy stuff!
    2601 days ago
    This is really interesting stuff. Like some of the others here, I have never used a foam roller or lacrosse balls, but when you mentioned better sleep, as in sleeping the sleep of the dead, I was nearly ready to run out right now (after midnight) to try to find some of those sleep inducers for myself.

    When I was working out with a trainer in the past, I used to see a few people using the foam roller at the gym. And all of the people who were using them consistently were people who ran in marathons. Hmm. So, starting to see a connection here. Flexibility - a critical element to physical exercise and, I'm sure, to physical health, yet too often over-looked. And now I want to seriously look in to it.
    So do keep us posted. Having you reporting these workouts is like having our own personal trainer for FREE. Of course, you will need to give us more detailed instructions as things go along. OK?

    BTW, I love the nick name you chose for Granola-eater. It's just all warm and fuzzy sounding - Until he wises up and starts talking to ya like Burgess Meredith, that is. emoticon
    2605 days ago
    GREAT blog!

    I know this is different than anything you've done before, but one suggestion: Don't jack with your program! Don't do stuff he doesn't say to do at the end of his workout, or on off days. Just let him progress you. I'd bet money he has a plan, and you not sticking to what he is saying can seriously jack that plan up!

    Not that you are planning to add extra, but I thought I'd just give you a word of warning. It would make me nutso when a client would come in and say "I lifted for chest and bi's yesterday", and the workout I'd planned for that very day required chest and bi's to be fresh and ready to go.
    2614 days ago

    Comment edited on: 6/9/2014 3:12:13 PM
    Why am I suddenly picturing a movie:? GranolaEater Vs. StasiMan; the latest Marvel Comics adaptation!
    2614 days ago
    Glad you've found another guide you can trust. I've got a physical therapy consultation lined up for next month to address some chronic problems in the area of the Iliotibial Band that foam rolling has not really helped. I'm interested in hearing how your rolling and stretching pans out.
    2614 days ago
  • no profile photo CD4876431
    Very interesting connection between the use of the foam roller and your sleep:) I may have to bring mine out more often. I usually use it after long runs, not enough:)
    Can't wait to read about your progress!
    2614 days ago
    My first encounter with foam rolling came from P90X2, which uses it heavily, and my first reaction was "what the heck is this thing for?" That's also the reaction of anyone who comes over to my house and sees that thing (I have a rumble roller like the smiling lady in your blog). Now I love it. I use a very firm medicine ball on my glutes, though, because I have trouble hitting the right spots with the roller, and I use a rolling pin when the bottom of my feet get sore.
    2614 days ago
  • BILL60
    I'm waiting to hear how the next sessions go. Thanks for sharing.
    2614 days ago
    I've been using a GRID foam roller for months, Has really improved my flexibility, Never heard of Lacross Balls but will ask Stazi Jr about them today. As much as the roller hurts it is nothing compared to when he lets me lie down on the nice sot massage table and then HE rolls me. That's when the blood curdling screams, whimpering and begging start! Using all of his very impressive strength he leans into every sore point. with the little "points" on the GRID. The only advise I can offer is keep breathing....breath thru the pain. Good Luck!!
    2614 days ago
    Very interesting - it is true that we usually do not think of stretching or foam rolling as exercise, but you make it sound like it! Or maybe I should say it is sports hygiene, maybe. I will take it as example and do more stretching to stay flexible!
    Thanks for the blog!

    2614 days ago
  • PROT358
    An interesting perspective. I have some chronic stiffness too, and know next to nothing about how to use a foam roller. I've been trying to work through the kinks by soaking in the hot tub. Hey, you could pitch that idea and see how it goes? ;) I might have to look into this foam roller business further. I miss hearing about Stasi, but it sounds like you're in good hands!
    2615 days ago
    Wow! You almost have me sold on the foam roller. Like you, my range of flexibility is seriously limited these days (gone are the times I could curve my leg, tip my head back, and touch my toes to my head).

    Thanks for the update!
    2615 days ago
  • JUNEAU2010
    Very cool! Here I am on the couch thinking I should be doing something else!
    2615 days ago
    Yep - it's a love/hate thing... every one of my 14 trainers have pushed the ball and foam roller.

    Good luck with your granola guy!

    2615 days ago
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