Have you ever wondered what a silent, weeklong meditation retreat is like? Unite Fitness president Gavin McKay just came back from one, and he’s sharing a peek of what it’s like to be silent, introspective and, well, Zen for a week straight. Read on for his insights.
A few short weeks before Christmas I was deciding what I would do for the holiday period. I had a few ideas, but most required a lot of money, pushing in on other people’s plans or the stress of throwing something together when there really wasn’t anything obvious or very appealing. The period between Christmas and New Years has always been a dead time with poor weather when I preferred to be doing something somewhere else, removed from daily routines. For this reason, Winter is the natural time for meditation retreats and my Shambhala meditation community offers 1, 2, 3 or 4 week versions. Yes some people go on retreat for a month at a time. I realized this year was my perfect opportunity to go so I drove off by myself to Sky Lake Lodge in Huson Valley, NY to meditate mostly in silence without technology for a week with 20 people I didn’t know.
We know it sounds too good to be true—doing something good for yourself and for the environment—but with these eight easy ways to live healthy and green, you can get double the results for your efforts and feel great about your choices, too.
1. Walk or Bike to Work
The average commute time in the U.S. is 25 minutes—ick. That’s a whole lot of sitting in a car, bus or train. Combining low-impact exercise with your commute builds movement and stress relief into your daily routine while reducing energy usage and vehicle emissions. If you live close enough to work to commute by bike, the value of all the stress, pollution, sitting and expense that are avoided by not using a car and dealing with traffic is priceless. There’s no smarter good-for-you, good-for-the-planet two-fer.
Don’t just run, spin or (God forbid) elliptical every time you go to the gym. Mix up your cardio with a rowing session at least once a week. Coach Jesse Frank of Fusion Cross-training demystifies the proper rowing technique so you can jump on the erg and get the huge cardio and strength benefits of this full body exercise. Learn how to set up the feet, proper rowing technique and common mistakes to avoid.
You might have seen those funny foam cylinders lying in the corner at the gym, but what the heck are they? They’re called foam rollers. Think of them as little (and free!) massage therapists for your sore, tired muscles. Neat, no?
Fusion Cross-training’s Jesse Frank gives us a simple, concise and effective lesson on foam rolling in this week’s video tutorial. Plus you’ll learn exactly how to adjust your body and the roller to hit critical areas if you’re a runner or avid gym-goer.
Does doing a pull-up seem next to impossible? Don’t be too hard on yourself—pull-ups are one the toughest upper body exercises you can do. But here’s a secret you might not know: There are ways to modify pull-ups to make them possible at any fitness level.
In the video below, we demo easy modifications you can do to help build strength. Follow our advice and I promise—you’ll be doing pull-ups in no time.
You’re a runner—and that’s awesome—but are you putting as much energy into your stretching routine as you are to your running schedule? I’ve seen so many runners who don’t stretch the way they should; lots of them end up injured and sidelined. Bleak, right?
Here’s a way to avoid that fate: Fusion Cross-training owner/trainer Jesse Frank designed a yoga-inspired routine that can be done immediately after your run. Just find a grassy area, take 10 minutes to do some down dogs, and you’re well on your way to optimizing your recovery and performance.
Distance running is great but it comes with a whole set of overuse injuries to watch out for. Part of the problem is poor form (learn proper running technique here), but another common culprit is muscle imbalances that force your body to compensate in ways it’s not meant to, leading to injury. Jesse Frank, Fusion Cross-training owner/trainer and partner of Team Philly Race Training, has designed a strength routine with runners in mind. Work it into your routine to help optimize your race-day performance, bring muscles back to balance and minimize injury.
In all my years of training, I have to say that the push-up is oftentimes the exercise that clients struggle with the most. It is one of the basic upper-body exercises, one that everyone knows and has tried to do at some point, so there’s an expectation we can all just … do it.
That’s probably why people get so upset at themselves when they struggle so much to perform one. The fact is that most people use terrible form when they try to do a push-up, and with a few key steps almost anyone can learn to do one perfectly. That includes you.
Nick Tini, one of my coaches at Fusion Cross-training, gives a step-by-step tutorial in the video below.
It might seem like learning the correct technique for running would be like learning the correct technique for breathing (i.e. intuitive, innate). This is not exactly the case—at least, not at this point in history, after we’ve become accustomed to super-cushioned, heal-lifted sneakers and while many of us have never really played running sports. So I put together a concise but comprehensive video training to give you the key elements of a healthy running form that can help you to run longer and faster without as many injuries. Perfecting timing for Broad Street, eh?
It’s simple—just remember this mantra: length, lean, lift, relax. The video below breaks down each of these guiding principles with examples and even some drills that so that you can take these keys and experience how seemingly subtle differences in your running movement can produce huge lifelong results.
Gavin McKay is the owner and creator of Fusion Cross-training with locations in Center City, Philadelphia and Mt. Laurel, New Jersey. He’ll be sharing his fitness tips and advice weekly on Be Well Philly.