2017 April

April 28, 2017

Working with our clients at Energy Fitness over the years our personal trainers discover how limited most of the population is in spinal flexibility once we get them moving and doing functional and balance exercises. Your thoracic spine is the middle section of your vertebra between your neck and lower back and composes 12 thoracic vertebra and your rib cage.

Modern lifestyles and certain sports can lead to stiffness and poor movement which increases the natural “kyphosis” (rounding curve in upper back as shown in picture to the left) of the thoracic spine which can lead to decreased sporting performance, injury, and pain.

One new area that is becoming more researched, and is linked to thoracic spine stiffness, is changes to breathing.  Normal breathing requires the ribs to move like a bucket handle (they lift to the sides). The stiffer the rib joints are where they join at the spine means less movement can occur at this joint and this can make it more difficult to take a breath when higher breathing rates and breath volumes are required, meaning potentially less air breathed.

In part 1 of Spinal Rotation for Golf & Life blog post we showed you how to test your upper spine flexibility (your thoracic spine) by trying to rotate the spine and not move the hips. We gave you a few exercises to help improve range of motion.

In this blog post we show you examples of poor upper spine flexibility as it relates to the golf swing as well as a lunge with a twist that also helps improve balance and give you 2 great stretches.

Try the exercise below. Lunge! Once you have lowered yourself as far as your hip flexibility and balance can take you twist your body left as pictured rotating your spine completely.You may find that you need to use a faster speed to get into position to get that extra stretch. Now repeat on the other side by bringing the back leg (right leg) forward into the lunge position and twist to the right.

The client below performed the lunge twist first for about 8-10 reps in each direction before we moved to putting a golf club in his hand. (See video at the bottom of this post).

My analysis: his follow at the top of the golf swing has room for improvement in flexibility of the upper spine. 





Now look at the pic below. See how once the back leg is behind the buttock the body is forced to rotate in the upper spine. This client struggles to rotate and it looks as he feels he’s going to fall over? He benefits from balance and spinal rotation exercises.








Now, I’m going to throw myself under the bus and analyze my form in a left handed golf swing and right handed (as I can do both and need to just pick a side already!).






Left Handed Golf Swing Analysis: smallest picture on left is during a lesson with golf pro instructor Doug Barron in Memphis, TN.

1st pic: Rotation is great looking at my right shoulder lined up with my left foot “at the top”

2nd pic: Two weeks later (pic in the middle) I’m back to my bad habit of taking the club back too far & being more upright to try and compensate for my lack of upper body spinal flexibility. (I tend to do this weird thing with my wrists.  I know that my foot is not lined up with the ball correctly in case you observed that as well.)

3rd pic: my follow through is terrible as you can see, my left foot doesn’t rotate because I didn’t rotate my hips or keep my weight on my front leg heel.

Right Handed Golf Swing Analysis: For kicks on the last hole, 2 weeks after the golf lesson with Doug, I borrowed a friend’s right handed golf club and hit a few balls right-handed.  I took 2 shots and killed it with a straight line drive.

4th pic from left: Rotation good “at the top” as left shoulder lined up with right foot.

5th pic-last pic (far right): Observe the terrible follow through with the back foot not getting up on the toe just like the left handed golf swing. This was a 150 yard shot!

Here are 2 stretches for you to improve upper spine flexibility! Chair stretch and triangle pose stretch. Hold each direction for 30-60 seconds.










Go be fit to break par, breathe stress free & improve daily activities.

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April 21, 2017

How often do you perform exercises in a twisting motion? Let’s take it a step further… how many do you perform without rotating at the hips? Without rotating my hips…huh? Often times I see clients, as well as myself, doing an exercise and letting the hips open to avoid working on the flexibility of the upper spine.

Test yourself…. Stand up with your feet shoulder width apart and place your hands on your hips. Now try to rotate through your lower back without allowing your hips to move. Not as easy as you thought it would be, huh?

If you don’t have the best posture rotating the spine correctly can be challenging.

Think about your lifestyle and exercise routine if you have one. Do you rotate your spine during a strength training session, during sports play, stretching routine or a cardio session? If you run, cycle, walk, jump rope, run stairs, do machines such as elliptical or row machine you are using your body in only one plane (frontal).  You may be creating weakness in muscles and tightening others by avoiding moving your body in different directions.

The 2 exercises are below as pictures & video. They will help you increase spinal flexibility. Make sure to prevent any motion in your hips and lower back.

Towel Low to high Notice I put my knees in to avoid rotating hips. You can see I lack upper body rotational flexibility and need to work on. Try 10 reps each direction. The stability ball is a great way to see improvement as it also works on weight shifting.








Low to High Chop/Twist (use either towel or if more advanced use medicine ball or cable as pictured left). If it is too hard to stabilize your hips then widen your stance a bit and/or lower the weight.



Outer Thigh presses /Hip Abduction Working the abductors is helpful to help keep the hips open and strong.

Try a moderate resistance band and do 2 – 4 sets of 50 reps. Make it more challenging by not sitting and be more in a squat position so the quads (front of the upper thighs) can feel the added burn. This exercise is great as it adds that lateral component and can make your golf swing more powerful and runners can feel their hips more open leading to a more efficient running gait. I always have a great run the day after walking 9 holes of golf.









How often should I do these exercises? 

2-3 times per week

See if you notice a difference in your golf swing on on the back swing and follow through. How many of the exercises or sports below can you add to your lifestyle or routine that require some degree of spinal rotation?

  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Tennis
  • Soccer (with the lateral running)
  • Golf
  • Badminton
  • Bowling
  • Racquetball
  • Rollerblading or skating
  • Baseball or Softball
  • Ice Skating
  • Taekwondo / Marital Arts
  • Basketball (lateral running combined with running forwards & backwards)
  • Weight training – chop squats, ball knee rotations, lateral shuffles and leg raises

In blog post Part 2 of Spinal Rotation for Golf & Life, I will include pictures and video of me demonstrating a golf conditioning/spinal rotation exercise while a client follows my lead, as well as 2 stretches. You can do these as a warm up before golf or running.

Want to break par or need the expertise & accountability
of a personal trainer & live in Memphis?
Click here for your Free Consult Value $87) or give us a call at 901-466-6242

Interested in our Massage or Body Wraps? Click here.

Don’t live nearby or travel a lot? Check out our customized online training ($40-$80) here:  Online Customized Training

April 2, 2017

As a personal trainer and athlete as well as a mother of young boys I know it’s not always convenient to plan ahead for meals. Planning ahead is essential if you want to have a flatter belly, fit into your clothes and have plenty of energy.

What if i told you that sometimes you need to get in touch with your hunger to make the changes you need to make to get the body changes you are craving?

Weekly the personal trainers at Energy Fitness here in Memphis find ourselves engaged in conversations with clients or acquaintances that state bold remarks as follows:

“When I eat salads or smaller meals I’m starving!”

“I don’t like to eat much for breakfast”

“I know what my problem is…I don’t eat enough during the day and when
I get home I like to have wine and eat too much”

Sometimes the only way to create change is doing something massive to get out of your own way and force change.

You may need to suck it up and be hungry for 3 days
in order to reset your metabolism.

Having a time limit on a behavior change or habit adjustment helps you to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Knowing that you won’t starve to death in 3 days and you are giving your body and digestive system a break to turnover new cells (every 3 days your intestinal cells completely turn over and you have new ones, every 30 days your skin has all new cells).

Chances are that your portions at each meal are way more than you actually need to survive and fuel your body. Continually having more than you need you can stretch your stomach and when you decide to cut back on calories and portions your body fights back by sending your brain hunger signals.

Do you recall a time where you had to go to the doctor for tests and you had to be in a fasting state? Did you go through a period of hunger and then it passed? It’s the same way for changing your portion sizes back down to a reasonable and needed level to reach your weight goal. You just have to know that feeling won’t last forever.

Here are some suggestions to help you get through the hunger pangs.

  • Write down on paper what your meals will be for the next 3 days (you may even want to write down what the 4th day is going to be so you don’t go hog wild crazy and revert back to your old bigger portions sizes).
  • Go to the grocery store with a list and stick to the list. Be sure to grab lots of protein options and fresh veggies including dark leafy greens.
  • This list with pictures may prove helpful: click here for 36 Healthier Picks for quick snacks report)
  • Eat a high protein breakfast containing at least 26 grams of protein.
  • Avoid sugary carbs or juices for breakfast as it just makes you hungrier all day.
  • Exercise and have a protein shake within 30 minutes post workout. Reducing stress with exercise can make you less likely to grab something to put in your mouth to self medicate.
  • Try out new teas. My favorite brands are Yogi and Traditional Medicinals (daily detox comes in different flavors)

Do you remember Stuart Smalling, the character from Saturday Night live that did self affirmations in the mirror each day stating “I’m good enough! I’m Smart Enough…And Dogonit People Like me!”?

Start a gratitude journal or put notes in your phone 5 things each day you are appreciative for. A few examples might be “I am greatful for shelter, hearing, vision, friends, clean water, stove to cook on, plates, utensils, etc.  Also remember that your thoughts are an extension of you and if you are putting it out into the world that you envision positive changes such as better looking skin, stronger, leaner and more beautiful self than you are bringing that frequency within reach.

By crowding your thoughts and day with new things, thoughts and experiences that are positive you crowd out the ability to focus on the negative. Recall what happens if someone says don’t press the red button? That’s all you can think about…pressing the red button!

Try this!

So what if I’m hungry for 3 days…It’s actually good for me and can help me reset my metabolism. I can use this as a step to getting closer to my goal of losing 15 pounds. I will take doable chunks at a time and have gratitude for each step along the way.

Not a personal training client onsite at Energy Fitness, 552 South Main, Memphis, TN 38103 and live in the area? Give us a call at 901-466-6242 or Click here for a FREE Consult (value $87)

Interested in our Massage or Body Wraps? Click here.

Don’t live nearby or travel a lot? Check out our customized online training ($40-$80) here:  Online Customized Training