Pop Quiz! What do the following things have in common?
A small child
A box of stuff
A suitcase or travel bag
Pause to think…
Did you get it? All of those things could be something we need to pick up off the ground at some point in our lives, or perhaps, quite often. Whether or not you go to the gym, we’re all weight lifters. It’s something our bodies are designed to do. Unfortunately, a lot of people do it wrong, and doing it wrong leads to a lot of injuries every year. And believe it or not, yes, people have blown out their backs bending over to pick up a pencil off the ground—literally the straw that broke the camel’s back.
So check out the latest video from Montana Moves! In this video, I talk about a fundamental movement pattern, the hip-hinge, which everyone should practice and perfect. Then we move on to lifting things off the ground and putting them back down properly. When practiced in the gym setting or at home, it’s great for building strength and confidence.
One of my goals as the MUS Exercise & Fitness Specialist is that all of our employees know how to properly do a squat, and lift things off the ground properly. When we lift properly, not only do we minimize the chance of an injury, but we feel stronger and more functional as well.
It’s been a wild few days, but I can finally sit down at my laptop to jot down a few thoughts and share a few pics. The route I chose to ride across Montana hasn’t been front loaded with cell towers and wi-fi, but in a way that’s a good thing.
So far, my adventure has been better than I could’ve scripted, and has exceeded expectations. I still have many miles to go, but right now I couldn’t be happier. The first day of real riding turned out to be a lot harder than I expected. It was uphill, into the wind, and hot. By the time I had done 71 miles and arrived at McGregor Lake, I was fairly smoked. A nice meal and lots of water helped. Despite the less-than-optimal riding conditions, my journey along the Kootenai River and the Great Northern Railway was gorgeous.
On Monday, I rolled into Kalispell via an outstanding shared use path created by Northwest Montana Rails to Trails. A few miles outside of the city, I was greeted by an enthusiastic group of a dozen riders from Flathead Valley Community College. It was one of those perfect summer days for riding, and everyone was in good spirits—just excited to be outside, together, and having fun. As we arrived at FVCC, we were greeted by even more employees, and were able to hang out for a while and enjoy some coffee and snacks. I felt overwhelmed and very grateful. Thank you so much FVCC!
After stopping at FVCC, it was on to Glacier National Park. At GNP, I met one of my friends who would be cycling with me from the Park. Camping at Apgar, we had our first real weather event of the trip that night. As I lay in my tent, I heard a few drops of rain.
“It will just be a quick shower that passes right over”, I thought.
Wrong. It poured, for at least 2 or 3 hours. It was a real soaker, but luckily the inside of my tent remained pretty dry. The next day was supposed to be a rest day, but we found out that Going to the Sun Road was closed to vehicles, but open to bikes. We also learned that the road was almost ready, and could open any time. I thought this was a golden opportunity, so we went for it. Instead of resting as planned, my friend Chris and I stared the journey up to Logan Pass.
It was incredible. That’s all I can say. That’s all we kept saying all the way up. Some variation on, “This is incredible” or “I can’t believe we get to do this”. If you’ve ever been to Glacier, you know that photos don’t do it justice, but I’ll post some anyway.
Finally, today we rode from St. Mary’s on the east side of the Park to Duyuper. Talk about some wind. Wow. Fortunately, the wind was at our back for about 80% of the ride and we were flying. For one 10-mile stretch, we averaged 26 miles per hour and weren’t even pedaling hard! Unreal. The fast time gave me some much needed bonus downtime this afternoon.
Tomorrow it’s on to Great Falls College, where I’ll be stopping for another employee meet-and-greet at 3pm. If you’re in Great Falls, I’d love to see you there! My fingers are crossed for more tailwinds tomorrow!
I’m less than a month away from my Ride Across Montana (RAM), and my excitement is building along with my nerves. My training is going well, and the logistics are coming together, but there’s always the self-doubt that comes along with the unknown. I’ve done a few mulit-day bike tours, but never one as long as this. On the other hand, it’s a ride, not a race. No one will have a clock on me. I just have to keep moving, and I’ll have plenty of daylight following the summer solstice.
So far, I’ve logged over 50 hours in the saddle in preparation, and I have a little less than three weeks to train hard before I shut it down and take a few recovery days before the ride begins on June 25th.
Here’s a list of MUS stops on my tour:
Monday, June 26th. Flathead Valley CC, Kalispell
Thursday, June 29th. Great Falls College MSU
Friday, June 30th. Central Agricultural Research Center MSU, Moccasin
Monday, July 3rd. Dawson CC, Glendive & Eastern Agricultural Research Center MSU, Sidney
We’re working on some informal meet & greets at each stop, so if you’re at one of these locations, I look forward to seeing you! More info will be forthcoming as the RAM approaches!
Here’s a few “training” pics. I’m really excited to share more from the road in a few weeks! Follow along right here or on the Montana Moves twitter feed!
Cristin and I spend a lot of time talking about goal setting, and then how to apply healthy behaviors to help achieve the stated goal. It’s kind of our shtick. Every January, your Wellness Team practices what we preach by writing down some professional, personal, and athletic goals for the year. If I’m being honest, I probably get most excited about the athletic goals 🙂
This year, and I don’t know exactly where it came from, I had a crazy idea. You might call it a stretch goal, and I’m talking about a big stretch. But I wrote it down. As I like to say, “It’s not really a goal until you write it down.” After I wrote it down, I started talking about it to my close friends and family, and I was surprised by their excitement and support. Then I started thinking about it logistically. How would I do this? What would it look like? How much help would I need? Could I make it? Then I started training for it. And now, I’m saying it publicly, so it gets even more real.
This summer, I’m going to ride my road bike across Montana. (Yikes!)
I’m calling it the RAM (Ride Across Montana), and I’m really excited about the challenge and the adventure; and I’m especially excited to share it with you! I’m lucky enough to tour this amazing state of ours via automobile as part of my job, and there isn’t a spot I visit that I don’t enjoy. So why not go by bike, and connect some amazing dots?
I won’t give away all the details yet, but I will tell you that I will be crossing and visiting several MUS locations on my trip. There is also plans for a video, plus lots of photos and stories, which I’ll be sharing here and via twitter. Oh, and Going-to-the-Sun Road. Yeah. I’m riding that.
The RAM is happening in late June/early July. I hope you’ll come along for the journey!
Disclaimer: Many exercises and drills demonstrated in this video are advanced, and include ballistic and high impact movements. Make sure you have a good foundation of general strength and conditioning before utilizing some of these movements. Exercise reps/times in the video are suggestions only. Reps/times should be based on the individual’s fitness level and training history. This video is intended to demonstrate individual warm-ups and exercises that can be utilized as part of a training program, it is not intended to be a stand-alone, guided exercise routine.
Winter is finally visiting Montana this week, which means fun wintry activities are almost here! It also means many of us move more of our formal exercise to the cozy indoor confines of the gym. Join our webinar tomorrow (11/15)—Gym Bloopers: Common Gym mistakes and how to avoid them—to learn how to utilize your time in the gym safely and effectively. We’ll also show some epic gym fails to make you feel good about yourself, no matter what your gym IQ may be 😉
Gym Bloopers: Common Gym mistakes and how to avoid them. Hosted by Neal Andrews, MUS Wellness Exercise & Fitness Specialist. Tuesday, November 15th at noon.
Although I’ve enjoyed having my life back this week, I’ve had a bit of Olympic withdrawal. I have to admit, I’m an Olympic junkie, and this year, I got my 4-year-old son hooked too. His favorites were Ledecky and Bolt. The kid knows how to pick a winner I guess.
I like the Olympics for many reasons—the sport, the spectacle, the competition—but I also find it inspiring to watch human beings that are absolutely in peak physical condition and laser-focused on their game. So much work has gone into what they do, that it’s hard not to share in the celebration of their triumphs and the heartbreak of when things fall short. It’s the familiar thrill of victory and agony of defeat.
During the 17-day Olympic Games, around 11,000 athletes competed, and there were 65 Olympic and 19 World Records broken or tied. This should hopefully put into a little perspective how hard it is to break a world record. On the other hand, I really enjoy seeing athletes who were excited just to set personal bests. Maybe they wouldn’t even make their event final, but they gave their best at the Olympics. That should feel good, regardless of where they finished overall. While World Records boggle my mind, I can still relate to the feeling of a personal best. All of us can.
While the chances are slim for us non-Olympic types to set a World Record, it always feels good to set a personal best, and that’s something that’s achievable with a little goal-setting and effort. Many of you have done just that during this month’s Montana Moves challenge through our MUS Wellness Incentive program, and, just like Olympians, we find you to be inspiring! Some of you shared your personal bests by posting on the site, and we wanted to list a few of those bests. Way to go MUS!
I have worked out every day for the last 30 days! Love to keep it going!
Most steps in a day
This month was a focus on personal best for stress. I don’t deal well with stress but I am focusing on meditation (another great challenge topic on here!), breathing and focusing on solving the problems I can and not worrying about those I cannot. This has helped decrease stress a lot! So much that I’ve decreased body pain and I feel a lot healthier! I also sleep better at night when not worrying so much!
On track with my workout plan, I have gone to the gym two weeks in a row, 4 days a week. This is my personal best.
Completed an entire week of alternative transportation to work!
This week I biked six out of seven days, commuting to work and running errands, totaling just over 60 miles for the week!
I set a record high step count this week and for the first time ranked first on my friends list!
Most days hitting over 10,000 steps and standing 1/2 a day at work.
Swam 2k without break
Hiked to the top of Lone Peak – a goal of mine for many years!
Yoga 6 days out of 7!
1st place in my age group 5K today. Not my fastest time ever (great for hills and heat and altitude though) but never finished 1st.
As you can see from the list, there are many ways to set a Personal Best. Congrats to all of you who’ve hit one this month! If you haven’t, there’s still two more weekends to go for this challenge, plenty of time! But it doesn’t end this month. My wish for all of you is for you to always continue to strive for your best at every age and station of life!
No matter what our main discipline is, we can’t forget the fundamentals.
This week, I had a very good friend visit for a couple of days. This is a friend I worked alongside in the fitness industry during my time in New York City. The afternoon he arrived we went on a run around some of our urban trails in Bozeman and we got to catch up a bit. Last year, both of us experienced a few minor, annoying lower-body injuries that limited our running training, and we were discussing that, because thankfully we’re both feeling healthier this year.
“What’d you do to get better?” I asked him.
“Worked on my hip mobility and did a lot of core exercise, strangely enough.” he replied.
He said the words strangely enough with emphasis, and a hint of irony, as if to say, “we know this is important, but you actually have to do it.”
It’s true, as a fitness professional, I know the importance of having a strong core and mobile hip joints, but I can’t say these are my favorite things to spend time on during my exercise time. I’d rather be doing all the fun stuff, like running on a trail, or riding my bike, or hiking up a mountain, or lifting in the gym, or playing sports. I love the fun stuff.
But the fact is, no matter what our main discipline is, we can’t forget the fundamentals, and in fitness and athletics, the fundamentals truly run through the hips and the core. The largest, most powerful muscles in our bodies attach at our hip joints and pelvis, and from there those big strong muscles run up and down to our legs or spine. When we lack proper mobility through our hips, and decent strength in our core musculature (the muscles tasked with stabilizing our spine and pelvis as we move), there are a lot of problems that can manifest themselves. Some of these problems may be muscular imbalances or strains, or more serious joint issues, especially pain or injury around the knees or lumbar spine.
If this sounds like a familiar pattern, be sure to incorporate hip mobility and core strengthening exercises as a regular part of your exercise routine. It’s true, these things may not be the most fun you can have in the gym, but what is fun is being able to do all the other things you enjoy in life without pain.
Here are some practical ideas to help you get started if you need a nudge in the right direction.
Be sure to properly warmup before exercising, and include movements to mobilize your hips
Stretch! Especially after exercise
Take a yoga class
Work with a personal trainer for a few sessions to learn some hip mobility and core strengthening exercises