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Your Smart, Dynamic Body

Earlier this month, I had the incredible opportunity to spend the weekend at 1440 Multiversity to take a course on Dynamic Aging co-taught by movement and yoga/mobility pioneers Katy Bowman and Jill Miller. While I am still processing all of the juicy content from the weekend, the one overarching message from the course is that our bodies are smart and they adapt quickly.  As you delve into the details, this can be both good and bad.

 

The benefit of quick adaptation is that we are resilient.  For example, if you’ve ever broken your toe, you know that your body adopts a new walking pattern so that you can still walk while giving the damaged toe time to heal. However, once your toe has healed, you likely still walk like a person with a broken toe because your body has adapted to that new movement pattern. The magnitude of the movement change depends on the severity and duration of the trigger that caused it. This change in movement pattern can cause excessive wear and tear on tissues and joints and be a trigger for chronic movement dysfunction and pain.

 

The good news is that you can break this cycle (and Alkalign can help). First, identify your (bad) adaptations. Do you have imbalances in your strength, coordination or mobility on one side vs. the other? What is your body compensating for and why?  Alkalign’s balanced strength building classes and trained instructors can help you identify this for yourself. Then, restore and maintain mobility by staying for the final stretch and taking Recharge and + Recharge classes.

 

Finally, move mindfully and diversify your movement.  All Alkalign classes help you learn how to do this. However, 1 class is only 4% of your day.  Take your education outside of our studios and into your car, office, and home. Sit in as many different ways as possible; put your pants on with your left leg first; walk to places that are less than 1 mile from your home.  Your body will thank you today and for years to come.

 

Want to learn more? Check out this video on the Alkalign YouTube Channel on how Alkalign can help you rehab your movement.

 


CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO ALKALIGN’S YOUTUBE CHANNEL


 

Lizzie Hammerman: Beyond the Metrics

If you’ve been to an Alkalign Studio, you might have noticed the airy, open feel of our studio space. There are no machines or closets full of equipment. We enhance our practice with simple props like straps, bands, and balls, but really encourage our clients to spend their time with us focusing on what their body is doing and feeling during class. Our decision to minimize the amount of equipment we use and to leave technology out in the hallways of studios is intentional and is at the foundation of what we do.

 

Alkalign is about mindful, purposeful movement in order to train (and re-train) you to move better in your body.  Screens and dashboards force your attention elsewhere and impair your ability to make brain-body connections. Our # 1 core value is “pay attention”. The use of metrics makes that harder, not easier.

 

Screens, dashboards and spreadsheets impair our ability to connect with the instructor and our fellow classmates.  We come together in the studio to support each and connect as a real community. Make eye contact with someone who might need a little encouragement or someone who you admire. We’re here for each other, it’s not a competition.

 

It is easy to become reliant on the machine (megaformer, bike, treadmill, heart rate monitor) for your workout.  At Alkalign, we teach self-reliance. YOU are the machine and are in full control of it.

 

In this modern world, we spend so much of our time in front of screens and interacting with online “communities”. We are losing personal connection.  We are committed to the brick and mortar studio because we believe that face-to-face interaction and physical touch is both necessary and therapeutic/healing.

 

Have you ever had the number on the scale make or break your day (or week)? That reaction is deeply ingrained in our brain, but is so counter-productive to our wellness. We want our clients to gauge their success by how they feel and in the small victories in class and in their day – not a number on a scale, dashboard, spreadsheet, etc.

 

Metrics are not as objective as you think. Machine calibration may vary and your heart rate can be influenced by your hydration, sleep or how well you have recovered from a previous workout. Pay attention to how you feel and connect that to your behavior outside the studio. What is working? What is not? Maybe you need a rest day or more sleep?  Identify causes vs. react to symptoms.

 

Lizzie Hammerman runs the Program Innovation and Franchise Development at Alkalign. She joined the corporate team at its inception in 2015  and is responsible for evolving Alkalign’s class offerings.

 

How Much Does Your Fitness Instructor Know?

 

As someone who holds several nationally recognized group fitness certifications, I can tell you from experience that not all certifications are equal. Although some of the more comprehensive ones require a basic knowledge of anatomy and a rudimentary demonstration of acquired skills, nothing compares to the rigor of Alkalign Instructor Certification, which each instructor at our studios holds. Here are just a few things that make our program unique:

 

 

Your instructors practice — a lot.
In addition to spending 8 weeks attending workshops to learn how to safely and effectively teach you all of the exercises that make up an Alkalign class, our trainees complete nearly 200 hours of on-the-job training such as observing class and completing self-study modules on topics including using props in class and creating an inspiring playlist. Our Cardio and Recharge instructors commit to even more training.  We believe that the best way to learn is to practice, and our instructors dedicate themselves to their practice.

 

The program is focused on you, our clients.
Learning how to cue the full repertoire of Alkalign exercises is actually a very small part of the training. Our real focus is on how to connect with our clients, how to adjust them into their best position, and how to knowledgeably offer modifications so that everyone who walks through our doors feels successful but challenged in class.

 

Your instructors are dedicated to continuing education.
The Alkalign instructor certification is a “living certification.” Our team members deepen their knowledge and hone their skills at our Immersion weekends and during ad hoc workshops and master classes held throughout the year.  

 

The program is based on science.
Our trainees attend a detailed functional anatomy course as part of their training, and they don’t just learn the names of the bones and muscles. They also learn how these components work together to move your body in a safe, functional and sustainable way. In addition, our training program is ever-evolving, so our instructors learn the latest research in sports science, kinesiology and rehabilitative therapy.    

 

Our instructors embody our brand, and, as you can see, we are committed to quality. We hope you feel that in every class you take!

 

Interested in learning more about becoming an Alkalign instructor? A new round of training begins this fall. Email Lizzie for more information.

Cardio + Recharge Power Hour

Alkalign Cardio + Recharge

Did you know that there are 5 components to fitness? According to the National Association of Sports Medicine, these components are: cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility/mobility, and body composition. I know what you are thinking: “I barely have enough time to target one of those! Now you are telling me that I have to make time for five?” Yes, but it’s a lot easier than you might think. For example, in a Cardio + Recharge class, you target all of the components of fitness in one powerful hour.

 

Cardiovascular Endurance:

Your heart is pumping, and your lungs are working in the 45 minutes of interval-based cardiovascular training that you get in the cardio portion of a Cardio + Recharge class. Over time, your cardiovascular system gets stronger, and you’ll feel the progress as you recover faster during the active recoveries and cool down.

 

Muscular Strength:

If you have ever cursed your teacher’s name the day after a class when you get out of a chair or go up the stairs, you’ve felt delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). All those lunges and squats during class create micro tears in your muscles that result in the soreness you feel the next day. The great news is that as those tears heal, you build stronger muscle which supports your bones and joints, as well as raise your resting metabolic rate.

 

Muscular Endurance:

Hello superset! Not only are you getting an amazing cardiovascular challenge during these 4 minutes of non-stop action, but you are also challenging your muscles by asking them to work continuously without rest. If you‘ve tried this class format, you’ve experienced the endurance challenge as well. Your lean, endurance muscle keeps you going through the superset and all day outside of class.

 

Alkalign Cardio + Recharge

Flexibility/mobility:

Stretching helps restore your muscles to their original length, and it feels great. That’s why we always encourage you to stay for the final stretch. But if you really want to take your functional mobility to the next level, the 15 minutes of self-care that is the Recharge portion of the class is what you really need. Our massage-therapy-ball techniques will help you find all of your tight spots that have lost mobility and function due to injury, tension, or poor body mechanics and alignment. We will help you nestle a ball right into those spots to restore the normal slide and glide of your tissues.

 

Body composition:

Properly addressing the other four fitness components and focusing on proper nutrition, hydration, and sleep (all part of our Nourish program), will help this part of your fitness fall into place.

 

Join us for a Cardio + Recharge class and feel the benefits of this incredibly efficient hour!

 

Why we roll (Wanna be a baller)

Alkalign Studios Myfascial Release Recharge
According to the American Council on Exercise, your friend who can run a marathon but can’t touch her toes is not considered fit. There are three components to fitness: cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, and flexibility.  As our modern, hectic lives require us to spend more time sitting, flexibility work is even more important but often neglected. Sitting for sustained periods creates muscle imbalances in the body. The position shortens your hip flexors and quadriceps, causes your spine to flex and shoulders to roll forward and shortens your pectoral muscles. All of this can result in poor posture, musculoskeletal pain, muscle adhesions, and increased risk of injuries.

 

While our Barre Align classes bring attention to correct posture, strengthen the underused muscles and stretch the overused ones, there are limitations to what stretching can do to improve flexibility.

 

Muscle adhesions or “knots” develop from overuse, tissue trauma, stress, and a variety of other causes. These adhesions reduce the elasticity of muscles, reduce joint range of motion and can cause pain for some people. Think of these adhesions as a knot in a rubber band. When you stretch the rubber band, the knot tightens but does not go away. That is where Myofascial Release (MR) can help.

 

MR uses tools to find your adhesions and eliminate them through rolling, sustained pressure and other release techniques. The result is restored muscle function, improved joint mobility, decreased musculoskeletal pain, reduced muscle imbalances, and less stress.

 

At Alkalign we are currently developing a class format called ‘Recharge’ that incorporates therapeutic stretching and Myofascial Release to complement the strengthening and cardiovascular exercise you are getting and offset the affects of daily wear and tear on our bodies. The full 60-min Recharge class will start in August. In the meantime, we are offering weekly workshops on Myofascial Release with local Myofascial Release Therapist Wendy Figone beginning 7.12.15 at our Menlo Park studio from 2-3:30 pm. Space is limited to sign up here.

 

You can also get a preview of our Recharge class after select Cardio Align and Barre Express classes taught by Master Instructors Michelle, Lizzie, Erin and Vanessa. If you’d like to learn more about Recharge, please email us: info@alkalignstudios.com

 

We look forward to rolling with you!

Workout Tips

Alkalign Studios Menlo Park + Los Altos | Barre Fitness | Cardio Align

By making regular physical activity part of your routine, you are in the top 48% of Americans that get the CDC-recommended 150 minutes of moderate activity every week. Now that you have experienced the mental and physical benefits that Alkalign’s programming offers, you may have wondered how you can take your practice to the next level. Here are a few tips on how to make the most out of your workout:

  • Be prepared: The Boy Scouts are right, showing up to class prepared is one of the most important things you can do to ensure that you get the most out of your workout. Drink 8-12 oz. of water before class or bring a water bottle into the studio so that you can sip between sets. Carry a pair of grippy socks in your bag. If you plan on coming during a busy time, reserve your spot so that you can show up, sign in, and grab your spot in the room.
  • Unplug: Leave your phone, work, family, and “to-do” list(s) outside the studio door.  This is your time to focus on you, what the instructor saying, get lost in the music, and find your inner balance. Clinical studies have found that intentionally focusing attention on the muscles you’re working leads to increased muscle contraction, and thus better results. [1]
  • Take the options: Today might be the day that you can do plank on your toes or take the arm release during High-C and stay engaged. But how do you know if you don’t try? According to the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America, you must fatigue your muscles in order to get stronger. In every exercise, make sure that you are reaching the point of fatigue.
  • Breathe: Not only will effective breathing feed much-needed oxygen to your muscles allowing you to work harder, but it can deepen muscular engagement during abdominal exercises. Exhale sharply to help engage your transversus abdominis during flatback and c-curve to get more benefit from those exercises.
  • Ask questions: Your instructors go through a rigorous training process to ensure that they are experts in each exercise. If you are not sure if you are doing something right, please ask!
  • Stay: You made it to class, you shook through thigh work, and you burned through seatwork. Why miss the reward of the final stretch? Not only is final stretch a great time to reflect on the time spent, but it helps improve flexibility and joint range of motion. It also increases blood flow to muscles which may help decrease soreness, according to Mayo Clinic.
[1] D. Marchant, M. Grieg, C. Scott. Attentional Focusing Strategies Influence Muscle Activity During Isokinetic Biceps Curls. Athletic Insight [online journal].
Not all cardio is created equal: Why Interval training is better

Alkalign Studios Menlo Park + Los Altos | Barre Fitness | Cardio Align

If you have taken Cardio Align, you have probably seen that little orange timer that your instructor clings to like a precious gem. There is a good reason for that; our cardiovascular interval sequencing is specifically designed to ensure that you get the most effective workout during your 45-minute sweat session. Why is interval training better than traditional endurance cardiovascular training?

Interval training is more efficient than traditional cardiovascular training. A study in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that a small group of both fit and sedentary men and women doubled their cardiovascular endurance after only two weeks of interval training. The control group saw no improvement. It gets better… This study also showed that after interval training, the amount of fat burned in an hour of moderate cardiovascular exercise increased by 36% and the heart and lungs’ ability to provide oxygen to the body increased by 13%. The interval training design used in our Cardio Align class will help maximize the physiological benefits of your workout.

 

You burn more calories and boost your metabolism. This is due to a physiological phenomenon called Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption, or EPOC. When you work at a high intensity, your body uses more oxygen than it can take in and that creates an oxygen deficit. That means that your body is burning extra calories (6 – 15% more according to the American College of Sports Medicine) to replenish its oxygen reserves while you are sipping your Peets latte after class. The EPOC window is usually about two hours long, but can continue for up to 48 hours after class!

 

Interval training keeps your mind active. Anyone who has spent time on a treadmill knows how excruciatingly boring cardiovascular workouts can be. At Alkalign, we want to make sure that both your body and mind are active in every class. Interval training not only challenges body, but the quick transitions and exercise variety in our Cardio Align format are designed to keep you engaged and focused and to make the 45 minutes fly by.

 


 

Sources:

Jaret. P. A Healthy Mix of Rest and Motion, New York Times, May 3, 2007
HIIT Workout: What It Is And Why It Works
American College of Sports Medicine High Intensity Interval Training