POUND it out with Katie Gordon!

I’ve been with Four Seasons for over 3 years now – 2 of them as a Group Fitness instructor. My education includes certificates in both personal training and group fitness instruction, as well as WERQ, POUND, Buti Yoga, and Group Power. My passions are fitness, helping others improve their health, and empowering other women to be more and take charge of their life, health and happiness. Outside of the studio I enjoy powerlifting and strongman training, learning more about topics that interest me and spending time with my 3 children and husband.

The thing I love most about instructing is getting to know the people that come to workout with me and learning about some of the extraordinary circumstances that people deal with. From the great-grandparents that want to be able to keep up with their grand-babies, to the women that are struggling with some hardcore but invisible diseases (autoimmune and the like), I am inspired by everyone that joins me in the studio every week. We have such an amazing and diverse population at Four Seasons and it is that a reminder that our differences are what makes life beautiful.

According to the wonderful people who take my classes, my energy and enthusiasm makes me stand out as an instructor. Little do they know, it’s really just the insane amount of coffee I drink shining through! I hope that another thing that makes me stand out is my emphasis on just moving your body in a way that makes you feel strong, powerful, and happy as opposed to punishing it for extra calories or trying to force it to look a certain way. I try to make fitness fun and accessible for everyone because it’s so important to move your body, not just to look a certain way or lose weight but in order to live a long, healthy and happy life. Not that there is anything wrong with losing weight or building muscles, but I try to make that a secondary benefit in my classes. It’s more important for me that my participants leave with a smile on their face than it is for them to burn x amount of calories or feel “bikini ready.”

My favorite thing about Four Seasons is that it really is a family environment. Not just that families are encouraged to be active together, but that the second you walk into the studio on your first day of class, you’re part of the family and we’ve got your back. In almost every class I see one of our ‘regulars’ take a first timer under their wing, and every time it makes my heart smile. That is such a rare thing to find, not just in a gym situation, but over all in life. Most everywhere you go in life there’s competition and jealousy, especially among women. But at Four Seasons, both between the staff and with the members, there’s this huge every growing community that wants to see each other succeed. I also really love the facilities at Four Seasons I for being able to take my children to play in the gym or to swim. And I also love my Childcare ladies. Having started out in Childcare at Four Seasons, I have a special insight into just how special and amazing our Childcare workers are. They love my kids, and all the kids they have in their care, and it shows.

POUND is a movement experience unlike anything I’ve come across. Just the concept – a drumming inspired workout that puts weighted sticks in your hands and puts you through moves that work your muscles and heart but also releases your inner Rockstar- is completely different than any traditional workout I’ve ever come across. It’s this unique blend of cardio and strength work but it does it in a way that, when the class is over, your body is tired but your mind is craving more. The workout goes by so fast and you leave with wobbly legs. The benefits of it are crazy too. You get the heart health benefits of a HIIT style cardio workout, and the ever important bone building work of weight bearing strength workouts that one would expect. Plus, hitting things with sticks is such a fantastic way to release stress, and it’s a great way to improve hand eye coordination and strengthen your brain by forcing you to create connections between the movements and the rhythm. If you’re a science nerd like I am, there have been several studies lately that link drumming and improved Alzheimer’s outcomes. Since my main priority is helping people live longer, healthier lives this POUND perk is important to me, more so than the potential to burn lots of calories! There’s also just something magical about that first strike of each class, when everyone takes a breath, puts aside their day-to-day stresses and comes together to move their bodies and make lots of noise. That moment is what hooked me into POUND. The absolute best part of POUND is that it can be modified to fit your body. We have used steps, Bosu balls, chairs and more to make sure the benefits are accessible to everyone. No matter age, body type or level of fitness – POUND is for you!

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Erin’s Transformation

On November 9, 2014 my life changed forever. I intended to go visit a friend for the evening, but plans were pushed back several times due to different circumstances. My friend and I ended up watching a later movie than initially planned. The movie turned out to be three hours long, which put me on the road at one of the most dangerous times of the night. At approximately 1:29 am, I was struck head-on by a wrong-way drunk driver traveling the wrong way on the expressway. Immediately, my spine shattered- I had two burst fractures at L5 and S4 of my spine—severely compressed nerves, several broken bones, damaged organs and muscles, a severed iliac artery and a concussion. I was paralyzed from the waist down and the doctors did not know if I would walk again or what my recovery would be like. It has been 3 1/2 years of multiple surgeries—eight in total—to repair the damage to my spine and abdomen. I spent 68 days in the hospital, including the rehab hospital, and another two years subsequently in outpatient rehab learning how to walk again and alternatively use the bathroom.

The following year and a half, I focused on being a new wife and I joined my husband at the gym since we both love to be active.Going to the gym was something I had always loved to do. As a prior Group X instructor and personal trainer throughout college and beyond, I prided myself on my strength and fitness knowledge. To think that working out in the same way and doing normal things such as squats and lunges was something I may have lost completely broke my heart. But because of great medical care, a lot of faith, and a great support system, my surgeons told me time and time again that I have beat the odds. Don’t get me wrong, I still have all of the same issues as paraplegics- as that is my official diagnosis—I can just walk. My gait is not normal, but to an untrained eye, it looks pretty good. While my recovery may never be complete, and I may never be who I once was, or have the strength in my lower half that I once did, I have learned to adapt. I still struggle with pretty weak calves due to nerve damage. The calves control all movement of the feet making balance hard and orthotics necessary.

 

Finding a gym where I could feel comfortable despite my newfound disability and limitations was key. Working out at Four Seasons has given me a lot of hope. I have been able to attend several of the classes and focus on what I am able to physically do—which turns out to be a LOT. I love the group fitness class setting and I am over the moon grateful to be able to participate again. Other participants may notice me sometimes holding onto the wall or the structure beam in the room to balance. Going to classes gives a lot of opportunity to interact with others and workout to an already-formed workout routine to fun music. Because of my fitness background, I am able to modify exercises as necessary and all of the instructors have been very accepting of this. I also love the teaching style of the instructors as they are upbeat, understanding of current fitness trends, and make sure to focus on a lot of safety cues, which keep participants like myself and others safe.

 

The Four Seasons location closer to where my husband and I now live also has a pool. I have just discovered how much I love swimming for sport, and how free I feel in a pool. In the pool, my limitations feel less burdensome somehow. I’ve always considered myself a “fish” and having a pool, which is really good for my body and easy on my joints and back, has been super helpful. I hope to join a swim team soon and I plan on using the Four Seasons gym to train. This gives me a goal. while keeping me fit at the same time. Four Seasons is overall a great gym with plenty of space, different kinds of fitness equipment and group classes. I consider comfortability in a gym super high on my priorities list when deciding on a place to work out, and I feel extremely comfortable here. There is a great mix of all kinds of people, which makes it more of a win in my book!

-Erin Rollins

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Gains! Making Progress & Pushing Through Plateaus

Many are looking to increase their strength and lean body mass struggle to make the meaningful gains they expect when they pursue an exercise program. There are many factors that can influence progress in both positive and negative ways. Some things to consider are:

Exercise Intensity: Intensity matters! Muscles don’t want to change and must be worked well beyond their normal capacity to force adaptive responses.

Here’s how to increase the intensity of a workout:
Work to failure – Are you pushing yourself to your failure points to force your body to change or are you coming in and doing the 8-12 reps at the same weight each week? You must test your limits if you ever want to force change. One way to keep pushing forward is by working to muscle failure. Muscle failure occurs when you reach a point where you can’t do one more clean rep without cheating or using bad form. There are many ways to leverage failure in your programs…rest/pause training, drop sets, timed rest, and negative reps to name a few. Ask a trainer.
Change your tempo – Are you so worried about getting to a number of reps that you are speeding through your sets? Give your muscles the time under tension they need to change by using the 1:3 rule, 1 second on the concentric (lifting/pulling) movement and 3 seconds on the eccentric (lowering) movement.
Increase the resistance, increase reps – As your muscles adapt, stress them more each workout by increasing resistance or adding more repetitions.

 

Overtraining: Overtraining often occurs when you don’t give your muscles adequate recovery time and rest between workouts prior to working the same muscles again. If you find yourself doing 35 sets for the same muscle group or working the exact same body parts hard on successive days, you might be overtraining. Building muscle and strength is an adaptive process of tearing down and allowing your body to build back up.  More is not always better. 

Types of exercises: Are you doing the right exercises to meet your goals? Are you neglecting entire muscle groups because don’t like doing certain exercises? Your trainers can work with you to choose key foundational exercises that are going to work big muscle groups and bring balance to your body. (Don’t skip leg day!)

 Not being consistent or training infrequently – Missed workouts are the bane of anyone trying to get results. Make sure you are stressing your muscles in a frequency that is right for your body.

Nutrition (of course): To spark those gains you have to definitely eat nutrient dense foods that give your body the building blocks and recovery fuel necessary to make progress. Empty calories like sugary sodas, candy bars, and potato chips can work against your energy levels and desired body composition. Muscles also need protein in abundance to grow, so make good choices to get the protein needed. It’s not by accident that protein is a key component in post-workout smoothies. If you find it hard to get enough protein in your regular diet, invest in a quality protein powder to substitute for snacks and supplement your meals. – Personal Trainer, Ray Haddox

 

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More to the Core-Stop with all the crunches!

As a trainer, one of the terms we most frequently hear is “Core.” Generally it is used when an individual is describing their mid-section or more specifically the abdominal muscles. And while yes, these muscles are part of the “core,” they are just a fraction of what makes up the core. So once you better understand the functionality of the core, besides it being aesthetically pleasing at a low body fat, you will know how to maximize core-specific training. In other words STOP WITH ALL THE CRUNCHES!

So what exactly is the core? The core is all musculature from the shoulders to the knees. We can further define this as “all the muscles that attach to your hips, pelvis, and low back” according to Cosgrove and Schuler, authors of The New Rules of Lifting for Abs. The core is all the musculature that surrounds, supports and engages movement of the torso or keeps it stable while the extremities are in motion. That’s right, it’s not just used for sit-ups.

From here the core can then be broken down into three different parts: the inner core and the two chains of the outer core. Without going too much into the specific anatomy, here’s a quick breakdown. The inner core is comprised of the diaphragm, pelvic floor, multifidi and transverse abdominis. The outer core is comprised of the anterior chain (front of body) and posterior chain (back of body). Most people are familiar with the rectus abdominis (six pack), obliques, and hip flexors. But since the core goes to the knees this also includes the hamstrings and glutes. Also shoulders and down so the lats, and traps. Basically when stating you want to train your core, most people are referring to the abs when in actuality the core is so much more than just the abs.

With that being said and what you are reading this for is “How does this apply to me?” well, I will tell you. For the most part “doing crunches is a complete waste of time”, that’s right I said it. Besides the general fact of you shouldn’t be trying to bend your spine from an anatomical standpoint it doesn’t really offer an effective training adaptation. Exercises such as planks, side planks, dead bugs (isolative core strength) offer a more effective result. Along with Deadlifts, squats, sprinting, and real-world movements (dynamic core strength). It’s with these exercises and as I mentioned before a low body fat percentage you will be able to see not just your abdominal muscles, but your entire core.

If you are interested in learning more about core training please schedule a free consultation with one of our certified personal trainers. Not only can we help get you a better mid-section, but help truly strengthen the core and reduce the chance of injury. And like I say “You can look like a million bucks, but if you don’t feel good is it really worth it? We don’t just build bodies for the beach. We build bodies for life and functionality”. -Personal Trainer, Matthew Welker

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Staff Spotlight: Jennifer Ince, Program Coordinator

Today we are celebrating Jennifer Ince, Program Coordinator at Four Seasons Health Club! 

Jennifer has been teaching Group Fitness for almost 7 years and has been at Four Seasons for 3.5 years.  She started out as a Group Fitness Instructor and was promoted to Program Coordinator in May of 2017.  Her passion for fitness came from years of competitive running and lead her to pursue a Masters Degree in Exercise Science.  She’s always been fascinated in the science behind bio-mechanics and how that relates to exercise. Jennifer also holds a special place in her heart for working with our nation’s youth in order to prevent and end childhood obesity. She’s proud that Four Seasons has partnered with so many schools in the Bloomington-Normal community, so we can bring fun group fitness programs to their P.E. departments. Jennifer firmly believe that exercise should be enjoyable and is constantly looking for ways to bring some of our Four Seasons Group Fitness classes into the community!

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