September 12, 2019

**DISCLAIMER!!**

To get the full benefit of this blog, I suggest listening to “Eye of the Tiger”.

Ready? Alright, so this blog is all about POWER!  And the importance of adding power exercises into your training protocol.

We all know what speed is, and we know what strength is, but what exactly is power and why should we care? Power is defined as the ability to exert the maximum force AS FAST AS POSSIBLE. Therefore, we can’t have speed without power. Power is also related to strength.

So why increase the power of our muscles? It’s simple, when training to increase the power of our muscles, we’re training our central nervous system. Just one of the many functions of the central nervous system is to control the movements of the muscles. So, when we are training our central nervous system, say with power exercises, we are training our body to control its own muscles with precision and efficiency. This in turn means, we have better muscle endurance. We end up being able to do more exercises without feeling that muscle fatigue during our workout. This also means there will be less muscle soreness felt after the workout. This might be a hard concept for some people to wrap their head around, as people generally want to feel that muscle soreness after a workout. **As a side note, just because you don’t feel sore, doesn’t mean you didn’t put in the work at the gym, your muscles are just getting more efficient at taking that lactic acid away. **

Will our muscle mass increase and look more muscular when we do power exercises? No, and that is because power exercises use muscle fibers that we already have. Again, power exercises are training the central nervous system, not the actual muscle. Since power exercises don’t “bulk” us up, this makes them ideal to throw into the routine near a race. The increase in power will help with muscle endurance, and the added muscle bulk won’t weigh you down during the race. And if there are no races planned in the near future, power exercises are good to add in anytime.

If you want to add a day of power exercises to a workout routine, all you have to do is drop the weight, increase the amount of repetitions done and do every repetition as quickly as possible. If you find you’re still lagging in the speed, drop the weight some more. Don’t forget to take a break between the sets too! Don’t be afraid to even take a break between each rep if you need to. And if you’re doing a movement quick enough, you may need to take a break.

Here are two categories of power exercises you can try at the gym:

  1. Plyometrics are a group of exercises that promote high movement with a lot of muscle fiber recruitment in a short amount of time. The time when the body comes into contact with the ground needs to be short!

Example: Depth jump

  1. Speed-strength sets: This category of power exercises is when you perform multi-joint, full body lifts as quickly and explosively as possible, but with LIGHTER weight.

Example: Body-weight squat, cable row

There you have it. We now know why power is important (trains your CNS), what power does for our muscles (increases endurance), when do add power into our training protocol (any time or near a race) and different types of power exercises (plyometrics and speed-strength).

 

Now, go try it out and all the power to you! (sorry)

Dylan Crake
Registered Kinesiologist
Registered Massage Therapist

August 29, 2019

Mobility doesn’t equal flexibility.

There I said it.

And static stretching has the potential to worsen an injury, if one is present! So how do we become more mobile? Why do we need mobility? and what even is mobility?

Mobility is about having the ability for joints to move through the full range of motion, with NO pain and ease of movement! It is essentially how you and your body move together. The more mobility you have, the more self-awareness you gain.

And, do you know what happens when you have more self-awareness? You know when something doesn’t feel right, sooner, within your body, such as a possible injury. Mobility means you catch the signs of an injury when it first happens, leading you to get the help you need and stop the pain in its tracks. Isn’t that amazing?!

 

We need to be mobile. Simple as that. We need to be able to move through day-to-day life in order to get from Place A to Place B.  Surprisingly, strength training assists with this. “Hold up !” you might be thinking, “doesn’t increasing strength mean limiting the range of motion of those joints?” No! The stronger the joints, the more control you have over those joints, therefore more mobility you have! Therefore, if you want to get more mobile, get stronger.

Furthermore, when enhancing mobility in our bodies, it is important to do incremental changes. This allows the body to adapt slowly and not go “What the heck are you doing?!?!” when you decided to foam roll your quads for 30 minutes once a week.

 

Everyone benefits from working on their mobility. How do I know this? If you think about it, most people stay within a limited range of motion for the majority of the day (i.e., sitting at a desk). This means you’re essentially missing half of your range of motion at your hips during the day! Also, when most people are moving, they typically move in one direction, I haven’t bumped into anyone (yet) that walks side-to-side. This again, limits our range of motion! The limited range of motion can cause a decrease in the sought, after mobility, leading to faulty movement patterns, which then leads to loss of movement economy, therefore a loss of energy and can make you prone to more injuries! It’s a giant chain reaction.

So, what can you do to increase your mobility? Exercise and massage! The two things I know best. Some simple exercises to add in throughout your day could include:

  • Leg Swings: swing your legs side to side, increasing your hip mobility and getting them to move in a direction they don’t normally move in
  • Frankenstein Walks: Bring your legs up in front of you, with control, while walking, increasing the hip range of motion again, working on balance and proprioception.
  • Walking lunge: Working on that hip range of motion, along with balance and proprioception.
  • Deep-body weight squats: Get down as low as you can without toppling over. This is a great position to be in if you just want to hang out. Watching tv and a commercial comes on? Go into that deep squat, your hips will thank you.
  • Getting up off the ground and going back onto the ground: This is an easy movement you can easily do throughout the day.
  • Hitting the door frame when you walk through a door: This is working on the shoulder mobility, when was the last time you raised your arms above your head.

 

And what about massage?

Start incorporating self-massage with foam rollers, lacrosse balls and a softer balls into your everyday routine.

You can use the foam rollers on larger parts of your body, such as your back and hamstrings. Use the harder lacrosse balls, on more specific areas that are deeper, such as a trigger point in the upper trap and use a softer ball to  work on the connective tissue covering the muscles to get nutrients into the fascia. The forearms are a good place to try that one! Remember to go up incrementally, only do self-massage for about 3 minutes whenever you can fit it in, in your day. This will also better prepare your body for a massage when you see a massage therapist, allowing you to reap the rewards better.

Now, when you go for your massage treatments with a massage therapist (such as myself), please forget the slogan “No pain, no gain”. This is absolutely wrong and no intense pain should be felt during a massage. Increased pain during a massage could cause the opposite effect of the intended results. Making your muscles go into protective mode and making them stiffer than they were before.

So remember:

  • mobility doesn’t mean flexibility
  • strength enhances mobility

And forget:

  • No pain, no gain

And there you have it. Mobility is important in injury prevention, self-awareness, coordination and generally better movement. You can incorporate mobility exercises throughout your day, and it never hurts to see a massage therapist to get your tissue moving!

 

Dylan Crake
R. Kin,
Registered Massage Therapist

 

August 15, 2019

What is periodization?

If you’ve ever wondered what periodization was, and why you hear fitness trainers talk about it, then you’ve come to the right place for a little crash course on the wonderful world of periodization!

To begin, periodization is splitting up different training aspects into different cycles to meet different fitness goals.

The four phases of periodization that I’ll talk about include:

  •  Foundational
  • Hypertrophy
  • Strength
  • Endurance

(there are more than just these phases when it comes to periodization, especially if you are a runner or cyclist, but I’ll be focusing on the above phases specifically)

Now, it’s important to start in the foundation phase, and from there you can move between the three other phases, depending on what you believe your body needs.

Foundational Phase: This is where primal movement patterns are observed and re-built. This is the phase where most of the teaching gets done. If you want to perfect your deadlift, hang out in this phase for a while.

Parameters

Load: 60 % of maximum strength
Sets: 2-3
Repetitions: 12-15
Duration: 2 weeks to forever
Exercises: Hip hinge, squat patterns

 

Hypertrophy Phase: This is where muscle tone and muscle mass are created. When completing exercises in this phase, you want to move slow and controlled. When planning out which exercises you want to complete in this phase, focus on having 80% of the exercises compound (push, pull) and 20 % isolated (tricep pulls, bicep curls). If you want to see results, it is important to do 12-16 working sets of a larger muscle group (quadriceps) in a week  and 6-9 working sets for smaller muscle groups (calf muscles).

Parameters

Load: Moderate weight
Sets: 2-3, with positive fail
Repetitions: 8-12
Rest: 1-2 minutes between sets
Duration: 6- 8 weeks
Exercise: Front squat, Romanian deadlift

 

Strength Phase: This is where your body recruits more muscle fibres by adapting to the demand you impose on your body. The heavier the weight, the more demand on the body and the more the body needs to work to recruit all the muscle fibres. Interestingly enough, this is the phase where people see most weight loss.

Parameters 

Load: Heavy weight
Sets: 3
Repetitions: 2-6
Rest: 2-3 minutes between sets
Duration: 6-8 weeks
Exercises: Bench press, deadlift, front squat

 

Endurance Phase: This is the phase where you will complete as many repetitions as you can in 30 seconds OR you will increase time under tension by holding a position. The endurance phase can help build up cardiovascular strength, allowing your heart to pump more blood out to the body, when needed most.

Parameters

Load: Light weight or body weight
Sets: 3
Time: 20- 30 seconds
Rest: 15-60 seconds This increases time under tension
Duration: 6-8 weeks
Exercises: Burpees, squat hold

 

It’s important to remember that periodization does not have to be linear! You can travel back-and-forth between the phases, allowing your fitness planning to match your life and goals.

Which phase do you want to work in?

Dylan Crake
R. Kin,
Registered Massage Therapist

January 29, 2019

 

You know what’s the worst?

Pain along the shin that is caused by inflammation of the muscles that attach to the shin bone (aka the tibia).

Shin splints. Thy name is evil.

There are 2 types of shin splints as seen in the picture below. Pain along the outer front portion of the lower leg is called anterior shin splints. Pain along the back inside of the lower leg is called posterior shin splints. (or, posterior evil)

Common Causes:

Shin splints is an overuse injury that typically is caused by training errors such as such as increasing running distance or intensity too aggressively and changing to a hard or uneven training surface. Other causes include:

  • Poor running mechanics; heel striking.
  • Poor footwear. Sometimes people switch to minimalist footwear but if they are heel striking they can develop shin splints.
  • Weakness in the shin muscles; in particular tibialis anterior and tibialis posterior.
  • Core and pelvic muscle instability.
  • Imbalance between the quads and hamstrings with respect to strength and flexibility.
  • Foot arch abnormalities such as excessive pronation.
  • Poor intrinsic foot muscle strength.
  • Unequal leg length.

 

Treatment:

  • Rest! It is very difficult to resolve shin splints without temporarily taking a break from running. A rest break does not mean you cannot cross train to maintain your cardiovascular fitness! Try swimming, cycling, yoga or weight training. Any exercise that does not aggravate your shin splints.
  • Progress Slowly. Think of any training errors you may have made. When you start running again, make sure you do not make the same mistakes again. You may need a more gradual progression into distance or speed.
  • Mid-foot Strike. Do you heel strike? If so focus on mid-foot striking to decrease the force through your shins with each stride. The best way to do this is to focus on a 180 cadence (See earlier blog post on cadence!)
  • Footwear. Have a look at your footwear. If your sneakers are extremely worn or too big look at purchasing new ones. If you are in a more minimalist shoe you may need to switch to one with more cushioning temporarily.
  • Warm up. Do a proper warm up before your run starts, especially if you are doing a quality run such as hill training or speed work.
  • Strengthen your shins. Strengthen your tibialis anterior! Try toe walking or doing dorsiflexion with a resistance band.
  • Roll. Try rolling your shin muscle out. (Not the bone: ouch!) You don’t need to buy a fancy tiger tail as shown in the picture below. A wooden rolling pin from your kitchen works perfectly!
  • Figure out your muscle imbalances. Book an assessment with our physiotherapists to check for muscle imbalances. It is hard to know if you need your core, pelvis, thigh, shin, and/or foot muscles strengthened or stretched  if you don’t get a one on one assessment first!
  • Modalities. Your physiotherapist can also try acupuncture and/or taping to help resolve your pain faster.

Hopefully following some of these tips will help resolve your shin splints!  As always, if you have any questions or to book your assessment, email me anytime at richelle.wholetherapy@gmail.com

🙂

Posted in Blog by Pat Moore | Tags: , , ,
October 31, 2017

Getting a massage can be both therapeutic and relaxing. Massage allows for time to unplug, tune in, take some time for yourself. And if you’re lucky enough to have a therapist that knows their stuff, you have the added bonus of fixing stuff while you’re there.

That being said, there are things you can do to make the massage experience better. Ready?

  1. Breathe

After the therapist has left the room and you are comfortable on the table, take the time to breathe. Not just normal breathing, but the deep belly-breathing kind. Focus on expanding your belly and filling your lungs. This will help calm you down, reduce your heart rate, and tune you in to what your body is saying.

Once the massage is in session, breathe if things get painful; this helps to release tight muscles and sore spots. Holding your breath will actually make the pain worse. Think of a labouring woman – she needs to breathe through painful contractions, and so should you.

  1. Communicate

You need to tell your therapist if the pressure is too much…or too little. As aware as therapists are to client’s bodies, we can’t always tell if you are in pain. Some people are great at showing it, some aren’t. But it may not even be pain that you are in, it could be as simple as you just like lighter pressure than what we are currently giving. Remember that they can’t feel what you are feeling. Communicating what you enjoy allows the RMT to treat you more confidently and lets you leave feeling your best.

  1. Tell us to SHUT UP

Therapists often get in a mode of talking with certain clients because that’s what we have always done with said client. So when you say “I just want to relax today,” we don’t necessarily think you mean your brain as well. So tell us to shut up! We are ok with it, I promise.

 

  1. Unplug

Ever notice how your fingers itch to check your phone if you hear a beep? Distracting. Turn off your phone so you don’t hear when a message comes in; this will help keep you in the space where your body needs you to be at that moment.

 

  1. See us regularly

Funny how your body hurts less when you see someone to treat all your finicky stuff regularly, eh? Seeing a RMT on a maintenance schedule can actually decrease your chance of injury and help prevent flare ups of pain.

BONUS!

  1. Be on time

Seems like a no-brainer, but being on time is a big deal. If you are on time to your appointment, we have ample time to treat what you need done and don’t have to rush through it. This will also help you feeling better longer. Plus there is nothing worse than being frazzled because you are late. As we said, massage is therapeutic, but if done right, it should also be a relatively relaxing experience.

 

Ready to book your massage at Whole Therapy? Give us a call!

Melissa Beals is an RMT with Whole Therapy. Melissa works extensively with athletes of all levels with a goal in mind to increase their athletic performance through education and understanding of their bodies. See more about Melissa here.

 

September 4, 2015

Dictionary.com defines change as the following:

CHANGE
verb (used with object), changed, changing.

To make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something)
different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone:
To change one’s name; to change one’s opinion;
To change the course of history. 

trapped

Not sure if this office setup has the lumbar support I need..

What a simple, easy to understand, straight to the point definition.  And yet, as simple as it is to understand, why then do we humans have so much trouble implementing change into our own lives?
I’m not talking about changing the tires on your car, or, the vacuum bag, or your little human’s diapers; although some of these things are dull, taxing, or unpleasant.  I’m talking about real change.  Meaningful life-altering change.

Four years ago I found myself in a terrible position.  I was stuck in a dead end job with no further room for growth.  I wasn’t learning any new skills or even really developing my current skill set.  The monetary compensation was less than adequate, and I was oh, so very bored.  I can look at that time now and easily identify these symptoms for what they were:  I was stuck.  I needed a career transplant.

I was trapped in this Grand Canyon-sized rut where it became easier to do nothing than to fix my situation. I had absolutely no idea how to get out of it.  I was walled in and (thought) I didn’t have the tools to get myself out.

But everyone has a boiling point, don’t they?  Everyone will eventually find themselves in a position where change becomes inevitable.  And sometimes, all it takes to initiate that change is a little luck, a little timing, and a little pro-activity.   Jamie, a co-worker of mine at the time, knew of my struggles with the daily grind and had often been a sounding board for me when I had to let off steam.  Jamie turned out to be the husband of my current employer, the incomparable Jen Wright.

Taking action, finally

Combine the fact I had recently returned to high school to obtain my diploma after a 17 year hiatus (that’s a change story for another time) with an increasing difference of opinion on certain matters with some of my co-workers led to me investigate a suggested employment agency here in the city. I set up the appointment to meet with someone in a fancy downtown office; I took their online office skills test, and went for the follow up meeting on a Friday after work.  I was told that they would be in touch with me and that was that.

It was the following Monday when Jamie stepped into my office and said to me.  “Jenny is looking to hire an office manager, are you interested?”  Boom.  All of a sudden, I had a lifeline.  It was like Regis had just given me an extra phone a friend and I was about to become a millionaire.

The next week when the employment agency called, I happily told them I had found what I was looking for and that their services would not be needed.

I don’t normally put a lot of stock in Karma or that kind of thing, but I can honestly tell you that I believe the only reason that the offer came my way was because I had taken the first step and had unknowingly asked the universe to give me the change I needed.

sea creature

“Try the Human, it’s delicious”

The reason people have trouble with change is because, not surprisingly, it’s really hard.

It’s like jumping into a lake you’ve never swam in before.

You know that moment when you’re standing on the dock, imagining all the hideous and murderous monsters that are right now swimming just below the surface?  That’s how change can feel.  Scary.  Scary, slimy and covered  in murder-y scales.

Change is difficult for me because I like things to be consistent.

Everything in their place and all that. The big win for me was learning to realize that things were broken and out of place.  It took me a long time, but I did it.

When I finally realized that I couldn’t keep doing things the way I’d been doing them, the universe responded with a giant “Well it’s about time.  Here, take this happiness and meaning.  Have a good day” and vaporized all the sea mutants waiting below the surface.

So yes, change is difficult.  But is it essential to survival?  Yes.  Is it one of the keys to happiness?  Probably.  Have and will I continue to look for opportunities to evolve?  Certainly.

 

We at Whole Therapy want to hear from YOU! Take a picture or write a post about your #ChangeOneThing experience. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #WholeTherapy as well. 

 

Pat Moore is the office manager at Whole Therapy.  Pat works alongside a team of dedicated professionals and is here to help ensure that your visit at Whole Therapy is as pleasant as possible.  For more about Pat, click here!

Pat

August 24, 2015

Husband Jamie and I took the kids wilderness camping at Algonquin Park a few weekends ago; it was their first time, and they loved it.

Gorgeous weather as we set out. What's not to love?

Gorgeous weather as we set out. What’s not to love?

When camping, one has a singular purpose: to survive.  There’s no luxury to camping in the wilderness, save for a decadent square of dark chocolate at the end of the evening, or a luxuriously dry pair of socks when your body is damp to the bone.

We pushed on, canoed until our arms and shoulders ached, carried our canoes and packs on our tired backs, found a place to rest, set up camp and made food to fuel us.  We slept when it darkened.  Then we woke up and did it again.  In between, we swam and laughed, interacted with each other (without the distraction of electronic devices), made up stories, sang songs, and observed the wonder of nature.  It was amazing.

Yes, the pack IS as heavy as it looks.

Yes, the pack IS as heavy as it looks.

The rhythm of camping and portaging is simple, satisfying.  I felt better about myself camping (dirty, calloused and aching) than usual, and I didn’t touch a phone or look into a mirror in over 72 hours.

That’s not an accident.

I was able to really feel my body on our trip. I felt the strength in my legs and back as I hefted my 65-pound pack (and added Little One’s pack to it as well, when she tired).  I felt my hunger rise up as we finished setting up tents: a natural reminder to eat for fuel rather than out of habit or boredom.  And I sank into sleep each night, sardined in with Middle and Oldest, I felt heavy and worked, and grateful to be lying down, and even though a thermarest is hardly a plush mattress, I slept like the dead.

If only life were so simple, I thought as we travelled – a clear purpose, a drive and need to succeed.

Reflecting on life in my journal.

Reflecting on life in my journal.

But life is so many shades of camping – not quite urgent, or so much more so, not quite survival, but living “to the fullest” – whatever that means.

Everything in nature does its best to adapt.  Not like humans, who try and shape the world around us to fit our own needs.  In nature, even an acorn blown by mistake to the edge of a cliff will grow sideways and thrive as it reaches for the sun.

img_0198school

We need to learn to grow sideways.

 

In this way, the simplicity of the wild is so much more advanced than our technologically brilliant society; we, in the acorn’s position, would look for a better, more advantageous spot to grow, and though we may grow straighter, taller, we would miss out on that amazing view. Not to mention, we would miss finding out what we are made of.

I thought about that acorn, and survival, a lot on our trip.  Obviously we were close enough to civilization that most emergencies could be easily rectified.  But most of our creature comforts were taken away: no couch to laze on. No phone to surf Facebook.  No coffee maker, no takeout, nothing quick. If I wanted a meal I had to work for it. If I wanted to be entertained I had to use my imagination.

Little One hams it up in the tent.

Little One hams it up in the tent.

There was no passivity, no boredom.  Only a deep sense of appreciation for the skills and strength I possess, my family, and all the beauty nature has to offer.

And now that we’re home, and continuing our journey here, I’m more than content with some wine, some good conversation, and a sunset.  More rolling with the punches, less trying to shape the world to my whims.

I want to see the view from the side of the cliff.

 

About the Author: Jen Wright is an RMT and the owner of Whole Therapy. She is an avid gym-goer and loves to lift heavy stuff.  She sees clients of all ages and stages, especially those who are engaged in bettering themselves.  She believes that pain-free is possible.  For more about Jen, click here.

Jen

July 22, 2015

Got my red belt in karate this weekend. My first coloured belt; I’m no longer the lowest on the totem pole! My gi has pizzazz now: and I’m proud fit to burst.

Celebrate!

Celebrate!

So often, in the dojo and out in the world, I see people brushing off their achievements.

“Yeah, I just ran a 10k, but it’s not like it’s a marathon or anything.”

“I did just work for 5 years to lose that weight, but it’s no big deal; I really shouldn’t have been fat in the first place.”

“I got my red belt, but it’s just red – I have a long way to go before my black belt.”

Seriously. Can we cut out the false modesty?

Seriously.

Seriously. Cut it out.

Achieving things makes me happy and fulfilled.  As it should.  I work deliberately to get things done. I’m not the kind of person to whom things come naturally.

My fitness level? Worked my ass off (literally) to get here. I still work extremely hard; if I didn’t, I would be much weaker and flabbier.  My pear-shaped body likes to be softer; I was never the skinny kid, and I never will be able to just eat whatever and not gain weight.

So I take pride in completed workouts in which I did my best.

My business? I went through a lot of change and learning to open it.  Then a lot more to transition it to something I truly believed in.  It’s been tough – rewarding, but really tough.  Some days it stresses me out, and other days I revel in the smoothness of operations. But it’s never easy.

So I take pride in the new things I learn and the firm decisions I make.

And now, my red belt. In March, I had never done karate before. 4 months later and I’m committed to weekly (or more) classes in the dojo, and practice with Sensei Jamie outside of that. You’ll often find me brushing my teeth in shiko dachi, a wide-legged stance.  I have to repeat movements about a million times before I’m even serviceable at them (choreography of any kind is not my friend). I love every minute of each comfort-zone-pushing class.

karate red belt

It’s NOT just a red belt! It’s the culmination of my hard work so far. 🙂

So you’d better believe I’m not brushing these successes off.  You shouldn’t brush yours off, either!

Little triumphs can make the difference between a fulfilled life and an unfulfilled one.  If I work hard, I celebrate. I don’t need to win a gold medal in the Olympics to be proud of myself.

It’s not, contrary to popular opinion, arrogant or overconfident to celebrate your achievements, rather it’s a necessary component of living a happy life.

Did you exercise today? Pat yourself on the back.  Did you check any items off your to-do list? High five! Notice I didn’t ask you if you’ve hit your goal weight or completed your to-do list; those are bigger celebrations.  The little ones count too, though, and should be recognized.

Whether it’s a belt in karate, getting my shopping done, eating well today, or something else, I’m going to continue to live deliberately, working towards and celebrating the milestones, whether they are big or small.

Life’s too short: celebrate every bit of this journey.

 

About the Author: Jen Wright is an RMT and the owner of Whole Therapy. She is an avid gym-goer and loves to lift heavy stuff.  She sees clients of all ages and stages, especially those who are engaged in bettering themselves.  She believes that pain-free is possible.  For more about Jen, click here.

Jen

July 13, 2015

Méana Franco does things on purpose.  The 23 year old powerlifter and personal trainer cuts a decisive path across the gym floor as she heads to the bench press.  Without any preamble or small talk to those around her, she bounces on her toes a few times, shakes her muscular arms out, and assumes an arched position under the bar.

An average gym-goer watching the scene would not be able to appreciate the complexities of Méana’s lift.  To the uninitiated, a bench press works the chest muscles.  To the powerlifter, it is the culmination of the entire body flexing and directing energy into lowering the bar to the chest and back up.

I realized I could match almost all of  Méana carefully places her hands in the proper position on the bar. She presses into her feet, steeling her upper back and shoulders into the bench, and… liftoff. People around her stop to watch as she skillfully lowers close to double her body weight onto her chest and back up again.

They should be impressed.

Already, at 23 years of age, Méana Franco is one of the best in the world at her sport.  And would you believe she first got into it by accident?

“Originally I was a wrestler and rugby player, but I wasn’t great. I loved it and I enjoyed playing, but I was never going to go far with it. When I started working at [GoodLife as a trainer], I tried benching a plate and it was easy.  People were like, ‘oh, that’s really impressive’, and I was like, ‘what do you mean?’ I didn’t understand that the weight was heavy.”

A little research proved that her raw skill was, indeed, impressive.  “I realized that I could match almost all of the current national and some of the international bench records.  So I thought, ‘well maybe I should do this.’”

Don’t let Méana’s nonchalance fool you; while her start into powerlifting may have been by chance, her training since its inception has been anything but.

-My goal is to be top five in the world. (1)
She and her boyfriend, Mark, who is also a Personal Trainer and powerlifter, structure their whole lives around training.

“When we cook, it’s almost like we’re making food for five families,” she jokes, “We’ll go to Costco and get fish and meat and cook it all at once. Sometimes we cook once a week, sometimes twice.”

And what kind of food fills a powerlifting couple’s fridge?

“It’s about trying to mix what’s convenient and what’s healthy. We do a lot of frozen veggies, a lot of lean meats and fish, a lot of salads. I’m predominantly low-carb, because carbs don’t sit well with me. I try to keep foods that bloat me out of my diet.”

Méana has another reason to eat healthfully – she has polycystic kidney disease, which means she has to be careful with diet and hydration. “I can’t ever get dehydrated. I can’t have caffeine. I can’t take a lot of the supplements that other people take to improve their performance; my kidneys can’t handle it.”

And she also has to be careful to get enough recovery, because she is prone to adrenal fatigue.

Goal setting is a big part of Méana’s life.  Although she didn’t attend World’s this year, she is planning on going next spring. “My goal is to be top 5 in the world. Right now I’m in the top ten; I’ve got some work to do.”

How does Méana set her training schedule? Currently she is training with Elite FTS, an online source for strength training, equipment, gear and seminars.  “To get sponsored by Elite FTS, you need to have an elite total,” Méana explains, “when I went to my first competition last year, I got some attention because I was squatting over 300lbs and benching 200.  The owner of the company was watching me, and I asked him what I could do to get better. He said, ‘Get an elite total today.’ I needed 280lbs deadlift to get an elite total. I deadlifted 300.  He handed me an Elite FTS shirt after that, and I cried. I’ve been with them ever since.”-If you’re strong, and your attitude is

Elite FTS promotes the tagline StrongHer, which describes not just powerlifters, but strong women in general. “If you’re strong, and your attitude is strong, then you’re strong. It doesn’t matter what your totals are, either. Strong is strong, to them.”

But staying strong is not just lifting, according to Méana.  “I have to stay well, because if I burn out I’m not lifting anything.  I’m proactive about recovery: I take some supplements to help with inflammation. I get myofascial release with Tara at Whole Therapy every three weeks.  I do a lot of mobility, stretching foam rolling, and I always get 8 hours of sleep. I rarely go out drinking or stay up late; it’s just not where my interest is.”

I alwaget 8 hours of sleep. I rarely go

With that down-to-earth attitude, it’s easy to imagine this girl heading straight for the top in anything she tries. Does she have any advice for would-be powerlifters?

“Seek help from people who are better than you. Try and surround yourself with people who are positive and will support you. If you’re going to be successful, you have to live with humility, integrity and passion.  There is no other way.”

Check out Méana’s blog here.

Know someone who would be great in the Wellness Spotlight?  Send us an email! info.wholetherapy@gmail.com

 

About the Author: Jen Wright is an RMT and the owner of Whole Therapy. She is an avid gym-goer and loves to lift heavy stuff.  She sees clients of all ages and stages, especially those who are engaged in bettering themselves.  She believes that pain-free is possible.  For more about Jen, click here.

Jen

Posted in Blog, Uncategorized, Wellness, Wellness Spotlight by Jen Wright
May 14, 2015

MEL’S MEANDERING MASSAGE MIND: BETTER, STRONGER, SMARTER. DON’T BS MY SMARTS

This month we are talking about “Being Above Average.” I’ve been thinking about what this concept means to me. What does it mean to you?

Initially I thought to myself So I have to talk about me and how I think I’m better than everybody else? That’s a little conceited. But upon reflection, Being Above Average has nothing to do with everyone else, and everything to do with myself.

Allow me to explain.

I’m a Massage Therapist (duh). I love weight training and competing in Powerlifting. But this wasn’t always true.

When I was in Massage school, I felt extremely weak. It was hard to get through an hour treatment and I felt I gave no pressure. Being the type of person I am, I knew that I didn’t want to be a “Spa” therapist, but I would rather be able to get in and find those sore spots on people and have the knowledge to help them out.

I started lifting some weights, and guess what – I tore my pec the first time I tried the bench press. Not a good sign.

After my chest muscles healed, I went back to the gym; I knew that getting stronger would help me in the future and with the career I had chosen (or rather, that had chosen me).

Now, I’m not going to lie to you and say that I think I’m the strongest person I know, that I am fully confident in my ability to move weight around, or even that I know the most about training or treating injuries/imbalances. My inner voice routinely tells me I am the weakest person ever, that the weight will beat me, and that I know nothing and have to scramble to find words to try to explain something to a client when they ask “Why does this hurt when I do that?”

BUT there is a silver lining to these thought processes. I may not be “strong” compared to others like me, but I am stronger than I was last year, both mentally and physically. The weight might beat me today, but I will try again tomorrow, next week, next month. I might not have the answer for you right now, but I will do my best to find it.

Every day I’m in the gym or at work I learn from my training partners, my coworkers, and my clients. Every day I am bettering myself as a whole person. Every day I am working my butt off to be better at what I do and how I do it.

So I’m not being conceited when I say that I am above average, I’m saying I am above MY average. I am better than I was yesterday, the day before that, and the years before that.

Be better…be stronger…be confident in you! Don’t worry about the rest of the world.

 

Melissa Beals is an RMT with Whole Therapy. Melissa works extensively with athletes of all levels with a goal in mind to increase their athletic performance through education and understanding of their bodies. See more about Melissa here.

Melissa