Relaxation: A “New” Concept in Strength Training.

I am no stranger to the old adage “no pain, no gain.”  As a former body builder, I pushed myself to the limit training 3 hours a day on a limited diet. I don’t know about you but I’m not a big fan of pain, as I learned through that process.  I wondered, is there an easier, more effective way to achieve the same goal? This lead me into thinking not about how hard but simply how to train body.

Our bodies are AMAZING.  It’s glorious to imagine everything working the way it should, at least most of the time. When I train my clients I tell them, care for your body as if you were an infant.  Do not push or force your way through your workout, let alone your life!

But how can we strengthen through relaxation?  In the Essentrics® program we teach our clients about the neuromuscular system, namely our muscle reflexes. Our bodies are equip with a really smart nervous system.  This is a system that works automatically to protect us from causing injury-especially when we use force.  Our muscle reflexes automatically relax the muscles and tendons to avoid tearing in most situations. When we extend our body away from the midline eccentrically, in a relaxed state, the muscle fibers safely work with the reflexes to “go to the end of a stretch” recruiting maximum muscle cells for strengthening purposes.  This extension also creates a longer, heavier lever, which in physics is much more strengthening!

The big question here: how do we relax while working out?   Relaxation comes when you can feel areas of your body through an awareness we call kinesthetic or body awareness.  This awareness first comes from a consciousness of what you are feeling (i.e. pressure, tingling, pain) and where you are feeling it (neck, lower back, shoulder).  Just like coordination, body awareness improves over time when practiced.  This awareness allows you to sense how to relax by connecting the mind to the body, giving you an opportunity to get the most out of your workout!

Pointers to help you to relax in your next workout:

  • Create a relaxing environment using music. Hard, fast, heavy downbeats in your playlist is fun, but not conducive to relaxing the muscles, especially when working with large, flowing movements. When I want to create relaxation in my Essentrics® class, I speak softly and use quiet, flowing music.  Download Bach, Yo-Yo Ma, or Brian Crain onto your playlist and use it in your next session.
  •  You are what you think.  If you imagine you are under the weight of a heavy barbell, your body moves heavier.  If you imagine you are a light balloon floating on a warm breeze, your body becomes lighter. Many cues I use to create relaxation in Essentrics® include “lift a light feather,” “gently pull on a silk sheet,” or “run your fingers through warm water.”  Put your mind in the right frame of mind and the rest will follow.
  • Deep Breathing. Breathing during any physical activity is critical to move blood and revitalize all systems.  This can be done automatically or consciously.  Deep breathing is a conscious breath utilizing more muscles to open up space in the lungs.  This type of breathing is said to bring the body out of sympathetic (fight or flight) and into parasympathetic (relaxation). The key is to inhale down through the belly, hold for a few seconds, then, making a round hole with your lips, blow out the air, taking twice as much time to exhale as you took to inhale.  Breathing in this way will tap into a nice state of relaxation.  Do this breath several times during the workout.
  • Leave your stress at the door. I begin my classes with a 2 minute mental “break” from the day.  This includes beginning with soft, slow music in conjunction with deep breathing down through the belly.  I then begin a process of shaking the hands, arms and shoulders with slow neck rolls and shoulder rolls. This mindless movement allows the thoughts you brought in with you to fall away, creating a relaxed state. This in turns improves body awareness and deeper relaxation during class.  Try these techniques before and during your next workout!
  • Practice, practice, practice! When we repeat patterns over and over such as relaxing the muscles in your workout, the brain creates new neuro-pathways in the brain.  When new pathways are created, so are new patterns of doing things.  This creates automation of our actions and happy healthy habits!

As creator of Essentrics® program, Miranda Esmonde-White states, “Relaxation is the NEW strengthening…the NEW power!”  The combination of relaxation and eccentric training, eliminating force, allows us to tap into much deeper, stabilizing muscles for ultimate strength and power!  Try relaxation techniques in your next workout and see if you notice a difference!

The Perfection Myth

“There’s no need to be perfect to inspire others.  Let people get inspired by how you deal with your imperfections.”  ~Unknown Author

This bridge featured in this photo by Delano Balten was most likely created hundreds of years ago.  It seems it would function the way a bridge should and needless to say it is esthetically pleasing, however do you think the architect was perfect in it’s design?  How many plans do you think he scrapped before deciding on this design? Do you think the architect was hard on himself for not getting it right the first time? Maybe. And do you think the stone layers were perfect in the way each stone was layed?  The answer is most likely not. And yet, the bridge works!

Nobody expects perfection, except us. I am no exception.  In fact, I have struggled with my need to have perfection, keep control and win every time. After all, doesn’t perfection correlate with success?

What is perfection really?  It probably means something different to all of us, I suppose.  “If I’m perfect so and so will love me more.”  “If I’m perfect life will go so much more smoothly.”  “If I’m perfect the boss will hold me in high regard and give me a raise.” “If I’m perfect I will make more money, raise perfect kids and never disappoint.”

Sometimes we have missed opportunities in life because we just didn’t consider ourselves “good enough.”  Or we procrastinate because we’re afraid to fail. Look, I’ve been there and I’m here to tell you that I’m not perfect, nor will I ever be.  I disappoint, I don’t do as well as I would like to, I am not the perfect parent or daughter or wife but I strive, every day, to do my best, based on the information available to me.  And to me that speaks volumes.

Did you know that the word fail doubles as an acronym?  First Attempt In Learning.  Pretty cool, right?  This is something I remind myself and my children on a regular basis.  And sometimes “failure” is the right step to actually get you to your goal!

How often have you seen others speaking of their imperfections and often felt better about it?  It’s not because we want bad things to happen to them, it’s because we can relate.  We are human and we are here on earth to learn and then make better.

Almost a year ago I quit my “day job” to be home with my children and start a business. Let me tell you that it’s not all been a cake walk, but I have learned so much about myself, and who I want to be as a parent, wife, daughter, friend and business owner.  It has been a struggle in learning that I’m not perfect and fully come to grips that I won’t be.  And if you ask me, this is where our friends and family come in to fill the gaps. To allow us that space to do as well as we possibly can then let it go and let others take over where our “weaknesses” prevail.

So when you eat something you shouldn’t have or you don’t get to the gym like you planned.  Just know that it’s okay and the past is already behind you, giving you new, fresh moments to move forward. Do not look back, do not regret what you have done or live with the shoulda’s and coulda’s but instead grasp that very moment in which you live and be grateful for it. Give yourself some grace-you totally deserve it!

So, what is the perfection myth? That perfection as we define it exists!  Embrace your perfect self in the midst of mediocrity!  I wish to inspire you, through my imperfections, to do the very best you can knowing full well things may not turn out perfectly or as as you expected.  Our personal journey is placed before us not to perfect it, but to live it!  So, go forth and live!  It’s time to embrace your own personal perfection, whatever that may be!

Best to all,


Stretching and Sports Training

My 7-year-old son recently began taking ice skating lessons at one of our local rinks.  He had been asking to take lessons ever since our outing to an outdoor set-up in Carmel, Indiana over Thanksgiving break.  Since he mentioned taking lessons more than once I thought we would try it. Not only does he love it, but he excels at it and I am really, very proud of him!

During the 40-minute lesson all skill levels are grouped off on the ice from Basic 1 to advanced.  I usually watch above in a closed off mezzanine to stay a little warmer and to get an overall view of all the adorable young skaters. I find it so interesting to watch different levels practice their skills and am amazed that, especially with the more advanced levels, what is required of their bodies to perform the required stunts. Any skater (or anyone involved in sports, for that matter!) will tell you its all about balance, flexibility, strength and coordination.  This requires not only good body awareness but proprioceptive awareness as well.

Kinesthetic (or Body) Awareness is how your body judges and adjusts to perform seamlessly in the world around you.  Have you ever held a full laundry basket as you walked up or down the stairs?  You aren’t looking yet you know at what level to raise or lower your leg to safely hit the next step.  This is kinesthetic awareness.

Proprioceptive Awareness, on the other hand, is internal messaging from the nervous system that drives our movements or how we move our bodies in relationship to joint position sense, temperature/pain, texture/pressure, stretch/tension/compression and lastly, vibration.  These are continuously utilized as we practice with our bare feet in Essentrics®.  Each motion we make with our feet sends a vibration or signal throughout the body to hold it upright to avoid falling or ultimately, injury.

Just like a skater, the foot, ankle and calf in the skate (and on the blade in their skate) sends a signal through the body to balance, hold and contract or relax the muscles for mobility and stability.  This is very important, especially when you have to rely on others when skating in group or in a pair!

As I was sat watching the lessons, I overheard a young lady tell her grandmother she was instructed to stretch on the barre on the other side of the room until her time on the ice. As an Essentrics® instructor versed in barre, I was curious to see what exercises she would perform or if she were taught specific stretches.  Not wanting to stare I turned back around to the ice when I heard a “thud”.   Looking around I found the girl slowly getting off the floor, holding her elbow and crying.  Come to find out she had her leg up on the barre, lost her balance and fell! I felt terrible for her!

Her grandmother went over to comfort her and bring her back over to sit.  Since I was right next to her (and just couldn’t resist;) I leaned over and said,

“I teach barre if you would like me to show you some moves.”

“Yes!” she said enthusiastically.

“First things, first,” I told her. “You need a much lower barre.”

Even though she was using the lower of the two barres on the wall to begin with, her hamstring was far to tight to allow her to get her leg up properly, causing her lose her balance and fall. I grabbed the chairs we were sitting on, we placed one leg up on our chairs and I proceeded to show her first how to relax her hips to allow proper movement.  I showed her how to tuck her hips under and how to extend them gently back.  Warming up the hips gently in this manner not only relaxes the reflexes and lubricates the joints with wonderful synovial fluid, but allows the participant to become proprioceptively aware.

I then instructed her to extend her leg on the chair straight out, toes pointed  (or as straight as she could get it…Darn tight hamstrings!) and made her round her back first, then straighten her back so she could feel the difference in the tension on the hamstring. Rounding the back causes a loss in the tension on the stretch as opposed to straightening your back with your posterior pushing to the back wall, which creates a more intense stretch and it all comes down to opening up the body as we pull the joints away from each other.  Imagine holding a Theraband or a rubber band at each end pulling it in different directions.  This is exactly what the muscle does when stretched in two different directions.  Not only is it relieving on the joints but it is extremely beneficial to gain not only the maximum flexibility but strength as well!

Training your body for any physical activity or sports requires a specific set of muscles that are usually utilized over and over.  In ice skating, specifically, there are a lot of concentric, or muscle contractions that shorten the muscles, used for mobility and stability.  Flexibility needs to be a large component for not only ice Ballet but every other sport as well!  But it seems that flexibility is a second thought.  We know it’s important, but why?  And most importantly, how can it be done properly so we can achieve the maximum benefit all while preventing injuries in the long run?

For all you sports lovers, here is some advice:

  • Relax when you move. Relaxation taps into the parasympathetic nervous system, allowing our body to remove itself from a too often used sympathetic system or what we commonly know it as “fight or flight.”  Relaxation, allows the body to safely override the muscle reflexes to extend maximally, which in turn strenghthens the muscles! Our motto in Essentrics® “Relaxation is the NEW strengthening!”
  • Use dynamic movements to stretch as opposed to static stretching.  There is a time and place for static stretching, however holding a stretch too long has been proven  to contract the muscle by way of muscle reflexes going into protective mode; not allowing the muscle to stretch to it’s full capacity.  If you really want to really tap into much more muscle, connective tissue and bones, it is important to move “with” the muscle reflexes by moving gently and dynamically through a stretch (a gentle movement or pulsation in a legthened position). Not only will this allow the muscles to relax but they will stay in the “opened” position longer after beginning your regular activities;  decreasing your chance of injury.
  • Breathe. Similar to relaxation, deep, focused full belly breathing taps into your parasympathetic nervous system, lowering your blood pressure, increasing healing circulation, relaxing muscles and connective tissue and aiding in better digestion and elimination to keep your body well-regulated. Deep breathing also reduces anxiety, which is good when in competition!
  • Use all the muscles, connective tissue and joints the way they were intented to be used every time you stretch. I know it’s common to think: “I’m an ice skater, I only use my legs and abs most of the time.  I’m just going to stretch those and be fine.”  Actually, we are not a group of separate muscles but rather connected chains! When one muscle is worked it affects another up or down the chain to either stabilize or mobilize our body.  In order to remain balanced, every joint, muscle, bone and surrounding connective tissue should be included, every single time, no matter what sport you perform.
  • Learn to become aware.  Become more aware of how your body moves whether in your sport or in everyday activities. This body awareness allows a deeper understanding and connection to not only how you body moves and holds itself in certain postures but you may begin to understand why it does so.  This is important  to make the necessary corrections to avoid injury or pain in the body.
  • Lastly, be kind to your body. I tell my clients, treat your body as it were an infant.  Care for it, carry it gently as you move and be grateful for all its wonderful capabilities!

For more information on static and dynamic stretching and how to properly stretch for your sport, contact me for a session in Essentrics®.  I can teach you some amazing ways to relieve tension, create more range of motion around the joints (flexibility) and increase your strength and power all with no equipment!

References: Dr. Emily Splichal, Podiatrist and founder of Evidence Based Fitness Academy

Miranda Esmonde-White, Founder of Essentrics®



5 Self-Care Strategies to Implement into Your Workout Routine For a Healthier Lifestyle

This week’s blog is guest written by Sheila Olson, a.k.a. FitSheila.  You may visit her website at  Enjoy!

Achieving a healthy lifestyle is not an easy feat. While it’s tempting to simply push yourself in a high-intensity workout, this too often means neglecting your basic self-care needs. Being self-aware and having the ability to check in with yourself allows you to address any physical and mental needs and create a balanced lifestyle.

Check out some tips below on how you can incorporate self-care into your fitness routine.

  1. Don’t Skip the Warm-Up or Cool-Down

Resist the urge to dive right into your workout. A proper warm-up and cool-down will ease you in and out of your workout on both a mental and physical level. The American Heart Association recommends spending just five to 10 minutes to warm up your muscles. This will not only make them more flexible and less injury-prone, but will increase your physical performance. Likewise, time spent stretching at the end of your workout will help prevent cramping and stiffness.

2.  Train Smart, Not Hard

If you are looking to lose weight or gain muscle mass, pushing yourself harder is generally not the best route. Going to the gym every day or over-increasing your intensity is not the way to get the results you want. In fact, overdoing it like this can lead to a burnout.

Instead, it is better to train smarter. Your muscles need time to rest and recover to grow. Overtraining can also lead to problems sleeping, cause exhaustion, and create mood swings. You should aim to work out three to six times a week and vary your routine by concentrating on different muscle groups each day for the best results.

3. Catch Those ZZZs

Sleep is incredibly important. In order to fully accomplish your health goals, you need to prioritize getting seven to eight hours of sleep every night.

If you have trouble falling asleep, try putting away your phone and turning off that TV. CNN warns of blue light emitted from screens that tricks the brain into thinking it is still daytime. Instead, swap your phone for a book, or try meditating before going to bed. Turning your phone off or putting it on silent mode for the night is another good way to keep from getting distracted when it goes off.

4.  You Are What You Eat

It’s no secret that what you eat is important in maintaining a healthy diet. While it’s easy to remember to pay attention to all the carbs, protein, and fats you consume, most people forget about their vitamins and minerals. These micronutrients are just as important. They are what keep your body running as it should.

Don’t forget to hydrate throughout the day, either. Staying properly hydrated ensures all the nutrients you eat get to all the right places in your body. Watch out for signs of dehydration like increased thirst, dry mouth, decreased urine, exhaustion, headaches and dizziness. Be sure to drink up if you experience any of these signs.

5. Have a Self Check-In

Both while exercising and throughout the day, listen to your body. If your arms are sore, work another muscle group. If you have a headache, drink some water. If you are stressed, take time to do a hobby that you enjoy.

It is also a good idea to keep in mind why you are doing what you do. This skill is especially important in those recovering from substance abuse. Many going through rehab find exercise a great outlet and motivator for getting healthy and staying sober. It can increase confidence and provide a sense of accomplishment.

However, many are also susceptible to replacing one addiction with another and may start obsessing over weights and calories. Successfully keeping an eye on the why and regularly checking in with yourself can prevent this from happening by knowing when it’s time to seek help.

Slowing It Down

In many ways, self-care is about slowing things down. It is about taking much-needed time to take care of yourself and putting your needs first. By doing so, you can achieve a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

Photo courtesy of Pexels.

What does it REALLY mean to have a Balanced Body?

This is a very loaded question if you ask me! In referring to Essentrics®, a balanced body means that all 650 muscles, 360 joints, 205 bones and all the surrounding connective tissue are functioning evenly so that not one area of the body is working harder.  If one area of the body is working harder that means the muscles may be tighter (agonist) and the opposing may be looser or weaker (antagonist).  This can create imbalance, which can lead to pain.

In order to know how to be balanced its important to understand how imbalances occur. Our bodies are meant to function seamlessly through life-even as we age!  So how is it we seem to get more aches and pains as we get older?  It is not necessarily linked to our chronological age but rather attributed to how long our bodies have been exposed to environments that cause those imbalances. So, how hard have you been on your body throughout the years?  Remember that 21 year old daredevil you once were?  Never thought that would eventually creap up on you, huh? 😉skateboarding_picture_1_168189

Imbalances, throughout life, are caused by many different things: habits, work environment, recreational activities, injuries, surgeries, scar tissue, muscle cell atrophy including a sedentary lifestyle! When our bodies are imbalanced compensations natually occur (because our bodies are just so smart!)

Say, for example, your left shoulder has been giving you pain and you cannot raise it past your ear.  In order to reach something from a tall cabinet you lean your body to the right to reach higher since your shoulder will not go any further.  In the long run this causes tightness in the muscles on your right side: your opposing spinal muscles, latissumus dorsi and obliques, for example, which are now causing pain in your lower back, all from compensation. We are not a body made up of separate muscles but rather muscle and connective tissue chains that communicate with one another to function.  If one area is weak, another area will compensate so we do not completely become disabled from the first sign of imbalance. (An imbalance we may be unaware of!)  And unfortunately those imbalances, if left untreated, can lead to pain.

So what can be done?

  • Be mindful of postures throughout the day. For example: sleeping, standing, sitting, working, carrying groceries, kids, etc.
  • Understand how you feel in these positions. Does your lower back hurt because you stand with one foot propped up on the other, causing your hips to deviate? Do you hold the phone hands-free between your ear and your shoulder stressing your neck muscles and cervical vertebra? What areas of the body do you feel pain and in what positions do you feel the pain the most?
  • Make a log. Write down the areas of the body you feel strain or pain when involved in repetitive motions, standing or sitting.  Or better yet, have someone take pictures of you (secretly) so you can understand what you look like in different postures throughout the day.
  • Find a therapeutic fitness class. By “therapeutic”  I mean a class, such as Essentrics®, that focuses on all working parts of the body in balanced way.  It should be easy on the body, work from toes and feet to hands and head. The program you select should not only improve flexibility and strength but help you gain more awareness of how your body functions and should function.
  • Find an acupuncturist to do dry needling into deeper tissue, a massage therapist who specializes in Myofascial Release techniques and/ or learn how to use a foam roller to release tight or toxin filled fascia (connective tissue). Most of the time pain stems from the connective tissue rather than the muscles because of the higher percentage of nerves in the tissue.
  • Relax. To make a positive difference in how your body works it is important to relax-both mentally and physically. Breathe deeply and slowly and allow time to feel what your body feels, good and bad.
  • Find a specialist. When needed, find a specialist in body mechanics such as a physical therapist, sports trainer or therapeutic exercise specialist.

It is important to know that imbalances can be a detriment to the body and it’s daily functions.  Know that you are not alone in this!  There are many, like myself, who have made it their life’s work to help! Stay tuned for my next post!

Suggested reads:

“The Pain-Free Program.”  By: Anthony B. Carey, Founder of Function First®

 “Forever Painless.”  By: Miranda Esmonde-White, Founder of Essentrics®



Techniques To Balance Our Muscles

As I stated in my last post Essentrics® primarily focuses on eccentric training of the muscles. Essentrics®, however, is built upon a collection of techniques designed to keep the body balanced throughout the routine.  For instance, if we point the toes down toward the floor in plantar flexion it is important to point the toes up into dorsiflexion.  This prevents one side of the body from working in an unbalanced manner. For this reason it is important to not only train eccentrically but concentrically: to balance the body.

In my previous post, I touched on two techniques that help to balance the body between concentric and eccentric movements.  One is a positional technique: a technique used to position the body to ensure correct load path and the other is a neuromuscular technique: a technique used to trigger a response in the nerves and muscles.

One positional technique in particular that utilizes concentric and eccentric movements is called short lever/long lever.  A short lever is essentially a muscle that is shortened and a long lever is a muscle that is elongated.  In other words, a short lever is an arm that is bent at the elbow or a leg that is bent at the knee.  A long lever is when the limb is in extension.  Often in Essentrics®, one sequence of movement can combine various short and long levers.

When we discuss the neuromuscular technique, agonist/antagonist, it is explaining what happens to the muscles when shortened or elongated as well, however, unlike short/long levers, agonist/antagonist are reliant upon each other to occur.  In essence, when someone bends their elbow and concentrically contracts (shortens) the bicep (agonist), the tricep elongates or relaxes (antagonist). Amazing, right?


 In “Pull the Donkey” technique arms begin in long lever and end in short lever.  Notice the right leg in long lever and left leg into long lever.

It is important to have concentric training balance out our eccentric training.  Balance in training is of utmost importance in not only keeping our bodies in alignment but pain-free as well!

Resource:  Essentrics® program and Miranda Esmonde-White

















Concentric vs. Eccentric Training

Let’s clarify 2 ways we strengthen our muscles: concentrically or shortening the muscle fibers and eccentrically or a combination of contraction and elongation of the muscle fibers. One movement shortens the muscles toward the body’s center and the other proceeds from the center. Is one more strengthening than the other? Before we answer that question, let me give an example to clarify the two techniques.

The most common example of concentric/eccentric load training is a bicep curl with weights.  When done correctly, by positioning the elbows in an isolated position next to your waist, the weight is pulled up from the waist to the shoulders, shortening the muscle.  This is concentric or positive muscle training.  The next step is to bring the weights back down to the waist. This is eccentric or negative muscle training. Both strengthen the muscles, just in opposing ways.

But which form actually strengthens more effectively? In modern day fitness it is common to think that strength is synonymous with concentric training; pumping weights to form muscles intodownload-1.jpg large, bulky shapes seen on the likes of the Incredible Hulk or Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Picture a professional body builder: they look very strong because he or she has “big” muscles, however compared to the strength of a ballerina, whose strength training is more specifically eccentric, pound for pound she is much stronger. And all this is done WITHOUT added weights!



Now, hold up!  You’re saying a ballerina is stronger than a bodybuilder?  Yes!  Because when the body is trained eccentrically, arms, legs, torso extended away from the body, the load is automatically heavier, which recruits as many muscle fibers as possible to move and hold the extended limbs.  Concentric training, on the other hand, only recruits the muscle fibers needed to bring the weight closer into the body.

To clarify, let’s go back to that bicep curl example. When the weights are pulled up concentrically, the bicep is strengthened and shortened, however when performing a negative (bringing the weights back down to starting position), both the bicep and it’s opposing muscle, the tricep, are used: the bicep to control the weight on the way down and the tricep to extend the arm at the elbow.  Moving the weight eccentrically then recruits a lot more deep muscle fibers to allow the muscles to move the weight down safely to avoid injury. These deep fibers are also needed to be strong and stable for daily functional movements.

Eccentric training, when done without weights, is not only a very safe method of training but it is the most effective strength training!  The other great benefit to eccentric training, as opposed to concentric training?  The joints and connective tissue are liberated instead of compressed.  It allows increased range of motion around the joints, which by definition is flexibility!

In the end, however, it would not be correct to point out the importance of concentric training to our program.  There are several instances where concentric training is vital and one is abdominal training.  Our abdominals play a very important role in core stabilization, spinal heath and correct posturing to name a few.  It is our role, as fitness professionals, therefore to strengthen the core in any way we can.

So it’s only fair to point out that we utilize concentric as well as eccentric training, but our focus: eccentric training!  To me it sounds like a winner!

For more information on the Essentrics® program, please visit:

(Principles of the Essentrics® Program by Miranda Esmonde-White)

What IS Essentrics®?

Essentrics® is a dynamic stretching and strengthening program designed to rebalance all 650 muscles, 360 joints, 208 bones including the surrounding connective tissue, organs and veins. By name, Essentrics® is trademarked by creator Miranda Esmonde-White to emphasize the focus on eccentric muscle training.

Using eccentric contractions (as we focus on in Essentrics®) one is training the body in an extended position: arms and legs extended away from the body instead of inward, thus pulling up and out away from the gravitational pull on the body. By training in this fashion it not only takes pressure of the joints allowing more range of motion (flexibility) but it allows the muscles to strengthen most effectively.

Essentrics® is such a huge part of my life, not only because I teach it as a way of earning a living, but mainly because it’s my WAY of life.  I never knew much about FUNCTIONAL training until recently.  After years of weight lifting (which included a stint in body building) and other forms of high-intensity, high-impact training, my body began to fight back in the form of aches and pains.  Afterall, using FORCE is not always the ideal way to work the body.  Essentrics® came at the right time.  It has taught me it’s more about function for longevity as opposed to form-a.k.a. BIG BICEPS 😉

And, as a former gym buff, I didn’t want to compromise the strength training component weight training provided. What I realized, however, was that I wasn’t compromising strength in any way!  On the contrary, functional training, such as in Essentrics® strengthens MORE since the muscle is in an elongated position.  In fact, “going to the end of a stretch” (more on this later) and working WITH our muscle reflexes is highly strengthening!

A caveat: you must RELAX!  Relax to strengthen? That can’t be right!  Through years of research, experts in their field have discovered that as we relax while extending our bodies outward, away from our core, it allows the muscle reflexes to “relax” or “override,” if you will. When our muscle reflexes relax, our muscles can stretch to full capacity, which in turn strengthens ALL the muscle fibers more effectively!

Think of it this way: imagine holding your arms in toward your body bent at the elbow for 5 minutes. Now imagine holding your arms out straight to your sides for the same amount of time.  Which takes more strength over time to hold?  No question the arms lengthened out to your sides! Training the muscles in extended positioning is more strengthening and as long as it is done safely, without added weight. It is considered the most effective strength training!


Join me next week where we compare the ever popular concentric muscle training to eccentric training!

Arms extended in opposition away from the core works the muscles eccentrically.

Reference: Essentrics® training manuals, Miranda Esmonde-White

I Hate my GUTS!


That’s it!  I’ve said it…I HATE my guts.  Hate is such a strong word, I know! But there it is.  I have had my guts since the tender age of zero and have learned that it is a finicky,

downloadspoiled brat who prides itself in being a HUGE FOOD SNOB.  “If you feed me that,” it says “I’m going to give you a big stomach ache, equipped with distention that makes you appear 5 months pregnant and TONS of gas!!” Anyone else been there?!

So what’s to be done about it? Here are some suggestions based on my experience:

  • Stop stressing out! Easier said than done but if your life isn’t in immanent danger (which it most likely is not) take a deep breath and put things in perspective.  You DO have control over how you feel at any given time.
  • Eat Healthy. At least embrace the foods that make you feel AMAZING not only physically but mentally as well; foods that don’t zap you of all energy and leave you with anxiety. Come on! You KNOW what they are;)
  • Exercise. Move that blood!  Detox your body and regenerate those cells!
  • Stop the MADNESS! Take time to just sit and be still without the obligation to those thoughts that loop over and over in your head.
  • BREATHE! Breathing long and deep lowers the blood pressure, tunes into that parasympathetic nervous system that relaxes the body and moves the blood, especially in the gut, aiding digestion.
  • Sit up straight or stand during (and post) eating to take compression off the guts and allow the food to pass through and digest more easily.
  • POOP!! EVERYDAY!! This is HUGE if you want to feel good mentally and physically. Utilize supplements if you have to but try to stick to non-addictive, natural methods.
  • Learn to love your guts and take care of your guts and show it the respect it wants (and deserves).


These are the things that have helped me manage my fussy guts.  And instead of loathing, learn to be grateful for the wonderful things your gut does RIGHT for the body!  Still having issues?  Read back into my previous posts on gut health!  And good luck!




What’s this BLOG all about?

I thought I would take a moment to comment on my BLOG. In the past my posts have ranged from gut health, to stress, to IBS to bone broth recipes, to fitness… whew! But you know what? This blog is a journey…my health journey. And sometimes with any journey, there are deviations.  Deviations that end up adding to the whole story: the story of health-inward and outward.

In essence, I write to help those of you who may be in a similar situation with their health OR to share knowledge gained through my fitness line of work.  It may be about how I’m feeling that day or what’s happened in my life related to my health or a tidbit I thought valuable enough to share. I hope you will follow me on my journey so you may learn something about yourself through my experiences.  And I hope to inspire you to go forth to be your best by FEELING your best!

Please comment on my posts, add something that may benefit others or better yet, share this blog!

Your partner in health,


My wonderful and supportive husband and children whom I hope to instill that anything is possible!

Disclaimer:  I have no intention of treating, diagnosing or leading you to believe that I am the ultimate authority on health.  I am a victim of my own circumstances and in being so I wish to share what I have learned with the intention of directing you through an alternative perspective. If you experience symptoms worthy of a LICENSED practitioner, I sincerely recommend you locate one knowledgeable enough to help you find ultimate relief.  Thank you!