65: Silver Linings and Virtual Training
Arlene [00:00:01] The Inform Fitness Podcast with Adam Zickerman and co-host Mike Rogers is a presentation of Inform Fitness Studios, a small family, of personal training facilities specializing in safe, efficient, high intensity strength training. On our bi monthly podcast, Adam and Mike discuss the latest findings in the areas of exercise, nutrition and recovery with leading experts and scientists. We aim to debunk the popular misconceptions and the urban myths that are so prevalent in the fields of health and fitness and to replace those sacred cows with scientific based up to the minute information on a variety of subjects. We’ll cover exercise protocols and techniques, nutrition, sleep, recovery, the role of genetics in the response to exercise and much more.
Arlene [00:01:00] On this episode, Adam and Mike have an informative, plus also a heartwarming conversation about their experiences training their clients in this new way… Virtually, during the Covid virus pandemic.
Adam [00:01:13] I’ve had sessions with people, we did three exercises. And they were like, that’s good enough. Let’s just have a cup of coffee together, and I’ll see you next week.
Mike [00:01:21] That’s always the problem. The first time everybody sets up their iPad, I’m looking at the ceiling. They said are you sure? I’m like yeah, I see like, your head! So, I can’t train you really now…
Adam [00:01:33] Hello, everybody.
Mike [00:01:35] Hi, Adam.
Adam [00:01:35] Hey, Mike. How you doing over there?
[00:01:38] We are for the first time, actually maybe we’ve done it before, but we’re ahh…I’m was about to say it’s the first time we’re doing our podcast away from each other because everybody’s away from each other right now.
Adam [00:01:49] Yes, we are in the middle of the Corona epidemic. Pandemic. We haven’t been around for a couple of months doing this, but if there’s anything to get us back into it. Well, this crisis is gonna do it. And here we are, from our respective homes. So now we’re gonna hopefully do more of these over the course of the next few months as it relates to how we’re all dealing with the coronavirus. Today I wanna, I guess we’ll start at the beginning and talk about in home workouts, virtual training, how it’s going, how our business is changed and how we’re coping with it. And how our clients are coping with that.
Mike [00:02:25] So it’s a new world. I mean, I almost can’t believe how things have changed around us. I mean, forget exercise just the world around us and how we have to behave around each other. I have two kids, Adam’s got two kids. And it’s interesting how we have to relate to our friends incorporating homeschooling.
Adam [00:02:41] Virtual cocktail parties.
Mike [00:02:42] I mean, the thing is like I’m just. Those are the things that I guess we have to do all of those as well. But I’m thinking about this like how we’re all trying to continue providing our services to our clients at a level that is exceptional, because I like to think that we always do. And I think nobody has right answers yet. But we just gotta, like, we have to go with what feels right. But we have to keep moving. And I think we have to stay very confident. I want to see if we can really keep our business going. Keep our clients trained. And thus far I’ve gotten very aggressive at just keeping our relations going and organizing workouts and making connections. And so far, it’s it hasn’t been bad.
Adam [00:03:20] No, it hasn’t, you’ve done a great job with that. And I get asked all the time about, you know, how are we gonna maintain? You talk about maintaining the quality that they’re used to at the gym, how we maintain that virtually when you only have a ball and a rubber band and a chair, maybe a light pair of dumbbells, if you’re lucky.
Mike [00:03:37] And a jockstrap.
Adam [00:03:38] Maybe a jockstrap. Well, you know, the principles still apply. We know how to use whatever tools are available to us. And whenever you have somebody watching you pushing you, it’s always better, especially when that person pushing you understands how to use whatever tools it is that’s available to you. Even if it is just a dumbbell. But before we get into some of those techniques, I want to kind of also add to what you said about maintaining relationships and staying in touch with our clients. We’re all well aware of the stresses that we’re all under right now. Everyone’s going through the same thing with kids being home and not working and social distancing, not being able see your friends. But I’ve got to tell you, you know, if there was a silver lining to this and there are several silver linings to this, I have to say that the connection that I’m making with my clients and even my long term friends through all this. Even the clients of mine that aren’t actually doing the virtual workouts. We’re still talking we’re still checking in with each other. It’s really heartwarming. You really find out who your friends are. And even though I’m in isolation, I almost feel in some ways closer to the way my family and my friends and my clients and than I’ve ever been before.
Mike [00:04:47] We’re very we’re very fortunate to have a very nice family at Inform among that the trainers as well as the clients and everything. What everyone’s realizing now is that whether you like it or not, we’re all in this together. You know how we actually survive.
Adam [00:05:03] It’s solidifying.
Mike [00:05:04] I got to tell you, yeah, it is solidifying. I personally love a puzzle. I love a challenge. And I mean, this is like the ultimate challenge. And I feel like trying to create a safe, effective workout with very limited resources and to do it through the screen. It’s amazing all the challenges that have come before. But I got to be honest with ya, I’ve never been more excited, actually. Because I love trying to figure this out and see if we could actually really provide a great service to our clients. Because as you just said, Adam, the tenets are the same. You know, safe, efficient intensity. And the question is, how can we create a relatively controlled environment in an environment that we are not familiar with, like someone’s living room, someone’s hallway, someone’s garage, someone’s home gym. But I actually, to be honest with you. I’ve been extremely excited by the challenge.
Adam [00:06:00] Yeah. You know, the challenge more than anything else for me has been just to get them to try it, because once they try it, yes, there are there are some technical challenges like where you’re going to do we’re going to put the ball. But you plan for that. That’s one of the things we do. We get pictures of all the equipment that the client has and the space that they’ll be using. And we kind of help them set that up in advance so we save time when we really get going. But, you know, the challenge has really been just getting them to try it because once they’ve tried it, it’s actually not as challenging as I thought it would be. I mean, my 20 years of training people just kicks in. I’m watching them, I’m telling them to keep their shoulders back. They hear me. They’re used to my voice already. It’s actually less challenging in some ways than I thought it would be. One challenge, I guess, and it tests your ability to communicate verbally and not having the crutch of having to demonstrate something. Although we can do that, too. We can demonstrate from our end as well. But you have to really learn how to communicate with somebody and they have to listen and do it themselves and put the dumbbells where we asking them to and where to stand. It kind of fine tunes your ability to communicate, which would have been fun. Which has been cool.
Mike [00:07:06] Yeah, it’s wild. And you’re absolutely right. Almost always it’s through clear, succinct verbal cues. And occasionally we do have to step on the machine and do a whole demonstration. I think the chops that the trainers have to instruct verbally and with patience. You know, some people are very easy to train and some people are very challenging to train and hopefully develop chops to be able to instruct them no matter what they what they have.
Adam [00:07:33] Ken Hutchins, who started the super slow movement when he started his certification, he was very adamant about learning how to communicate and using words precisely. And don’t use jargon, don’t use ambiguous terms not to confuse the client. And he tested you on that and he drilled that into your head. And it takes a good trainer to know how to communicate to do this well. But I guess I don’t find it a challenge, you don’t find a challenge in that way because we’re so used to that. We’re you so used to communicating well and describing things the right way. But what almost the feedback I’m also getting from a lot of our clients who are doing the virtual workouts that it’s giving them a sense of normalcy again. I mean, like to be able to just do your half hour workout again with somebody you’ve been doing with for a while. You know, it takes their mind off it for 20, 30 minutes, even though it’s via Zoom or Facebook or FaceTime.
Mike [00:08:19] So I think that’s a big part of making that connection with people. We see them on a weekly basis. Some people, our clients we’ve seen for 16, 17, 18 years. Like people who we see more than our parents and our cousins and stuff like that. They’re a true family. And I’ve had a great time just talking to people for ten minutes. Fifteen minutes just to catch up.
Adam [00:08:38] Well, that’s the thing. I have had sessions with people with that. We’ve done three exercises and they were like, that’s good enough. You know, let’s just finish, let’s just have a cup of coffee together. And I’ll see you next week. You know, it’s been really nice. That’s what I was saying before. I didn’t think I could get some of these relationships even stronger than they already were, but they are at this point. All right. So let’s get into some routines to leave people with some practical things to do, whether they work out with us virtually or not. Go through what you would say would be the most generic basic workout that you’re doing with somebody right now.
Mike [00:09:08] You know, like, you know, we talked about this had the last day Adam, before we were thinking about, is the gym going to close? You know, we didn’t even know and actually the last day we saw each other was when Cuomo sent out the announcement that all gyms have to close. And then we were thinking about what exercises would be involved in this whole thing. And it’s kind of it goes back to the fundamentals of what we do in the gym, which is a squating movement, pulling, rowing movement, the pressing movement. Like you just said, you know, the big three, you know, the leg press, the chest press or the compund row, and then we can go off and do some other things. You know, the big five, where you’re doing a pull down and adding an overhead press. And, you know, with a little bit more time, we could do more simple exercises like bicep curls, lat raises and things like that. So the question is, how do you actually get them based on whatever equipment they have and their abilities that they have? How to actually incorporate this in their in their home. So, you know, the first thing I always try to get people going on with is a squat. Do they have a ball? Did they not have a ball? If they don’t have a ball and they don’t have any real knee problems, they can generally do a squat right in the middle of the room with some limited range of motion. Incorporate the slow protocol.
Adam [00:10:18] Actually, what I’m doing with that, a lot of people don’t actually have a ball and a lot of times using the ball is kind of difficult for them. Actually, what you just said, except for the fact that there is a little chair under them. So what I have them do also to give them a reference of distance and how far down to go. I have them squat have their butt just barely touch a chair and they can actually hover those last reps where they’re reaching hopefully some modicum of muscle failure as they’re hanging down there at the bottom hovering over this area. Once they reach muscle failure, they just sit right into the chair. Boom, they don’t have to worry about falling down on their ass or anything like that. So the chair squat has been a big keeper for me, for those that can do it. As a matter of fact, this is really funny. Speaking of things that come out of situations like this, I’ve had a client that has had knee problems and we’ve tried a million things like the dickens to try to work his lower body and not aggravate his knees, which has been a real, real challenge. So we start the virtual training and I say to him, let’s try the squat that I just described, you know, into the chair. And I thought for sure he’s going to say it was going to bother his knees. This is out of all the things that we could have done in the past. We’d never tried this. We tried everything but this. And very little worked for him. So I have him do this squat into a chair and I’m waiting for him to tell me it’s bothering his knees, but he never says it. I’m like, how your knees? He says great, fine. He worked to absolute complete muscle exhaustion doing this squat. This is the first time he’s actually felt that whole movement like that because we’ve never been able to do something like that because, for some reason, this didn’t bother his knees. I was like, I can’t believe it took this to find out what the best exercise to do for you was. So after you do a squat. I mean, let’s take if you had to do just three exercises, I would do a squat and then I’d have somebody do it like a set of pushups. That does a lot right there. A good set of pushups. You can’t do push ups from your knees. A lot of people can’t. Did I say knees? If you can’t do it from your toes, I should say. Anyone can pretty much do a push up from their knees, even if you just hold it in a particular position for a while. And that’s the thing. Sometimes people have to do a hold or what we call a static contraction, where you’re not going up and down, you just finding a difficult spot to hang out in and then just hang there until you just exhaust yourself, you know? So you have a squat, most likely into a chair or using a ball sliding up and down the wall. You’ve got to push up. And then if you have just a small set of dumbbells, all you have to do is do like an overhead press. Right, how would you do the, how would you do your back with minimal equipment Mike, what you’ve been doing generally?
Mike [00:12:54] If you do have some dumbbells, like, a light one. This morning, I just did the water jug one single arm row. Bent over a row with a water jug. The client had a water jug which was a gallon, and I had her, you know, a knee up on the chair. Ok, get a towel and a chair. Put her arm down and I had to bend over, with a horizontal torso and she was able to very slowly row back to a single arm bent over row. And then we alternated the arms. And it was very exhausting for her. That’s the benefit also of, you know, our slow protocol. We’ve said this many times on the podcast. People think that it’s like, oh my God, those heavy weights…
Adam [00:13:32] Haha, good point.
Mike [00:13:34] Actually, I’m a lighter weight done slowly. Is that really creates a safe intensity.
Adam [00:13:39] And that’s whats so beautiful about it. I mean, a gallon of water, by the way, I just looked it up. A gallon of water weights, eight point three pounds.
Mike [00:13:45] Eight pounds. Yeah.
Adam [00:13:46] So that’s a gallon of water. That’s actually to do a set, a lateral raise, for example, with set eight point three pounds is actually not easy. You have to be pretty darn strong to use eight pounds for a lateral raise. Another exercise that I’ve been doing a lot of which is really never on my radar given the tools we have at Inform. But it works for certain people, which is a simple deadlift, you know, a slight bend in the knee deadlift. It really works the hamstrings and the glutes really well and not to mention the lower back. When you talked about rows Mike, that’s one way. Single arm rows. That’s great. But I’ve been doing rows, sometimes I try to avoid the unilateral movements one arm at a time or one leg at a time if possible.
Mike [00:14:26] She only had one water jug.
Adam [00:14:29] There you go. You know, so. Yeah. You work with the tools you have available and it’s not that there’s anything wrong with unilateral. But if you’re doing every exercise unilateral, which is a lot of times we are now because we’re doing it virtually, we don’t have equipment, it extends the workout longer. So whenever you’re trying to save time also. So what I’m doing, which is working out really well, is you lay on a ball. If you have a ball available to you lay on a ball on your stomach, on the ball where the front of your torso is kind of hanging over the front of the ball and you hold the dumbbells out from your sides and you like a bird. You flap your arms up and down with the dumbbells in your hands laying forward or what they would say prone on that ball. And now you can work your upper back simultaneously with both arms. And it works really, really well. And people really are enjoying that one.
Mike [00:15:18] You know, what’s actually interesting is that in that position, if they do have the ball and you get them where their torso is, like, let’s say parallel to the ground without even any weights, just holding your arms out, the weight of your own arms. And if you just go from where your arms are parallel to the ground and you just lift them up to them highest, they can go to the ceiling and then come down 3 inches and then right back up 3 inches. Do that slowly. Twelve times. I guarantee you’re going to find that your posterior deltoids, maybe the upper lats, the trapezius are going to feel very, very good.
Adam [00:15:53] Rhomboids, yeah…
Mike [00:15:53] Yeah, Rhomboids.
Adam [00:15:54] It doesn’t take much. Doesn’t take much. You know, if you if you understand levers and we do, we know that that can be very effective. Matter of fact, when I thought you were going to say is if you actually lean over the ball even a little more and you let your body hang off the ball even more and you try to keep your body straight up, you working your lower back tremendously. You know, one of the one of the features of Inform Fitness is our specialty MedX lower back lumbar machine, which we keep saying you can’t replicate. And in some ways, that’s true. But people are getting a good lower back workout from leaning over a ball and just kind of maintaining that Superman type position.
Mike [00:16:31] Just holding this position, I’m actually demonstrating on the video podcast for everybody who is watching ha ha. But the thing is, just holding this position and very slowly with your body weight. And right now, my lower back is engaged to engage all the muscles got the posterior chain and the back of the shoulders. Big time.
Adam [00:16:50] Ah, overhead presses, Robert Francis and I, another trainer at Inform Fitness, we shot a video over the weekend and it’s on our YouTube channel now and is going to be on our Web site. It’s does a whole home routine with just a chair, a dumbbell and a step. Calf raises by the way, speaking of a step. Calf raises are a nice one to do. Some women especially like I don’t want big calves. Men are like, what do we have to do these you know, it’s a boring exercise, just the calves, you know, but calves and lower extremities are great for circulation. And if you’re home all day long, and you’re not out there and about, there’s nothing better for your lower body circulation than to do a set of calf raises. It feels really good, quite honestly after you’re done with it. So calf raises are really important especially for older people and you can do that very easily on a step, one leg behind the other, one foot behind the other foot, one legged calf raises, let your foot stretch and just go up on your toes and stretch and balance self with something, whether it be the handrail or the staircase or something that you can just hold on to as you go up and down on single leg calf raises. That’s demonstrated on the video as well. What kind of advice do you have, Mike? From a logistic point of view, doing these workouts, what teleconferencing platform is working best? Do you think?
Mike [00:18:04] You know, it’s whatever is convenient. It’s mostly FaceTime and Zoom. There’s been a couple Skypes. They’re all convenient. As long as like the connection, the Internet connection is good. And sometimes it’s a little bit shoddy, like logistics if you’re working with a trainer who wants to guide you. It takes a few minutes and it’s a little clunky at first to get the camera in the right spot. And there’s a whole handful of things that I do, in order to get that right or to optimally to place where I could see their body and instruct them and they could also see and feel like we’re connected together.
Adam [00:18:39] The second workout goes a lot smoother because that first workout is figuring all that stuff out, where to put the camera where we can see you the right way from the right angle. What I recommend for people that are using their cell phones is a mini tripod as opposed to leaning the cell phone up on something that’s going to slip off or slide down or not be able get the right angle. These mini tripods for like 15, 20 bucks I think. It’s so much better and it works so nicely. For me, that was probably one of the biggest practical things that I came up with that makes these things go really, really smoothly.
Mike [00:19:12] Yeah. If they if they don’t have it though, it’s like it’s a little bit of a hassle though.
Adam [00:19:15] Laptops are good too.
Mike [00:19:16] I’ve had to a laptop is the best because they can flap it back and forth. So the height is that’s always the problem. First time everybody sets up their iPad, I’m looking at the ceiling, and they say, well are you sure? and I’m like yeah. I see like, your head. Ok, so I can’t train you now. I can’t really see anything you’re doing.
Adam [00:19:33] Yeah. Yeah. You know, there’s a lot of that. There’s a lot of that going on. It’s fun.
Mike [00:19:38] Yeah. I mean there’s a couple of things to make it more efficient. I generally schedule even though our sessions are pretty efficient. That can be done in 20 minutes like they always are. But at first I usually get about fifteen to twenty minutes to clunk around and figure out where cameras should go and what equipment they have and all that where it can be anchored. And it’s interesting when I see their room too something like, oh wow we could we can actually do that. You don’t have your door anchor, but we can put it over that hook up there and that, you know, you get in practice and you see everything in that house.
Adam [00:20:06] Yeah, you see everything and end up training people in their bathrooms, their hallways, whatever works.
Mike [00:20:12] But a lot of time, I gotta tell you, it’s a lot of fun. The big point is that this can be done very, very well. The trainers are available and ready and they could actually I think they’re going to be very helpful if the clients do give it a try. And what’s nice is for our podcast listeners, they’re all over the world. And if you have an Internet connection and you want to have a session with Adam Zickerman, umm, you could get the New York experience in the living room.
Adam [00:20:38] New York accent and all.
Mike [00:20:39] Yeah.
Adam [00:20:39] Good point. Where? Yes, we might as well announce right now, Mike. I mean, Inform Fitness is officially a virtual training business.
Mike [00:20:46] At the moment. That’s why we have to do. I mean, we don’t know if this is three weeks, three months. It’s a scary unknown. So we have to do what we gotta do.
Adam [00:20:54] I think when we get back to business at the brick and mortar locations, it’s not like the virtual is going away. I think we’re going to use it for people to go on vacations. We’re going to use it for people who’ve been following our workouts all around the country. As Dave was telling us, our producer, he was just telling me the other day how we have a tremendous following of our podcast in other countries around the world, including Australia. I think you said, Dave, was a big one. So I’m thinking to myself, well, like you just said, Mike, I mean, you want the New York experience with one of us directly, you can have it now.
Mike [00:21:27] Well, with your, with your Indian accent, you can connect to the people in Mumbai.
Adam [00:21:32] That’s an inside joke. Anyway, yeah, I’m not going to quit my day job. All right, everybody, listen. If you have questions, if you have anything you want us to cover, send me an e-mail, send us some, contact us somehow. Check out our YouTube channel, we’re putting on home workouts, all kinds of workouts up there. And we’re going to do more podcasts like this, maybe a little more details about the work in the trenches and for these home workouts. And we’re also going to start talking about exercise and immunity and things like that, how to improve your immunity, how exercise improves and affects your immunity and things like that. We’re going to start going into some deep dives in that as well. Thanks for listening. Stay safe. Stay strong. We’ll speak soon.
Mike [00:22:12] See you soon.
Arlene [00:22:14] This has been the Inform Fitness podcast with Adam Zickerman. For over 20 years, Inform Fitness has been providing clients of all ages with customized personal training designed to build strength fast. Visit Informfitness.com for testimonials, blogs and videos on the Three Pillars. Exercise, nutrition and recovery.