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Why Fitness Professionals Should Join the MedFit Network

It is safe to assume that not everyone a fitness professional works with is injury- or disease-free. As a fitness professional, it is your responsibility to ensure that you provide your clientele with safe and effective programming. The question you have to ask yourself is: are you truly qualified and up to date on the latest information to work with your current (and future) clientele? A second question to ask is: are you marketing yourself to those who need you most in this healthcare crisis? If you’re honest, you should at least say that perhaps you are not.

Well, this is where the MedFit Network (MFN) can help! The MFN is both a professional membership organization for fitness and allied healthcare professionals and a free online resource directory for the community to locate professionals with a background in prevention, treatment and rehabilitation in working with those with chronic disease or medical conditions.

As a fitness professional, here’s why you should join the MedFit Network.

1: Raising Fitness Professional Standards 

MFN is dedicated to making sure fitness professionals are highly educated and prepared to work with any medical issue. The name given for this person is a Medical Fitness Specialist (MFS). The MFS helps make the transition from medical management and/or physical therapy to a regular physical activity program following a surgery, an injury, a medical diagnosis or exacerbation of a pre-existing condition. They also possess the training and skills to work with medical conditions like obesity, diabetes, hypertension, neuromuscular disorders and heart disease. So, a medical fitness practitioner is not just a personal trainer but includes wellness- and health-related disciplines such as chiropractors, massage therapists, physical therapists, nutritionists, etc.

2: Continuing Education

The MedFit Education Foundation (MFEF) is the nonprofit partner of the MedFit Network. MFEF is dedicated to elevating the quality and amount of available education for the medical fitness professional and the entire fitness and wellness community through their learning website, MedFit Classroom. For example, there is a Multiple Sclerosis Fitness Specialist and Drug and Alcohol Recovery Fitness Specialist course that are both one-of-a-kind. Continuing education is required for all their specialty courses. This is typically not the case. It is usually continuing education only for your certification. All of their continuing education courses are approved by a medical advisory board of some of the brightest professionals in the nation. MFEF also facilitates weekly educational webinars that are included with your MFN membership. These webinars are presented weekly by industry experts on such topics as medical fitness and active aging.

The MFN is an organization filled with people from all walks of the wellness professional spectrum. For example, they have MDs, PTs, chiropractors, dieticians, fitness and massage therapists to name a few. As a result, opportunities to network are endless. Because of this, current members have developed their own educational courses and even started their own blogs. Also, members have been able to designate their facility as medical fitness facilities by working with a member who specializes in helping people achieve this status.

The MedFit Network is a unique organization dedicated to improving the standards of the fitness and allied healthcare professionals. The ability for the diseased community to go to a directory of qualified medical fitness professionals is something unheard of anywhere else. The three reasons given are just the tip of the iceberg as to why you should be a part of this movement, the MFN!

Click to learn more about joining the MedFit Network as a professional member.


Maurice Williams offers a rare combination of advanced academic training, personal experience as a competitive athlete, entrepreneur skills and 22 years of experience in personal fitness and training. He has a BS in Exercise/Sport Science from Elon College (Now Elon University) and an MS in Clinical Exercise Physiology from Ohio University. Maurice is also a long-time MedFit Network member.

woman-plank-exercise

My 3 Favorite Core Exercises

Core Exercises are always in style, right? If I had a $100 for every time I have been asked what is the best core exercise to help me get rid of my belly fat I would be writing this blog from the beach in Punta Cana!

Seriously, core exercises have their place and are important to do. Consider a few of the main reasons why they are important:

  1. They can help stabilize your spine.
  2. They can prevent low back injury or discomfort.
  3. They can help improve sporting activity.
  4. They help improve posture.

As a result of the benefits listed above for doing core exercises, here are my three current (yes, they do change) favorite core exercises:

Bridges

Preparation

Exercise preparation

  1. Begin by lying flat on floor in supine position with knees bent, feet flat, toes pointing straight ahead and arms by sides.
  2. Activate core by drawing navel towards the spine and squeezing the glutes.

Movement

With core activated and glutes squeezed, lift hips off ground to form a straight line between knees and shoulders.

Hold and slowly return back to floor, touching floor momentarily then repeat.

If your client feels their hamstring cramping, check their pelvis for correct alignment. Pelvis should be neutral – asis and psis should be even or horizontal. If there is a misalignment correct it. If you aren’t sure then gently stretch the quads and try the exercise again.

Prone Iso Abs (i.e. Planks)

Preparation

  1. Kneel on the floor on all fours.
  2. Align your hands directly beneath your shoulders.
  3. Align your knees directly beneath your hips.

Movement

  1. Lift and extend one leg to the floor behind you.
  2. Place the ball of your foot on the floor as in a push-up position.
  3. Maintain neutral spinal alignment in this semi-supported position.
  4. If you feel comfortable enough, extend both legs into a full plank position.
  5. Make sure to keep your shoulder blades down and wide on your back during all phases of the exercise.

Mecaback Wedge Crunch

Set Up (standard) 

Feet on the floor, Arms crossed at chest 

Execution 

  1. Maintain a stable pelvis. Tailbone gently pointing down. 
  2. Brace your abdominals and lift straight up. Only lift your torso 2-3 inches from the floor, 
feeling the point at which the abdominals are working hardest, pause.
  3. Slowly lower.
  4. Repeat. 

Maurice D. Williams is the owner of Move Well Fitness in Bethesda, MD, and Assistant Professor of Health & Human Performance at Freed-Hardeman University.  He is a NASM Master Instructor and Master Trainer,  and is also certified with NASM as a Corrective Exercise Specialist, Performance Enhancement Specialist, Senior Fitness Specialist & Weight Loss Specialist, and as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist by NSCA.

woman-weight-lifting

Why Women Need to Lift Weights

Traditionally speaking, when it comes to exercise, men have dominated the lifting weights world. This occurred mainly due to men being allowed to participate in sporting activities while women were not allowed to because it was not considered “lady like” and it was illegal. However, times have changed, as women are no longer looked at as being inferior to men; and it is safe, appropriate and very normal for them to exercise, particularly lift weights.

Here are a few reasons why women say they do not need to lift weights and my answer to their concern.

It Will Make Me Look Bulky

While this is a very legit concern, it is typically not true. In order for a woman (or man) to look “bulky”, they will have to do what is called a lot of “volume” in their workouts. Volume is the number of weight, repetitions, sets and exercises done in order to achieve mass or bulk.

If a woman follows the recommended numbers of days of weight lifting/week by ACSM (2-3 days/week, lifting weights for all the major muscles using 1-2 sets of 8-12 reps), they will not get bulky

Lifting Weights Does Not Help Me Burn Calories

Weight lifting has a high metabolic (ability to burn calories) rate. As a result, the more lean muscle a woman has, the less likely she is to gain weight and the easier it is to keep the weight off. Muscles are like the gas in our cars. The gas is used by the engine and keep the car moving.  Having muscle, by lifting weights, allows your body to keep moving and consistently fight off fat gains.

There is No Benefit For Me to Lift Weights

There are tons of benefits of women lifting weights! They include weight loss, improved mood and well-being, better posture and prevention of osteoporosis. These four are all major concerns for most women and lifting weights helps with all of them!

I Only Need to do Cardio to Be Healthy

While doing cardio activities (i.e. running, swimming, elliptical, spin class, etc.) is beneficial for the heart, it does not put the necessary stress on the bone and muscular system that our bodies crave. We were designed in a way that our muscles were meant to be moved beyond just walking and typing on a computer! While cardio is a great way to burn calories, oftentimes, it will burn away muscle because it is a catabolic activity. Lifting weights help to balance that out. 

Do I Really Need to Start Lifting Weights?

Yes, YOU do! I recommend that a woman looking to start lifting weights seek out professional help. A certified personal trainer is well qualified to provide safe and proper advice for her.

Also, I recommend home DVD workout programs such Power 90, Slim in 6 and Chalene Extreme that have all proven to help women strength train properly.

Weight training is important for everyone to do. It helps with posture, weight loss, prevention of osteoporosis and other metabolic diseases. It does not require a lot to do it, so why not incorporate two days/week for 30 minutes or less to lifting weights!


Maurice D. Williams is the owner of Move Well Fitness in Bethesda, MD, and Assistant Professor of Health & Human Performance at Freed-Hardeman University.  He is a NASM Master Instructor and Master Trainer,  and is also certified with NASM as a Corrective Exercise Specialist, Performance Enhancement Specialist, Senior Fitness Specialist & Weight Loss Specialist, and as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist by NSCA.

sleep nightlight

We Need More Sleep

We need more sleep because we were not designed to be awake each day for 24 hours. I know in today’s society, a lot of us try and are successful at staying awake for 24 hours. 

However, I am sure it came with consequences right? 

How much coffee or red bull did you have to drink to do it? How did you feel when you finally did get some sleep? I bet that the next morning when you woke up felt horrible, didn’t you? 

In today’s blog, I want to highlight three reasons why we all need more sleep. I hope these three things are simple enough for us to put into practice NOW!

#1. Growth Hormone

There is a hormone that our bodies produce called growth hormone. Without it, we make it harder for us to get bigger muscles. Growth hormone also helps with getting rid of body fat and it helps our bones retain calcium. Wow, sounds like pretty important stuff right? Well, if we are not getting enough sleep in general, and enough quality sleep, then, our growth hormone can’t work like it should. 

#2. Leptin

During good sleep, our bodies use something called leptin to control our hunger feelings. Well, this hormone can only do its job properly with a good night’s rest. Leptin helps to curb our appetites and gives us a satisfied feeling. However, if we are not getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night (ideal sleep time), then another hormone, ghrelin, will work for us. This is the hormone that gets released to let us know that we are hungry. 

We want ghrelin to work for us when we are actually hungry, not because we did not get a good night’s rest. If you’ve awoken starving, it could have been from a lack of quality sleep! 

#3. Exercise Suffers

Yep, all that hard work you’ve been putting into exercise becomes null and void without proper sleep. One of the great benefits of lifting weights is the increase in muscle size and as a result, better metabolism that leads to weight loss. Well, lack of sleep is an enemy to protein synthesis (how our bodies make muscle). If your muscles are not getting stronger and/or bigger, then, your metabolism is not working for you. 

Also, inadequate sleep leads to your body having a harder time recovering from your workouts. If you cannot recover from your workouts, then you could potentially 1.) injure yourself and 2.) have less slow-wave sleep.

Conclusion

We need more sleep. There is no way around this, folks! Sleep really does our bodies well.  I recommend we at least do the following to get more sleep: 

  1. Go to bed one hour earlier than you normally do.
  2. Shut down all electronics one hour prior to going to bed.
  3. Meditation
  4. Drink something soothing like chamomile tea

Maurice D. Williams is the owner of Move Well Fitness in Bethesda, MD, and Assistant Professor of Health & Human Performance at Freed-Hardeman University.  He is a NASM Master Instructor and Master Trainer,  and is also certified with NASM as a Corrective Exercise Specialist, Performance Enhancement Specialist, Senior Fitness Specialist & Weight Loss Specialist, and as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist by NSCA.

Back pain

Three Steps to Ease Back into Exercise After a Back Injury

According to studies, Low back pain affects nearly 80% of all adults.  Most low back injuries come from the following: wearing high heels (women), performing manual labor and people who sit for long periods of time (greater than 3 hrs.). Although these statistics are alarming, there are some simple steps one can take to make sure that they avoid current and future back pain or injury. These steps all involve simple exercises that can be performed from anywhere, including one’s office.

Step #1: In order to prevent further injury or a relapse, the 1st thing one should do is stretch common muscles that are tight and may have caused the lower back pain in the first place. Tight muscles are known to overwork and when this occurs, they become overactive and let us know through pain. These muscles include: erector spinae, hip flexors, calves and the lats (the big back muscles). For each stretch, you want to hold the stretch for 30-120 seconds and perform the movement for 1-2 repetitions 3-5x/week. (View Stretches: http://www.webmd.com/back-pain/living-with-low-back-pain-11/five-back-pain-stretches)

Step #2: After you have stretched the tight muscles, now it is time to focus on strengthening the muscles that are weak or underactive. Muscles become weak or underactive typically from lack of use or overuse by the muscles that assist or oppose the weak muscles. For example, if your hip flexor is tight, it could cause your glutes (butt) muscles to become weak.  The muscles that tend to weak with a lower back injury include: certain core muscles, the butt and hamstrings. For each strengthening exercise, you want to perform 1-2 sets of 10-15 repetitions 3-5x/week. (View core exercise: http://www.webmd.com/back-pain/living-with-low-back-pain-11/core-strength-for-back-pain; http://www.webmd.com/back-pain/lower-back-pain-10/slideshow-exercises)

Step #3: Now that you have isolated the lower back with stretching and strengthening exercises, now it is time to focus on integrating your entire body back into exercising. Integrated exercises involve using as many muscles as possible in one given exercise. By performing integrated exercises, you will ensure that the your hip joint (which can be misaligned with low back injuries) starts and remains in the right position and the proper muscles are working as they should be. For each integrates exercise, you want to perform 1-2 sets of 10-15 repetitions 3x/week. (View integrated exercises: http://www.allthingshealing.com/Chiropractic/Corrective-Exercise-for-Back-Pain/8558#.VIoTN74zf8E)

If you follow these three simple steps, you can avoid low back pain setbacks and ensure that your back is strong enough to handle your daily activities of life.


Maurice D. Williams is a personal trainer and owner of Move Well Fitness in Bethesda, MD.

Young beautiful brunette sportswoman wearing sportswoman training over white background confuse and wonder about question. Uncertain with doubt, thinking with hand on head. Pensive concept.

Eight Exercises to do to Have the Body You Want

I’m going to be honest – there’s a lot of hype in the exercise market today. It almost feels like whoever can do the most creative exercises wins some kind of award. But the truth is…that’s not a good use of your time because it’s not going to get you the results you probably desire – a lean, defined, healthy body that enables you to perform daily life functions and that will allow you to age gracefully.

success-go-get-it

Five Steps for Leveling Up Your Mindset

The perspective from which I want to discuss this topic today has to do with cultivating a mindset that actually allows you to reach your goals.

It’s easy to get fed up with your current situation – whether it be weight, a job, finances, a relationship or otherwise – and say to yourself “I’m done! Things are about to change!”

But then they don’t.