The Perfect Push-up

The perfect push-up is an upper-body focused exercise with full-body benefits.

There are many variations, but being able to perform the standard push-up is an important ability to have in your fitness toolbox. Whether you’re fairly experienced or just starting out, you can always benefit from increasing your knowledge of the movement, and a lot of practice, practice, practice.

Here we’ll be breaking down the push-up, going over the setup, technique, and major muscles involved. There will also be ways to help you get started, and cues to help make them even better.

We’ll keep it all short, simple, and (hopefully) practical. Then, get after it. The best way to get better at push-ups…is to do push-ups!


The Setup: Position yourself on the ground with:

  • Arms straight, with elbows and wrists directly below or just wider than your shoulders.
    1. Think as if you were standing up with both arms forward, and trying to push someone’s car out of your parking space.
  • Press your palms and fingers into the floor.
    1. “Grip the ground”. This helps engage more muscles in your arms and shoulders, and take some of the strain off of your wrists.
  • Legs straight out and close together, toes down.
  • Head straight, so that your neck is not arched up or curved down.
    1. Your gaze is towards the floor, just ahead of your hands.
  • Contract your glutes, quads, and abdominals. One way to help is take a big breath out, trying to make everything tight while doing so.
    1. Think squeeze your cheeks, engage your legs, and tighten your abs as if Superman was about to punch you in the gut.

Now pause, hold here, and check yourself.

Your body should be in, or close to a straight line starting from your ankles, up your back, along your neck, and through the top of your head.

Your hands are engaged and gripping the ground, toes are planted, and everything in between (legs, hips, abs, shoulders) is tight and ready.

This is the “up” position.

Your body is now all straightened out, locked in, and good to go.


The Motion:

  • Break from your elbows, and begin lowering your body towards the floor. Your legs, hips, and chest all move together.
    1. Keep everything from the setup nice and tight. Control your movement.
    2. Arms and elbows in close by your body. Think “arms glues to your sides”.
    3. Breathe in (inhale) as you lower down.
  • Bring your chest to, or as close to the ground as possible.
    1. “Graze the ground” or stop just above it.
    2. This is the “down” position.
  • Reach the bottom point, push back up.
    1. Breathe out (exhale) as you push up. Use your breath to help keep your abs tight, and get into a rhythm.
    2. Think “push the floor away from you”.
  • Push yourself back to the starting “up” position.

There is it, one badass push-up! Now reset, and keep going.


What if the Floor is (too much): Raise yourself up, elevate your hands

If you’re at home or the gym.

  • Use a wall, side of a bed, back of a couch, armrest, chair, stairs…
  • Use a box, bench, or a barbell set in the squat rack. Adjust the hooks to the right height, set your body in position, and push away.

Wherever you are, just work your way down towards the floor as your strength improves.

Major Movers: Chest, arms, shoulders

  • Pectoralis major (your chest)
  • Triceps brachii (back of your arms)
  • Anterior deltoids (front of your shoulder)

Also Working: Everything else

  • Core
  • Hips
  • Legs

There you have it, the push-up.

Use these steps to help you get that first push-up, and try out these cues to make your push-ups even more effective.

You need to make your body do what you want it to do. Get yourself set up, and practice, practice, practice.

They’ll get better. You’ll get stronger.

One last thing, if when you are done fixing your form for the better and you are looking for more from your fitness we are only a call or email away. If you are not yet one of our bad-ass clients then call or email now to set up the first workout at the last gym you will ever need.
Don’t believe me? Read these…


Women: Love your body!

By: Kyla Scherer

As a coach, the number one request from female clients is to lose weight and look better. The female population comes to me “hating” things about their bodies. A body that has potentially gotten them out of bed each day, climbed endless stairs, given birth, stood them in front of seminars and conferences and courtrooms, walked them down the aisle of their wedding, helped them to impact their local or national or international community, saved lives, taught, and inspired others.

How do you hate that?

They see the extra fat, or the flabby arms, or a number on the scale they think is too large. Why shouldn’t they see this? If you walk down the magazine aisle in stores and take a gander at the front cover of women’s magazines versus men’s magazines you see two very different pictures. In a totally unscientific study I did just that, and here’s what I saw.


Magazines geared towards women: fight fat, slim and happy, drop 2 sizes, sexy abs, lose more fat, flat abs, slim sexy body, toned.

Magazines geared towards men: Instant muscle, big arms fast, get big, ripped right now, build muscle, stronger quicker, the big muscle issue.

These are just magazine covers; we are bombarded each day by various types of media that pretty much send the same message. Be small, quiet, and look a very specific way.   We aren’t taught to be grateful about what our bodies can do, but to be ashamed of what they aren’t. We are taught to focus on aesthetics, and not what our bodies can do.   I, personally, chose not to subscribe to this thought process, but it can be difficult to get a female client to turn their backs on the overwhelming majority of messaging.

So how do we go about making women appreciate their bodies more?

As a coach, obviously, I want to know a client’s goals. Whether that goal is to lose 10lbs or have visible abs, or to drop 2 dress sizes. Once I know a client’s goals a program can easily be designed to help them reach their goals. The important part is finding out a client’s why. Why do they want to lose 10lbs, why not 5 or 15? Why 2 dress sizes? Usually in talking to clients the 10lbs and the change in clothing size turns into feeling better. Feeling better in their body and about their body and this is where I like to work.

Most of my clients will start feeling better and more empowered when they start performing better. If during a session I can get them to focus on doing one more rep then last time, trying to move more weight than they did a month ago, or moving faster through a workout suddenly it becomes about what they are capable of and not the 10lbs they were worried about. “I did that one push-up, now I want more.”, “I picked up 100lbs, now I want more.”. If they focus on what they can do in the gym, the aesthetics will come.

Most likely a woman who can bang out 3 pull-ups has a pretty good body composition already. A woman who can pick up over 300lbs probably has a fantastic looking posterior. If you are working hard in the gym for those quad muscles, then you want to show them off in that smaller sized dress. A woman who focuses on getting stronger quickly realizes that she isn’t “getting bulky” as a result, and she’s most likely eating more than she ever has before.

Ultimately, I would like women to stop trying to fix their bodies and start trying to make them stronger. Train because you love your body, not because you hate it. Because our bodies are amazing, and can do so much more then we think. Chances are you are going to see much more positive change if you start from a place of gratitude then one of despair.


“You can still love your body while wanting it to look or perform differently than it does right now. There’s no hypocrisy there.” – Molly Galbraith

The 5 best reasons to swing a Kettlebell!

What is it About the Kettlebell?

by Ian Cutting

I was talking to someone recently about fitness and training, and the subject of the kettlebell came up. At one point during this part of our conversation they stopped me and asked, “What is it about kettlebells, how do they work…what makes them so special?”

First of all, I believe in in kettlebells as a training tool, and both I and many clients I train use them frequently to great success. I believe they can help almost anyone improve their health and fitness, and make progress towards and achieve practically any training or lifestyle related goal.

“Well, they…” and I went on to say a little bit about how they are a useful tool and you can do a lot with them. While I’m pretty sure nothing I said was wrong, I realized I hadn’t given them a good answer. It put me off to no be able to talk about them in the way I know I should be able to, and that would actually help someone who didn’t know anything about them. There needed to be a better explanation, especially for those who might have never used kettlebells before and are unsure of their benefits.

So I sat down and thought about a few of the key reasons why kettlebells work and what makes them so effective.

Here are the 5 best reasons to learn to swing a kettlebell:

• They’re adaptable: You can perform many different variations of squats, hinges, pushes and pulls, lunges, loaded carries, and even rotations with kettlebells.
• They’re scalable: With many different weights and all of those movement patterns to choose from, you can more easily adjust the loading and exercises depending on your body and training needs.
• They’re portable: As fitness equipment goes, kettlebells aren’t hard to move around and don’t take up that much space. Keep a bell in your car or basement or garage and there’s no excuses not to get something done.
• They’re versatile: They can be used to build muscular strength, power and endurance, for cardio/conditioning, increasing mobility and improving balance, even more isolation work for rehab/prehab purposes.
• They’re efficient: You don’t need to spend all day training. You can pack a lot of work into a small(er) amount of time.


Ultimately, all of those add up to the most important point. Kettlebells are effective because they eliminate many of the most common excuses for why people don’t exercise.

You can perform virtually any movement with kettlebells, and they help keep training simple because there’s always a more or less advanced version of an exercise to work on. You can bring them anywhere because they don’t take up much space in your car. If you’re too busy to make it to the gym, you can exercise at home. If you don’t live near a gym, they’re a great, durable, low cost training tool that last a long time.

Kettlebells give you a way to train for any health and fitness goal, and help you train consistently by eliminating many common excuses. At the end of the day, consistency is most important factor of all in your making the progress and achieving the results you’re looking for.

Without diving deeper into more science-y answers for how kettlebells work (that’s an article for a later date), those are a few of the reasons for what makes them so special. So the next time someone asks you about the benefits of kettlebells, you’ll have some solid answers to give them.

Happy swinging!

If you would really like to learn more about us and how we can really help you achieve the goals, and body you want please click here.

Athletic Development: What Athletes Need…

Athletic Development:What Athletes Need…
By Ian Cutting

Over the past few years we keep hearing about the increasingly competitive nature of youth athletics. More parents are investing time and money on their children’s athletic development in the hopes they’ll be able to play on the all-star travel team, be a varsity starter, earn a college scholarship or professional contract.

The health and fitness industry also continues to grow rapidly. There are more fitness facilities and training certifications available than ever before.

The result of focusing on athletic development is the reason we now see a boom in the fitness industry with more gyms offering programs labeled as “sports performance”. These programs consistently involve high levels of intensity, flashy jumping, and a lot of fancy words and exercises that do a better job of selling the parents on their methods than actually helping the athletes. They’re good at opening your wallet, but not always unlocking the potential of your child. Passing the eye test for intensity doesn’t mean it fits the bill for effectiveness or safety.

How can you tell what’s for show versus what actually has substance?


What is training?

Training consists of what an athlete needs, versus what the tricks are and what athletes don’t need. Athletes need a training program which helps them get stronger, and stay healthier. A program that keeps things simple, covers basic movement patterns, improves durability, addresses weaknesses, and is varied based on the sport, season, and individual needs. This is a program, and doesn’t shift focus every day, week, or even the first day of every month.

Athletes, and kids need a well-rounded program that focuses on strength training, and includes appropriate levels of conditioning and mobility. They need guidance on nutrition, hydration, sleep, and recovery and to learn about how those things are just as if not more important than the work they put in in the gym. They need attention to help address the individual needs and concerns that every young and developing body has.

Athletes need a program with a long-term focus that accounts for changes in sport season.They need periodic assessments on variables that translate into improved on field success. This program has varying levels of intensity to allow for recovery and adaptations to take place.

Tired of reading and want to get ahead of the rest?  contact us here!

What athletes don’t need

Daily HIIT workouts with countless jumps and landings. They don’t need exhausting metabolic sessions and to always be leaving the gym battered and broken. They don’t need endless circuits targeting every single body part day after day after day. They don’t need to leave every session wondering how they’re going to make it up the stairs or survive the next practice. They don’t need complicated terminology, and don’t always need more, more, and more training.

Those type of workouts performed day after day, season after season hurts their progress, and their prospects. There is a difference between workouts, and following a training program. A body that doesn’t recover properly cannot grow. If intense training is stacked on top of existing health problems or injuries, things will get worse. If a poor movement pattern is loaded with heavy weight, something (their body) will break.

What athletes DO need – A training program based on goals

These things have to be met in order to improve a skill or perhaps hit a standard. This requires different methods than the series of workouts put together to help a middle aged man get back in shape, the stay at home mom lose 10 pounds, or satisfy the grumbling employee who only has a gym membership because it means a deduction on their insurance, nor will please the exercise enthusiast who loves all activity and will do whatever the workout of the day happens to be.

A strength and conditioning program will improve an athlete’s output and longevity. What they need is strong fundamental movement development. It’s the strength that lets a player stop without their body weight forcing them to fall down, or to tear an ACL or MCL when changing directions. The benefits, and knowledge behind the recovery phase of their programming that keeps them in top form throughout their competitive season.

Unfortunately there are now more trainers out there than ever advertising sports performance without the knowledge and skill to be able to back it up. Most movement is better than no movement, but ever varying, high-intensity workouts, in large groups of constantly exhausted athletes with different needs and pre-dispositions to injury does not constitute an effective training program, and are not safe training environments.

Are they workouts, or is it training? Is it good for the athlete, or does it just look good for the parents? It’s easy to make someone sweat, it’s hard to make an athlete better. There are tricks, and then there is training. One first one leaves kids broken down, the second one builds kids up.

What Contemporary Athlete does differently

For the last 5 years we have been helping athletes become more complete athletes. Through comprehensive programming that is simple to understand, and falls in line with their athletic season. Because we have great communication with our student athletes and their parents its easy for us to adjust for critical events, and rhythmic changes over the course of a competitive season or the off season. The fundamentals are key for progressive development. The squat, hinge, plank, push, and pull all correlate to managing ones potential short comings and leave their strengths to be able to shine. The hardest thing to do is to learn how to recover, and when to do so. If you don’t understand how to stop, then you are just like everybody else that just can go fast. Which down the road leaves you getting passed by, by those that learned fundamental skills. These things are key for those looking to move onto the next stage either into the collegiate ranks or into elite levels of play.

This difference means athletes that will be healthier, happier, stronger, faster, more confident, prepared, and successful. Seriously, don’t take our word for it though check out some of our success stories.

If you are ready to really change how you play, and set yourself up for greatness contact us today.

Women’s Strength: STRONG is not a four-letter word.

Do you have a New Year’s resolution? Just have a baby? Want to feel better in your clothes?  Are you just tired of feeling terrible in general?  We totally understand.  Getting started on any fitness program is a daunting task and you probably feel like you’ve tried everything but nothing has been working.

It’s hard enough to take those first steps into the gym, full of treadmills, muscle heads, and mirrors. It can be really intimidating and confusing.  When you finally do go, what should you do? Spend an eternity on the elliptical?  Maybe lift a few weights?  What exercises should you do? What weight should you use and for how many reps?


You start doing what you think you should be doing according to the latest issue of Cosmo. You “put in your time” for a few weeks and don’t see any difference in how you feel or how you look in the mirror and you realize – there has to be a better way. One that works, that challenges you, and most importantly is something fun you will look forward to and want to stick with.

The good news? There is! At Contemporary Athlete, we offer a class specifically designed for and attended by only women. This class is designed to get your heart pumping, your metabolism revving, and your muscles firing. On the surface, we don’t look like your typical “gym.”  There’s no treadmills, no elliptical machines, no muscle heads, and best of all…. NO MIRRORS.  Just women learning how to move weight around safely, effectively, and with a purpose.


We use various equipment, such as TRX, kettlebells, medicine balls, and more to help you reach your goals.  Classes are 60 minutes in length and limited to 10 women each to ensure adequate coaching and optimal results. What will you get out of it? Strength, confidence, a feeling of empowerment, and the knowledge that you are consistently moving towards your goals with changes you can see and feel.

There isn’t any choreography to learn and we are not your typical bubbly instructors yelling things like “no pain, no gain!”

  • We will tell you to get a heavier weight.
  • We will teach you how to safely move and use it.
  • We will tell you to keep going.
  • We will see you struggle and tell you in a normal tone of voice “come on, you got it.”

Why not get ahead of the new year fitness rush and give yourself the gift of strength for the holiday’s?

Contemporary Athlete offers this 7 week program starting December 5th. It takes place on Monday and Wednesday evenings at 7:00pm, and Saturday mornings at 9am.

Are you ready to make a life altering change? Click here to get in touch with us now.

The Road Least Traveled

“It’s easy till you own it.”

 The best advice I have ever gotten was, “Protect the CA no matter what. That community is special and that is its super power. People will come and go but you are at the heart of it. You are what brought them all here. Protect it.”

I very recently stood at the top of a hill, on tired legs, coppery taste in my mouth, and a bright blue sky in front of me. It was a crisp day out near Bennington, Vermont, the fall harvest surrounding me on all sides. As I looked out at the scenery, cool air kissing the sweat of my skin, tears were streaming down my face. Everything hurt and the sleepless nights and emotional roller coast I have recently been on had me shot to hell.

I’m happy to see September of 2015 disappear into the fucking far off distance, much like all the miles I put in just running in the countryside. Not knowing where I parked my truck or how to get back to it. I just wanted to run. So I did. Owning your own business is a glorious pursuit of suffering. I meet people and they think it’s all daisies and rainbows and freaking unicorns because I have the middle of the day “off” or I get to “set my hours” or it must be “fun, like teaching recess.” But it’s not. It’s about as far from that as you can get.

This may sound like a rant, and maybe it is, but it’s also something more. This business is personal. You spend your time playing movement specialist, strength coach, mentor, therapist, food guru, educator, relationship developer, weekend/evening janitor, cheerleader, and then at the end of it ask people to pay you for all of that.  It’s always too “expensive” and you get to carry that guilt around with you all day/week/month/year. Sometimes it doesn’t work out and you have to part ways. You lose them to the next big fad or their “friend started doing X great thing and I think… I’m gonna go do that. Thanks though!”

The days roll together, you get up when its dark, you leave when it’s dark, you program classes and sessions until you hear your alarm go off telling you to go back to the CA. You adjust for clients’ injuries or they go MIA and set your meticulously developed plan back 4 months. Your lack of “time” drives your friends away, or they give up on you, your relationships implode (or explode), and sometimes you take a flame thrower to your life (I mean who really needs clean laundry or food anyway?)

Because it’s PERSONAL and you want to HELP people, you show compassion. You discount memberships, let them float to keep clients making progress during tough times, and you dig into your own pocket to keep the lights on.  All while watching your bank account cross into the red. Then you swallow what’s left of your pride and do your best not to brutalize somebody the next time you see them with that golden glow. You know the one, the one you have after getting home from that vacation they took. That vacation you just saw being posted on Facebook. The one with the amazing sunsets at the beach, while drinking a fruity cocktail with their feet in the sand (mmmm sunsets, I’m pretty sure if I saw the sun I would catch fire at this point).

As the owner you get to hear about that great race they had this past weekend or the places that they are going to next month. Or that fat piece of cake they just shoveled into their face that fucked up their macros. You know the one from Cheesecake Factory that they are going to complain about when they didn’t lose any weight this week and how it’s your fault. The workouts apparently aren’t hard enough or the weights are too heavy, etc.

“That community is your super power and you must protect it at all costs.”

Those fucking words lead all your decisions. “No, I can’t go out to dinner. I have no money because I had to buy another medicine ball.” “No, I can’t do that wicked awesome race with you. I haven’t really slept in 4 days and I can sleep in till 6:30am tomorrow. Oh and I’m broke because I just put my last $20 in my gas tank to get me to work.” “No, I don’t want to go stand at another race like a freaking asshat and watch people pass by me like I don’t exist.”

As I stood at the top of that hill crying about all of that loss, and feeling sorry for myself for the first and last time in 3 years, I made some hard decisions about the future of the CA.  And with that, I felt the ease and warmth of unburden wash over me. I felt better, lighter. The sky looked bluer and I could see the apples on the trees from the farm below, which looked fantastically tasty. I thought “I’m going to go down there and eat one of those damned apples and sit on my ass for 5 minutes.”

With all of that said, the CA has a new CFO, and I can now get back to doing what I do best, what we here in the CA do best. Making stronger, faster, grinders. Billing, marketing, and sales are all up to somebody else. Somebody better equipped to deal with them.

“Protect the CA no matter what. That community is special and that is its super power. People will come and go but you are at the heart of it. You are what brought them all here. Protect it.”


CA & 9 Miles East Sports Nutrition

Contemporary Athlete & 9 Miles East Sports Nutrition

If you’ve been training at CA during any point in the last year, you’ve definitely heard the name “9 Miles East” more than a few times.  All those times you walked in and saw brightly colored coolers stacked by the door, or saw someone with their head buried in the 9 Miles cooler looking to choose their dinner for the night.  Their name has become pretty popular amongst the CA community and there’s a damn good reason why.

They’re bridging that gap we all struggle to overcome – making eating healthy easy, delicious, and convenient.  Adam Costello, director of the Sports Nutrition program for 9 Miles East, was kind enough to take this opportunity to further explain the ins and outs of what their subscription has to offer.


You’re training hard and spending a lot of time at Contemporary Athlete. Good! You should be!  Maintaining a regular training schedule is one of the best ways to stay healthy and feel great.  Keep doing what you’re doing but don’t forget about fueling your body with highly nutritious, healthy food.  This is where 9 Miles East comes in.

Train hard at CA and pick up your post-workout meal from the 9 Miles East fridge or go all in with our Sports Nutrition Subscription.  Nothing compliments your training better.  Don’t worry about trudging back and forth through supermarket isles or carving out time to cook a healthy meal when you have so many other important things vying for your attention.  Let 9 Miles East Farm help you.

We’re a 29-acre vegetable farm in Schuylerville, NY.  We grow veggies, cook them in our commercial kitchen, add high quality ingredients we can’t grow, and deliver them to busy folks in the Capital Region.  We have 15 different varieties of our GO Box meals along with a growing number of healthy soups, stews, and hot entree options. Our meals are a strategic mix of macronutrients that will help you fuel properly for a training session and recover quickly.  We want to help you achieve your athletic goals! 

You can purchase individual meals directly from the cooler in CA.  Grab your meal, swipe your credit card, and enjoy! It’s that easy.  Interested in having 9 Miles East Farm help you eat healthy throughout the week?  Sign up for the Four Week Sports Nutrition Subscription.  Each week you’ll receive a cooler delivered to CA filled with 5 meals:

1 GO Box – A bed of baby greens topped with a grain like quinoa, veggies from the farm, high protein toppings like sunflower seeds or roasted almonds, and our side dressing

2 GO Box Pros – GO Boxes with high-quality chicken                      

1 GO Basket – A to-go box stuffed with a grain, roasted veggies from the farm, and chicken.  Heat   the GO Basket up in a skillet or microwave

1 Soup or Stew – Healthy, hearty, and made with ingredients from our farm and others around the area

$45 each week, delivery included

We want to make it easy for you to enjoy healthy, local food.  You can check out our website ( for more information about the farm and what we offer.  You can sign up for the Sports Nutrition subscription on our square space (  If you have any questions or ideas about how we can improve our service please don’t hesitate to call or email Adam Costello (518-810-3731 OR [email protected]).


Special Limited Offer

9 Miles East Farm is offering 50% off for the first week of their 6-week Contemporary Athlete Sports Nutrition Program that will be offered with the CA Ninja 101 program registration.  That’s just $22.50 for 5 meals during your first week of subscription ($4.50/meal).

Ninja 101 is a $564 value being offered for just $349.  Make sure to sign-up ASAP and get this fantastic bundle at a reduced cost.  Training designed for you, food prepared for and delivered to you.  You just have to sign-up, show up, and eat up!


And don’t forget!  9 Miles East is hosting us for another farm dinner on Sunday October 11th at 5pm so make sure to sign-up on front desk!  Only 20 slots are open, $20 a person.  See the farm firsthand and try some more of the amazing food they have to offer!

Contemporary Yoga

Yoga Panorama

I’d like to introduce you to Contemporary Yoga.  The word “yoga” is such a broad term these days.  Those looking to practice are faced with a myriad of styles to choose from and constantly competing schools of thought – ranging from the more commercialized to hardcore traditions, with just about every condition in-between.  The experience you ascertain can be so radically different based on who the instructor is, who the practitioner is, what their goals are, and of course, which type of “yoga” is being practiced.

So let’s first take a step back and talk about what yoga is, break down what some of the common misconceptions are, and what purpose it serves in the realm of competitive and recreational athletes.

From the purely physiological perspective, Hatha yoga is but a small subdivision of a much larger philosophy that we focus on.  Hatha yoga is the branch of yoga that concentrates on physical health and mental well-being using bodily postures (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), and meditation (dyana).  By incorporating this form of yoga into an athlete’s training program, we can increase performance by improving mobility, learning to correct compensatory movement patterns, maximize the use of our breath, and bring relaxation techniques into real world application.

Now you haven’t heard me say one thing about chanting, or chugging wheat grass, or spiritual names for Om sake!  And guess what?  Contemporary Yoga doesn’t incorporate any of that.  Why?  Because simply put, that’s not what our focus is on.  These things can be very positive in some people’s lives and for that, Om on my friends.  But for us here at CA, our focus is on how to become the best athletes we can.  My goal is to show you how to incorporate Contemporary Yoga into your pre-existing fitness routine, bettering yourself to see improvements in both your current programming and your given sport.  They can work hand in hand to make you a more versatile and agile athlete.  So are you still with me?  Good.  Now let’s dispel some silly myths.

I know some of you think that yoga is just a bunch of stretching.  That is but a tiny part of what we do.  The better way to phrase this would be to say we work on anatomically correct positioning, utilizing many forms of stretching to increase mobility.  Gaining flexibility is merely a by-product of the real work.  In fact, if we applied yoga for sheer flexibility purposes, we would most likely do more harm than good.

Tight muscles that keep joints out of their natural and functional positions create problems by compelling faulty movement patterns and joint motion.  We want to identify the root of what is causing these tensions, not just stretch a muscle.  We use passive stretching, active stretching, passive-active stretching, and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretching.  We then take this a step further and link these techniques with our breath, learning to utilize our diaphragm to maximize our potential.  This will later translate to producing more power during our chosen sport.

Another misconception I often hear is that people think they don’t need to relax.  What I find with this is that relaxing as a practice is actually rather difficult and can be intimidating.  Particularly as athletes, we are trained to be overly competitive so the very idea of being perfectly still can be terrifying or even counterproductive.  However, that ability to relax is what can carry you through some of your biggest hurdles.  The next time you’re in a race and you reach that point where you start to think, “I don’t know if I can make it,” that’s when your relaxation techniques are going to kick in and quiet your stress, letting your athletic training take over.

The most important thing I can highlight in this introduction to yoga is that Contemporary Yoga is for all levels.  You don’t need to already be flexible.  Likewise, if you already are flexible, you may still reap many benefits of coming to class.  Although I will be happy to teach anyone who wants to stand on their head or contort into a scorpion how to do so, this will not be the main goal of our class.  We aren’t trying to be acrobatic yogis.  We are trying to enhance our athletic performance and keep our bodies healthy and supple for the entirety of our lives.  That is our goal and it’s important to remember this goal.  Again, these other forms of asana have their place and perhaps one day in your own practice, it will be at the front and center of your objective.  For now though, let’s make sure our hips and hamstrings are happy, our backs are strong and supportive, our shoulders and chests are open, and our ankles and knees don’t begrudge all of our impressive accomplishments.

I look forward to seeing all of you on the mat.  Namaste Ninjas!

-Jenny Chudy

Tiptoeing Out of Your Comfort Zone

Be strong. That’s my fitness goal now, to gain strength through hard work. That hasn’t always been my motivation though. Sixteen year old me that was relatively sedentary, about 90lbs heavier than current me, and generally uncomfortable in her own skin couldn’t have cared less about being strong. I wanted to lose weight, be thin, and wear the cute clothes at the store that I always saw but could never fit into. The idea of fitness in general was not something I was all that interested in and so the concept of being strong didn’t really take up residence in my mind.

Fast forward ten years later and being strong is what drags my ass out of bed at 4:50 in the morning to go get a workout in. Going to the gym, any gym, used to be absolutely terrifying. When you’re a hundred pounds overweight and the embodiment of self-conscious, the idea of working out in public, particularly around super fit people, is scary as hell. I couldn’t help but compare myself to everyone else and be constantly convinced that other people in the gym would judge me.

I started working at a YMCA when I was 19 and the irony was not lost on me. Someone who desperately needed fitness working in a gym. It ultimately became a much-needed motivator. It took me over a year but in the fall of 2009 I finally decided to commit to a fitness journey. At first I worked out at home, riding a stationary bike that was literally older than I was. It worked for a while and I started to lose weight and feel a bit better about myself. After some time though, the home workouts became less effective as I was so limited. I worked at the YMCA for about two years before I actually worked out in the gym myself. I won’t bore you with the mundane details of everything I did, machines I used, group fitness classes I finally went to, etc. I was learning to expand my fitness horizons and saw more progress as a result. I was also getting more comfortable with working out around other people, which was a hugely freeing feeling.

What still eluded me was the free weight half of the gym. Lots of “meat head” types that seem wildly intimidating and I just felt I had no place over there. I even remember thinking at one point, “That’s not my goal. I don’t want to lift weights.” Now I get that thinking that was mostly out of fear and the genuine belief that I just couldn’t do it. Once in a while, a friend and I would venture over to use one piece of equipment on that half of the gym but it was a short trip.

Learning to be comfortable at CA was a whole new obstacle. There’s no place to hide (which is good but intimidating when you’re new) and it’s a whole different ballgame. It actually took me quite some time to become a regular there. I started slowly, coming to an occasional class when I could; yoga on the weekends or one of Kyla’s evening bootcamp classes. Those were still sort of in my comfort zone but taking the classes at CA was my way of tiptoeing outside of that comfort zone, which as it turns out is a really hard place to leave. However, I still found ways to hold myself back when it came to continuing my workouts outside of CA. I would find whatever corner of the gym was deserted and do my own thing there. Hiding out. Still not learning to use those “big girl weights” on the other half of the gym.

Finally one morning, at the literal ass crack of dawn, Kyla offered to be my workout buddy and show me how to properly squat and dead lift. Those formerly foreign words changed something in me and I loved every minute of it. She got me to cross that invisible barrier between me and the “big girl weights” and it was liberating. It became apparent that the fear keeping me from venturing over every other time before was unnecessary. I ended up feeling empowered and kind of like a badass for lifting and moving real weight. Not a bad feeing.

Now that just left me with finding a way to be comfortable and not intimidated by CA. My biggest hurdle was the belief that I couldn’t workout alongside elite athletes, people competing in Iron Man and running marathons. Those are far off from where I was at (and still very far off from where I am now) and I was convinced I would look and feel inadequate trying to workout in the same place that they did. I couldn’t help feeling out of place. The thing is, none of those people will ever make you feel that way. It was completely a me problem. I struggled for a few months, still trying to feel comfortable, but that whole time Jenny, Kyla, and Dave (the same people you all know and love) kept encouraging me to go back. Slowly I started to make more visits to CA. The more you go the easier it gets (to be there, the workouts are always tough as shit) and the fear starts to subside. And suddenly you realize, at 6 in the morning, before most of the world is awake, that you’re doing box pushes with a 45lb plate on it and you’re not dead. You’re working out alongside people who compete in Iron Man competitions and they’re not judging you. They’re cheering you on to finish that final push. You feel like you’re gonna barf but you don’t (seriously so close though). And in this little box behind the Halfmoon sandwich shop I finally realized I could be strong. I was strong. It’s such a hard feeling to explain, going from non-existent physical activity to actually enjoying it, craving it even. It’s a leap I never thought I would make and now I’m never letting it go.

That’s what CA has really done for me. It gave me the courage to know I’m awesome. Now I feel strong, I want to be stronger, and I have a sense of confidence in myself that I wish I could’ve assured sixteen year old me would eventually show up. I think she would be proud of current me, I know I am. And I can say that because CA and the incredible people who got me there have given that to me. Best gift ever if you ask me.

-Nicole Loustau

Staying fit during pregnancy

This blog post comes from a current client and fellow coach in the industry, Halley Pulli. When I met Halley at the ADK Outdoor Expo and started to talk shop, I just wanted to help her with her goals. It has been a ton of fun so far checking things off her “to do” list. Not to mention doing it with a kid on board, and one in tow. It always makes for some good laughs, and teachable moments!Bender


Fitness run


Staying Fit During Pregnancy


Staying fit during pregnancy isn’t always a picnic – that I can assure you. But, I’m 22 weeks in and still at it.

I started training at Contemporary Athlete just a few weeks ago. At that point I was running 1-3 times a week, teaching boot camp classes, taking boot camp classes, doing no heavy lifting, and occasionally practicing prenatal yoga. My goal was to maintain as much fitness as possible through pregnancy. However, when I met Dave and he introduced me to Contemporary Athlete, I was curious to know if I could go beyond just maintaining my fitness. I wanted to challenge myself to continue to grow as an athlete.


So what does that look like? A lot of the same but now I’m incorporating one-on-one sessions with Dave once a week to hone my technical skills. I take Boot camp Level 1 classes once a week at CA to really challenge my cardio and strength conditioning. I’m doing more heavy lifting and keeping up with the CA regulars, with only minor modifications to some of the movements and weights being moved. I’m still running a couple of days a week (albeit slowly and now with some discomfort), teaching, and taking my other classes.


How are things changing? It takes me longer to recover from strenuous training – getting enough sleep is vital. I MUST eat the extra calories recommended by doctors – BUT I haven’t strayed from my previous healthy eating habits, I just eat a little more. Every single day is different. Sometimes I am capable of more. Sometimes I have to pull back. But I still show up. I still train. Because even if my body says that it’s too much, my mind can handle all the training I can throw at it! Hello, labor and delivery!!


 Why Stay Fit During Pregnancy?


So, why do this at all? Why maintain fitness? Why train and strive to improve my abilities as an athlete when my body is constantly changing and won’t be like this in a few months time? I do it for my health and for the health of my baby. For my sanity. Because I love fitness, training, and athletics. Because I don’t want my post pregnancy climb to be any harder than it has to be. And it’s a major component of my life. Just because I’m pregnant doesn’t mean I slam on the brakes and quit doing my life.

This is in no way an absolute experience. Every woman is different and will experience pregnancy fitness differently. During my first pregnancy I wasn’t allowed to workout due to a complication early on. Once it cleared up, I, unfortunately, was de-conditioned. BUT, I got out and walked, moved every day, and stayed active. With my second pregnancy, I ran my first marathon at 2 weeks pregnant. I didn’t know it. And with some resistance I’ve had to give up the mileage the more pregnant I’ve become. However, I can still put in some good cardio interval training and even log some miles every couple of days. So, I get up and do that – I don’t throw in the towel because I’m not at marathon standing anymore.

My humble, and certainly not expert, advice for those ladies who are concerned with fitness during pregnancy: don’t stop training because you’re pregnant. There’s no reason you can’t keep doing what you were doing before you became pregnant. If you’re dealing with nausea and vomiting, you might be surprised that once you get moving you can feel better. It was one of the only times I felt good during those first months with morning sickness.

Learn to accept that pregnancy will change your body and your ability to do what you were doing before. Be flexible and cut yourself some slack – if you’re still showing up and testing those limitations, you’re still training.

Do what feels good. Still push yourself. Take breaks. Drink fluids. LOTS of them. And fuel properly. Additional calories are required in the second and third trimesters – eat them! Especially if you’re still training. Know that recovery times may be extended for you. Allow for this.

Also, work with a trainer you trust. They can guide you, make suggestions, and help ensure your safety and progress throughout. (Hint, hint: The trainers at CA!)

Stay tuned….I’ll be posting again right before the baby arrives to let you know how training through the second half of the pregnancy went.