Thoughts become words, words become actions and actions get results. " - Ryan Humphries, Owner & Coach
by Dan Jimenez, Co-Founder, and Fitness Coach, Axistence Athletics
A great workout starts with a kick-ass vibe in your training gym. We love our southeast Denver fitness center, but we wanted to help build community by making things even better. We're making some big improvements.
First, we ditched the old turf and matted out the workout area. Then we reorganized and found more efficient storage for equipment. Most recently we remodeled one of the bathrooms. Here is a short account of how it all went down.
Talk about real-life application of your fitness skills. Demo day is one of my favorite things about construction projects. You get such a sense of accomplishment by being able to make huge changes in relatively short order. Since you don't have to be as careful as you do with tasks such as painting, cutting, and measuring, you can really make an immense difference in just one day.
The Devil is in the Detail
Now that demolition is done, we get to my least favorite part, paint prepping. Taking the time to puddy and cover all of the little holes and blemishes, sanding, reapplying, sanding again, wiping down the walls, taping, and covering. As big of a pain in the neck as this is, this part is crucial. Much like sharpening your axe before you chop down a tree, the preparation pays off in the end.
High Traffic Area
We decided to go with Luxury Vinyl Planks for the flooring in the bathroom. They are extremely durable, water resistant, can be installed directly over concrete, and look really nice. Durability is really key when working in a commercial fitness facility. The daily foot traffic in this bathroom is approximately 30 fold that of your home bathroom. With the highest frequency of visits just moments before the coaches call of 3-2-1- GO! Although I've never installed flooring before, I have to say this was fairly easy. If you have a mudroom, laundry room, or bathroom at home that needs a makeover, I would highly suggest this flooring option as a DIY project.
Never as Easy as it Looks
I have installed and taken apart a few vanities and although it involves plumbing, the difficulty level is not astronomical. However, I didn't realize how much harder a pedestal sink would be compared to a regular vanity. Installing the sink took a bit of work. Pedestal sinks look really nice, but the also don't leave a lot of room for margin of error due to the fact that there is only a skinny pole to hide your errors. With a vanity, you can hide any mistakes behind the cabinet out of sight. With a pedestal sink, there is nowhere to hide.
Putting in the finishing touches. Surprisingly, this part usually takes the longest. Demolition and the initial building and installation goes fairly quickly, and you see a lot of progress in a short amount of time. The finishing touches and little details tend to be a bit more painstaking and the incremental progress can be frustrating. Kind of like working out. You work so hard for what seems like little progress at first, until you look back and realize how far you've actually come.
All-in, the project took about two weeks to complete. Since we still had to coach classes, 1-on-1 sessions, and run the back end of the business, the were multiple days we could not work on it. Overall though, the project was a success! We are looking forward to the next phase where we reorganize the office and lobby area to offer a more efficient and member-friendly experience.
by Ryan Humphries, Co-Founder & Fitness Coach, Axistence Athletics
Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, before there were AMRAPs, Rounds For Time, Girl and Hero WODs, there was a unique fitness principle. Some called it “Training” and others called it “Practice.” This principle was simple: if an individual wished to improve in a specific area, they would spend time practicing in that area – focusing solely on technique. Every so often, when appropriate, they would add intensity to those techniques, incorporating them into a workout or testing their improvement against a benchmark.
Back then, practice was one thing. Competing, even against yourself, was wholly another. And the focus on constant rapid improvement has caused some problems.
"Intensity, when applied carefully and correctly, can produce desirable results. When applied incorrectly, it can really mess you up."
Today, in many fitness centers around the globe, the practice-to-improve philosophy has been replaced by a more intensity, more gainz philosophy. Athletes (and I use that term loosely) are loading themselves heavier and heavier or going for higher and higher reps so they can have a better number on the whiteboard.
I know what you’re thinking… Stop hating on CrossFit™! However, this is not an issue limited to one type of fitness style. Due to the popularity of High Intensity Interval Training (The current #1 fitness trend according to the ACSM) everyone is looking for the most effective way to take his or her fitness to the next level.
And there’s a reason why intensity is all the rage. Intensity gets results! Research shows there is a cascade of positive hormonal responses from high intensity workouts, including but not limited to decreased body fat and increased muscle mass. You've seen and heard the success stories from P90X, Insanity, HIIT, CrossFit and Orange Theory. Intensity, when applied carefully and correctly, can produce desirable results.
However, you may have also heard about rotator cuff tears, broken bones, bulging or ruptured disks and a number of other training related injuries due to intensity. When applied incorrectly, intensity can really mess you up. Here are a few words of advice.
"If you haven’t actually practiced the movements enough to be proficient in them, then you have no business increasing the intensity."
How to Get Better Results from High Intensity Training - Safely
In order to know how to correctly apply intensity, we must first define it. For our purposes, we’re going to describe intensity as the total power output of a specific workout. Another way to say it is being able to do more work in less time. With that definition, we can increase intensity in the following ways.
5 Ways to Safely Increase Intensity in Your Workouts
By choosing any of the above options, we can increase the total power output of the workout, thereby increasing the intensity of that workout. Sounds easy enough right? Well, there’s a problem. If you haven’t actually practiced the movements enough to be proficient in them, then you have no business increasing the intensity.
As the focus on intensity increased in popularity, many (inexperienced) trainers and coaches started using every workout as a benchmark. AMRAPS (As many rounds as possible, and RFT (Rounds for Time) used to be reserved for testing protocols. Once an athlete was proficient in several movements, their coach might create a test to evaluate their level of conditioning. Quality was never really an issue because they were proficient in the movements.
Example: Let’s say an athlete is proficient at handstand push-ups and they have a 400 pound deadlift. The workout “Diane” would then be an appropriate benchmark for this individual.
Deadlifts @ 225#
How to Use Benchmarks to Measure your Progress – Safely
Pursuing excellence in fitness is a smart goal to have, but listen up: You don’t have to sacrifice form to pursue and achieve excellence. You must know your physical limits and choose appropriate weight/speed/movements to push those limits. You must realize that you don’t have it all figured out and that you must continue to PRACTICE. This means intensity – and therefore skill and fitness levels - increases at an appropriately safe rate for the individual.
Achieving Excellence in Fitness Starts with Your Thinking
If you can keep yourself from thinking about exercise as a series workouts, or as a series of competitive events, you’re winning. Think of it it as practicing or training. In doing so, you’ll develop a deeper respect for the movements. You’ll likely stick with the program for longer, leading to the results you’re looking for. As an added bonus of viewing your exercise routine differently, you may also experience the following:
Few of us have really mastered exercise. If we realize and understand this, then we can think about our exercise routine as more of a movement practice. It doesn’t matter if your movement practice is Olympic weightlifting, Parkour, Running, Yoga or Martial Arts. If you practice, you’ll become proficient. Once proficient, test yourself to measure your progress. Continue to evolve your movement practice and learn new skills to add to your routine. Practice the fundamentals, become proficient at them and you shall have all the GAINZ you’ve ever dreamed of.
Disclaimer: It’s indeed possible that you could get injured doing just about anything. However, although you may get hurt on your adventures; you shouldn’t get hurt training for them…
A Movement Practice Strategy, Step by Step
by Ryan Humphries, Co-Founder & Fitness Coach
Russian baby makers, the world’s greatest stretch, glute bridges, bear crawls, hollow bodies into supermans and back into hollow bodies… What’s the point in rolling around on the floor before we can get into the workout?
At Axistence Athletics in southeast Denver, we put a huge emphasis on the warm-up. It's carefully programmed for each day's workout, from Olympic lifting to intensity training. In fact, sometimes it looks like the warm-up is longer than the workout… And some days that may be accurate. But why?
The #1 Goal of the warm-up is injury prevention. Since our number one goal at Axistence is to DO NO HARM, if you don’t have time to warm-up then you don’t have time to work out. But it also means you get better results from the real workout. Here’s why we put such an emphasis on warming up.
Want to know more? Listen to Ryan's Why Should I Warm Up? Podcast.
#1. Joint lubrication.
Think about your body as a high performance racecar; the warm-up is essentially a fresh oil change before every workout.
Most of our joints are lubricated with a thick viscous substance known as synovial fluid. By warming up and getting our joints to move through a full range of motion, this fluid helps reduce friction, absorb shock and facilitate nutrient transportation in and out of the surrounding cartilage.
Whether it’s jumping on a box or putting a barbell overhead, this fluid acts as a buffer between your bones and will help protect your joints.
"By activating inactive muscles via the warm-up, we maximize the effectiveness of every exercise we do."
#2. Activation of inactive muscles.
Unfortunately, the majority of Americans have horrific posture for most of the day. If you want to maximize your time in the training center, then we need to loosen what’s tight and strengthen what’s weak.
For example, most of us sit way too much, and get what we like to call glute amnesia. Your hips are so tight that the muscles in your butt don’t function like they should.
If squats are on the docket and you’ve been sitting at a desk for 6 hours, chances are that your hip flexors are on and your glutes are off. By opening your hips with an instep stretch and then doing a lateral band walk, the idea is that we can open the hips and get the glutes firing before we train them. By activating inactive muscles via the warm-up, we maximize the effectiveness of every exercise we do.
#3. Preparing to ramp up intensity, safely.
Research shows that when humans increase the intensity of physical exertion, there’s an amazing cascade of positive hormonal effects. But WTF do they mean by intensity?
Back in 2009, Pat Sherwood defined intensity as the average power output of a workout. For our purposes, that’s a pretty solid definition. Thus we can increase intensity by increasing volume, increasing weight, decreasing rest or any combination of these.
People love intensity, that’s for sure! You’ve seen the before and after pictures of P90X, Insanity, CrossFit, etc. right? It’s no wonder that people want to kick their own asses in the gym. But safely upping your intensity gets dicey due to a lack of proper preparation.
Intensity should ONLY be increased once you’ve got the technique down. We shouldn’t expect to apply the intensity principle to every exercise on day one. For instance, before we perform movements like snatches and cleans, we’ll practice those moves with a PVC pipe or an unloaded barbell to grease the groove of those neural pathways and ensure they’re firing efficiently.
You are NOT a Tesla…
Let’s go back to the racecar metaphor. Imagine leaving your vehicle in the garage for six months. Now jump in and floor the gas pedal as hard as you can! It might work...if it’s a Tesla… Unfortunately, you are NOT a Tesla.
That’s not a reflection of your strength or dedication – it’s just not how the human machine works. If you plan on running your engine at top speeds, perhaps you should go around the track once or twice. When properly applied, intensity gets such great results, but to keep from getting hurt, you have to be smart about how you apply it to your workout. The warm-up is crucial to ensure that your technique is solid.
In the end, you’re all adults and warming up is a choice. But if you want to perform optimally on your adventures, then you need to get the most out of training. If you want to optimize your training, warm up. Remember, you may hurt yourself on your next wild adventure, but you shouldn’t hurt yourself training for your adventure.
Now let’s all do some Russian Baby Makers!
by Dan Jimenez, Co-Owner and Fitness Coach
“Sore today, strong tomorrow.”
“Don’t wish for a good body, work for it.”
“Stop wishing, start doing.”
“Man, that really pumped me up! I’m ready to seize the day and conquer my goals!”
“This time it’ll be easy, I’m more motivated than I’ve ever been in my life!”
This is the voice inside my head almost every night as I scroll through Instagram and see what my favorite fitness professionals, athletes, and celebrities are up to. I get so fired up at around 8:30pm, right as I start my bedtime routine.
At 4:30am when my alarm goes off, it’s a totally different story. I’m tired. I can’t see straight, my body is sluggish, and I feel like a truck just hit me. You know what sounds good to me right now? A 35 min ascending WOD consisting of running, power cleans, burpees, and toes to bar…said no one ever. Where did all that motivation go?
I try and conjure up a feeling or two from last night, and just laugh quietly to myself. Yeah right, what was I thinking? It’s gone, the motivation, the moment, and the chance at achieving the goal I set out on.
That’s the bad thing about motivation, it’s never there when you actually need it. You’re pumped, primed and ready for action, but the feeling is fleeting. Do you think all of those celebrities, CrossFit Games athletes, and fitness professionals are just mainlining caffeine and YouTube videos into their bloodstream, to get them to do what’s necessary to achieve their dreams? No. The answer is no.
But what they do have is a little secret they use to get them to do the hard stuff. It’s something you do in other areas of your life, but maybe not when it comes to fitness. Maybe not when it comes to the “hard work.”
The secret I’m talking about is discipline. Not in the punishment sense, but in the Merriam-Webster definition 5C of the word discipline. Self Control. Pushing yourself past resistance and doing it anyway. Sometimes the hardest part of a workout is stepping foot inside the gym.
How many times have you woken up, taken a shower, made your coffee, and headed in to work? Probably more times than you can count. This year alone, you’ve probably done it over 200 times (and it’s only November).
Imagine you completed 200 workouts this year. Where would you be in relation to your goals? Would you finally have that pull-up? Would you still be looking to lose 30 lbs? Or, now maybe it’s just 10? Most people don’t complete 200 workouts in two years, let alone one. And 200 workouts is only 3-4x per week (the Axistence recommendation).
You go to your job, or school, you brush your teeth, you take showers (most days) because it’s just what you do. If you didn’t there would be consequences. The same goes for your health and fitness. If you don’t do what’s necessary, there will be consequences for you later in life. It’s like smoking. One pack won’t kill you. It’s the prolonged use, or in the case of your body, the prolonged disuse that will lead to health issues and poor quality of life.
That’s it. Reframe the way you view your workout. View it as an automatic, like going to work, or brushing your teeth, or any other task you accept as necessary and just do, whether you want to or not, because the gain is worth the pain.
That’s the secret weapon successful people use. It’s not motivation. Motivation is sexy, it looks cool, it makes you feel emotions that release endorphins that get you fired up. But using discipline over motivation means that you accept that you don’t have to be pumped about it all the time. Discipline is something you might associate with getting in trouble, or with monotony and boredom. It’s not sexy, it’s not cool, it doesn’t elicit those uber-satisfying feelings. What it does do is get you to do what is necessary in order to achieve your dreams.
Imagine it’s your last day on earth. Are you satisfied enough with the person you became, that you would want to stand face to face with the person you could have become? What other areas in your life can you leverage discipline to achieve your dreams? Your actions become who you are. Make the right choices. Take care of your body. Remember, this is just something that you do now.
by Garrett Sylvester, Fitness Coach and Programming Coordinator
Back in the 1800’s, incredibly strong men performed incredible powerlifting weightlifting skills for an audience. Incredible, if not also a little crazy – these strongmen hefted huge rocks, pulled trains, etc. to wow a crowd.
Over time “strongman” became a category of athletics, where men competed in awe-inspiring movements that required an immense amount of overall body strength, heavily taxing muscles, tendons and joints, and requiring skillful coordination.
Today, some of the safer and more effective movements inspired from the strongman era are making a comeback. When done safely, these movements can be incredibly useful in advancing overall athletic fitness for men and women alike. One these strongman-inspired movements we incorporate in our workouts here at Axistence is the Turkish Get Up.
What is the Turkish Getup?
In this movement, the athlete starts lying on his or her back with a heavy weight, then lifts the weight toward the ceiling with one arm. From there they stand all the way up with the weight extended overhead (there are a few steps to do this safely - see the video), and lower back to the ground.
See a short video demonstrating the Turkish Get Up
The Turkish Get Up requires tremendous strength, balance, mobility, and stability. Incorporating this movement in your routine offers incredible benefits.
Shoulder Strength + Stability
The Turkish Get Up builds strong, resilient shoulders that can handle just about anything you can throw their way. The nature of the movement forces the shoulders to stabilize in different positions throughout the movement. To do it safely, you have to be able to hold a weight with a strong locked out arm packed in your shoulder while lying down, in half seated position, in a bridge, in a kneeling position, in a lunge position, and finally standing. As the position changes, the demand on the shoulders change.
When you build shoulder strength in different positions, they can better handle the forces thrown on them even when the positions are slightly unfavorable. They won’t be injury proof, but they will be more injury resistant.
Another cool side effect of Turksih Get Ups? Stronger shoulders mean heavier presses.
Trunk Stability + Strength
Holding a weight overhead while you rise and lower during the Get Up takes a tremendous amount of core strength. The trunk of the body is the transfer point for all movements. Presses, for example, like the military press and the push press, require a solid transfer from the ground through the midsection to the arms. If the midsection is weak then power is lost through the trunk to the arms.
A strong core improves strength and athleticism overall. A strong trunk improves your ability to move and lift overall. A weak trunk means you’re less generally strong, and worse, a weak trunk can lead to lost of balance and injuries to the hips and spine. The Turkish Get Up, especially when you get stronger with it, will strengthen the trunk allowing you to stay stable and transfer power more efficiently.
Hip Stability + Mobility
When you train with the Turkish Get Up, your hips will also be more mobile. The plus side is that they will be stronger in all the new ranges of movement you develop. Just like the trunk is a transfer point, the hips are a transfer point from the ground to the upper extremities.
It seems unrelated, but a lack of mobility and strength in one area, like the hips, can lead to an injury to the shoulder and vice versa. The lack of strength and mobility in one area forces another area to compensate.
The Turkish Get Up is a full body movement in different positions; working the body contra-laterally trains the body in unison. This is especially effective if mobility you do mobility work before you practice the Turkish Get Up. It reinforces new movement patterns.
The Turkish Get Up will improve your strength, mobility, and stability in the entire body while teaching it to work unilaterally and contra-laterally. If you aren’t already including this movement in your workouts, give the Turkish Get Up a try. You will be amazed how much stronger you’ll feel, and how much more strength you’ll gain during other movements. The amazement by your friends will be a bonus!
Steps for a Turkish Get Up
(Proper technique is a bit harder than it looks. Come on in and we'll teach you how.)
by Ryan Humphries, CSCS, Co-Owner, Axistence Athletics
Let's say you've recently switched from telling yourself you're going to join a gym to actually joining a gym. Excellent.
Most people start with a basic search: Gyms near me. Then they compare reviews. But one person's four-star perfection might be a one star suck-fest for you. You need to first decide what kind of workout fits the way you like to exercise. Because this much is true: If you hate the workout or the environment, you aren't going to want to show up.
Location matters. But it isn't everything.
At Axistence, many of our members live near us in southeast Denver - usually coming from Lowry, the Tech Center, Virginia Village and Cherry Creek. But we have a few outliers that live in Green Mountain and Evergreen. Why do they travel to southeast Denver? Because it fits their goals... and their personality. Decide how far you want to go, but don't limit yourself if a little more driving will get you to a gym you love.
Think about your workout style.
The fitness industry has exploded in the last decade and with so many options to choose from; sometimes it’s tough to wade through the gimmicks. Should you compare personal trainers in Denver? Or maybe try Orange Theory? CrossFit? What about those HIIT classes at the place open 24 hours a day?
Stop and ask yourself two questions: What are my goals? (Weight loss? Learning skills? Gaining strength?) And What kind of workouts do I like? (Large group or small? Routine classes or variety? Close community or more anonymous?)
Once you figure out the type of gym you want and how far you're willing to travel, narrow your options further by comparing these six things.
by Dan Jimenez, Co-Owner
We're always thinking about how to provide a better service, a better environment and better training experience - whatever it takes to help our members live a life of active existence. Check out a few cool developments happening here at Axistence.
We're spiffing up the training center bathroom, converting office space into a spot for classes, seminars, yoga, and member use (i.e. booking events, meetings, etc.) during business hours. The front of the house will house retail, some tables and beverages.
We're getting a spiffy new sound system.
Clearer, louder tunes during class? Yes, please!
We're moving to eight-week programming cycles
Out with 12-week cycles, in with 8-week cycles. See more of the movements you like, more frequently. This'll decrease the frequency of de-load weeks because your body will be able to better adapt given the more frequent change in stimulus.
We're planning girl-WOD benchmarks.
Cindy, Fran, Grace. By popular demand, expect to see Girl WOD benchmark tests. When programmed appropriately, some of these WODs are solid fitness assessments, so along with the eight week training cycles and AXFOS’, you will see these ladies visit us more frequently throughout the year.
We're focusing more intensely on training for adventure.
Listen: If you define "adventure" as ice climbing up a 14,000 foot summit, or if you define it as carrying your sleeping child into the house from the mini-van, you'll fit in just fine at Axistence. We believe in helping you life the type of active life that you want to live. This year, we decided to drop our affiliation title in order to show the world we're about fitness for adventure, but that doesn't mean we won't have the same type of whole-body fitness programming you've grown to love.
We're proud of what we have become over the last four years and we’re excited about the future. As we continue to evolve, we will maintain successful practices and continue researching and implementing new ways to not only provide you with the best experience possible, but also inspire you to live your most active existence.