Few supplements work, most don’t, and some are downright confusing. None will leave your head in a tailspin more than Vitamin D. It’s a hormone/vitamin that you can get from food, pills, and the sun. It boosts your immune system, helps build strong bones, and fights depression (all good things, right?) but you shouldn’t have too much of it.
Confused yet? We are. Thankfully, the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements has a big, long article on Vitamin D that you can read here. In lieu of taking half your day to read the research, here are some of the most important points summarized:
What is Vitamin D?
Also known as Calciferol, it’s a fat-soluble vitamin (which means it gets stored in fat cells). It’s produced when UV light hits your skin. You can also eat it in food. Here are some of the highest sources of vitamin D:
How Much Do You Need?
Adults 19-50 need 600 IU per day. That can come from a combination of sun exposure, diet, and supplements. Most people reach their requirements through sunlight. 5-30 minutes per day is sufficient for most people, but depends on factors like sunscreen (blocks UV rays), skin melanin content (melanin blocks UV rays), pollution (blocks UV rays), and cloud cover (also blocks UV). Windows also block UV light.
Tanning beds are also effective at synthesizing vitamin D, but any form of sun exposure is dangerous for your skin. Therefore there’s a trade-off between having too much sun exposure and not enough.
Vegetarians and vegans may need more because the type of vitamin D found in plants is less usable for the body than that found in animals. In that case, supplementation might be helpful. Your doctor can tell you if your vitamin D is low using a blood test, and recommend solutions.
There are a couple of other causes of low vitamin D. The first is the kidneys taking too much out of the bloodstream. The other is the intestines not taking enough out of your food.
There are a few types of vitamin D. The first is D2, which isn’t very effective in pill form. D3 is much more effective. Another, called 25(OH)D3 is the most effective, but not yet available in the US. It’s hard to say how much to take, but the experts caution against taking too much. Once again, your doctor can help you decide how much to take. Vitamin D isn’t flushed out of your system quickly like vitamin C, it’s possible to have too much.
Supplementing can help somewhat with things like depression, weak immune system, and weak bones (when taken with calcium). Research is still relatively inconclusive on how effective supplements are, but there are some signs of benefit.
-Coach Henry Halse
There’s been a lot of buzz about BMI recently, due to the underlying conditions exceptions for Covid-19 vaccines. BMI stands for body mass index, which is a measurement that scientists use to determine how heavy you are relative to your height.
The controversy is over the accuracy of this measurement. Namely, are scientists able to determine whether or not someone is obese, and therefore qualified to get the vaccine, using this measurement?
First, let’s go over how to calculate BMI. You can use this link to calculate, or use this formula:
703 * (weight in lbs) / (height in inches)^2 = BMI
So, if someone is 5’5 and 150 pounds, they have a BMI of 25. Here are the categories:
So, a BMI of 25 is technically “overweight.” There’s been an outcry over the inaccuracy of using this system, and for good reason. It doesn’t take into account what you’re made of. If you have tons of muscle and very little body fat, you could be considered overweight or obese. The measurement simply looks at how much you weigh on the scale.
This is also the beauty of BMI. It’s not intended to be accurate on a person-by-person basis. It’s made to measure changes in size of large populations. Think about it this way: you can calculate the BMI of every person in a country who either has a drivers license or passport, simply because height and weight are disclosed.
So, is BMI inaccurate? Yes, if it’s misused. If it’s used to measure changes in a large group of people, it’s surprisingly accurate. That’s why the government felt confident using it for vaccine purposes.
Things are starting to pick back up in New York and your schedule might be filling up. On top of normal life stress, you have to worry about a pandemic, so anxiety might be through the roof. To control your fear and anxiety, you can try alternate nostril breathing.
You might’ve been exposed to this breathing technique in a yoga or meditation class. Some apps might use it as a tool for relaxation. Here’s a brief video and description of how it works:
With your index finger, gently close your right nostril. Exhale fully through your left nostril, then inhale. Hold your breath, release your right nostril and gently close the left. Exhale through the right nostril, then inhale and hold. Continue to switch nostrils, breathing evenly and gently. Continue this for 5-15 minutes.
You might find that initially, one nostril breathes better than the other. After a few minutes, they should start to balance out. Try not to do forceful breaths, but keep it gentle and even. This technique was tested in a 2017 study published in BioMed Research International.
The researchers took two groups and had them perform a public speaking test (gasp). One group did alternate nostril breathing for 15 minutes before the test. The other group simply sat in the room, stewing in their own thoughts. Then, they performed the dreaded test. The group who practiced breathing beforehand had less anxiety during their performance.
This is a powerful tool you can use daily to relax. Rather than forcing yourself to sit quietly and attempt to meditate, this active breathing technique gives you something to focus on that’s proven to work.
Noam, TS owner and CEO, was recently featured and interviewed on Natfluence. Natfluence is a platform for top business leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators to share their paths to success and help empower like-minded movers and shakers.
Learn more about Noam's and TS's philosophy of Together Stronger.
At TS Fitness, we have a philosophy that guides our culture: Together Stronger. It’s what our “T” and the “S” stand for. I believe in creating stronger people, not just stronger bodies. I aim to strengthen people by pushing them out of their comfort zone to help them grow. I like to say, “We are here to build you up not break you down.”
If you aren’t growing, you're dying. When people stop learning and wanting to grow that's the beginning of the end.
Your whole life, you were told that drugs were bad for you. The drugs you ingest might be bad, but the drugs your brain makes are lots of fun! Exercise has been known to increase things like dopamine and serotonin, which are feel-good chemicals.
These neurotransmitters contribute to the feeling of euphoria that some people describe as “runner’s high.” Sure, you might think running is boring, but if you run long enough you can experience that same euphoria.
The good news is that these highs aren’t just reserved for runners. While serotonin and dopamine are important, there’s another, perhaps more important drug called Brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF.
BDNF is produced in the brain (specifically the hippocampus) when you exercise. It’s been shown to have neuroplastic and neuroprotective effects. That means it helps the brain grow and change while protecting it from degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s.
BDNF has been credited with curbing anxiety and depression in people who exercise. It also improves brain function. While initial research showed that endurance training increased BDNF, there’s now evidence that HIIT training does as well.
A study published in February 2021 shows that as lactic acid increases, it can stimulate your brain to release BDNF. Lactic acid is produced when you sprint, circuit train, or do high-rep weightlifting.
That means you don’t need to be a runner to feel something like a runner’s high. You can also reap the mental and neurological benefits of exercise with many different types of workouts!
Meal prepping is one of our favorite ways to eat healthy, save money, and save time during the week.
We spoke to Samantha Goldstein, @fitfoodchicknyc, about some of her favorite tips to make meal prep simple. Samantha is all about making quick and easy lunches.
Find A Good Grocery Store
It’s important to keep a well-stocked fridge with your favorite fruits, vegetables, and meats so that you avoid the temptation of ordering take out or picking up fast food. Over the course of the pandemic, many of our clients have started getting their groceries delivered. Samantha has had a great experience with FreshDirect, where she has found the quality of the produce and meats to be high and has success securing timely delivery windows. If you rather shop in person, Samantha recommends visiting Whole Foods as they have a great selection of organic vegetables and grass-fed beef. Though Whole Foods may seem expensive, they are priced similarly to smaller NYC grocery chains but usually have a larger and better selection. Trader Joe’s is great for bagged salads and pantry staples.
Portion Control and Balance
Samantha recently completed TS Fitness’ Nutrition Challenge which focuses on portion control and balancing each meal with carbs, fats, and proteins. When you’re prepping your meals, make sure that you start with a carb like brown rice, butternut squash, sweet potato, or grains like farro, barley, etc. along with an assortment of vegetables. Then add your protein (chicken, fish, grass-fed beef) along with a little bit of healthy fat. Samantha is a huge fan of avocados and finds that they add great flavor and are satiating, keeping you full longer. When it comes to vegetables, try roasting your veggies (such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, carrots) for improved flavor and texture.
To roast vegetables, Samantha recommends using high heat so crank your oven to 425 degrees. Toss your veggies with salt, pepper, and olive oil and roast for 10-15 to brown the veggies and then reduce to 400 degrees to finish cooking.
Pre-Washed and Pre-Cut Is a Huge Time Saver
If you have the opportunity to purchase pre-washed lettuce, go for it! This is a huge time saver during the workweek. Just open a bag of greens and dump it right into your salad bowl. Samantha personally enjoys bagged Baby Arugula, which is often sold pre-washed. Pre-cut veggies can also be a time saver though they usually are a bit more expensive.
Make your workweek easier by prepping your proteins and veggies on Sundays or the evening before if that is more convenient. It should only take a few minutes to assemble a healthy salad or bowl filled with pre washed greens and home-cooked ingredients during the day.
Following Samantha’s tips will make your week easier and your meals healthier.
You’d think that exercise would be more regularly recommended in 2021 to prevent complications from Covid-19. After all, many comorbidities are reduced or eliminated by regular exercise. The lack of recommendations from the powers that be are probably due to a lack of understanding. Can working out really protect you from serious Covid complications?
A researcher from UVA, Zhen Yan, believes it does. He points to an antioxidant that your muscles produce when you do endurance workouts called extracellular superoxide dismutase (EcSOD).
You’ve probably heard of antioxidants from food and drink advertising. Something along the lines of “this drink contains immune-boosting antioxidants!” When you workout, many free radicals (extremely reactive molecules) are produced in the body, which could wreak havoc if they’re not taken care of.
Antioxidants neutralize free radicals and protect your body. Thankfully, you don’t need to get them from food or drinks, your body produces more than enough as you exercise.
EcSOD is particularly interesting because it seems to reduce the severity of ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome) which is the cause of death for some Covid-19 patients. It can also help if your lungs or kidneys fail.
Dr. Yan believes that exercise can boost this antioxidant, which helps your body fight complications associated with Covid. He notes that even one workout significantly boosts the quantity of EcSOD in your body. Those who exercise regularly will gain an added layer of protection.
It’s also important to note that the research refers to endurance exercise, so make sure you balance weight training with cardio.
The more you get into fitness, the more you’ll figure out what you like. Running is the ultimate high for some people, while others like to watch the numbers on their dumbbells and kettlebells slowly rise.
Whatever gets you out of bed and into the gym is great, but you might like to switch things up. It’s kind of like nutrition in that some people are great at eating enough veggies or drinking water, but they need more protein. Finding balance in your diet is like trying to find balance in your workouts.
Lifting weights is a form of strength training. It’s the best way to grow your muscles and get stronger. Running is a form of cardio, and it’s one of the best ways to get in better cardiovascular shape. However, weight training also works your cardiovascular system, and running strengthens your leg muscles.
Each exercise you do has a specific purpose and fits into your workout routine in the same way that carbs and fats fit into a balanced diet. Here comes the tricky part: when you do one type of training, it can interfere with your progress in another area.
Running can slow your strength and muscle gains. Too much strength training can diminish your cardiovascular gains. It’s called concurrent training, and there’s a whole science to it. What you need to know is that it’s often easier to focus on one thing and make progress.
For example, focus on strength training during the winter. It’s cold and you probably don’t want to do your favorite outdoor cardio activity. During the summer you probably want to be outdoors working on your cardio, instead of spending all your time in the gym.
Instead of trying to do everything at once, work on one aspect of your fitness at a time. Your progress will be lopsided, but eventually, you’ll balance everything out!
If you’ve been dealing with pain in your back, neck or shoulders for a while, chances are surgery has crossed your mind at least once. It’s a common solution for many problems, particularly if you’re talking to a surgical doctor. Sometimes it’s the only solution, but often there are other routes you can take before going under the knife.
Alternative medicine has a stigma, and for good reason. Modern medicine is based on sound science and incredibly advanced techniques. Alternative medicine isn’t always effective, but it’s generally lower cost and lower risk than many modern techniques (like surgery). For that reason, many are worth trying.
A group of researchers tested a bunch of alternative therapies and published a study. Here are some of their findings:
Kinesio Tape (KT Tape):
This is a type of athletic tape you put on areas of your body to increase awareness and range of motion. It has some effectiveness if you’re injured and want to keep working out because it slightly decreases pain and increases your range of motion. However, there’s not much strong evidence that it helps. It’s very low cost and there’s almost no risk, so it’s worth trying.
Surprisingly, the researchers found very little benefit for sports massage. It makes you feel better and can help decrease soreness, but it doesn’t help much if you’re dealing with injuries. They note that more research needs to be done, so the jury is still out on this one.
There’s some specific evidence that acupuncture helps with problems like carpal tunnel and lower back pain. So, for specific injuries, it might work. However, if you’re just sore and need to recover, it’s probably not going to help.
Similar to acupuncture, there’s some evidence that cupping helps with specific pains, such as the shoulder, neck, and back. Due to the low risk and potentially high reward, it’s recommended for people with pain in those areas. The only problem is there are so many different types of cupping, no one is sure what’s best.
Blood Flow Restriction:
Using a cuff restricts blood flow out of your limbs (it basically makes your limbs swell with blood) you can train with light weights and still gain muscle. This is extremely helpful if you’re recovering from injury or surgery and need to build muscle without using heavyweights.
When someone is said to have “an hourglass shape” they essentially just have a thin waist in proportion to the rest of their body. It’s not surprising that this is a highly sought-after shape, particularly in females, because they’re more likely to store fat in their extremities than their waist.
However, that’s just on average. Some women are more likely to store fat in their waist and won’t have an hourglass shape, just like not every man will have a robust torso. Corsets were developed to force or accentuate an hourglass figure. Though they’re considered a piece of clothing, they look more like a torture device. The idea is that you wrap something very tight around your waist and it pulls everything in. With your clothes on, you look svelte.
Over time it might look like someone who regularly wears a corset is actually shrinking their waist, even when they take it off. Skeletal evidence shows that people who wear corsets for a long time actually bend their ribs and change their bone structure so that it looks like their waist is shrinking.
Corsets are out of fashion for the most part. They’ve been replaced with waist trainers, which are less extreme but similar in design. You wrap them around your waist and it makes you look smaller. However, there have been claims that they actually help shrink your waist.
Fat loss occurs internally, meaning, hormones in your bloodstream cause you to burn fat. An external object (waist trainer belt) can’t change these hormones.
If anything, waist trainers hurt more than they help. Since they’re so tight, they can restrict your breathing. There’s also scant evidence that they’re bad for your organs since they press everything together. Save your money and time, and skip the waist trainers.
Somedays lifting a spatula can feel harder than squatting a kettlebell. When you can't muster the strength to cook, what should you order?
Coach Henry put together a few tips for ordering takeout and some of our favorite take-out spots in the Upper East Side.
In general, here are some things to look for if you’re searching for healthy takeout.
Mediterranean Food: While it might not necessarily mean your meal is healthy, much of the food at Mediterranean restaurants consists of veggies, healthy fats, and lean proteins.
Salads: It’s hard to go wrong with a bowl of veggies and lean protein.
Vegan and Vegetarian: In general, vegan/vegetarian meals tend to include lots of veggies, fruit and fiber.
Cooking takes time and energy. Meal prep services are gaining popularity, particularly in cities where it’s not very convenient to shop for and cook your own meals.
These services promise chef-made meals delivered straight to your home. Most sites have a menu that you get to choose from, or you can pick a predetermined meal plan that you don’t have to think about.
Meal services are also fairly flexible if you have dietary restrictions. They tend to be vegetarian/vegan-friendly and accommodating if you have allergies.
Milk was meant to be the cure-all for frail bones. The thought was that if people drank more calcium through milk they would provide their bones with the nutrients to grow and stay strong (plus it would keep dairy farmers in business).
As it turns out, milk is a fairly poor solution for weak bones. When it comes to bone loss, women are at higher risk than men. Those at high risk for weak bones include smokers, heavy drinkers, sedentary people, and anyone who doesn’t consume enough calcium or vitamin D.
A change in hormones in middle age causes both men and women to slow down the production of new bone, but this process truly begins around age 30. After that, it gets harder and harder to increase your bone mass.
Bones are the support beams of your body. They provide a foundation for muscles to pull and push. They’re also giant reservoirs of calcium, an electrolyte that your muscles need to work properly. Your body is constantly breaking down bones to supply calcium to the muscles, which is why it’s important to consume enough.
Just like muscles, bones are constantly replenishing themselves. However, they won’t grow unless they’re forced to. Similar to muscles, they need a form of stress to convince them to grow. There are two sources of stress from exercise: the pull from your muscles and the impact from landing.
Running, jumping, and even crawling send impact forces through your bones. Those impact forces stimulate bone growth so that your skeleton can protect itself against future stressors. However, you don’t need impact forces to grow bones. Lifting weights is sometimes more effective.
When your muscles contract, they pull on the bones they’re attached to. The harder they contract, the more they pull on bones. This pulling force stimulates bones to grow stronger, and you don’t even need the jarring impact from an activity like running.
A healthy balance of jumping, running and weight training is preferred for strengthening and maintaining bone mass. The same thing is true for bones and muscles: they won’t get stronger unless you force them to!
Coach Henry Halse
Sometimes you just need to turn up some tunes to get you in the mood to work out.
The TS coaches curated a motivational playlist that we guarantee will get you moving.
If you’ve been struggling to get into your workouts, try these songs!
Check out our Motivational Playlist on Spotify!
If you don't have Spotify, here's the list that you can add to your favorite streaming platform.
Over the next few weeks, our coaches are going to share what they do to stay healthy. Most of the time they dish out advice, but sometimes it’s better to lead by example.
The first issue we’re going to ask them about is staying active. Everyone has lazy days, but you’d expect trainers to have fewer than the average person! While our clients have their coaches to lean on when they need to be held accountable, most of the coaches lack a similar resource.
You might’ve heard that “sitting is the new smoking.” Truly, lack of activity is bad for the body. Even if your workout is lackluster, it’s better than nothing. All of our coaches experience ebbs and flows in their own motivation levels, and have plenty of bad workouts throughout the year.
Noam: “Having a friend or workout partner helps motivate me to workout. Having a scheduled time to workout gets the momentum going. I also recently started tracking my steps, so I can see if I’m being lazy.”
Sophia: “I always find it helpful to block out time into my Google calendar every Sunday for the week. I am much more likely to do at least something if I block out that time for myself. It also helps me to write down my workouts in a notebook.”
Chelsey: “I workout 3 to 5 times per week. On the days I workout I make sure to get 8,000 steps in. I also recently added a dance class once a week.”
Common themes that you can take away from our coaches are:
-Coach Henry Halse
Can exercise cancel out a bad diet? Perhaps that’s the wrong question to ask.
Theoretically, you should try to eat a healthy diet either way. That means eating more fiber, less sugar and less saturated fat. In other words, you have to fight the food around you.
The so-called “western diet” consists of sugary foods and drinks, low fiber intake and high levels of saturated fat. Contrast that with an approach like that Mediterranean Diet, which is high in fiber, low in sugar and low in saturated fat.
These are the three things you need to watch out for if you want to lower your risk of heart disease (the #1 cause of death in the US and worldwide). However, the role of exercise in keeping you healthy might be severely undervalued.
This study was just published in the Journal of Physiology. Researchers gave mice workout equipment, like a wheel, and let them workout as much as they wanted. They fed one group of mice a western diet and one group a healthier diet.
As it turns out, mice that exercised regularly were able to protect their arteries from the damage caused by a western diet. That means what they ate didn’t have an effect on their heart health. That’s a big deal!
There are a few important things to keep in mind when reading this article. The study was performed in male mice, which means the results may not carry over exactly in humans (although we’re physiologically very similar to mice). The mice that exercised walked the equivalent of 3-5 miles per day (that’s a lot for a little creature). This is also just one study, and research needs to be repeated to be validated.
This isn’t an excuse to eat what you want, but it follows a current trend in research: exercise is medicine. If this research pans out in humans, it means that exercise is as powerful (if not moreso) than following a proper diet. For the record, you should focus on both to see the best results.
-Coach Henry Halse
Perhaps the most troubling thing about COVID-19 is its unpredictability. The severity of the illness ranges from nonexistent to fatal, with a myriad of levels in between. Symptoms are seemingly as unique to the individual as a fingerprint. Scientists are working overtime to understand the disease, but its confounding many experts.
The Hospital for Special Surgery declared in August 2020 that it created the first guidelines for returning to exercise after COVID (you can read it here). As one of the foremost sports medicine facilities in the world, they’re a credible and reliable source. However, it’s possible that these guidelines will change as we learn more about COVID.
For now, we’ll stick with what they published and summarize it here. We hope this is useful if you’ve had COVID or if you’re unlucky enough to catch it in the future. As such, it is always recommended to speak to your doctor if you have questions or concerns about returning to exercise.
Shortness of breath and coughing are two major symptoms of COVID. It’s a respiratory disease, but it’s also a cardiovascular disease. What’s more, there have been reports of tissue damage in the lungs and heart. There’s no doubt that COVID can affect your cardiovascular system, which can make it hard to exercise.
If you’re sick, wait until your symptoms go away before returning to exercise. Once they do, start at around 50% of what you used to do. While exercise can help you rehabilitate from damage caused by the disease, you need to start slow. It’s possible that you have elevated blood pressure or blood clotting that lingers. Pushing yourself too hard, in the beginning, could be dangerous.
Walking or light exercises are a great way to start, as well as light circuit training. Make sure you’re eating and drinking enough to give your body the resources it needs to recover. Sleep is also important. Think of it as rehabilitation from an injury, rather than bouncing back after a cold. Listen to your body and rest, rather than trying to jump back into your old routine.
-Coach Henry Halse
Seasonal depression is a real thing, especially in New York. Maybe that’s why you see so many people dressed in black and grey!
At this time of year, we’re close to the winter solstice, which is the shortest (darkest) day of the year. Normally we have a raucous holiday season to offset the doom and gloom, but this year will likely be different. Many of us will be isolated from family and friends or stuck with a small group of local people who could also be suffering from seasonal depression (fellow New Yorkers).
Some people get obnoxiously bright lights to cure SAD and sit in front of them for an hour or so each day. While that might work, we have a better solution: exercise!
Before you roll your eyes at another suggestion from us to hit the gym, consider this study published in 2017 in Frontiers in Pharmacology. The researchers found that exercise was just as good at curing depression as antidepressants. This might seem like a bold claim, but there are other studies out there that show similar results.
This isn’t a recommendation to quit taking medication or skip therapy, but remember that when you get SAD, exercise is just as good as medicine. Whether it’s a HIIT class, weight training workout or just a stroll around the park, anything will do!
Coach Henry Halse
One of the best things about working out virtually is that you don’t have to worry about being judged by others (well aside from your cat).
Noam recently put together an entire body workout routine for Men’s Journal that is based on a collection of our favorite but awkward movements that you can do right from your living room. Each exercise has a strategically matched superset exercise to maximize your results
Don’t take yourself seriously, just try this seriously effective workout.
Did you know that you can take your ab workout to the next level by incorporating weights?
Using weighted ab exercises helps to stress the core beyond what you can do with bodyweight, developing the strength to maximize performance.
TS Founder Noam Tamir put together a 20-minute ab workout for Bicycle.com that targets your obliques and deep core muscles.
When you’re feeling tense, on edge, and overwhelmed, a good stress-relieving workout can help!
We’re all a bit stressed this week so we thought we share this workout that only requires a kettlebell.
“Kettlebells are my go-to for a destressing workout. There is a big emphasis on breathwork for kettlebells,” said Noam Tamir, TS Founder. “In order to use them the most efficiently and effectively, you create a lot of tension in the body, and then release the tension through your breath.”
Proper eating habits can be the difference between seeing and feeling significant results or not. It can often be overlooked by some athletes as they pack their gym bags in the morning or race to a class after work. In some cases, if you don’t have time to eat or hydrate before working out, it can leave you fatigued, hurting your ability to maximize your exercise session. Working out during the summer months also creates its own challenges.
We are often asked by our clients about what to eat both before and after a workout. Quick disclaimer: we are not certified nutritionists --everyone’s body has a nutrition plan that works for them so reach out to your nutritionist if you have specific dietary restrictions.
We can suggest a few options that have worked for our staff at TS Fitness.
Regardless of the type of workout that you are about to embark on, it is critical to be fully hydrated. Noam suggests drinking at least 16 oz of water in the two hours leading up to your workout. If you are exercising in the morning, try to consume a glass of water right after you wake up. Working out dehydrated can leave you with low energy and at risk for muscle spasms. If you are exercising during the summer, make sure hydrate before, during, and after your workout.
Proper hydration should not be seen simply as an exercise prerequisite but as part of a healthy lifestyle. Noam suggests drinking water throughout the day with an end goal of consuming about ¾ of an ounce of water per every pound of body weight. You can actually eat your water, too: vegetables usually contain a fair amount of water and can offset your fluid intake.
If you hate drinking water, try putting fruits like lemon or herbs like mint in your water, which adds flavor without any substantial calories.
Remember that you are working out to build a better, stronger you so by taking your pre- and post-workout meals seriously, it makes hitting your fitness goals easier and quicker.
We recommend trying to get all your nutritional needs from whole, real, unprocessed foods, as opposed to store, bought bars or processed packaged shakes. We look for 3 things in a pre-workout snack:
Carbs (energy source)
Satiety (so you're not hungry again in 20 mins)
Digestibility (so that you're able to move easily and not have anything weighing you down)
The following foods can fit the bill:
One piece of fruit like an apple or banana, or a handful of berries
Sprouted grain toast with almond butter and/or banana
Homemade energy balls made with dried fruit, oats, nut butters, etc.
Don’t forget that timing is really important. Ideally, you should be eating 2-3 hours before your workout. Obviously, that is much simpler if you have a 6:30pm HIIT class booked rather than a morning session. If do find yourself with less time to eat (like 45 minutes before a workout), your snack should be smaller and simpler, containing mostly carbs. No 6am steak and potato breakfasts. (See our note on digestibility!)
A few of our trainers like to have a small cup of coffee (no sugar) before a workout. Caffeine may improve workout performance in some athletes. And as for sports drinks--skip them. While sports drinks may have some vitamins and electrolytes, their high sugar content is quickly absorbed and burned by your system. You may even experience a sugar crash afterwards.
It is vital that you eat after you exercise to replace the calories that you burned and replenish your body’s glycogen stores. It is best to eat within 30 minutes of completing your workout. If you finished a GPT session which is based on metabolic resistance training (MRT), Noam suggests consuming at least 30 grams of lean protein. If you skip a meal after working out, your body will miss out on the necessary repair process, which may leave you fatigued in the short term, and delay you from meeting your fitness goals.
Depending on the time of your workout, Noam recommends the following combinations of protein and carbs to replenish your system:
Egg white omelet with vegetables
Lean meat or fish
Rice and beans, if you avoid animal products
When you're working out in a small apartment in New York City, you and your muscles may feel a bit cramped so it is important to take time to stretch. You should also consider foam rolling before and after your virtual work out. Noam was recently featured in an article about top foam rollers on Livestrong.com and discusses the importance of rolling out.
"I have seen people improve mobility drastically and recover faster due to foam rolling," says Noam Tamir, a certified sports and conditioning specialist (CSCS) and owner and fitness coach at TS Fitness in New York City. "I would recommend doing it at least once per day. You can do it pre-workout, which I think is most important to minimize the chance of injury and prepare your body for exercise, or post-workout for recovery — or just for recovery in general."
One of the most widely consumed performance-enhancing drugs is sitting in your mug or thermos almost every day (hint: it’s not steroids). Caffeine is both mentally and physically stimulating. Not only does a cup of coffee clear your mental fog, it revs your body’s engine.
At one point, caffeine was banned in the Olympics. In 2004 it was allowed - and in quite high doses. You’d need to drink about 4 or 5 cups of coffee right before an event to be disqualified. The fact that it’s illegal at a certain point shows you that caffeine must have some performance benefit.
Indeed, most studies show that caffeine helps endurance performance. That means runners, cyclists and swimmers should have a cup of coffee or two before or during their training or competition.
On the other hand, caffeine isn’t as beneficial for strength training. It helps endurance training because it elevates your heart rate, increases blood flow, and spikes your adrenaline. All those things are necessary to perform well in an endurance event.
When you lift weights your muscles are doing work for a few seconds, then resting for much longer. It’s an entirely different type of training that doesn’t benefit much from an increase in heart rate or blood flow.
Besides the physical effects of caffeine, the mental boost can be equally as powerful for training. Caffeine dulls the sensation of fatigue and exertion that comes along with exercise, allowing you to perform at a higher level for longer.
Most studies on caffeine involve at least one cup of coffee, although two seems to be more standard. Researchers note that too much can hurt your stomach, cause nervousness/anxiety, and disrupt sleep.
The bottom line is that you can drink coffee before workouts. It may help you if you drink the right amount, but it can harm you if you drink too much. It also seems to be more helpful for endurance training than strength training.
Written by Henry Halse
Many of our clients are working from home on a regular basis for an extended period of time. Office ergonomics have improved over the years and employers recognize the importance of providing their workers with the proper chair and desk for long-term sedentary work. With the pandemic, you have found yourself working from a counter, a coffee table, or even your bed.
You should consider instead, a standing desk.
Coach Noam was recently featured in Self Magazine discussing the benefits of standing desks.
“A standing desk is also a good option as it will help you become more aware of your posture and engage your core muscles,” Noam Tamir, C.S.C.S., founder of TS Fitness in New York City.
There’s an old saying that goes “no pain no gain.” It’s also the title of a hilarious movie featuring Marky Mark Wahlburg and The Rock, but we’re not going to talk about that today.
According to Google, the term “no pain no gain” was started by Jane Fonda in one of her workout videos. In the video, they’re probably doing a high-rep leg exercise that makes the muscles burn. Yes, those exercises are painful. They’re also not very dangerous.
Pushing yourself in a high-rep Barre or Pilates type of bodyweight movement is actually helpful if you’re doing that style of workout. Without adding extra weights you need to do a lot of reps to get results. Unfortunately, the type of training we do at TS doesn’t work well with Fonda’s catch phrase.
If you feel pain during an exercise, it’s usually a signal that you should change something. It could be your lower back, knees, hips or shoulders. Whenever you feel pain, you should address it. Often you can make a simple technique adjustment or do a modified exercise to work around the pain. Sometimes you have to scrap the exercise altogether and do something else.
Working through pain is only appropriate if you’re training with someone who knows that you’re safe. Otherwise, pushing through the pain can lead to injury. Remember that if you get hurt you’ll probably have to take time away from exercise, so it’s not worth ignoring the warning signs of pain just to get another rep or lift heavier weights.
If you’re committed to working out, you’re in it for the long haul. The body doesn’t change quickly, no matter how hard you push. When you think about workouts from a long-term perspective, you realize that you don’t need to work your hardest every workout. By taking care of your body and playing it carefully you can stay healthy and consistent.
The same principle applies to soreness. Most people see soreness as a sign of a good workout, which isn’t wrong. However, you shouldn’t chase soreness. Sometimes your body simply won’t be sore from a workout, but that doesn’t mean you didn’t work hard. Soreness is more a sign that you’ve done an exercise you’re not used to than a function of hard work.
Written by Coach Henry Halse
While the weather is still pleasant and we’re forced to do as many activities as we can outdoors, it’s not a bad time to pick up running. It seems like an easy way to get your cardio workouts in, but training improperly can lead to stagnation or injury.
Common injuries from running are known as overtraining injuries. The shock from running (think about how many steps you take in even one mile) are a lot on your body. Your knees, shins, hips, back and feet are all susceptible to injury.
The first thing you need to do is buy proper footwear. If you’re going to run, you need running shoes! Regular workout shoes won’t cut it, they’re simply not built for running. The second thing you should do is download a running app like Strava on your phone so that you can track your mileage. Finally, you should find a comfortable place to run where you don’t have to stop too often.
Start with two runs per week. Run one mile each time. If it’s too hard to run one mile, you can alternate between walking and running.
Once you can run a mile continuously in under 10 minutes two days per week, you’re ready to progress to two miles. Once you can run two miles with an average pace under 10 minutes per mile, you’re ready to split between speed and distance days.
Dedicate one day per week to distance training. Every three weeks, increase your distance running day by one mile. Keep your other running day short at around two miles. Use this as a speed day to increase your mile time. Focus on running as fast as possible, and try to beat your time each week.
Keeping one speed day and one distance day will limit the amount of running you do in any given week while preparing you to run a greater distance over time. If done properly, you’ll get faster while avoiding injury!
Written by Coach Henry Halse
One of the difficulties of virtually working out at home in a small New York City apartment may be access to heavier weights and equipment. If you have been relying on bodyweight exercises, you may be looking for ways to increase the difficulty of your workouts without investing in expensive and often space-hogging weights. Coach Noam developed created a series of ankle weight exercises for Bicycling Magazine that are non-impact and can be excellent for rehabilitation if coming off an injury. These movements are unilateral so they also help you develop balance.
In the 1960s, a Czech Physical Therapist was working with Polio patients when he figured out the root of many postural problems. He identified two things that most people struggle with: forward head posture and pelvic tilt.
Forward head posture is easy to picture. Anterior pelvic tilt is a little more difficult. If you stick your butt out (your best Sports Illustrated swimsuit pose) you’ll be in anterior pelvic tilt. These two problems are perhaps the most common among all postural problems.
It’s hard to “correct posture”. You’re fighting against gravity, the way your skeleton is aligned and all of your daily tasks. Every time you tilt your head down to look at your phone or your computer screen you’re moving further into the territory of poor posture.
While exercises might not fix your problems, they can strengthen the little muscles that fight against bad posture. Here are some movements you can use during your warm-up, cool down, or any time of the day at home or in the gym (videos will be posted on our Instagram later this week):
The muscles in front of your neck help control forward head posture. To strengthen them, lie on your back with your feet planted. Lift your head by tucking your chin and looking down at your feet. Hold your head up for three seconds, then drop back down. Repeat 10 times.
This stretch opens up your chest muscles, which pull your shoulders and head forward. Lie on your back with your feet planted. Reach your arms overhead. Pull your elbows down until they’re at 90 degrees, then reach them back up. Repeat 10 times.
This exercise strengthens your abs and relaxes your lower back muscles. Lie on your back with your feet planted, and both hands under your lower back. Press your lower back into your hands, exhale through your mouth, and lift your head off the ground slightly. Then, relax and lie back down. Repeat 10 times.
Written by Coach Henry Halse
Coach Noam spoke to NY1 about the obstacles that the New York City fitness community is currently facing. We're proud to be a part of a community that has been overwhelmingly supportive of each other during this crisis.
As fitness studios begin to reopen in New York City, TS has dedicated time and resources in making sure our staff and clients are able to train safely as possible.
We've always believed that working out with a partner is a great way to increase your accountability. Partners force you to work out harder, longer, and even help you get out of bed. Now that we started offering online and virtual personal training sessions, your partner may be your roommate or your significant other! With online sessions, you can even find accountability partners from around the world, not just in New York City.
Coach Noam was featured in an article for DatingNews.com
Since TS Fitness has moved mostly online, many couples find themselves training at home together. One of the most significant benefits of that arrangement is that they don’t have to pay for two memberships, since the training takes the same amount of time for the TS Fitness staff.
Noam said he thinks that couples workouts also provide more accountability and connection. He also appreciates helping people work out together in their homes.
“A lot of clients have started bringing their significant others. That’s been an incredible part of virtual training. One person sees their partner working out, and they say, you know what, can I try it?” Noam told us.