Located in Sterling, VA (703) 421-1200

June 2023

Don't Lose Positive Momentum

The word momentum has both negative and positive connotations when it comes to Total Results exercise. On the one hand, we want to avoid the use of momentum during the performance of the repetitions in each individual exercise. If we are moving at an improperly fast speed (anything faster than eight seconds) during the Pulldown (or any other exercise), then the movement arm starts to operate under its own momentum, thus obviating meaningful muscular loading, diminishing the effectiveness of the exercise, and greatly increasing the risk of injury. On the other hand, we can say that moving purposefully between exercises helps to build positive momentum toward a thorough exercise stimulus (inroad), which in turn will improve strength as well as cardiovascular and metabolic conditioning. As we will see, the emphasis on building and maintaining positive momentum can apply not just during a workout, but also in your everyday life.

It's important to remember that a Total Results workout is not a social event. Most of what passes for exercise instruction at commercial gyms is really nothing more than a gabfest with a few nondescript movements thrown in for optics. Our clients are interesting and well-educated people who have a wealth of life experiences, and I very much enjoy talking with and learning from them. However, I try at all costs to restrict those discussions to either before or after their workouts. During an exercise session, verbal communication should be largely one-way - the instructor gives cues and prompts at just the right time, while the client works to implement those instructions. If you talk during your workout (outside of essential communication about some aspect of the workout itself) you will lose focus on the task at hand, and it will take time and effort to regain the proper level of concentration. Please try to save any questions or comments that don't require immediate attention until after the session has been completed. I'm always happy to chat for a few minutes before I need to get ready for the next appointment.

Speaking of concentration, an effective workout requires all of your mental resources to be directed toward what lies in front of you. For the time we have blocked out for your session, we would like you to shut everything else out of your mind and give your best effort on the six or seven exercises that we have set up for you. Forget about work, home, or any of the million other things that require your attention throughout the day; don't allow your mind to stray from your exercise session. I realize that sounds very difficult to do, and it is a challenge, but it's not as tough as it sounds. We strive to achieve a "flow state", which "captures the positive mental state of being completely absorbed, focused, and involved in your activities at a certain point in time..." Remember that while the workouts are intense, they are also infrequent and brief. We block out half an hour for your sessions but they should take no longer than twenty minutes to complete, and advanced clients who work efficiently will often finish in fifteen minutes or less.

One way to keep positive momentum going during a workout is to move quickly and purposefully between exercises. That can be difficult to do at times, especially after the Leg Press when your entire lower body musculature is severely fatigued, but it is important to travel in an orderly fashion to the next exercise. Our machines are stationed in close proximity to each other, so you won't have very far to go. Think about how you are instructed to move during a fire drill; do not run, but do move briskly. Be on a mission! Over the years I have seen clients come up with all kinds of creative stall tactics when they get tired: retying shoelaces, fumbling with clothing, fiddling with hair accessories, etc. Don't do this; it will actually extend your workout and impede you from achieving an optimal exercise stimulus. You should be breathing heavily, as that is a sign of metabolic and cardiovascular demand. Yes, you could probably lift more weight for a longer time under load if you rested between exercises but that isn't the point. Your best path to a thorough systemic inroad and optimal physical improvements is to start the next exercise as soon as you are seat belted and properly positioned in the machine.

Developing good habits takes time and effort, and while sustainable progress doesn't happen overnight, it will happen if you continue to do the right things every day. How you perform during your workouts is certainly important, but that's only twenty to forty minutes out of your entire week. How are you doing as far as proper sleep, nutrition, hydration, supplementation, managing stress, and practicing mindfulness? Don't be your own worst enemy! I have seen many clients over the years start out really well, but once they achieve a certain level of success they seem to forget the strategies that helped them to achieve that success in the first place. Try to remember how you got to the point that you decided you needed to start at Total Results, but also remember how you got to that level of improvement. The key to sustainable progress is just that: it's sustainable! If you make a positive habit too difficult to practice every day, it's not going to work. One great thing about our workouts is that there is an appointment that you can put into your calendar to make you accountable. Keep coming every week, even on days when you don't feel you're at your physical peak, because there is value in doing your best. If you happen to have a minor injury you can still exercise the unaffected areas, and I have a lot of rehabilitation tools in my tool box. If you happen to miss a workout or fail to perform a part of your daily routine, make sure it is a small blip rather than a developing trend.

It's important to celebrate the small victories, but don't rest on your laurels. From one day to the next we often don't know what life has in store for us, and sometimes things don't go as we planned. There are going to be times when we don't feel we're mentally at our best or physically strong, but part of maximizing every day we are given is to push through and push forward when the easier thing to do would be to stay in bed. Don't give in to temptation! Keep positive momentum going and build upon what you have achieved. Small accomplishments add up to big victories down the road.

Posted June 27, 2023 by Matthew Romans

Be Coachable

I have mentioned this in previous articles and in conversations with clients, but Total Results exercise is a new concept for ninety percent of people who come through our doors for the first time. Our protocol flies in the face of conventional exercise orthodoxy, runs counter to what you see in fitness magazines, and is inherently an intellectual pursuit in addition to being the most comprehensive program you can undertake to stimulate physical improvements. No client gets it right the first time; mastery takes time, patience, effort, and a willingness to learn. I see myself as a teacher, just not in a traditional classroom setting. It is incumbent upon me to communicate clearly, concisely, and in language that is easily understood. Many points must be addressed repeatedly (such as proper breathing, head position, etc.) to ensure safety, but also to give the client their best chance to succeed. Instructors must hold themselves to the highest standard and be accountable for their performance. This is just one side of the coin, however. Exercise subjects must hold up their end of the teacher-student pact and do the things necessary to optimize performance. In short, it helps greatly to be coachable.

What does it mean to be coachable? This is a term that we often hear about in athletics, but I believe it can apply to any endeavor, whether it's playing a sport, learning a language, mastering a musical instrument, or becoming a method actor. There are certain things you can do to maximize your chance for a positive outcome, and none of them have anything to do with genetics, innate intelligence, or natural talent. It all starts with attitude. There are many things in life that are outside of your control, but the one thing you have complete control over is your attitude. No matter how external factors may affect you, how you see the world is entirely up to you. If you choose to be an optimist, maintain a positive mindset, and keep an open mind while you are being instructed during exercise, you will absorb information more effectively. This will enable you to process and implement the instructions your instructor gives you, thus making your workout safer and more efficient.

This leads us to the next part of being coachable: be an active listener. We often think of listening as being a passive endeavor, just making eye contact with whomever is talking and hearing what they have to say. There is a distinct difference between hearing and listening. Hearing generally means that what was said goes in one ear and out the other, while listening involves really absorbing and clarifying what is being communicated. You can't be a good listener if you are thinking about meeting a deadline at the office or fretting over your son's missing school assignment. Tune out all other distractions and focus on giving your full attention to your instructor for twenty minutes once or twice per week; anyone can do that. Repeat your instructor's cues internally to yourself; that will help you soak up the information you are given and will enable you to tap into the mind/muscle connection. We will break down our teaching points into easily digestible chunks for better retention.

Part of being coachable means having a sincere desire to do well at the exercise regimen you have undertaken. If you frequently arrive late, cancel sessions at the last minute, and do not focus on the task at hand you will make it harder to achieve success. This is something that needs to be important to you, and just showing up is not enough. You need to put your all into it, and while there are many variables in life that may impact how stressed or well-rested you are, it is important to give your best effort every time. Does that mean that each workout will be a record-setting performance? No, but you should strive to get just a little bit better each time. Another important quality to have is to be receptive to constructive criticism. The instructor's job is to advise but also to correct mistakes. We learn by making mistakes, and nobody is perfect. Correcting mistakes is part of the teaching process, and it not only helps you to maximize skill but also ensures your safety. Don't take corrections personally, but rather learn from them so that you can improve on the next exercise or in the next workout. We are not trying to put you down, we're trying to help you get better. It's also important to praise just as often, if not more, than we criticize. Positive reinforcement and criticism go hand in hand.

Finally, it's important to stay humble. Don't get overconfident when you achieve some success. No matter how far you have come, there is always more work to do. Over the years many clients have achieved some initial physical improvements but have not been able to sustain that level of achievement because they stray from the habits that they developed to get them there. Those that experience long-term success stick with practices that are repeatable day after day, month after month, and year after year. They don't take their eyes off the prize and set new goals going forward. At the same time, don't get down on yourself if you should happen to fall off track. Try to maintain an even keel, and never get too high or too low. Life has peaks and valleys, but if you stay humble and grateful for what you have you can navigate this crazy world pretty smoothly.

If you adopt the mindset of a perpetual student, always seek to learn and always look to challenge yourself, you will succeed as a Total Results client. Instructor and client work together to achieve great things, and we want to give you the information and the tools to help you get on and stay on the right path. Humility, a positive attitude, and a desire to perform at a high level, combined with being a good listener and responding positively to constructive criticism are the qualities that will help you to maximize your potential as an exercise trainee.

Posted June 13, 2023 by Matthew Romans

Make it Look Easy (Even Though it Isn't)

I am often impressed when I observe people in different industries who are elite at what they do. Athletes and musicians come to mind, especially for me, because I enjoy music and sports as forms of art. A few years before he passed away, I was privileged to see Edward Van Halen perform intricate guitar solos that no one else before or since could possibly match, and in my youth I watched Patrick Ewing effortlessly cover both ends of a basketball court at the peak of his powers at Georgetown. This can even apply to the field of broadcasting. As a regular viewer of Baltimore Orioles baseball games, I marvel at how smooth and polished play-by-play announcer Jim Palmer is at providing analysis and reciting statistics of even the most obscure player. It isn't easy to make a baseball game sound conversational, but Palmer has been doing just that since he retired as a player. Have you ever seen a public speaker that is so poised and fluid in his or her delivery that they look like a natural? Chances are that they worked extremely hard to make it look that way. Through my years of work at Total Results, I consider myself lucky to know many attorneys, realtors, IT professionals, and mortgage lenders who are elite in their chosen fields. One thing I have learned is that when an individual has the ability to make something that is difficult look easy, a tremendous amount of time, effort, and focus have been invested.

We have had many clients at Total Results who make their workouts look easy, even though they are working at an intense level of effort. Our protocol is different from others because we place an emphasis on uniformity in speed of movement, form, and turnaround technique. While we know that each excursion is its own separate entity, our desire is for each repetition to look the same regardless of one's level of fatigue. The first repetition should look the same as the sixth repetition, as long as you are focused on what is important. The main objective of each exercise is thorough inroad; fatiguing the musculature to the point of failure is the stimulus that we seek, and the best way to do that is to maintain impeccable form even when things become challenging and uncomfortable. This requires a calm demeanor, presence of mind, and a knowledge that no matter how unpleasant the situation is, it only lasts a short time. If you focus on the process and execute properly, the results will take care of themselves.

Difficulty in controlling your emotions and losing sight of the real exercise objective can lead to form discrepancies and a lack of proper focus. If you worry too much about achieving an arbitrary time under load you are more likely to take liberties with proper form. This leads to unloading of the musculature and can result in a greater risk of injury. Sometimes clients will instinctively hold their breath, overbreathe, grimace, or clench their jaw in an attempt to demonstrate how hard they are working. Don't do that; we already know how hard you are working, and such behaviors can cause a spike in blood pressure. If you have the correct frame of mind and practice emotional control, a casual onlooker should not be able to decipher how many repetitions you have completed based on your body language. Just like an athlete or a broadcaster, it's important for you to do your prep work in advance of your session. Get 7-9 hours of sleep, eat well, hydrate, and minimize activity that will have a negative impact on your recovery resources. Failure to do this will typically result in a decreased performance.

The word poise is often defined as having grace under pressure. Maintaining the right emotional mindset and preparing yourself physically for a challenging Total Results workout are what is required to maximize your physical improvements. Fans of Ernest Hemingway's sparse and efficient prose know that what he made look effortless was not effortless at all. He removed far more from his initial drafts than he added, and this took time, patience, and grit. If you watch a duck glide across a pond, it looks fluid and easy. Their bodies are very still above the surface, but below the water their feet are kicking like crazy. We know that our workouts are difficult and that you may experience some inner turmoil as you go through them, but if you adopt the right frame of mind and put in the work you can make something challenging look easy.

Posted June 01, 2023 by Matthew Romans