Ultra-marathoner improves her time (SMST)

ultra-marathoner improves times with slow-motion strength training

emma cruz personal trainer

After battling running injuries and overcoming an eating disorder, ultramarathoner Emma Cruz turned her health journey into a career helping others.

In high school, Emma was a runner and suffered from an eating disorder.

I discovered that running was amazing, but the eating disorder was not.”

Emma decided to learn more about running and how to nourish her body, but she didn't stop there. She went on to study health, fitness, and nutrition and got a degree in Health Sciences. 

Running became a bigger and bigger part of Emma’s life as she took on half-marathons, full marathons, and ultimately became an ultra-marathoner. (An ultramarathon is a long-distance running race longer than a marathon – longer than 26 miles 385 yards/42.195 km.)

Running was so rough on my body and my joints.” 

And although she found that yoga helped ease some of the tension in her body, she realized she wasn’t doing anything to build strength.

Ultimately, Emma found slow-motion strength training and was blown away by her results.

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20 Minutes Twice A Week:
Life-changing

“It was surprising how quickly I managed to put muscle on. I couldn't believe that it worked!”

Learning how to effectively strength train helped Emma become more connected with her body. It helped improve her running speeds and the way she feels about her body.

With a background in health science and a love for strength training, Emma decided to become a Certified Personal Trainer specializing in slow-motion exercise methodology and helping others achieve better health in two, 20-minute sessions a week.

Emma Cruz Personal Trainer

Changing Clients’ Lives Too

One of Emma's clients, a woman in her 80's, couldn’t walk without a cane when she first began training at The Perfect Workout. 

After training for three months with Emma, her client was able to ditch the cane and walk on her own. 

Read another incredible story about how Adele Biancarelli got strong enough to walk without assistance too!

Stories like these motivate Emma because she’s able to see the powerful results she can help her clients achieve in such a short amount of time. 

No matter your ability level or athleticism, whether you’re someone looking to improve your running speeds or have a goal to walk without a cane, slow-motion strength training has the power to change your body and your life. 

And all it takes is 20 minutes, twice a week.

Too many people sacrifice their health and quality of life because they allow themselves to get weak and out of shape. With The Perfect Workout, you can safely reshape your health and body in just 20 minutes, twice a week. Guaranteed.

Exercise vs Recreation? (Need to Know)

exercise or recreation? why you need to know the difference

Personal Trainer Newport Beach CA

If you’re new around here, there’s a chance your fitness routine might include more recreation than actual exercise. 

When our founder, Matt Hedman first read Ken Hutchins’ “Exercise vs. Recreation” article in 1996 his paradigm of exercise was forever changed.  

These principles of exercise vastly improved his quality of life and chances are they will for you too.

 

Exercise Vs. Recreation

Exercise is an activity that is performed to improve the body physically – increase strength, endurance, cardiovascular efficiency, help with fat loss, preserve or increase bone density and lean muscle tissue, etc.

Recreation refers to things that we do for fun and enjoyment which are psychological purposes.

In his essay on the subject, Ken identified 5 key differences between what appropriately qualifies as “Exercise” and what qualifies as “Recreation”:

 

Exercise is Logical. Recreation is Instinctive.

Recreation is whatever you feel is fun for you whereas proper exercise results from a logical approach of looking at how to efficiently, effectively, and safely load the muscle and joint functions of the human body.

The principles of Exercise are Universal. Recreation is Personal.

The muscle and joint functions of the human body are essentially the same for everybody, so the requirements for effectively loading the muscles to provide effective exercise is universal. Recreation, on the other hand, is personal. What your neighbor likes to do for fun may be very different from what you enjoy.

In a sense, effective exercise is the same for everybody. We make exercise available for everybody too- try Virtual Personal Training.

Exercise has General transfer to other activities. Recreation is Specific.

The benefits of exercise - stronger muscles, more endurance, better cardiovascular efficiency, etc.- will enhance your ability to perform any physical task like running a race or carrying groceries from your car to your kitchen. Recreational skills are specific to that activity itself, and the motor skills learned from one task don’t transfer well to other activities. For example, learning the skill of swinging a golf club will do little to enhance your bowling game.

The purpose of Exercise is Physical. The purposes of Recreation are Mental.

The fundamental purpose for exercise is to improve the body physically. Recreation is for fun, leisure, relaxation, etc. (i.e. mental and psychological reasons).

Proper Exercise is Not Fun. Recreation is Fun.

Recreation had better be enjoyable for you – that’s the whole reason for doing it! Exercise is all about loading the muscles of your body in a demanding manner, and that is not fun when you’re doing it effectively. How much fun is that last, impossible repetition on the leg press? The results and benefits of exercise are certainly fun, but if the process of exercising is fun, chances are it’s not challenging enough for the muscles to qualify as meaningful exercise. Get started with Personal Training.

What Now?

Now that you know the difference between exercise and recreation, how does this information shape the way you exercise?

Only certain versions of strength training (including slow-motion strength training) qualify as “exercise.” And it’s not useful to consider other activities as “exercise.” That doesn’t mean other activities are “bad.” It just means they’re not useful for exercise.

Significant problems often occur when people mistakenly confuse and mix exercise with recreation. 

For example, Matt Hedman used to play a lot of basketball both because it was fun and also because he thought it was good exercise. Now, we can see that compared to proper strength training, basketball provides haphazard, inefficient, and often low intensity muscular loading.

 

Strength Training Newport Beach CA

Also, the high-force pounding the joints experienced from thousands of hours of running and jumping resulted in him starting to feel the effects of osteoarthritis in his knees at age 23. Read more about his story.

Instead of an improved body, basketball had given him the exact opposite result as far as his prematurely worn out knees were concerned.

He would’ve been better off if he’d separated exercise and recreation, stimulating change in his body from proper strength training, and only played basketball to the degree that it was fun for him.

When Matt became convinced of Ken’s ideas on the subject and quit all the non-strength training activities he’d previously considered to be “exercise,” he didn’t get stronger or weaker, and he didn’t get leaner or fatter after ceasing those activities. 

The only difference was his knees started feeling better after eliminating the pounding they were taking from the jogging and other similar things he’d been doing. 

Exercise for him now is safer and more effective, and the things he does for recreation are more fun because he does them for fun and not because he feels like he needs to do them for exercise.



Exercise to Improve Your Body

Our recommendation is to perform sensible strength training for exercise to improve your body physically, and then make great use of your fitter body to enjoy all of the other activities you like to do for recreation – whatever they may be, including swimming, basketball, running a marathon, badminton, etc.

If you mix exercise and recreation, exercise is less effective as well as more dangerous, and recreation is less enjoyable. 

Keep them separate, and you’ll be better off.



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After 3 Knee Surgeries: Climbed Mount Picchu

kelly climbed mount picchu with the perfect workout's help!

female client at the top of a mountain posing for the camera

Other workouts didn’t cut it for her, and she wasn’t seeing results. But the personalized training with The Perfect Workout set her on a new path. “I had never worked with a personal trainer before, and it’s been amazing having someone who’s really watching my form and looking out for me.”

“I was a non-believer.” When Kelly Gaynor first heard about The Perfect Workout on the radio two years ago, she thought it was too good to be true. How could 20 minutes, twice a week make a difference? Still, Kelly was intrigued. She stopped into the Walnut Creek studio for her first workout, and asked some tough questions about slow-motion strength training and what the average client looks like. “She looks like you,” the trainers told her. Knowing that she fit in to The Perfect Workout environment put Kelly at ease, and made her confident that she could do the training. Trying slow-motion strength training for that first day was a challenge, but Kelly faced it head-on, and she’s been a believer ever since.

One of the biggest things Kelly was looking for in a workout was something that would keep her youthful as she got older. “As one ages, you see people who are older and you know you’re going there. They can’t do things they used to do. I didn’t want that to be my future.” At 61, she knew she needed to keep active. Other workouts didn’t cut it for her, and she wasn’t seeing results. But the personalized training with The Perfect Workout set her on a new path. “I had never worked with a personal trainer before, and it’s been amazing having someone who’s really watching my form and looking out for me.”

Kelly had torn her ACL and had three knee surgeries in the past, so she prioritizes safety when working out. Her two trainers, Rob and Danica, always respond to her needs and adjust each exercise to make sure she isn’t straining or hurting herself. Their care and motivation have paid off. When she started with The Perfect Workout, Kelly could lift 155 lbs. on the leg press. Today, she can lift 235! She’s also gone from 50 to 75 lbs. on the lat pull down, and increased significantly on every other machine.

Kelly’s newfound strength paid off when she traveled to Peru recently to climb to the famous valley of Machu Picchu. “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I had never hiked before, and this is one of the toughest hikes in the world!” But because of her newfound muscle and energy, she knew she could conquer it. A few times on the trek, her husband suggested they turn around, but Kelly wasn’t having it. Eventually, she reached the top and it was all worth it. Ultimately, she climbed over 2,100 feet—the equivalent of climbing the Empire State Building 1.7 times. “Thank you Danica Cramer, Rob Wight, and The Perfect Workout. You helped me climb Machu Picchu!”

Separating “Exercise” and “Recreation”

Separating Exercise and Recreation

I first read Ken Hutchins’ “Exercise vs. Recreation” article in 1996. I consider his ideas in this area to be some of the most important ideas in the history of exercise thought. They’ve certainly improved my quality of life significantly. And chances are you probably haven’t heard these ideas prior to reading this article. I hope the ideas benefit you as they have me.

In this context, “exercise” denotes activity that is performed to improve the body physically (increase strength, endurance, cardiovascular efficiency, help with fat loss, preserve or increase bone density and lean muscle tissue, etc). “Recreation,” on the other hand, refers to things that we do for fun and enjoyment (which are psychological purposes). In his essay on the subject, Ken identified 5 key differences between what appropriately qualifies as “Exercise” and what qualifies as “Recreation”:

Exercise is Logical. Recreation is Instinctive. Recreation is whatever you feel is fun for you (“instinctive”), whereas proper exercise results from a logical approach of looking at how to efficiently, effectively, and safely load the muscle and joint functions of the human body.

The principles of Exercise are Universal. Recreation is Personal. The muscle and joint functions of the human body are essentially the same for everybody, so the requirements for effectively loading the muscles to provide effective exercise is universal (applies to everybody). In a sense, effective exercise is the same for everybody. Recreation, on the other hand, is personal. What I like to do for fun may be very different from what you enjoy.

Exercise has General transfer to other activities, whereas Recreation is Specific. The benefits of exercise (stronger muscles, more endurance, better cardiovascular efficiency, etc.) will enhance your ability to perform any physical task (including running a race or carrying groceries from your car to your kitchen). Recreational skills are specific to that activity itself, and the motor skills learned from one task don’t transfer well to other activities (learning the skill of swinging a golf club will do little to enhance your bowling game, for example).

The purpose of Exercise is Physical. The purposes of Recreation are Mental. As discussed earlier, the fundamental purpose for exercise is to improve the body physically. Recreation is for fun, leisure, relaxation, etc. (i.e. mental and psychological reasons).

Proper Exercise is Not Fun. Recreation is Fun. Recreation had better be enjoyable for you – that’s the whole reason for doing it! Exercise, on the other hand, is all about loading the muscles of your body in a demanding manner, and that is not fun when you’re doing it effectively. (How much fun is that last, impossible repetition on the leg press?) The results and benefits of exercise are certainly fun, but if the process of exercising is fun, chances are it’s not challenging enough for the muscles to qualify as meaningful exercise.

So what are the practical implications of these ideas? Essentially it’s that only certain versions of strength training (including slow-motion strength training) qualify to be included under a useful concept for the word “exercise.” And it’s not useful to consider other activities as “exercise.” (That doesn’t mean other activities are “bad.” It just means they’re not useful for exercise.)

Significant problems often occur when people mistakenly confuse and mix exercise with recreation. As an example, before becoming more enlightened on this subject, years ago I played a lot of basketball both because it was fun and also because I thought it was good exercise. I now see that compared to the muscular loading generated through proper strength training, basketball provides haphazard, inefficient, and often low intensity muscular loading. As a result, basketball is comparatively ineffective for stimulating physical improvements in my body. Also, the high-force pounding my joints experienced from thousands of hours of running and jumping resulted in me starting to feel the effects of osteoarthritis in my knees at age 23 (much too young for somebody’s joints to start wearing out!). Instead of an improved body, basketball had given me the exact opposite result as far as my prematurely worn out knees were concerned.

I would’ve been better off if I’d separated exercise and recreation, stimulating change in my body from rational strength training, and only played basketball to the degree that it was fun for me (rather than thinking it was something good for me physically).

When I became convinced of Ken’s ideas on the subject and quit all the non-strength training activities I’d previously considered to be “exercise,” I didn’t get stronger or weaker, and I didn’t get leaner or fatter after ceasing those activities. The only difference was my knees started feeling better after eliminating the pounding they were taking from the jogging and other similar things I’d been doing. Exercise for me now is safer and more effective, and the things I do for recreation are more fun because I do them for fun and not because I feel like I need to do them for exercise.

My recommendation is to perform sensible strength training for exercise to improve your body physically, and then make great use of your fitter body to enjoy all of the other activities you like to do for recreation (whatever they may be, including swimming, basketball, running a marathon, badminton, etc.) If you mix exercise and recreation, exercise is less effective as well as more dangerous, and recreation is less enjoyable. Keep them separate, and I think you’ll be better off.

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