Teammate of the Month | Emily T

Brains and brawn. It’s an unstoppable combination. In fact, most of us would be lucky just to claim one of these attributes. But this month’s athlete has both. She’s Emily Twichell, Ph.D. Though a self-professed “nerd,” she’s really a professor of badassery. 

emilyt

We recently caught up with Emily, and she was kind enough to grant us an interview. Now, it’s your turn to get to know her better.

First off, where did you grow up? 

Just outside of Rochester, New York.

What do you do for a living? Could you walk us through a typical day?

I’m a Change Management consultant, which means I spend most of my time helping business leaders implement changes more effectively, all without driving employees crazy.

When do you typically work out?

[I attend] 6:15 pm night classes as well as a Saturday or Sunday workout here and there.

What’s your favorite Logan Square eatery?

It’s cliché, but I have to say Parson’s on a nice day…when you don’t have to wait hours.

What’s your favorite place to grab an adult beverage?  

I’m a sucker for the ‘70’s vibe at Heavy Feather.

What are some of your favorite things to do (besides working out obviously)?

I like to travel. I spend a lot of my weekends visiting friends and family. Recently, I went to Costa Rica, and I’m now planning trips to Hong Kong, Thailand, and Cambodia in the fall.

What’s something about you that your fellow gym buddies might not know?

I’m a fairly big nerd. I have a Doctorate in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, which is a fancy name for what I explained above.

Why did you first start coming to Paramount?

I was doing a lot of yoga at the time, but it wasn’t helping me reach my fitness goals. I knew these [Paramount] classes would be higher intensity, and they would create accountability to work out on a more regular basis. I was right!

What can you do now in workouts that you couldn’t do before?

I had never done rowing before starting at Paramount. Unfortunately, as soon as I started liking it, I sprained my ankle and can’t row for a while. 

Favorite exercise/workout?

So hard to pick just one! I like doing any type of circuit training with different exercises at each station – it’s fun and goes by super quickly.

Okay, it’s time for our famed “Desert Island Q&A.” If you were stuck on one, what would you bring of the following?

Movies and/or TV Shows:

I love thrillers and crime drama TV, so Law & Order SVU, the Killing, the Fall, and Sherlock Holmes to name a few.

Books:

I can’t re-read books, but probably some kind of historical fiction.

Food:

If it’s not likely I’m getting off the island, and I somehow have an endless supply of grilled cheese, I’m going to eat it.

Music:

Mix of classic rock and alternative/indie tunes.

Push yourself. Then push it real good.

When you hear me talking about the importance of “proper breathing” and “proper technique,” you’re usually hitting it hard at the gym, not necessarily hittin’ it. But today, I’m here to tell you that all those positions you contort yourself into at Paramount can actually translate to the bedroom. It goes without saying there are many benefits to exercising, the most obvious being having more energy, getting stronger, losing weight, and improving confidence. And unless you’re a Puritan from the Mayflower, you’ll also be happy to know that exercise can radically improve your sex life. Adding in daily movement, strength training, and corrective exercises can even make sex more fun. Below, you’ll find five reasons why. So, without further ado, let’s hit it (and never quit it).

More Energy = More Sex
Pretty nice math huh? The reason behind this is that exercise gives you more energy. More energy means more sex. And more sex is more fun. It’s true. If you’re overwhelmed with work, life, or family responsibilities, the prospect of adding in more movement sounds nearly impossible. But give this a whirl--add in a five-minute dance party before dinner or try a few yoga poses before bed. Evaluate how you feel afterward. I’ll bet you’ll find that you have more energy.  

Improved Confidence = Feeling Sexier
I don’t know about you, but I feel my sexiest after a hard workout. If you can overlook the irony of feeling sexy while sweaty and tired, you’ll understand that I feel stronger, more confident, and ready to accomplish anything. Even the mattress mambo. After all, lifting heavy weights is a great way to make you feel empowered. That’s why all of our small group classes include 20 minutes of strength training with bench press, shoulder press, deadlift, or squat. Once you perfect your form with us, you’ll feel like a confident, sexy badass. And no one can resist that!

Increased Flexibility = Better Moves  
Yoga can definitely improve your strength and flexibility. So too can daily stretches, corrective exercises, and--presumably your favorite--foam rolling. I’ve had some friends tell me they need to stretch before they jump into bed. I get it. That’s why I tell them to add more movement and stretching into their day-to-day routine.

Improved Cardio = Longer Sessions
Heck ya! I don’t think I need to elaborate here, but those 20 minutes of cardio we do at Paramount isn’t just for outrunning zombies. It’s for bringing a big smile to your partner as well. 

Stronger = Less Pain
Let’s keep discomfort only to the whips and chains, shall we mistress? Natural joint or muscle pain is no fun. I’ve found that improving core strength can reduce any naturally occurring aches, especially in the back.   

There you have it. Some of the best sex advice you’ll ever receive. And from now on, when I see you walk into Paramount with a big smile on your face, I’ll know why. You’re welcome.  

February Thoughts

Here is what Alex and I are up to this month.

Eating delicious food:

Getting smarter:

Relaxing:

 

Teammate of the Month | Lev N

Teammate of the Month

Have you met Lev Naginsky? Unless you’re working out late on weeknights, chances are you have not. And that’s a shame. He’s a truly interesting guy, and so we want you to get a chance to know him better. Then, should your paths cross sometime soon, you can ask him all about his travels and possibly even offer your recommendations on good survival-themed books. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the life of Lev.


 

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Russia, and I lived in Israel from ages 4 to 7. I lived in Canada from ages 7 to 12, and I grew up in Arlington Heights from the time I was 12.
 

What do you do on a typical day?

I'm a financial analyst at Fieldglass. Most of my day is spent analyzing variances and updating budgets and forecasts in Excel spreadsheets.

When do you typically workout?

I usually workout on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:15pm. I really wish I could go more frequently.

What’s your favorite place in Logan Square to eat?

The Longman & Eagle.

What are some of your favorite things to do (besides working out obviously)?

I like to travel. I’ve been to England, France, Portugal, and Japan as well as a bunch of different US cities in the last 12 months. I also enjoy golfing, trying new restaurants, cooking, and watching hockey.

What’s something about you that people at the gym might not know?

I hold citizenship in three different countries (well, technically four). It's like being a spy without the cool life.

Why did you first start coming to Paramount?

I used to live about 200 yards from Paramount, and I used to walk by it every day for six months before thinking I should walk in. I was out of shape for most of my life, and I finally felt like I should do something when I was getting winded just walking to the bus stop. Coming up on my one year anniversary, I'm approximately 55 pounds lighter and I feel fit and strong for the first time in my life.

What can you do now in workouts that you couldn’t do before?

I can row 2000m without stopping! I’m also generally more mobile, more flexible, and have way more energy.

What’s your favorite exercise?

For strength, I enjoy the bench press. For conditioning, though it kicks my ass every time, I enjoy pushing the sled.

Deserted Island Q&As
If you were stuck on a deserted island, what would you bring of the following?
 

Movies / TV shows - Game of Thrones, Westworld

Books - I bet there's a “Surviving on a Deserted Island for Dummies” published somewhere.

Food - I'd never get tired of sushi or a good piece of steak.

Music - I like a lot of different music, but nothing specific. Can I bring my iPhone with Spotify and podcasts? I feel like a lot of these could be solved by being resourceful and just bringing an iPhone, and being able to keep it charged.

Life 101. The (Very) Basics of Healthy Living.

Let’s get back to the basics. Why? Because the essentials of staying healthy don’t necessarily mean throwing heavy objects over your head. They simply mean refocusing your energy on things you do every day.  

 

First, let’s clarify. We’re not saying working out is obsolete. It is still important to work out. We just want you you to supplement your exercise with the advice we’re about to provide. After all, if you’re coming to Paramount, you’re obviously someone who wants to keep improving and furthering your awesome-ness. That’s why we want you to complement your time in the gym by doing the following outside of it:

 

Get to Bed. Sleep In.

This seems like a no-brainer. Besides, don’t we all love to tuck in and wake up late? But are you getting adequate sleep each night?  Whether your goals are weight loss, strength training, general health & fitness, or growing a baby, sleep is so vital to achieving your goals.  According to Abel James, the lack of sleep makes your body feel like it’s in a state of famine with disastrous results.  Let’s look at your last three nights. If you’re not getting seven-eight hours, figure out why. Were the last three nights a fluke? Was it something temporary like a work deadline or an all-night Seinfeld marathon? If those are the cases, you should get back on track as soon as possible. If less than seven-eight hours is pretty typical for you (which is most of us), consider making some changes.  Here are four things* to try for the next few weeks and let us know how you feel.

  1. No snoozing.  Once your alarm is set, get out of bed and start your morning routine.  Bonus points if you can get outside and get exposure to sunlight as soon as possible.

  2. Cut out coffee and other caffeinated drinks after 12pm.  If you can’t do 12pm, try no later than 3pm.  

  3. This is going to be a hard one.  Turn off your TV, computer, Ipad and start to dim your lights after 10:00pm (and even earlier if you can).  Read a book, listen to music or a podcast, bake, knit, color, play board games, build a bookshelf.  There are lots of things you can do without technology.   

  4. Make sure your bedroom is super dark and a cool temperature.  Get blackout curtains, turn off alarm clocks or put something over it so you can’t see the light.  TV and computers should be turned off too.

  5. BONUS:  Read these 8 tips for beating insomnia from Chris Kresser

 

 

*This is assuming you don’t have a baby or a new puppy, international travel or working overnight shifts.

 

The Benefits of Better Breathing

....  and How You’ll Survive the Fall of Civilization  

Recently, as I was about to begin teaching a class, I thought I’d get started by telling everyone to get on the floor. But before I could even begin speaking, all of my students moved onto their stomachs to start an exercise we call “croc breathing.” I wanted to start with a tabletop position, but alas, it turns out they knew what was best. And they were right. Here’s the thing, “croc breathing” isn’t the most exciting exercise, but I quickly realized what was happening-- my students had found the value in breathing exercises.  

Now, I want you to discover these benefits as well. That’s why I want to focus on the importance of proper breathing techniques.    

 
    
Gain Better Posture
By breathing properly, you ensure proper posture, which allows for bone to balance lightly on bone. This means there are as few muscles as possible involved in supporting and maintaining your balance. When proper posture and respiratory muscles are restricted, the body begins to process less and less oxygen. As a result, you start slumping. And that’s no good.  Not only does this send out an image of poor self-confidence, but it also has a negative impact on your respiratory and musculoskeletal system over time.

Feel More Relaxed  
From a Western perspective, when we unconsciously hold our breath, we “short circuit” our body’s ability to take in the appropriate amount of oxygen to function properly. When you hold your breath, your body interprets this as a sign of distress, which not only engages the fight or flight mode of the sympathetic nervous system, but also triggers a cascade of stress hormones. Eventually, this may lead to digestive issues as well as increase tension in the neck and upper- to mid-back due to poor muscular oxygenation.

Increase Your Awesomeness
If you’re generally stressed, you won’t perform at your best.  Improper breathing leads to a lot of other issues that cause even more stress such as a lack of sleep and consuming extreme levels of caffeine. Quite simply, proper breathing will help you perform better.

Survive a Zombie Apocalypse
As mentioned above, proper breathing is going to help you perform at your best. And you’ll want to be at your best if you want to survive the zombie apocalypse. So, when you actually need to tap into additional resources to kick some zombie butt, you’ll need your fight or flight response to turn your performance up a notch.  

What You Can Do
Now that you know what you can gain from proper breathing, it’s time to get started. Here are some additional techniques that you can try at home: