Function and Fitness Blog
Function and Fitness Blog
Coach Jess
5:00 AM

What Are You Doing Outside of the Gym?

One of the hardest things to hear as a coach is “this just isn’t working.” Believe me when I say that we hear the frustration in your voice and we truly want you to be successful in achieving your fitness goals.

That being said, I’m about to drop some “real talk” on you. Getting fit is 95% what you're doing outside of the gym. Yup, I said it. I’m even potentially diminishing just what we can do for you, but the bottom line is if you’re giving 100% in the gym and then giving 1% to what you’re eating and how you’re moving the rest of the day, then all that work can be for naught.

On average we see a client for 3-5 hours every week. While we can monitor how well you are moving for those 3-5 hours, we can't be with you for the remaining 165-163 hours in the week. If we could, you’d most likely hear us - all day, every day - saying things like, “don’t eat that” or “you should get up and stretch,” or “it’s time for you to drink some more water.” The truth is, we can’t be there all the time - though we can try to support you as much as possible!

So how can you ensure you’re working just as hard outside of the gym? Here are some tips:

Set a reminder to drink water. You should be drinking half your body weight in ounces of water every day. What does that mean? If you’re 100 lbs, you should be drinking 50 oz of water every day. Yes, every day

Invest in a fitness tracker. Tracking your steps can help inform you on how active you are outside of the gym. 10,000 is a good goal, but if you’re usually super active, you’ll want to set a higher goal.

Get up and stretch. We all know that our current lifestyles have landed most of us behind a desk. So what can you do to be proactive in the fight against tight hips and sore backs? Get up and stretch. If this seems awkward, close the door to your office, do a couple stretches in the bathroom stall, or step outside for a quick walking/stretching break.

Watch what you’re putting in your mouth. I don’t need to go into detail on this one - you know what you should and shouldn't be eating. And if you don’t ask us for advice!

We’re all here to help you - in the gym - and out of the gym.

Coach Jess
5:00 AM

“Organic” “Whole grain” “Sugar Free” “Oh my!”

Today we continue our series on food labelling with a conversation about (dun, dun, dun) marketing. Having worked in marketing for years (okay, yes, it was gaming and home entertainment, not food marketing) I know a little bit about the clever tricks people use to get you to buy their products. It’s the bells and whistles we all fall for. But sadly, when it comes to food packaging, the marketers are using even sneakier tricks - they’re using the words you trust against you.

We’ve all seen these words on our food. But most of them are just lip service. Food labels love to make health claims, but can you believe them? Let’s de-code some of these well-known labels.


Usually means processed to reduce fat or calories. What that often translates to is watered down or something else has been added to make it taste good. That “something” is often sugar.


Grains = healthy, right? Uh… well… if you have a grain intolerance, definitely no. But “multi” just means that there is probably more than one grain in that product, and unless those are whole grains, you’re just getting a lot of refined grains where they literally remove all the healthy stuff from the grain.


A product can claim it’s natural if it has a natural source. Just because the source might have been natural, that doesn't mean the final product is.


This one might be the worst offender. We LOVE organic things, but people can slap the organic title on anything. You need to make sure it’s been certified organic - check the label for a stamp that proves it’s been certified organic.

“No added sugar”

Okay, so its good they didn't add more sugar, but some products already have a enough sugar in them - so while it’s good they haven't added more, it might be too much already. Additionally, instead of adding sugar, manufacturers might have added unhealthy sugar substitutes.


Sure, it might be lower fat, but this usually always means more sugar - they want it to still taste good, right?

“Made with whole grain”

Sure, there might be whole grains in it… somewhere… If you look at the list of ingredients and don't see whole grains within the first three ingredients, then the amount of whole grains actually in the product is negligible.

The truth is you CAN outsmart those marketers - you just have to look further than just the front label’s marketing claims - turn the package over and take a look at the list of ingredients!

Coach Jess
5:00 AM

Reading Food Labels: The Ingredients List

You’re trying hard to “clean” up your eating game, but when it comes to those labels, where do you start? This week we’re continuing our series on how to read food labels. Today I’m whittling down ingredients - as in - the ingredients list.

When it comes to food labels, marketers know how to complicate things, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret - a kind “go to” when it comes to deciding what you throw in your cart.

Number One Rule: If you can’t pronounce it, you shouldn’t eat it. That means if you’re seeing a lot of sucroslaxatosiniumblahblahblah it’s probably not something you should be eating.

Highest to Lowest

Product ingredients are listed from highest to lowest amount. That means the “most used” ingredient is listed first. For example, if you are buying peanut butter, ideally peanuts are the first (and only) ingredient. Take a look at the first three ingredients - those are probably the largest parts of what you are eating - then refer back to the number one rule: can you pronounce them?

How Many Ingredients?

Another way to make sure you’re not eating a lot of junk is to look at how long the list of ingredients is. Longer than 2 to 3 lines? Chances are it’s highly processed junk.

Do Your Research

If you run across something you’ve never seen before - such as acacia gum or xanthan gum or even what “refined” versus “unrefined” is - I suggest you pull out your phone and look it up. Knowing exactly what ingredients actually are can help you decide what you want to put in your body. When it comes to the list of ingredients, knowledge really is power.

So here’s a quick checklist when you’re standing in that grocery aisle:
  • What are the first three ingredients?
  • Can I pronounce them?
  • Are there any odd things I should look up?
  • Is the list 2-3 lines or 23 lines?

Hope that helps you whittle down while you’re trying to “whittle” down your maybe not-so-clean eating habits.

Coach Jess
5:00 AM

Reading Food Labels: Sugar

You’re trying hard to “clean” up your eating game, but when it comes to those labels, where do you start? This week we’re starting a series on how to read food labels. Today I’m going to sweet talk you - with the 411 on Sugar.

It’s no wonder that food-makers create confusing labels - if our customers are confused they’ll just give up and buy our product. But there are ways we can outsmart these witty marketers - you just have to know the tricks they use.

Why is Sugar so Bad?

Let’s talk about why you need to be on the lookout. Sugar has been linked to diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, and breast, endometrial, and colon cancers. And that’s just to name a few things. If you want to read a little more on exactly HOW sugar is processed by your body, take a look at this article from Women’s Health

As Robert Lustig, M.D., professor of pediatrics in the division of endocrinology at the University of California – San Francisco, explains, "You could make dog poop taste good with enough sugar, and the food industry does.” The truth is food-makers add a ton of sugar to things - even when we don’t need them to! That translates to you getting way more sugar than your body actually needs.

How Much is Too Much?

According to the World Health Organization, sugar should be 5% of your diet - that equates to 6 teaspoons per day. Yup! That isn’t a lot!

All the Different Names for Sugar

Before we eliminate all the unnecessary sugar in our diets, we’re going to need to know what to look for. Here are just a few of sugar’s “altar egos” you’ll want to look for when you’re perusing those labels:
  • Agave Nectar
  • Buttered Syrup
  • Blackstrap Molasses
  • Dextran
  • Dextrose
  • Diastase
  • Diastatic Malt
  • Fructose
  • Galactose
  • Glucose
  • Invert Sugar
  • Lactose
  • Maltodextrin
  • Maltose
  • Muscovado
  • Rice Syrup
  • Sorghum Syrup
  • Sucrose
Now that you know what you’re looking for you can tackle the sugar part of reading your labels!

Coach Jess
5:00 AM

Can A Cheat Meal Ruin It All?

You’ve been eating clean and balanced all week - protein, fat, carbs at every meal - their correct proportions - and without dipping into the pantry for a late night snack. Then the weekend arrives and it’s three pieces of pizza, some wine, but just a small, okay maybe not really small at all, dessert. So the question is - can a cheat meal ruin all that good work you’ve put in?

Sadly, the answer is “yes.”

And it’s “yes” for a lot of reasons.

Number one: If that “cheat” means eating a day’s worth of calories in one sitting, guess what? You’ve just turned your 7 days of eating into 8 days of eating. And no, there are NOT 8 days in a week.

Number two: That one “cheat” often turns into two cheats, three cheats, four cheats, blown week. If that cheat meal is going to turn you to the dark side for the rest of the weekend and/or week, then it’s for sure going to ruin that past week of good work.

Number two point five: Just a caveat to the above note - turning on all the “bad cravings” can only trigger more. For example, a lot of people will say that once they stop eating sugar they don’t crave it, but even just one Cadbury Caramel Egg can turn on those cravings. While some lucky people out there are able to have one doughnut and then call it quits, the majority of us are apt to dive into the whole box - so just don’t start in the first place.

Number three: You’re most likely to “cheat” because you’re out with friends at a restaurant. The problem there? All the hidden things that are being put in your food. When you cook at home you know what ingredients you’re using. And if you’re a label checker, you know what’s really in those ingredients. At a restaurant, unless you’re besties with the chef, you can never be 100% of what’s going in your food or how it’s being prepared. What that translates to is a lot of hidden junk that you weren’t even calculating into your cheat meal dreams.

Now I’m not saying never cheat - that’s almost 1 million percent impossible! But if you’re going to cheat, try to be mindful about it. Is there a reason you feel compelled to have a cheat meal? Maybe a long week at work or you want to fit in with the rest of the people sitting around the table. Know the WHY behind that piece of pizza. Then put a limit on that cheat. A realistic limit. You can also make it a “not-so-cheat” meal - add a salad before that slice or two of pizza. Or have a glass of fizzy flavored water for every glass of wine. And lastly, finish off the “cheat” with a healthy treat as a way of resetting your mind and reminding it to return to the good stuff. An apple or a handful of vegetables after the pizza/pasta/deliciousness can often be a good way to “re-trigger” the clean eater in you.

Coach Jess
5:00 AM

TRX Newbie

Before I started at FUNction and FITness my only knowledge of TRX was “those strap things that you can do a ton of exercises on.” I had never touched the straps, had no idea what exercises could be done with them, and definitely didn’t have a clue as to how to adjust them. In every sense of the word, I was a “newbie.”

And to be honest, despite the fact that I work with them every single day, I still kind of consider myself a newbie - but at least one that knows how to get into the foot cradles… kinda.

As explained on the TRX website, the TRX Suspension Trainer is “a highly portable performance training tool that leverages gravity and the user’s body weight to complete hundreds of exercises.” It’s those hundreds of exercises that make me feel like “newbie,” and why I continue to be impressed by what the TRX straps can do for both my training and your training.

We can talk at length about bodyweight training (and I’m sure we will in a later blog post), but the TRX straps are one of the most effective tools out there when it comes to this form of training. You can literally set it up anywhere (just check out Coach Ara training in the park), and you can also train every part of your body on it - from arms, to legs, to core, and everything in between - including all those joints in between. From TRX Chest Presses to TRX Oblique Crunches, you can get a full body workout with one tool. Let’s not lie, that’s kind of awesome.

So if you’re still on the fence about “those straps,” or if you still don’t know how to get in “those straps,” let any of us know. As always, we’re here to help!

Coach Jess
5:00 AM

Why Do We Use All These Things?

If you’ve been in our gym you’ll notice that, while we don’t have traditional machines like you’d see in a big box gym, we do have a lot of different tools. We in the fitness industry call these tools “modalities,” but we’ll use the word “tools” for the sake of not sounding… well, like tools.

Some tools you’ll see in our gym:
  • TRX straps
  • TRX’s Rip Trainer
  • DVRT’s Ultimate Sandbags
  • Medicine Balls
  • Kettlebells
  • BOSU Balls
  • Dumbbells
  • Foam Rollers (Woohoo!)
  • and our BELOVED Sled (“beloved” is up for debate by some of our clients)
When you look at the list (which is just a selection of what we offer) you might wonder just why you need all these tools. They all provide different and specific offerings. For example, TRX’s Rip Trainer is great for training rotational movements, and TRX straps allow someone to gain a sense of balance before we load them up with weights such as dumbbells or sandbags. I won’t go into all of their offerings here, but ask any coach in our gym and they can give you an explanation of just why we would use a sandbag versus a barbell for a specific exercise - and vice versa, why a barbell might be better than a sandbag for another exercise.

Also, different tools allow you to progress people safely. For example, before we hand someone a kettlebell during a single leg Romanian dead lift, we might have them do that same exercise using the TRX straps. Pressing down into the TRX straps during the exercise allows them to stabilize themselves and really understand HOW the movement should feel. You master the movement and then progress it by adding weight.

One common goal that all the tools share: they were all created to help you move better and to feel stronger - kind of like our goal at the gym!

Coach Jess
5:00 AM

The Perform Better Summit

This past weekend my fellow coaches and I attended Perform Better’s One-Day “Learn-by-Doing” Summit hosted at the LA Convention Center. During the summit we heard lectures from four guest speakers and then attended four afternoon work-out sessions led by those speakers, all in an effort to become better coaches for all of our clients.

Todd Durkin, the first speaker of the day and owner of Fitness Quest 10, encouraged us all to create more “WOW” moments in not only our coaching lives, but in our professional lives. Just what is a “WOW” moment? One of those magical moments in life that just makes you sit back and say “Wow.” Maybe it’s that moment comes when you’re sitting on a mountain peak after a 3 hour hike, or second 47 after you finally finish that 45 second endurance burst of mountain climbers in the gym. Whatever it is, we all want those “Wow” moments - so let’s go out and get ‘em!

Lee Burton, of FMS (Functional Movement Systems) was our second speaker. Functional Movement System’s motto is “Move Well. Move Often.” That’s exactly what Burton’s lecture was about - how can we screen for dysfunctional movement patterns and then protect and correct them? If you see us doing more ankle mobility exercises where we seemingly tie you in knots, you can thank this guy.

Rachel Cosgrove of Results Fitness was up next. Her lecture focused on how to connect to female clients. From addressing yo-yo dieting (and how it impacts your body composition over time - yikes! Ask us about that one) to getting your clients away from that scale-obsession, Cosgrove gave us all tips on just how to create a transforming experience for our female clients.

Martin Rooney of Training for Warriors rounded out the morning lecture series with a rousing rendition of Queen’s We Will Rock You (seriously, he did). He reminded us coaches that we always need to bring the entertainment to our classes, ‘cause let’s face it, if you aren’t having fun, exercise can be a real drag.

The afternoon was filled with four 35 minute sweat-creating workout sessions, and you better believe we picked up some fun new things to share with you to help you “Perform Better.”

Coach Jess
5:00 AM

Putting the “YOU” in Positive Self-Talk

It might sound silly, but during that next workout try “YOU can do it” instead of “I can do it.”

According to a study that was published online in the European Journal of Social Psychology in 2014, talking to yourself in the second person when you are giving yourself encouragement in the gym may actually boost your performance more than using the first-person.

As the study’s co-author Dr. Sanda Dolcos, a researcher at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, explained, “People are used to receiving and giving advice in the second-person, and they seem to prefer using the second-person pronoun to psych themselves up before engaging in action.”

How the study’s authors arrive at this conclusion? They asked 143 undergraduate students at the University of Illinois to write down advice for themselves before working through a series of anagram puzzles. Half of the 143 students were asked to use first-person while the other half wrote in second-person.

The students who wrote in second-person completed more anagrams and appeared to have a more positive attitude when working through the anagrams. “We were not surprised and had previous research showing people spontaneously use ‘You’ in situations that require high levels of self-control and action,” said Dolcos, “as well as situations following a negative event.”

So next time you need a little more encouragement try “You” instead of “I” - and also trust that all of your coaches will be encouraging “YOU” too!

PSST! Here's your chance for 5 extra tickets in our monthly drawing: mention the catch phrase "Positive Self-Talk" to any of the coaches! 

Coach Jess
8:45 AM

Muscle Earthquakes

You’re pushing for that final rep when all of a sudden it’s like there’s a miniature earthquake happening in your body. But what causes our muscles to shake and is okay if they do?

We will always encourage people to push themselves during a workout, and shaking muscles often “prove” that you’ve hit that max effort. But those tremors might also be a way of your body saying, “hey, hold up!”

While these muscle trembles are common, and shouldn’t scare you too much, it’s also important to pay attention to them.

Here are some reasons your muscles might be freaking out:

You’re deconditioned. For a lot of people just getting back into the gym, the shaking can be a sign of working muscles that haven’t been worked in a long time. Yes, you have glutes, and yes, they will be surprised when you start engaging them again.

You’re not sleeping enough. Lack of sleep can cause muscle tremors. Remember that our bodies grow and heal when we’re getting in those precious zzz’s. According to Shape (http://www.shape.com/blogs/fit-list-jay-cardiello/why-your-muscles-shake-during-hard-workout )lack of sleep can “cause your muscles to stay in a catabolic-like state.”

You’re going too hard. When we first get back at the gym - or if we just feel super motivated to get in shape for the first time - it’s not uncommon to try and push ourselves to the limit.  When we’re working different muscles it can cause them to get wobbly. Ease back and lighten up the load. We don’t want you to injure yourself or have other muscles jump in to help compensate. We have so many ways and tools to help progress you - so if we give you a lighter load, don’t take it as “I failed,” take it as “I have to earn that progression safely.”

You’re dehydrated. As explained by Greatest , “When the body gets low on fluids (which can also cause electrolytes to get off kilter) the connective tissue has trouble doing its job— including transmitting signals from the brain down to the muscle fibers.” Yikes! Makes me want to drink some water right now!

A number of different factors can contribute to that 3.0 magnitude earthquake happening in your quads. While it might not be something to get too shaken up about, it’s definitely something you want to pay attention to.

Next Previous