Listening to Pain, an article commentary

Listening to Pain for a Longer Dance Career.

This is definitely something I wish dance instructors touched more on and that dancers knew more about.  The times I’ve seen fellow dancers’ faces constricted in pain is innumerable, as well as the moments I’ve heard a dance instructor say something like, “Dance hurts, get over it.”  Pain is the body’s way of saying, “Whoa now, something’s wrong here!”  So why is pain almost…glorified?  Such questions are like the Tootsie Pop of dance: how much hurt will performers take before injury prevention is stressed?  The world may never know.

A great article by the amazing Monika Volkmar.  If you haven’t checked out her website,, you totally should.


CPT Program Sample

This is the demo workout I was asked to craft for Merritt Athletic Clubs.  You will see the scenario and my approach:

Merritt Athletic Clubs — Towson

Personal Fitness Trainer Demo



               Client: Female

               Prefers group exercise classes that focus on cardio

               She is 6 months post-partum, overweight, and has high blood pressure. She also has shoulder and neck issues.


Professional Extrapolations based on the given information:

               1. The client will have muscular imbalances due to her pregnancy. Performing cardio routines without any resistance training may have also induced more problems.


               2. The client should also be advised to seek nutritional counseling, considering that she has high blood pressure and is overweight.  


               3. The client may have a fear of lifting weights due to media-based misconceptions, and so she will have to be slowly introduced to resistance training. She will also have to be advised on the health and fitness advantages of combining both cardio and strength training, along with an appropriate diet.


Fitness Prescription:

               The client will need to begin with functional training — stability and muscular endurance. Based on her fitness goals (which a probably to lose weight and increase lean body mass), she would then move on to increasing muscular strength.
               I will be utilizing a circuit training approach (low weight, high repetitions, shorter rest periods).  Metabolically, circuit training will help the client burn more calories, since staying active minimizes recuperation, and so the body uses more energy to keep her going. This should be no problem, because she should have decent cardiorespiratory endurance.

               Warm up will include the bodyweight variations of the resistance exercises to teach proper movement patterns before beginning the actual training session. There will also be a period of self-officiated myofascial release (foam rolling).

               The client will be instructed to continue using group exercise classes for cardio; however, I will ask that she decreases the frequency. She will also be told about the benefits of yoga and pilates for stability, flexibility, and muscular endurance. While I will be integrating a little of both into her training sessions, I would like for the client to take a weekly class in either or both.

               Upper and lower body strengthening will be split.


Frequency = Overall 5-6 days a week;

               — 4-5 days a week for cardio

               — 4-5 days a week for muscular endurance/strength;

               — 2-4 days a week for core;

               — 2 days a week for muscular power (enacted later in the program);

               — 2-3 days a week for stability and flexibility;

               — 1-2 days a week for active recovery or complete rest


Intensity =

               Cardio — 60-80% of MHR

               STR — Due to shoulder and neck complications, upper body will be 50-60% of 1RM Max and involve a lot of bodyweight exercises at the beginning of her training. During lower body days, some isometric upper body holds will be implemented (ex. sumo squat while holding dumbbells).

                              Lower body will generally be within the 60-75% range of 1RM Max; depending on the day (endurance or strength focus), sets and repetitions will either be 2-3 sets 12-15 repetitions or 2-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions.


Duration/Time =

               Warm up             — 5-10 minutes

               Cardio                  — 30-70 minutes (depending on class or training style)

               ME/MS                 — 30-60 minutes

                                             * includes core strengthening

               Stability/Flexibility — 20-60 minutes (depending on session integration or class)

               Cool down          — 5-10 minutes


Type =

               Cardio — Zumba, walking, jogging, biking, Step, PiYo, Insanity, swimming, dancing

               ME/MS — Free weights will be the main method of training the client’s lower body. Upper body will be worked through isometric holds, bodyweight exercises, and weight machines (due to their movement mechanics).

               Stability/Flexibility — During the warm up, the client will have time for self-myofascial release. Throughout her workouts, she will be asked to switch from traditional exercises to the variation requiring balance (ex. regular push-up to BOSU push-up).

               Her core will be worked throughout her workouts, due to the utilization of proper form. 2-4 days week she will also have an Ab Circuit of 3-4 exercises that switch between regular and stabilization styles (supine crunch to Swiss ball crunch).


Day 1 of Training LOWER BODY EXAMPLE



                              1. Gastrocnemius/Soleus (Calves)

                              2. Tensor Fascia Latae (TFL)/Iliotibial (IT) Band

                              3. Latissimus Dorsi

               Static Trapezius/Scalene Stretch

               Supine Medicine/Swiss Ball Overhead Raise

               Active Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

               Active Stranding Adductor Stretch

               *depending on the day’s prescribed workout, what follows will be the bodyweight versions of the resistance exercises.

                              Example: Prisoner Squat; Alternating Lunges, forward and back; Arm Circles; Wall Sits; Wall Push Ups; Two-Leg Floor Bridge.

               Squats and Leg Abduction with a Theraband may also be utilized.


* By NASM technique, I would recommend doing the stretches before any dynamic movement, because the client does possess musculoskeletal imbalances. SMR and stretching will help decrease movement compensations while performing later exercises.



               Resistance Circuit [Vertical Load]

                              2-3 sets, 12-15 repetitions each

                              1. Dumbbell Squat —> Bodyweight Squat, One Legged

                              2. Forward and Rear Lunge with DB in Bicep Curl position —> BW Walking Lunge

                              3. Leg Curl Machine —> Supine Swiss Ball Leg Curl

                              4. Sumo Squat, holding DB —> BW Sumo Squat with Calf Raise

                              5. Cable Leg Extension —> Balance Standing Leg Extension



                              2-3 sets, 10-12 repetitions each

                              1. Floor Bridge

                              2. Dead Bug Crunches

                              3. Floor Prone Cobra

                              4. Quadraplex/Tiger Stretch



               Cardio [Treadmill, Stationary Bike] 5-10 minutes (optional)

               Static Stretching


Day 2 of Training UPPER BODY EXAMPLE

               WARM UP          


                                             1. Latissimus Dorsi

                                             2. Gastrocnemius/Soleus

                                             3. Hip Adductor

                              Static Trapezius/Scalene Stretch

                              Static Child’s Pose

                              Active Prone Cobra

                              Supine Overhead Raise with Medicine Ball

                              Active Hp Adductor Stretch

                              * bodyweight variations of prescribed STR exercises

               Resistance Training Circuit [Vertical and Horizontal Load]

                              1. Chest Press Machine

                              2. Bicep Curl Machine

                              3. Triceps Pull Down Machine

                              4. Dumbbell Lateral Raises

                              5. Bodyweight Incline Push-up (Wall or against bench)

                              6. Triceps Kickback (Cable or Resistance Band)                    



                              1. Standing Medicine Ball Chop

                              2. Isometric Plank

                              3. Swiss Ball Crunch

                              4. Swiss Ball Sitting Leg Lift


               COOL DOWN

                              Light aerobics on a machine (treadmill or stationary bike)

                              SMR and static stretching

Know Your Food; Article 1

Know Your Food!
Article 1



An acquaintance of mine recently posted on a little experiment of his:

Good morning people : ))
I would like to start your day with some “food” for thought.

We know that “Food” is the Fuel for the human body. Would you pour a mixture of Used Cooking Oil in your gas tank the next time you have to fill it up knowing that it is cheaper than gasoline? (( probably not bc in the long run you know it will destroy your car’s engine))

If you have “ANY” doubts that we are eating “cheap chemicals” vs. actual food, (even when it say “natural”) just look at these pictures I took this morning.

This bread has been sitting out since the day I bought it. I’m not going to give you the answer here, but I will give you the missing factor to this equation. ((The bread is soft and void of Mold))

Looking at the pictures and knowing that “natural” bread is made with “yeast”, do the math…

 [The pictures showed bread from last year, supposed to have gone stale November 7th, 2013]

I responded to this with: Nature’s Own is a chemical shitstorm. Though the manufacturers claim there’s nothing “artificial” about it, it contains a bunch of GMOs. Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Calcium Stearoyl-2-Lactylate, Monoglycerides, Calcium Iodate, Ethoxylated Mono and Diglycerides, Calcium Peroxide, Datem, Calcium Sulfate, and Soy Lecithin… and most of these are used in the so-called “dough conditioner.” Ew.

I came to this conclusion after doing some research, as I would never blindly respond to something like this without the sources to back me up. First, I took a long look at the “Best If Used By” label on the bread. Note the November 7th dateline. Anything that is truly natural and without preservatives should last maybe a few weeks, not several months.

Curious to the ingredients, I went to the Nature’s Own website. On it was this information:
100% Whole Wheat Bread

Nature’s Own 100% Whole Wheat is one of our best sellers. It offers the nutritional value of whole wheat in a soft, delicious loaf. Try a slice with fruit jam for breakfast, or with your favorite deli meats and cheeses for lunch or a quick dinner.

Nutritional Highlights

No artificial preservatives, colors or flavors

No high fructose corn syrup

100% whole grain

14 grams of whole grain per slice

2 grams of fiber per slice

0 grams of trans fat

Low fat


Okay. It seems kind of promising when you look at what’s presented here, but you have to ask yourself, why the need for the low fat bullet? Why put ‘no artificial preservatives’ when there should be no preservatives at all (with the implication of being honestly natural)? And why are there no ingredients listed on the company’s website? That deepened my frowning.


So, I continued roving through the articles on the internet. One that I stumbled upon happened to be titled, Scary Ingredients Used in Bread Manufacturing. The original can be found on Natural Savvy (or by clicking HERE). Kind of an attention grabbing title, in my opinion. It is frightening to think that our food, our fuel, is manufactured in a plant somewhere and not baked in an oven. The media uses those buzzwords that we associate with good feelings and health to fool us, but really is just the commercial aspect of businesses trying to get your money. And sadly, the need for wellness is a very, very strong card to play.


Another upsetting aspect is that most “natural” and “healthy” sliced bread alternatives found on the grocery store shelves happen to be featured in the aforementioned article. Nature’s Own has a couple of their products shown due to their usage of rather heinous chemicals, like mono- and diglycerides, datem, and oxidizing agents to bleach flour.

Here is the ingredient list for Nature’s Own 100% Whole Wheat Bread:

Stone Ground Whole Wheat Flour, Water, Brown Sugar, Yeast, Wheat Gluten, Contains 2% or Less of each of the Following: Salt, Vegetable Oil (Soybean Oil or Canola Oil), Dough Conditioners (Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Calcium Stearoyl-2-Lactylate, Monoglycerides, Calcium Iodate, Ethoxylated Mono and Diglycerides, Calcium Peroxide, Datem), Cultured Wheat Flour, Vinegar, Calcium Sulfate, Monocalcium Phosphate, Yeast Food (Ammonium Sulfate), Soy Lecithin.

(courtesy of


So, let me get this straight… the claim is that the bread is 100% whole wheat and no trans fats or artificial preservatives. Careful. It’s a trap.

Let’s tackle calcium peroxide first. As a food additive, it has the E number E930 and is used as flour bleaching agent. Right there is proof that the dough has been processed, and though the amount of calcium peroxide may be negligible in one serving, imagine how much of the 100% whole wheat in the entire loaf has been oxidized and striped of nutrients.


Next, let’s look at Ethoxylated Mono- and Diglycerides. To quote from Natural Savvy’s article, “Thanks to the addition of mono- and diglycerides and the dough conditioner DATEM, the ultimate bread-making short-cuts, processed breads don’t go stale as quickly as all-natural breads do, and when they’re added to dough, they make it possible to bake bread and bread products speedily without the usual efforts required in traditional bread making.

These inexpensive man-made fats have replaced the natural (and costlier) ingredients, lard and butter. By and large, they are by-products of fats and oils processing–including partial hydrogenation, a process that produces trans fats. The FDA requires labeling of trans fats, but only if a food contains more than 0.49 g per serving and only if it comes from triglycerides. Because mono- and diglycerides are not triglycerides, food manufacturers use this as a loophole to use – and to hide – trans fats. Although they provide 9 calories per gram, they are not required to be included in the Total Fat or Calories on a Nutrition Facts label, and they are not identified as trans fats either!”

As for DATEM, you can read all about it at In short, it is an emulsifier for fats and a softener for breads. It kind of does to fats what hydrogenation does — and we know what hydrogenated fats are, right?

While the trans fatty acids themselves may not be threatening with moderate consumption of such products, like a slice of bread every few days, imagine what could happen with long term exposure. For example as an average American let’s say you use two slices of bread for your Skippy Peanut Butter and HFCS jelly sandwich for lunch. Around three o’ clock you get a little peckish, so you grab your Nabisco Fig Newtons (which have bleaching agents, fat substitutes, and mono- and diglycerides) to take the edge off. For dinner, you pick up some Hamburger Helper and a can of string beans. Your bedtime snack consists of Special K cereal, because you’re trying to eat healthy and lose a few pounds.

Unfortunately for you, you’ve managed to consume nothing but processed food pumped full of additives that supposedly have no harmful effects on you alone. I’m not condoning nixing these things from your life entirely, even though it would be best, it’s not really doable for the Average Joe or Jane. One bad meal won’t hurt you either. Conversely, filling yourself up repeatedly with nutritionally devoid products will.

The moral of this Know Your Food episode is this: read your product labels and be aware of what you’re eating. Remember that natural is best. Try to avoid chemical catastrophes.

In Defense of the Dance Major


after the rain After the Rain – the first piece I choreographed at DeSales University, in 2005

Several months ago, I heard two interesting reports from NPR’s Planet Money team that focused on college majors and jobs – why people decide to pursue particular tracks of studies and the careers they hold as a result  As might be expected from a program entitled “Planet Money,” both of the these reports focused heavily on the economics of such decisions. Specifically, “What’s Your Major” took a look at the relationship between college majors and salaries, and the title of “Why Women Like Me Choose Lower Paying Jobs” pretty much says it all.

One topic that came up often as the various economic experts tried to justify why someone wouldn’t choose a more lucrative college major and career was “passion.” On some level, I think that is absolutely true. Some of us do make such…

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