30 Day Mobility Challenge

If you’ve read any of the previous 4 or 5 blog posts here, it’s easy to spot consistency as a common topic. Being consistent, over a long period of time, is the best way to get results. This outlook isn’t limited to just your fitness or health either. Consistency and building habits defines what your day looks like each and every day.

The mobility challenge came about as a way to help you feel better but also as a way to help you develop a new habit.

This is going to force you to be consistent, everyday for 30 days. This isn’t going to be time consuming, about 5-minutes a day. Hopefully help you learn a thing or two about yourself, your habits and most importantly, give you the tools to feel better.

You can follow along with the videos each day, they will be uploaded early incase you want to do them in the morning, or they are a great way to unwind before you go to bed. Completing them at GAIN after you workout is within the rules, too.

Here’s what you’ll need:

A lacrosse ball, tennis ball or something similar

Foam roller, not necessary, but helpful and affordable, you should probably go buy one if you don’t have it already.

Optional – a band, a belt is a quick and easy substitute, they sell them at Dick’s Sporting Goods or if you ask us, we will probably let you borrow one!

Each day will have a body part or movement focus, i.e., hip soft tissue, or shoulder mobility/stability drills. This isn’t a magic cure for injuries, make sure you see a good PT for those.



30 Day Mobility Challenge

Long Term Training, Become Less Fragile

As GAIN heads into its third year of business, I am continually impressed by the long-time members here. We have members who have been training with us since the start, two years ago, and more than 20 that have been at GAIN for at least 18 months now. I’m impressed at their commitment, their ability to carve out time and protect their schedule, but mostly, I’m impressed by their dedication to the long haul.

They are now seeing what long-term training can do. Simply put, it makes you less fragile. Less likely to break. The fitness industry is full of promises of quick fixes and fast results. I’m over here saying that there’s no such thing. The proof? Look at these people who have committed to long term training!

I hear less reports of aches and pains. I talk to more resilient people, who are excited to train the day after a long hike. People who no longer need a couple days off after shoveling through a snow storm. I see the change in the way their bodies move. These people have so much more confidence in their ability. They can perform movements with skilled speed and maintain form throughout challenges once deemed impossible. They are mobile, fast and explosive, able to tie in several simple skills to complete a more complex, highly athletic movement with precision.

The confidence, movement skill and body awareness are impressive on their own. We are seeing improved strength, range of motion and work capacity too. Remember when two trips down and back with the sled was enough to make you want to crawl back into bed?

I’m a fan of setting goals that have to do with performance, i.e., what your body can do. Aesthetic goals are usually short term and don’t have enough meaning to get people to stick to a plan. Don’t believe me? How many of your friends have already dropped off of their New Year’s diet already?

When you focus on performance, your abilities and skills, your body makes positive changes that you are going to like. You may not even notice them at first. But then, 18 months from now, after 3-4 days per week of training, you’re able to wear those jeans that haven’t fit in a few years. You notice some definition in your shoulder and maybe a couple of ab muscles are peeking out.

And all of that happens while just focusing on showing up, challenging your body and being consistent. Train to become less fragile and more robust, imagine what would happen if you stuck with your plan for 3 years.


Long Term Training, Become Less Fragile

Like learning an instrument

That’s the best way to approach training. It’s too bad that in our society of extremes, we have turned the pursuit of fitness, or a healthier life for that matter, into this ride or die, all in or all out thing.

Training with the future in mind, meaning, taking up a sustainable practice is most necessary. The problem, is that you want a quick fix. You want to lose 10 pounds and then hope that you can go back to your life just like before but that weight will stay off, this time.

So many people fall into that trap because the fitness they are pursuing is not sustainable. There is no progression, no skill and no brain power involved. Recently, on a podcast, I heard a coach say that training should be like learning an instrument. Although I never have played any musical instrument, I drew the parallels immediately.

To play an instrument well, you must first develop the necessary skills. You need to have focused training sessions to gain better understanding of how to read music, to how play the instrument and how to hear what sounds right and what sounds off. This takes time, but more importantly it takes focus. Maybe a few hours a week of no cell phone, not getting hung up on work stress, or thinking about what to do over the weekend. You need that dedicated focus.

So many fitness programs miss the boat here. Mindless exercise doesn’t allow you to use your brain to learn a new skill, or master a new movement with your body. Frankly, slugging away on an elliptical just isn’t a good way to become healthier.

You must put in the time to learn an instrument. As you learn more, you can apply more. You start to take on more and more complex sounds or songs. The same with training. As your motor control gets better, as your strength improves and as you gain new ranges of motion through mobility work – you need to try more complex movements, or challenge your body in different ways. We can do that by increasing the volume or the load, increasing range of motion among a variety of other progressions.

Here’s the thing though, it isn’t just about time and focus, you must be learning and adapting to new skills or new stressors. If I were to put you in a room with a saxophone, one hour on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for 3 months – just putting in the time wouldn’t do anything for your musical skill. I see this happen all the time with runners.

They think more and more miles, without considering running skills/mechanics or building strength and resilience will lead them to better running. Just do more miles each week and then you’ll run a marathon, just like that! Apply that to the music lesson. No instruction whatsoever. Sit in a room and play more and more minutes each week. At the end of 3 months you’ll have a full set of music ready to show off to your friends. I don’t think so…

The message here is simple. Take more of a long-term approach to your training. What are you going to look/feel/be able to do in 3 years from now? What about 10 years from now? How good could you get at playing guitar if you practice intensely for 3 hours a week for 10 years?


Like learning an instrument

Stop Punishing Yourself

All week my social media has been flooded with infographics explaining, if you had 3 slices of pie at Thanksgiving, you’ll need to do 300 burpees or 37.5 minutes on a stationary bike to burn it off.

I’m no metabolism expert, but I think our bodies are a little more complex than that…

The root issue of this isn’t Thanksgiving, by the way. It’s the mindset about exercise and about fitness being punishment. The negative association with working out is why it’s so hard for  people to start or stick with it.

For some of you, maybe punishing yourself is a good motivator. If it is, that’s awesome. How long can it be a motivator for you though? Probably not forever.

After my college hockey days I had a really hard time, like many former athletes, figuring out why I was training, or what I was training for. It took me a long time, but after a few years I finally realized that I wanted to workout to take care of myself. I want to feel good, be strong, have a lot of gas in the tank and be able to move fluidly.

Exercise was no longer something I had to, but something that I wanted to do. My mindset shifted to view exercise and moving as a way to take care of my body and mind, not as a way to punish it for poor eating choices.

You can apply this same logic to your food choices too. Having a salad for lunch instead of McDonalds isn’t punishment because it’s a not as tasty, boring, healthy choice, but because it’s the choice that helps you take care of your body.

If you focus on taking care of yourself, lots of good stuff can happen.




Stop Punishing Yourself

Upcoming ‘Hip Hinge 101’ Workshop at GAIN

I just want to fill you in on something that I am really excited for. On August 21st, we are hosting Matt Ibrahim’s and Zak Gabor’s ‘Hip Hinge 101 Workshop.’ 

Matt and I were introduced through a mutual friend whom he met at a powerlifting meet. I had been a long time follower of his on Instagram, so when he asked if they could host at GAIN, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. 


Matthew Ibrahim is a strength and conditioning coach, licensed massage therapist, physical therapy rehabilitation coach, writer, speaker, and founder of Movement Resilience, a blog geared toward enhancing the fields of human movement and athletic performance. His work has been featured in Breaking Muscle, the CrossFit Journal, Juggernaut Training Systems, Lifehacker, ReebokONE, Sports Rehab Expert, STACK, and The Personal Trainer Development Center.

In his current practice at Boston Physical Therapy & Wellness in Medford, MA, Matthew continues to focus on performance-based training and manual therapy with an emphasis on improving the health of his athletes and clients both from a strength and conditioning standpoint and soft tissue management standpoint. He is also a sports medicine provider for Clinical Athlete, a global database designed to help connect athletes and weightlifters with healthcare practitioners.

Matthew’s clients have included professional athletes (NBA, NFL, NHL), competitive Powerlifting and Olympic Weightlifting athletes, CrossFit athletes, competitive age-division endurance athletes (marathoners and triathletes), collegiate-level sports programs, and high school athletes.

He teaches the educational Hip Hinge 101 Workshop alongside his colleague, Dr. Zak Gabor, and has been a guest speaker at EXOS at Google Headquarters, The Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention, the New England Health Racquet & Sportsclub Association annual convention, Tyler English Fitness Systems, Barry’s Bootcamp, Undergraduate Exercise Physiology and Doctorate-level Physical Therapy schools, and corporate wellness programs.


If you want to reserve your spot, click here.

You can read one of Matt’s latest blog posts of Juggernaut Strength, here.

Upcoming ‘Hip Hinge 101’ Workshop at GAIN

Intern Perspective, Part II

The following is our intern, Nate’s 200-hour internship report that he had to hand into to his professor for credits. I think Nate does a really nice job here of explaining how we program, select exercises and modify to each individual trainee. -JM

Enter Nate…

Since my first 100 hours my responsibilities have not changed a tremendous amount. I am still coaching clients and taking them through their workouts. I have started writing programs for clients which is a new responsibility for me, however, I am not independently writing them. Justin and I have written programs together with me coming up with a rough draft, and then Justin and I refine it.

The biggest change in my experience at Gain at this point is seeing the progression of exercises that Justin makes with his clients, and simply seeing the progress that the clients have made in these past months. Seeing clients who first started at the beginning of my internship to be where they are now is really a profound realization because what they have gone through is completely life changing.

This has definitely reinvigorated my love for this field because the change these people go through after starting with Gain is so incredibly amazing and inspiring that you can’t help but feel good about what you do.

This internship has taught me that not everything has to be perfect, and that standards to adhere to are a waste of time because what works for one person may not work for another. And when working with the general population that realization that everyone is different and requires different and specialized attention is imperative.

One flaw I learned about this summer was that I was under the belief that everything needs to be perfect, and everything has to be a certain way whereas now I know that neither of those are true. Some movements take time and throwing a million cues at a client will cause nothing but confusion. If a client only goes halfway down on a bench who cares. Are they hurting themselves? No. Are they feeling the right muscles? Yes. Then it doesn’t matter if it is only half the range of motion; in time they will fully bench, but if it is only the first few weeks it is totally fine if it is not 100% perfect. Movement is not something that magically happens in a day, it is something that takes time and figuring out how things should feel, and how to do them without compromising any muscles or soft tissue.

The typical client at Gain is part of the general population and is 40+ years old. They typically are experiencing pain in some part of their body, and they typically have not worked out in the past 10 years. This type of clientele means that the gym has to have screenings of each client to see where their ability to move is, where they have impingement, and what issues that might have that we have to be aware of. Based off of the assessment a program can be developed that meets the needs of the client. All programs have the same basic set up in terms of three exercises per superset, typically three to four sets of each exercise, and have a warm-up and finisher. Even the movement that is being done each day for the clientele is similar such as day 1 is almost always a squat day, day 2 is a upper body day, and day 3 is a hip hinge day.

What exercises that each client does is vastly different from one another which makes the program extremely variable meaning the template that Gain uses suites most anyone. For example, someone may be doing a barbell back squat on day 1 while someone else is doing a bodyweight box squat with half range of motion. Or on day 2 someone might be barbell bench pressing while someone else is doing a dumbbell floor press. The programming has to be able to cater to the needs of the individual. We all as humans need the same fundamental movement patterns, however, we are all at different stage of mastering that pattern meaning that we have to train that pattern differently in accordance to our skill set in order to progress. If I were doing half range of motion box squats I would get very little out of the exercise because I can already do a deep squat, but for someone who is still at the foundation stage of learning a movement that half range of motion box squat is exactly what they need in order to reach that next check point so that they can keep progressing.

Because of the skill variability of our clientele the facility has to cater that meaning it needs very basic equipment, but also equipment that can handle a very progressed client. So there is dumbbells ranging from 3 to 120 pounds, there are airdyne bikes, barbells, sleds, ropes, rubber plates, boxes of varying heights, a rower, and a ton of bands. The facility is very minimalistic, but has everything it would ever need. The trick is to get creative with the exercise selection because it allows you to not have a ton of equipment, but still be able to give the client what they need in order to progress.


Intern Perspective, Part II