Monday, September 21, 2020

The Importance Of Posture

During quarantine, most people have not given their bodies the correct movement and care. Staying inside for prolonged periods of time can effect your body! Today we are going to be talking about posture. Posture affects us more than we realize. Breathing, fatigue, headaches, wear and tear on the shoulder joint, low back pain, stiffness... I could go on! Having good posture can make or break a Monday (or a quarantine!). The more we consciously adjust our alignment, the more automatic it will eventually become.

Some tips to help you with better posture:

1. Lift your ribcage up and out. While we sit for prolonged periods, our ribcage starts to collapse downward, bringing the upper back into a rounded shape and allowing the shoulders to droop forward. Expand your ribcage, take a deep breath, and feel your shoulders naturally roll back!

2. Draw your chin backward and lengthen the back of your neck. This is a quick way to relieve a headache instantly! Pretend you have a little string attached to the top of your head and it's gently lengthening your spine upward. Staring at screens all day causes us to jut our head forward which reduces the space that our nerves have in the spinal column (not to mention it flattens the cervical curve of the neck that can eventually wear on the spinal joints). By bringing the neck back into alignment, we allow the nerves and blood vessels the room they need to play! 

3. Stretch. Your. Chest! Before you begin your workday (and maybe a few times throughout), try the doorway chest stretch. This will help open up the front of your torso that typically gets tight when we slump over our keyboards for hours on end. Watch this YouTube tutorial

The corny pictures I've attached are from my book, Imagery for Personal Trainers, which you can find here: This Link  Although it is geared towards trainers and teachers, anyone who moves their body can benefit from the practical images throughout the book! Feel free to share it with the gym-goers in your life.

Monday, September 7, 2020

The importance of changing your workout routine

    Oftentimes people who regularly workout will get frustrated because the results they saw in the beginning have come to a halt. The common mistake following this scenario is that the individual will think, “well it worked before, I just have to do the same thing more often.” They may see little to no results from this new strategy, getting more and more frustrated as they go along. They will eventually burn out with no motivation, end up quitting, and say they "tried everything" and that "it’s impossible."

    Being impossible is far from the truth. Think of your body like an adapting machine; your body will adapt accordingly to the stress levels that are placed upon it. The idea of working out is to make your movements challenging and difficult, thus forcing your body to adapt to that movement. When adaptation occurs from your workout periodization, your body will become stronger and more advanced than before. However, as your body adapts, you will eventually find that your workouts are becoming too easy-- so it’s time to switch up and change things!

    If you were to continue to do the same easy workout, your body will plateau and you will cease to see anymore results due to adaptation. A good rule of thumb is every 2-4 weeks you should switch up your workouts by changing the weights, reps, sets, tempo of the rep (time under tension), duration of your workout, or even your exercise selection/groupings. Even when you switch up the weight, reps and sets, the body will still adapt. This is why switching up different exercise selections and muscle groupings is really important! Not only is it important for muscle tissue adaptations, but also to have a positive neurological stimuluses for correct and efficient biomechanical movement patterns. 

    Remember the only way to truly see results and achieve your goals is to challenge yourself safely, get out of your comfort zone, and change things up. This will not only save you time and money, but it will also keep your motivation high through your fitness journey.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Supporting Yourself through a Pandemic......Is it possible? - Here is what Sarah at Tonicity Fit in West Chester has to say.

If you are anything like me, you have had a tough time in 2020.  I am sure you have seen the memes or read the posts making fun of the resolutions that we all made at 12AM on January 1st.  Maybe you planned to start a new routine, lose some weight, eat healthier.  Maybe your goals were bigger and this was your year to shoot for the stars.  Maybe you were going to open that business you always dreamed of, get more into politics, advocate for change, conquer global warming; or, maybe you vowed to work endlessly on your parenting skills (because as parents, we almost never think we are good enough).

Whatever your dreams and aspirations were for 2020, they almost certainly were squashed by this pandemic.  Squashed and possibly killed by an uncontrollable natural disaster that no one could have predicted.  This is where the silly memes and emotional social media posts come in (and yes, I am definitely guilty of some of those posts).  They might seem silly to some, but to others, they are a way to cope.  A way to connect when “social distancing” has become socially pulling ourselves from the human connections that we so desperately need in a crisis. 

With all of that said, I ask you this……have you found yourself feeling “less.”  Are you feeling challenged in ways that you never could have thought were possible?  Maybe you lost your job, or that event you wanted to run was cancelled, your fitness goals were killed because the gym was closed and the world was put on pause.  Are you finding yourself yelling at your children more than you would like to?  Then you throw your hands in the air and say, “so much for working on my parenting skills.  Maybe we are all doomed.” 

Do not get me wrong, I know that there are people who are able to skate through this pandemic with a great deal of style and grace.  For that I commend them.  If this person is you, and you feel like your life is still on track and under control throughout this chaos, I still urge you to take a moment and read my thoughts on the situation.  I think that if this thought process will not help you, then it might be something that will help your friends or family members who cannot cope as well as you.

I have spent a number of years studying growth and development.  Throughout this time, I have learned that we are built with the need and desire for two specific things.  We need to progress and we absolutely, undeniably need human interaction to fuel that progress.  We need support and inspiration to thrive.  Call it spirituality or just plain old brain chemistry.  Whatever the label, we NEED other humans to help us feel whole.  We need friends or family to guide us through the challenging times.  Whether it be physical or emotional contact, it is necessary and something that has been studied for years. Humans need humans to survive.

So, when faced with the challenge of a “socially distanced” pandemic, how the heck do we survive????

Right now, we rely our inner circle AND technology.  Technology has allowed us to find alternative outlets to cope.  For example, right now you might be reading this blog in the hopes that it will give you a small bit of insight into how the heck you can feel better during this time.  Well, since I cannot physically hold your hand and tell you that everything is going to be ok, I have a different piece of advice for you….

Give yourself some GRACE!

Give yourself some credit and try to remember and focus on the accomplishments that you have made in your life.  No matter how small or large, that is your saving grace.  The fact that you HAVE done it, you HAVE gone the extra mile in your life, pandemic or not.  When trauma and stress take over our lives, it is oftentimes difficult to focus on anything strong and productive.  Simultaneously, I am convinced that focus is what we need to get through this.

In her book, How to Stop Feeling like Sh*t: 14 Habits That Are Holding You Back from Happiness, author Andrea Owen suggests an exercise that I think is ingenious when trying to focus on the good despite all of the bad.  Andrea suggests WRITING IT DOWN.  She suggests to make a list of your greatest life accomplishments that you can view and evaluate when things are feeling bad.  Andrea then suggests that we read the list aloud and remove factors that self-sabotage our accomplishments.  Let me give you an example of my before and after list:

Sarah’s Grace Giving List #1:

  1. I built a gym because I was too conflicted on whether or not to get my PhD instead
  2. I got first place in my last bodybuilding competition because I was only being compared to 1 other person, if there were more, I would not have done so well.
  3. I taught a 300 level course in a university because they couldn’t find anyone else to do the job that year
  4. I ran a marathon, but couldn’t actually run the entire way and speed walked to the finish line for the last 5 miles

Now, I am sure that this list seems a little extreme in the area of self-sabotage.  The truth is, I made it that way so I could make a point.  Oftentimes when we are dealing with a stressful circumstance, we tend to find a negative in every positive, even if we do not realize that we are doing it.  Below I have my updated list, and it is something that I am spending a lot of time focusing on while I navigate myself through this pandemic.

Sarah’s Grace Giving List #2 – (updated version)

  2. I got FIRST PLACE in my last bodybuilding competition
  3. I taught a 300 level college course
  4. I ran a marathon and made it all the way to the finish line

Do you see what I did there?  I got rid of the extenuating circumstances of my life and gave myself GRACE.  The fact of the matter is that I did those things, and you did your things too.  I never pretend to have all of the answers, but I do think that we need to spend more time appreciating ourselves before we can recover from this madness.  So, I challenge you to follow through with this exercise.  Give yourself the credit that you deserve.  Carry your list with you and focus on it when you need it most.  Once in a while look at your list and remind yourself, “I can do this, and this is why.” 

One last thing, Andrea Owen also suggests updating your list on an as needed basis.  I think this is an amazing idea, and it also gives us all something to look forward to.  We know this pandemic is not going to last forever.  I personally am waiting for the day that my list will look like this:

Sarah’s Grace Giving List #3 – (the future)

  2. I got FIRST PLACE in my last bodybuilding competition
  3. I taught a 300 level college course
  4. I ran a marathon and made it all the way to the finish line
  5. I Kicked a Pandemic’s ASS


    Owen, Andrea. How to Stop Feeling like Sh*t: 14 Habits That Are Holding You Back from Happiness. Basic Books, 2018.

    About Sarah Ostroski:  

    Sarah is the owner and head trainer at Tonicity Fit Personal training Studio in West Chester.  She has worked as a personal trainer for over 18 years.  She is an American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) nationally certified Exercise Physiologist.  Sarah has a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science from Eastern University and a Master of Science in Integrative Exercise Physiology from Temple University. She is also ACSM Exercise is Medicine Level 2 certified and holds an SCW certification in Nutrition, Hormones and Metabolism.

    To learn more about Sarah, Click Here.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Outside Activities to keep healthy and active during this crazy time - See what Lexi at Tonicity Fit of West Chester has to say!

Staying active doesn't just mean going to the gym or working out once or twice a week. It could mean going for a neighborhood jog or walking to places close to you instead of driving. It could mean taking the stairs instead of the elevator. It could mean playing with your children instead of watching a movie with them. 

One of the best ways to stay active is to go outside. It is very beneficial to connect with nature and to get your body moving EVERYDAY! There are many reasons why going outside is beneficial to your health. Not only are there physical benefits of exercising outside, but mental wellness benefits as well. Going outside for 30 minutes a day increases serotonin levels and decreases cortisol (a hormone often used for a marker for stress). Taking a break from a desk job and going outside can also help with overall concentration. Spending time outdoors has been known to be healing to your brain and body.

If this pandemic has taught me anything, it is to slow down. I don't know about you, but trying to fit in exercise with a full-time job and still have family time is a struggle! I have personally learned to slow down by reconnecting with nature. Many parents often tell their high energy children to go outside-- so why don’t we do the same for ourselves? Going outside has limitless possibilities for creativity. Whether it's creating a new game, discovering a new plant or bug, finding a new fun form of entertainment or exercise, we need to remind ourselves as adults to go outside and play!

One way in which you can reap the benefits of exercising outside is to attend an outdoor workout class. Here at Tonicity Fit LLC, we offer great outdoor workout sessions! (All of these classes and their descriptions can be found on Zen Planner.) Our outdoor sessions include Outdoor Cardio Condition, Outdoor Body Attack, and Outdoor Body Combat. All of the classes incorporate HIIT to get your heart rate moving while enjoying the outdoors. Whether you are a nature lover or stuck inside at a desk all day, our outdoor classes are an amazing way to stay fit!

As an addition to our outdoor classes, there are many different places in and around West Chester that offer different activities such as riding bikes, swimming, kayaking, hiking, running, fishing, and so much more. Get fit, get sunshine, and support local businesses! 

Make the active choice this week to spend more time outside whether it's by yourself, with friends, family, or pets! Below are some great additional resources about the benefits of being outside: 

Enjoy your week and remember to ~Breathe~


Monday, July 27, 2020

Plant-based or Meat-eater? - What does Katie at Tonicity Fit of West Chester have to say???

Most Americans consider meat as a staple in their diets. However over the past few years the idea of removing meat from your diet has been on the forefront of popularity. At the same rate, some say that a balanced diet of meat and plant foods is the way to go.
Since the day you started eating solid foods, you probably started eating meat as well. You also probably learned about the food pyramid or food plate diagram in school, representative of what a healthy, balanced diet should look like— both of which include meat. 
Even the DGA (Dietary Guidelines for Americans) in their “2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans,” talk about the importance of a balanced diet of both meant and plant foods. The DGA emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk, milk products, lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts as important components in a healthy eating plan.
If we have been eating meat and animal products for as long as we can remember, why stop now?
Though the notion of switching to a plant-based or vegan diet has been seen as “trendy,” there is truth behind the trend. As of recently, the World Health Organization has classified bacon and sausage as carcinogenic to humans. In fact, one serving of any processed meat per day increases risk of developing diabetes by 51%. According to Dr. Michael Greger’s book, “Dead Meat Bacteria Endotoxin,” the moment you consume meat, your arteries immediately experience inflammation, stiffening, and paralyzation.
Not only meat, but other animal products that have been a part of the American Standard Diet have demonstrated to be unhealthy as well. For an example, as stated in the documentary What The Health, eating one egg per day does as much damage to your life expectancy as smoking five cigarettes per day!

So why have you been told that these things are healthy? Why are these things still being sold at the grocery store?
The documentary What The Health? on Netflix is a great place to start. From “the help of medical doctors, researchers, and consumer advocates, What the Health claims to expose what they refer to as the collusion and corruption in government and big business that is costing us trillions of healthcare dollars, and keeping us sick” ( 
Whether you are a meat eater or not, the options for diet are forever being challenged and expanded. Below is one of my tried-and-true, favorite plant-based recipes that even die-hard meat eaters can enjoy and love! Eat it as is, or feel free to add cheese or meat to it.

About Katie:  

Katie Youngs is an outgoing West Chester graduate who is passionate about personal health and wellness. Through the mind-body-energy connection, she is active in pursuing what it means to lead a balanced and well-rounded lifestyle.Outside of work Katie likes to spend a lot of time in nature whether it be meditating or hiking. She is also an artist who loves to draw and paint. You can find her reading a novel, doing yoga, or cooking plant-based recipes for her and her boyfriend.

To learn more about Katie, Click Here.