Taijiquan (or tai chi) can be many things to many people. For some it is an exercise, for some it is a meditation and others it is a form of self defense. However when you continue to practice and reach a higher level of training, the above reasons lose their importance. At this time, you need to find the real meaning of your practice or you may become satisfied with your training and lose your enthusiasm for the art. You must start to wonder what is the meaning of this meditative martial art? Daoist practitioners use tai chi in their strive to become immortal where many non-religious practitioners used tai chi to gain a peaceful mind and reinvigorate their lives.
What you need to understand is that Taijiquan emphasizes meditation both in your stillness and your movement. Practitioners like a Buddhist priest trains himself in this meditation to be calm and concentrated. In your training, it is possible for you to achieve a sense of peace and centeredness that will allow you to judge things and events in a neutral way without any emotional disturbance. When you can truly calm and clear your mind, the spiritual side will start to open up. You’ll start to see things more deeply. As a practitioner’s skill increases, they may be able to sense a person’s intentions before they are expressed and you become more capable at looking deeply into people and events in a non-martial way, as well. In the past, many martial art masters were considered wise man and were consulted for their insight into the meaning of human life this world and the universe. Because of their training they learn to live in the world without confusion or doubt and find peace and happiness and all of this comes through meditation and continuous pondering.
In your practice and meditation, you need to concentrate your whole attention in order to develop the higher levels of the art. This concentration and dedication will carry over to the rest of your life and the strive for perfection becomes the real meaning of Taijiquan.
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Did you know that proper sleep, exercise, and diet can help your memory?
Let’s start with sleep. If you want your brain to function properly, then you need to get a good night’s sleep. This particularly helps in the forming of memories. If you want to be able to remember something better, then rehearsing both during sleep as well as while you’re awake helps you to consolidate those memories more efficiently. There used to be an old myth that you could learn while you’re asleep by listening to lectures or learning CDs while sleeping, but sadly this has been found to be false. Sleep deprivation can severely interfere with the functions of the memory section of your brain the hippocampus. So, typically, those sleep deprived lifestyles tend to have issues with retaining memories.
Exercise can be beneficial to a good memory because of the norepinephrine released during exercise. This neurotransmitter plays a huge role in the formation of memories. This doesn’t mean that you have to spend hours at the gym exercising. Even short exercise programs have been shown to help improve memory.
Now, on to your diet. Diets high in DHA particularly fish such as salmon tuna and swordfish which happened to be high in omega-3 fatty acids are actually good brain food. So not only are those omega-3‘s good for your cholesterol but they also help memory cells communicate better resulting in better memory function. Other good foods that can help with memory or things like flaxseed, walnuts, soybeans, and naturally raised beef products.
So if you want to maintain that healthy memory into those later years, then it may be time to sleep right, get your exercise, and eat right.
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Quest Fitness is growing! Because of this we are moving from a 300 sq. ft. space to a 1600 sq. ft. space! But, don’t worry we are not going far. We signed the lease and now we have some modifications to do. What does this mean for you? Well, we will have more classes including a new yoga class, another trainer (to be announced soon) more equipment (however, still sticking with the minimalist approach), a changing room, and multiple restrooms. The main focus will still be quality one-on-one personal training. Finally, I have to say this is all possible because of the Quest Fitness members. I look forward to continuing to work with you all and offering more services.
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So after a lot of uncertainty, I decided to bite the bullet and attend the first Boston PCC (Progressive Calisthenics Certification). I will admit I had no idea what to expect out of this 3 day, 8 hour a day workshop. First day in Boston I, of course, had to see the sites, because, hell! There is a ton of history here!
Day One of the PCC was a lot of push-ups and pull-up progressions showing how to advance from a beginner to advanced. I even managed to get my first one arm pull-up! After lunch we moved on to human flag progressions. Yup, you read that correctly. So, it was amazing to see how strong everyone was through all those progressions. We finished the day working on the mighty muscle-up. Yeah, I have been doing them for a while, but they showed me how to make them even more challenging by only using my wrists and going slow.
Even better was seeing all the other people getting their first one! That night I got to go out with some friends from high school that I have not seen in almost 19 years. We had a blast! It was like nothing had changed.
Day Two was all legs and core work. There were a ton of first time moves for everyone! Some getting their first pistol or shrimp squats some getting their first front or back levers, for me, I got my first Meathook and Reverse Grip Back Lever! Even finished the day with a bad ass photo with Al and Danny Kavadlo.
Day Three I got to have breakfast with Danny and Al and just shoot the breeze. In class we went a bit lighter focusing on skills like hand balancing. I was impressed to see everyone’s skill level. They were some truly impressive people! After lunch the pressure was on… we had to test for our certification. When my name came up, my heart jumped up into my throat despite practicing this test over and over for the last few months. But I nailed it! After all was said and done, there were hugs all around. We were all like family in the end. I truly hope to stay in touch with my new calisthenics family.
Now, as the only Dragon Door certified calisthenics trainer in Michigan, I can’t wait to pass on all I have learned this long vacation!
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So many people tell me they can’t do push-ups, but that simply isn’t true! Now, before I continue, I just want to say that there is nothing wrong with lifting weights if that is what you like to do. I, myself, use to lift, but I just found calisthenics to be more enjoyable for me. You have to do what you enjoy in fitness. Now with that out of the way, here is why I love push-ups.
Push-ups, if done correctly, is a full body exercise. It doesn’t just hit the chest, but also the shoulders, triceps, front and back of the core, back and legs for stability. Sadly, not a lot of people use them, and the ones that do don’t always use them properly. Hand placement and body position are key to the proper movement. To help people both regress and progress their push-ups, I have put together a video tutorial to help. Granted, this shows you just the basics; it doesn’t lay out rep counts or tempo to fully progress in a workout. That is best left to meeting one on one with a trainer to build a program that fits your fitness needs. After all, we all progress differently.
As always, Quest Fitness is here to help. In person and video training programs are available. Now, let’s hit those push-ups!
You can find the full video tutorial here.
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1. So what made you decide you wanted to try The 6 day Calisthenics Challenge?
Amanda: Ray offered the challenge and insisted I wouldn’t die, so I wanted to see if I would be able to complete it. After training with Ray for almost a year, I wanted to see how far I could push myself, and also see how far I have come.
2. Did you have many concerns about going through with it?
Amanda: I was afraid I would be too tired/sore/worn out to actually complete all 6 days. Honestly, I was terrified that like 2 days in I would be too sore to even get out of bed. This was by far the most rigorous and demanding workout I have ever done.
3. What day would you say was the most challenging and what day did you enjoy the most?
Amanda: The most challenging day was leg day, by far. I have a love/hate relationship with leg day. It was absolutely exhausting, but the feeling of satisfaction and achievement when you finish and realize how many squats and lunges you cranked out in one session is awesome.
As far as most fun, I loved the cardio day. Speed ladders and boxing in intervals was a blast and the workout went really quickly.
4. If you did it all again what, if anything, would you change?
Amanda: I would eat better during the challenge. Clean eating is one of my personal challenges that I struggle with. I could tell on the days where I had slacked off and eaten junk food that I had less energy and that the workouts were harder to complete. I would probably do more at home stretching too, in between workouts, to help with muscle soreness.
5. Do you have any advice for the people out there considering giving the calisthenics challenge a try?
Amanda: Just try it. It is hard, and it does hurt, but satisfaction afterwards is more than worth it. Now I get to say I kept up with Ray for a whole week. And anyone that has met or trained with Ray knows that’s a hell of an accomplishment. (Also, you might accidentally get a six pack, which I look at as a positive)
Sending out a fitness challenge to all my fitness friends and family! The challenge is come workout with me doing my routines for 6 days straight. All of it is calisthenics. Amanda was the first to survive the “Z Fitness Challenge”. Who’s next? The fee is only $125 for 6 days. If you make it all 6 days you get $25 back.
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The human body has 3 metabolic energy systems:
All physical activity requires energy and that energy comes from burning phosphates, ATP (adenosine triphosphate) and converting it to ADP (adenosine diphosphate).
It is during short term intense activities that this conversion happens. Once the ATP has converted to ADP the body draws Creatine phosphate from the deep skeletal muscles to replace the used phosphate. No carbohydrates or fats are used in this process and since oxygen is not used in this it is anaerobic. This energy source usually only lasts up to 10-seconds, also there is a limited amount of ATP and Creatine phosphate so fatigue sets in quick.
Now for the Glycolytic energy system. This system produces energy for 30 seconds to 2 minutes. This system refuels your ATP by converting sugars in the system (gained from carbohydrates) to energy. Not a lot of energy is given off with this conversion but you do get the energy faster.
The Aerobic system tends to be the most complex, and is dependent on oxygen. The metabolic reaction to oxygen in the system is what creates the largest supply of energy in the body. On the flip side to this is the slowest method of refueling your ATP. It is the aerobic system that will also break down the fats as fuel. This is a long and complex system and will be fully covered in later posts.
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Want to see how I’ve progress? My Fitness Journey.