Category Archives: Fitness & Health

Good Advice or Bullying?

I have relatives who live back in Wisconsin, so I read about this story yesterday.  I almost posted it last night, but I knew the story was going to go national today.  I thought it would be interesting to see how the reactions to this story here in Northern California differed from those back in the Midwest.  It certainly was revealing.

Here’s the link to the original story:  I went through several pages of comments and the support for her was almost universal.  That may be partly because many of them are familiar with her work and feel like they know her.  But without a doubt the  pervasive sentiment seems to be that it’s perfectly fine to be overweight and it’s nothing to worry about.

I figured the opinions around here would be a little bit more varied, and I wasn’t disappointed.  The comment section at SF Gate (always a bit unruly) certainly didn’t let her off nearly as easily:  While there was still plenty of support, there seemed to be about as many critical comments as positive ones.  It seems we Californians aren’t quite as willing to overlook a few extra pounds as the folks in the Midwest.

One of the most thought-provoking arguments went something like this.  There’s strong evidence that society is influenced by what they see on television.  That’s why images people smoking and advertising for hard alcohol have been scrubbed from the screen during family viewing hours.  So if being obese has the same negative health risks why shouldn’t it be treated the same way?  If you’re willing to accept an obese news anchor, would you be equally OK if the weatherman was shown smoking while he gave his report?


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Filed under Fitness & Health, Weight Loss


January in August?

It’s no secret that New Years is a busy time in the fitness industry, or that late summer, when people are outdoors more and off on vacation is typically fairly quiet.  So we were blown away by the number of new members who joined HealthQuest during the month of August.  Enrollment fees were up 262% over last year, and it was the busiest month for new memberships that we’ve ever recorded!

So how did this happen?  We haven’t done any advertising, no grand re-opening announcements, nothing at all.  All the credit has to go to our great marketing team, our members!  You’re out there spreading the word, bringing in your friends and family, and sharing with others all the things that we’ve done to remake HealthQuest into a better place.  It’s both rewarding and humbling to have so many fans out there excited about what we’re doing!

While we’re very pleased with the direction the Club is headed and the response it’s drawn from the community, we still have a long list of additions and upgrades planned for the future.  Just like a fitness regimen, there can be no standing still… if you’re not moving forward it means you’re falling behind.  With that in mind I’d like to announce a short list of improvements that you’ll be seeing in the near future.

The biggest one will be the resurfacing of the swimming pool deck.  While this is primarily just a cosmetic and safety upgrade, it is one that is overdue.  The pool area needs to be closed for a week to perform this work, so we had hoped to do it back in the winter of 2010 when we had the pools shut down during our remodeling.  But the product doesn’t perform well in cool weather so we had to delay it.  In 2011 we were still doing work in the locker rooms so we missed another year.  So now the time has come, and the area around both pools will be closed from Sept. 10-16th.

Another improvement for the outside of the building that is scheduled to arrive soon is some playground equipment for our child care area.  We have a structure being custom fabricated by Recreation Creations for the bark area, and while we don’t have a ton of room out there, it will have a mix of play components for the kids to climb on and to work on balance and strength.

42 inches…about the same height as our front counter!

For the big kids in our functional training area we will be bringing in a pair of Armor-Plyo-Boxes.  At 36″ and 42″ these will only be used by our most athletic jumpers, but it’s something that they sorely need.  If you’ve ever seen them stacking boxes or bumper plate on top of other boxes you know it looks like they’re risking their lives.  These new boxes are solid, sturdy, and infinitely safer than anything else on the market.  A missed jump will still tear your shins up, but at least catastrophic failure is no longer in the cards!

Something just about everyone should enjoy is some new mats for out stretch/ab area upstairs.  We’ve had less than great success with the previous mats we’ve used up there, so we’re trying out a couple of new ones.  Our aim is to find something that is comfortable, long-lasting, and easy to keep clean.  You’d think that would be easy but for some reason it always seems to be a struggle.  There will both a regular mat and a thick mat; try them out and let us know what you think.

A few other odds and ends…we’ll be installing roller blinds in the Cycle Studio and on the cardio deck over the front entrance to cut down on glare.  We have added a few more satellite channels and will be reprogramming all of the TVs on the cardio equipment so that they receive them.   And we’re working on getting wiring into the women’s locker room so that we can install a phone/intercom in there for emergencies.

This is also the time of year when we look at what equipment we’d like to replace or upgrade for the New Year.  So if there’s anything you would like to see please write down your idea and drop it in our suggestion box.  We give all requests serious consideration and try our best to accommodate as many of them as we can.  You’re our marketing department and we want you to be happy!


Filed under Construction, Extreme Fitness, Fitness & Health

An Amazing Success Story

It’s incredible what a powerful tool exercise can be when we have the proper motivation.  When I bumped into Viola one evening I hardly recognized her.  The transformation she had made in a few short months was stunning!    I asked her to share her story…I hope you find it as inspirational as I did:


My name is Viola DeHaro and I have been a member of the gym on and off for the past 20 years.  I can still remember Julie working at the desk and your sons were there at times.  I loved the different classes you offered; back then our favorite was the Step with Beth.  My kids are all grown now and I retired in November 2010.  I was already overweight and gained another 40 pounds after retirement.

I have high blood pressure and chronic kidney disease and an old knee injury that has a way of creeping up every once in a while.  This past September my blood work, which is checked every 3 months, came back positive for diabetes.  The doctor informed me I would have to start taking another pill which would only cause more kidney damage.  I was already taking 3 pills daily to control my BP and 1 pill for cholesterol.  I asked him to let me try to get a handle on my weight problem and I was going to start going to the gym on a regular basis.  So in October I started my journey.

At first I could only do 2-3 minutes on any machine and I was DYING.  I went almost every day for the first 2 months.  I did only cardio and most of it on machines you can sit down on and exercise.  My knee didn’t hurt like on the treadmill.  I now could last 30 minutes on the treadmill.  Hurrah!  I would not leave until I had burned 300 calories working out.  After 6 weeks of exercise and a daily intake of 1200 calories I was no longer a diabetic…I had lost 15 pounds and was back in the pre-diabetic zone. 

After four months of 4-6 workouts a week at your wonderful gym I was having trouble getting my heart rate up.  So after a visit to my Doctor he decided to take me off one of my blood pressure pills.  Hurrah, it worked–I was now able to get my heart rate up.  After six months of this program I had lost 40 pounds and was no longer pre-diabetic and my cholesterol reading had also dropped.  So the doctor took me off another BP pill and the cholesterol pill.

So to make a long story short, since October I have lost 52 pounds and have eliminated 2 BP pills and 1 cholesterol pill.  I was able to accomplish this with really just eating less and exercising.  After losing 40 pounds I started taking classes again.  I really enjoy the Cardio Dance class with Lana and the Baila Beats.  I love how you offer so many options for us older members.

Thank you HealthQuest and Tony for your vision.



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Filed under Fitness & Health, Motivation, Weight Loss

Functional Training-Where the Rubber Hits the Road

With traditional workouts the results of our efforts are easy to measure.  A bodybuilder can throw a tape measure around his bicep; a runner can track time and distance; we can step on a scale or tell if our clothes are fitting differently.  But with functional training we’re using an entirely different criteria to judge whether our workouts have been effective.  It’s all about how our body reacts and deals with real-life stresses.

Those stresses can cover a wide range depending on the individual.  For some it may be as simple as being able to sit or stand for long periods and remain pain-free.  For the “weekend warrior” it means no aches and pains on Monday morning.  The whole idea behind functional training it to have your body prepared for whatever twists and turns life throws at you…whether that’s chasing after your kids or surviving a few hours of manual labor.

In recent years the workouts my wife and I do have shifted to include more and more functional training.  She begins each morning with a long walk with her dog, then follows that up with a trip to the Club in the afternoon.  She loves taking classes and raves about the great workouts she gets in Core Fusion and Power Sculpt.  Lately I’ve been getting most of my exercise at the track, running, doing sprint drills, and finishing up with a few calisthenics.

Recently we put our training programs to the test during a family vacation to British Columbia.  Our two sons, both in their early 20s and very active, wanted to do some day hiking.  I was in charge of planning our excursions, and my goal was to find some treks that would be challenging enough to keep the kids interested but not so tough that mom and dad would be holding them back.  After doing a substantial amount of web surfing I came up with a pair of outings that I thought would fit those parameters.

Up the chains we go!

The first took us up a very steep canyon to a beautiful backcountry waterfall.  The High Falls Creek Trail gained over 2000 feet of elevation, most of it in the first mile.  Many sections had chains and cables attached to the rocks so you could pull your way up and over the rocky outcroppings.   You could venture off the trail a few feet and be treated to some vertigo-inducing drop-offs with nothing for hundreds of feet below you.  There were also views of the Squamish River below us and snow-capped peaks around us,  but the real payoff was the falls.  It  started with a long cascade that tumbled down a narrow slot canyon before roaring over the edge and crashing down into the main canyon far below.

Found it!

Rather than back-tracking back down the cliffs we opted to continue up the canyon for several more miles. Eventually we reached a logging road that switchbacked down the mountain and returned us to our car.  The round-trip added up to about eight miles of hiking, and everyone survived this first excursion with no complaints of being tired or sore.  Score one for functional training!  That gave me confidence that we were going to be able to handle the excursion I had planned for later in the week.

Near the Juan de Fuca trailhead…still smiling because we didn’t know what we were in for!

Our second hike was slated to be on the Juan de Fuca Trail which runs parallel to the Pacific Coast where the mountains meet the sea.  Although there was no net elevation gain, it consisted of a relentless chain of uphills and downhills as you make your way through the many canyons that drain this section of forest.  The section I chose is usually done as an overnight backpacking trip, but I figured that with light packs and an early start we would be able to navigate it’s 16 miles in a day without too much trouble.

Although the forecast called for cloudy skies, our hike began with a steady light rain falling.  Over the past few days we had heard a lot of complaints about how much rain had fallen in June and how little sunshine southern BC had received this spring, but this was the first real evidence of it that we had seen.   We all had waterproof jackets so we decided to trust the forecast and continue on as planned.  It wasn’t cold so a little bit of rain wasn’t going to slow us down!

The scenery was beautiful…through forest, over small streams and log bridges, down onto deserted beaches, back into the woods,  over bigger creeks and suspension bridges, down to tide pools, the views were always changing.  And as we’d hoped the weather gradually improved and the rain ended.  But the one thing that didn’t change and never improved was the mud…the trail was a mess! With all the June rains and the protection of the forest canopy above the trail never had a chance to dry out.

Depending on the topography some sections were in decent shape, and early on a lot of the bad sections had elevated boardwalks going over them.  But as we got further away from the trailhead the boardwalks disappeared, the ascents and descents got steeper, and the mud got deeper.  Our pace slowed.  Every kilometer we’d pass a trail marker and in some of the really bad sections it would take us close to 30 minutes to navigate one of these 1000 meter sections.  The family was not happy and ready to mutiny.  But we had no options…there was no place to bail out and we’d left the car at the other end of the trail.  So forward we pressed.

Our muddy path…the photo gives you an idea how sloppy it was!

Many hours later our tired, muddy clan finally reached the parking lot where our car awaited us.  The last several miles had been rough…nobody was talking or paying attention to the scenery.  We were all in “get me out of this hell-hole” mode.  Although this is one of Vancouver Islands most popular hiking trails, in 16 miles we had passed only one other couple.  I guess everyone else had gotten the memo about the trail conditions!

I would like to say that due to our workout regimens we emerged from this ordeal unscathed–but that would be a lie.  The next day we all had sore calves–and any trip down a set of stairs or steps was sure to produce a chorus of “ouch, ow, ow, ouch, ow, ouch”.  But given the rigours that we’d put ourselves through on that trail, I think we acquitted ourselves pretty darn well.  The soreness only lasted a few days, and I’m sure in another week or two my family will be speaking to me again!

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IT’S HERE!  HealthQuest’s High Intensity Training Boot Camp

Our dynamic team of fitness instructors is taking the training outside this summer.  Classes will meet just a few short blocks away from the Club, at St. John’s Lutheran School.  There participants will be led through a fun and challenging exercise class that’s been designed to get you the quickest results possible.

This new program is an exclusive offering available only to HQ members.  All fitness levels are welcome, but  space is limited.  Class sizes will be kept small so that each participant gets plenty of counseling and direction.  If you’re looking to add something fresh and exciting to your workout routine, this may be just what you need.

We will be offering 2 four-week sessions: June 13th-July 10th and then July 11-August 7th.  Available class times are M,W,F 5:45-6:45am, T,TH 6:15-7:15pm, and Saturday 7:00-8:00am.  You can register to take either two or three classes per week.  Class fees and registration information is available at the front desk at the Club.

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Filed under Cardio Training, Extreme Fitness, Fitness & Health, Motivation

Required Reading

“Physical inactivity is one of the strongest predictors of unsuccessful aging for older adults and is perhaps the root cause of many unnecessary and premature admissions to long-term care.”

If you know anyone who is over the age of 40 and not getting enough exercise, forward them this article: Even More Reasons to Get a Move On.  It outlines the many benefits attributed to physical activity, with statistics about cancer, heart disease, diabetes,  osteoporosis, and dementia. 

Here’s an excellent article from MSNBC titled How to Grow Old Gracefully.  Take a look at the number of adults in the U.S. that are living with chronic diseases and disabilities.   That should be enough to wake a few people up!

We won’t convince them all, but hopefully we can nudge a few to become more active.

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Dumbbells Make You Smarter

We already knew that weight training was great for building bone density and halting muscle loss.  But new research suggests that it also improves brain function.  What’s really interesting is that it seems other forms of physical activity do not to have the same effect on the brain.

In a study conducted in British Columbia, 155 women between the ages of 65 and 75 were divided into three groups.  One group exercised once per week with dumbbells and weight machines, a second group did this weightlifting routine twice per week, and a control group did a balance and toning workout twice per week.

After 12 months the women were given tests that measured executive cognitive function (the ability to make decisions, resolve conflicts, and focus on subjects without being distracted).  The control group, despite their twice weekly workouts, experienced a slight decline, 0.5%, while both weightlifting groups showed a significant improvement.  The group working out once per week  increased their scores by 10.9%, while the twice-per-week lifters showed a 12.6% improvement.

Evidently lifting those weights builds more than just muscle and bone, it also leads to better brain health.  Make sure your exercise routine includes some strength training, and that you’re pumping  iron at least once per week.

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Filed under Fitness & Health, Fitness Strength