Jillian Murphy Personal Training

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For those that like to know.....?

Tis the Season!

December 6, 2018

Click on the picture to be redirected to a helpful article on ways to keep your holiday eating on track!

Low Level Cardio

December 8, 2018

A fantastic way to get recovery cardio into your exercise routine, is to go on an easy hike in the great outdoors. Spend about an hour of your time enjoying the beauty that nature has to offer. If you own a dog, all the more reason to get out there! If you don't have a dog, but have friends that do, encourage them to go along with you. Everybody wins! Low intensity cardio hikes improve your basic endurance and your body's ability to burn fat during exercise. Your goal would be to maintain a range of 60-70% of your HR Max for at least an hour. If you are using it as a recovery session only, keep your effort to a level of 50-60% of your HR Max. Easy hikes and trail walks help to improve joint movement and range of motion, balance, and proprioception. Improved movement capacity can translate into a decrease in pain. It provides mental stimulation while reducing stress. If you live in the Morgantown area, I encourage you to visit one of the many easy hiking areas that we have available to us. This particular spot is a view of the reservoir loop at the WV Botanic Gardens, located off of Tyrone Road. Be adventurous like Nunu, get fit mentally and physically by enjoying nature!

Why personal training with Symmetry Fitness?

December 15,2018

     Personal Trainers are specialists in exercise and fitness. A reputable trainer can help you to safely navigate the world of fitness if you are unfamiliar with the "Why's" behind training.

It is well known that many of our current health problems can be attributed to poor nutrition and a lack of exercise. It use to be that personal training was a luxury for those that could afford it, so accessing a knowledgeable person to help you get healthier was significantly limited by income. Physicians will tell you that you need to lose weight and exercise more, but they stop short of being able to tell you HOW to do that.

     Fast forward to the world we live in now, whereby, we have the wonderful world of social media and electronics that can bring the same training to you in an affordable manner. But, buyer beware! Not all trainers or training plans are created equal. The truth is, it is not difficult to become certified in training. There are a number of disreputable companies that offer certifications that require little to no proof of understanding and knowledge of the field, before handing over a certification. There are thousands of people online that set-up shop, with no training, certifications or experience, and sell packages to people to make a quick buck, with little regard for the safety and well being of the client.

Research a trainers type of certifications, training style, education, and most importantly, their real time experience working one to one with clients. 

      Although it is easy to get certified , it is difficult to make a career out of it. Trainers that are in it for the long haul, can do so because they have an incredible work ethic, have spent years honing their craft, and continue to expand their education and stay updated on the latest research. They are willing to learn, and are willing to change and adapt as they move forward with their career. They also have hands on clientele with results and testimonials that showcase their abilities. Be wary of an individual that only sells online programming, but has no experience actually working with people 1-1. 

      It is in the 1-1 environment where a trainer truly begins to learn about safe training practices and what day to day people are truly capable of doing, and the best way to progress exercises. Experience from a wide variety of clientele is the most valuable learning process for a trainer to hone their craft and be able to produce results. Its all about real time experience.  A personal trainers job is to improve the health and wellness of their clients for the long term. It also takes time, patience, and commitment on the part of the client. 

     My training programs have been built upon years of experience working directly with clients from backgrounds and age groups that cover a wide spectrum. That experience has allowed me to discover what works, and what doesn't. Hands on experience lends to learning the best techniques and exercises to progress people with from the beginning. The best way to explain movements so that even the most novice or exercise challenged individual can understand. I do not offer quick fixes. I expect the client to be realistic about the amount of work, time, and effort it takes to make long lasting changes.

     I was hesitant for a long time to offer up online training because of how particular I am about assessing and working with clients. My clients joke about how particular I am about movements, but I say to that, "why do it, unless you are going to do it right?". Results are a reflection of the execution of a task, so how you choose to do anything in life matters. I want to be able to offer my services and experience to more people, but I want to make sure it is done right.

     The Symmetry Fitness app provides a way for me to provide quality programming, with explanations and videos, so that the user can see and understand how to perform the movements. Although it is not the same as working with me in person, I feel confident that it offers the next best option. 


What is the deal with all this stability nonsense?

December 17, 2018

Stabilization Endurance

What does stabilization training look like?

     Stabilization endurance training's primary focus or goals are for improving:

  • • Muscular imbalances that could be compromising joint stability or range of motion (ROM)
  • • Stabilization of your midline/trunk musculature commonly referred to as your “core”.
  • • Proper preparation and progression of the load placed on your muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints. It’s important to prepare and maintain the integrity of your body tissues before you increase the demands of your training with heavier weight, increased speed, or power.
  • • Improve the fitness of your heart and vascular system to be able to handle the increased demands of higher-level exercising
  • • Learn and establish proper movement patterns and exercise techniques
  • • And of course, my motto, “Train the Brain to Train the Body. Move with Intent.” We want to prepare and condition your neuromuscular system.

How do we do this?

     These goals are accomplished through low-intensity, high repetition training that is properly progressed over the course of 4-6 weeks to challenge the body’s proprioception, joint stabilization system, midline stability, and cardiovascular system. Every workout begins with a warmup, moves on to midline and balance work, transitions into the resistance or “weight training” portion of the workout, followed by specific cardio training (that could be potentially completed on another day if necessary), and finishing up with a cool down.

     We want to increase muscular endurance and stability while simultaneously developing optimal neuromuscular efficiency. We increase the difficulty by challenging your balance and stabilization systems, rather than the typical route of increasing the load.

     We begin with an exercise that slightly challenges your stability system. Once you can perform that well, it is progressed the movement in a way that challenges your stability system further, and continue to increase with the difficulty in this manner. Once we have built a nice stable base, we can begin to build on top of it, keeping in mind that we perform maintenance on the base from time to time so that it can continue to safely hold the weight that comes from other types of training.

Why do we do it this way?

     Progressing the same movement by challenging the stability, requires increased activation and input from both your nervous system, and the muscular systems surrounding the joints and structures that are involved with the movement. Everything must work together at a higher level to maintain optimal posture to produce efficient and powerful results. When you are unstable, you are weak.

  • • It will improve muscular endurance
  • • Create optimal joint stability and mobility through the ability to actively control your range of motion. Flexibility without control is dangerous and an avenue for injuries.
  • • Stabilization training increases your ability to be able to control the wide range of postures that are needed for everyday movement in life.
  • • Increase your ability to “Train the Brain to Train the Body”. Our neuromuscular systems ability to communicate messages throughout our body dictates our balance, how well our muscles coordinate, and system wide stabilization.
  • • The more efficient our neuromuscular system is, the more control we have over these variables. More control in turn produces better movement. It’s not just a use or lose it situation, but also how we use it. Intent matters.

For these reasons, it is important for you as a consumer to carefully consider how you train your body, and the way you progress that training. All training is not created equal. The “What, How and Why?” cannot be emphasized enough. This, is why I choose to work with clients in the manner that I do. This, is what dictates my training philosophy. 

Exercise and Mental Health: The Connection

May 25, 2019

 What we do at Symmetry Fitness: utilize personal training + health/behavioral coaching programs specific to the mental health population to work with and enhance the traditional therapy process. Thank goodness Dr. Wakim from GRW Health was on board and agreed with my dream to pair health coaching, nutrition and fitness with the traditional model of mental health treatment. He is very progressive that way. 

 The realization of the importance of this combination really hit home for me back in 2001 as an undergrad in Psychology while simultaneously attempting to recover and rehabilitate from a motor cycle accident. No stranger to struggling through years of major depression and panic attacks as a teenager, my physical limitations and chronic pain caused a regression. The additional stress of working full time and going to school full time was snuffing out my fire. Life had become dark again.

WVU's  Rec Center became the place that kept me from suffocating and put me back on track. When I was a teen I used running and lifting as a way to keep me afloat, because meds did not work for me. I remembered that and invested my time in fully rehabilitating myself from my accident.  I had been working on my rehabilitation for 10 months at that point, but a final surgery a month before I began school set me back to almost square one.  It can be very mentally daunting when you spent so much time trying to become functional again, only to have it taken away with no guarantee that the results will end up how you want them to be. Or even where they were. Luckily, I am stubbornly independent, so that played to my favor. I just needed to navigate being alone in a new town, college, and working at the same time.

The daily rec center exercise early in the morning helped me to able to study more efficiently for my classes. It started my day out in the best way possible. It boosted my brain chemicals and reduced my pain.  Life and its stressors became much more manageable. Darkness began to fade into dawn with those early morning sessions. Just keep your eye on the prize, Carly.

My self esteem was boosted when I had to have an functional capacity examination for insurance reasons. The physical therapist that was in charge of the exam asked me where/who I had received physical therapy from after we finished up the exam. When I told him that I did it all myself, he about fell over. He proceeded to tell me that when he reviewed my history prior to meeting him, he expected my left side of my body to be very dysfunctional, especially my arm and ankle. He was astounded at the amount ROM, function, strength, and endurance I had. "You, are not what I expected." I told him I was too poor for PT, but I despise needing help, so I focused on natural everyday movement to rehab myself. What can I use in my environment to fix myself? What doesn't work on me and why? Use the why to create a plan. 

I explained I blackmailed my surgeon into letting me go back to work relatively early after my release from the hospital.  I had bills to pay, so I told him I had to. I had no choice. If he didn't okay it and give me a note for light duty, I would be going back regardless but at full duty. Hahaha... I got my note. When I had to get the last surgery on my arm and start over, I just followed what I did the first time around, and then added in additional work for the rest of my body.  The physical therapist asked me what my discipline at  WVU was, and I replied psychology. He said I should consider switching degrees to exercise physiology and to go to grad school for physical therapy. "You have an understanding and a natural ability that many people in our program will never be able to attain. We can't teach what you have innately." I replied thank you, but my goal was to attend grad school for neuropsychology... lol, neither of those things happened. Maybe I should have listened to him, but then, I wouldn't be where I am today. Armed with knowledge and experience from the realms of physical therapy, exercise, psychology, inpatient mental health, and classroom coaching behavioral modification.

After graduating I started bugging Program Managers and Attending Physicians about the need for physical activity when I worked at an inpatient psychiatric hospital setting in 2005. My pleas fell on deaf ears. It was so frustrating because I knew from a personal level how important it was to just move.  I believed that the brain and body changes that occurred with addiction, could be helped with exercising.  I believed they could recover faster and possibly be less likely to relapse. They needed to heal their whole self! Drugs and alcohol ravaged their brains and their bodies. These people had system wide inflammation, nerve damage, and pain. All things that would make it hard to stay clean and sober.  It wasn't enough to attend meetings, take drugs that helped to decrease cravings and blocked the ability to get high (meds that cause systemic issues and damage as well), and go to traditional therapy.  Proper sleep, nutrition, and exercise needs to be added in. The mind and the body needs to be healthy to be successful. There is no other way. The same goes for the other units I worked on in the hospital. This idea should not just be applied to addictions, but to all mental health. If you keep your body and your mind in the same state that it became unwell in, it will not heal. Why are they so resistant to people exercising? It made no sense to me. I understood why I saw the same people being admitted over and over again. There needed to be a different approach. The established approach did not work. People stayed broken.  I grew frustrated and looked for work elsewhere that would actually be positive for myself and the clients. WVU Medicine had an opening for a behavioral health educator for a medically supervised weight loss program. I applied and got the job. 

A year later the program was moved to a private practice location that housed both a fitness center and a physical medicine rehabilitation practice. I started as the health educator and eventually became the program director. I veered from the standards set for the program by placing the emphasis on behaviors revolving around physical activity, time related activities spent on putting oneself first to decrease stress, proper hydration and sleep. Physical activity was a part of the original program, but its importance and type was moved farther down the hierarchy of need. I knew this was wrong. We need to move to have a healthy mind. A healthy mind that is less stressed will make better decisions regarding their health. A healthier body will house a healthier mind to make healthier decisions. See how the circle works? 

 I created the Horizons Program and paired my weekly classes and the medically supervised program with a group fitness program with a trainer. I worked with the trainer to direct the programming for what my goals were for my clients. Their success in the classroom and life increased substantially with the combination. People that really hated to exercise before, were now looking forward to their classes. In the meantime, I was working towards my certifications in training under the encouragement of the gym manager. With my science background and experience it was a perfect fit. 

 I blended specific ideas regarding movement and exercise assignments, behavioral coaching with stress and anxiety reduction techniques with the existing nutritional component and behavioral modification portion of the program. The truth with nutrition is that the issue is not with knowing what foods are healthier choices to consume, but rather the how. How do I fit good choices into my packed and stressful schedule. How to cook and prepare good choices. When is the best time to eat relative to my schedule? What types of food will work the best with my schedule, and how do I  plan out my days and week to set myself up for success. 

You would be amazed at the number of adults walking around that cannot execute these skills. They simply don't know how, because they've never learned how. They didn't need to because in our society food is not scarce and the ability to obtain said food is not difficult.  The problem is that the common choices at the tips of our fingers are not the good choices. We have to create good choices being available to us.  So, in class we talk, we teach, we problem solve, create a plan, execute the plan and see what happens. All scenarios that result from the plan are useful information. We learn. We adapt as needed. We repeat. We create habits that are more conducive to health. We learn a new skill. Then we work on that skill. The same process occurs for all of the other variables of resilience. 

Resilience is needed for a healthy mind. Becoming resilient is a learned process that is obtained by repeatedly working on behaviors revolving around sleep, nutrition, daily water intake, breathing techniques, state of mind awareness, appropriate exercise training for both the heart and the other muscles, reduction of systemic inflammation, stability and mobility training. It also involves appropriate medical intervention and therapy as needed for the specific problem at hand. It all needs to work together. 

Please click on the following link to read an article that discusses Exercise as a new primary prescription for those with mental health problems.


Series: Power of the "I Am" Statement

June 25th, 2019

Part 1. What type of tenants do you rent your brain space  to?

    When working with my clients, I frequently come across negative self talk and mindsets that significantly hinder their ability to be able to progress relative to their goals. If you follow my Facebook page, I will be posting and discussing on the topic of how treatment resistant depression is related to a number of variables including the internal conversations that we have within our own minds, and the impact is has on our mental and physical health. Check it out and give a comment if you're interested. We are what we think. We become what we think. Sort of a twist on Rene Descartes "I think therefore I am".

    The general gist of the post will be regarding the need to be mindful of how we speak to ourselves on a daily basis. We have more conversations with ourselves, than we do with others. Our brains learn and function via repetition. It’s a "use or lose it" world in that dome of untapped greatness.

    However, it is probably not a "lose it", in the way you think. Yes, the tissue can atrophy, etc, but there is something else that also occurs. Think of your brain as being valuable real estate that you own. Now, you can't sell the real estate, but you can rent it out to whomever you want. The lessee will use that property to conduct their business. For your brain, the currency used to lease space is exposure in the form of repetition.

    So, what does this mean? What you choose to expose your brain the most frequently to (or in some cases forced exposure), becomes the business that rents out the space. Practice in any form makes "possibility" because of the repeated exposure to whatever the stimulus is. As long as the rent continues to be paid (currency = exposure), the lease remains intact. Also, its important to note that the available space for rent is not set in stone like a typical lease. The business can expand the square footage dependent upon how much currency (exposure) they are paying to you the owner. Think of it as a rolling lease for space, that goes to the highest bidder. This means, of course, that the square footage of the leased space can also decrease at any time.

    So, you can lease out space for all things that make up YOUR existence. In general, we do start out with a basic area map in our brains for all of the different senses and functions, but throughout our development the landscape of that map changes based on what we are exposed to, mostly due to the reason above. We are, unfortunately, beholden to exposure in early development based on the decisions of whoever is in charge of raising us at that time. But even that exposure is leased out, so changes can be made later on to a certain degree. Leasing our brain space is how we develop. It's how we've learn how to do everything we are capable of currently doing; and how we develop refined skills for different areas whether it be: playing music, kicking a ball, planning an event, problem solving, speaking in public, fixing cars or fixing a diseased heart or broken bone.

    People do not typically have a hard time relating this to motor movement activities. They can easily see how movement is a skill developed through repetitions. What is often not recognized, is that "thinking" and internal and external auditory input is also a skill developed through repetitions. For the same reason: exposure. Skill is developed through exposure. Skill can be positive or negative. This is why we are what we think, why we become what we think. Exposure. I know some folks that are very skilled at being depressed, anxious, negative, or mean. I know some folks that are very skilled at being happy, calm, positive, or kind. Some who are skilled at being enabled and cannot problem solve around even the most simple road blocks. And others that skillfully produce creative solutions with ease. Each of these examples are skills that exist due to repeated exposure to the necessary components to develop in that area.  

    This doesn’t mean that a person wants to be depressed or anxious. It just means that they have become skilled in that area due to repeated exposure to all the different areas that combine to manifest and maintain depression, anxiety, etc. The disease and disorder is leasing and maintaining all the space via the currency of repeated exposure. This includes areas such as availability and functioning of neurotransmitters, systemic inflammation and immune system, social interaction, sleep habits, nutrition, movement, water intake, etc. Space is eventually rented out to businesses that inexplicably allow and encourage squatters (habits) of the nastiest type to foul up the very property the business is leasing. 

     The good news, is that if you remember from above, leases are rolling. Change the exposure and you can change who the space is leased to. YOU own the real estate. YOU lease out the space by choosing what you are and are not exposed to. When we want to develop new skills, we seek out people that can teach us how to develop the desired skill. YOU will need to seek out help in order to create change.

     Now, negative squatters (destructive habits) can be difficult to deal with when you are trying to get rid of them. Stubborn bastards that in many cases we have become very comfortable with. Familiarity can breed both complacency, and a sense of comfort. Even when you want to make changes, it makes it very difficult to do so. Best way is to bring in the cavalry. Continue to hire more enforcement to stay and pay them well. Build a personal army to protect your property, and choose to rent out the space to businesses that encourage positive squatters (positive and regenerative habits) that will have you consistently exposing yourself to all the different areas that you need, in order to become who you want to be. 

     Given enough exposure continuously, you can crowd out the negative squatters. Build yourself a nice little town up there that you enjoy living in, and provides you with what you need to live in peace. You have to keep up with the positive exposure to keep good tenants. It is a never ending process. Use the space by renting it out to who you want to be or Lose the space by renting it out to something else.

     My next post will discuss the ways we can attract and maintain good tenants in our brain real estate, until then, be mindful of what you are exposing yourself to.