Monthly Archives: January 2013

Jan 26

Disabled Athletes in Schools: Dept of Educations Ruling

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Pic of an athlete with disabilities

Everyone has a right to compete. Does everyone have a right to play sports at school?

The Department of Education has stated that schools must provide opportunities for students with disabilities to participate in school sports programs. This includes intramural type sports as well as extracurricular teams.

As I ponder what this means, I’m struck by two positive thoughts:

1. This could be as revolutionary for students with disabilities as Title IX was for women’s sports.

2. This is right up my alley as an adapted PE teacher and coach. What can I do to help parents, schools and kids get the full benefit of my knowledge and experience?

Of course, I also think of the problems and questions this brings up. For instance, what qualifies as a disability? If I’m overweight and not a good basketball player does it mean I have a right to be on the team. Does it end cutting of kids from teams (maybe not a bad idea)?

How much is it going to cost? It might take more equipment, coaches and training to make facilities and resources appropriate for disabled athletes.

Will schools have to end their programs? A lot of smaller men’s programs ended when Title IX started because the numbers had to be equal.

Also, most of the schools do a pretty poor job of servicing their disabled students for PE…how are they going to do it for extracurricular sports programs?

(On  a side not, most schools PE programs are underfunded. They are required to have a minimum number of hours but most don’t come close. That’s another story.)

What ever happens, I think this is going to have some large impacts on our schools, our sports, and maybe for Athletic Skills for Kids.

Jan 25

The Best Sports for Kids: Part 3 of 3

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

image of swimmer

Swimming is a popular youth sport.

Ideally, youth sports should be an addition to healthy active and natural play for a kid. I’ve found that more and more kids are getting less and less physical activity. So to make up for it, parents put their kids into organized youth sports.

Realize that organized youth sports are going to take a commitment of some type; mostly time and money. Also, be aware that 75% of kids quit sports at thirteen. And I bet it’s up to 85 or 90% by time they are seventeen. So youth sports are not the complete answer, but they do help. And it can be a lot of fun for kids.

Team Sports: The big youth team sports are soccer and swimming. There are a lot of ways to get involved at various skill levels. You can get started as a beginner or not very athletic and have some fun and learn some skills.

image of youth soccer player kicking ball

It takes a lot of work to develop elite level soccer skills.

For soccer, many of the coaches at the recreational level will be volunteers. They receive minimal training but the organizations do a good job of assisting and setting up developmentally appropriate goals and rules. At the top and elite levels, many of the coaches will be full time coaches and be very knowledgeable about the sport. They might not be so knowledgeable about making the best decisions for your child.

Swimming too, has a lot of different levels of coaching. There are the country club and Y level teams which are geared more for summer and instruction. Then there are the US Swimming teams which go year round and try to get kids to swim in the upper levels including college and even the Olympics.

Obviously, to be good it takes skill and dedication to reach the top levels for swimming and soccer. Many kids will have private coaching and even their own strength coaches (I recommend it, if it’s appropriate).

But for beginning kids and recreational athletes both sports provide an excellent entry into team sports. Swimming might be a bit better for kids that are overweight because they can have more success. Another aspect that swimming has for the less athletic child is that it is more self-directed and goal oriented. Soccer is entirely a team sport and the success of the team depends on everyone being at a certain level.

In swimming, you swim your own event and except for relays you’re on your own. You can measure your improvement easily by watching your times drop.

Another advantage swimming might have is that you’re unlikely to get cut from a high school team. Soccer is more competitive and most teams will cut. Only the most competitive high schools cut. And if you have any experience at all, you’ll find more success at high school then you will as a club or year round swimmer.

Looks like I missed a lot of sports. I guess I’ll have to continue this in another blog post.

Jan 24

The Best Sport for Kids. Part 2 of 3

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

image of two youth athletes

Which one do I choose?

There are many reasons for parents to put their kids into sports. And the reasons will help decide which sports are right for you and your family.

And besides considering what sport you put your child in, you should be thinking about what type of commitment you want to make to the sport.

Because the commitment can will be both money and time. Some sports are less expensive than others. Some sports require less time from the kids, some require more time for the parents.

If you’re child is under eight, this probably isn’t something you’re thinking about. But it should be. Because once they get to be nine, things can get pretty serious in competition, time and money.

Here are some reasons you might be considering putting your child into youth sports…

  1. You did the sport as a kid and want them to get the same enjoyment out of it that you did. This is a great reason, but be careful. If they don’t like the sport, be prepared to change. After all, it is there sport…not yours.
  2. You want them to be more fit. Sadly, a lot of kids don’t get the exercise they need during the day and youth sports can provide that opportunity. Know that some sports are better than others for fitness. Also, know that a lot depends on the coaching. And some kids might come into the sport being so under athletic that they won’t get the fitness they need because they can’t do it.
  3. They need to be kept busy. This is a common one and one that I used with my son. Because he couldn’t get out and play with his peers and I didn’t have the energy (or think it was 100% appropriate), I put him into organized sports. This worked to some extent, though he didn’t get great coaching and thus never learned to be very good at the sport.
  4. Their friends are doing it. This is a great reason, and it decides the sport for you. But look into what type and how much of a commitment you’re going to need to do. Fundraising, practice times, competitions and private training are all part of many youth sports teams.

  5. Their body type and personality. Let’s face it. If they are small and overweight, they will not have much success playing basketball. If they don’t like to run, then soccer is probably not going to be for them. If they are creative and love to show off, then a sport like ice skating or dancing might be best.

Keep these thoughts in mind as you consider which sport or sports to participate in. Personally, I think kids should do a multitude of sports and then make a decision on which one to specialize (if any) when they are about 14.

The next post will be about specific sports and some of the pluses and minuses of them from the kids and parents standpoints.

Jan 22

What’s the Best Sport for Kids? Part 1 of 3

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Image of kids playing basketball

Basketball is an excellent kids sport for either organized or street.

Spring will be starting soon and parents of young kids will be looking to put their kids on sports teams. Some will play a sport because their father (or mother) did. Others will be on a team because all their friends are playing the same sport.

But many will be on a sport because parents are looking for something healthy and fit for their kids to do.

Or they might just be looking for something to keep the kids busy. (I know I’ve done that one).

But what are the best sports for kids to get into? Is it soccer because it’s relatively injury free? (It isn’t. Knees, especially for girls are very vulnerable.)

Or perhaps it’s swimming because swimming uses all of the muscles in the body? (Doesn’t every movement use every muscle?).

Or it might be basketball, volleyball, football, lacrosse, or one of the team sports.

And don’t forget individual sports like tennis, dancing, ice skating, and diving.

It’s a little bit overwhelming actually. So what is the best sport?

This is not me. But I like the pic.

Just as there are many sports, there are many reasons for a family to participate in those sports. The reasons dictate the sports that kids should play.

The following post will go over some of the reasons for parents to consider and the third will go into my experiences as a father, coach and observer on the pluses and minuses of a few of the more popular sports.

Jan 22

Teach Resiliency to Youth Athletes

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Teach your kids to always strive to come back

There were two great football games on this weekend. And both teams that one and will advance to the Superbowl had to come back in the second half and win. There’s two sides to this. The first is the good coaching that went into the X’s and O’s of the game and the adjustments they made.

But the other and more important one is the resiliency that the players had to have. I don’t think they developed this as professional athletes. It had to happen when they were playing youth sports.

Resiliency is the ability to come back. The best teams and players have it. So does the best of people in any field. It’s something I’d like to think that I have but need to work on. (Hence, my on again/off again postings on this blog).

Sometimes the best youth athletes don’t develop it. As kids perhaps they are faster or stronger than the others. They win and it comes fairly easy to them. When they get older and the other players have caught up, they never developed the will power to come back and to keep going.

As a coach and as a parent, emphasize never giving up. Teach your kids to bounce back after a defeat. Teach your kids that it is never over.

Use practice and game situations as teaching tools. Point out the teams and times when teams have come back from being behind to win. Sport and life is littered with thousands of examples.


Jan 19

Great Book for Coaches of All Sports

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Great resource for anyone working with athletes

Great resource for anyone working with athletes

I picked this book up at the library and have been very impressed with it. The pictures are great and I love the way he covers technique. He has most of the same running drills that I use, minus the arm pumping and he has some exercises and drills that I haven’t used but think they would work great.

The book is called Power, Speed, Endurance by Brian Mackenzie and Glen Cordoza. It’s very lengthy and in depth so I would recommend buying it because there’s so much information.

He has a large chapter on mobility and flexibility. Lately, I’ve been working on both of these factors a lot more than I have in the past. I think it’s because I’m getting older and finding that while my strength and endurance haven’t decreased, my balance, mobility and flexibility seem to be regressing.

Also, he has some unique ideas on injuries and injury prevention. Currently, I have two nagging problems; a strained tendon in my elbow (from doing one arm kettle-bell snatches about two years ago) to a impaired right ankle joint (from a sprained ankle from over 15 years ago…ouch).

The book is marketed for endurance athletes and triathletes. However, much of it is appropriate for parents, youth sport coaches and PE teachers.  Some of it is a little in depth, especially the parts on therapy. They would require one to one type of instruction and probably more knowledge than the average layperson would have.

Either way, there is just a lot of good drills for improving your skills and strength. Any coach would learn a lot and get some new ideas on what and how to work with their team.


Jan 04

Interview with Brenda Kashuba of 4EverFit, an outstanding personal training facility in Saratoga, CA.

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Picture of Brenda Simpson, president and owner of 4EverFit

Brenda Simpson

Hi Brenda, thanks for taking the time to let us know more about yourself and your company. Could you give us a little bit of your background as a fitness trainer and also how you got into the business of running your own studio?

I grew up in a sedentary lifestyle and was never an active or athletic child. By the time I was nine years old, I was significantly overweight. In my twenties and thirties I lost 50 lbs. three times and gained it back within a year each time. At the age of 42, I experienced what I call my metamorphosis. I reached deep inside myself and made the decision to become permanently healthy and fit no matter what it took. I joined a gym and lost 65 lbs. over the next two years. I have maintained this weight loss now for 15 years! The other women at the club were continually asking my advice and secrets of success. This is when I made the decision to become a certified personal trainer and weight management consultant to help others change their lives as well.

After doing some research, I decided to obtain the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) personal training certification and the American Council on Exercise (ACE) lifestyle and Weight Management Consultant Certification. The all-female gym where I was a member hired me as a personal trainer and I began working with overweight women and women who just wanted to get in better shape. My client base immediately grew and I had a waiting list. Within a  year, I was beginning to see so many ways we could improve our facility and our programs to better serve our clients and make them more comfortable in Youthwhat is often an intimidating environment to beginners and those who are obese or out of shape. This is when I decided to open a private studio called 4EverFit Personal Training Studio. That was eleven years ago. I now own a larger facility in Saratoga where 12 personal trainers work a variety of shifts to meet our clients scheduling needs. The trainers I choose for the business have always been top notch certified trainers with a variety of specialties such as post-rehab re-strengthening, sports specific training, weight loss, prenatal/postpartum, yoga, etc. We work with clients from as young as nine to as old as 90, each with a program designed to meet their specific goals. Our clients are each unique in their own way and so there are no cookie cutter workout programs for anyone at 4EverFit. The clients appreciate having the private environment without the crowded memberships. Yet, they can drop in for cardio at any time. My work now is primarily the management and marketing of the studio as well as lifestyle and weight management counseling. I offer a complimentary consultation for all potential clients to discuss their goals, offer advice, or recommend a trainer from our team that would best suit their style, personality and scheduling needs.

2. What are some of the things that “work” with older clients? I’m thinking Boomers and Seniors. Are there certain workouts that they like or ways to motivate them that you really like?

Baby Boomers are our largest population at 4EverFit. They have raised their children and are now focusing in on themselves. By this time, many of them have gained weight; have had injuries, arthritis and a variety of other complications that must be factored into their workout program. The trainer carefully assesses their individual goals and challenges and offers a variety of exercises based on their current capability, then baby-stepping them to a stronger, fitter body. For some of our luckier baby boomers, plyometric workouts,Medicine ball pass TRX and other types of dynamic movement are appropriate and fun yet challenging. For most, however, careful movements with lighter resistance are the correct starting place. The trainers assess for muscle imbalances and include special exercises in the program to bring the body into better balance and to avoid future injuries. Our geriatric clients may need to have balance work as part of the program; in their case the main goal may simply be to walk without a walker.

3. Do you see a lot of children or teens at your studio? If so, what are their main concerns? Is it sports performance, weight issues, or just fitness?

We do see children, mostly young teens whose parents are concerned about their weight and self-esteem. These children often feel in adequate in team sports and need 1-on-1 help to become fitter and more physically fit and self-reliant. Additionally, we see youngsters who play a sport that they wish to improve such as tennis, water polo or football. We also work with two special needs young men. Their programs include coordination skills as well as strength and cardio to their ability.

4. One of my main philosophies is that kids should be an “athlete for life”.  How athletic are your seniors and do you do anything to encourage them to be athletes?

Most of the older people we see have not been athletic or it’s been many years since they were involved in sports so the goal is more often just having more strength and energy to enjoy activities, day-to-day life and slim down. However, we do also see clients who want to improve their golf, tennis or racquetball game. 4EverFit is a safe environment for those who want to get in shape without the perceived judgment of those more fit, but it can also be a haven for those occasional athletes to work on specific athletic improvement goals in a more focused and clinical environment.

5. How often do you recommend your clients workout? Do you have them workout mostly at the gym or at home?

Our clients meet with their trainer on average of twice per week at our 2,300 square foot fully equipped gym in Saratoga. However, some train as often as 5 times per week. The number of sessions chosen is often based on the clients time and budget constraints. When a client can only come in once per week, they are taught a program to do on their own at home or in a membership facility on their own at least one more day. Over and strength and flexibilityabove their time spent working out with their trainer, our clients are taught and motivated to do meaningful cardiovascular workouts solo. They can drop into our facility and use one of our seven cardio machines if they prefer our more private and safe environment.

6. Going through your website, it looks like you do a lot of functional training. Could you go into that in more detail?

Weight training machines are great for placing the client in a safe position and loading the resistance to the highest appropriate weight for the individual. However, more and more we have learned in exercise science that when a person strengthens their body using the body’s own natural path of motion (functional movement), it is extremely beneficial for improvement of strength and mobility in day-to-day activities. Most of the trainers at 4EverFit do a combined workout of both machines and functional exercises using a variety of tools such as dumbbells, resistance bands, TRX (suspension training system) or even the body’s own weight against gravity. When using functional movement, the core muscles in the trunk of the body are also stabilizing so the outcome of functional training versus machines means a stronger foundation in the athlete.

7. A big part of my website is family fitness. How do you encourage families to workout?

Activities that are fun to do together often are not considered exercise, and yet they are! Private personal training with BrendaTaking walks, hiking, playing outdoor sports, bicycling, skiing or snowboarding are all great group activities. Snowshoeing in winter is another outstanding way for families to workout together. It is excellent exercise and does not require a specific skill or talent. Even the youngest family members can often keep up. We have found that families enjoy doing yoga together as well. What better way to work on fitness than yoga? At the end of the session the whole family and is at peace and harmony with one another.

8. Is there anything else that you’d like to add?

I am deeply concerned about childhood obesity in America. I am so pleased to see parents making exercise a priority in their families and more and more these days. I am still worried about the American diet and what we have come to accept as a culture with regard to meals and snacks. My hope is that more and more parents of newborns will start them from their very first bite of solid foods to accept and enjoy nutritious foods that are low in saturated fat, processed sugars, preservatives and additives. As parents, we need to set the example and lead the way. It is one of the most important things we can do to raise healthy, happy children. We need to feed them appropriate portion sizes and keep deserts, chips, soft drinks and other unhealthy foods for special occasions rather than Baby Boomer Dumb Bell Pressstocking them in our homes. I often have overweight parents tell me it is difficult to avoid these foods because they have to have them in the house for the kids. That statement breaks my heart because these children will grow up to have similar problems as their parents including; Type 2 Diabetes and other dangerous conditions. I am now working on two more certifications: NASM Weight Loss Specialist and NASM Fitness, Nutrition Specialist. The more information and education I can bring to the table when counseling our clients, the more successful they will be. Learning is a continual process in fitness and nutrition. Staying up to date on what is new in these areas will help us all live healthier happier lives.

Brenda, thanks so much for taking the time to let us know about your approach to fitness for adults and families. You have an exceptional facility in Saratoga, California and if any of my readers are in the Bay Area, you need to check out their programs. Thanks again, and have a great New Year!

To get in touch with Brenda, contact her a:

4EverFit Personal Training Studio
12361 Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road, #D
Saratoga, CA 95070-3073
(408) 873-8483