Weak in the Knees? You CAN Fix That!

As we get older, many of us complain of weakness in the knees and chronic knee pain. Many of us see this weakness as part of the normal run-of-the-mill process of aging, and basically an inevitable malady of getting older. But boy is that ever Wrong! Strength and flexibility in the knees and legs are essential to maintaining our balance, coordination and health as we age, and yes, there ARE things you can do to strengthen your knees and legs so that they can carry you solidly and firmly throughout your entire lifetime.

One thing we must remember is that the knees are only one set of joints in a system of joints that support our entire bodies. So, for example, an injury to the hips or ankles will affect the strength and condition of the knees, because the system of joints in the body is all connected. Posture is critical to the health and strength of our knees, hips and ankles, and so is muscle tone around the ligaments that keep our joints functioning optimally. In order to keep our legs and knees healthy and strong, our entire bodies must be strong and tone, and our posture must be optimal.

At Morphe, our regular Gravity Training routine includes plenty of movements and exercises that strengthen the knees, hips and ankles as well as improving overall balance and posture. Here is a list of some of the basic exercises that help to maintain optimal flexibility and strength in the knees and legs:

  1. Squats ~ these strengthen and tone hips, legs, buttocks, knees and ankles and are an essential staple in any fitness routine. Using Morphe’s Gravity Training System to do your squats on the board also allows for variations such as single-leg squats with legs crossed over knees, or ski squats which help to strengthen knees, calves and ankles and encourage improve coordination. Start with sets of 25.
  1. Jump rope: three minutes of jump rope daily not only provides cardio and fat burning but also strengthen the hips, legs, ankles and knees, encouraging flexibility and strength in these joints. Variations on jump-rope techniques strengthen different leg muscles while also aiding balance and posture, all of which help to maintain better leg and knee health throughout life.
  1. Lunges: variations on this exercise help to open the hip flexors which in turn support mobility and flexibility in the knees. Again, doing these using the glide-board that’s part of our Gravity Training System allows for many variations that strengthen and tone the calves and buttocks, supporting the legs and knees. Start with 20 on each side.
  1. Step-ups: this exercise not only builds strength and flexibility in the knees, but also enhances balance and coordination, strengthening our posture and indirectly supporting leg and knee function as we walk and go about daily activities. Using a low surface approximately 2 feet off the ground, start with 15 forward step-ups with each leg. Variations on this exercise might include extending the raised leg either in front, to the rear or to the side while stepping up.
  1. Walking: This should already be a part of everyone’s daily routine, but it won’t hurt to remind you: walk at least 30 minutes daily and if possible 1 hour daily. Try to walk on different types of terrain including concrete, grass, sand and indoor flooring to strengthen your feet, ankles, legs, knees, buttocks and hips. There is no greater exercise for building strength, balance and posture than daily walking, and your knees and legs will thank you as you grow older.

Burn Baby Burn! 7 Tips to Heat up Your Metabolism

Wondering how to get the most out of your workouts – how to get your burning speed from 0 to 100 in a matter of minutes? Here are some general lifestyle tips that will keep your metabolism burning optimally so you’ll really see those results quickly this summer!

  1. Eat Breakfast! This is a simple fact: everything that burns needs fuel. If you want your metabolism to start off the day in Burn-mode, give it something to burn! Be it fresh fruit, whole grains, eggs, bacon or dairy products, breakfast is the meal that clenches your burning agreement at the start of the day.
  1. Stretch! People who stretch in the morning and throughout the day enjoy increased range of motion and always seem to look great. This may be due to the increased supply of oxygen to the brain and other vital organs that is produced by regular stretching of the body, which also coincidentally leads to a faster metabolism.
  1. Hydrate! Most people have no idea how quickly a human body becomes dehydrated. It is said that by the time your mouth feels dry and you feel thirsty, advanced dehydration is already underway at the cellular level. Needless to say, your body cannot efficiently burn calories for fuel under this debilitating condition. The average human body should consume at least 6-8 glasses of water daily for optimum health and function. This will help to maintain a healthy metabolism as well as digestive regularity.
  1. Snack! In order to keep the metabolism burning, the body requires constant supplies of proper fuel. Essentially, some foods truly nourish the body and encourage increased metabolic activity. These foods include all varieties of raw fruits and veggies, particularly berries, lemons, limes, apples, beets, carrots and all green vegetables; nuts such as pecans and almonds, or nuts in the form of nut-butters; and low-fat animal proteins such as yogurt and cheese, fish, chicken or turkey. Avoid refined sugar and wheat products, fried and processed snacks and things filled with chemicals like High Fructose Corn Syrup. By eating several small snacks throughout the day and remaining active, your metabolism maintains optimal burning levels all day long as it receives small offerings of nutrients it can convert into fuel.
  1. Juice! Drinking raw juices containing such fruits and veggies as pineapples, papaya, cucumber, celery, kale, berries, mango, apples, kiwis and bananas—particularly early in the day—kickstart and fuel your metabolism while also providing hydration in the form of liquid nutrients. Although juicing does not take the place of drinking sufficient water, a juicing regimen in addition to regular daily hydration means your body will be functioning at a standard above average, and your metabolism will have the support it needs to burn fat and calories at its maximum capacity.
  1. Exercise! It can’t be said enough times: exercise is essentially what causes your body to burn fat. Without it, there is no burning, there is no conversion of stored nutrients into fuel for energy: In fact, there is No Energy and we become swollen, sloth-like, lethargic and, very often, depressed. A simple routine of 25 jumping jacks, 25 squats, and 25 push-ups daily is enough to heat up your metabolism to ensure a day of healthy metabolic activity and prevent weight-gain while strengthening the body’s muscular system, improving posture and training your body to burn!
  1. Sleep! Not getting enough sleep is one of the chief contributors to a chronically sluggish metabolism and its consequential complications that include inflammation, compromised immunity, and weight gain. A minimum of 7-8 hours of sleep a night is required by most adults to provide sufficient rest for all of the metabolic functions of the body. Like any other organism, a tired metabolism cannot work as hard as it should. Rest your body properly and feel the difference in increased vigor, strength and energy in the morning.

Morphe Morphs!

So by now most of you are aware that Morphe has morphed into a larger, brighter, more versatile, cooler and more fun than ever fitness studio at its new location in Little Havana at 810 SW 22nd Avenue near the corner of 8th Street (Calle Ocho) in Miami.

The new space really does feel different: it’s as though Morphe has grown up and expanded, as though a fantasy has come to life, a dream has come true, and the transformation that all of our clients – the Morphe family – are trying to make in their lives is happening here in the studio right before our very eyes.  It’s as though the space embodies the strength and optimism of the Morphe coaching philosophy!  The new space allows for more versatility, larger groups, more individual attention for each class member, and even more social gathering possibilities with the addition of our fabulous Sushi Express juice & bites bar.

Natural light abounds and the space is easily accessible with comfortable private parking in the rear. The whole look and feel of the new studio is the manifestation of positive thinking, faith, hard work and determination as a physical and visual reminder of what it takes to achieve goals, create change, transform lives, and give wings to our dreams and desires. In the end, the studio itself serves to emphasize and illustrate the Morphe philosophy of integrating mind, body and spirit in the pursuit of success and happiness. The new studio breathes this philosophy while serving as an example to all our clients that success, transformation and growth really are possible.

We urge you to drop in, stop by and talk to Coach Santamarina about a life coaching session and a holistic fitness assessment for a personalized plan of action at Morphe Fitness & Wellness Studio to transform your life and give wings to your dreams and desires.

It’s about you. It’s about change. It’s about achievement, success and satisfaction. Be part of the transformation happening daily at Morphe.

The Morphe Method: Rock Climbing & TRX Anti-Gravity Training

Discover the oldest-newest way to become a leaner, stronger, more flexible, powerful and body-aware individual. Challenge yourself to a TRX ‘PLUS’ workout in our fully equipped indoor bouldering room. Combination Rock Climbing and TRX Anti-Gravity Training build strength and lean muscle, sculpting the body while increasing endurance, balance, mental and physical focus, plus amazing flexibility and self-confidence.

The Morphe Method for Total Fitness: Happy Mind, Healthy Body & Strong Soul

The Morphe Method incorporates every aspect of wellness into a series of classes and treatment options that address physical, mental, and spiritual conditioning: building strength, balance, endurance, and inner peace.  Let’s select which Method components are right for you and get you on the road to total, holistic self-renewal!

Roberto Santamarina, CSCS, is a Master Trainer dedicated to health, fitness and life coaching. Morphe Studios is Roberto’s Gift to his beloved Miami – a boutique fitness studio devoted to unleashing your hidden potential for growth and life transformation through physical activity, spiritual awareness and positive habits that help you achieve all of your personal goals.

The Morphe Method, rooted in Roberto’s philosophy of unifying mind, body and soul, along with his caring approach of focused personal attention to each client, guarantees that your experience at Morphe will be specifically tailored to satisfy your individual needs. Roberto has assembled a team of masters in health, wellness, fitness and spa treatments to ensure your results will encompass every area of your life to guide you toward the total transformation that you dream of!

“The Key to achieving a true metamorphosis is to think positive, take action and develop a well-balanced you.”
—Roberto Santamarina

Play better, Enjoy more: Improve Your Game with Flex Training

As both an avid golf enthusiast and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist working with all sorts of athletes for over 15 years, I can attest to the contribution that flex training can add to your golf game.  In fact, I’d like to share a story with you of one golfer who lowered his handicap from 20 to 10 in less than a years’ time by working to improve his overall balance, strength, and flexibility.

In my work with professional athletes, both targeted at improving general fitness and/or working to rehabilitate injuries, I have learned the benefits that all-around flexibility, balance and strength training can bring to an athlete’s performance. So when Victor came into my studio with the specific goal of lowering his golf handicap, I was prepared to coach him to a whole new level as a golfer.

Initially, we incorporated Ultrasound Therapy and P.N.F. (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) Stretching, a series of specialized stretching techniques commonly used by clinical therapists, to rapidly improve his overall range of motion and bring fast relief from chronic tendonitis, a problem he’d suffered with for years.

We then began working on bio-mechanic strengthening and core conditioning through Gravity Training and Kinesiology, which relieved his chronic lower back pain, a problem he attributed to his long hours of sitting at a desk during his day job.  This system also improves balance and overall flexibility while building strength in the entire body, improving rotation and general mobility, maintaining proper weight, increasing muscle tone and definition, and lengthening the spine, improving overall posture.

To that, we added Swing Fan Drills, Medicine Ball and Plyometric Workouts, a series of specialized exercises targeted specifically to improving his rotation, swing and golf performance, lowering his handicap from 20 to 10 over a period of 11 months.  We also worked to develop a series of appropriate pre and post training exercises to not only improve Victor’s overall performance on the green, but also to decrease his risk of injury and maintain his flexibility, even through his long days at the office.

Today, this enthusiastic golfer has found a renewed interest in his favorite sport. His health is greatly improved, as is his game, and he is able to enjoy playing more often, free of pain. A testament to the holistic principle of overall physical conditioning, his is just one more example of what a focused and balanced training regimen can do to benefit any athlete, from beginner, to pro, to weekend warrior.

6 Reasons to Love Circuit Training

Circuit training is a form of total body toning and conditioning that consists of a series of sequential short bursts of resistance training exercises where each set of repetitions targets a difference muscle group in the body.  A “circuit” refers to the set of exercises included in the training session. Typically, the switch between exercises (or “stations”) happens quickly to enhance the cardiovascular benefits of the rotation.  By quickly switching from working one group of muscles to another, the body does not require a rest in metabolic rate between exercises; this continuity helps to accelerate and maintain increased heart rate, oxygen consumption and caloric burning.  Resistance training exercises are often combined with aerobics to further increase these benefits.  Many of my clients at Morphe notice that circuit training accelerates their metabolism, gets them to perspire more profusely, and promotes rapid weight loss and body sculpting.

Why We Love Circuits

  1. Circuit training targets different muscle groups individually, providing a focused conditioning and toning workout that sculpts and defines the entire body.
  2. Circuit training increases heart rate, oxygen consumption and combines the benefits of resistance training with the increased caloric burning power of aerobics!
  3. Circuits can consist of any variety of exercises, and may be adapted to any environment, such as an outdoor obstacle course where you do reps at each station.
  4. Circuit training is lively, challenging and FUN! It gets your adrenalin and endorphins flowing and helps your body detox through increased perspiration.
  5. Circuit training accelerates weight loss and body sculpting by increasing metabolic rate and stimulating caloric burning.
    And most importantly: Results! Circuit training delivers fast and dramatic results that mean you’ll look better this evening than you did when you got up this morning!

10 Reasons To Train With The Gravity System

Many people have asked me about my preference for the EFI Gravity System over any other exercise equipment when training my clients. The Gravity System is a fun and innovative exercise system that consists of an adjustable glideboard with versatile handles and pulleys.  After years of seeing optimal results and personal satisfaction in clients, both young and old, I know I’ve made the best choice in training equipment.  Here are the top 10 reasons why I made this choice—and stick with it.

  1. Full Body Conditioning: The Gravity system provides total body conditioning using Pilates or resistance training.  This system increases lean muscle mass, decreases body fat, improves circulation and posture, releases endorphins, expedites weight loss, and promotes overall physical strength. The Gravity System builds a rock solid core, while elongating and toning every muscle group in the body.
  2. Awesome Results (aka Satisfied Clients): All of Morphe’s regular clients are seeing consistent, sustainable, awesome results, and each is progressing at his or her own pace.  In the words of one female client, age 54: “I’ve developed strength in areas of my body where I had always been weak.  I look and feel younger now than I did 10 or even 15 years ago!”
  3. Safety: The Gravity System offers low-compression back support, designed to reduce and eliminate chronic back pain and guard against injury.
  4. Natural Body Weight Resistance: The Gravity System uses your own body weight as resistance against the natural and consistent pull of gravity. Using body weight resistance prevents the compression usually associated with the use of free weights or machines.  The glideboard rolls up and down on an adjustable track, and you literally pull or push your own weight at variable inclines.
  5. Versatility: Personal and Athletic Trainers, Physical Therapists and all kinds of fitness professionals use The Gravity System.  It is useful for Pilates, high-performance sports training, physical rehabilitation and body sculpting.  No matter what your fitness goals, this system delivers the results you’re after!
  6. Award-Winning Design: The Gravity system has won three innovation awards within the health club industry, and is designed to support intense total body workouts without the need for additional accessories or machines.  This single, natural, gravity-based total system offers everything you need for full body conditioning.
  7. Easy to Use: During your very first session, you will learn to love and feel comfortable with the Gravity System.  Gravity allows for simple and easy transitions between individual exercises as well as the ability to combine and intensify specific movements, strengthening various muscle groups at the same time.
  8. Easy On The Joints: The Gravity System is designed to strengthen and support joints, and is often used by Physical Therapists to recondition the joints after surgery or injury.
  9. Universal: The Gravity System is packed with features that allow it to be specifically adjusted to individual needs based on size, weight and general physical condition. Because of this, Gravity is safe and easy to use by all kinds of people – no matter how “out of shape” you might be, and is safe for use during and after pregnancy.
  10. It’s Fun: Clients return because the workout is fun and leaves you feeling full of energy.  Many first-timers find it a lot easier than they had expected.  Training sessions are intimate and personal, with a maximum of six participants.  I get to know everybody’s personality and body issues, and target the session to each group individually.  Everybody feels a little bit transformed after each session – mind, body and spirit.