Tag Archives: MMA

Strength Training: A Woman’s View

I proudly served in the United States Navy for twenty-four years. During that time I had the pleasure of working alongside and knowing many exceptional female leaders. Many have since retired while others are still serving our country. They continue to lead and inspire others daily, and the military is a better place with them in it.

Since retirement I’ve had the pleasure of training numerous female athletes and helped others become stronger and fitter versions of themselves. Further, I have been blessed to network with exceptional coaches from around the world and continue to learn from the them all the time.

The subject of strength training for women, both for its benefits and training differences that exist between genders (Which isn’t really isn’t as much as some would think) has been covered thousands of times by people much smarter that myself.

What I haven’t seen very many articles covering is the viewpoints of ladies representing a wide range of ages and training backgrounds.  This weeks blog is the viewpoints of some exceptional female coaches from across the USA from their twenties and up.

I asked the question “How has strength training benefitted you in life?”

These are their stories…



Elizabeth Coronado-Ledenich, 26 years old, NASM CPT
Las Vegas Nevada, Life Time Athletic and EOS Fitness.


“In order to understand what strength training brought into my life I must first start by sharing a little bit about my past. In 2012, I had dealt with some drug related issues one of which landed me in the hospital for overdosing. I never once thought that I was unhappy. I weighed close to 300 pounds and that never raised a red flag for me. I never lacked self esteem or had body image related problems so I never thought there was a problem.

It wasn’t until 2013; one night, after smoking marijuana in my friends closet that changed my life. I walked out to the room and at the time I didn’t know what I was experiencing but it was an anxiety attack. It continued like that for weeks. My mental instability led me to believe I really was going to die and it was only a matter of time. I was so desperate to find a solution to why I was feeling this way and advice from friends led to eating better and exercising. I had nothing else to lose so I gave it a try. I started eating better and going to the gym and my path to health started.

I worked on building healthy habits and started seeing the weight come off. Most importantly I felt so much better and the panic attacks started going away. I discovered so much more about myself during this time. It wasn’t until I lost about 60 pounds that I became interested in becoming a personal trainer to share with others the importance of fitness and nutrition in life.

I stopped teaching middle/high school to attend a personal training class to pursue my new career path. I had a lot of doubters and people that tried to discourage me from continuing on this path. I think it was mainly because I didn’t look like I “worked out” and still had weight to lose. During this class I met two amazing people that propelled me to new heights. First person was a student in my class who is one of my best friends to this day; Jean, who kept me focused on my path and goals regardless of the naysayers. The second person was someone who I met during my internship hours and his name is Chris (The author of the blog and amazing coach and mentor) I shadowed him training clients a couple of times. Before meeting him I had never picked up a barbell and I had only messed around with light dumbbells.

One night after getting signed on my hour of shadowing I made a comment that I had never even touched a barbell and in that moment Chris walked over to get one. I will never forget this night. He started teaching me how to press it over my head. Already in my head I was thinking “there is no way I’m going to be able to press that thing over my head but I’ll try because it looks like fun,” I walked over and held it in my hands as Chris started giving me cues on what I needed to do and incorporate every part of the body to assist with the lift. With that I pressed it over my head. I remember looking in the mirror and being in shock that I was actually doing something I had already told myself I would not be able to do at all yet. I put the barbell down and the first thing he said was “You’re so much stronger than you think you are,” I went home that night just thinking of how amazing that felt and how I wanted to get stronger. (Chris you’re the best!)

Strength training has brought on physical, mental, and emotional strength in my life. I look in the mirror and I love the person I have become. I am a completely different person than I was back in 2012 and a lot of it is due to the fact that I have become a stronger individual. I gained confidence, and lost the anxiety attacks. I love going into the gym and thinking “How much stronger am I going to get today,” Strength training led me to teaching fitness classes and becoming a much more well rounded personal trainer. Now in 2016. Strength training and breathing techniques helped me during the natural birth of my newborn son and it will continue to help me to be the best I can be.



Naomi “Coach Ninja” Recania

CrossFit CF-L1, CrossFit Kids, CrossFit Mobility Trainer, USAW Level 1 SPC, NASM CPT/YES
Santa Barbara, CA, USA; CrossFit Santa Barbara
Instagram: @crossfitsantabarbara

“ I noticed at a young age that I was stronger than other kids. Athletics, dance – anything that required body awareness and strength came easy to me. However, I always felt emotionally different than others. I am extremely sensitive and feel life very deeply. Twelve years of competitive gymnastics allowed me to grow mentally and emotionally, but I still felt incomplete. It wasn’t until I found CrossFit that I was able to understand and learn how to cope with my emotions.

Inc. magazine published a fantastic article the other day entitled “5 Reasons Why So Many Entrepreneurs Do CrossFit”. One paragraph in particular stood out as it encapsulated my views and purpose for participating in the program since 2010: “Pushing yourself to develop strength and skills in areas where you’re not naturally gifted… helps you push past your own belief systems around what you’re capable of doing. It breeds fortitude and mental strength.”

It was the belief systems that I, and others, had created that prevented me from reaching my potential in various aspects throughout my life. Once I was able to break through those barriers, I grew immensely – not only physically, but also emotionally and intellectually. As such, I am now Owner and Head Coach of CrossFit Santa Barbara, and the gym is thriving. It is through my physical strength training in CrossFit that I attribute my continued growth of “fortitude and mental strength” that I am able to apply to all aspects of my life.”

For above-mentioned article: http://www.inc.com/tanya-hall/5-reasons-why-so-many-entrepreneurs-do-crossfit.html


Nyki Harrington NASM-CPT, PN1 Coach (Far Left)
Tucson, AZ – currently with UFC Gym North Tucson Strength and Conditioning Coach/Kickboxing Instructor
520-481-8833 – nyki.ufcgym@gmail.com

“I’m a chick. Obviously. But I think I did things backwards according to the so-called status quo of chicks who workout; I’d choose to up my PR on bench press over run on a treadmill any day. Strength training hasn’t simply brought something to my life, it has brought life to my strength (oh that sounded so cool!).

I’m also a fighter but I would’ve never been able to become a fighter without strength training myself, being that I’m in my 30’s, a mother of three crazy monsters, a history of arthritis (for reals…) and was overweight my entire life; losing close to 100lbs overweight. I mean, I would get winded checking the mail and now I roundhouse kick others girls in the face, how awesome is that?! I would never have the confidence nor the general ability to poise myself to learn boxing, kick boxing and now Muay Thai without strength training.

IT DOES NOT MAKE YOU LOOK LIKE A DUDE! I can lift heavier than my husband on most days and trust me, he looks like a dude, I do not. I feel strong, confident, sexy and my basal metabolic rate has increased while my body fat has decreased, I was once 46% BF now sitting at a comfortable 17% and still dropping.

With my clients – I have successfully built an impeccably strong army of female warriors who walk up to the free weights like a BOSS. They are no longer scared to do those “guy routines” and in turn have also seen the same results as myself. Strength training is as important as nutrition and I wouldn’t trade my kettlebell for all of the treadmills in the world. (no offense to treadmills)”


Liz Jones: BA, MAOL, RYT, CPT, CMWA, Nutritional Therapist
Wylie, Texas (Dallas)
WEBSITE: www.lizjones.co

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/lizjones.co/

“I have been strength training since I was a teenager and have gone through ups and downs with my fitness throughout my life.  I am now about to turn 45 in October and can say that strength training, along with stress management and nutrition, is one of the things that has helped to keep me young and manage my health through the years.

Personally, strength training has empowered me in many ways, helping to keep my body strong helps to keep my mind and resolve strong as well.  I love the acronym SWEAT She Will Endure All Things- which I have on a tank top that the company donates proceeds to domestic abuse programs.

When my son was 14 (he is now 26), he was in a terrible accident that put him in a coma which lasted for ten days. They were not sure he was going to make it.  This weekend is the 12th anniversary of his accident and it is hard not to reflect on the pain and tragedy of that time of our lives, but it also, in all it’s horribleness, also made us stronger in many ways.  Physical strength and fitness helped to get me through a time when I needed all the strength I could find from within.  I lived at the hospital with him for a month and six days before we were able to go home and would do yoga by his bedside, run in the parking ramp and use the free weights in the physical therapy room while he was in sessions.  It was one of the few things that kept me sane during an emotional crisis watching my child go through terrible pain and suffering.

It also helped me as a single mother to be strong and to raise a son to know what strength looks like, both physically and philosophically.

When I work with clients, many of whom are women in their 40’s and 50’s (I work with all ages and genders, but my primary audience is middle-aged women) I always talk with women about body awareness, self-acceptance and self-esteem.  We focus a lot more on gaining strength over time that we do on scale weight.  I teach women the importance of weight training and how much it makes a difference in their longevity and in functional fitness.  If you have children or grandchildren, you need to be able to pick up 50-70 pound without being injured.  Doing yard work, maintaining a healthy sex life, preventing bone fractures and hormonal issues are all affected by strength training.

Having energy to get through your daily routine whether you work in an office, in your home or a combination of the two is something women of all ages need to focus on.  Weight training is vital to a woman’s health and wellbeing.  I make all of my clients work on their Wonder Woman pose while training, because not only does it help them get in correct form and good posture, it is a powerful stance that creates strong energy.  I teach women to honor their bodies and to be women of strength.”


PJ Olsen (age 57) StrongFirst SFG I, Original Strength Certified Coach, Certified Yoga Instructor, FMS Certified, Yoga Therapist (in training)
Nashville, TN
Restorative Strength and Music City Kettlebell
Website: http://www.RestorativeStrength.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Restorative-Strength; https://www.facebook.com/musiccitykettlebell/

“Although I have strength trained most of my adult life, it’s really been in my 50’s that I have found it to be the most rewarding and transformational! At 50, I was suffering regularly from running injuries, and the poor posture that resulted from sitting behind a computer at work 10 hours a day was taking its toll on my body.

I then discovered kettlebell training which completely changed my life! It quickly improved my overall strength, mobility, and endurance like nothing else ever had!  I was so inspired by my own results that I went on to pursue my kettlebell instructor certification at the age of 53.

Physical strength is empowering! Strength training has allowed me to step outside of my comfort zone. It has helped push fear back in the corner where it belongs and provided a way of dealing with everyday stress.  My desire and ability to learn new things has increased dramatically…and has even set me on a new career path that I am so passionate about!

With my continuing education in kettlebell training, Original Strength, and Yoga (and currently in training to be a Yoga Therapist), I now have skills and knowledge to help others…especially those over the age of 50…rediscover the joy of moving well so they may enjoy an improved quality of life! I feel truly blessed that strength training has provided me my purpose in life!

I truly appreciate this opportunity to help spread the love for strength training! I hope that I inspire someone in my age group to go pick up a kettlebell…or start crawling!”


At present I do not have any female coach friends in their sixties.  The below viewpoint was provided via the clients coach. (MTC)


Claudia (Left) with her coach Rocky Kitzmiller.

Rocky Kitzmiller, MS,MAED,NASM WLS,CPT,HKC
RockBody-Fitness, LLC
Virginia Beach, VA

“I have pretty much been working out all my life. Through strength training I have had the ability to fight through menopause. At 66, training to keep my strength, stability, and flexibility is even more important than before. Once retired, I have had more time for travel and adventure. My golf game is still improving and having the ability to play is important to my wellbeing. I look forward to more travel including such places as Machu Picchu and the Galápagos Islands. To be able to enjoy life’s adventures, I need my strength and need to continue to train throughout life to maintain. I will continue to climb mountains and jump into the waters as long as I can. I’m far too young to stop now!”



The Power of Community


The power of community in the fitness world has shown up throughout the years, from the days of muscle beach to the jogging craze, from Zumba to CrossFit, from Strongman to StrongFirst. In the modern era CrossFit stands as a popular example of community within a given sport/exercise method. The StrongFirst School of Strength (under Pavel) and Training for Warriors (under Martin Rooney) are also headed in this direction and represent international brother and sisterhoods.


I recall what trainer and coach forums were like 15-20 years ago and see where many are now.  I have made some great friends through these forums, but take issue with board members who’s only purpose it seems is to antagonize or patronize others while contributing nothing of note to the group.  I missed how things used to be and decided that now was the time to begin building a new community.  I established and serve as administer of an online forum of personal trainers, strength coaches and other health and wellness professionals that currently stretches across the United States and multiple countries abroad including the Philippines,Canada and Australia.


The power of community has shown itself again.  Professionals are asking questions and getting great responses from other dedicated professionals and not a single online fight has started.  As far as I am concerned I am 70x smarter simply by being around these awesome people.

A case against Sauna Suits

I recently had the pleasure of meeting a young trainer that is currently undergoing internship hours before sitting for her certified personal trainers examination.

Having the opportunity to shadow several different trainers provides insights into a variety of methods,opinions and thought processes from which she can select things that she likes, adapt to her own methods or cause her to re-examine her own methods.

Furthermore, this helps establish a professional network and given the right pairings can set the table for fruitful relationships.

It also exposes the fact that some trainers could be defined as incompetent or even outright potentially dangerous.

During my e-mail exchanges with the young lady I found out that she recently encountered a trainer that has his clients workout in sauna suits under their sweats in order to lose weight and is seemingly proud of this fact.

Somewhere is this mans mind the sauna suit is a good way to lose weight.

While there is information on the potential benefits of hyperthermic training, I would argue that the cost to benefit ratio is too lopsided and that the degree of control and supervision required places too many trainers out of their depth.

The use of sauna suits for weight loss purposes is beneficial for a short duration. Athletes that compete in sports with weight categories (I.E. Boxers, Wrestlers, MMA Fighters), models/performers getting ready for a part and pre-contest bodybuilder/physique competitors cutting the last bits of water are the only particular clients I can fathom having the need to use a sauna suit.

Based on personal experience on both sides of the fence of having (1) succumbed to heat exhaustion and (2) having to recover a person that over-heated in a sauna suit I cannot recommend the use of sauna suits for any purpose OTHER than those stated in the previous paragraph, of which should be critically monitored.

My opinion is well backed by multiple sources. I found a topic that all notable authorities (for now) seem to agree upon. Having reviewed several college sized training manuals I could find no single recommendation advising clients to train in a sauna suit and quite a few that advise against it, if not to proceed with caution.

The Certified Personal Trainer manuals published by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) do not support its use. These are 4/5 of the largest authorities in personal training with the research from NSCA and ACSM serving largely as the basis for nearly all other certification. I believe I can reasonably speculate the International Sports Science Association (ISSA) would say the same thing.

Going a few steps further (because I’m that type of guy) I spent a little quality time with more specialized material. Specifically the NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and Tactical Strength and Conditioning Facilitator (TSAC-F), NASM Performance Enhancement Specialist (PES), Training for Warriors Level 1 (TFW-L1), CrossFit Level 1 Trainer (CF-L1), U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command (NAVSPECWARCOM), U.S. Department of Defense and the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) materials.

NATA, NSCA CSCS and NASM PES are credentials seen in trainers that can train up to professional level athletes.

TFW was born in the world of preparing mixed martial art fighters for fights and has evolved into training athletes of any background.

NSCA TSAC-F was designed to develop fitness programs for first responders (Police, Firefighters,Military.)

Naval Special Warfare Command oversees the training of the U.S. Navy SEALs along with Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Special Warfare combatant craft and Diver programs.

CrossFit is known for causing bodies to hit the floor and many first responders, athletes and military personnel train at CrossFit locations.

None of the above recommend the use of sauna suits.

Arnold Schwarzenegger stated in his massive encyclopedia of modern bodybuilding (which I swear causes me to get bigger just by carrying around) that the suits purpose is solely for short term water cutting.

During a six mile ocean swim Navy SEAL candidates can lose up to 10 pounds of body weight due to fluid and glycogen loss. The loss is not permanent, they re-gain their weight once they start re-hydrating and refueling. Remember, these are SEAL candidates who have far higher than average physical fitness profiles.  They are also highly monitored throughout their training with instructors and advanced medical staff on standby during their training evolutions.

On the training side, there are five physiological mechanism of fatigue that I am concerned with during a session: Depletion of the Energy systems, inadequacy of the circulatory and respiratory systems, body temperature elevation, neurological insufficiency and dehydration. I run tremendous risks if I let things go to far, one failure out of five is more than enough to cause concern.

The sauna suit causes an increase in perspiration during exercise and only marginally increases the total number of calories burned. The increased perspiration leads to faster water and electrolyte loss and decreased work capacity. As work capacity drops, fine motor and gross movement patterns begin to falter which brings a host of problems.

This guy is attempting to bring the client to the fatigue point of all five. This much I know. Unfortunately there is far more that I don’t know…

I don’t know if he is monitoring the clients water loss during training. A loss of 2% of body weight during exercise is cause for action and results in decreased levels of performance.

I don’t if he informed the clients that the water weight loss is temporary or even the fact they are losing water weight, not body fat.

I don’t know if he is advising the re-hydration needs post sauna suit training. The increased amount of perspiration will require replenishment of potassium, zinc,sodium and carbohydrates along with water. We can lose up to 2 liters of water per hour of exercise yet we can only absorb roughly 1 liter per hour. I don’t know if he knows that or is coaching his client to do such.

I don’t know if he knows that certain medications and medical conditions decrease heat and exercise tolerance or alter a clients thermoregulation.

I don’t know if he knows what heat exhaustion or heat stroke looks like, much less the first aid procedures to treat either.

I don’t know if he even asked if the client has had a history of heat exhaustion, which subsequently leads to succumbing to heat exhaustion easier. Additionally, if the client is obese their ability to handle hyperthermia is compromised. Since his purpose for the sauna suit is “weight loss” (which as stated is temporary water loss, not permanent fat loss) and the fact that a high proportion of obese clients are on some form of medication he is taking a huge risk in the misguided attempt to help someone lose weight.

Loss of Motivation

It is not uncommon for a person engaged in a training program to lose motivation.  I suppose many things could cause this. 

 Possible Demotivators

Lack of tangible results (Inches, Pounds, Performance etc.)

Loss interest in going to the gym at all.

Loss of interest in your training program.

Life presenting you competing or conflicting obligations.

Personality conflicts with your trainer.


Not exactly words to live by, but I will say that it pays to win.

The only way that I can address this problem is to speak to you in an honest and open manner from the heart. Regardless of whatever your de-motivator is, there are a few simple facts that you must face.

  1. There is only one of you. Your body is the only one you will get 
  2. There will always be a million other things going on.
  3. A one hour workout represents only 4% of your entire day.
  4. You are only as weak or lazy as you allow yourself to be.
  5. Excuses burn 0 calories.
  6. Maybe there are real reasons why you are demotivated, maybe you’re just plain lazy and don’t want to put in the work.

Some love from your trainer Chris……

For people with trainers:

Sit down with your trainer and see if your training can be modified or have elements changed.

Ask your trainer if they will train you along with a friend or possibly friends.  Many trainers will not mind training more than one person at a time since this can be financially lucrative for the trainer and it also helps make you accountable for your training.

If you’re in doubt of your trainers’ commitment to you, I suggest you look for a new one.  Pre-supposing you have been doing YOUR part (working out regularly, eating right etc) and you are in otherwise fine physical condition then there is something lacking in your trainers programming.

For people with, or without trainers:

Ridiculous as this may sound, buying the most expensive fitness shoes and personal training plans you can afford is actually pretty motivating.  You will NOT STAND to have your money wasted and will make sure you get every penny/peso/yen or schillings worth.

Never underestimate the power of group exercise.  Zumba (despite my jokes), Spinning and CrossFit all offer proof of this.  One singular advantage of group training is that I believe people will push themselves slightly harder than they would left to their own devices.

About your trainer

 “Lack of Time” and “Lack of Motivation” are not phrases that some trainers understand very well.  Many trainers have been lifelong athletes or gym goers and fitness has been a large part of their life.  Being any other way is simply alien to them.  Other trainers were formerly unfit or overweight and are now paying forward the love in helping others reach a fitness goal.

 Some trainers are far more sympathetic and understanding than others.  Tough love does have its place and for some trainers it is their best means towards getting results.

Regardless of their background, a good trainer focuses on YOU. You can be AWESOME.


The lady in the above photograph is  over 45 years old, holds a legit black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (one of the few female BJJ Balck Belts in the United States) and is BJJ/ Mixed Martial Arts instructor.  She is also exceptionally petite.  Does size age or pain seem to stop her?


Taken after earning her well-deserved black belt. 



 YOUR motivation is what is looking back at you in the mirror.  It is not a poster with the image of a female fitness model or manly-man (unless that manly-man happens to be me….then it is totally cool) it is, and will always be you.  Have kids? A wife or husband? They too are your motivation.  Those fitness models? There are a million of them, there is only ONE YOU.



 YOU are the not the first person to be challenged.


 YOU are not the oldest, weakest, fattest or slowest that has ever stepped up. The strong STEP UP, The weak STEP ASIDE.

ImageJust a couple of guys using explosives to breach a door…nothing to see here.


Why do you start in the first place? Have you lost sight of that?  Are you going to sit there  being a victim or are your going to kick down a few doors? Fact is there will always be doors, but they get easier to break down the stronger you become, (or when you get better explosives.)



I’m sure this guy has other things to do as well.

 Ask yourself if YOU are holding yourself back, and your excuses are simply a means to keep you from realizing your true potential.  Have a gym membership but are never going?   Claim to not have time, yet your gym is open 24hrs? (Got that beat, there are many bodyweight exercises you can do that don’t require a gym or even much space.)


 YOU have the choice of being better than you were yesterday. YOU can take ownership for your life.


or you can let the excuses continue.