Is the Sauna Useful? If so, When and For How Long Should You Sit?

Is the Sauna Useful? If so, When and For How Long Should You Sit?

When asked about the advantages of sauna use at the gym, most people reply with something about detoxing and sweating out the bad stuff. While there is truth to this, I used to joke about the sauna being part of the “executive workout package” and would rarely incorporate it into my week unless I was post-holiday, birthday, or vacation and in need of some detox. Until a few years ago that is when I was lucky enough to come across a study showing a benefit to strength gains through sauna use after an intense strength session. (I couldn’t find the link to this study, but it showed sauna use post workout reducing fiber damage allowing strength gains to be maximized and recovery time minimized.) This aligned with my goals so I started to incorporate sauna post workout, especially after a more intense session.

A few months later I had my genetic testing done and started learning about how to maximize beneficial gene expression through nutrition, lifestyle, and supplementation. (I highly recommend getting your genetic testing done as it dramatically reduces the guess work in nutrition and workout programming.) Through these readings I saw many studies finding significant long and short term health marker increases from sauna use beyond what I thought possible.

First, for anyone dealing with one or more risks of cardiovascular disease, a recent study showed dramatic improvements in many important biomarkers indicating reduced risk after just one 30 minute session. (Please don’t be ‘that guy/girl’ and hit the sauna once thinking you’re all fixed… just in case you are I’ll list some upsides to continued use.) If hypertension is a concern for you, then consistent use should be important. A study from The American Journal of Hypertension showed sauna use of 2-3 times/week cutting risk by a quarter and 4-7 time nearly halving it. The point here: on top of eating well and working on your conditioning, spend some time in a hot box.

But there’s more…

When I think of degenerative mental diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia, I have to admit that it’s one of the scariest things I can imagine. So when I started finding studies correlating sauna use with decreases in both diseases with as little as 2-3 twenty minute sessions/week I was telling all my clients to take part, but it should be noted that those that sat in the sauna for 4-7 times/week saw ~65% lower risk for both. (Even after adjusting for nutrition and activity.)

There have also been findings published that show sauna use maintaining muscle mass and strength during immobilization or injury. This is obviously useful for me right now (those that don’t know, I had my leg pinned between 2 vehicles by an intoxicated driver on 11/20/17), but I had used this strategy during de-load phases as well.

So, what do you do with all this info? First, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor about something like this. (If they ask why you’re interested, feel free to send them all the links provided in this article.) Even once you’re cleared to “go hot”, I would advise using the buddy system, and especially the first time you enter a sauna. The common times I see referenced in research results are 15-20 minutes. I’ve been sitting for 20 minutes, 2-5 times a week (on the higher end now, given my situation.) The temperatures used tend to be around 160-170 degrees Fahrenheit and I’ve seen anecdotal reasoning for toweling off every 7-10 minutes so as to not reabsorb the toxins you’ve released back into your pores (makes sense.) If you’re strength training… *ahem* which you should be… *ahem* plan sauna time after your strength sessions to decrease soreness, speed recovery, as well as all the additional upsides coming with it.

Thanks for reading! Please share this info to help make a healthier world.

Goal setting 101


A recent study stated that 73% of gym joiners in January have a weight loss goal and over a 365 day period only 14% of those will succeed. Let’s talk about how to up the success rate. Without a doubt, setting the right goal is the most important part of your fitness journey. Read any piece about success; what it takes to get there, who did what & how. All will come back to some version of, “Start with the end in mind.” This makes overcoming obstacles along the way easier especially the more desirable the end result is.

Change is difficult. Very difficult. People make the decision to change when their current situation is more uncomfortable than their perception of the change. Since 2001 as a Fitness Professional, when I ask people any variation of, “What are your goals?” or “What are you training for?” The standard reply is…”Lose weight & tone up.” (LW&TU). If this is your goal I have one request; DO NOT join a gym. Let me explain why. Someone with a LW&TU goal wants their life to change, but they haven’t yet decided to change their life. If that last sentence didn’t click, read it again. I’ll wait.

So let’s look at something most can relate to; Consider two people who want financial success. One wants to, “Be rich”. The other wants a successful career in Law. The first commits to buying at least one lottery ticket every week and checking in on the numbers. The latter knows he is not where he wants to be and sets forth on a journey to find the missing links. He will meet new people, see and experience things he never imagined. He may also make missteps along the way but hopefully knows that is not just the cost of taking steps but a lesson in and of itself. The former will become entrenched in a community of shortsightedness and selfishness. Each ticket they buy moves them further into a position of entitled victimization that becomes harder and harder to return from.

It doesn’t mean they can’t be coaxed.

The fact is many will bring me the LW&TU goal over the next few weeks. To which I will reply, “Why?” This usually spirals into a cycle of generic answers vs. quick Why replies… like, “Because my doctor told me I have to lose weight” Or “So I can run a 5K.” Or “Because I want a six pack like (favorite celeb).” or any of the defensive BS that people put up, until I hear a little bit of truth. Something like, “Because I want to feel better!”

JACKPOT!!! Understand that this isn’t the total answer that I’m looking for. But it is the crack in the built up wall that can lead us to the truth. As soon as I hear anything along these lines, The tempo of the conversation changes. Instead of the sharp Why!?! replies, I let their statement sink in. I’ll then ask, “Can you tell me more about that?” “When is the last time you felt really good?” Or one of my favorites, “Paint me the picture of you feeling GREAT.” This is where they tell me about time playing with kids, activities with friends and experiencing LIFE! The life they want back! NOW, we can come back to their current positions and start building daily tasks to get from here to there. Now we build their plan.

This is where it gets really interesting. This is where they come back to me with “next level” goals. I’ve had people bring me, ‘Climb Kilimanjaro’,’Be a competitive Fencer’ or my personal favorite; ‘compete and place in Ballroom Dancing competitions’. This was a woman who had never taken an athletic venture in her life. 5 months after joining the gym she placed 2nd in her category. How many times in those 5 months did she step on a scale? 0. She felt better, she looked better, she had more confidence; so who gives a shit what the scale says. By the way, when she finally did step on a scale, the BMI charts scored her as over weight. But the beautiful part was she no longer cared. She was too busy becoming what she wanted to be. I should also note that her Doctor was amazed at the up turn in all her health markers.

Now, to come back to your goal for this year; close your eyes, picture 10, 20 or 30 years from now. Who do you want to be? Get that crystal clear picture. Then start your plan.

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Is Less Really More?


I keep hearing, “Less is more” and WANT to agree with this statement but kept feeling like there’s more to it (ironic, I know). Left to just, “Less is more” most would have more questions. I know I did.

So today I was reading an article on “11 Simple Concepts to Become a Better Leader” and saw the epiphany inducing quote by Milton Glasser… “Less isn’t more, just enough is more.” The concept of less being more allows people to continue to believe that starving themselves is making them healthier or that they need to give up a happy life for a healthy one; when any sane healthy person knows that getting more out of life is THE driving force behind health and fitness.

So I wanted to come up with a concept that would help people make better decisions as they look to get healthier. And I had this idea in my head that makes SO MUCH SENSE… to me. But, as I’ve passed the advise on it’s taken as a clichéd note. So I wanted to define it as clearly as I can, word by word:

Living Lean Helps You Live Lean.

Living – Life. The day to day. Day in and day out of the same thing. This patterned monotony often drives us to “retail therapy”. A quick fix to make us feel like we’ve accomplished something. What we are really doing is just filling a void. A void that is rooted in depravity and truly healed setting a goal that you are committed to. Something that, maybe scares you a bit but also stirs a passion in you.

Lean – Minimalism. You don’t go without, you hack away the unessentials to life. You rid yourself of the deadweight in life that slows you down. You don’t hunger for consumptive possession. You look to create something; an experience of a homemade meal that the whole family is part of, a project that you and your daughter work on that becomes her first car, and the goal you set doesn’t take away from the important parts of your life (career, family, social, etc) but fits within them and possibly connects them even more.

Helps – Teaches. These choices put you in positions where you build experience. Where you learn exactly what you are truly capable of. You learn that when all else fails, you won’t.

You – This one should be the easiest, right? Maybe. You at your core. I heard John Wooden say that, “Your reputation is who you are perceived to be, your character is who you really are.” ‘You’ is your character.

Live – Thrive. This is not “maintaining life”. This is L-I-V-I-N, LIVIN’!!! When you go to work on Monday, the rest of the office can’t wait to ask you, “What did you do this weekend?” ‘cuz you’re the guy who always has the amazing answers.

Lean – Healthy. Mind, body and soul. We’ve all felt one or more of these parts of our life cluttered at one point or another. Lean is not cluttered. Lean is functioning at full capacity and loving every minute of it.

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Women and Weights.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with many amazing people as my time as a Fitness Pro. Both men and women. While every person is their own unique being, there are trends to be noted. Women being resistant to strength training is a common one. This story features two amazing women I had the pleasure of working with that are choosing to do amazing things.Enjoy.

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