Meet Your Coach Monday–Rafi

Tell us about the structure of your Total Body Conditioning Class.  What can folks expect?

My Total Body Conditioning Class is done using high intensity intervals. Folks can expect a lot of different ways to raise their heart rates, such as running, jumping and other explosive plyometric movements, as well as lightweight to body-weight functional movements. I spend a lot of time focusing on form and making sure people are targeting correct muscle groups while moving.  I’m making sure people are moving in a way that is most efficient as well as comfortable and healthy for their respective bodies.

What’s one of your favorite movements that you like to use in class?

One movement you will see a lot of in my class is the squat. We will do the squat in many different forms, whether it be standing in place or doing squat jumps. The squat is a critical movement for building fundamental strength and it is very rarely executed properly. My class provides many variations of the squat in order to achieve a greater understanding of the posterior chain as well as allow people of varying flexibility and strength to engage the muscles intended in the squat.

What’s a movement that you commonly see people doing improperly?

A movement that I see done improperly all of the time is the push-up. A common mistake is to brace the entire upper body, creating tension in the neck and shoulders. This creates too much demand on the muscles that make up the rotator cuff in the shoulder. The shoulder was not designed to push things from that angle, however the chest was. In my class we focus on things like keeping the shoulders relaxed during push-ups, which allows the chest to engage and remain as the primary mover during the push-up.

You studied sign language for 3 years.  What made you want to do that and do you get a chance to use it at all?

During the course of middle school I developed a less than favorable relationship with my Spanish teacher so when I got to high school I thought to myself, "Lets do somethin' different". So I signed myself up for American Sign Language. I found the language very intuitive and much easier to pick up than other spoken languages. I think it gives one a much better perspective on what communication really is and teaches you to think about situations or problems from different angles. There was a small deaf community at the gym I used to work at. That was the last time I was signing somewhat regularly. However, I do still have thoughts of becoming an interpreter on occasion. Maybe if this fitness stuff doesn't work out ha!

By Vishal Punj

Vishal Punj is the owner of Aatma Fitness Studios, a full service boutique health and fitness club in the Center Of The Universe, Seattle.

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