Debunking Stretching Myths with Matt Dawson.

Fact or Fiction?

If you already include stretching in your regular fitness routine, congratulations—you’re ahead of the curve. But for the 90% of us, who seem to overlook this crucial aspect of fitness, it is time to rethink how important stretching truly is.screen-shot-2014-07-28-at-10-34-44-am1

Recently celebrating his 12 year anniversary here in Aztec Recreation, personal trainer Matt Dawson has endless knowledge when it comes to the value of flexibility training to avoid and recover from injury.

 “I feel so blessed to do something for 12 years and love it just as much.”

Along with training, Matt’s passion for organic gardening, yoga, and wellbeing truly illustrates his belief that without your health, you don’t have wealth. Matt’s philosophy is that health comes from the inside out. Unfortunately, Matt is not accepting new clients at this time so we decided to sit down and pick his brain to set straight stretching truths and myths.

 1. Stretching before your workout is crucial.

Matt: “In my experience, my clients have performed much better stretching after a 25-minute or longer cardio session. Think of your muscles as silly putty. When it’s cold, it will just tear apart verses when it’s had contact with heat it is the most elastic. Same goes for your muscles.”

Be sure to warm up!!

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Reach Your Goals With Group Fitness

Group fitness classes are included in the Aztec Recreation membership and are a great way to help you with your 2015 fitness goals! We offer cardio, strength, mind/body, and dance formats so you can enjoy a huge variety of classes that make exercise fun. Beginners are welcome; previous experience is not required! If it’s your first class, feel free to introduce yourself to the instructor prior to class. That way he/she will be better able to cater to your experience and fitness level. Check out the current schedule.

Looking to achieve internal balance and reduce tension and stress? This class uses breath-synchronized movement to create internal heat that purifies muscles and organs by expelling unwanted toxins from the body in the form of sweat. Dynamic, flowing posture sequences will build strength and flexibility. You will learn to set an intention for your personal yoga practice and take the necessary steps toward reaching that goal.

Heard of the at-home Insanity® program? Now it’s in your group fitness studio! This class utilizes the concept of max interval training, where longer high intensity cardio intervals are interspersed with short rest periods so that you can get the most out of your workout. All levels are welcome in this body weight workout that can increase your cardiovascular endurance, as well as muscular strength. Just one question: are you ready to dig deep?

Article by: Liana Tsirklin

Importance of Mobility for Strength Training

Mobility is both beneficial to all aspects of fitness and is easy to improve and maintain.  It is your ability to control your limbs throughout their full range of motion, and can sometimes be confused for stretching.  Although stretching and flexibility are both aspects of mobility, mobility has a direct functional effect on movement.  By working on mobility, not only will you be able to avoid injury but you will be able to execute exercises with more power and efficiency. Watch the video below to see how different mobility exercises can help you get into a more optimal squat position.



As the school year begins, the gym gets packed with students from a wide range of fitness levels.  From beginners to thoroughbred fitness gurus, students are eager to put the amazing facility at the ARC to good use.  But, before you go charging in to grab a bench or claim a pair of dumbbells, let’s take the time out to prepare the most important piece of equipment in the gym: you. Your body is the most complex machine found in any gym facility.  With over 200 bones and over 650 different muscles, it is important to recognize the endless possibilities of movement patterns and leverages it can accomplish.

Making sure your body has the sufficient mobility for weightlifting should be an essential part of your workout routine.  It allows you to get into optimal positions and execute movements in ways where you are testing the strength of your muscles and not the integrity of your joints.  It also prevents injury by giving you the awareness of any weaknesses you may have in your muscle groups so you will not compensate by overworking and straining other dominant muscle groups during exercises.

Lack of mobility often manifests itself in large compound movements.  The squat is a great example.  Lifters will often times lack mobility at the bottom of the squat in their ankles and hips, which forces their toes and knees forward and outward to create space for their hips to drop down, while at the same time, shifting weight onto the toes.  This starts an avalanche of problems as your body attempts to compensate for the lack of strength created by the poorly leveraged squat position. As the knees come forward, all the weight shifts onto the quads, eliminating the entire posterior chain from the movement (the posterior chain consists of all the muscles on the backside of your body including the glutes, hamstrings, calves, and back).  The body will compensate for the lack of strength with the knees, hips, and lower back, putting them under tremendous strain and often leading to injuries in the future.

You can improve your mobility in countless ways.  Essentially every muscle in your body can be worked on and improved for better performance.  Several high quality foam rollers and bands are available for checkout at the front desk and the PVC pipe is available for use in the Fitness Room.  The ARC also offers various Yoga and Pilates classes throughout the day to all members which can help you strengthen your mind muscle connection and your core while improving flexibility and mobility.   So before you go crazy with the weights, take a moment to make sure your body is primed, supple, and ready for action

Article by: Jimmy Shiba, Graduate Health Promotion Intern,  MPH Candidate

Are you working on your mobility? Let us know how #LiveWellAztecs

More mobility resources:

(A more in depth description of joint mobility and joint stability as the foundation of any workout program)

(Joint mobility as it relates directly to the squat. Video and article by multiple powerlifting world record holder Bryce Lewis)

(The difference between mobility and flexibility.)




This sequence is made up of poses that will improve your core strength and help build your abs. While doing yoga is not the best way to get a six-pack, you can expect to significantly tone and strengthen your mid-section. Strengthening your core can also help relieve back pain and improve posture (nothing makes your belly look bigger than slouching!). Many of the poses recommended below are balances, which are a great way to work the core.


Article by: Reyanne Mustafa

Inner/Outer Thigh Workout Tips

That awkward moment when you are using the inner or outer thigh machine and you lock eyes with someone across the gym. Yeah, we know and we have all been there.

Our very own Brian Tabor, a personal trainer here at the ARC, demonstrates 4 simple exercises targeting the inner and outer thigh using body weight as resistance rather than machinery. These exercises are effective in tightening and toning the adductor and abductor muscle groups.

  1. Lateral Lounge
  2. Reverse Cross Over Lounge
  3. Progression Side Plank
  4. Supine Jack Knife

Video by: Brian Tabor
Article by: Reyanne Mustafa

Take Your Workout to the Water!

SUP Yoga on beautiful Mission Bay!
SUP Yoga on beautiful Mission Bay!

Do you feel like your workout has fallen into a rut?  Have you stopped looking forward to going to the gym? Are you bored of using the same treadmill or doing sit-ups on the same mat every week? How about taking your workout to the water? The Mission Bay Aquatic Center, an Aztec Recreation facility located in Mission beach, has several classes to help breathe life back into your workout and get you excited about exercising.

Stand Up Paddling is an example of a fun and effective way to combine core strength with cardio. This dual workout technique works to increase your heart rate and help get you faster results! We offer four types of Stand Up Paddling classes: Stand Up Paddling-Basic Skills, SUPcore Yoga, SUPcore Fit and SUPcore Train. For first time paddlers, Basic Skills is a great class to get you comfortable with the equipment! You will learn proper stroke technique, steering, standing position, etc. all while touring Mission Bay.  Our SUPcore Yoga class takes your yoga practice outside and onto your paddleboard, all while challenging your flexibility, balance and focus. SUPcore Fit is a fun way to get in a rigorous full body workout. Starting with a warm-up paddle, this class will lead into exercises working every major muscle group in your body. Finally, SUPcore Train is the perfect course for those interested in SUP races. This class will improve your long distance paddling, get you moving with a soft sand run and sharpen your interval paddle strokes. To view a current class schedule click here (

For those of you who are short on time, the Mission Bay Aquatic Center also offers Stand Up Paddleboard rentals. This is a great way to utilize the facility whenever it is convenient for your schedule and still get a chance to change up your workout. These 2 ½ hour paddleboard rentals include your equipment, a life preserver, and for first timers, an orientation to get you all set up and paddling correctly.  For current rental rates click here ( )

Make sure to change up your workout to make it fun and exciting every time. Visit the Mission Bay Aquatic Center today!