A Healthy You Includes Healthy Skin… Sun Protection 101

Happy 4th of July week!
I know many of you will spend most of the weekend outside (let’s hope the weather cooperates!) and though this may be a topic not directly related to fitness, it is about a healthy life and that’s what we’re all about, right?! So let’s talk sunscreen and other things to help you make the best choice!

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the sunscreen options in stores and rumors you hear about them, here are a few things to keep in mind when picking the best products for you and your family to keep you safe from the sun!

–Use a sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 15 and a maximum of SPF 50 (many studies show that the amount of “extra” protection you get from a sunscreen over SPF 50 is minimal for the money – as long as you are reapplying you’ll be good!)

–Make sure it’s a broad spectrum (meaning it protects from both UVA and UVB rays)

–Avoid products containing oxybenzone and retinyl palminate if you’re concerned about potentially toxic chemicals (that’s a whole different topic!!)

–Choose lotions versus spray sunscreens for a more evenly distributed protection (trust me, I’ve experienced this one!!)

– -Remember to apply at least 2 ounces of lotion (about a shot glass full) and reapply often. The sun breaks down the ingredients in sunscreen that protect your skin. Experts recommend reapplying every two hours, or after swimming or heavy sweating!

Healthy skin is a large part of a healthy YOU, so make sure to stock up on sun screen and protect that skin every time you go have fun in the sun!


How Are You Allowing Cortisol To Impact Your Health?

Cortisol is a stress hormone released by the adrenal glands. It’s important for helping your body deal with stressful situations, as your brain triggers its release in response to many different kinds of stress.
Cortisol can be good for us. Normal levels of cortisol are released when you wake up in the morning or exercise. These levels can help regulate your blood pressure and blood sugar levels and even strengthen your heart muscle. In small doses, the hormone can heighten memory, increase your immune system and lower sensitivity to pain.
However, when cortisol levels are too high for too long, this hormone can hurt you more than it helps. Over time, high levels of cortisol may cause weight gain and high blood pressure, disrupt sleep, negatively impact mood, reduce your energy levels, and contribute to diabetes.
Unfortunately, the danger of a fast-paced culture (in which most of us live in), leaves many in a constant high-stress mode, and cortisol levels stay high. When our cortisol levels are too high problems like weight gain, tiredness, impaired brain function, and chronic disease can start to arise.
Fortunately there are many things we can do to help keep our levels in a normal range all. We can start to focus on things like:
  • Getting enough sleep: It’s important to make sure we are getting a minimum of 6 hours of sleep a night, if not 8! If you have a schedule that changes daily, or work a swing shift, don’t be afraid of those naps to help you catch up on sleep!
  • Learn to recognize stressful thoughts: The more we are aware of our body’s reaction to stimuli, the more we can handle how we process that stress. Stress is inevitable, but if we can handle it in a calmer fashion, our bodies will thank us.
  • Learn to relax and have fun: It’s hard to be stressed and feel anxious when we are smiling and laughing! Take some time for yourself everyday to do something you enjoy.
  • Maintain healthy relationships: Fill your life with relationships that bring your happiness and joy. Don’t let other people’s stress become yours!
  • Play with your pet: Again, it’s hard to be stressed when your happy!
  • Exercise and eat healthy foods: Make some time for the gym, and if you can’t make it go on a walk or something to get your body moving. Don’t forget to fuel up with healthy and natural foods, watch your sugar consumption, and take an Omega 3 supplement!
Overall we play the main role in our own health, so take some responsibility for your body and do something good for it!

Results NOT Guaranteed: How The 97% You’re Not Here Counts More!

It is what happened outside of the gym which made the difference for Gabe.  

Results NOT Guaranteed:

Results are what most gyms preach. “Results Guaranteed” is something we constantly hear from gyms. Well, we won’t guarantee your results and this could sound counterproductive to our mission, but work with me through this. You have 168 useable hours in a week and we want to see you for three to 5 hours, or about 2 to 3 percent of your week.

When you look at it from a numbers standpoint, that is very minimal time spent in the gym.  So, if results are not promised from three percent of your week, where are they going to come from?  They are going to come from the effort you put into what we tell you to do outside of the gym.  Inside the gym, in a controlled environment, you will do your work.  You will high five, sweat, laugh, and do things you never thought you were capable of doing.  That part is guaranteed. However, we only have you for three percent of your week, so what are you doing outside of the gym?

Five Questions To Ask Yourself:

Am I listening to my Coaches? Am I drinking enough water?  Am I getting enough sleep?  Am I hitting your macros based on your needs or at least eating healthy 90% of the time?  Am I doing something to destress my life?  This is where the REAL results will come from.  This is where you will make the big, and long-term changes.  Don’t get me wrong, what you do in the gym matters too.  How hard you work is going to be correlated with your results, but your results are going to be caused by what you do away from the gym.

We are here to help you through the other 97% of the week.  We have Coaches who care what happens outside of the gym.  We have nutrition accountability and that is why people see such great results in our Six Week Journey.  So, we are not results guaranteed, but we can set you up and help you have the best chance of success.  The results are there, if you want them.

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Click the button and schedule your “No Sweat Intro” today.  If we are not going to be a good fit for you, we will send you to a gym which can help you.

Our Purpose is to help members live their best life through fitness, nutrition, and education.  This also applies to non-members or potential members.  Your fitness level should never dictate your ability to live your life.







Preparing for Competition Day

Competitions are super fun and super exciting, but to make sure you feel and perform your best the day of, it’s crucial to be prepared and use the week leading up to the big day to fuel and recover.

Pre-Competition Training Week
How you train the week leading up to competition is important and shouldn’t be considered just another normal training week. It is crucial that your body is recovered. The week should look something like this:

Monday – Class as usual
Tuesday – Class as usual
Wednesday – Class, but lighter load and lower intensity
Thursday – Rest / Stretch / Light Movement (20-40 minutes of low intensity biking, rowing, walking)
Friday – Rest / Stretch / Light Movement (20-40 minutes of low intensity biking, rowing, walking)

If you have open gym, you may want to consider using Monday / Tuesday / Wednesday to fine tune movements that are in the competition and do some last minute testing!

Fueling Up For the Big Day
It’s crucial that not only your nutrition is on point, but sleep as well! You should be aiming for 7-8 hours of sleep every night. Make sleep a priority this week!

As always, nutrition is SO important. Leading up to competition day, be sure to follow the plate method for each meal – 1/2 vegetables, 1/4 healthy starch, 1/4 lean protein – to ensure you are getting the right amount of macro nutrients in to fuel your body! Adding in a few extra grams of healthy carbs (sweet potatoes, rice, fruit, etc) to get that extra energy definitely won’t hurt!

H20…. drink it! Dehydration can impact performance and you definitely don’t want to feel dehydrated come competition. Shoot for 80 oz of water per day.

Competition day, you’re going to want some snacks to refuel between events! My competition day grocery list usually looks something like this…
Fruit (apples and bananas)
Protein Powder
Natural fruit snacks / fruit leathers
Deli meat (turkey or chicken)
Kill Cliffs or O2’s
Rice Cakes
Nut Butters

What to Expect – Day Of

  • Be sure to keep track of your heat times so you know what time to start warming up, probably 20 minutes before your heat begins
  • For your warm up, do some type of full body dynamic warm up + certain isolated movements depending on the workout.The shorter the workout is, the longer your warm up should be to get that heart rate ready!
  • If the workout happens to be a max lift, make sure you are warmed up to the number you want to hit for your first attempt! You don’t want to go out on the floor and start with the barbell, there’s simply not enough time.
  • Judging – be kind to your judges! Although you may not agree with every call they make, the worst thing you can do is stop your workout to argue – it’s simply not worth it. Remember they are volunteering their time so you can compete, and we’re all just there to have fun and get some fitness in.
  • With that being said, be sure you pay attention during workout briefings so you know all the standards, and what the judges will be looking for.
  • Breathe! Don’t forget to breath during your workouts, and especially before you go out on the floor and the nerves are creeping up. Visualize yourself crushing the workout, then go out there and have fun!

Sunday should DEFINITELY be a rest day. But that doesn’t necessarily mean be a couch potato! Go on a walk, stretch, any type of light movement – your body will thank you. Although you might not feel as sore on Monday, competitions take a huge toll on the body, and it might not be the best idea to go back to class and try to tackle it at 100%. The best thing you can do is listen to your body!

We hope this helps! Competitions are fun and fuel your fire to get back in the gym and continue to tackle those weaknesses. Get ready for an awesome day full of fitness.


Why Exercise Isn’t Helping You Achieve The Results You’re Looking For

You signed up for a gym membership 6 months ago, and you’ve been consistently making trips there to get a workout in ever since. At first, you saw a few pounds shed and your body composition change slightly – but now change has been at a dead halt. Why?

Our bodies encompass our lifestyle. While one small change (adding movement) can impact our body slightly, there are still many other factors we need to look at. Here we will take a look at a few main areas of our lifestyle that we must focus on if we’re hoping to make a major change.

First, we’ll look at what we already know. Daily movement is essential to burning fat and losing weight. Regular exercise not only increases the amount of energy (calories) you burn while you are exercising, but it also boosts your resting energy expenditure. That is the rate at which you burn calories when the workout is over, and you are simply resting. To keep your resting energy expenditure elevated, you must exercise at least three days a week on a regular basis.
Building muscle also helps increase the amount of calories you burn per day, during both exercise and rest. At Ardent, we provide you with a training program that encompasses the perfect mix of many training styles (cardio, weightlifting, gymnastics, general physical preparedness, and more), to ensure that when followed with other proper lifestyle changes, you will see positive change in your body composition.

We have found that nutrition is the hardest “element” of this ideal lifestyle for people to conquer. To be quite honest, this is where most people will fail and give up. We live in a rushed world, and unfortunately, our diet has fallen victim to this. Fast food and frozen meals have become the norm for some, but this type of diet does not provide us with the proper micro- or macro- nutrients our bodies need. We could exercise all day every day, but if we are not paying careful attention to what we’re putting in our bodies, we will never see the change we are working towards.
Diet marketing has fooled many into thinking that by following the newest and trendiest diet, they will shed pounds – fast. The reality is that there is no quick fix. It will take months of hard work and fueling our body properly to achieve the results we are looking for. When it comes to nutrition, both quantity and quality matter.  We must learn appropriate portion sizes, and start tracking our food to ensure we are hitting prime macro-nutrient numbers (protein, carbs, and fat). It’s also important to eat clean, incorporate a lot of vegetables and fruits into our daily diet, and stay way from processed items.


There are many ways in which sleep impacts our ability to lose weight. Research shows that those who are sleep deprived feel significantly hungrier, and lack the energy to exercise. Sleep deprivation also impacts our body’s response to insulin. When we are not responsive to insulin, fat cells are far less able to release fatty acids, blood glucose remains high, and extra fat and sugars circulate in our blood – causing us to pump out even more insulin. Eventually, this excess insulin can cause us to store fat in all the wrong places, including tissues like our liver. This leads to problems such as fatty liver and diabetes.  Leptin and ghrelin are two hormones that can be affected by lack of sleep. The less leptin you produce, the more empty your stomach will feel. Ghrelin is a hormone that stimulates hunger, while also reducing metabolic rate and increasing fat storage. Research shows that sleeping fewer than six hours reduces leptin and stimulates ghrelin: causing you to feel more hungry and less satisfied! Just like you make exercise a daily priority, be sure to get AT LEAST 6 hours of sleep a night!


Stress, we all have it. Whether it’s emotional stress, internal stress, or physical stress – if you’re not managing it, your body will be affected. When you are under high stress, your body will go through hormonal change.The body’s response to stress has been linked to changes in metabolism, insulin, and fat storage. You’ve probably heard of the “fight or flight response” before. This is triggered by stress, and this response releases 2 hormones: adrenal and cortisol. Adrenal prepares our body to take action, once this wears off, cortisol (aka the stress hormone) hangs around. Cortisol temporarily suppresses functions like our digestive, immune, and reproductive responses. In short – the more stress we carry, the more cortisol hangs around in our system, the more likely our body is to hold on to fat, or gain fat. It’s crucial to take some time during your day to de-stress. Whether that’s 30 minutes with your favorite book, a quick walk around the block, or a mid-day power nap!




If you are looking to make a change, you must reevaluate your entire lifestyle. At Ardent Fitness & Education, we understand the importance each of these factors, and we’re here to help.

Sign up for a FREE No Sweat Intro to learn more about out programs that will help you become the best version of yourself!

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Physical Literacy

Can you read?

Literacy is an important part of everyday life.  Could you imagine not having the ability to read?  Much of our interaction derives through words.  Words in books, words on social media, and words on signs.  Now take the thought of not being able to read and put it in the realm of interacting physically with your environment.

Physical literacy is not just a catch phrase.  Physical literacy is something to consider from the start of life until the end of life.  You are constantly learning, reaching mile markers, and developing.  Unlike actual literacy, which usually progresses with age, our physical literacy tends to digress.

I would bet you had a perfect squat as a child.  I bet you were flexible and could move with ease interacting with your environment.  As you age, though, life happens.  You go to school, sit a lot, and become sedentary.  We want to improve your physical literacy.  We want you to interact with your environment.  We want you to go on that hike with your grandchildren or canoe the Boundary Waters with your friends  There shouldn’t be any reason (within your control) you cannot age gracefully and continue to be active well into your 70s, 80s, and 90s.

If you stop moving, you die.  So, instead of “Can you read?” I am going to say, “Can you live?”

Book a No Sweat Intro today, so we can start improving your physical literacy:

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Vulnerability and Fear

In the very basic form, what we do is help people overcome their fear and vulnerability.  We, as a people, are not born to “walk alone” and this is a reason so many of our clients are successful.  They are not alone, they have support from Coaches and other members.  The premise of this post is to expose the difference in what you could be feeling about moving forward, with caring about your health and wellness.  To put this into perspective, I am going to first address one of my vulnerabilities and level the playing field.

Fact:  Content is king when it comes to a fitness facility or any service based industry.

Fact:  I personally feel most vulnerable putting out content: written, video, or otherwise.

These facts are in direct conflict.  They create a rift in my daily “flow.” I sit down and say, “I’m going to write about this,” but then I will stop half way.  I am not stopping due to lack of ideas, I am letting my vulnerability get in the way.  It takes direct action to fight through this vulnerability.  Sometimes it even takes prodding from the people in my life who know this is a factor.  Now that I have exposed something I feel vulnerable doing, I am going to relate it to what you may feel signing up for a “No Sweat Intro”.

I meet with multiple people a week and I am stood up by multiple people each week.  What is the factor which separates the people who “do” and the people who “don’t”?  It is not overcoming fear, but over coming vulnerability.  Most people are stuck in a rut when it comes to health and wellness.  They have tried all the fad diets, quick workouts, did the New Year resolutions, but nothing has worked.  The one thing which could change the entire trajectory of their health is walking through a door where people are there to help and guide you.  People are there who care about you and your success and people who can empathize with your vulnerability.

The case I am making with this post is to not mistake fear with vulnerability.  Every.Single.One of us feels vulnerable with something.  The difference is how you address it.  As I write this I am in my own head, but when I feel really vulnerable about something I read a quote by Theodore Roosevelt, “Man in the Arena.”  I am not going to link it or put it in this post.  If you need it, you will seek it out.  Once you seek it out and decide to face your vulnerability, come in and have a conversation with me. Schedule a time to come in and get started here.

Coach Austin


The Hollow Position: Are You Doing It Right?

The hollow position. This position can be very easy to “half-ass”. Many people tend to think they are in a solid hollow position, but if you are able to have a full conversation, or hold for minutes on end, you are most likely not in the correct position, and completely missing the benefits of the hold.
A correct hollow hold goes as followed:
To begin the hollow position start by lying on your back.
Your legs should stretched out and straight (ensure they are fully straightened by flexing your knees)
Your feet should be together (bonus points for pointed toes!)
Your arms should be reaching overhead in a locked out position (straight elbows), squeezing your ears.
When you lift your legs and shoulders off the ground, the hollow position has been achieved. It’s important to make sure you keep your lower back pressed to the ground, so there is no space between your mid-line and the floor. You know you’re doing a hollow hold correctly if you are squeezing every inch of your body.
One test you can do is to have someone come lift your feet- like we tried with Desiree.
Top Image: We told Desiree to get in a hollow position, then lifted her feet. As you can see, her hips hinged, causing the angel of her hips to narrow and break her solid hollow position. This means, she more than likely was not squeezing and engaging as much as she should have been to receive the benefits of this hold.
Bottom Image: We then talked through the idea of energy shooting out of her extremities (fingers & toes) and told her to flex and engage her whole body. She got into another hollow position, this time focusing on engaging, and again we lifted her feet. As you can see, her hips stayed up and her solid hollow position stayed strong and unbroken! This shows that Desiree understands the concept of keeping her whole body tight, and she now knows what it should feel like as she progressed through her gymnastic skills (kipping, handstand holds, and so much more!).
Another thing you can do to test your hollow position would be to try and hold the hollow position for a full 60 seconds, making sure every muscle is engaged and the proper position is being held. To ensure there is no cheating, use a timer to count your minute. If you cannot hold the position with integrity for the full time, then you might need to start with a scaled version such as tucking your legs in towards your chest or bringing your arms down by your side.

5 Tips For Getting Through The Holidays

The holidays are right around the corner (literally, Thanksgiving is this week!), and if you’ve been crushing your diet lately, you might be stressing about what’s going to happen the day of the big feast. Have no fear, just read our 5 tips for getting through the holidays. Whether you’re worried about restricting yourself from eating anything delicious, or eating too many treats you feel like you’re going to explode, follow these 5 tips to get through the holidays without feeling completely miserable.

  1. Volunteer to bring a dish
    By bringing your own dish (or 2) to the party, you can make sure there will be something healthy available for you to eat. Get creative with seasonal ingredients or recreate a classic holiday dish without all the added junk.
  2. Load your plate with protein and veggies
    Instead of filling 3/4ths of your plate with mashed potatoes and gravy, pile the veggies and turkey on! By doing this you can make sure you are still getting an adequate amount of protein in for the day, and also fueling your body with micronutrients from the veggies.
  3. Drink water
    Don’t forget that hydration still counts on holidays! Be prepared and bring your own water bottle so you don’t forget to sip throughout the day. Although your diet may be a little off for the day, you’re water intake doesn’t have to be! Your body will thank you if you manage to stay hydrated.
  4. Enjoy yourself
    There’s nothing more important than time spent with friends and family, so don’t waste the day worrying about your caloric intake instead of enjoying yourself with the ones you love. A little gravy and one piece of your favorite pie isn’t going to kill you.
  5. Get over it, and get back on track
    Although you should enjoy yourself, it’s also important to remember that Thanksgiving is just one day. Get back on track and don’t let the Holiday treats roll into the weekend too much, or you’ll be feeling extra sluggish on Monday. Try to eat as normal as possible on both the days leading up to and following Thanksgiving. Your consistency throughout the year matters way more than what you do one year of the day!

This Thanksgiving, Show Gratitude Towards Your Health

Thanksgiving is one week away, and before we shove our faces with turkey, stuffing, and pie, we take time to reflect on what we are incredibly thankful for in our lives.

Usually, we list off our loved ones, our homes, our careers, maybe a fun trip we were able to go on in the past year. We also often list off our health. Our bodies put up with so much, we should be extremely thankful for our health. But it seems as though, on every other day of the year, we can easily forget how incredibly grateful we are for a functioning human body.

It’s all too easy to wake up and take for granted the daily tasks we are able to perform without question. If you can get through your day without physical struggle, you should consider yourself pretty dang lucky. There are people who would do anything to be able to get up and move through their day as effortlessly as you do.

Don’t overlook all that your body does for you. How do you show it thanks everyday?

Prove to your body that you are thankful for it by treating it right.  Take advantage of your health by exercising daily and eating whole, nutritious foods, because you can. Get enough sleep and take time each day to destress to show your body some love, because it deserves it.

Next time you are dreading going to the gym, or deciding between a quick drive-thru run versus a nutritious home cooked meal, remember two things. 1.) There are plenty of people out there who would do anything to be able to exercise again, or have a kitchen to cook a meal in. 2.) Your body is made to move, and runs best off of whole, real foods. Show your body thanks each and every day by choosing the better options, you may be surprised how well it starts treating you back.

If you are ready to make a change and start showing your body some love, we would love to help you being your health and fitness journey. Book a free No Sweat Intro today.