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Posted by on Mar 20, 2012 | 0 comments

Work Out With Kettlebells and Deep Squats to Have Your Best Baseball Season Yet!


Springtime is now here in the northern hemisphere, and you know what that means? That’s right – baseball season is starting soon!

All over the country, both major and minor leagues have begun spring training and are warming up their throwing arms for this season’s games.

While baseball is not considered a contact sport, many injuries, both minor and serious, result from contact with the ball, improper form, or even one slight incorrect move of a limb. In fact, most of the common injuries include repetitive-use injuries in the shoulder and elbow, contusions, muscle pulls, black eyes, ligament injuries, lacerations, and even concussions.

Luckily, there are a two specific exercises baseball players can partake in to make themselves stronger, more flexible, and less prone to injury – kettlebells and squats!

Kettlebells, an all-inclusive exercise that originated from Russia, is a catch-all sort of exercise that benefits the entire body. Using kettlebells correctly can improve your strength, power, speed, and coordination all over your body, and it can also improve your performance in baseball. You can also increase the grip strength on the bat (which improves your speed), make your shoulders stronger, increase the mobility in your shoulders and hips, and decrease your chances of injury when you work out with kettlebells.

If you’re already familiar with the kettlebells, you can already start your workout! The best exercises to do to help you with your baseball performance include the power clean, front squat, kettlebell swing, shoulder press, and the reverse lunge.

Be warned, however – if you don’t know how to use the kettlebells, you should first consult with a professional on how to properly use them. Injury can easily abound from using kettlebells incorrectly, especially when picking them up and putting them back down. You can even check out our video of kettlebell exercises right here to see how it looks to use them correctly!

Along with upper-body injuries, knee injuries are also relatively common in baseball. In fact, some knee injuries can easily end one’s baseball career if they’re severe enough, so it’s exceptionally important to take care of your lower body muscles and joints.

One of the best ways to strengthen your lower body is by doing deep squats. This exercise, which we’re programmed to do properly from the time we were infants, strengthens the entire body. Sadly, though, as we age we lose the range of motion to properly execute deep squats because we stop doing them.

What’s worse is that we’re taught incorrectly on how to do deep squats using only a 60-degree range of motion with weights instead of the full 135 degree-range that the knees can handle. Using a limited range of motion will only cause wear and tear to your knees, ankles, and hip joints.

The proper way to do a squat, however, is actually to run through the FULL range of your knees’ bend and use the glutes to do all the hard work. If you do the exercise correctly, you will strengthen everything from your lower back to your ankles! Check out our video here to see how to properly do a full squat!

If you happen to not be able to do a squat in a full range of motion, there’s no need to worry (or avoid doing squats)! A physical therapist like Mark Slaughter can work with you and help you regain your range of motion!

Are you ready to get revved up for this year’s baseball season? Want to do the workouts, but you’re not sure how to start? No problem! Give us a call here at Fitness4Life at (618) 656-5433 or visit us at our website at to see what we can do for you! We’ll get you started on the right foot this baseball season!

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Posted by on Feb 22, 2012 | 0 comments

Keep Fit This Winter With These Eight Indoor and Outdoor Activities!


When we think of winter, we typically envision a cold, snowy night. The wind is howling outside of our home, causing the snow to swirl endlessly through the streets and ice to form slowly on tree limbs and power lines. Meanwhile, we’re inside, maybe watching the snow from the living room couch, curled up in a fuzzy blanket with hot chocolate. Or potato chips. Or cake. Or brownies…

The season of winter tends to bring out the primal instinct of hibernation even in the best of us. All we want to do is eat and snuggle in our bed until springtime comes. And really, who wants to go outside where it’s cold and wet?

In spite of the challenges that the season poses, winter is a time in which a new realm of possibilities to remain active presents itself to us. And you don’t even have to join a gym to get a good workout – you can still work out in your own backyard (or living room)! Check out these eight activities that you can still do outdoors or indoors!

Just Dance! – What more of a fun way to work those glutes, legs, and abs when you have to stay indoors than dancing! Break out some of your dance moves or freestyle to the Beatles (or another favorite band of yours). You don’t even have to be a professional dancer to shed some pounds; all you have to do is just get up and move it!

Fitness DVDs – Don’t feel like driving through the winter weather to go work out at the gym? You don’t have to! By investing in some dumbbells and some fitness DVDs, you can bring the gym home with you! All you have to do is roll out of bed, get limber, and press “play,” and you’re good to go!

Jump rope – Harken back to your primary school days, and get ready for an intense workout! Jumping rope is an easy way to burn lots of calories in a short amount of time. Better yet, jump ropes are inexpensive and can go with you everywhere. Just remember to wear a pair of shock-absorbent shoes when you exercise!

Mall It! – Love to shop? Good news, shopper! Walking around the mall not only helps you get your errands done, but it also helps you burn calories! To get the best workout out of this low-impact activity, intersperse 2-minute intervals of fast walking into your regular walking pace.

Don’t forget – you can still walk outside in the wintertime! Just remember to dress warmly, and you’re good to go!

Pilates – This mat-based exercise is popular for a reason – it’s a great way to sculpt your abs and back and strengthen your core! You can choose to take a class with others or to do the exercise with DVD instructions in the privacy of your home.

Running – Newsflash! You can still run in the winter! Just add some extra layers of moisture resistant clothes, put on a hat and gloves, and you’re set! Be sure to choose a safe, ice-fee running route, though. If you’d rather not get cold or wet, try running on the treadmill or indoor track at your local gym or rec center.

Ski or Snowboard – Why not take advantage of the winter weather while it’s still here? Skiing and snowboarding work all the major upper-and lower-body muscle groups and you prove to be a great workout! And better yet, you’ll get to play in the snow!

Spinning – Got the itch to go biking? Cycling indoors can help you shed pounds and trim up your buns and thighs! Crank up your favorite tunes or watch a favorite show and start spinning like mad! Try to keep the revolutions per minute high for an intense cardio workout.

Remember, winter is just like any other season when it comes to hydration. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workouts, and be sure to dress for the weather. It’s best to dress in layers as you can keep the heat in and you’ll be able to remove your clothing as your workout intensifies!

Want some more fitness tips? Why not check out our Facebook page or Twitter page? Better yet, call us up here at Fitness4Life at 618-656-5433, and we can show you how to effectively exercise! Get going, get out there, and get healthy!

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Posted by on Jan 19, 2012 | 0 comments

Sometimes You Get Worse Before You Get Better

It’s that same old pain again. When you sit down after a long, arduous day of work and finally relax, you feel the pain shooting through your knee. Why on earth is your knee hurting again? Maybe you did too much work today… or this week… or this month. Your knee has been hurting you for at least a week, so you think that maybe it’s time to make an appointment with your doctor to get it checked out.

Before you pick up your phone or turn on your laptop, wait a minute and listen up! Your knee very well might not be the actual problem. The issue could lie elsewhere, perhaps in your ankle or in your hip. But how can you find out exactly what’s going on?

Mark Slaughter, PT, has a unique approach when it comes to treating pain. He takes what he calls a “joint-by-joint” approach to the body and tries to find out what the REAL issue could be.

Did you know that pain doesn’t have to just stem from the source? Just because your foot hurts doesn’t necessarily mean that your foot is the culprit and is causing you the problem, believe it or not!

When it comes to joints in the body, there are two different types – those that stabilize you and those that bend and help you to move. And joints tend to work in pairs together, too. For instance, your feet are there to stabilize you, but your ankle is the joint that is responsible for moving you. Your knees help stabilize you while your hip does the moving and shaking. Moving higher up on the body, your lower back is there to make sure you stay stable while your mid spine helps you to move, and your scapula will stabilize you while your shoulder does the work moving.

Unfortunately, because of poor posture or incorrect movements of the joints and body, the stabilizing joints switch roles and become mobile, and the mobile joints become stiff and try to act as stabilizers. This odd role-reversal can cause quite a bit of pain and should be corrected!

Think of your body as a massive, intricate machine. If one cog wobbles, loosens, and eventually flies off into oblivion, the whole beautiful machine breaks down and falls apart, becoming useless.

Mark Slaughter doesn’t treat the symptoms you experience; he treats the PROBLEM. He looks at the whole body, not just the source of pain, to find what truly ails you. He accomplishes this because he listens to the patient and what he or she tells him about the pain they’re experiencing. By using cutting-edge methodology, Mark can pinpoint what ails you, and by training your MOVEMENT, not your muscles, you can help yourself avoid injury and pain more easily and more frequently.

Are you experiencing any pain? Call us up here at Fitness4Life at (618) 656-5433 and ask for Mark or Sharon! They will help get you on the right track to getting better!

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Posted by on Dec 13, 2011 | 0 comments

Live Longer by Staying Active and Doing the Things You Love!

In the day and age in which computers, texting, Tweeting, and Facebook dominates our culture, it’s hard to refocus on the world before us. Televisions can be found in nearly everyone’s home across the nation, and after a hard day’s work, which tends to entail toiling tirelessly at a desk for at least 8 hours, people tend to come home, and plop on the couch for the rest of the night, remote in one hand and Blackberry in another.

Now, we’re not saying that people shouldn’t relax at all; that would be an insane declaration to make! It seems, though, as if there is so much insistence in keeping priorities straight – work and family usually dominate the top tiers, and rightfully so. What needs to be made a priority, however, is exercising and keeping active throughout the years.

“Yeah, very funny joke. Tell another!” you may exclaim. Guess what? We aren’t joking.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States during the past 20 years, and, as news reports inform us quite frequently, the rates remain high while exercising rates have decreased.

“Awww, but that means I have to actually get up and exercise, doesn’t it?” Why, yes. Yes, it does. And yes, we know that you’ve had a long day at work or that the kids have worn you down. It happens to all of us. But believe it or not, keeping fit and active doesn’t have to be a chore. In fact, the hardest part is deciding what you want to do and just going for it!

So right now you might be wondering what workouts are the best to help you keep fit and stay active. Actually, the answer is simple. The best workout is the one that works best for you.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to join the gym or work with huge machines to stay fit. All you have to do is find a physical activity or two that you enjoy doing and be sure that you do it often! If you love running, then go jogging or play soccer or football. If you enjoy dancing, turn up your favorite tunes and dance in your living room or take Zumba classes. Are you a lover of things that require hand-eye coordination (hello, videogames!)? Why not shoot some hoops or play a few rounds of tennis? And of course, if strength training is your game, go lift weights to your heart’s content or try some kettlebells!

If you’re still not on board, consider this. There are so many benefits to staying fit. Of course there are the typical benefits that you can expect to receive from exercise such as losing weight and keeping weight off, lowering your blood pressure, gaining more energy, and sleeping better. But did you know that by keeping fit, you decrease the stress and anxiety in your life while boosting your libido and positive energy? And while you’re improving your blood glucose management and blood fats, you’re lowering your risk for other health problems such as heart attack, bone loss, stroke, and some forms of cancers.

Staying active will also keep you strong throughout your life by increasing your muscle mass and strength. It will also prevent you from becoming breathless during simple activities such as walking up a flight of stairs or walking quickly from one place to another when it’s cold.

And get this – staying fit and physically active will help you as you age! According to a new study, people over 70 who no longer remain physically active are more likely to develop physical problems within a few years. Other studies have found that seniors who remain physically active over 70 are less likely to experience age-related declines in functioning mentally. In a way, physical activity is just as important as taking your medicine when you’re older.

Sounds like an awesome deal, right? A little bit of physical activity for lifelong benefits… Oh, wait. You have to actually dedicate time do staying fit. Don’t sign off just yet! You don’t have to keep your nose to the grindstone all the time. You can workout in 10-minute intervals throughout the day or in one-hour blocks scattered throughout the week. As long as the schedule works for you and your lifestyle, it doesn’t matter how much time you do in one interval! See? Now you have no more excuses!

And just remember, your attitude will change how you view exercise. If you have a positive attitude toward exercise, you’re more likely to do it! Just keep doing the things you love, and you’ll be happier and more likely to do them in the long run!

Got questions? Want some advice on how to begin? Call us here at Fitness4Life at (618) 656-5433 or visit us at our website at!

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Posted by on Sep 21, 2011 | 0 comments

Having Trouble with Your Exercise Regime? Talk to Mark Slaughter!

The time has come. You are totally going to lose the extra weight you somehow managed to put on in the past three years! You’ve got your plan all typed up and ready; you’ve abolished all chocolate from passing your lips, and you just bought the newest edition of Shape-Ups to help tone you up more. You’re going to start getting fit, and you’re going to start first thing tomorrow morning! Carpe diem!

But then the morning comes.

The alarm rings at 6 a.m., and bleary-eyed, you glance at your clock, fumble with it for a moment, and, instead of getting out of bed and going for that walk like you promised yourself last night, you reset the alarm for your typical wake-up time of 7 a.m. and go back to sleep.

Does this sound like you? Well, maybe it’s time for you to find yourself a personal trainer to help out!

“Ummm, but wait a sec ,” you may say. “I’m not a celebrity, and I’m not a big-shot at some fancy-schmancy corporation. I’m not the kind of person who needs a PERSONAL TRAINER!”

Well, did you know that thousands of “regular people” utilize a personal trainer’s help on a regular basis to help lose weight, eat right, and get on the healthy track in life?

In fact, according to an article from, 85% of people who use personal trainers to help them achieve their goals maintain their exercise regime and hit the gym regularly.

Mark SlaughterSo how can a personal trainer help you? Well, there are many benefits to having a personal trainer on your side! Just ask Mark Slaughter, PT, here at Fitness4Life. He has 35 years of training in not only physical therapy but also personal training, and he has helped thousands of patients in his career.

One of the most important things personal trainers can do for you is to get you motivated – and keep you motivated! There are so many people who have all the good intentions in the world to exercise but never get around to it because they’re too tired, too busy, or think that there’s too much work involved in order to lose weight. Having a personal trainer is like having your own personal cheerleader – even if you’re having the most difficult time in the world with your fitness issues, they will stand there and cheer you on until you succeed (and then they’ll cheer some more!).

Do you ever wish you could see results right away with your workout regime? Let’s face it – who DOESN’T want to see the results of all the hard work they put in to a cause they believe to be worthy of all the effort? Working with a personal trainer lets you see your results in a faster frame of time, AND they’ll be better results to boot!

Okay, okay, we can tell you’re still fighting the idea. Perhaps you do things your own way (which is fine!); you go for an intense walk through town every day and try to lift a few weights here and there.

Are you seeing results?

If not, you might not be getting the most out of your exercise regime. A personal trainer will customize your exercise program and will show you how to get the most out of your workout! They know all the tips and tricks to show you how to tweak your routines so that you’ll start shredding those pounds or toning those arms up more quickly and more efficiently. As a bonus to you, personal trainers will also teach you how to exercise safely and in less time, but with the same (or even better) efficiency!

Oh, and did we mention that personal trainers can help you get past that pesky plateau? You know, the one that stops you from losing the last 5 or 10 pounds that have been REFUSING to budge in ages?

Okay, okay, maybe you’re not totally sold on the idea. Maybe you don’t want to commit to the idea of meeting with a personal trainer multiple times a week. And yes, that’s definitely a time commitment that can’t be taken lightly! No worries, you can actually take one or two separate sessions here at Fitness4Life! You can get your feet wet with ease and let Mark Slaughter do what he does best before you decide if you want to commit your time. But even a few sessions will help you look and feel better! If nothing else, you have a few ideas of what to do to help yourself become a healthier person.

So what are you waiting for? Pick up the phone and call 1-618-656-LIFE and talk to Mark Slaughter about personal training here at Fitness4Life!

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Posted by on Sep 2, 2011 | 0 comments

An FMS is an Athlete’s BFF – Why You Need to Get an FMS Today!

Have you ever been in any sort of accident or have experienced some sort of injury in your life? Most of us have had a least some minor injury to our body, be it a sprained ankle or injured hand or something more serious such as a dislocated shoulder or a torn ligament.

In fact, you don’t even have to be involved in sports at all to get a serious injury. It wouldn’t be unheard of if an adolescent playing an innocent game of nighttime tag with his friends turned the wrong way or overstretched his stride and dislocated his kneecap.

Let me tell you: that sort of injury does NOT look pretty.

And here’s the kicker – that adolescent with the dislocated kneecap, a horrible injury which could continue to plague him for the majority of the school year, could’ve easily been avoided.  Besides maybe being a bit more aware of his surroundings, he could’ve gotten a functional movement screening (FMS) from Mark Slaughter, PT, here at Fitness4Life.

Slaughter is one of the four certified physical therapists in the entire St. Louis area and is happy to provide screenings for any and all clients, young and old alike.

So what is FMS and what does it all entail?

FMS is an analysis on a person’s movement, and it evaluates the body’s vulnerabilities and inflexibilities so that future injuries will be prevented.  While your body’s weaknesses are identified, its strengths and flexibilities are also distinguished. It is a very effective screening that U.S. football, hockey, baseball, university teams and even the United States military have been using for years.

The screening includes 7 exercises and 3 easy movements to test for pain that you will undergo as you take it. They include the deep squat, in-line lunge, shoulder mobility, active straight leg raise, trunk stability push up, rotary stability, impingement clearing test, press up clearing test, and posterior rocking clearing test. These exercises are scored on a scale of 0 to 3 with 0 being a complete fail and 3 being perfect. Check out this video for what the exercises look like:

FMS can also help you to become a better athlete! Once you’ve discovered your weaknesses, Slaughter can show you workouts and stretches to help you strengthen yourself so you will become much less prone to injury.

The human body is like a computer; preventative measures must be taken in order to protect it from viruses and infection, and an FMS will help you prevent injury to your body. So stop by Fitness4Life before your next workout session or sports season and ask Mark Slaughter to give you an FMS!

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