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Talk of the Town

“2011 Excellence in Customer Satisfaction”
- Talk of the Town and Celebration Media

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Al Painter - Integrate Performance Fitness, Palo Alto CA
Al Painter, NASM-CPT, CES, PES, BA

Al Painter is a personal training who believes that core strength is the common denominator to all successful movement. Read more.

Al is also the Fitness Editor for; in addition to being a cast member on the site’s podcast, as well as FitPro Expert on Read more.




INTEGRATE Performance Fitness  – Into your life, into your health, into longevity!

Are you considering a Fitness Trainer or Fitness Program?  INTEGRATE Performance Fitness is located in Palo Alto, CA and is available for semi-private (2-3 people) and large group sessions.

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  • Have question? Drop a line and get some answers.
  • Al is happy to speak to you about a fitness plan to meet (and surpass) your goals.

About Al Painter, BA, NASM-CPT, CES, PES & Fitness Trainer

Al Painter is a National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) Certified Personal Trainer, Performance Enhancement Specialist as well as an Corrective Exercise Specialist. He also holds a degree in Communications from Santa Clara University. His area of specialty is endurance athlete specific strength training.

Check out why people rave about INTEGRATE Performance Fitness!

Al has also been named “Best Bay Area Personal Trainer” by CitySports Magazine as well as being the recipient of a “People’s Choice Award” from Palo Alto Daily News.

Latest Articles

4 Exercises for Fitness Fun

I am BIG on using as many muscles and joints moving as possible when you workout to build better fitness. To do otherwise IM(always)HO is not efficient.
Case in point curling or pressing something that weighs less than a sack of flower while seated doesn’t do much for your fitness levels. Now, if you’ve got orthopedic considerations and that’s the best thing for you structurally, then by all means, don’t progress until medically cleared. However, if you don’t have corrective issues to take into account, pick up something that challenges your muscles and MOVE IT, repeatedly (“Four Exercises to a Flatter Belly”).
Kids weigh more than 5lbs, I’ve got two and first hand working knowledge on the topic. So when I workout, carrying, squatting and hinging with anything less than 30lbs is not functional to my life and doesn’t prepare me for the load demands of my day.
One of the best examples of this I’ve seen is Daniella Dayoub from DFitLife having a client carry a weight vest the way you would a child’s car seat. The person is expecting soon, and this is a functionally brilliant way to prepare her body for what it will be put through post new human arrival. See, real world need, apply the appropriate stimulus, build functional strength. Pretty simple formula.
In order for your muscles to get stronger, they need to be overloaded so they can adapt to carry/push/pull/hold heavier loads. Once this happens, you’ll typically put a little muscle on allowing you to burn more calories at rest. Lean muscle is a great thing to build, so do it and enjoy the results.
Standing on an inflated half dome curling or pressing overhead 3-5lbs not only looks kind of silly, but we know that’s not the optimal way to build real world useable strength (“3 Exercise Fitness Fails”).
To help you migrate toward the deep end of the pool, here are four exercises that will not only help you build real world functional strength, but they will provide you with quite a challenge for the core, hips and everything they connect to.
Loaded Single Leg Holds :30/leg 
  1. Set up the same way you did your Farmer’s Walks.
  2. With knees parallel, bend one knee to a 90 angle.
  3. With tall spine, packed chin and braced abs stand on one leg.
  4. Inhale through the nose, exhale through the straw.
  5. Hold for :30 seconds and switch.
  6. You should feel the core and glutes quite a bit.
  7. If you feel a hamstring cramp on bent knee side, straighten out leg while keep the foot off the floor.
  8. Think of this as a standing plank on one leg!
  9. To make this more challenging hold offset weights (30lbs/20lbs) in each hand, put them in the rack position or only hold one weight.
Single Leg Band or Pulley Standing Pull 15/leg
  1. While standing on one leg with knee bent at 90 degrees, pull with two arms on a pair of cable pulley handles or rubber tubing.
  2. Inhale, and as you exhale pull the arms back driving shoulder blades together.
  3. Hold for :02 and return to starting position.
  4. Elbows should be at 90 degrees at the end of the motion.
  5. You should feel upper back, glutes and core.
  6. Maintain tall spine and packed chin throughout the motion.
Band or Pulley Hip Hinge
  1. Stand with both feet hips distance apart and grab a pair of tubing/pulley handles.
  2. Begin to tip pelvis forward and let your hands be pulled forward.
  3. Inhale as you do this, then brace the abs at the bottom of the motion.
  4. While maintaining NEUTRAL SPINE, load the hips and hammies.
  5. Drive the heels into the floor then push the hips forward.
  6. Exhale through the straw on the way back up.
  7. For additional glute activation, “spread the floor” with the feet by pushing to the outside.
  8. Return to starting position and do it again.
  9. You should feel low back muscles engaging, glutes, hamstrings and core.
1/2 Kneeling Band or Pulley Chest Press
  1. Set up in a 90/90 kneeling position with resistance origin behind you.
  2. Maintaining tall spine and a constant glute contraction on the side of the knee on the floor.
  3. Inhale, brace the abs and press the hands away from body.
  4. Do not let the elbows get behind the shoulders when you go back to the starting position, your shoulders will thank you.
  5. You should feel the abs, chest, arms and glutes on the side of the knee that’s on the floor.

These are great exercises, IF YOU ARE ABLE to do them safely. These are form/time under tension, or T.U.T. (“born in Arizona, moved to Babalonia, King Tut…” Steve Martin, old school SNL….anyone… exercises, so don’t try to blow through them, that’s not the point. Similar the Turkish Get Up, flow through them slowly to get the most out of them.

Just make sure you get an eval from a trusted trainer, PT, chiropractor or your physician if you’ve movement issues you need to iron out before you try these. If they give you the green light, GIDDYUP!

If you live in the Silicon Valley and would like to get an eval to make sure you are ready for a higher level of training, contact me and let’s set up a time to meet.

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Want a Stronger Core? Do This Exercise

How about that for a title to hook you in? If you got this far, then it worked, yay me.

December is a strength phase for my Monday, Wednesday, Friday 7am group workout. This means they are doing a max of 10-15 reps and picking up heavy things repeatedly. Along the way they are getting to do some really enjoyable things that are aimed at getting them as strong as possible feet to fingers. They might even be hitting their core along the way.

I’ve pontificated on what the core is (“The Core Explained”), what it does and why I don’t like it (“Why I Hate Core Strength”). Now you get an incredible way to work it and make it scream UNCLE! It is an incredibly simple exercise, you don’t need much room, and a pair of weights of will very much do the trick.

This is another Dan John special, and its a variation of a farmer’s walk, quite possible the ultimate core strength exercise (“The Best Exercises Ever, Part II: Farmer’s Walks”). This is the perfect loaded carry solution if you are in a small space and don’t have a lot of room to work with.

To do this, simply march in place. That’s it, and it is brutal.

It will hammer your core, grip strength and hips as you try to keep your self from toppling over when a leg goes up.

The kickstand glute gets a ton of work as the hip works to stabilize the body. Put the weights in the rack position and this becomes even more fun. You can also go with an offset load, single arm hang or rack position with the weight to challenge the lateral/diagonal core stabilizers that much more.

March your way to a stronger core

  • Pick up weights, they can be equal or offset to provide more of a challenge.
  • Pick one leg up until the thigh is parallel with with the floor.
  • Hold for :02-:03
  • Put it down and repeat on the other side, repeatedly.
  • Be very aware of your body position as you switch legs.
  • You want to eliminate side to side weight shifts.
  • If you’re moving left and right for the legs to go up and down, go lighter.

You’d think marching in place would seemingly be pretty easy. However, set a timer for 1:00-2:00 minutes to move to and you’ll quickly find out this exercise is anything but.

The reason being is because all core all the time as you body tries to stabilize the load to keep you from falling over. Not too mention what this does for your grip strength which we know is an indicator of total body strength.

If you’re  looking for a great way to challenge your core, blast your heart rate through the roof and improve your grip  strength, this exercise is the way to go. If you’re in the Silicon Valley and you’d like to learn more core crushers, drop me a line and we’ll set up a time to meet for new exercise fun!


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5 Gifts for The Fitness Fan

We are a scant 10 days away from your chimney becoming the gateway to holiday treasures left under your tree. Right about now people are scrambling to find that perfect gift and fReAkInG out about it. There are a ton of great gift guides to help you find that perfect something for everyone on your holiday shopping list. One of the better ones  was recently put up by Daniella from DFitLife. Hit the link to check it out.

While I love seeing what the newest fitness fun toys are to play with (I’m hoping to get on the fitness tracker band wagon this year on Christmas morning myself), I’m going to go in another direction with my version of the traditional shopping guide. Hopefully it helps you with some ideas.
If you know fitness minded people, my guess is they are relatively active and believe it or not, that actually makes them even easier to shop for. Here’s why:
  • They like being oustide
  • They aren’t afraid of getting dirty
  • They aren’t afraid of a little heart thump and lung bump
  • They probably aren’t too adamantly opposed to trying new things
To me, that makes them the perfect people to buy for. The world is essentialy your oyster here and there are a ton of pearls to pull out with the right idea.
You won’t find these gifts in your local sporting goods store, and that’s exactly the point. Chances are you’ll probably get some kind of shiny fitness gear this season, my job is to help you use it and maybe have a little fun at the same time.
1) Take them on a hike/walk/run
Since you’ll probably have good luck getting them outside, invite them on a hike, walk or run. Regardless of what their fitness levels are you should be able to find an option that works. All you need to do is a little research to find out where you’d like to go. Your local Open Space website usually has a list of outdoor activities you can join.
After that, pick them up and enjoy said activity. This will be the perfect opportunity for them to use the new (insert new wearable tech name here) fitness tracker or App they got for Christmas.
2) Take them on a bike ride
This one I love because they are so many options. Like everything in the first one, it can be up hills, in a forest, along the coast, through your neighborhood or your favorite single track. Find out what they like, pair up their fitness/skill level accordingly and start turning over the pedals!
If you know someone who only rides on the road, see if you can get them on dirt or vice versa. Again, be VERY mindful of their skill/comfort level. You want them to ride with you again!
If you need some ideas on where to go, your local bike shop should be able to help you find your destination (they might even have a shop ride to join). Chances are there probably bike clubs in your area you can meet up with too.
3) Give someone the gift of time
My wife and I lead cRaZy lives. Between our careers and our kids it can be tricky to find time for fitness. The gift of time would be an AMAZING thing to receive this year.
Make a gift certificate for a block of time and let them cash it in when they can. Chances are they’ll come back rejuvenated, especially if they use it for a long winter’s nap!
4) Go play in a park
This is a awesome. Nothing brings you back to being a kid than playing like one.
Not only will you have fun, you’ll get some exercise in (which is never a bad thing!). For us this means taking our soccer balls to a local park/school and running around kicking and having a blast. You can easily fill 90 minutes with this and work up a pretty good sweat.
Everyone has at least one ball, frisbee, glove, football, etc stashed away at home. So start looking for your fitness treasures in your closets/attacks/garages, find a park and GO! One of the best times I’ve had is when a buddy and I took a bag of baseballs, a bat and our gloves to a field an had a home run contest.
Exercise doesn’t need to complicated, in fact very often, the more simple it is the better!
5) Find a rec group online and join them for an activity
There are a ton of groups online that get together offline for workouts, hikes, rides, runs, softball, ultimate frisbee, SOCKuh (Men in Blasers anyone??), etc. Chances are there is one in your area with an activity that you like. Check, they’ve got tons of groups to sync up with.
Once you find the one that looks good, grab a friend and go. I found a great one for softball and its one of the nicest groups of people I’ve ever met. You’ll get to hang out together, possibly try a new activity, have a good time along the way and maybe even make a new fitness friend or two.
If you’ve got additional ideas you’d like to share, by all means post them in the comments below.
Thanks for reading!
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